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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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... repeated two decades later in 1957, when Duncan Sandys as Ministcr for Defence gave nuclear weapons an overriding priority and abolished National Service; and a quartet of a century after that, when JohnNott wrote off ‘out of area’ commitments, and slashed back the Navy on the eve of the Falklands affair. But the greatest civilian despot of them all was Winston Churchill, who, having observed ...
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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... outside the Foreign Office. The Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, the only major domestic player not to contribute to Michael Charlton’s study, let it get buried. The Defence Secretary, JohnNott, here speaks for the collective. ‘The Falkland Islands did not interest me,’ he tells Charlton. ‘I don’t think I would have really spent a lot of time mugging up my brief on matters ...
21 November 1985
Carrington: A Life and a Policy 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Dent, 182 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 460 04691 8
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Thatcher: The First Term 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Bodley Head, 240 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 370 30602 3
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Viva Britannia: Mrs Thatcher’s Britain 
by Paolo Filo della Torre.
Sidgwick, 101 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 283 99143 7
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... Wind of Change’ speech of 1960, which charted our withdrawal from Africa. Carrington was certainly the casualty of the Falklands War, although if blame is to be allocated, I would place it on Sir JohnNott, the Secretary of State for Defence, whose policy of running down the Royal Navy (with Mrs Thatcher’s support) gave the Junta the signal it sought to embark on a bit of smash and grab. I was ...
20 May 1982
... military aggression in the Falklands – otherwise known as the re-integration of the Malvin-as – Opposition leaders were being hounded for instant comment. Crucially, Labour’s Defence Spokesman, John Silkin, went onto the important World at One radio programme, and seemed to commit the Opposition to a belligerent reaction. Uncharacteristically, I leapt to my telephone to ask what was going on ...


Susan Pedersen

6 October 2011
Structures and Transformations in Modern British History 
edited by David Feldman and Jon Lawrence.
Cambridge, 331 pp., £50, January 2011, 978 0 521 51882 6
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The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain 
edited by Simon Gunn and James Vernon.
California, 271 pp., £20.95, May 2011, 978 0 9845909 5 7
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Classes, Cultures and Politics: Essays on British History for Ross McKibbin 
edited by Clare Griffiths, John Nott and William Whyte.
Oxford, 320 pp., £65, April 2011, 978 0 19 957988 4
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... sources (survey data, romance novels) historians might use to get at popular attitudes in the 1950s, and splendid articles on why London taxi-drivers became natural recruits to Thatcherism (by John Davis) and on how neoliberal interests and institutions successfully targeted trade unionists as the enemy within (by Ben Jackson). None of the essays has much truck with grand theory; their authors ...
15 August 1991
Statement on the Defence Estimates: Britain’s Defence for the Nineties 
HMSO, 157 pp., £8, July 1991, 0 10 115592 1Show More
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... of reach of friendly land-based air-bases. Ministers of Defence have tried to phase out carriers ever since the abandonment of an East of Suez role in the Sixties. The last such attempt was made by JohnNott just before the Falklands War. 5. Out-of-area capabilities. The White Paper emphasises the need to retain a ‘national capability to deal with contingencies outside the Nato area’, such as ...


Clive James

20 May 1982
... courts a sojourn in the Tower Of London with a yeoman as a guard. War fever mounts. All one can do is watch it And hope that this time our side doesn’t botch it. The Secretary of Defence, JohnNott, Has made a whopping balls-up in the House. The Foreign Secretary’s on the spot, Loudly accused of being short of nous. The top gun-boat exponent of the lot, A prancing lion where once crouched a ...
6 March 2014
In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... a non-competitive pact between the Tories and the Lloyd George Liberals, now semi-detached from the Liberal Party of Herbert Asquith. Further schisms followed. The Liberal Nationals, under Sir John Simon, joined the National Government of 1931 and continued for the next thirty years co-operating closely with the Conservatives. Under the Woolton-Teviot Agreement of 1947 the Liberal Nationals ...


Bernard Porter: The Falklands War

20 October 2005
The Official History of the Falklands Campaign. Vol. I: The Origins of the Falklands War 
by Lawrence Freedman.
Routledge, 253 pp., £35, June 2005, 0 7146 5206 7
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The Official History of the Falklands Campaign. Vol. II: War and Diplomacy 
by Lawrence Freedman.
Routledge, 849 pp., £49.95, June 2005, 0 7146 5207 5
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... as a historian than because of the ‘sir’. He is pretty kind to nearly everyone on the British side (not so much to the Americans). Even ‘poor old Notters’ (Alan Clark on the defence secretary JohnNott) comes out of it quite well. This is a highly empathetic account of the British campaign, but Freedman doesn’t pretend otherwise. ‘It has expressly not been my task,’ he writes at the ...

