Last of the Empire Builders
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'Engagingly written, as unputdownable as a biography gets' Financial Mail
'A rich and beautifully nuanced portrait of Milner … a great feat, given all the paradoxical complexities of the man's life and character.' Duncan Campbell-Smith, former Financial Times and Economist journalist
From the acclaimed biographer of Jan Smuts, a revealing new account of Empire-builder and First World War Cabinet minister Lord Alfred Milner.
Alfred Milner was one of Britain's most famous empire builders who both contributed to the Allied victory in the First World War and left an indelible imprint on the history of South Africa. Yet his legacy is contested and little understood.
Largely responsible for the Boer War – a conflict marking the beginning of the end of the British Empire – afterwards Milner helped to unify South Africa, but brewed resentment among Afrikaners. In Britain, from 1916, Milner was part of Lloyd George's five-man War Cabinet, and the driving force behind the Imperial War Cabinet which increased the status of Britain's Dominions.
In this comprehensively researched, first full-length biography by a South African, Richard Steyn argues that Milner's reputation should not be solely defined by his eight years' service in South Africa. If he was the wrong man to send to that country, he was the right person in a far greater international conflict.
RICHARD STEYN is the author of several bestselling biographies, including Jan Smuts: Unafraid of Greatness (2015) and Louis Botha: A Man Apart (2018). He practised as a lawyer before switching to journalism. Steyn edited the Natal Witness in Pietermaritzburg from 1975-1990, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1985-1986 and editor-in-chief of The Star from 1990-1995. He served as Standard Bank's Director of Corporate Affairs from 1996-2001 before returning to writing.