Books: The Indolent Statesman

MELBOURNE (432 pp.) — Lord David Cecil—Charter Books ($2.75).

President Kennedy's favorite book concerns a British statesman who made a policy of keeping his country at a standstill for close to a decade and boasting of it. Issued now in paperback, this famed biography of Lord Melbourne makes plain that he was one of the most indecisive, lackadaisical and delightful persons ever to run a country.

In the halcyon days of the middle 19th century, when there were no wars and the most burning issues were the price of corn and the rise of trade unions, Melbourne was able to...

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