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When the pistol goes off

Peter Clarke, 17 August 1989

Arnold ToynbeeA Life 
by William McNeill.
Oxford, 346 pp., £16.95, July 1989, 0 19 505863 1
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... currently selling 1,500,000 copies. For the editors, as they put it, ‘the story of Historian Toynbee and his work in progress was an unusual challenge and opportunity.’ The response was ‘overwhelming’, and not only from ‘professors of history, philosophy and anthropology, from deans of American colleges and universities, heads of public and ...


Alan Brien, 5 December 1985

Orson Welles 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 562 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 297 78476 5
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The Making of ‘Citizen Kane’ 
by Robert Carringer.
Murray, 180 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7195 4248 0
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Spike Milligan 
by Pauline Scudamore.
Granada, 318 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12275 7
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Nancy Mitford 
by Selina Hastings.
Hamish Hamilton, 274 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 241 11684 8
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Rebel: The Short Life of Esmond Romilly 
by Kevin Ingram.
Weidenfeld, 252 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 297 78707 1
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The Mitford Family Album 
by Sophia Murphy.
Sidgwick, 160 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 283 99115 1
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... rather too well told already – in his books, in his widow’s autobiography and her memoir of Philip Toynbee, in Toynbee’s memoir of Romilly – for the importance of his role in the world. The best of the book, for me, was the section dealing with Esmond in wartime aircrew and his farcical, bumbling attempts to ...

Raging towards Utopia

Neal Ascherson: Koestler, 22 April 2010

Koestler: The Indispensable Intellectual 
by Michael Scammell.
Faber, 689 pp., £25, February 2010, 978 0 571 13853 1
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... slightly pathetic foreigner in crumpled battledress. He came to know Spender, Orwell, MacNeice, Philip Toynbee and John Lehmann, and was invited to their parties. The Tribune left-wingers adored him; Michael Foot (as he put it himself) ‘fell an immediate swooning victim to his wit, charm and inordinate capacity for alcohol’, and to his murderous ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 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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... club when he was still at Oxford. Anthony Sampson came from Drum magazine in South Africa. Philip Toynbee arrived after his father, the historian Arnold Toynbee, called to wonder if Astor could rescue his son from drink, depression and riotous behaviour. Colin Legum, expelled from his native South Africa, joined ...

Homage to Braudel

Geoffrey Parker, 4 September 1980

Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe – XVIIIe siécle 
by Fernand Braudel.
Armand Colin, 544 pp.
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... of Braudel’s other book, the celebrated Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II.1 In both works, the chronological account of what happened is left until last, coming almost as an anti-climax after a prolonged analysis of the parameters, preconditions and pressures which (according to Braudel) determined that particular ...

Stop the war

Penelope Lively, 1 April 1982

The Parting of Ways: A Personal Account of the Thirties 
by Shiela Grant Duff.
Peter Owen, 223 pp., £10.50, March 1982, 0 7206 0586 5
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From Middle England: A Memory of the Thirties 
by Philip Oakes.
Deutsch, 185 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 233 97232 3
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Dwellers All in Time and Space: A Memory of the 1940s 
by Philip Oakes.
Deutsch, 227 pp., £8.50, March 1982, 0 233 97434 2
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... find out about, and declined, human response triumphing over journalistic instinct. It was Arnold Toynbee who set her on her course as a newspaperwoman (‘the way to stop war was to study the possible causes on the spot and the best way to do that was to work as the foreign correspondent of an influential newspaper’). She tried the Times, and was told a ...

It was worse in 1931

Colin Kidd: Clement Attlee, 17 November 2016

Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee 
by John Bew.
Riverrun, 668 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 1 78087 989 5
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... of upper-middle-class ‘settlements’ in working-class London at the time. The most famous was Toynbee Hall, whose secretary Attlee would be for a short period in 1909-10. The paternalistic idea behind the settlement movement was that the urban working class would benefit from having university graduates live among them: they would provide uplifting ...


Karl Miller: Conflict of Two Egos, 3 June 1982

... the South Atlantic. In his memoir Shadows on the Grass,* embellished by a fine cover from Lawrence Toynbee which does summery justice to its cricketing occasions, Raven revisits, not for the first time, the scenes of his youthful disgraces: expelled from Charterhouse for the ‘usual thing’, eased out of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry for running up ...


