James Chuter Ede written by Stephen Hart and published by Pen and Sword Books – £25.00 – Hardback – Pages 352

James Chuter Ede (1882-1965) served the longest term of office as Home Secretary in the last 200 years, three weeks more than Theresa May. He is the only senior member of Attlee’s legendary 1945 cabinet not yet to have found a biographer. His contribution to that government – and in Robert Harris’s words, ‘We still live in the society shaped by Clement Attlee’ – although largely unsung, was immense. Alongside towering achievements such as Bevan’s NHS, his own measures, in administrative, legal and social reform, did much to set the seal on Labour’s reforming programme, including the Criminal Justice Act 1948, paving the way for the abolition of capital punishment. Previously, working with RA Butler, he provided a major contribution to the Education Act 1944. Equally interesting for historians and readers of history is how Ede’s life and career present a political, cultural and social account, in his journey from Victorian family life with a Liberal background, through Cambridge and the Unitarian religion, to Labour politics, working in education and local government.

What a great change to read a book about a politician that hasn’t been done to death. Chuter Ede was very much a hidden personality in the Labour government of the 40’s but a man who achieved a lot but was overshadowed by other political personalities of the time. Like all political books about leading personalities, this book is pretty much detailed and comprehensive in its telling and details, pretty much covering his whole career. This book looks at various things Chuter Ede worked on and achieved through his career such as working as part of Labour and with Liberals, ending capital punishment, the new NHS Health System, education and his role as Home Secretary. Although I had heard and read about him before this book is very comprehensive in its detail, which turns it into a very informative volume. I really enjoyed this book which is very well written by the author Stephen Hart who writes in a very concise and detailed way. For any up and coming political students into politics, I would definitely recommend this book as an excellent figure in the background who actually achieved quite a bit.