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Britain

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One week to save Britain

13 September 2014

Next week, the most important vote in recent British history will be held. Indeed, it may well turn out to be one of the last ballots in British history. Seven… Read more

A member of the London Home Guard demonstrates the use of old wallpaper as camouflage (1942)

The real Dad’s Army was no joke

30 August 2014
Operation Sealion Leo McKinstry

John Murray, pp.486, £25, ISBN: 9781848546981

Dad’s Army, the sitcom to end all sitcoms, portrayed the Home Guard as often doddery veterans. In one episode, Private Godfrey’s genteel sisters are seen to prepare their Regency cottage… Read more

12 July 2014

Real help for those in pain Sir: The fickleness of existence is exemplified by the fact that being Tony Blair’s ex-flatmate puts you in the position of further eroding the… Read more

Brussels will treat Britain as Macedonia treated Sparta

5 July 2014

The EU is a federation of states (Latin foedus, ‘treaty’, from the same root as fides, ‘trust, good faith’). But for how long can such a federation endure a recalcitrant… Read more

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Without Scotland, England will be a weedy laughing stock

5 July 2014

On 19 September, people over all Britain could wake up in a diminished country, one that doesn’t bestride the world stage but hobbles instead. If Scotland votes to leave the… Read more

Jury Reaches Verdict In The Trial Of Publicist Max Clifford

The Spectator's Notes: Max Clifford's conviction vindicates juries. But so did the acquittals

3 May 2014

The conviction of Max Clifford for indecent assaults feels like a vindication of the jury system, as did the acquittal of the many other showbiz characters charged under Operation Yewtree.… Read more

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin  l

Putin is making the West's Cold Warriors look like fools

22 March 2014

William Hague was on rather shaky ground when he argued this week that Moscow has chosen ‘the route to isolation’ by recognising Crimea’s referendum. On the contrary, it is the… Read more

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Why Britain’s economy will overtake Germany’s

5 October 2013

What’s the most surprising thing that could come out of the current economic upturn? A rapid revival in northern manufacturing? The City really getting behind small British businesses? Ed Balls… Read more

The People’s Songs, by Stuart Maconie - a review

20 July 2013
The People’s Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records Stuart Maconie

Ebury, pp.420, £20, ISBN: 9780091933791

For Stuart Maconie fans, this book might sound as if it’ll be his masterpiece. In his earlier memoirs and travelogues, he’s proved himself a fine writer: sharp, funny, tender and… Read more

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The unfair sex - how feminism created a new class divide

27 April 2013

James is 15 years old, coming up to his GCSEs; and the researcher he is talking to is clueless about girls. Yes, he tells her, girls at his school, underage… Read more

‘The Badminton Game’ 1972–3, by David Inshaw

David Inshaw: the great romantic

2 March 2013

David Inshaw will celebrate his 70th birthday on 21 March, around the time of the spring equinox. On the eve of this grand climacteric, which will be marked by an… Read more

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Who are the losers now?

24 March 2012
Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II Keith Lowe

Viking, pp.460, 25

Keith Lowe’s horrifying book is a survey of the physical and moral breakdown of Europe in the closing months of the second world war and its immediate aftermath. It is… Read more

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Gunboat diplomacy

28 January 2012
Blue-Water Empire: The British in the Mediterranean since 1800 Robert Holland

Allen Lane, pp.397, 25

Britain’s links with the Continent were once  deeper and more extensive than those of any other European country. Paris, Rome and German universities played as vital a role in British… Read more

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Mutiny, mayhem and murder

30 July 2011
A Merciless Place: The Lost Story of Britain’s Convict Disaster in Africa Emma Christopher

OUP, pp.432, 16.99

Nothing more gladdens this reader’s heart than a book that opens up an interesting and underexplored historical byway. Well, perhaps one thing: a book that opens up a historical byway… Read more

Heroic long-suffering

25 June 2011
To End All Wars: How the First World War Divided Britain Adam Hochschild

Macmillan, pp.448, 20

English patriotism was still a force in 1914. On the first day of the war, my mother’s three brothers, and my father and his two brothers, all joined up together,… Read more

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The empire strikes back

19 February 2011
Liberty’s Exiles: The Loss of America and the Remaking of the British Empire Maya Jasanoff

Harper Press, pp.460, 30

Something strange happened in New York on a cold November afternoon in 1783: the city effectively turned itself inside out. Mounted on a grey horse, George Washington marched down Manhattan… Read more

Bruising times

12 February 2011
The Champion Tim Binding

Picador, pp.434, 12.99

In a market town in Kent at the time of Thatcher’s Britain, Charles Pemberton attends the town’s minor public school where his businessman father is a governor. In a market… Read more

Not good enough

23 October 2010
The Verdict: Did Labour Change Britain? Polly Toynbee and David Walker

Granta, pp.314, 18.99

Tony Blair gave his record in government ten out of ten, though an ungrateful electorate scored rather less well and his Cabinet colleagues performed even worse. Sadly, they were ill-equipped… Read more

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That turbulent decade

23 October 2010
No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980s Andy McSmith

Constable, pp.342, 14.99

On 2 January, 1980, a new decade was ushered in with a strike by steelworkers. It was their first national stoppage for half a century, and after three tense months… Read more

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. . . and they did to us

9 October 2010
The Blitz: The British Under Attack Juliet Gardiner

Harper Press, pp.431, 25

The craters are all filled in, the ruins replaced, and the last memories retold only in the whispery voices of the old. Apart from celebrating the resilience of our parents… Read more

Hunting and working

7 July 2010
Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography Adam Sisman

Weindenfeld and Nicholson, pp.598, 25

Why are scholars so prone to melancholy? According to the expert, Robert Burton of Christ Church, it is because ‘they live a sedentary, solitary life… Why are scholars so prone… Read more

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Aces high

23 June 2010
The Battle of Britain James Holland

Bantam, pp.592, 25

Gun Button to Fire Tom Neill

Amberley, pp.320, 20

Last of the Few Dilip Sarkar

Amberley, pp.240, 20

Seventy years after the RAF repelled the Luftwaffe, the Battle of Britain continues to have a powerful resonance. The conflict not only decided Britain’s very survival as an independent nation,… Read more

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Triumph of the will

7 April 2010
The Forgotten Highlander: My Incredible Story of Survival During the War in the Far East Alistair Urquhart

Little, Brown, pp.312, 18.99

Alistair Urquhart describes himself as ‘a lucky man as well as an angry man’. Alistair Urquhart describes himself as ‘a lucky man as well as an angry man’. No one… Read more

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Survival of the fittest

7 April 2010
Back from the Brink: The Inside Story of the Tory Resurrection Peter Snowdon

HarperPress, pp.419, 14.99

When I was at Eton, many years before David Cameron, much of the school was run by a self-elected society known as ‘Pop’. When I was at Eton, many years… Read more

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In the shadow of Mau Mau

24 March 2010
Dreams in a Time of War Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

Harvill Secker, pp.256, 12.99

When the Kenyan human rights campaigner, Maina Kiai, recently addressed the House of Commons, his list of policy recommendations probably surprised many MPs. Be tough on Kenya’s fractious government, he… Read more