He was acknowledged to be a brilliant debater and parliamentarian, and is still England's first and only Jewish prime minister, but there was much more to Benjamin Disraeli than his career as a nineteenth-century politician. Dandy, novelist, social climber, he often behaved as if politics was merely a conduit to a more interesting life rather than an intellectual vocation. This new biography takes four areas of Disraeli's complex character and through them constructs an entirely new portrait of one of our most fascinating prime ministers. Exploring Disraeli's attitudes to society, the monarchy, his own sexuality and his innate political daring, William Kuhn rediscovers his irreverence and sheds new light on the man and his legacy. Drawing on primary sources and much original research, THE POLITICS OF PLEASURE seeks to restore the core characteristic of humanity to someone who has long been judged merely another eminent but worthy Victorian. It also explores the game of politics as Disraeli saw it -- the fun and pleasure of it, as a means of persuading the electorate to take an interest in a way that often seems lost today.
William Kuhn is an Associate Professor of History at Carthage College, and the author of two previous books: DEMOCRATIC ROYALISM, which was an editor's choice selection in "History Today", and the acclaimed HENRY & MARY PONSONBY, a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. He lives in London and the US.