Challenging popular opinion of New Zealand's longest-serving Prime Minister as a ruthless pragmatist, cunning misogynist and Imperialistic jingoist, this landmark biography of Seddon presents an altogether more sympathetic, erudite appraisal.
Reconciling two generations of New Zealand scholarship, Richard Seddon: King of God's Own demonstrates that, while holding fast to common ideals, Seddon was successful by mastering the art of the possible. He knew instinctively what his electorate would tolerate and remained in step with public opinion. Despite contradictions in his attitudes towards other races, he fought to ensure privilege did not become entrenched in what he envisioned as a white man's utopia. In this perceptive new evaluation, political historian Tom Brooking explains Seddon's complex relationship with Maori and shows how he in fact held a progressively bi-cultural vision for the future of 'God's Own Country'.
Seddon was no saint. Somewhat autocratic and given to petty nepotism, he nevertheless remains the most dominant political leader in our country's history. Internationally, his high profile within the Empire helped put New Zealand on the map. Domestically, he sought a middle ground between free-market extremism and full-blown socialism. And more privately, Seddon was a devoted family man, his actions shaped much more by his supportive wife and assertive daughters than has previously been realised.
Richard Seddon: King of God's Own is a superlative achievement in New Zealand history writing. Absorbing, wide-ranging and beautifully articulated, it reframes and repositions one of the founding fathers of modern New Zealand.
An aristocrat from a privileged background, Villiers was elected to Parliament as a Radical in 1835 and subsequently served the constituency of Wolverhampton for sixty-three years until his death in 1898. A staunch Liberal free trader throughout his life, Villiers played a pre-eminent role in the Anti-Corn Law League as its parliamentary champion, introduced an important series of Poor Law reforms and later split with William Gladstone over the issue of Irish Home Rule, turning thereafter to Liberal Unionism. Hence Villiers, who remains the longest-serving MP in British parliamentary history, was intimately involved with many of the great issues of the Victorian Age in Britain.