PETER FRASER (1884-1950) was New Zealand's wartime Prime Minister and a
world figure of considerable stature. His political career spanned most of
the first half of the twentieth century. Born into poverty and agrarian
discontent in the Scottish Highlands, he moved to New Zealand in his
twenties, and played a major role in the foundation of the Labour Party. He
was gaoled during the First World War for opposing conscription.
Peter Fraser became the single most important figure in Labour's gradual
rise to power. He was deputy to Michael Joseph Savage, and an outstanding
Minister of Education and Health after 1935. Fraser became Prime Minister on
Savage's death in March 1940. He steered the country through the Second
World War, inspiring Winston Churchill to observe that New Zealand "never put
a foot wrong". He was one of the founding fathers of the United Nations in
1945. Old before his time, and in poor health, he lost office at the end of
1949, and died the following year. By then he had won the respect, if not
the love, of most people in his adopted country.
This major book in the tradition of Keith Sinclair's biography of Walter
Nash was written by Michael Bassett using much material gathered by Michael
King. The first full biography of Fraser, it is essential reading for anyone
seriously interested in New Zealand political history. The book confirms the
widely held belief that Peter Fraser is the country's greatest ever Prime
This book is available from Penguin Books, Private Bag 102902, North Shore Mail Centre, Auckland, New Zealand.