Geoffrey Wheatcroft rss

Cambridge spy Kim Philby giving a press conference at his mother's home after his name was mentioned in the House of Commons in connection with the Burgess and Maclean affair. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Hugh Trevor-Roper: the spy as historian, the historian as spy

20 September 2014
The Secret World Hugh Trevor-Roper, edited by E.D.R. Harrison

I.B. Tauris, pp.224, £25, ISBN: 9781780762081

Shortly after the war began in September 1939, the branch of the intelligence services called MI8, or the Radio Security Service, recruited H.R. Trevor-Roper (as his name would appear the… Read more

Theodore Herzl at the first Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland, 1897

When Israel was but a dream

22 February 2014
My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Zionism Ari Shavit

Scribe, pp.464, £20, ISBN: 9781922247544

Herzl: Theodore Herzl and the Foundation of the Jewish State Shlomo Avineri

Weidenfeld, pp.288, £20, ISBN: 9780297808804

‘On the night of 15 April 1897, a small, elegant steamer is en route from Egypt’s Port Said to Jaffa.’ ‘At the end of October 1898 the small steamer Rossiya… Read more

First World War - Gallipoli - Turkey

My dream to visit Oz

14 December 2013

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to visit Australia, and I’d love to see a Test match there. The last (in fact the only) time I watched… Read more

England v Australia: 3rd Investec Ashes Test - Day Four

Please get rid of this dreadful technology

17 August 2013

Ah, the thwack of leather on willow! Surely nothing could be more redolent of an English summer, or an Australian summer as well. Is there anything to compare with the… Read more

Image: Getty

Why Brits are gloating like hell over the Aussies

13 July 2013

You really have to feel sorry for the Lions. Their glorious victory in Sydney on our Saturday morning to clinch the series against Australia should have been the sporting event… Read more


Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s diary: Peter King, terror hypocrite, and the joys of Longhorns

11 May 2013

As we landed at Houston, I suddenly thought of my first visit to America, in 1965 during what we didn’t then call my gap year. Forty-eight years does seem a… Read more

'The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008', by Lawrence Goldman - review

13 April 2013
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008 Lawrence Goldman

OUP, pp.1264, £95, ISBN: 9780199671540

Where else would you possibly find George Painter, Jackie Pallo and Sir Eduardo Paolozzi in immediate successive proximity? The incunabulist of the British Museum who emerged from scholarly obscurity with… Read more

Harold Macmillan;John F. Kennedy

Not-so-special relationship

5 January 2013

‘Three things of my own are about to burst on the world,’ Dean Acheson wrote to his friend Lady Pamela Berry, the London hostess and wife of Michael Berry, later… Read more

Geoffrey Wheatcroft

28 July 2012

Looking back, there was a moment right at the start when the coalition government could have asserted its authority, and changed the political weather. As soon as they took office,… Read more


The truest man of letters

7 January 2012

In 1969 an author in his early thirties published his first book. The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters won the Duff Cooper prize, delighted the reading public,… Read more


Portrait of a singular man

17 December 2011
The Wartime Journals Hugh Trevor-Roper edited by Richard Davenport-Hines

I. B. Tauris, pp.336, 25

The posthumous publication of Hugh Trevor-Roper’s wartime diaries continues the restoration of his reputation, says Geoffrey Wheatcroft Nothing is more elusive than reputation. A writer’s standing goes up and down… Read more

Parliament shouldn’t pay

17 December 2011

This year has seen a sombre centenary, which passed almost unnoticed. It was in August 1911 that Members of Parliament voted to pay themselves for the first time — an… Read more

In England’s hour of triumph, a Pom writes, cricket is a dying game

15 January 2011

About 30 years ago, I met Keith Miller. Those who knew Keith won’t be astonished to hear that this wasn’t at Lord’s or any other cricket ground, but at Ascot… Read more


8 January 2011

A hundred years ago, the only barometer to gauge the political weather was by-elections, though far more of them — 101 during the 1906–1909 parliament, compared with four in 2005–2010,… Read more

Music in the mountains

14 December 2009

Geoffrey Wheatcroft attends Austria’s Schubertiade Unlike all the other supposedly ‘Viennese’ composers — Haydn from Rohrau, Mozart from Salzburg, Beethoven from Bonn — Franz Peter Schubert really did have ‘Wiener… Read more

Immortalised in print

1 July 2009
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2001-2004 Lawrence Goldman (editor)

OUP, pp.1278, 95

When the great new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography was published nearly five years ago — and a truly great achievement it was, despite a few carping critics — the… Read more

Geoffrey Wheatcroft

23 July 2008

From London to Bath to Manhattan, ten funerals or memorial services since October makes more than one a month, and attending them can seem a full-time occupation, as well as… Read more

The solitary New York Jew

8 April 2008
Alfred Kazin Richard M. Cook

Yale, pp.452, 25

In a recent review of They Knew They Were Right, Jacob Heilbrunn’s book about the neo-conservatives, Mark Lilla began by asking: How many of you are sick to death of… Read more

Best or worst?

16 January 2008
Barbarism and Civilisation: A History of Europe in Our Time by Bernard Wasserstein

OUP, pp.900, £25

After his famous ‘Age of . . .’ trilogy on the 19th century, E. J. Hobsbawm published a coda (best-selling but in my view much less satisfactory) on the history… Read more

The curse of riches

31 October 2007
Diamonds, Gold and War Martin Meredith

Simon & Schuster, pp.569, 25

When the second half of the 19th century began, South Africa was barely even a geographical expression, as Metternich had contemptuously called Italy. It certainly wasn’t a country, but merely… Read more

Dropping himself in the soup

11 July 2007
Richard Milhous Nixon: The Invisible Quest Conrad Black

Quercus, pp.pp. 1,152, £30

One of Richard Nixon’s salient characteristics was his clumsiness. No one ever called him a man of the Left politically, but in the other figurative sense he was quite unusually… Read more

A tale of treachery

22 February 2007
An Un-American Life Sam Tanenhaus

Old Street Publishing, pp.688, 25

When The Spectator recently said goodbye to 56 Doughty Street, we said goodbye to more than three decades of memories. Whatever else we were any good at under Alexander Chancellor’s… Read more

Fowler’s ‘Modern English Usage’

13 December 2006

When the library of V. S. Pritchett was sold off after his death some years ago, I bought a few books as a mark of homage, among them H. W.… Read more

A lesson still worth learning

2 November 2006
Suez 1956 Barry Turner

Hodder, pp.531, 20

Ends of Imperialism Wm. Roger Louis Jr

Tauris, pp.1,065, 24.50,

After Suez Martin Woollacott

Tauris, pp.166, 16.95

Late in 1951, shortly after Winston Churchill had returned to Down- ing Street, with Sir Anthony Eden back at the Foreign Office also, there was an animated conversation, recorded by… Read more

Geoffrey Wheatcroft

28 January 2006

‘To my knowledge, in my lifetime three prime ministers have been adulterers,’ Evelyn Waugh wrote in 1963, ‘and almost every Cabinet has had an addict of almost every sexual vice.’… Read more