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22 May 1980
1943: The victory that never was 
by John Grigg.
Eyre Methuen, 255 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 9780413396105
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... It will be even more pleasing for those who might recall how, in the black-out of 1942 and 1943, they chalked on walls the near-seditious slogan, ‘Open the Second Front Now,’ to discover from JohnGrigg that they were right. The argument of his book is simple. We should have invaded France in the summer of 1943. Had we done so, he claims, the whole operation would have been simpler. We would ...
18 April 1985
Lloyd George: From Peace to War 1912-1916 
by John Grigg.
Methuen, 527 pp., £19.95, February 1985, 0 413 46660 4
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... fact that the answer to many, if not all, of these apparently contradictory questions seems to have been yes makes the mystery of Lloyd George all the more intractable. In the two earlier volumes of JohnGrigg’s biography the full ambiguity of Lloyd George’s character and role in history had yet to be revealed. Volume Three carries us into the heartland of the problem. The book opens in 1912 with ...

Squeamish

Peter Clarke: Lloyd George versus Haig

3 April 2003
Lloyd George: War Leader 
by John Grigg.
Allen Lane, 670 pp., £25, October 2002, 9780713993431
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... in its scale but in its self-imposed conventions. Given that a monument’s function is to celebrate a great personage, there is a need to look elsewhere for a more discriminating view. Inevitably, JohnGrigg’s biography of Lloyd George invites such comparisons and they redound almost wholly to Grigg’s credit, except in one obvious respect: beginning at much the same time, Gilbert actually ...

In the Front Row

Susan Pedersen: Loving Lloyd George

25 January 2007
. . . If Love Were All: The Story of Frances Stevenson and David Lloyd George 
by John​ Campbell.
Cape, 557 pp., £25, June 2006, 0 224 07464 4
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... exposed. Margaret and David Lloyd George continued to share houses, holidays, family cares and political duties; and Stevenson’s competence at her job (not to mention the fact that she looked, as John Campbell notes, ‘too prim to be anything so improper as a mistress’) warded off suspicion. But the real reason this triangular relationship endured unmolested was surely that, in some crucial ...
19 October 2006
Last Curtsey: The End of the Debutantes 
by Fiona MacCarthy.
Faber, 305 pp., £20, October 2006, 0 571 22859 3
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... apparent, the monarch herself, who alone had the power to do it, were united in their desire to bring it to an end. Indeed the curtsies might have been stopped the year before had it not been for JohnGrigg (then Lord Altrincham) whose sensational article in the National and English Review on the future of the monarchy had included a savage attack on debutantes and all they represented. The queen ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s

18 July 2013
Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... family-run firms that largely comprised the City of London’. When I was a National Serviceman in Hamburg after the war, I met a very interesting man, mentioned in these dispatches from the 1950s. John Harvey-Jones was a naval officer who talked to people as if they were all there, in a way that was strange among seniors, and he gave people books – in my case, Daisy Ashford’s The Young Visiters ...

Eden and Suez

David Gilmour

18 December 1986
Anthony Eden 
by Robert Rhodes James.
Weidenfeld, 665 pp., £16.95, October 1986, 0 297 78989 9
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Descent to Suez: Diaries 1951-56 
by Evelyn Shuckburgh, edited by John​ Charmley.
Weidenfeld, 380 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 297 78993 7
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Cutting the Lion’s Tail: Suez through Egyptian Eyes 
by Mohamed Heikal.
Deutsch, 242 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 233 97967 0
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The Suez Affair 
by Hugh Thomas.
Weidenfeld, 255 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 297 78953 8
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... problems with the support of the Foreign Office, but it was widely held that in politics he was a bit of a lightweight, a ‘natural number two’ who should never have become prime minister. JohnGrigg wrote of him before the Suez crisis: ‘Popularity means much more to him than it ever should mean to a statesman. Since the early days, when he was idolised by millions on account of his personal ...

Royalties

John​ Sutherland

14 June 1990
CounterBlasts No 10. The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain’s Favourite Fetish 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Chatto, 42 pp., £2.99, January 1990, 0 7011 3555 7
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The Prince 
by Celia Brayfield.
Chatto, 576 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3357 0
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The Maker’s Mark 
by Roy Hattersley.
Macmillan, 558 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 9780333470329
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A Time to Dance 
by Melvyn Bragg.
Hodder, 220 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 0 340 52911 3
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... with being a second-rate ex-colonial power, but they would not stand for Altrincham’s mild lèse-majesté. He was subjected to even more abuse from the British press and public than Nasser or John Foster Dulles. In a widely photographed incident, Altrincham was physically assaulted. His assailant shouted to the pressmen he had summoned to watch: ‘This is for insulting the Queen!’ The ...
11 March 1993
Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John​ Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... V. Jones, the happy beam-hunter of 1940 and premier intelligencer thereafter (... and Science), Norman Rose (and Zionism) and Roy Jenkins (the Government of 1951-55) are predictably good. The uneven John Keegan (... ’s Strategy), though seemingly disqualified by his recent published confession that he cannot understand Clausewitz, nevertheless succeeds here, correctly citing the one document that ...
26 November 1987
David Lloyd George: A Political Life. The Architect of Change, 1863-1912 
by Bentley Brinkerhoff Gilbert.
Batsford, 546 pp., £25, April 1987, 0 7134 5558 6
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... of the German government to respond to Grey’s remarks on 4 July, have convinced Lloyd George so suddenly that Germany was not the peaceful country he had long supposed, but one run by Junkers? JohnGrigg, whose work receives all too little recognition in this book, has pointed out that Lloyd George’s sympathy with France was nothing new. He had shown it 13 years earlier over Fashoda. The new ...

Big Man to Uncle Joe

Max Hastings: The Big Three

22 November 2018
The Kremlin Letters: Stalin’s Wartime Correspondence with Churchill and Roosevelt 
edited by David Reynolds and Vladimir Pechatnov.
Yale, 660 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 300 22682 9
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... Union, was responsible for the killing of far more innocents than was Hitler. Moreover, the relationship between the leaders of Britain and America was dogged by tensions neatly characterised by JohnGrigg when he wrote that Churchill became jealous of Roosevelt’s power, while Roosevelt was envious of Churchill’s genius. Grigg took the view that the prime minister ‘resented his enforced ...

Gruff Embraces

Philip Purser

21 October 1993
The Expense of Glory: A Life of John​ Reith 
by Ian McIntyre.
HarperCollins, 447 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 00 215963 5
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... quotes a letter from an elder brother, Archie, at the time of their mother’s death in 1935. Archie had actually braved their father’s displeasure, and become an Anglican parson. After chiding John for pushing himself into the forefront of all their mother’s obituaries he has a swipe at his famous brother’s double standards: When I recall Father’s intense dislike of the Church of England ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor

1 June 2016
David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... not physical damage. Only many years of psychoanalysis, he believed, had saved him from self-destruction through anxiety and depression. Most mornings, the car that took him from his home in St John’s Wood to the Observer offices near Fleet Street would divert to Sigmund Freud’s old house in Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, where Freud’s daughter Anna still saw patients. There, Astor would ...

The Satoshi Affair

Andrew O’Hagan

29 June 2016
... senders and receivers are identified only by digital pseudonyms (public keys) and every message is signed by its sender and encrypted to its receiver’. The public key, or address, is matched, as John Lanchester handily described it in the LRB, to ‘a private key which provides access to that address’. A key is really just a string of numbers and digits: the public key demonstrates ownership of ...

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