Momentous Conjuncture

Geoffrey Best

  • Prof: The Life of Frederick Lindemann by Adrian Fort
    Cape, 374 pp, £18.99, October 2003, ISBN 0 224 06317 0

They made the oddest of couples, Lindemann and Churchill. A German-born bourgeois bachelor, scientist, airman, pianist, social climber, near teetotaller, non-smoker, vegetarian, buttoned-up loner and through forty years the most disliked don in Oxford. A rogue English aristocrat, family man, soldier, historian, journalist, MP and PM, drinking, smoking, eating and tirelessly talking his way through more than fifty years of politics, statecraft and war. Yet these two supreme egotists became as close friends as their personalities permitted, and it may be argued that anyone who is thankful that Britain ended the Second World War on the winning side should count ‘the Prof’ as one of those who helped win it. Adrian Fort, in his good-natured but shrewd biography, comes down on that side of the argument, and so do I. But it was touch and go at times.

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