William Pitt the Younger.
Knopf, 576 pages, $35
William Pitt the Younger was, along with Winston Churchill, Britain’s greatest Prime Minister. Unlike Churchill, however, he was as successful in peacetime as in war. He was the savior of his country in the most perilous moments of the Napoleonic Wars, when invasion of the British Isles was a serious and daily threat. In his astonishing eighteen years and eleven months in office—only exceeded in length by two other premiers, Sir Robert Walpole and Pitt’s own lieutenant Lord Liverpool—Pitt piled achievement upon achievement, yet there has not been a truly fine, full-scale one-volume life written of him—until now.
The reason for this is that Professor John Ehrman wrote a superb three-volume life of Pitt that is completely definitive. He started in the mid-1960s and ended in 1995, thus taking longer to research and...