CAE Reading and Use of English Part 6
You are going to read four extracts biographies of a former political leader. For questions 37-40, choose from the reviews A-D. The extracts may be chosen more than once.
A career at the very top of the political ladder
Four biographers assess one national leader’s political career
The overall impression one gets of him is of someone whose true ambitions lay outside politics, and for whom political leadership was more of a CV item than a duty born of a desire to serve his country. A shrewd and manipulative operator, he knew how to make the right alliances to get himself into the positions he wanted, and once his term of office was over he continued in that vein outside politics. The legacy of his time in office is a contrasting one. Top of the list in the plus column is the tremendous progress he made in narrowing the gap between rich and poor as a result of policies he personally championed against considerable opposition. Less creditable is the fact that many of the problems that resulted from his time in office can be laid at his door too and there were repercussions he should have foreseen.
Seldom can a political leader be said to have been such a victim of bad timing. Many of his policies made complete sense in themselves and at almost any other time would have had a positive impact, but circumstances beyond his control conspired to turn them into disasters for the country. It could perhaps be said that this was made worse by the fact that he was somewhat gullible, setting far too much store by the questionable advice of key figures around him. He rose to power with a sincere belief that he could improve the lives of people at every level of society, although it could be said that self-interest later guided him more than this initial desire. Probably the most positive thing that can be said about his term of office is that he minimised the impact of some tough economic times, steering the country through them with reasonable success, which was no mean feat.
Views differ widely on what sort of man he was as a leader, with conflicting testimony from those on the inside. What emerges is someone who appeared decisive but who in reality tended to believe what he was told by trusted advisers and experts, and was too easily swayed by them. His unquestioning faith in such people led him to try to implement changes that were far too radical for the time and it is fair to say that he was at fault for going along with this approach that was advocated by others. On the positive side, his main achievement was to make the country more competitive economically by means of some well-considered initiatives, though these later turned out to have only short-term impact. This reflected the commitment to modernise the country that had been at the centre of his campaign and the reason why he had aspired to the leadership in the first place.
He was driven to the top by a genuine belief that he knew best and that his critics were incapable of seeing that his policies would indeed produce very real improvements across the board. Though he made a show of listening to advice from others, he was in reality inflexible. This led him to continue to pursue policies that were manifestly not working and he should have accepted that a change of direction was required. He had one of the sharpest minds of any leader in recent history, and an ability to analyse situations forensically, but at key times he failed to apply these qualities and carried on regardless of the inadvisability of doing so. Nevertheless, he succeeded in one major way: he made society more equal and in so doing improved the lot of many of the less well-off members of it.
Which biographer …
37 has a different opinion from the others on the extent to which the subject was personally responsible for problems caused by his policies?
38 shares biographer D‘s view on the subject’s personal characteristics as a leader?
39 differs from the others on the subject’s motivation for becoming a political leader?
40 expresses a similar view to biographer A on what the subject’s greatest achievement was?