'The most important book I've read this year...the writing is magnetic' Adam Rutherford
In 1975, as a child, Richard Beard was sent away from his home to sleep in a dormitory. So were David Cameron and Boris Johnson.
In those days a private boys' boarding school education was largely the same experience as it had been for generations: a training for the challenges of Empire. He didn't enjoy it. But the first and most important lesson was to not let that show.
Being separated from the people who love you is traumatic. How did that feel at the time, and what sort of adult does it mould?
This is a story about England, and a portrait of a type of boy, trained to lead, who becomes a certain type of man. As clearly as an X-ray, it reveals the make-up of those who seek power - what makes them tick, and why.
Sad Little Men addresses debates about privilege head-on; clearly and unforgettably, it shows the problem with putting a succession of men from boarding schools into positions of influence, including 10 Downing Street. Is this who we want in charge, especially at a time of crisis?
It is a passionate, tender reckoning - with one individual's past, but also with a national bad habit.
'Insanely readable and enjoyable' - TOM HOLLAND, author of Dominion
A sensitive and incisive analysis of the British class system has no right to be as insanely readable and enjoyable as this book manages to be
Deft, sharp and utterly lucid. And its argument directly addresses not only who governs England, but how they do it. The boyish nonchalance and considerable charm of politicians and prime ministers suddenly emerge as sinister, irresponsible and corrupt. Beard wears his erudition lightly, but this is a very emotional, moving book. His conclusions are devastating.
Engaging and readable, powerful and cogent. A vivid portrait of the political elite exposed for the vulnerable men/ children they are
If you want to understand the aura of entitlement and untouchability shrouding our governing class, look no further than Beard's witty, unsparingly sharp and deeply moving anatomy of the emotional culture of England's boarding schools
Utterly compelling, top proper stuff. I loved it to bits. The energy of it! I really felt for them (all) by the end