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A diplomat with a difference

Senior diplomats may be a charming bunch, but as a rule they are not known for their modesty. Years of rubbing shoulders with world leaders, however inconsequential, tend to go to their heads. Taking themselves too seriously is an occupational hazard. When it comes to publishing their memoirs, such arrogance and pomposity are not necessarily

The outsider who felt the cold

The journal ADAM — an acronym for Art, Drama, Architecture and Music — was the life’s work of a Jewish Romanian exile Miron Grindea (1910-95), who was its only editor. Embodying a style of cosmopolitan cultural sophistication, it represents a fascinating episode in the history of the London literary world, its bent being more internationalist

Softly, softly, catchee English

Hooray for Signal Books, publishers of the ‘Lost and Found’ series of classic travel writing. Not long ago I reviewed in these pages The Ford of Heaven by Brian Power, a memoir, first published in 1984, of Power’s childhood in north China. The notable thing about Power was how deeply embedded he was in the

From cornet to colonel

Sometime in 1995 Colonel Allan Mallinson came, somewhat sheepishly I thought, into my office. He was clutching a sheaf of papers that I feared would be another piece of heavyweight Ministry of Defence bureaucracy. But no, it was instead the first chapter of his first Hervey novel, A Close Run Thing. He asked if I

The Knight’s noble rescue

This handsome and scholarly book is a catalogue of a selection of pictures of Ireland, all, remarkably, collected over the past 30 years by Desmond Fitzgerald, 29th Knight of Glin, for his famous country seat in west Limerick, where his family have held sway since 1350. It whets the appetite for the next major publication