Soldier, Sailor, Poacher

E.S. Turner

  • Great Britons: 20th-Century Lives by Harold Oxbury
    Oxford, 371 pp, £14.95, September 1985, ISBN 0 19 211599 5
  • The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes edited by Max Hastings
    Oxford, 514 pp, £9.50, October 1985, ISBN 0 19 214107 4
  • The Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain by Harry Hopkins
    Secker, 344 pp, £12.95, August 1985, ISBN 0 436 20102 X

To qualify for admission to Great Britons it is necessary, first, to have died between 1915 and 1980. Ideally, the candidate should have performed some work of noble note, or at least public note, but there is room for the select two or three who fell down on the job (the diplomats who failed to rumble Hitler) or those who, like Guy Burgess, simply did something the influence of which on events is ‘too profound to ignore’. So much for the word ‘Great’. The word ‘Britons’ is also strained by the inclusion of, for example, Gandhi, Smuts and De Valera. The subtitle ‘20th-century Lives’ does not disqualify a Great Victorian like Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, who was born in 1836 and in 1873 became the first woman member of the British Medical Association (she died in 1917).

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