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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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... 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Haleking

John Bossy: Simon Forman, 22 February 2001

The Notorious Astrological Physician of London: Works and Days of Simon Forman 
by Barbara Howard Traister.
Chicago, 260 pp., £19, February 2001, 0 226 81140 9
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Dr Simon Forman: A Most Notorious Physician 
by Judith Cook.
Chatto, 228 pp., £18.99, January 2001, 0 7011 6899 4
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... lady in life. Rowse found another Shakespearian connection who had consulted Forman: the wife of a French wig-maker in Silver Street in London, Mrs Mountjoy. Shakespeare had lodged with her, to spare expense while he was accumulating his property in Stratford, and was on close terms with the family. He acted for the Mountjoys in persuading one of their ...

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 ...

Boom

Arthur Marwick, 18 October 1984

War and Society in Europe 1870-1970 
by Brian Bond.
Leicester University Press/Fontana, 256 pp., £12, December 1983, 0 7185 1227 8
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Wars and Welfare: Britain 1914-1945 
by Max Beloff.
Arnold, 281 pp., £18.95, April 1984, 0 7131 6163 9
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The Causes of Wars, and Other Essays 
by Michael Howard.
Counterpoint, 291 pp., £3.95, April 1984, 0 04 940073 8
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... Hay is taken), and in 1969 Angus Calder published The People’s War. In the meantime, Michael Howard and Brian Bond, at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, widened the dimensions of the military history taught there. In 1970 the ‘Fontana History of War and Society’ was launched (‘society’ meaning British or English ...

Mizzlers

Patrick Parrinder, 26 July 1990

The Sorrow of Belgium 
by Hugo Claus, translated by Arnold Pomerans.
Viking, 609 pp., £14.99, June 1990, 0 670 81456 3
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Joanna 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Virago, 260 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 1 85381 158 0
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A Sensible Life 
by Mary Wesley.
Bantam, 364 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 9780593019306
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The Light Years 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Macmillan, 418 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 0 333 53875 7
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... until the outbreak of war Louis has never set eyes on a Jew), anti-socialist, anti-French, anti-Protestant, anti-Brussels and anti-government. Their right-wing Flemish Nationalist sympathies are restrained only by Louis’s grandfather’s anxiety to protect his monopoly over the sale of school supplies to the local convents. After the defeat ...

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