The tenth and eleventh volumes of Gladstone's diaries (1881-1886) cover the years of his dramatic second and third administrations. The second administration confronted a series of crises: the Land League Campaign and the Phoenix Park murders, Majuba Hill and South Africa, Gordon and theSudan, and the obstruction of franchise reform by the House of Lords. The administration met these with determined assertion of administrative and legislative reforms, more coherent in policy and more consistent in practice than is often realized. Gladstone's third administration in 1886 attemptedto pacify Ireland by granting Home Rule and in doing so provided one of the most exciting and controversial twelve months in British politics since the Civil War. These volumes include not only the daily text of Gladstone's private diaries (maintained almost without a break) but also all of his Cabinet Minutes, hitherto unpublished and themselves a remarkable, and for the Victorian period, unique diary of decision-making. There are over 1400 of the letters(the vast majority hitherto unpublished) which he wrote in those years. These letters flesh out the daily diary and the Cabinet Minutes, and cover the Church, the Queen and the Court, literature, theatre, art, and domestic affairs. There is much material in these volumes on Gladstone's unsuccessfulbut repeated attempts to retire from political office. The volumes offer an extraordinary narrative of great force, a remarkable mixture of achievement and disappointment, of bold legislation and administrative and political disasters. They display some of the innermost thoughts of an astonishing political personality which mesmerized contemporariesand has continued to fascinate historians and general readers.