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Top Failure

John Rodgers, 17 September 1981

R.A. ButlerAn English Life 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Quartet, 167 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 7043 2258 7
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... Patrick Cosgrave presents us in this short book with a remarkable analysis of why Mr Butler was never chosen to be prime minister. When I think of Rab Butler, I recall Addison’s words: ‘’Tis not in mortals to command success, but we’ll do more, Sempronius, we’ll deserve it ...

End of the Road

R.W. Johnson: The Undoing of the ANC, 20 November 2008

Cyril Ramaphosa 
by Anthony Butler.
Currey, 442 pp., £18.95, February 2008, 978 1 84701 315 6
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After the Party: A Personal and Political Journey inside the ANC 
by Andrew Feinstein.
Jonathan Ball, 287 pp., R 170, October 2007, 978 1 86842 262 3
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Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred 
by Mark Gevisser.
Jonathan Ball, 892 pp., R 225, November 2007, 978 1 86842 101 5
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... ensure that the hard questions don’t get asked. They aren’t always asked in these three books. Anthony Butler’s Cyril Ramaphosa is a campaign biography of the man most South Africans wanted to succeed Thabo Mbeki, but not only did he refuse to run, he also refused to co-operate with his biographer. Ramaphosa, an immensely private person, began as a ...

Alternative Tories

José Harris, 23 April 1987

Baldwin 
by Roy Jenkins.
Collins, 204 pp., £12.95, March 1987, 9780002175869
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Rab: The Life of R.A. Butler 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 422 pp., £15, March 1987, 0 224 01862 0
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The Political Culture of Modern Britain: Studies in Memory of Stephen Koss 
edited by J.M.W. Bean.
Hamish Hamilton, 306 pp., £15, January 1987, 0 241 12026 8
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... 1929. And there is something peculiarly attractive about his belief (expressed in a letter to Rab Butler) that Conservative MPs should refrain from accepting jobs in the City, since such openings were rarely available to Labour men. One slight oddity of Jenkins’s treatment is that while Baldwin earns his praise for buttressing the two-party ‘balance’ in ...

Grand Old Man

Robert Blake, 1 May 1980

The Last Edwardian at No 10: An Impression of Harold Macmillan 
by George Hutchinson.
Quartet, 151 pp., £6.50, February 1980, 0 7043 2232 3
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... despite the aftermath of a major operation, was determined at almost all costs to prevent Mr R.A. Butler succeeding him. His illness would have given him every excuse to resign at once and proffer no advice to the Queen at all on such a matter. Constitutionally, he was not obliged to give it, and Bonar Law declined to do so in somewhat similar circumstances ...

Sideburns

Mary Warnock, 7 February 1980

Charles, Prince of Wales 
by Anthony Holden.
Weidenfeld, 336 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 297 77662 2
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... at Caernarvon came immediately after the joint BBC/IBA film of the Royal Family at home. Anthony Holden suggests that, when watching the Investiture, people were more aware of the domestic than of the ceremonial aspect. He may have got it slightly wrong. It is the combination of the two which is fascinating: not the thought that the hero of the ...

Eyes and Ears

Anthony Thwaite, 23 June 1988

The Silence in the Garden 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 204 pp., £9.95, June 1988, 9780370312187
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Sea Music 
by David Profumo.
Secker, 207 pp., £10.95, May 1988, 9780436387142
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Tell it me again 
by John Fuller.
Chatto, 202 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 7011 3288 4
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The Continuing Silence of a Poet: The Collected Short Stories of A.B. Yehoshua 
Peter Halban/Weidenfeld, 377 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 1 870015 14 2Show More
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... necessary. She and a one-time maid, Patty, and Tom – illegitimate son of the Rollestons’ last butler – are left at Carriglas, The place that was once magical for her. And then, flagged in reminiscent italics: Dunadry Rectory, September 14th, 1904. ‘It came from Carriglas, Sarah,’ Mamma said when first I asked about the china on the sideboard ...

Supermac’s Apprenticeship

Ian Gilmour, 24 November 1988

Macmillan 1894-1956 
by Alistair Horne.
Macmillan, 537 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 333 27691 4
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... good Tory’ clearly meant different things to biographer and subject. Macmillan’s rival, Rab Butler, chose a biographer from outside his own party, but his and Anthony Howard’s political outlooks may have been closer to each other than Mr Horne’s and Macmillan’s ‘not very good’ Toryisms. After an ...

Tea or Eucharist?

