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Diary

Peter Clarke: True or False?, 16 August 1990

... Nye Bevan called Hugh Gaitskell ‘a desiccated calculating-machine’. 5. Rab Butler said: ‘Sir Anthony Eden is the best prime minister we have.’ 6. Harold Macmillan campaigned in the 1959 Election on the slogan: ‘You’ve never had it so good.’ 7. Edward Heath gave his word to ‘cut rising prices at a ...

From Old Adam to New Eve

Peter Pulzer, 6 June 1985

The Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher 
by Robert Blake.
Methuen/Fontana, 401 pp., £19.95, May 1985, 0 413 58140 3
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Westminster Blues 
by Julian Critchley.
Hamish Hamilton, 134 pp., £7.95, May 1985, 0 241 11387 3
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... genius of Lord Woolton and Sir Michael Fraser is diminished by the extravagant encomia for Anthony Barber and Cecil Parkinson. We cannot yet write the history of post-Thatcherite Britain, but perhaps it is not too soon to start summarising the characteristics of its prehistory (roughly 55 BC to 1979). Lord Blake’s categories are a mainstream ...

Forty-Eighters

Peter Pulzer, 4 September 1986

Little Germany: Exile and Asylum in Victorian England 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Oxford, 304 pp., £17.50, July 1986, 0 19 212239 8
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... exile syndrome. The others, too, fitted into familiar categories. There were those whom Anthony Heilbut has called the ‘bei unsers’ and ‘ach so specialists’, who compensated for lack of recognition in their new environment by exaggerating the merits of the old country and their potential status in it. Aficionados of 1930s refugee humour will ...

Subversions

R.W. Johnson, 4 June 1987

Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason 
by Chapman Pincher.
Sidgwick, 346 pp., £13.95, May 1987, 0 283 99379 0
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The Secrets of the Service: British Intelligence and Communist Subversion 1939-51 
by Anthony Glees.
Cape, 447 pp., £18, May 1987, 0 224 02252 0
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Freedom of Information – Freedom of the Individual? 
by Clive Ponting, John Ranelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee, edited by Julia Neuberger.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 333 44771 9
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... it stands, would you believe it, for flawed character. It is with some relief that one turns to Anthony Glees’s Secrets of the Service. Glees is a professional historian and rightly attempts to place British intelligence operations in the context of the twists and turns of British foreign policy. In so far as it is possible, Glees has been meticulous in ...

Bugger everyone

R.W. Johnson: The prime ministers 1945-2000, 19 October 2000

The Prime Minister: The Office and Its Holders since 1945 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 686 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7139 9340 5
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... build an H-bomb, the angry ministers walked out. Above all, Churchill clung to office. He despised Anthony Eden, his heir apparent, who, he said, had ‘gone native’ among the ‘shuffling scuttlers’ at the Foreign Office. The last of the Yalta Big Three, he was determined to end the Cold War by personal diplomacy. The Cabinet was horrified to discover ...

Late Developer

Paul Foot, 22 February 1990

Against the Tide: Diaries 1973-1976 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £20, October 1989, 0 09 173775 3
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... Callaghan, I think. They won’t touch Wilson. They’ll get rid of him just as they got rid of Heath ... I wouldn’t be surprised to find a Callaghan government formed within the next couple of months.’ He was out by only eight months. Wilson resigned in mysterious circumstances in March 1976. Callaghan was elected Leader of the Labour Party and formed ...

Not Many Dead

Linda Colley, 10 September 1992

Riot, Risings and Revolution: Governance and Violence in 18th-Century England 
by Ian Gilmour.
Hutchinson, 504 pp., £25, May 1992, 0 09 175330 9
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... he has always espoused. The son of a baronet, he was born into Toryism in much the same way as Anthony Trollope’s Duke of Omnium was born to Whig Liberalism, passing through Eton, to Balliol, to marriage with a daughter of the Duke of Buccleuch, to the Bar, to safe Conservative seats in rural Norfolk and Buckinghamshire, and then on to cabinet ...

The Road to 1989

Paul Addison, 21 February 1991

The People’s Peace: British History 1945-1989 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 558 pp., £17.95, October 1990, 0 19 822764 7
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... was relatively low in her priorities. She was no more a disciple of Churchill than she was of Heath. Meanwhile the media kept the imperial mystique well to the fore, especially India. Such notable films as Gandhi (a severe treatment of the Raj), A Passage to India, and Heat and Dust, even the James Bond spectacular Octopussy, kept the Indian sub-continent ...

English Words and French Authors

John Sturrock, 8 February 1990

A New History of French Literature 
edited by Denis Hollier.
Harvard, 1280 pp., £39.95, October 1989, 0 674 61565 4
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... than as a discourse in its own right; it is touched on substantively only once, in a neat chapter (Anthony Vidler) on Chateaubriand and the ‘Gothic Revival’, or that medievalising frame of mind which was to be a precondition of French Romanticism. The New History incorporates also the kinds of writing that have long fed off and into ...

Questionably Virtuous

Stuart Middleton: Harold Wilson, 8 September 2016

Harold Wilson: The Unprincipled Prime Minister? Reappraising Harold Wilson 
edited by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson.
Biteback, 319 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78590 031 0
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... of Gaitskellism was that Wilson was a tricky fellow.’ The Gaitskellites’ leading theorist, Anthony Crosland, struggling to convince a journalist of Wilson’s shortcomings, was reduced to spluttering: ‘But the bloody man plays golf!’ While serious interest in the question posed by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson’s book – whether Wilson was ...

Villain’s Talk

John Bayley, 17 April 1986

The Fisher King 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 434 59926 3
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... humour, because we can see the Pym world working away beside another nebulous and unrealised one. Anthony Powell has always been marvellously adroit at making his own world and characters and suggesting our absolute recognition of them at the same time. In The Fisher King the artifice of its own world is impregnable, and yet the ghostly presence of the ...

Raven’s Odyssey

D.A.N. Jones, 19 July 1984

Swallow 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 312 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 575 03446 7
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First Among Equals 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 446 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 340 35266 3
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Morning Star 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 264 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 9780856341380
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... story reaches 1975, the artist draws the two fictional Tories acting as bookmakers, while Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher are harnessed as racehorses. The Parliamentary history recorded in First Among Equals begins in 1964 and concludes in 1991. Since Jeffrey Archer served in Parliament from 1969 to 1974, he offers here the benefit of his ...

Turncoats and Opportunists

Alexandra Walsham: Francis Walsingham, 5 July 2012

The Queen’s Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I 
by John Cooper.
Faber, 400 pp., £9.99, July 2012, 978 0 571 21827 1
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... dubious morality. Building on the classic image of Walsingham as spymaster established by James Anthony Froude’s History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada (1856-70), his early 20th-century biographers, Sidney Lee and Conyers Read, presented him as an astute and distinguished patriot who laid the foundations for the ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s, 18 July 2013

Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... project, it’s also one that stands on its own feet. An affinity with the fiction of Anthony Powell has been caught, but this is not a novel. It is not a memoir, though it eats the memoirs of others, plankton-fashion. It is a species of history – annals, perhaps. Kynaston’s far from copious political judgments are sensible and ...

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 ...

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