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How’s the vampire?

Christopher Hitchens, 8 November 1990

King Edward VIII: The Official Biography 
by Philip Ziegler.
Collins, 654 pp., £20, September 1990, 0 00 215741 1
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... the ridiculous blend of deference and denial that goes into the making of public support for it. Philip Ziegler is a historian of uncommon candour and, especially considering the ‘authorised’ nature of his work, unusual humour. Yet in the very first paragraph of his very first page he pitches face-forward into the enduring fallacy that sustains our ...

Mrs Stitch in Time

Clive James, 4 February 1982

Lady Diana Cooper 
by Philip Ziegler.
Hamish Hamilton, 336 pp., £9.95, September 1981, 0 241 10659 1
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... Lady Diana Cooper is capable of saying anything, if she thinks you are dumb enough to swallow it. Philip Ziegler has reason to consider himself astute, but he perhaps ruled out too soon the possibility that the queen of the put-on had spotted the ideal patsy. The chief lacuna in an otherwise interesting book is its failure adequately to convey the ...

Hobnobbing

Ian Hamilton, 1 October 1998

Osbert Sitwell 
by Philip Ziegler.
Chatto, 461 pp., £25, May 1998, 1 85619 646 1
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... back, if only as chat fodder in the salons. In 1940, their libel case was for several months, says Philip Ziegler, ‘the chief pleasure of literary London’. Most sensible people believed that the lawsuit should never have been brought. Desmond MacCarthy, asked to appear as a pro-Sitwell witness, responded with a telegram: ‘Even fools have right to ...

Plonking

Ferdinand Mount: Edward Heath, 22 July 2010

Edward Heath 
by Philip Ziegler.
Harper, 654 pp., £25, June 2010, 978 0 00 724740 0
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... At the end of his official biography of Lord Mountbatten 25 years ago, Philip Ziegler wrote: ‘There was a time when I became so enraged by what I began to feel was his determination to hoodwink me that I found it necessary to place on my desk a notice saying: REMEMBER, IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING, HE WAS A GREAT MAN ...

High Spirits

E.S. Turner, 17 March 1988

Living dangerously 
by Ranulph Fiennes.
Macmillan, 263 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 333 44417 5
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The Diaries of Lord Louis Mountbatten 1920-1922: Tours with the Prince of Wales 
edited by Philip Ziegler.
Collins, 315 pp., £15, November 1987, 0 00 217608 4
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Touch the Happy Isles: A Journey through the Caribbean 
by Quentin Crewe.
Joseph, 302 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 7181 2822 2
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... must be to the social historian with an eye for the vagaries of upper-class behaviour. The editor, Philip Ziegler, tells us that the King (George V) felt that an extended imperial tour by his first-born would not only strengthen ties of friendship but weaken the infatuation felt by his son for Mrs Dudley Ward. This cure for love called for the services of ...

Principal Boy

Nigel Hamilton, 21 March 1985

Mountbatten 
by Philip Ziegler.
Collins, 786 pp., £15, March 1985, 0 00 216543 0
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... Sir Gerald Templer, in a ‘Templerism’ openly addressed to Lord Louis Mountbatten. It is one of Philip Ziegler’s virtues as an official biographer that he is willing to quote the unkind as well as the kind remarks about his hero. Another is his readability: a seven-hundred-page opus that crackles with interest, intelligence and good judgment from the ...

Say what you will about Harold

Christopher Hitchens, 2 December 1993

Wilson: The Authorised Life 
by Philip Ziegler.
Weidenfeld, 593 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 297 81276 9
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... privatised folly in basic service industries. Would anyone from Pimlott to McKibbin to Howard to Ziegler care to mention one – even one – attainment of the Wilson period that could bear comparison? Lord Melbourne’s over-used but pungent observation about the Order of the Garter, that he liked it because there was ‘no damned merit in it’, is very ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Blair’s comedy turns, 7 September 2006

... his best in a messy middle-of-the-road muddle’. This from Wilson’s official biographer, Philip Ziegler. Wilson had one or two good jokes, unlike Callaghan or poor Attlee, so often the butt of other people’s. Tony Blair is not much given to joking. The three memorable gags of his career have come as it nears its end. It’s interesting, in a ...

Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 22 August 1996

The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... Sir Sacheverell has ever been made freeman of Lima?) Swimming against the current of the times, Philip Ziegler forbears to speculate on the precise nature of Wallis Simpson’s appeal to her monarch. There is little doubt that if the subjects of this volume had had to wait to be considered for a decennial harvesting, as used to be the way, quite a ...

Diary

Christopher Harvie: Cars and Cuckoo Clocks, 26 January 1995

... income which sustained the first seven years of her administration, but the fact that Ben Pimlott, Philip Ziegler and Austen Morgan, three heavyweight biographers of Harold Wilson, under whose premiership the petroleum exploitation and taxation regime was set up, fail to mention it. In Scotland, up until the Eighties, we had contrived an equally toxic ...

Diary

Nigel Hamilton: Writing Books, and Selling Them, 23 October 1986

... return to the ‘little’ author I was in Suffolk for almost ten years while working on Monty? Philip Ziegler and others have written kindly about the final Monty volume, hoping that I will not abandon writing. I won’t: I have finished the manuscripts of two short novels since finishing the first draft of Monty last summer, one steamy, one very ...

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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... the indispensable Eisenhowerist who naturally writes of the WSC-Eisenhower relationship, to Philip Ziegler, the tactful Mountbatten biographer who does for WSC and the monarchy, the contributors cover almost every imaginable WSC facet and interface, sometimes with considerable factual detail. The late D.J. Wenden provides chapter and verse and lots ...

Subject, Spectator, Phantom

J. Hoberman: The Strangest Personality Ever to Lead the Free World, 17 February 2005

Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief 
by Mark Feeney.
Chicago, 422 pp., £19.50, November 2004, 0 226 23968 3
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... with skin as biliously green as the Wicked Witch of the West and, in a riotous series of drawings, Philip Guston transformed the president’s ski nose and heavy jowls into a glumly expressive set of male genitalia. Nixon’s personality was even richer. Gore Vidal parodied him in his 1960 play The Best Man and, beginning in the late 1960s, an impressive ...

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