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Disgrace Abounding

E.S. Turner, 7 January 1988

A Class Society at War: England 1914-18 
by Bernard Waites.
Berg, 303 pp., £25, November 1987, 0 907582 65 6
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Working for Victory? Images of Women in the First World War 
by Diana Condell and Jean Liddiard.
Routledge, 201 pp., £19.95, November 1987, 0 7102 0974 6
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The Countryside at War 1914-18 
by Caroline Dakers.
Constable, 238 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 0 09 468060 4
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When Jim Crow met John Bull: Black American Soldiers in World War Two Britain 
by Graham Smith.
Tauris, 265 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 9781850430391
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... How did the Great War – the first total war – affect the class structure of English society? An exhaustive answer, as Bernard Waites recognises, is probably beyond the power of any one historian. The difficulty is that class structure, or ‘social differentiation’, is something which, unlike crime or illegitimacy or whooping cough, defies both definition and statistical analysis ...

Memoriousness

E.S. Turner, 15 September 1988

Memories of Times Past 
by Louis Heren.
Hamish Hamilton, 313 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 241 12427 1
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Chances: An Autobiography 
by Mervyn Jones.
Verso, 311 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 86091 167 5
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... of American Marines stacked like cordwood in Korea, awaiting shipment home. Heren, born in the East End of London, was taken on as a messenger boy in Printing House Square when Geoffrey Dawson was at the helm. If, fifty years on, he had succeeded to the editorship, he would have known better than to cast himself as an unofficial member of the ...

Uncle William

E.S. Turner, 13 June 1991

The Passing of Barchester: A Real-Life Version of Trollop 
by Clive Dewey.
Hambledon, 199 pp., £14.95, April 1991, 1 85285 039 6
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... of life’s prizes William hardly compared with his elder brother George, who was chairman of the East India Company and a Member of Parliament for the City of London, and who could steer a man towards a governorship of a province worth as much as many a bishopric. Lyall’s clients seem not to have entered holy orders from any overwhelming desire to save ...

Not bothered

E.S. Turner, 29 August 1991

The Bachelor Duke: William Spencer Cavendish, Sixth Duke of Devonshire, 1790-1858 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 234 pp., £19.95, March 1991, 0 7195 4920 5
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... William Spencer Cavendish, sixth Duke of Devonshire, was born ‘in a somewhat furtive manner for a baby of his exalted rank’. In 1790 his father, the fifth Duke, and his mother, the giddy Duchess Georgiana, had been travelling in the Low Countries, where the Austrian threat became such that they bolted for the safety of Revolutionary Paris. The party included the Duke’s mistress, Lady Elizabeth Foster, and his four young children, two of them by Lady Elizabeth, whose company Georgiana ‘for reasons best known to herself ...

Keeping the peace

E.S. Turner, 2 April 1987

March to the South Atlantic: 42 Commando Royal Marines in the Falklands War 
by Nick Vaux and Max Hastings.
Buchan and Enright, 261 pp., £11.50, November 1986, 0 907675 56 5
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Further Particulars: Consequences of an Edwardian Boyhood 
by C.H. Rolph.
Oxford, 231 pp., £12.50, January 1987, 0 19 211790 4
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... The French Marshal MacMahon said: ‘I shall remove from my promotion list any officer whose name I have seen on the cover of a book.’ He spoke for high commanders everywhere. ‘Damn your writing, mind your fighting’ was the snub likely to greet a British officer with literary pretensions. The Duke of Cambridge opposed the founding of the Army Journal and the Cavalry Journal on the grounds that nothing but indiscipline could result from allowing serving officers to discuss their profession in print ...

Blacks and Blues

E.S. Turner, 4 June 1987

The Life of My Choice 
by Wilfred Thesiger.
Collins, 459 pp., £15, May 1987, 9780002161947
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Worlds Apart: Travels in War and Peace 
by Gavin Young.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 09 168220 7
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... of compensating for salt deficiency by mixing cows’ urine in the milk: ‘I always gave someone else my share of this blend.’ Thesiger says things like: ‘I had no intention of marrying; I valued personal freedom too highly for that. As for money, I had no expensive tastes, and wanted only to serve in places remote from civilisation, where the cost of ...

Trevelogue

E.S. Turner, 25 June 1987

The Golden Oriole: Childhood, Family and Friends in India 
by Raleigh Trevelyan.
Secker, 536 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 436 53403 7
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... chief scapegoat by Cecil Woodham-Smith, in The Great Hunger. He is a dominating figure – it is easy to see why Trollope cast him as Sir Gregory Hardlines in The Three Clerks – and one is grateful whenever the course of the book’s meanderings gives another excuse to appraise his career. Perhaps it is time he had a biography to himself. It was his ...

