A Prehistory of Extraordinary Rendition

Patrick Cockburn

My grandfather, Henry Cockburn, resigned prematurely from the Foreign Office at the age of 49, shortly before the First World War. He was the senior British diplomat in Seoul and resigned, my father told me, because he objected to British support for Japan’s occupation of Korea. It was a reckless and somewhat mysterious decision: he was about to achieve ambassadorial rank, had no private means and no other job to go to. He had spent 29 years of his life in China, was apparently intelligent, cultivated and self-sufficient, and aside from his impatience with one aspect of official policy seemed very much a product of the high tide of late Victorian and Edwardian imperialism.

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