LIFE IN THE JUNGLE
Michael Heseltine has enjoyed one of the most colourful and creative careers of modern British politics. By bestowing two successive nicknames – first ‘Tarzan’ and then ‘Hezza’ – the public displayed its instinctive rapport with him. For thirty years, from his days as Minister for Aerospace in the early 1970s to his appointment as Deputy Prime Minster in the mid-1990s he has consistently ranked as one of the best known and admired of public figures.
In this forthright autobiography not just of his political life but also of his business career as well – of his earliest days running first a boarding house and then a hotel in Bayswater; of how in 1962, as a property developer, he was almost forced into bankruptcy; of the way, after a disastrous start, he patiently built up his magazine empire to the point where it is today one of the largest private companies in the land.
The book offers a number of personal glimpses. He tells how he nearly died of meningitis at the age of five, of his sensitivity to his relative failure at his public school, of his feeling of vindication in being elected President of the Oxford Union in 1954 and of the subsequent ordeal of being trained as a national serviceman with the brigade squad at Caterham. He also writes movingly, of his pride and joy, the arboretum at his country estate in Oxfordshire.
But, above all, this is a tale of high drama and high politics – of the clash with Mrs Thatcher over Westland in 1986 which led to his walk-out from her Cabinet, of the duel between the two of them which brought about her downfall in 1990 and of his own restoration to favour in the Conservative Party culminating in his becoming Deputy Prime Minister in 1995. If the top office at Westminster always eluded him, nothing much else did – as this vividly told story of a ‘doer’ rather than a ‘blower’ in politics amply demonstrates.
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton
PUBLICATION DATE: September 2000