Hugh Cecil rss

The face of evil: Irma Grese, one of the most hated of all camp guards, trained at Ravensbrück before moving to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Survivors testified to her extreme sadism, including her use of trained, half-starved dogs to savage prisoners

The ‘rabbits’ of Ravensbrück: a horrific account of the medical experiments performed at Hitler’s only all-female concentration camp

31 January 2015
If This is a Woman: Inside Ravensbrück: Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women Sarah Helm

Little Brown, pp.768, £25, ISBN: 9781408701072

Concentration camps in Nazi Germany were originally set up in 1933 to terrorise Hitler’s political enemies; as war drew near, their function expanded to gratify his obsession (and that of… Read more

(Photo: Getty)

The diary that proves Anthony Seldon wrong about the first world war and the public schools

12 April 2014
Private Lord Crawford’s Great War Diaries: From Medical Orderly to Cabinet Minister Christopher Arnander (ed)

Pen and Sword, pp.206, £19.99, ISBN: 9781781593677

Public Schools and the Great War: The Generation Lost Anthony Selden and David Walsh

Pen and Sword, pp.320, £25, ISBN: 9781781593080

In March 1915 the 27th Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, with an already distinguished political career behind him, took the unorthodox step of enlisting, aged 43, as a private in… Read more

Journey's End, 1939 Photo: Time & Life Pictures/Getty

To see how good Journey's End is, just look at who it's offended

14 December 2013
Journey’s End: The Classic War Play Explored Robert Gore-Langton

Oberon Books, pp.132, £10.99, ISBN: 9781849433952

‘You have no idea,’ wrote the publisher Ralph Hodder-Williams in 1929 to one of his authors, what terrible offence Journey’s End has given — and terrible pain too, which is… Read more

‘Miss Mere is in her room, resuming her ordinary attire’

The art of deception

2 March 2013
The Happy Hypocrite Max Beerbohm, illustrated by George Sheringham

Michael Walmer Publishing, pp.70, £19.95, ISBN: 9780987367808

Max Beerbohm, dandy, cartoonist and penetrating drama critic, was par excellence the observer of the glittering English period that stretched from the 1890s to the death of Edward VII, poking… Read more


A soul in agony

24 September 2011
Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas Matthew Hollis

Faber, pp.389, 20

In this compelling book, Matthew Hollis  analyses how Edward Thomas, for years a frustrated literary critic and prose writer on rural themes, became all at once, at the age of… Read more


Beasts in battle

29 January 2011
Tommy's Ark: Soldiers and their Animals in the Great War Richard Van Emden

Bloomsbury, pp.336, 16.99

‘Never such innocence again’ wrote Philip Larkin of an unquestioning British people on the eve of the first world war, and much has been made, not unreasonably, of the trusting… Read more


From void to void, with time to kill

21 August 2010
Bomber County: The Lost Airmen of World War Two Daniel Swift

Hamish Hamilton, pp.269, 20

Just as the slaughter in the trenches of Flanders and northern France gave birth to the tragic verses of Wilfred Owen, so the experience of bombing and being bombed between… Read more


Anything for a laugh

14 April 2010
The Sultan of Zanzibar: The Bizarre World and Spectacular Hoaxes of Horace de Vere Cole Martyn Downer

Black Spring Press, pp.320, 16.99

A hundred years ago, when Britannia still ruled the waves, the Royal Navy fell victim to a humiliating hoax, reports of which kept the public amused for a few wintry… Read more

Living the pagan idyll

29 April 2009
Frances Partridge Anne Chisholm

Weidenfeld, pp.402, 25

For years an intimate friend of my mother Rachel Cecil, Frances Partridge inhabits my memory from early childhood. Before she reached 50, her dark, delicate skin was already seamed with… Read more

In a class of his own

7 April 2009
Maurice Bowra: A Life Leslie Mitchell

OUP, pp.385, 25

‘Voltaire and the Sun King rolled into one’ is how Elizabeth Longford has described her Oxford tutor Maurice Bowra. As Fellow and then Warden of Wadham College from 1922 to… Read more

Memoirs of the Great War

10 December 2008
Survivors of a Kind Brian Bond

Continuum, pp.216, 25.00

Survivors of a Kind, by Brian Bond In Survivors of a Kind, Brian Bond, one of our most distinguished modern military historians, has written an absorbing and affectionate study of… Read more


Not forgetting the horses’ indigestion

8 August 2007
World War One: A Short History Norman Stone

Allen Lane, pp.pp. 157, £16.99

The appearance of this volume is an important publishing event. It is the first book in ten years from one of the outstanding historians of our age. Its brevity and… Read more

Singing in the mud

18 January 2007
Voices of Silence: The Alternative Book of First World War Poetry Vivien Noakes

Sutton, pp.454, 18.99

This is a courageous and original book. Its editor, Vivien Noakes, is resisting, though not alone (Martin Stephen, Anne Powell, Dominic Hibberd and John Onions could also be cited), a… Read more

Public servant, private saint

5 October 2006
Leonard Woolf: A Life Victoria Glendinning

Simon & Schuster, pp.530, 25

Leonard Woolf had a passion for animals, not unconnected with an appetite for control. Dogs (with the occasional mongoose or monkey) were his companions to the end of his life.… Read more

The sunlight on the garden parties

25 May 2006
The Perfect Summer: Dancing into Shadow in 1911 Juliet Nicolson

John Murray, pp.290, 20

Listing page content here As a social and economic phase of English life the ‘Edwardian age’ had a longer span than the ten years of Edward VII’s reign. It began,… Read more

Will Haig end up as a cuddly toy?

21 January 2006
The Great War: Myth and Memory Dan Todman

Hambledon & London, pp.299, 19.99

If you ask most people in Britain today for their views on the first world war, they tell you that it was a futile holocaust in which our nation’s brave… Read more

A season in Hell

26 March 2005
Massacre of the Innocents: The Crofton Diaries, Ypres, 1914-1915 edited by Gavin Roynon

Sutton, pp.286, 19.99

This sensitive, outspoken diary begins during the dark last days of the ‘dead little, red little army’, the British Expeditionary Force which bolstered the French left flank in Flanders from… Read more