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Sheep into Goats

Gabriele Annan, 24 January 1980

The British Aristocracy 
by Mark Bence-Jones and Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd.
Constable, 259 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 09 461780 5
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The Astors 
by Virginia Cowles.
Weidenfeld, 256 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 9780297776246
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Barclay Fox’s Journal 
edited by R.L. Brett.
Bell and Hyman, 426 pp., £8.95, July 1980, 0 7135 1865 0
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... Both authors of The British Aristocracy have been connected with Burke’s Peerage. One doesn’t expect genealogists to be particularly indulgent: their job, after all, is to separate the sheep from the goats. But these two are soft-hearted and broadminded to a fault, or so social historians, as well as some of their subjects, might think. They draw the demarcation-line between the aristocracy and the rest to take in almost the whole middle class except ‘the rag trade, showbiz and property dealing ...

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