Joseph Chamberlain was the first industrialist to reach the highest sphere of British politics. Conspicuously successful as a young man in Birmingham's metal-manufacturing industry, he later tackled politics as business, venture by venture, innovative in organisation as well as product, alert to the importance of accounting and marketing. Aggressive and direct in both personality and principle, Chamberlain was loyal to enterprise rather than to party. He shattered Britain's two major political parties and never became prime minister, yet by the beginning of the twentieth century was by general consent 'the first minister of the British Empire'. The vast range of Chamberlain's life has defeated many previous biographers. After twelve years of exhaustive study in archives around the globe, Marsh has produced the first full, archivally-based, single-volume account. Skillfully dissecting the political career, he reveals Chamberlain's radically individual approach to most of Britain's problems between the Second Reform Act and the First World War. Marsh highlights too the distortions and discontinuities: the breach with Gladstone over Irish Home Rule, which drove Chamberlain from the left of the Liberal party into enduring alliance with the Conservative right; the scourge of the House of Lords who became its champion; the free trader who died a protectionist. And he explains the internationalism, the involvement in South Africa, Canada and the United States, and the sustained campaign to develop the British Empire's 'undeveloped estates'. Searching and judicious, the book evokes the contradictions in Chamberlain's personality and private life, the vigour, intensity and imperiousself-confidence alongside the inner desolation and lifelong nervous strain. It makes compelling reading, presenting a life story which is one of the most absorbing in modern British politics.