Incompetence at the War Office

Simon Jenkins

  • The Duel: Castlereagh, Canning and Deadly Cabinet Rivalry by Giles Hunt
    Tauris, 214 pp, £20.00, January 2008, ISBN 978 1 84511 593 7

At five o’clock in the morning on 21 September 1809, two men set out from London in two carriages and headed for Putney Heath. They brought two seconds, two sets of pistols, two hatreds and a total misunderstanding about what had recently passed between them. They then fought a duel. One was unscathed and the other received a flesh wound to his thigh, narrowly avoiding an artery. One was His Majesty’s foreign secretary and the other His Majesty’s secretary for war.

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