Raymond Carr rss

A split personality

13 November 2010
In Search of a Past Ronald Fraser

Verso, pp.187, 20

By the 1970s Ronald Fraser had established himself as an expert on modern Spain and an authority on its oral history, when that discipline was an exotic new concept. As… Read more


Built for eternity

14 August 2010
The Escorial: Art and Power in the Renaissance Henry Kamen

Yale, pp.291, 25

The Escorial, as a monastery and a royal palace, was the brain child of Philip II of Spain. Built in the latter half of the 16th century, about 30 miles… Read more


The pride of the Sackvilles

23 June 2010
Inheritance Robert Sackville-West

Bloomsbury, pp.293, 20

Knole is a country house the size of a small village in the Kent countryside. For the past 400 years it has been inhabited by 13 generations of a single… Read more

Faith under fire

24 March 2010
Souls in Torment Giles St Aubyn

New European Publications, pp.590, 25

Giles St Aubyn, in this long, scholarly book, sets out to chronicle the shifts in the Christian churches from the scientific revolution of the 17th century, and the Enlightenment of… Read more


Double vision

27 January 2010
Macaulay: The Tragedy of Power Robert E. Sullivan

Belknap Press, pp.624, 29.95

Thomas Babington Macaulay’s early essays in the Edinburgh Review were an immediate success, and soon made him a respected figure in Whig society. Thomas Babington Macaulay’s early essays in the… Read more

Looking back in anger

2 December 2009
Small Memories José Saramago

Harvill Secker, pp.181, 12.99

Portugal has given the world two distinguished novelists. Eça de Queiros, is the Proust of Portugal. His masterpiece, The Maias, describes the decline of an aristocratic family in the late… Read more

From Russia with love

26 August 2009
The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome Roland Chambers

Faber, pp.390, 20

In the last couple of decades or so, a plenitude of biographers have provided us with studies of 20th-century literary celebrities, from Thomas Hardy and George Bernard Shaw to Evelyn… Read more

Depression and dictators

27 May 2009
The Morbid Age Richard Overy

Penguin, pp.499, 25

For Professor Overy Britain between the two world wars was, as his title proclaims, a morbid age. There was a general view among intellectuals that civilisation — itself a creation… Read more


Heroes and villains

4 March 2009
The Spice of Life John Jolliffe

Brunton Books, Brunton House, Embleton, Alnwick, NE66 3HQ, pp.191, 15.95

This book falls into two distinct parts. The first is the author’s account of his own life until he left Oxford in disgrace. John Joll- iffe, the son of Lord… Read more

Behind the fighting lines

28 January 2009
Memories of an SOE Historian M. R. D. Foot

Pen & Sword, pp.208, 19.99

M. R. D. Foot confesses that he has always endeavoured to follow Whistler’s counsel, ‘Not a day without a line’. His written output is impressive and his judgments severe on… Read more

Horses decline, dogs advance

14 January 2009
The Dog: 5000 Years of the Dog in Art Tamsin Pickeral

Merrell, pp.287, 29.95

Dogs: History, Myth, Art Catherine Johns

British Museum Press, pp.208, 16.99

The Horse: A Celebration of Horses in Art Rachel and Simon Barnes

Quercus, pp.224, 25

The Dog: 5000 Years of the Dog in Art, by Tamsin Pickeral Dogs: History, Myth, Art, by Catherine Johns The Horse: A Celebration of Horses in Art, by Rachel and… Read more

Chalk and cheese

26 November 2008
The British in France: Visitors and Residents since the Revolution Peter Thorold

Continuum, pp.273, 30

The British in France: Visitors and Residents since the Revolution, by Peter Thorold Peter Thorold has not written an orthodox history of French and British political cultural and social relations.… Read more

A city frozen in time

10 September 2008
Pompeii Mary Beard

Profile, pp.25, 315

Pompeii, by Mary Beard In the early morning of 25 August AD 79 Mount Vesuvius blew its top. First came a rain of pumice stones; the roofs of Pompeii collapsed… Read more

