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Mussolini in Peace and War

Martin Gilbert, 6 May 1982

by Denis Mack Smith.
Weidenfeld, 429 pp., £12.95, February 1982, 0 297 78005 0
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Mussolini Unleashed 1939-41 
by MacGregor Knox.
Cambridge, 384 pp., £22.50, March 1982, 0 521 23917 6
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... These two books make an intriguing tandem, the one a broad perspective of the whole span of Mussolini’s life, the other a detailed study of less than three years. The wider canvas is a delight to read, and through it Denis Mack Smith will find an even wider readership for the formidable knowledge he has already shown in his more specialist writings ...

Ruthless Young Man

Michael Brock, 14 September 1989

Churchill: 1874-1922 
by Frederick Earl of Birkenhead, edited by Sir John Colville.
Harrap, 552 pp., £19.95, August 1989, 0 245 54779 7
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... only the first two of these had been published. The Trustees of the Chartwell Papers then invited Martin Gilbert to complete this multi-volume work, and the second Earl of Birkenhead to complement it with a one-volume Life. While Martin Gilbert and his team were at work Lord Birkenhead was to be the only other ...

Buggering on

Paul Addison, 21 July 1983

Winston Churchill: Companion Vol. V, Part III, The Coming of War 1936-1939 
by Martin Gilbert.
Heinemann, 1684 pp., £75, October 1982, 0 434 29188 9
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Finest Hour: Winston Churchill, 1939-1941 
by Martin Gilbert.
Heinemann, 1308 pp., £15.95, June 1983, 0 434 29187 0
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Churchill 1874-1915 
by Ted Morgan.
Cape, 571 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 224 02044 7
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The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 
by William Manchester.
Michael Joseph, 973 pp., £14.95, June 1983, 0 7181 2275 5
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... a variety of forms, both academic and popular. And on the academic side the pre-eminent authority, Martin Gilbert, has taken advantage of the ambitious scope of the official life to construct a triumphal arch of scholarship. Since 1968, 12 large volumes of the official biography have appeared under his name: four of narrative, and eight ...

Early Hillhead Man

Paul Addison, 6 May 1982

Churchill’s Political Philosophy 
by Martin Gilbert.
Oxford, 119 pp., £8, November 1981, 0 19 726005 5
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Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years 
by Martin Gilbert.
Macmillan, 279 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 333 32564 8
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Churchill and de Gaulle 
by François Kersaudy.
Collins, 476 pp., £12.95, September 1981, 0 00 216328 4
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The Diaries of Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart 
edited by Kenneth Young.
Macmillan, 800 pp., £30, October 1981, 0 333 18480 7
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Churchill’s Indian Summer 
by Anthony Seldon.
Hodder, 667 pp., £14.95, October 1981, 0 340 25456 4
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... British historians no longer see the world through Churchill’s eyes. The one great exception is Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s official biographer since the death of Randolph Churchill in 1968. Gilbert is constructing a latterday Blenheim in scholarship instead of stone, a monument that will endure whatever the ...

Churchill has nothing to hide

Paul Addison, 7 May 1987

Road to Victory: Winston Churchill 1941-1945 
by Martin Gilbert.
Heinemann, 1417 pp., £20, September 1986, 0 434 29186 2
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... The latest volume of Martin Gilbert’s Churchill biography is the fifth he has published since taking up the task in 1968. This time he accompanies Churchill on the long march from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour to VE Day. The book has all the strengths and weaknesses of its predecessors. It is a superbly researched chronicle, almost wholly devoid of explicit historical interpretation ...


Paul Addison, 7 July 1988

Never despair: Winston Churchill 1945-1965 
by Martin Gilbert.
Heinemann, 1438 pp., £25, May 1988, 9780434291823
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... The final volume of Martin Gilbert’s Life opens with Churchill celebrating the defeat of Germany in May 1945. He was 70 years old and completely exhausted. Two months later, he led his party to a shattering defeat at the general election. A lesser mortal would have taken the opportunity of retiring to the backbenches as an elder statesman ...

