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Off-Screen Drama

Richard Mayne, 5 March 1981

European Elections and British Politics 
by David Butler.
Longman, 208 pp., £9.95, February 1981, 0 582 29528 9
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Political Change in Europe: The Left and the Future of the Atlantic Alliance 
edited by Douglas Eden.
Blackwell, 163 pp., £8.95, January 1981, 0 631 12525 6
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... in effect a siege economy, turning isolationist and perhaps neutral between East and West. As Douglas Eden and F.E. Short make clear in their patchy symposium on Political Change in Europe, these views are rare on the Continent. But objectives not unlike them were spelled out in Britain by ‘Labour’s Programme 1976’, the first comprehensive ...

Real Thing

John Naughton, 24 November 1988

Live from Number 10: The Inside Story of Prime Ministers and Television 
by Michael Cockerell.
Faber, 352 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 571 14757 7
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... broadcasts (begun in 1951) and the odd ministerial broadcast of the kind pioneered by Anthony Eden. Mr Cockerell’s treatment of his subject is strictly chronological. He starts with Earliest Times and finishes at the Present Day. Well, not quite the present, for the closing chapter takes us only to the last General Election. Earliest times in this ...

Bad Timing

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

EdenThe 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 ...

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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... 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 ...

Top Failure

John Rodgers, 17 September 1981

R.A. Butler: An English Life 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Quartet, 167 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 7043 2258 7
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... prime minister. He believed, with reason, that he should have been chosen in 1963, instead of Douglas-Home, and in 1957 instead of Macmillan; he has even said that he felt he, rather than Anthony Eden, should have followed Churchill as prime minister. Butler had little regard for ...

Standing on the Wharf, Weeping

Greg Dening: Australia, 25 September 2003

The Enlightenment and the Origins of European Australia 
by John Gascoigne.
Cambridge, 233 pp., £45, September 2002, 0 521 80343 8
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Looking for Blackfella’s Point: An Australian History of Place 
by Mark McKenna.
New South Wales, 268 pp., £14.50, August 2002, 0 86840 644 9
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Words for Country: Landscape and Language in Australia 
by Tim Bonyhady and Tom Griffiths.
New South Wales, 253 pp., £15.50, October 2001, 0 86840 628 7
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The Land Is a Map: Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia 
edited by Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges and Jane Simpson.
Pandanus, 304 pp., AUS $39.95, October 2002, 1 74076 020 4
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... with a disgusted shrug. This is no admiring boast of the power of modern technology.’ For Kirsty Douglas, the signs of water are everywhere evident to the observer who walks, drives or flies across the semi-arid landscapes of south-eastern Australia. From the dry channels and huge fossil meander belts of the Riverine Plain . . . to the salt that has been ...

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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... 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 the premiership to Eden. At ...

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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... top. When Churchill bowed out – much later than anyone expected – it was obvious that Anthony Eden would succeed him and Eden was three years younger than Mr Macmillan. Moreover, few people would have put him even as high as being the runner-up to Eden. Mr Butler, who was younger than ...

Churchill by moonlight

Paul Addison, 7 November 1985

The Fringes of Power: Downing Street Diaries 1939-1955 
by John Colville.
Hodder, 796 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 340 38296 1
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... During the phoney war he belonged to the up-and-coming circle of young appeasers, including Alec Douglas-Home and R.A. Butler, who flourished under the patronage of Neville Chamberlain. There was much talk of the prospects for a compromise peace with Germany, and of the menace of Soviet Communism. Churchill was regarded as a dangerous adventurer, liable to ...

Jingoes

R.W. Johnson: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War, 6 May 2004

The Lion and the Springbok: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War 
by Ronald Hyam and Peter Henshaw.
Cambridge, 379 pp., £45, May 2003, 0 521 82453 2
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... indeed, there was always a group which felt that should some mishap befall Churchill, Smuts, not Eden, would be the leader to turn to. But other South African politicians inspired the deepest contempt. When Hertzog replaced Smuts in 1924, Lord Selborne, previously the high commissioner, wrote that he intended to build an Afrikaner state ‘no more advanced ...

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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... so far short of his father’s, Macmillan said: ‘Because you weren’t ruthless enough.’ When Eden offered him the Exchequer, Macmillan did a Gordon Brown: insisting that ‘as chancellor, I must be undisputed head of the home front, under you’ and that there could be no question of his predecessor, Butler, being accorded the title of deputy prime ...

Always the Same Dream

Ferdinand Mount: Princess Margaret, 4 January 2018

Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 423 pp., £16.99, September 2017, 978 0 00 820361 0
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... to clamber aboard, saying that not to meet the Snowdons was ‘like being in the Garden of Eden without seeing God’. Marlon Brando persuaded Kenneth Tynan to ask her to dinner à trois and then was so tongue-tied that he couldn’t address a word to her except through Tynan: ‘Would you ask the princess what she thinks of …’ Tynan himself wanted ...

Because It’s Ugly

Jonathan Rosen: Double-Crested Cormorants, 8 October 2014

The Double-Crested Cormorant: Plight of a Feathered Pariah 
by Linda Wires.
Yale, 349 pp., £20, June 2014, 978 0 300 18711 3
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... biblical notion of uncleanness, though not for the reason she gives. In Purity and Danger, Mary Douglas identifies ‘unclean’ creatures as those that inhabit multiple realms and live between categories. That’s the source of their ‘danger’. The cormorant – which nests on the ground as well as in trees, and which flies, dives, floats and walks ...

Play Again?

Matthew Reynolds: Douglas Coupland’s ‘JPod’, 3 August 2006

JPod 
by Douglas Coupland.
Bloomsbury, 448 pp., £12.99, June 2006, 9780747582229
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... Douglas Coupland’s new book is both more than a novel and less. There is a JPod website where you can see the six main characters represented as Lego figurines, hear some of their favourite songs, and join in ‘pod pastimes’ – not much at present beyond selling yourself on eBay, but more is said to be ‘coming soon ...

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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... of how he was outmanoeuvred for this position – in 1956 (not unexpectedly or improperly) by Eden, in 1957 (with great cunning) by Harold Macmillan, and finally in 1963 (almost accidentally) by Alec Douglas-Home – makes fascinating and often distasteful reading. Quite why Rab was pushed aside in this way, and why he ...

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