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The Suitors

Stephen W. Smith: China in Africa, 19 March 2015

China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa 
by Howard French.
Knopf, 285 pp., £22.50, June 2014, 978 0 307 95698 9
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... 800 million countrymen: wheat has a higher nutritional value than rice. That year, a 25-year-old French grain trader, Jean-Yves Ollivier, travelled to Hong Kong and crossed the Sham Chun River, the natural border with mainland China, to enter the town of Shenzhen, then hardly more than a fishing village. The far bank was dotted with red flags, portraits of ...

Will there be war?

Howard W. French: China at War, 28 July 2016

China and Global Nuclear Order: From Estrangement to Active Engagement 
by Nicola Horsburgh.
Oxford, 256 pp., £55, February 2015, 978 0 19 870611 3
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China’s Military Power: Assessing Current and Future Capabilities 
by Roger Cliff.
Cambridge, 378 pp., £21.99, September 2015, 978 1 107 50295 6
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China’s Coming War with Asia 
by Jonathan Holslag.
Polity, 176 pp., £14.99, March 2015, 978 0 7456 8825 1
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... On 1 October 1949​ , Mao Zedong stood on top of the Gate of Heavenly Peace to proclaim the victory of his revolution, and told the world that the long-suffering Chinese people had finally ‘stood up’. After decades of tremendous violence and turmoil, China was going to relaunch itself into the arduous and disorienting task of embracing modernity ...

Danger: English Lessons

R.W. Johnson: French v. English, 16 March 2017

Power and Glory: France’s Secret Wars with Britain and America, 1945-2016 
by R.T. Howard.
Biteback, 344 pp., £20, October 2016, 978 1 78590 116 4
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... In​ his monumental biography of De Gaulle, Jean Lacouture describes a meeting of the Free French in London in 1941 at which several of the younger members expressed their admiration for Churchill. In response De Gaulle warned them ‘never to forget that within him breathes the soul of Pitt’. What he meant was that every true Englishman is, at least potentially, an opponent of France ...

War within wars

Paul Addison, 5 November 1992

War, Strategy and International Politics: Essays in Honour of Sir Michael Howard 
edited by Lawrence Freedman, Paul Hayes and Robert O’Neill.
Oxford, 322 pp., £35, July 1992, 0 19 822292 0
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... As he looks forward to his 70th birthday Sir Michael Howard can also look back over a distinguished career which began with Wellington, Christ Church and the Coldstream Guards. In 1943, as Lieutenant Howard, fresh from the University, he led his platoon in a dangerous uphill charge against a German position north of Salerno ...

How to Be Tudor

Hilary Mantel: Can a King Have Friends?, 17 March 2016

Charles Brandon: Henry VIII’s Closest Friend 
by Steven Gunn.
Amberley, 304 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4456 4184 3
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... some of his rivals. Charles Brandon was part of a coterie of special favourites, with Edward Howard, Thomas Knyvett and Henry Guildford. In 1512, the young king went to war with France. Charles was given command of troops for a sea attack on Brittany, to be led by Edward Howard. With Thomas Knyvett on board, the Regent ...

The Great War Revisited

Michael Howard, 23 April 1987

The Myriad Faces of War: Britain and the Great War 1914-1918 
by Trevor Wilson.
Polity, 864 pp., £35, September 1986, 9780745600932
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British Strategy and War Aims 1914-1916 
by David French.
Allen and Unwin, 274 pp., £25, September 1986, 0 04 942197 2
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The Old Lie: The Great War and the Public School Ethos 
by Peter Parker.
Constable, 319 pp., £15, March 1987, 0 09 466980 5
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... social change. Recently a number of younger historians – Kathleen Birk, Keith Neilson, and David French in his first book British Economic and Strategic Planning 1905-1915 – have begun to consider some of the key questions of finance and economics. But until now nobody has tried to put all this specialist work together. The last oeuvre de synthèse was Sir ...

Haig-bashing

Michael Howard, 25 April 1991

Haig’s Command: A Reassessment 
by Denis Winter.
Viking, 362 pp., £18.99, February 1991, 0 670 80255 7
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... of the British armies in France was safer in his hands than in those of the mercurial Sir John French, whose incompetence at the Battle of Loos he was quite right to expose. Haig then presided successfully over the expansion of the British armies in France from 200,000 to over two million men. The offensives on the Somme and at Passchendaele may have been ...

