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Lying abroad

Fred Halliday, 21 July 1994

by Henry Kissinger.
Simon and Schuster, 912 pp., £25, May 1994, 9780671659912
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True Brits: Inside the Foreign Office 
by Ruth Dudley Edwards.
BBC, 256 pp., £16.99, April 1994, 0 563 36955 8
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Mandarin: The Diaries of Nicholas Henderson 
by Nicholas Henderson.
Weidenfeld, 517 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 297 81433 8
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... ambiguity, though the 17th-century description of ‘an honest man sent to lie abroad’ was, as Henderson points out, meant ironically. The issues of foreign policy, moreover, are not free from passion and contempt; indeed, the role of the irrational is even greater in forming attitudes to international than to domestic ...


Arthur Gavshon, 6 June 1985

The Falklands War: Lessons for Strategy, Diplomacy and International Law 
edited by Alberto Coll and Anthony Arend.
Allen and Unwin, 252 pp., £18, May 1985, 0 04 327075 1
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... telephoned the British Embassy at once to pass this on to Pym. But Pym asked the Ambassador, Sir Nicholas Henderson, to take the call because, he explained later, he was on the point of leaving for New York. Haig put two things to Henderson: first, given that a Junta decision was only a few hours away, could a ...

Unarmed Combat

Richard Usborne, 21 April 1988

The Anglo-French Clash in Lebanon and Syria, 1940-1945 
by A.B. Gaunson.
Macmillan, 233 pp., £29.50, March 1987, 0 333 40221 9
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Personal Patchwork 1939-1945 
by Bryan Guinness.
Cygnet, 260 pp., £9.50, March 1987, 0 907435 06 8
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Staff Officer: The Diaries of Lord Moyne 1914-1918 
edited by Brian Bond.
Leo Cooper, 256 pp., £17.50, October 1987, 0 85052 053 3
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... summer 1943, Deputy Minister Resident, Middle East. Guinness and his father’s young secretary, Nicholas Henderson (later our Ambassador in Bonn, Paris and Washington), went to the Minister Resident’s (Casey) swimming-pool: ‘I sat on the edge of the pool and dangled in one leg while Nicholas and Mr Casey swam. I ...

The Importance of Being Ernie

Ferdinand Mount, 5 November 2020

Ernest Bevin: Labour’s Churchill 
by Andrew Adonis.
Biteback, 352 pp., £20, July, 978 1 78590 598 8
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... Sir​ Nicholas Henderson was British ambassador almost everywhere that mattered – Bonn, Paris, Washington. He met all the great personalities of the second half of the 20th century. Yet in conversation he reverted, time and again, to the few years he spent in his twenties as assistant private secretary to Ernest Bevin ...

Lady Rothermere’s Fan

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 7 November 1985

The Letters of Ann Fleming 
edited by Mark Amory.
Collins, 448 pp., £16.50, October 1985, 0 00 217059 0
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... friends and was often thought to be about to marry Lord Goodman. When Waugh died in 1966 she asked Nicholas Henderson to replace him as her chief correspondent but her letters to him don’t have the same éclat – she’d had to work harder to keep Waugh entertained. With the deaths not long afterwards of her father, then her brother, and the ...

Thank God for Traitors

Bernard Porter: GCHQ, 18 November 2010

GCHQ: The Uncensored Story of Britain’s Most Secret Intelligence Agency 
by Richard Aldrich.
Harper, 666 pp., £30, June 2010, 978 0 00 727847 3
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... But politicians weren’t blameless. ‘All prime ministers love intelligence,’ the diplomat Nicholas Henderson claimed: it allows them to believe that they have a ‘direct line to something that no other ordinary departments have’. At the beginning it all looked innocent enough. GCHQ grew out of the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley ...

