Elder, but no better

20 January 2010
Pitt the Elder: Man of War Edward Pearce

The Bodley Head, pp.372, 25

William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham was hailed by Victorian schoolboys as the man who made England great. He was the patriot leader, the minister who steered the country… Read more

The face of a muffin

30 December 2009
Margaret Rutherford: Dreadnought with Good Manners Andy Merriman

Aurum, pp.296, 18.99

What was it about post-war British cinema? Our films were lit up by a collection of wonderfully idiosyncratic performers. Think Alistair Sim, Terry-Thomas and Robert Morley. Perhaps the most idiosyncratic… Read more

The myth survived

25 November 2009
The Celtic Revolution Simon Young

Gibson Square, pp.320, 14.99

You may find this book irritating. A complex exposition of 2,000 years of history, it is intended for the general reader, whoever he is (a general reader would surely not… Read more

Facetious or scandalous?

11 November 2009
An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain John O’Farrell

Doubleday, pp.375, 18.99

The Making of Modern Britain Andrew Marr

Macmillan, pp.451, 25

Very funny guy, John O’Farrell. Very funny guy, John O’Farrell. His columns are a hoot and his excellent memoir, Things Can Only Get Better, turned me temporarily into an insomniac.… Read more

Beyond the call of duty

24 June 2009
Men of War: Courage under Fire in the 19th-century Navy David Crane

Harper Press, pp.480, 30

David Crane’s latest book is much more interesting than its title would lead you to believe. If you buy it hoping for a collection of stories of derring-do and British… Read more

Exit the hero

6 May 2009
The Movement Reconsidered: Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and their Contemporaries Zachary Leader (editor)

OUP, pp.319, 18.99

It was in The Spectator, in 1954, that the Movement was christened, and its members’ stereotyped image was soon set: white, male (except for Elizabeth Jennings), non-posh poets who rhymed… Read more

Back to the future?

29 April 2009
When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies Andy Beckett

Faber, pp.576, 20

With the economy in recession, the close attentions of the IMF, taxation rising to punitive levels and a general sense of our having lived beyond our means, reminders of the… Read more

One-man triumph

28 January 2009
The Companion to British History (Third Edition) Charles Arnold Baker

Loncross Denholm Press, pp.1425, 78

The Companion to British History (Third Edition), by Charles Arnold Baker Readers familiar with the first edition of The Companion to British History (Loncross, 1997) will already know that its… 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