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Falklands Retrospect

Hugo Young, 17 August 1989

The Little Platoon: Diplomacy and the Falklands Dispute 
by Michael Charlton.
Blackwell, 230 pp., £14.95, June 1989, 0 631 16564 9
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... When the Falklands War broke out, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office was Sir Michael Palliser. He was not disposed to blame his department for the catastrophe. Unlike the Prime Minister, for whom the war was proof of Foreign Office incompetence if not perfidy, Sir Michael pleaded after the event that he had been, in a sense, let down ...


Hugo Young, 24 November 1994

The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe 
by Colm Tóibín.
Cape, 296 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 224 03767 6
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... In Cracow, the queue for confession stretched beyond the cathedral doors, most of it made up of young people. In Gdansk, one reason for the vitality of religious observance suggested itself: there was simply nothing else to do. ‘Once the churches closed that night in Gdansk at around eleven o’clock there was nobody wandering in the shadowy streets, and ...

Rubbishing the revolution

Hugo Young, 5 December 1991

Thatcher’s People 
by John Ranelagh.
HarperCollins, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1991, 0 00 215410 2
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Staying Power 
by Peter Walker.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1034 2
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... of Leo Amery or an unexploited gap in the insurance market. He stood for Parliament at 23, ran the Young Conservatives at 26, was beginning to be seriously rich before he was 30. He has a chapter on his money-making, which was shadowed by vicarious controversy after the collapse of Slater-Walker, the conglomerate put together by his former partner, Jim ...


Hugo Young, 24 March 1994

Europe: The Europe We Need 
by Leon Brittan.
Hamish Hamilton, 248 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 241 00249 4
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... Does Britain belong to Europe? Incredibly, this question dominated the politics of 1993. It had done the same in 1962, the year the Macmillan Government sought terms for entry into the Community; in 1972, when the Heath Government negotiated British membership; and in 1975, when the Wilson Government held a referendum. The referendum, in which 64 per cent of the voters said Yes, was supposed to determine the question, but long before 1993 the evidence accumulated that it had not entirely done so ...

Her way of helping me

Hugo Young, 6 December 1990

Listening for a Midnight Tram: Memoirs 
by John Junor.
Chapmans, 341 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 9781855925014
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... preferred him and received in return the admiration of a sycophant. When old Beaverbrook whistled, young Junor jumped, whether to go for walks at unreasonable times, dump his family and rush to the South of France, or sit through interminable hours of an old man’s reminiscence. So terrified was he that Beaverbrook, on the verge of making him editor of the ...

Longing for Mao

Hugo Young: Edward Heath, 26 November 1998

The Curse of My Life: My Autobiography 
by Edward Heath.
Hodder, 767 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 340 70852 2
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... and set him on the road, after an early false start in business and then in the Civil Service. The young man was looking for ‘a satisfactory passport to the upper echelons’, and had he been sent to the Treasury rather than Civil Aviation when he passed the Civil Service exam, Whitehall is where he might well have found it. Many, indeed, thought this should ...

Little More than an Extension of France

Hugo Young: The British Isles, 6 January 2000

The Isles: A History 
by Norman Davies.
Macmillan, 1222 pp., £30, November 1999, 9780333763704
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... The main island, the Great Isle, of what became known, centuries later, as the British Isles had a peculiar geography. It was ideally proportioned for the division that was eventually made of it. No inland location lay more than two days’ march from the coast, which gave a marked advantage to maritime invaders. The position of the main estuaries – the Solway, the Clyde, the Forth, the Dee, the Severn, the Thames and the Humber – made it possible for each of the more mountainous parts of the island to be isolated by invaders and guarded by them ...

Is this successful management?

R.W. Johnson, 20 April 1989

One of Us: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 570 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 333 34439 1
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... Ronald Reagan, about such then modish topics as supply-side economics and the evil empire. Hugo Young recalls the ‘patronising astonishment’ with which her Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, witnessed this effusive display. Asked by a colleague, on his return, how the visit had really gone, Carrington replied: ‘Oh, very well indeed. She ...

Goodness me

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 26 October 1989

Margaret, Daughter of Beatrice: A Politician’s Psycho-Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Leo Abse.
Cape, 288 pp., £13.95, September 1989, 0 224 02726 3
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... For a hero, Alderman Roberts may be lacking in style. ‘A cautious, thrifty fellow’ is how Hugo Young describes him and it’s easy to tell he isn’t impressed. But Alfred Roberts was an imposing figure in Grantham and his businesses worked at a time when a great many failed. What we chiefly know of his wife, the elusive Beatrice, is that her ...


Ian Gilmour: Britain and Europe, 10 December 1998

This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 558 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 333 57992 5
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... American domination, while inclining heavily towards the latter. Nobody is better qualified than Hugo Young to tell the sad tale of Britain’s fumblings with her neighbours since 1945. As well as having been a close observer of the British and American scene for some thirty years, he seems to have interviewed nearly everybody alive who had much to do ...

Dashing for Freedom

Paul Foot, 12 December 1996

Full Disclosure 
by Andrew Neil.
Macmillan, 481 pp., £20, October 1996, 0 333 64682 7
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... but came up at once with an alternative. ‘You should,’ he told Murdoch, ‘go for the best young journalist of his generation.’ ‘Oh yeah,’ Murdoch said, ‘and who would that be?’ ‘Andrew Neil of the Economist’ was Burnet’s reply. What is our source for this extraordinary conversation? The aforesaid Andrew Neil, on page 25 of this ...

Europe or America?

Ian Gilmour, 7 November 2019

... When his book ‘This Blessed Plot’ came out in 1998, Hugo Young said that it was ‘the story of fifty years in which Britain struggled to reconcile the past she could not forget with the future she could not avoid’. Ian Gilmour reviewed the book in the ‘LRB’ of 10 December 1998. What he says seems apposite ...

On Thatcher

Karl Miller, 25 April 2013

... Runciman bearing the palm for aphoristic conciseness. In embarking on a review, also in 1989, of Hugo Young’s biography of her, R.W. Johnson was also concise: ‘personally, she is neither nice nor interesting. She has immense energy, remarkable tenacity and stamina, and a good brain. But she has a shallow mind, little imagination and an ...

William Rodgers reads the papers

William Rodgers, 19 February 1987

The Market for Glory: Fleet Street Ownership in the 20th Century 
by Simon Jenkins.
Faber, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14627 9
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The End of the Street 
by Linda Melvern.
Methuen, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 413 14640 5
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... veteran Bob Carvel of the London Standard, although rather quicker on his feet. Above all, it has Hugo Young. There is a fierce burning light about his work. He cares and despairs like an angry priest and is harsh with politicians because they let him down. He is a liberal, not a populist, but his party affiliations remain concealed. The arrival of ...
... moreover, no end to her presumption: to the already notorious quotes one can add another culled by Hugo Young, who finds her measuring ‘my performance against that of other countries in the real world’.R.W. Johnson, 20 April 1989If​ you want to see the cutting edge of Thatcherism, go to Basingstoke. There, as we learn in Paul Hirst’s After ...

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