Anthony Howard, 3 December 1992

The Faber Book of Church and Clergy 
edited by A.N. Wilson.
Faber, 304 pp., £17.50, November 1992, 0 571 16204 5
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High and Mitred: A Study of Prime Ministers as Bishop-Makers 1837-1977 
by Bernard Palmer.
SPCK, 350 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 281 04594 1
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... Halifax insist on taking his chaplain with him on honeymoon; the traditional morning call from the butler at his country seat of Hickleton also consisted of the murmured query ‘Tea or Eucharist, sir?’ In High and Mitred Bernard Palmer, the former editor of the Church Times, also evokes a lost world. His is a highly scholarly study of how Anglican bishops ...

Genius or Suicide

Judith Butler: Trump’s Death Drive, 24 October 2019

... to comply with the impeachment inquiry. Pundits such as Roger Cohen of the New York Times and Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s short-lived director of communications (whose main achievement in life may be his name), say that all this is a form of madness, speculating that Trump is either carrying out a very public suicide or exhibiting some weird genius for ...

Too Obviously Cleverer

Ferdinand Mount: Harold Macmillan, 8 September 2011

Supermac: The Life of Harold Macmillan 
by D.R. Thorpe.
Pimlico, 887 pp., £16.99, September 2011, 978 1 84413 541 7
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The Macmillan Diaries Vol. II: Prime Minister and After 1957-66 
edited by Peter Catterall.
Macmillan, 758 pp., £40, May 2011, 978 1 4050 4721 0
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... are mild and eager to please. He remained dauntless and daunting in politics. He despised Rab Butler for not having fought (he had a withered hand after a riding accident as a child), he sneered at Hugh Gaitskell for not having any medals to wear on Remembrance Day and he loathed Herbert Morrison, his first boss in the wartime coalition, for having been a ...

Late Deceiver

Robert Blake, 17 September 1981

Anthony Eden 
by David Carlton.
Allen Lane, 528 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 7139 0829 7
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... The state of play over the biographising of Anthony Eden is one of some interest. He offered the task to the late Sir John Wheeler-Bennett, author of many major books including a study of the Munich crisis and the official biography of George VI, who agreed on condition that he would not be expected to publish in Lord Avon’s lifetime ...

Protocols of Sèvres

Keith Kyle, 21 January 1988

The Failure of the Eden Government 
by Richard Lamb.
Sidgwick, 340 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 283 99534 3
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... having made the minimal consequential changes when he took over. ‘The answer is that Sir Anthony Eden has been dithering. He has made up his mind, changed it, made it up again, and changed it again. He has listened to advice and heeded pressures not merely up to the point of decision but far beyond it.’ Like Rosebery, another Foreign Secretary who ...

In Service

Anthony Thwaite, 18 May 1989

The Remains of the Day 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 245 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15310 0
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I served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3462 3
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Beautiful Mutants 
by Deborah Levy.
Cape, 90 pp., £9.95, May 1989, 0 224 02651 8
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When the monster dies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9780224026338
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The Colour of Memory 
by Geoff Dyer.
Cape, 228 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 224 02585 6
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Sexual Intercourse 
by Rose Boyt.
Cape, 160 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 224 02666 6
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The Children’s Crusade 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 121 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 330 30529 8
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... armies waited for a verbal error With all the instruments for causing pain. Stevens, the elderly butler in Kazuo Ishiguro’s third novel, The Remains of the Day, would never be so vulgar as to price anyone’s shoes, but much of his earlier life was discreetly spent in the presence of substantial men exchanging views, at a time of momentous events between ...

Problems for the SDP

David Butler, 1 October 1981

... that when the SDP was launched, it seemed that its initial success might prove its downfall. Anthony Downs, the leading academic exponent of the linear theory, argues that centre parties always get squeezed by those on their flanks. In Britain in 1981 the demonstration that there was such an eager market for a centrist position should surely have drawn ...

Bad Timing

R.W. Johnson: All about Eden, 22 May 2003

Eden: The Life and Times of Anthony Eden, First Earl of Avon 1897-1977 
by D.R. Thorpe.
Chatto, 758 pp., £25, March 2003, 0 7011 6744 0
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The Macmillan Diaries: The Cabinet Years 1950-57 
edited by Peter Catterall.
Macmillan, 676 pp., £25, April 2003, 9780333711675
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... Harold Macmillan’s judgment on Anthony Eden, that ‘he was trained to win the Derby in 1938; unfortunately, he was not let out of the starting stalls until 1955,’ was echoed by Anthony Nutting: ‘he had for too long been the Golden Boy of the Tory Party, the glamorous Crown Prince awaiting the summons to mount the throne in place of the ageing Emperor ...

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