The Thing

Michael Wood: Versions of Proust, 6 January 2005

In Search of Lost Time: Vol. I: The Way by Swann’s 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Lydia Davis.
Penguin, 496 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118031 5
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol.II: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by James Grieve.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118032 3
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. III: The Guermantes Way 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Mark Treharne.
Penguin, 640 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118033 1
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. IV: Sodom and Gomorrah 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by John Sturrock.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 9780141180342
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. V: ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘The Fugitive’ 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Carol Clark and Peter Collier.
Penguin, 720 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118035 8
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. VI: Finding Time Again 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Ian Patterson.
Penguin, 400 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118036 6
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The Proust Project 
edited by André Aciman.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., $25, November 2004, 0 374 23832 4
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... on them. There is nothing wrong with any of these versions, and there is no court of appeal in the French text. As Prendergast puts it, ‘no one has monopoly powers over the “correct”.’ We can prefer one version to another, but then we are choosing one understanding over another: either (mostly) the understanding we ourselves have, or (better) an ...

Travelling Hero

G.R. Wilson Knight, 19 February 1981

Coriolanus in Europe 
by David Daniell.
Athlone, 168 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 485 11192 6
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... mainly to its single-minded concentration on the personality of the hero as revealed by Alan Howard’s performance. This dominated the production and whatever our personal opinions might have been, it was clearly a grand achievement. It had an immediate appeal, and that is a final, or almost final, dramatic test. I have not myself seen it, but the ...

On Aetna’s Top

Howard Erskine-Hill, 4 September 1980

The Poetry of Abraham Cowley 
by David Trotter.
Macmillan, 162 pp., £10, September 1979, 0 333 24167 3
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... notion of the exhaustion of discourses, which connects perhaps indirectly with some contemporary French criticism, and with Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). These ideas may seem to yield the pedigree of the book, and are arguably the source of some falsification of the cultural history, as well as much that is of positive ...

Death of the Hero

Michael Howard, 7 January 1988

The Mask of Command 
by John Keegan.
Cape, 366 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 9780224019491
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... had confronted American generals since the establishment of their Republic, as it had confronted French generals from the outbreak of the Revolution. For them society no longer provided a ready-made hierarchy of command. The Napoleonic Wars still provided openings for heroic leadership but by the time of the American Civil Wars these had been firmly closed ...

Brattishness

Colin Burrow: Henry Howard, 11 November 1999

Henry Howard, the Poet Earl of Surrey: A Life 
by W.A. Sessions.
Oxford, 448 pp., £60, March 1999, 9780198186243
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... He was almost kingly in status. His first cousins included two queens (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard). He spent four years of his youth as the companion of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy. Howard blood was blue enough to pose a threat to the succession, as Surrey’s uncle Thomas discovered when he was ...

Every club in the bag

Michael Howard, 10 September 1992

The Chiefs: The Story of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff 
by Bill Jackson and Dwin Bramall.
Brassey, 508 pp., £29.95, April 1992, 0 08 040370 0
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... it necessary at all. The Navy, so it was hoped, would defend our shores (probably against the French) and the Army would police, and where necessary extend, the Empire. Both Services went their own ways to general public approval, so long as they made minimal demands on the taxpayer. Then the humiliations suffered by the Army in the Boer War, and the ...

English Proust

Christopher Prendergast, 8 July 1993

In Search of Lost Time 
by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright.
Chatto, £15, November 1992, 0 7011 3992 7
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... I transcribe here the real name of this family: they are called – and what name could be more French? – Larivière. (Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations in English are taken from D.J. Enright’s revised translation.) This passage is astonishing for a number of reasons, but principally for showing us a writer, famed for his advocacy of the ...

UN in the Wars

Michael Howard, 9 September 1993

The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis 
edited by William Durch.
St Martin’s, 509 pp., £29.95, May 1993, 0 312 06600 7
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... It was with these that the UN was initially called on to deal. In the Netherlands East Indies, in French Indochina, in the Indian subcontinent, above all in the former British mandate of Palestine, successor regimes fought the former colonial power or each other for international recognition and territorial control. When circumstances were propitious, they ...

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