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19 December 1985
... It is only fitting that nations should honour their poets, for poets shape the soul of the nation. They take our language, use it to mould the images and the thoughts which we share in common, and in so doing they enrich and develop the language itself. They create those secret harmonies which we alone can hear; they teach our ears to hear and our eyes to see; they bind us together as a family is bound together by common experience and memories ...
26 November 1987
The Korean War 
by Max Hastings.
Joseph, 476 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 9780718120689
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The Origins of the Korean War 
by Peter Lowe.
Longman, 256 pp., £6.95, July 1986, 0 582 49278 5
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Korea: The War before Vietnam 
by Callum MacDonald.
Macmillan, 330 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 333 33011 0
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... For twenty-five years, between the studies written in its immediate aftermath and those based on archives opened a generation later, the Korean War was largely ignored. That was natural enough: there is always such ‘dead ground’ as the writing of history moves forward. But that war was so significant as a paradigm for international relations in the post-war world that we can deplore the failure of Western statesmen and, still more, soldiers, to keep it in mind as a guide-post and a warning of what lay in store for them if they attempted any further military interventions in the Third World ...

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 ...

Desolation Studies

Edward Luttwak

12 September 1991
The Lessons of History 
by Michael Howard.
Oxford, 217 pp., £17.50, March 1991, 0 19 821581 9
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... I still recall my acute disappointment with Michael Howard’s The Franco-Prussian War, published some thirty years ago. The subject was exciting – what with the desperate German infantry assaults at Gravelotte and the dramatic unveiling of the ultra-secret mitrailleuse – and the book was thick enough to promise much good fun to any schoolboy eager to read of battles with a threepenny bag of crisps at his side ...

Diary

Conor Gearty: Reasons for Loathing Michael Howard

31 October 1996
... It is easy to loathe Michael Howard. It is less easy – because more intimidating in its implications – to loathe him for the right reasons. His record as Home Secretary before Her Majesty’s judges is appalling. He has lost a succession of cases to do with prisoners, immigrants and criminal injuries compensation ...

Uniquely Horrible

Michael Howard

8 September 1994
The Wages of Guilt 
by Ian Buruma.
Cape, 330 pp., £17.99, June 1994, 0 224 03138 4
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... After the First World War Germany was compelled by the victorious Allies to accept full responsibility for the war, and in consequence to pay all the costs. In spite of the work of Fritz Fischer and his associates, few historians would now claim that this was fair. To the German people at the time it seemed outrageous. Their outrage was to be a major element in the revanchism so ably exploited by Hitler in his rise to power, and in the remorse that paralysed so much of British enlightened opinion when it came to dealing with him ...

Famous Last Screams

Michael Howard

5 December 1991
On Future War 
by Martin van Creveld.
Brassey, 254 pp., £22.50, October 1991, 0 08 041796 5
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... There have never been lacking prophets, from Isaiah onwards, to proclaim the end of war, though the more recent of these have not postulated the Second Coming as a necessary condition for achieving it. Some have suggested that the more terrible war becomes, the more quickly it will die out, and, like Alfred Nobel, have devised more destructive weapons in order to hasten the process ...

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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... Among the distinguished group of military historians which has flourished in this country since the Second World War, John Keegan is outstanding. His talents are remarkable: a wide-ranging and speculative mind; clarity in analysis; a deep understanding of the military community; and enviable descriptive gifts to ensure that his books will be acceptable to that wide class of readership which seeks no more from military history than a jolly good read ...

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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... The German General Staff used to divide army officers into four categories: the clever and lazy, the clever and hard-working, the stupid and lazy and the stupid and hard-working. The clever and lazy made the best generals, the clever and hard-working the best staff-officers, the stupid and lazy could be fitted in as regimental officers; but the stupid and hard-working were a positive menace and had to be got rid of as quickly as possible ...

Dangerous Liaison

Michael Howard

27 January 1994
Beacons in the Night: With the OSS and Tito’s Partisans in Wartime Yugoslavia 
by Franklin Lindsay.
Stanford, 383 pp., £19.95, October 1993, 0 8047 2123 8
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... In May 1945 I was serving with a battalion of the British Eighth Army in victorious occupation of Gorizia, some thirty miles north of Trieste. We shared the town with a brigade of Yugoslav Partisans, and the relations between us were not good. Our lords and masters had decreed that the Partisans should be, for the time being, in charge of civil administration, while we confined ourselves to military duties ...

Over the Top

Michael Howard

8 February 1996
A Genius for War: A Life of General George Patton 
by Carlo D’Este.
HarperCollins, 977 pp., £25, November 1995, 0 00 215882 5
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... Mad, is he?’ George II is reported to have said of General Wolfe; ‘Then I wish he would bite some of my other generals!’ Both remarks might have been made about General George S. Patton Jr, and no doubt frequently were. His sanity was seriously in question. As S.L.A. Marshall, the most judicious of American military historians, put it: ‘Any man who thinks that he is the reincarnation of Hannibal or some such isn’t quite possessed of all his buttons ...

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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... by Denys 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 ...

Sunny Days

Michael Howard

11 February 1993
Never Again: Britain 1945-51 
by Peter Hennessy.
Cape, 544 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 224 02768 9
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Churchill on the Home Front 1900-1955 
by Paul Addison.
Cape, 493 pp., £20, November 1992, 0 224 01428 5
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... to be ameliorated. Compassion played as large a part as calculation in determining his policies. Michael Foot stated disdainfully that Churchill ‘never had the foggiest idea of how the British people lived, how they earned their bread, how society functioned’; but it is questionable whether Mr Foot was any better qualified to empathise with the British ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Is it just me?

1 December 2005
... though it features in what they have to say about ‘common sense’, where they quote Michael Howard: ‘Whenever there is a conflict between political correctness and common sense, let me tell you where I stand – firmly on the side of common sense!’ ‘Common sense’ here being a Tory euphemism, as Lowe and McArthur point out, for ...
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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... turned to Zuckerman and to the young men in the PUS’s secretariat: figures like Frank Cooper and Michael Quinlan, who were themselves to become powerful Permanent Secretaries in the course of time. Financial stringency meant that the high-spending Services once more had to turn their fire on one another, and the Navy and the RAF battled, with a desperation ...

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