Robert Menzies, who was prime minister from 1949 to 1966, continues to loom large because he dominated and defined an era in Australian politics, he has never been matched for his record term in office or his election victories, and he continues to set the standard against which all Liberal leaders are judged.
Born in Jeparit, in rural Victoria, he excelled at school and university, and made his name as a brilliant lawyer. His star continued to rise in state and federal politics, but he was seen as too proud, vain, and arrogant. He claimed the prime ministership in 1939, and led the nation during the early years of the war, but resigned two years later when he lost the confidence of his party.His political career seemed over, but Menzies staged one of the great comebacks to forge a new political party, devise a new governing philosophy, and a craft a winning electoral approach that was to make him Australia?s longest-serving prime minister.
The lessons Menzies learned - and the way he applied them - made him a model that every Liberal leader since has looked to for inspiration. But debate over Menzies? life and legacy has never settled.Who was Robert Menzies, what did he stand for, what did he achieve?
Troy Bramston has not only researched the official record and published accounts, but has also interviewed members of Menzies? family, and his former advisers and ministers. He has been given exclusive access to family letters, as well as to a series of interviews that Menzies gave that have never been revealed before. They are a major historical find, in which Menzies talks about his life, reflects on political events and personalities, offers political lessons, and candidly assesses his successors.Robert Menzies is the first biography in 20 years of the Liberal icon - and it contains important contemporary lessons for those who want to understand, and master, the art and science of politics.