In This Review

Harold Macmillan. Vol. I: 1894-1956
Harold Macmillan. Vol. I: 1894-1956
By Alistair Horne
Viking, 1989, 537 pp.
Harold Macmillan. Vol. II: 1957-1986
Harold Macmillan. Vol. II: 1957-1986
By Alistair Home
Viking, 1989, 631 pp.

The authorized biography of one of Britain's great leaders whose life encompassed much of this century's history. Badly wounded at the Somme, Macmillan went from publishing to politics and in World War II became "the viceroy of the Mediterranean." His public life ended in the glory of his being prime minister-immediately after the Suez fiasco. He was hailed at that time as "SuperMac," but there were darker moments as well, such as his involvement in turning over to the Soviets the Russian collaborators with the Germans. Alistair Horne, a veteran historian, drawing from new sources including Macmillan's own unpublished diaries from 1953 to 1963, places Macmillan in the context of British history and world politics, hence, a major work for the period of the war and the six years at No. 10 Downing Street. Renowned for his "unflappability," he was a lonely man, a voracious reader, afflicted by private griefs, foremost the enduring attachment of his wife to one of his friends and colleagues. His heroes were Disraeli and Churchill, who "both had the combination of the thinker and the doer-the artist and the man of action." An impressive and important portrait of a public man whose ultimate remoteness the biographer leaves inviolate.