Peter pears

The pacifists of the 1930s deserve greater understanding

As I’ve occasionally come to think is the case with The Spectator, this book is perhaps best begun at the back. Otherwise it might be taken for niche history – applied historical moral philosophy, say, or an aspect of ‘the people’s war’ usually overshadowed by the manifest imperative to defeat the unparalleled evil of Nazism. That evil, concludes Tobias Kelly, professor of political and legal anthropology at Edinburgh, has indeed ‘become the frame through which we seem to assess all evils’; but ‘the spectre of appeasement has also reared its head too often’. As a result, ‘we have been quick to get carried away with the virtue of war when