High Spirits

E.S. Turner, 17 March 1988

Living dangerously 
by Ranulph Fiennes.
Macmillan, 263 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 333 44417 5
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The Diaries of Lord Louis Mountbatten 1920-1922: Tours with the Prince of Wales 
edited by Philip Ziegler.
Collins, 315 pp., £15, November 1987, 0 00 217608 4
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Touch the Happy Isles: A Journey through the Caribbean 
by Quentin Crewe.
Joseph, 302 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 7181 2822 2
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... which used 35,798 tons of fuel oil on the Australia-New Zealand tour alone, with India, the Far East and Japan still to come. Mountbatten, then 19, went along to jolly the difficult and moody Prince, six years his senior. His log is laced with indiscretions to lighten the otherwise tedious record of receptions, parades, gun salutes and tribal dances. A ...

Soldier, Sailor, Poacher

E.S. Turner, 3 October 1985

Great Britons: 20th-Century Lives 
by Harold Oxbury.
Oxford, 371 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 19 211599 5
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The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes 
edited by Max Hastings.
Oxford, 514 pp., £9.50, October 1985, 0 19 214107 4
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The Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain 
by Harry Hopkins.
Secker, 344 pp., £12.95, August 1985, 9780436201028
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... the sports cartoonist, gains his niche, but not ‘Beachcomber’. Enough of that; the game is too easy to play. The entries are skilfully ‘potted’, judicious in the DNB manner, but the more one browses the more it is apparent that a double standard is operating. In one class, that of the learned editors, the physicists and the cataract surgeons, the ...

Hairy

E.S. Turner, 1 October 1987

The war the Infantry knew 1914-1919: A Chronicle of Service in France and Belgium 
by Captain J.C. Dunn, introduced by Keith Simpson.
Jane’s, 613 pp., £18, April 1987, 0 7106 0485 8
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Passchendaele: The Story behind the Tragic Victory of 1917 
by Philip Warner.
Sidgwick, 269 pp., £13.95, June 1987, 0 283 99364 2
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Poor Bloody Infantry: A Subaltern on the Western Front 1916-17 
by Bernard Martin.
Murray, 174 pp., £11.95, April 1987, 0 7195 4374 6
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... Three writers on the strength is a potential embarrassment for any fighting unit. In the Great War the Second Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers could muster Robert Graves (Good-bye to All That), Siegfried Sassoon (Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer) and Frank Richards (not, as some have supposed, the creator of Billy Bunter but the author of Old soldiers never die, an excellent view of the war by a Regular in the ranks ...

On my way to the Couch

E.S. Turner, 30 March 1989

On my way to the Club 
by Ludovic Kennedy.
Collins, 429 pp., £15, January 1989, 0 00 217617 3
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... after Mr Kennedy had interviewed a nervous Cardinal Hume: ‘By his assurance, condescension, ease of posture and conversational initiative, Mr Kennedy might just as well have been a bishop testing a candidate for ordination.’ Clearly here is a man with all the confidence and aplomb in the world. As the recent chairman of Did you see? he smoothly ...

Fit only to be a greengrocer

E.S. Turner, 23 September 1993

Rider Haggard and the Lost Empire 
by Tom Pocock.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £20, August 1993, 0 297 81308 0
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... the young adventurer decided that the time had come to make money out of Africa, like everyone else. Instead of digging for gold or diamonds, he turned to supplying ostrich feathers for fine ladies back home. Four years after hoisting the Union flag he and his wife (a ‘brick’ of a girl, not his first choice) rented their house at £50 a week to the ...

Heroic Irrigations

E.S. Turner, 6 December 1990

The English Spa 1560-1815: A Social History 
by Phyllis Hembry.
Athlone, 401 pp., £35, October 1990, 0 485 11374 0
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The Medical History of Waters and Spas 
edited by Roy Porter.
Wellcome Institute, 150 pp., £18, September 1990, 0 85484 095 8
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... tossed on to the street overnight and the hotels were stuffed with refugees from Whitehall. Where else could Fuel Controllers and Wool Controllers have been put up in safety? The Admiralty packed its thousands into Bath and is only now pulling out. In Llandrindod Wells, as one well remembers, the Army erected notices warning officer cadets not to drink the ...

‘Turbot, sir,’ said the waiter

E.S. Turner, 4 April 1991

After Hours with P.G. Wodehouse 
by Richard Usborne.
Hutchinson, 201 pp., £15.99, February 1991, 0 09 174712 0
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... When Bishop Berkeley wrote his philosophical treatise linking tar-water, that sovereign cure-all, with the sublimest mysteries of the Christian religion, a lay critic said it reminded him of the man who began by talking about Alexander’s battles and ended up by describing an Armenian wheelbarrow. That is how it was in the bar parlour of Wodehouse’s Angler’s Rest: ‘In our little circle I have known an argument on the Final Destination of the Soul to change inside forty seconds into one concerning the best method of preserving bacon fat ...

Hogged

E.S. Turner, 22 January 1998

Shipwrecks of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Eras 
by Terence Grocott.
Chatham, 430 pp., £30, November 1997, 1 86176 030 2
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... naked and subsisting on sago’. Happily no such fate befell the survivors of the East Indiaman Sydney, who reached those treacherous parts after four thousand miles of tropical seas in a longboat, possibly a record. In the wine-laden galliot which picked up the crew of the frigate Apollo, rank distinctions were observed: the 22 officers ...

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