Grieve not, but try again

N.A.M. Rodger: Submarines

21 September 2016
The Silent Deep: The Royal Navy Submarine Service since 1945 
by Peter Hennessy and James Jinks.
Allen Lane, 823 pp., £12.99, June 2016, 978 1 84614 580 3
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... interest in anti-submarine work, was urging Nato to abandon convoys altogether, since Russian submarine-launched missiles would make both merchant ships and surface warships dangerously vulnerable. (JohnNott, for one, was persuaded.) The Americans assumed that the Russians were aiming for a great fleet battle – what other purpose could a large navy have? – but a battle fought largely by ...
9 March 1995
... era, the novel idea of ‘offering to resign’ (rather than simply ‘resigning’) was developed as a way of allowing honourable men to stay in office without appearing to want to do so. JohnNott offered his resignation after the Falklands invasion but he allowed himself to be persuaded by Mrs Thatcher to stay in office. William Whitelaw has written that he wanted to resign as Home Secretary ...

By San Carlos Water

Neal Ascherson

18 November 1982
Authors take sides on the Falklands 
edited by Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £4.95, August 1982, 0 900821 63 9
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The Falklands War: The Full Story 
by the Sunday Times ‘Insight’ Team.
Deutsch and Sphere, 276 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 0 233 97515 2
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The Winter War: The Falklands 
by Patrick Bishop and John​ Witherow.
Quartet, 153 pp., £2.95, September 1982, 0 7043 3424 0
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Iron Britannia: Why Parliament waged its Falklands war 
by Anthony Barnett.
Allison and Busby, 160 pp., £2.95, November 1982, 0 85031 494 1
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Falklands/Malvinas: Whose Crisis? 
by Martin Honeywell.
Latin American Bureau, 135 pp., £1.95, September 1982, 0 906156 15 7
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Los Chicos de la Guerra 
by Daniel Kon.
Editorial Galerna, Buenos Aires, August 1982
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A Message from the Falklands: The Life and Gallant Death of David Tinker, Lieut RN 
compiled by Hugh Tinker.
Junction, 224 pp., £3.50, November 1982, 0 86245 102 7
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... older, he said contentedly: ‘Well, at least there was absolutely no question about the rights and wrongs. The place was ours, and we went and took it back.’ In The Winter War, Patrick Bishop and John Witherow (who went with the Task Force for the Observer and the Times) conclude: The war had everything in its favour. It was neat and tidy. It had a simple motive and a simple response … No war ...

Bard of Tropes

Jonathan Lamb: Thomas Chatterton

20 September 2001
Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture 
by Nick Groom.
Palgrave, 300 pp., £55, September 1999, 0 333 72586 7
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... which uses phrases that are heard again in Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Keats’s ‘Ode to a Nightingale’: How dydd I know thatt ev’ry darte Thatt cutte the airie waie Mighte nott fynde a passage to my harte And close myne eyes for aie? ‘Half the poetry of the 18th century is probably written by him,’ a character says in Peter Ackroyd’s novel Chatterton. Yet he appeals ...


David Runciman: Thatcher’s Rise

6 June 2013
Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography. Vol. I: Not for Turning 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 859 pp., £30, April 2013, 978 0 7139 9282 3
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... who called themselves the Blue Chips and in October 1981 published a pamphlet called Changing Gear, were the only ones among her critics who got her remotely right. They included Chris Patten, John Patten, William Waldegrave and Tristan Garel-Jones, and were soon to be joined by John Major. In the pamphlet they used as an epigraph a line from Macmillan: ‘We have at least the most important ...
3 March 1983
The Falklands Campaign: The Lessons 
HMSO, 46 pp., £3.95, December 1982Show More
Sea Change 
by Keith Speed.
Ashgrove Press, 194 pp., £7.95, December 1982, 0 906798 20 5
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One Man’s Falklands 
by Tam Dalyell.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.50, December 1982, 0 900821 65 5
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War in the Falklands: The Campaign in Pictures 
Weidenfeld, 154 pp., £7.95, November 1982, 0 297 78202 9Show More
Armed Forces and the Welfare Societies: Challenges in the 1980s 
edited by Gwyn Harries-Jenkins.
Macmillan, 281 pp., £20, December 1982, 0 333 33542 2
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... 1984.’ At this point enter Mr Keith Speed with an unrepentant and still unsatisfied ‘I told you so’. In May 1981 he was dismissed as Navy Minister (the last, as it turned out) for opposing Mr Nott’s proposed naval reductions at a time of rapidly expanding Soviet naval power and influence. Mr Speed, a former naval officer and an avowed navalist, finds his paragon in Admiral Gorshkov ...

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