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Lying abroad

Fred Halliday

21 July 1994
Diplomacy 
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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... even as it deluges them with reports and faxes. Nor has the role of ambassador ever been devoid of 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 ...

Thunderstruck

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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... evening. The Peruviuan urged Haig to try for a stand-off to permit the peace process to develop. Haig telephoned the British Embassy at once to pass this on to Pym. But Pym asked the Ambassador, Sir NicholasHenderson, 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 ...

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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... on him and broken his leg. He was staying at his father’s villa in Cairo. Lord Moyne was then, summer 1943, Deputy Minister Resident, Middle East. Guinness and his father’s young secretary, NicholasHenderson (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 ...
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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... to live together for so long. The social round continued after Fleming’s death; she made new friends and was often thought to be about to marry Lord Goodman. When Waugh died in 1966 she asked NicholasHenderson 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 ...

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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... This gave it room to manoeuvre well outside the bounds of what would be acceptable to the public. But politicians weren’t blameless. ‘All prime ministers love intelligence,’ the diplomat NicholasHenderson 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 ...
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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... Sam Shepard as writer; the German Robby Müller as cinematographer, the American Ry Cooder as composer/performer 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 ...

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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... in Downing Street when the conversation turned to the new president, at which Thatcher tapped the side of her skull and said: ‘Peter, there’s nothing there.’ And after she had left office, NicholasHenderson, 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 ...
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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... American invasion’. This was a ‘potential threat to British military influence’. The reverse side 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 ...

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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... of Emily Coleman – who ‘was finished with him’ – Guggenheim had a brief affair with Jennings. 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 ...

Diary

Kathleen Burk: Election Diary

23 April 1992
... that the projected majority was 13. The evening was full of excruciating moments. Why did the Liberal 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 ...

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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... record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes not so 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 ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers

6 March 2008
... of International Songwriters and Composers and a membership card for Blockbuster Video. A letter came to the home of Anthony’s Aunt Emily, the woman who had brought him up, from Lieutenant Colonel NicholasHenderson. ‘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 ...

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