The Finchley Factor

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Thatcher in Israel, 13 September 2018

Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East 
by Azriel Bermant.
Cambridge, 274 pp., £22.99, September 2017, 978 1 316 60630 8
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... side of her skull and said: ‘Peter, there’s nothing there.’ And after she had left office, Nicholas Henderson, her ambassador in Washington between 1979 and 1982, told Tony Benn: ‘If I reported to you what Mrs Thatcher really thought about President Reagan, it would damage Anglo-American relations.’ Few people reading this, it can be safely ...

No more pretty face

Philip Horne, 8 March 1990

Emotion Pictures: Reflections on the Cinema 
by Wim Wenders, translated by Sean Whiteside and Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 148 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15271 6
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Scorsese on Scorsese 
by Martin Scorsese, edited by David Thompson and Ian Christie.
Faber, 178 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571141036
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... of the music; the American actors Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell as the central Henderson brothers, the French Aurore Clément and the German Nastassia Kinski as their wives. For Wenders, a long-time lover of the Western and of American rock music, it was, as he has since told the French magazine Positif, the closing of a circle, the ...

Baghdad’s Ruling Cliques

Keith Kyle, 15 August 1991

The Iraqi Revolution of 1958: The Old Social Classes Revisited 
edited by Robert Fernea and William Roger Louis.
Tauris, 232 pp., £35, May 1991, 1 85043 318 6
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Instant Empire: Saddam Hussein’s Ambition for Iraq 
by Simon Henderson.
Mercury House, 271 pp., £8.99, June 1991, 1 56279 007 2
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Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography 
by Efraim Karsh and Inari Rautsi.
Brassey, 307 pp., £17.95, April 1991, 0 08 041326 9
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The Gulf Between Us: The Gulf War and Beyond 
edited by Victoria Brittain.
Virago, 186 pp., £5.99, June 1991, 1 85381 386 9
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Under Siege in Kuwait: A Survivor’s Story 
by Jadranka Porter.
Gollancz, 250 pp., £4.99, July 1991, 9780575051850
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... of the same coin is struck in The Iraqi Revolution of 1958 by two of its American contributors: Nicholas Thacher, a diplomatic veteran who was in the American Embassy in Baghdad from 1956 to 58, and Frederick Axelgard, a current State Department official, both of whom consider that in the Fifties the United States displayed altogether too much deference for ...

At the Palazzo Venier

Nicholas Penny: Peggy Guggenheim’s Eye, 9 May 2002

Peggy Guggenheim: The Life of an Art Addict 
by Anton Gill.
HarperCollins, 506 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 00 257078 5
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... They discussed establishing a gallery, but the collaboration ‘petered out’ and it was Wyn Henderson who became manager of the Cork Street gallery, which opened in January 1938. Gill tells us more about Jennings and about Edouard Mesens of the London Gallery (in Guggenheim’s words, ‘a gay little Flamand, quite vulgar, but really very nice and ...


Kathleen Burk: Election Diary, 23 April 1992

... Democrats have to win Bath and Cheltenham? Why couldn’t they have pocketed the scalps of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn and Geoffrey Dickens instead? Why were we shown, at enormous expense, shots from a helicopter of Major’s convoy to the polls? Why did the BBC suppose that anyone would care, or even find it interesting? I found it embarrassingly ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers, 6 March 2008

... to the home of Anthony’s Aunt Emily, the woman who had brought him up, from Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Henderson. ‘Such was his, and their professionalism,’ he wrote, ‘they were chosen to look after the most demanding and dangerous part of the city – in order that real progress could be made. They were having a positive effect on the ...

How far shall I take this character?

Richard Poirier: The Corruption of Literary Biography, 2 November 2000

Bellow: A Biography 
by James Atlas.
Faber, 686 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 571 14356 3
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... innocent.’ There were to be like-minded successors to Augie, including the loud-mouthed hero of Henderson the Rain King (‘I want, I want,’ he repeats, far too many times), the self-destructive poet of Humboldt’s Gift, and most recently the luxurious, overweening and powerfully connected Ravelstein, the hero of Bellow’s latest novel, ‘doomed to die ...

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