Skip to main content Accessibility help
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2024
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:

Book description

A Times and Sunday Times Book of the Year. The recent political chaos enfolding Downing Street provides the framing for the extraordinary story of the office of Prime Minister, and how and why it has endured longer than any other democratic political office in world history. Sir Anthony Seldon, historian of Number 10, explores the lives and careers, crises and scandals, and successes and failures of our great Prime Ministers from Robert Walpole to Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher, up to the recent churn of Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. Seldon discusses which of our PMs have been most effective and why, as well as probing the changing relationship between the Monarchy and the Prime Minister in intimate detail. A celebration of the humanity, frailty, work and achievements of 57 remarkable individuals who averted revolution and civil war, leading the country through times of peace, crisis and war.


‘A tremendous, magisterial book, informed and underpinned by brilliant historical and political insight. A triumph.'

William Boyd - Author of Trio, Restless and Any Human Heart

' A brilliant, panoramic survey … By the end of this book, you will feel you know many of the holders of the office of prime minister intimately … A must read.'

Andrew Adonis - Former Transport Minister, Education Minister and Head of No. 10 Policy Unit, and Author of Ernest Bevin, Labour's Churchill

'… an intelligent and insightful account of the evolution of the role of prime minister.'

Andrew Rawnsley Source: The Observer (Book of the Week)

'We need some answers, and Anthony Seldon is one of the few prime ministerial biographers to seek to provide them. He does so insightfully and mischievously …'

Steve Richards Source: Literary Review

'… enriches our understanding of what it takes to run Britain, with some intriguing ideas for improving the Premiership.'

Camilla Cavendish - Former Head of No. 10 Policy Unit, and Author of Extra Time: Ten Lessons for Living Longer Better

'Three hundred years of one of the world's most difficult jobs is worth some reflection - and there is no better way to go about that than to read this excellent book.’

William Hague - Former Leader of the Opposition, First Secretary of State, Foreign Secretary, and Leader of the House of Commons

'A fascinating review of the role of the prime minister and those who have filled it … how did they change the role, and how did it change them and the country.’

Jacqui Smith - Former Home Secretary

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Save to Kindle
  • Save to Dropbox
  • Save to Google Drive

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.


  • Chapter 1 - The 300th Anniversary Bookend Prime Ministers
    pp 1-29
  • Walpole and Johnson
  • Chapter 10 - The Impossible Office?
    pp 389-428
  • The Prime Minister by 2024


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.