Lord Esher – A Political Biography (Kindle)
Although wielding huge influence in late Victorian and Edwardian political life, Reginald Baliol Brett (1852 – 1930), the second Lord Esher was, an enigma to his contemporaries and still remains a puzzle to historians.
At the heart of British and Imperial political affairs for several decades, Esher sat in both Houses of Parliament, was a high ranking civil servant, friend and confidential advisor to three Sovereigns and four Prime Ministers (of differing political hues) and yet refused high office offered by both Liberals and Conservatives. Yet his behind-the-scenes influence through his range of friends in high places gave him unmatched, some thought undemocratic, power. Despite his lack of military service he was instrumental through his work on the Committee for Imperial Defence (CID) and its Secretarial for the wholesale reorganisation of the Armed Forces. It could be said that Esher, with his grasp of power without responsibility, was a unique phenomenon in British history.
The Author, while compiling this fascinating study, drew on Cabinet and CID files, the Royal Archives and the papers of the Esher, Balfour, Asquith and Lloyd George estates. The result is a brilliant readable yet scholarly addition to British political bibliography.