Russia has waged an undeclared war against Ukraine ever since their illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Prime Minister William Pitt ‘the Younger’ led Britain to war with Revolutionary France following the French Revolution. Not only was he Britain’s youngest Prime Minster at age 24, but also the second longest serving. Even more impressively, he was Britain’s longest wartime leader. Serving twice as Prime Minister from 1783 to 1801 and from 1804 to 1806. He faced down many crises including the threat of French invasion, which was finally removed by battle of Trafalgar. 1
William Pitt The Younger was also a great reformer of this time. He campaigned albeit unsuccessfully for the abolition of the Slave Trade alongside his good friend William Wilberforce and for Catholic Emancipation. Pitt’s many notable reforms and actions include: 1
- The Union between Great Britain and Ireland
- Setting up a penal colony in Australian
- Keeping his government in power during the King George III madness
- Introduction of income tax
- Parliamentary reform, removing rotten boroughs (constituency with hardly any voters if any)
- Reforming the British East India Company
- Creation of the Sinking Fund. A finical instrument designed to deal with the national debt, albeit unsuccessfully due to the outbreak of war.
- Lowering tariffs to deal with smugglers to increase government revenue. As Pitt was a disciple of Adam Smith’s Free Trade.1
How for the review
William Hague’s audiobook funnily enough is named William Pitt The Younger, not the most original title. The audiobook pay’s particular attention to Pitt’s political manoeuvring to become and to stay Prime Minster. With special notice paid to his nemesis, Charles James Fox. It would seem that Hague admires Pit’s Parliamentary career, but not so much his personal life.1
William Hague is well placed to tell William Pitt’s story being the former conservative party leader from 1997 to 2001. Despite never becoming Prime Minister, he like Pitt led a party in the House of Commons. In effect playing the same game 200 years later. Albeit in a different building and with national elections, not the king determining who will be Prime Minster.1
I first wondered if William Hague was named after William Pitt The Younger, as both have the same first name. However, it turned out that Hague had not heard of Pitt until he was 16. Which make this seem unlikely. More surprisingly, it was at the Tory Party Conference in 1977, where Margret Thatcher pointed out to him the similarity.2
So how does the audiobook stand up?
Initially I failed to get into Hague’s William Pitt The Younger. Rising from the fact that the audiobook assumes a certain amount of knowledge about the time period. It was only after listening to A History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts; I found I could get into the audiobook. I preciously reviewed the A History of England if you want to hear what I fought of the audiobook. It provided me with a foundation to understand the historical events brought up in the William Pitt The Younger.3
Otherwise, William Pitt The Younger is a very easy listen. William Hague’s speeches are something to behold, no matter what your political persuasion. You can hate everything he says, but you will find it hard to dispute his oratory skills. The narration by Richard Burnip is brilliant, but Hague still should have been the narrator.1
The lake of tension is such that you would be almost forgiven, for not realising that Britain faced invasion similar to 1940. With Napoleon just like Hitler dominating much of Europe and threating Britain with superior land forces. With the Royal Navy, like the RAF more than a century later, saving the country from invasion.1
Hitherto this is the only audiobook on Audible covering such an extraordinary individual as William Pitt The Younger. Although with the audiobook available in both unabridged and abridged version. Given the excessive numbers of audiobooks on Winston Churchill, it would be good for more audiobooks on other historical individuals.1
By Arran Wilkins © 2021 (text only)
(1) Hague, William (Author), Burnip, Richard (Narrator). William Pitt The Younger (Audible Studios, 2009) Amazon Audible, Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/William-Pitt-The-Younger-Audiobook/B004FTD9WI?ref=a_library_t_c5_libItem_&pf_rd_p=7bf74090-5cb9-4f5e-bc6f-6ea28d055287&pf_rd_r=GM6RV7YJ81VBQ28KPHGT [Accessed on 28th April 2021].
(2) BBC News, Political heroes: Hague on Pitt the Younger. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42911943 [Accessed on 6th May 2021].
(3) Bucholz, Robert. A History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts (The Great Courses, 2013) Amazon Audible, Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/A-History-of-England-from-the-Tudors-to-the-Stuarts-Audiobook/B00D97Q8QQ?ref=a_library_t_c5_libItem_&pf_rd_p=7bf74090-5cb9-4f5e-bc6f-6ea28d055287&pf_rd_r=3JC2HZBEA7QCNKRT7KHS [Accessed 25th March 2021]. Cited in Wilkins, Arran. ‘“A History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts” Review (1377 to 1730)’, A.W.Bookreviews,
17 April 2021 [Blog], Available at: https://awbookreviews.com/2021/04/17/a-history-of-england-from-the-tudors-to-the-stuarts-review-1377-to-1730/ %5BAccessed 16 April 2021].
Hague, William (Author), Burnip, Richard (Narrator). William Pitt The Younger (Audible Studios, 2009) Amazon Audible, Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/William-Pitt-The-Younger-Audiobook/B004FTD9WI?ref=a_library_t_c5_libItem_&pf_rd_p=7bf74090-5cb9-4f5e-bc6f-6ea28d055287&pf_rd_r=GM6RV7YJ81VBQ28KPHGT [Accessed on 28th April 2021].
(Image One) Kate Baucherel. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/lion-statue-sculpture-monument-3734907/ [Accessed on 4th April 2021].
(Image Two) Ana Gic. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/westminster-big-ben-london-1176318/ [Accessed on 4th April 2021].
(Image Three) David Mark. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/london-england-trafalgar-square-123785/ [Accessed on 4th April 2021].