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21 August 1980
We and They, Civic and Despotic Cultures 
by Robert Conquest.
Temple Smith, 252 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 0 85117 184 2
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The Recovery of Freedom 
by Paul Johnson.
Blackwell, 232 pp., £8.50, August 1980, 0 631 12562 0
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... In reviewing one of these books, I must ‘declare an interest’. Paul Johnson’s is a volume in the Mainstream Series of which I am an editor, although I have had no connection with this collection of essays other than strongly approving in principle that he should publish some of his most pungent and vigorous articles, which would otherwise have remained buried in journals and newspapers ...

Cardinal’s Hat

Robert Blake

23 January 1986
Cardinal Manning: A Biography 
by Robert Gray.
Weidenfeld, 366 pp., £16.95, August 1985, 0 297 78674 1
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... The history of Cardinal Manning’s biographies is a remarkable one. When he died, on 14 January 1892, ‘no reputation ever appeared more secure,’ as Mr Gray rightly says. His death occurred on the same day as that of the Duke of Clarence, who, had he lived, would have become King of England. Normally the passing of the next heir to the throne would attract much public attention, but it was completely eclipsed by the death of the Cardinal ...

Turning Turk

Robert Blake

20 August 1981
The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain. Vol. 1: The 19th Century 
by Stephen Koss.
Hamish Hamilton, 455 pp., £20, May 1981, 0 241 10561 7
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... This is the first of two volumes designed to describe the British press and its connection with politics and politicians from 1850 to 1951. It is a formidable task, and one cannot be surprised that it has never hitherto been successfully achieved, though many attempts have been made. Such success as can be found in press historiography during these years lies more in studies of individual newspapers or particular editors than in any synthesis of the whole story ...

Ambitions

Robert Blake

18 December 1980
Harold Nicolson: A Biography: Vol. 1, 1886-1929 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 429 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 7011 2520 9
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Harold Nicolson Diaries 1930-1964 
by Stanley Olson.
Collins, 436 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 00 216304 7
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... Harold Nicolson was a diarist of genius who would have loved to make a success of public life or literature. He was an able but not outstanding diplomat who retired at 43, a journalist and broadcaster of talent, an MP for ten years and a junior minister in 1940-41. His literary achievements were voluminous, but few of his forty-odd books have lasted, apart from his study of Curzon, his lives of King George V and of Tennyson, and his Byron, The Last Phase ...
18 October 1984
Lord Liverpool: The Life and Political Career of Robert Banks Jenkinson, Second Earl of Liverpool 1770-1828 
by Norman Gash.
Weidenfeld, 265 pp., £16.95, August 1984, 0 297 78453 6
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... the current prime minister to overcome his father’s opposition to his marriage? The answer is Robert Jenkinson, second Earl of Liverpool and eighth baronet, whose maternal grandmother, wife of a Nabob, was Eurasian. He is one of the neglected figures of history. Yet he was prime minister for 15 years from 1812 to 1827, till in February at the age of 56 he ...

Grand Old Man

Robert Blake

1 May 1980
The Last Edwardian at No 10: An Impression of Harold Macmillan 
by George Hutchinson.
Quartet, 151 pp., £6.50, February 1980, 0 7043 2232 3
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... Biographies of living people seldom come off. There is much to be said for gathering information about a person while he is still alive, as Mr Alastair Horne is now doing in the case of Mr Macmillan. But to publish in the subject’s lifetime is difficult. There are things in some people’s careers which it is impossible even to mention while they are living and many more which it is hard to treat in proper perspective ...

