John Campbell, Roy Jenkins: A Well Rounded Life. London: Jonathan Cape, 2014. e-book.

Was Jenkins the "best Prime Minister Britain never had"? By this account he had a fulfilled and happy life, so perhaps he was lucky to be spared the supreme laurels. The good things in life were more important to Jenkins than to most ambitious politicians (Churchill being the notable exception), but then Jenkins was no sociopath.

The biography is sound and more objective than most, although not as entertaining as Jenkin's own version (A Life at the Centre, Random House, 1991). If Campbell's version has fault, it lies in the busman's holiday approach to the internal politics of the Labour Party; a more ruthless editor would have served the author well. Likewise it would have made for a better book had the author commented more on some of Jenkins' hobby-horses, especially his commitment to proportional representation.

Jenkins is a marvellous subject for a biographer, far more interesting than any of the prime ministers of his day. The author has handled his subject well, and the result is one of the more important political biographies of recent times.
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