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The Wonderfulness of Us

Richard J. Evans: The Tory Interpretation of History, 17 March 2011

... Great to Winston Churchill, or to put it in somewhat less heroic terms, Ethelred the Unready to Neville Chamberlain (we didn’t bother in those days with the Welsh or the Scots). But in practice, if we were going to learn how to do any thinking of our own, we had time only to study discrete and often unrelated topics: the rise of the gentry and their role ...


Linda Colley, 9 July 1992

The Republican Virago: The Life and Times of Catharine Macaulay 
by Bridget Hill.
Oxford, 263 pp., £30, March 1992, 0 19 812978 5
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... drawn into the company of the so-called Real Whigs, dissenting intellectuals like Thomas Hollis, Richard Barron, Sylas Neville and Caleb Fleming. She also met and initially admired John Wilkes, whose radicalism took a far more activist form. It was – presumably – in discussions and arguments with men such as these that ...

Every club in the bag

Michael Howard, 10 September 1992

The Chiefs: The Story of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff 
by Bill Jackson and Dwin Bramall.
Brassey, 508 pp., £29.95, April 1992, 0 08 040370 0
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... Priorities were ultimately determined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who happened to be Neville Chamberlain. The lion’s share went to the RAF to ‘deter’ Hitler, enough for the Navy to show the flag at Singapore, and the Army was confined to Home and Imperial Defence. The priorities were rational enough, but unworkable. History was to be ...

Dark Knight

Tom Shippey, 24 February 1994

The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory 
by P.J.C. Field.
Boydell and Brewer, 218 pp., £29.50, September 1993, 0 85991 385 6
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... being the Lancastrian royal family, the fourth being Edward’s cousin and rival Sir Humphrey Neville, and the fifth being Malory – a man, one has to say, who made the (dis)Honours List by (de)merit alone, without assistance from birth. However, these events – variously explained or apologised for by biographers – have caused less difficulty for the ...

What can Cameron do?

Ross McKibbin: The Tories and the Financial Crisis, 23 October 2008

... it almost wrecked the Labour Party and established the extraordinary hegemony of Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain and the Conservative Party – but it was a balance-of-payments crisis that was resolved the moment Britain went off the gold standard and devalued the pound. Almost uniquely among major economies, Britain didn’t experience a run on the ...

How do we know her?

Hilary Mantel: The Secrets of Margaret Pole, 2 February 2017

Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower 
by Susan Higginbotham.
Amberley, 214 pp., £16.99, August 2016, 978 1 4456 3594 1
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... own Plantagenet relations. She is the daughter of a duke and the niece of two kings, Edward IV and Richard III. On her wrist, emblematic, is a small barrel. Her father was Shakespeare’s ‘false, fleeting, perjured Clarence’, who died in the Tower of London at the age of 29, attainted for treason and supposedly drowned in a butt of malmsey. A possible ...

The Tories’ Death-Wish

Kenneth O. Morgan, 15 May 1980

Tariff Reform in British Politics 
by Alan Sykes.
Oxford, 352 pp., £16, December 1979, 0 19 822483 4
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... radicalism, his iconoclasm and idealism, his values and motivation, require further investigation: Richard Jay’s forthcoming study of Chamberlain will therefore be ardently welcomed by all historians. Chamberlain, with his racism, his jingoism and his frequent philistinism, may seem an unattractive figure today. For all that, as a catalyst, as a positive as ...


Stephen Sedley: Judges’ Lodgings, 11 November 1999

... a tactful intimation that some judges no longer find this appropriate. How has this come about? Richard II in 1396 enacted that ‘no lord nor other of the county, little or great, shall sit upon the bench with the justices to take assizes,’ evidently because local grandees were doing it and it wasn’t acceptable. I owe this information, let me say, not ...