Poor Man’s War

Richard Overy, 12 October 1989

Second World War 
by Martin Gilbert.
Weidenfeld, 846 pp., £18.95, August 1989, 9780297796169
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The Second World War 
by John Keegan.
Hutchinson, 608 pp., £19.95, September 1989, 0 09 174011 8
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... and domesticated, nostalgic, cute; war seen from René’s deplorable café, not from Auschwitz. Martin Gilbert has built his own monument to the sufferers to mark the occasion. His history reminds us that the war has still spilt more blood than ink. The book is a bleak, desolate evocation of the horrors of war, a modern Waste Land, an unremitting ...

Short Cuts

Adam Shatz: Obsession with Islam, 9 October 2008

... are interspersed with footage of Nazi rallies and Hitler’s speeches. A chapter – narrated by Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s biographer – is devoted to the Mufti’s collaboration with Hitler. Scary Muslims are everywhere, and the umma stands more united than ever, driven by hatred of infidels and Jews and determined to conquer the West, a ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: How to concoct a conspiracy theory, 20 October 2005

... and humiliating subordination to an ascendant Islamic power to avoid enslavement or death. Martin Gilbert praises Eurabia as ‘a warning to Europe not to allow the anti-American and anti-Israel pressures of Islam to subvert Europe’s true values: vibrant democracy, humanitarian free thinking and social fair dealing’. Tell that to the Muslim ...


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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... Thus the blandly, uncritically admiring school of Churchillians, of whom his official biographer, Martin Gilbert, is the leader, could never have turned back the natural tide of scholarly scepticism which laps around the feet – especially the feet – of all deceased political leaders in the generation after their death. In Churchill’s case, several ...

For a Lark

Patricia Beer, 21 March 1996

Hearts Undefeated: Women’s Writing of the Second World War 
edited by Jenny Hartley.
Virago, 302 pp., £12.99, May 1995, 9781853816710
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... It was as though these voices had been held back for half a century and were now bursting out. Martin Gilbert in The Day the War Ended, a recent account of the year 1945, showed how inexorably this could happen. In appealing to the public for material from those times, he had imagined that such replies as he might receive ‘would provide an ...

Inhumane, Intolerant, Unclean

Ian Gilmour, 31 October 1996

A History of Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths 
by Karen Armstrong.
HarperCollins, 474 pp., £20, July 1996, 0 00 255522 0
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Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years 
by Israel Shahak.
Pluto, 118 pp., £11.99, April 1994, 9780745308180
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City of the Great King: Jerusalem from David to the Present 
edited by Nitza Rosovsky.
Harvard, 562 pp., £25.50, April 1996, 0 674 13190 8
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Jerusalem in the 20th Century 
by Martin Gilbert.
Chatto, 400 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 7011 3070 9
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Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict 
by Norman Finkelstein.
Verso, 230 pp., £39.95, December 1995, 1 85984 940 7
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To Rule Jerusalem 
by Roger Friedland and Richard Hecht.
Cambridge, 554 pp., £29.95, June 1996, 0 521 44046 7
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... and to their diaspora, as well as to at least five wars, with more, probably, to come. Martin Gilbert quotes a remark by Curzon, the British Foreign Secretary in 1920, which well conveys the frivolous irresponsibility of Balfour and Lloyd George. ‘The Prime Minister clings to Palestine for its sentimental and traditional value, and talks ...
Prince Charming: A Memoir 
by Christopher Logue.
Faber, 340 pp., £20, September 1999, 9780571197682
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... Second World War, to talk about Churchill’s war blunders, on which he’d written a book; and Martin Gilbert to speak about the fate of the Jews during the same period. No one would be able to accuse us of having a frivolous time. But, though I greatly esteemed Lamb and Gilbert, I realised that we still lacked a ...

Late Deceiver

Robert Blake, 17 September 1981

Anthony Eden 
by David Carlton.
Allen Lane, 528 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 7139 0829 7
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... for the ‘authorised’ biographer, and the second constitutes the principal material on which Mr Martin Gilbert is working for his great biography of Churchill. Mr Carlton’s work may therefore be ‘interim’ for other reasons than the Thirty Year Rule. Nevertheless this is undoubtedly an important book, the first major and serious biography of ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 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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... without the Shakespeare. The Preface is all suspicious brevity on the matter: ‘We regret that Martin Gilbert was unable to come to the conference.’ Perhaps Gilbert was simply busy, or recuperating from a white-water rafting or a hang-gliding contretemps. But of course the words can also be interpreted to mean ...

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