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Oct 7, 2016

Godfrey Smith Releases “The Biography of Michael Manley”

Attorney and author Godfrey Smith has released his second book, which he describes as the definitive biography of late Jamaican statesman Michael Manley. He previously wrote to great acclaim the biography of the Right Honourable George Cadle Price, “George Price: A Life Revealed.” Manley, a two-time Prime Minister of Jamaica, is credited with the founding of the “democratic socialism” movement in the Caribbean and attempts to create a new world political and economic order. While he was not completely successful, Manley continues to be an inspiration at home and abroad. Correspondent Aaron Humes takes a closer look.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

“The Biography of Michael Manley” may have an unimaginative and safe title, but author Godfrey Smith leaves little to imagination in examining the life and times of a towering figure in Caribbean history.

In her review of the book at Thursday night’s launch in Belize City at the Image Factory, Jamaican-born Chief Magistrate of Belize Ann-Marie Smith, an admirer of Manley, credited Godfrey Smith with being unsparing in investigating all the facets of this admittedly complicated man.


Ann-Marie Smith

Ann-Marie Smith, Chief Magistrate

“Godfrey is skilful in introducing us to the many Michaels: the farmer, the writer, the sports enthusiast, the cricket expert, the politician, the father, the lover, the hypocrite, and the international prolific visionary, who in my personal, humble view, was light-years ahead of his time.”


Smith told us that the project began in 2013, when he met Manley’s first daughter, Rachel, here in Belize. She had liked his biography of George Price, and proposed he produce one about her father, though others had already been written. They worked closely and Smith spent two years doing interviews with major figures in Manley’s life. He read and researched many sources, including video biographies on the website YouTube, to give the fullest definition of a man many of us never knew. But what was the primary inspiration for this treatment? Smith says he wanted a challenge; that he has an impulse to write at this stage of his own career. But first and foremost is his passion for the personal lives of the progressive wing of Caribbean leaders, of which Manley is the most charismatic.


Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith, Author, “The Biography of Michael Manley”

“I consider Michael Manley to be the most gifted, charismatic, articulate, elegant, brilliant statesman the Caribbean has ever known, and whose like shall never be seen again. Why is that important? Because, we are surrounded by politics every day, whether you are involved with a party or not, and I think it’s good to have somebody to measure against; I think Manley provides that.”


Without giving too much away, we can tell you that the book does take an in-depth look at Manley’s sexual lifestyle. Five times married, three times divorced and also a widower, it is clear that Manley knew his way around females.

He also knew his way around politics – rubbing shoulders with the likes of Cuba’s Fidel Castro – and culture, owning a music system as Prime Minister, and writing nine books, including a history of West Indies cricket.

But Smith told us that Manley’s greatest lesson for modern leaders is being able to prepare himself for a job he had not originally wanted, and then throw himself into the job with principle and purpose.


Godfrey Smith

“I think that the lessons that he has to offer, is taking the job of leadership seriously; he was a very well-researched, well-studied man. He surrounded himself with the best brains and talent that the country had to offer; he reached out to other leaders from other countries, to learn from them, to exchange ideas. And he was a man of principle; there were certain things he refused to compromise.”


Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.


The book is on sale in hardcover for ninety Belize dollars at the usual retail outlets. Further launches are planned for Jamaica and Toronto, Canada, in the coming weeks. Smith’s next project is a history of the 1980’s Grenada political revolution and the partnership which turned into a fatal rivalry between Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard.

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