Cover image for Whitehall
Hennessy, Peter, 1947-
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Free Press, 1989.
Physical Description:
xx, 851 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits, ; 24 cm
General Note:
"First published in Great Britain by Martin Secker & Warburg Limited"--T.p. verso.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JN425 .H46 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

A mix of history, guidebook and portrait gallery, Hennessy's chatty survey of the British civil service is recommended for those who want to understand that country's ``permanent government.'' This Cook's tour of Whitehall begins with the departments (foreign office, defence, trade, energy, agriculture et al.), then introduces representatives of the three major categories of players: ministers, career officials and the distinguished auxiliaries known as ``the good and the great,'' who undertake periodic service on royal commissions and committees of inquiry. Describing reform under Margaret Thatcher as ``de-privileging the profession and re-skilling its professionals in a firmly managerial direction,'' the author, a British journalist, believes that no prime minister since Lloyd George has had a more profound effect on civil service management, but also argues that reform hasn't gone far enough. He advocates a broadened recruitment policy and a redesigned Civil Service Commission to combine policy-making and managerial aspects of Whitehall's mandate. Photos. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

A brilliant, critical, and illuminating analysis of Britain's higher civil service, from the time of Gladstone to the recent reforms introduced, at Margaret Thatcher's behest, by Sir Derek Rayner and his "Raiders." Whitehall's strengths and weaknesses are treated contrapuntally with deliciously gossipy commentaries on the great and near-great among Britain's public servants. Hennessy's unabashed evaluations are solidly based on scholarship and on direct evidence garnered during his years of covering Whitehall for Britain's leading newspapers. On the workings of the British machinery of government, there is nothing better in print. The history delineated in these pages, including two exemplary case studies of public policies, easily supports the author's terse recommendations as to what is required to bring the British system into better syntony with the challenges of the next century. It remains a very tall order, given the persistent Oxbridge-centered elitist system's capacity--so beautifully documented here--to resist change. Thus, it is not to Britain's credit that the civil service today should remain with the Northcote-Trevelyan Report ordained over a century ago. This mildly overwritten but nevertheless engaging work shows why this is so. The book is an extraordinary achievement, accessible to a broad readership. A must for anyone who wishes to grasp the nuances of the British approach to public policy. All levels. -J. LaPalombara, Yale University