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Skimming along

Ross McKibbin

20 October 1994
The Major Effect 
edited by Anthony Seldon and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 500 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 333 62273 1
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... Major has now been prime minister for four years. For us, as presumably for him, it often seems a lifetime, so crowded has his premiership been with crises of one sort or another. Dennis Kavanagh and AnthonySeldon not unreasonably, therefore, think this the moment to assess his prime ministerial career; the result is The Major Effect, a collection of 26 essays by a distinguished group of commentators ...

Fatalism, Extenuation and Despair

Peter Clarke: John Major

5 March 1998
Major: A Political Life 
by Anthony Seldon.
Weidenfeld, 856 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 297 81607 1
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... suffer one of the most gruelling chastisements that the British electorate has ever meted out. All of this is still fresh in our memories. Indeed, it was only six months after Major’s demise that AnthonySeldon published this substantial book, and looking at it now provokes mixed reactions. First to marvel that even the prodigiously industrious Dr Seldon – a busy headmaster whose name appeared on ...
23 February 1995
Conservative Century: The Conservative Party since 1900 
edited by Anthony Seldon and Stuart Ball.
Oxford, 842 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 19 820238 5
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... manhood suffrage in 1918 ushered in an era of even more persistent disappointment for the Left. Is the 20th century likely to become known as the ‘Conservative century’? This is the claim which AnthonySeldon and Stuart Ball advance in the wide-ranging and thought-provoking volume which they have edited. ‘Either standing alone or as the most powerful element in a coalition,’ they write, ‘the ...
6 May 1982
Churchill’s Political Philosophy 
by Martin Gilbert.
Oxford, 119 pp., £8, November 1981, 0 19 726005 5
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Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years 
by Martin Gilbert.
Macmillan, 279 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 333 32564 8
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Churchill and de Gaulle 
by François Kersaudy.
Collins, 476 pp., £12.95, September 1981, 0 00 216328 4
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The Diaries of Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart 
edited by Kenneth Young.
Macmillan, 800 pp., £30, October 1981, 0 333 18480 7
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Churchill’s Indian Summer 
by Anthony Seldon.
Hodder, 667 pp., £14.95, October 1981, 0 340 25456 4
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... servants than the Battle of Britain.’ The diaries after 1945, the sad story of a writer’s battle against drink and debt, are mainly of interest for Bruce Lockhart’s many conversations with Anthony Eden. The recurrent topic was the aging Churchill’s refusal to step down as leader of the Opposition. It is clearer than ever that if the Conservatives could have quietly dumped the old man between ...

The Second Resolution Question

Owen Bennett-Jones: Post-Invasion Iraq

31 May 2017
Iraq: The Cost of War 
by Jeremy Greenstock.
Heinemann, 467 pp., £25, November 2016, 978 1 78515 125 5
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... Bremer’s edicts might have been too severe: ‘the viceroy snapped at him. The message was clear: Don’t contradict me.’ In 2006 Greenstock discussed his powerlessness with Blair’s biographer AnthonySeldon: ‘I often questioned their decision, which is the kind of discussion you have in every Foreign Office corridor on any issue. But it’s not natural in the American style, which is to know ...
26 November 1987
Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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Judges 
by David Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... than when British commentators contemplate the successes and failures of the post-war British polity. To celebrate the launching of the Institute of Contemporary British History, Peter Hennessy and Anthony Sheldon have edited an engaging collection of essays on post-war British governments, starting with Paul Addison on the wartime background to Attlee’s success, and ending with some surprisingly ...

The Darth Vader Option

Colin Kidd: The Tories

24 January 2013
The Conservatives since 1945: The Drivers of Party Change 
by Tim Bale.
Oxford, 372 pp., £55, September 2012, 978 0 19 923437 0
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The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron 
by Tim Bale.
Polity, 471 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 7456 4858 3
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Reconstructing Conservatism? The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1997-2010 
by Richard Hayton.
Manchester, 166 pp., £60, September 2012, 978 0 7190 8316 7
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... the priest, and having slain him, he retained office till he was himself slain by a stronger or a craftier.’ By the early 1950s the Tory Party seemed to require bloody renewal of this sort. Would Anthony Eden wield the knife against its leader, the elderly and infirm Winston Churchill? For Churchill, who was further debilitated by a stroke in 1953, was resolute on one subject: that he would not cede ...

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