Educating the Blimps

Geoffrey Best: Military history, 10 June 1999

Alchemist of War: The Life of Basil Liddell Hart 
by Alex Danchev.
Weidenfeld, 369 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 297 81621 7
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Studies in British Military Thought: Debates with Fuller and Liddell Hart 
by Brian Holden Reid.
Nebraska, 287 pp., £30, October 1998, 0 8032 3927 0
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... he had long coveted: the confidence of a reforming Secretary of State for War. The Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, realising that the Blimps needed shock treatment, cannily and even mischievously arranged for it to come in the form of Leslie Hore-Belisha, patron saint of road safety. This unlikeliest of all holders of the office was, Danchev ...

Hooked Trout

Geoffrey Best: Appeasement please, 2 June 2005

Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry and Britain’s Road to War 
by Ian Kershaw.
Allen Lane, 488 pp., £20, October 2004, 0 7139 9717 6
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... fired by rabid anti-semitism or inspired by Völkisch crankiness that figure on the fringes of Richard Griffiths’s Fellow Travellers of the Right (1980), a book to which Kershaw pays just tribute. A peer of his standing did not consort with plebs and outsiders. He was the most respectable, and because of his coalmines in County Durham the richest, of the ...

Savage Rush

David Trotter: The Tube, 21 October 2010

Underground Writing: The London Tube from George Gissing to Virginia Woolf 
by David Welsh.
Liverpool, 306 pp., £70, May 2010, 978 1 84631 223 6
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... or cowardice in the faces opposite them. Tube poetry between the world wars, from F.S. Flint and Richard Aldington to Eliot and Auden, is a monument to triteness. None of these writers took the trouble to grasp the experience of underground travel in its specificity, as Hitchcock did, as Gissing and James had done. They rendered it as an unvarying condition ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies, 2 December 1982

The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... and the French sandwich of Arletty and Yvonne Arnaud contains Anthony Armstrong-Jones. The name of Neville Chamberlain seems to set off a nervous chain-reaction of theatricality, for he is noisily succeeded by Gower Champion, Coco Chanel, Carol Channing, ‘Chips’ Channon (by no means out of place), and Charlie Chaplin. All the Coopers are there: Lady ...

Dingy Quadrilaterals

Ian Gilmour: The Profumo Case, 19 October 2006

Bringing the House Down: A Family Memoir 
by David Profumo.
Murray, 291 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 7195 6608 8
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... thinking that he should remain in the army. His party disagreed, and he was summoned to see Neville Chamberlain in Downing Street. He agreed to stand on condition that he could fight the election in uniform and could return to his regiment even if he won. The prime minister readily agreed. As there was a wartime electoral truce between the main ...

Buggering on

Paul Addison, 21 July 1983

Winston Churchill: Companion Vol. V, Part III, The Coming of War 1936-1939 
by Martin Gilbert.
Heinemann, 1684 pp., £75, October 1982, 0 434 29188 9
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Finest Hour: Winston Churchill, 1939-1941 
by Martin Gilbert.
Heinemann, 1308 pp., £15.95, June 1983, 0 434 29187 0
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Churchill 1874-1915 
by Ted Morgan.
Cape, 571 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 224 02044 7
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The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 
by William Manchester.
Michael Joseph, 973 pp., £14.95, June 1983, 0 7181 2275 5
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... instructive sign of the times. When Churchill died in 1965, we thought we were burying the past. Richard Crossman, a reluctant mourner at the funeral, wrote afterwards: ‘It felt like the end of an epoch, possibly even the end of a nation.’ But what era feels more remote today than that of Wilson and Heath, the great modernisers for whom modernity failed ...

The Cookson Story

Stefan Collini: The British Working Class, 13 December 2001

The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes 
by Jonathan Rose.
Yale, 534 pp., £29.95, June 2001, 0 300 08886 8
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... to rescue an ‘office-boy intelligentsia’, represented (unrepresentatively) by such figures as Neville Cardus, later music (and cricket) correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, and Richard Church, a prolific author and subsequently poetry editor for Dent. This leads him into a fierce attack on E.M. Forster for his ...

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