Late Deceiver

Robert Blake

17 September 1981
Anthony Eden 
by David Carlton.
Allen Lane, 528 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 7139 0829 7
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... biography is said, though I have never seen any public announcement, to have fallen on Robert Rhodes James. If so, it is an excellent decision. Meanwhile Mr David Carlton has produced a scholarly, well-written work of some five hundred pages. The author admits very fairly that it is in the nature of an interim verdict since the official records of ...
10 January 1983
Benjamin Disraeli Letters: Vol. I 1815-1834, Vol. II 1835-1837 
edited by J.A.W. Gunn, John Matthews, Donald Schurman and M.G. Wiebe.
Toronto, 482 pp., £37.50, June 1982, 0 8020 5523 0
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The Gladstone Diaries: with Cabinet Minutes and Prime Ministerial Correspondence, Vol. VII, January 1869-June 1871, Vol. VIII, July 1871-December 1874 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew.
Oxford, 641 pp., £35, September 1982, 0 19 822638 1
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Disraeli 
by Sarah Bradford.
Weidenfeld, 432 pp., £14.95, October 1982, 0 297 78153 7
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Gladstone: Vol. I 1809-1865 
by Richard Shannon.
Hamish Hamilton, 580 pp., £18, November 1982, 0 241 10780 6
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H.H. Asquith: Letters to Venetia Stanley 
edited by Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock.
Oxford, 676 pp., £19.50, November 1982, 0 19 212200 2
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... In reviewing the Gladstone Diaries and the Disraeli Letters I must declare an interest. I am chairman of the committee which superintends the publication of the former and one of the research consultants involved in the latter. But the quality and scholarship of the editors of all these volumes has been so widely acclaimed by others that there is no danger of appearing to give an unwarranted puff to works with which I am connected ...
6 June 1985
The Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher 
by Robert Blake.
Methuen/Fontana, 401 pp., £19.95, May 1985, 0 413 58140 3
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Westminster Blues 
by Julian Critchley.
Hamish Hamilton, 134 pp., £7.95, May 1985, 0 241 11387 3
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... Pitt and Charles James Fox, or with the battle over Parliamentary Reform in the 1830s – Lord Blake prefers the second of these – it is evident that the two parties arose simultaneously. They have not shown equal powers of survival. Whiggery has long disappeared, though 20th-century Conservatives have included a few Whiggish eccentrics. The Liberal ...

Jew d’Esprit

Dan Jacobson

6 May 1982
Disraeli’s Grand Tour: Benjamin Disraeli and the Holy Land 1830-31 
by Robert Blake.
Weidenfeld, 141 pp., £8.95, January 1982, 0 297 77910 9
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... also disgrace, exile, death at an early age on a remote Greek peninsula. Whereas this is how Lord Blake, in his justly celebrated biography, describes Disraeli during his second term as prime minister: he attended the dinners and receptions of the beaumonde with the assiduity of a man half his age ... He was not only at the top of the political pyramid, he ...
5 November 1981
History and Imagination: Essays in honour of H.R. Trevor-Roper 
edited by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Valerie Pearl and Blair Worden.
Duckworth, 386 pp., £25, October 1981, 9780715615706
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... which I had mistakenly supposed to be in honour of a thoroughgoing Tory figure. The first is by Robert Blake, himself an almost official Tory historian. Once more, ‘the missing telegrams’ concerning Chamberlain’s pre-knowledge of the Jameson Raid are displayed and the answer is decisive: Chamberlain knew and persistently deceived the House of ...
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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... not undistinguished author of a good book on Leo Amery among other things, but his co-editor Lord Blake is ... Lord Blake, former Chairman of the Rhodes Trustees, former editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, former ... no, the Disraeli biographer and Tory historian of the Tory Party. Although Lord ...

Flirting

P.N. Furbank

18 November 1982
The English World: History, Character and People 
edited by Robert Blake.
Thames and Hudson, 268 pp., £14.95, September 1982, 0 500 25083 9
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The English Gentleman: The Rise and Fall of an Ideal 
by Philip Mason.
Deutsch, 240 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 9780233974897
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... I am being unfair, for many of the essays in the volume – on the development of Parliament (Robert Blake), ‘War and Peace with Wales, Scotland and Ireland’ (Hugh Trevor-Roper), art and popular taste (Quentin Bell), the evolution of the English landscape (Richard Muir) – are excellent and briskly-written popularising surveys. But the whole ...

Blake at work

David Bindman

2 April 1981
William Blake, printmaker 
by Robert Essick.
Princeton, 304 pp., £27.50, August 1980, 0 691 03954 2
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... them the taint of eccentricity and religious enthusiasm. Among the London engravers of his time, Blake was not alone in believing that the last Judgment was nigh, and that the French Revolution was the fulfilment of the prophecy of Revelation. One example is William Sharp, known alike for his skill as an engraver and his extreme credulity. Even ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Birthdays and Centenaries

5 May 1983
... LSE by some of my younger friends: The party was graced by the presence of Michael Foot and Lord Blake. Soon afterwards Robert Blake struck me off his visiting-list because I had opposed the witch-hunt at the British Academy against Anthony Blunt. I am glad to record that Blake has ...

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