Politics, Religion and Love: The Story of H.H. Asquith, Venetia Stanley and Edwin Montagu, Based on the Life and Letters of Edwin Samuel Montagu

Naomi B. Levine, Author New York University Press $55 (843p) ISBN 978-0-8147-5057-5
Edwin Montagu, a Jewish member of British Liberal prime minister Herbert Henry Asquith's cabinet, fell madly in love with aristocratic Venetia Stanley, whom the married Asquith was also passionately wooing. The sexually liberated, politically knowledgeable Stanley chose Montagu; Levine cites their 1915 marriage as a key factor in lovelorn Asquith's decision to form a wartime coalition government with members of the Tory party rather than pursue a parliamentary struggle. In the years following the wedding, Asquith is portrayed as an anti-Semite, Montagu as so assimilated he almost singlehandedly blunted the effectiveness of the 1917 Balfour Declaration pledging British support for a Jewish state in Palestine, and Stanley as an indifferent wife who had an open liaison with Lord Beaverbrook and a daughter by yet another man. Levine, senior vice-president of New York University, has written an engrossing history that intertwines political chicanery, romantic fireworks and an expose of British anti-Semitism. Photos. ( Nov. )
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
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