Alan Bennett: What I Did in 2015, 7 January 2016

... down, and with no warders on duty I’ll generally sit on their chairs. An article by Polly Toynbee in this morning’s Guardian explains why. Presumably as part of the sponsorship deal for the exhibition the wardering was outsourced so the first casualty was the warders’ chairs, and the warders’ comfort. (I’ve a feeling that the warders at the ...

Parcelled Out

Ferdinand Mount: The League of Nations, 22 October 2015

The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire 
by Susan Pedersen.
Oxford, 571 pp., £22.99, June 2015, 978 0 19 957048 5
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... as a pariah state rather than come to heel. So there was something to be said for the view of Philip Baker, a bright young Foreign Office official seconded to the commission (later, as Philip Noel-Baker, to win the Nobel Peace Prize), that ‘the PMC is the most enlightened and most progressive body the council has yet ...

C (for Crisis)

Eric Hobsbawm: The 1930s, 6 August 2009

The Morbid Age: Britain between the Wars 
by Richard Overy.
Allen Lane, 522 pp., £25, May 2009, 978 0 7139 9563 3
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... Maynard Keynes, Archbishop Cosmo Lang, Basil Liddell Hart, Bronislaw Malinowski, Gilbert Murray, Philip Noel-Baker, George Orwell, Lord Arthur Ponsonby, Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw, Arnold Toynbee, the Webbs, H.G. Wells or Leonard and Virginia Woolf? Unless clearly backed by an important publishing house or ...

Moderation or Death

Christopher Hitchens: Isaiah Berlin, 26 November 1998

Isaiah Berlin: A Life 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 386 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6325 9
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The Guest from the Future: Anna Akhmatova and Isaiah Berlin 
by György Dalos.
Murray, 250 pp., £17.95, September 2002, 0 7195 5476 4
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... that he omitted to clarify this fixed principle to the intellectuals of Camelot. When asked by Philip Toynbee and others to take a position on nuclear disarmament, as Ignatieff describes it,Berlin replied – with rather uncharacteristic bravado – that liberal principles were of little meaning unless one was prepared to risk one’s very survival in ...

Elton at seventy

Patrick Collinson, 11 June 1992

Return to Essentials: Some Reflections on the Present State of Historical Study 
by G.R. Elton.
Cambridge, 128 pp., £16.95, October 1991, 0 521 41098 3
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... Hill), but Elton reserves some of his ammunition for the alternative, liberal determinists, Arnold Toynbee, Sir John Plumb, J.H. Hexter, while not forgetting that morally admirable but woefully misled and misleading Christian Socialist R.H. Tawney, who was first denounced in Elton’s inaugural of 1968 as ‘a very good man’ whose work as a historian can ...

Italy Stirs

Adrian Lyttelton, 22 June 1995

by Denis Mack Smith.
Yale, 302 pp., £19.95, April 1994, 0 300 05884 5
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Verdi: A Biography 
by Mary Jane Phillips-Matz.
Oxford, 941 pp., £30, October 1993, 0 19 313204 4
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The Real Traviata 
by Gaia Servadio.
Hodder, 290 pp., £20, October 1994, 9780340579480
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... over a younger generation of thinkers including Henry Sidgwick, Dicey and T.H. Green. Arnold Toynbee ended his lectures on the Industrial Revolution with a tribute to Mazzini as ‘the greatest teacher of our age’. Mazzini’s moral language and his insistence on the claims of community against competitive individualism seemed to offer a way to ...

Don’t Ask Henry

Alan Hollinghurst: Sissiness, 9 October 2008

by Howard Sturgis.
NYRB, 345 pp., £8.99, May 2008, 978 1 59017 266 7
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... and longs to go ‘into one of those East End parishes and start a place something on the lines of Toynbee Hall’ is the mocking absence of sympathy for anyone of the lower orders. Late in the book we are told of Sainty’s activities as a ‘Radical peer’ with his ‘known interest in all schemes of beneficence’, but not a glimmer is given of either ...

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