Author(s): Tom Brooking
**2014 Must Read** Otago Daily Times
'The life, the health, the intelligence, and the morals of the nation count for more than riches, and I would rather have this country free from want and squalor and unemployed than the home of multi-millionaires.'- Richard Seddon, 1905
Casting a long shadow over New Zealand history, Richard John Seddon, Premier from 1893 to his untimely death in 1906, held a clear vision for the country he led. Pushing New Zealand in more egalitarian directions than ever before, he was both the builder and the maintenance man - if not the architect - of our country.
Challenging popular opinion of New Zealand's longest-serving Prime Minister as a ruthless pragmatist, cunning misogynist and Imperialistic jingoist, this landmark biography of Seddon presents an altogether more sympathetic, erudite appraisal.
Reconciling two generations of New Zealand scholarship, Richard Seddon: King of God's Owndemonstrates that, while holding fast to common ideals, Seddon was successful by mastering the art of the possible. He knew instinctively what his electorate would tolerate and remained in step with public opinion. Despite contradictions in his attitudes towards other races, he fought to ensure privilege did not become entrenched in what he envisioned as a white man's utopia. In this perceptive new evaluation, political historian Tom Brooking explains Seddon's complex relationship with Maori and shows how he in fact held a progressively bi-cultural vision for the future of 'God's Own Country'.
Seddon was no saint. Somewhat autocratic and given to petty nepotism, he nevertheless remains the most dominant political leader in our country's history. Internationally, his high profile within the Empire helped put New Zealand on the map. Domestically, he sought a middle ground between free-market extremism and full-blown socialism. And more privately, Seddon was a devoted family man, his actions shaped much more by his supportive wife and assertive daughters than has previously been realised.
Richard Seddon: King of God's Ownis a superlative achievement in New Zealand history writing. Absorbing, wide-ranging and beautifully articulated, it reframes and repositions one of the founding fathers of modern New Zealand.
'The definitive biography of one of New Zealand's most influential political leaders.'
- Paul Moon, author of New Zealand in the Twentieth Century
'King of God's Ownis a nuanced and generous assessment of our most famous Premier, a man very much of his own time.'
- Gavin McLean, co-editor of the bestselling Frontier of Dreams: The Story of New Zealand
'An excellent biography, and a major revision of an important period in this country's history.'
- Barry Gustafson, acclaimed biographer of Sir Keith Holyoake, Sir Robert Muldoon and Michael Joseph Savage
Also available as an eBook
'The definitive biography of one of New Zealand's most influential political leaders.' —Paul Moon, author of New Zealand in the Twentieth Century 'King of God's Own is a nuanced and generous assessment of our most famous Premier, a man very much of his own time.' —Gavin McLean, co-editor of the bestselling Frontier of Dreams: The Story of New Zealand 'An excellent biography, and a major revision of an important period in this country's history.' — Barry Gustafson, acclaimed biographer of Sir Keith Holyoake, Sir Robert Muldoon and Michael Joseph Savage
PROFESSOR TOM BROOKING holds a personal chair in history at the University of Otago, where he has taught courses in New Zealand, Australian and British history, as well as political biography, since 1978. He specialises in environmental and political history, and the connections between Scotland and New Zealand. He served as regional chair for the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and was president of the New Zealand Historical Association from 2011 to 2013. Among Brooking's published works are six monographs, including a biography of Seddon's lieutenant John McKenzie (which was shortlisted for the Ernest Scott Prize in History) and two general histories of New Zealand, and five further edited or co-authored volumes, in addition to numerous articles and essays. Brooking has been married to Trish for 41 years and has two children and three grandchildren. He lives in Dunedin.