Our modest contribution

20 August 2008
St Petersburg and the British: The City Through the Eyes of British Visitors and Residents Anthony Cross

Frances Lincoln, pp.337, 25

St Petersburg and the British: The City Through the Eyes of British Visitors and Residents by Anthony Cross To early English visitors St Petersburg seemed an ‘abstract’, artificial city with… Read more

The sins of the son

9 July 2008
The Assassin’s Accomplice by Kate Clifford Larson

Perseus Group, £15.99, pp. 263, ISBN 9780465038152

In the spring of 1865 Washington was celebrating victory in a bitterly fought civil war. It had begun in 1861 when six southern states had seceded from the Union, setting… Read more

Sound and fury, signifying nothing

4 June 2008
Napoleon’s Cursed War Ronald Fraser

Verso, pp.587, 29.99

In exile on St Helena, Napoleon brooded on the cause of the failure of his bid for the mastery of Europe. He confessed that ‘accursed Spain was the primary cause… Read more

Pistols at dawn

26 March 2008
The Duel: Castlereagh, Canning and the Deadly Cabinet Rivalry Giles Hunt

I. B. Tauris, pp.214, 20

Early on the morning of 21 September 1809 two ministers of the crown in the Duke of Portland’s cabinet met to fight a duel on Putney Heath: they were George… Read more

A return to the grand themes

30 January 2008
Penultimate Adventures with Britannia: Personalities, Politics and Culture in Britain Wm. Roger Louis

I.B. Tauris, pp.320, 35

Between 1975 and today, under the direction of Professor Wm. Roger Louis, the British Studies Seminars of the University of Texas has organized 60 seminars on the modern history of… Read more

Portrait of a lady

21 November 2007
Clarissa Eden: A Memoir From Churchill to Eden Clarissa Eden, edited by Cate Haste

Orion, pp.271, 20

Clarissa Eden’s father was the younger brother of Winston Churchill. Her mother was the daughter of the seventh Earl of Abingdon. She was born into an upper-class society which still,… Read more

The teddy bares his teeth

26 September 2007
Tennis Whites and Tea Cakes John Betjeman, edited by Stephen Games

John Murray, pp.464, 16.99

Ever since he could read and write John Betjeman felt himself destined to become a poet. Later he wrote, ‘I have always preferred it [poetry], knowing that its composition was… Read more

The enemy within

19 September 2007
The Day of the Barbarians: The First Battle in the Fall of the Roman Empire Alessandro Barbero translated by John Cullen

Atlantic, pp.pp. 192, £17.99

On the 9 August 378 AD near Adrianople in Thrace the Roman army of the East was massacred and the Emperor Valens left dead on the battlefield by an army… Read more


Warding off the barbarians

15 August 2007
Counterpoints: 25 Years of 'The New Criterion' on Culture and the Arts edited by Roger Kimball and Hilton Kramer

Ivan R. Dee, pp.pp. 512, £22.99

Counterpoints: 25 Years of ‘The New Criterion’ on Culture and the Arts edited by Roger Kimball and Hilton Kramer The 40 or so reviews and essays in this book celebrate… Read more

A nation transformed in two generations

4 April 2007
The New Spaniards John Hooper

Penguin, pp.480, 10.99

When in November 1975 Franco died, he still possessed the powers granted him by his fellow generals after the outbreak of the Civil War. Such powers, a French general observed,… Read more

Bouncy castles in Spain

1 March 2007
Beaumarchais in Seville: An Intermezzo Hugh Thomas

Yale, pp.192, 16

Hugh Thomas is widely known as the author of scholarly blockbusters 1,000 pages long. He now excels in what he calls an intermezzo, a learned and lively book of 192… Read more

From West Dorset to Westminster

19 October 2006
Thomas Hardy, The Time-Torn Man Claire Tomalin

Viking, pp.544, 25

Claire Tomalin is an accomplished biographer. While she recognises Hardy’s genius, this book is not an essay in literary criticism. With great skill and sensitivity she uses his poetry, novels… Read more