Alistair Horne

General ‘Stormin’ Norman’ Schwarzkopf: a tribute

‘Stormin’ Norman’ Schwarzkopf was a formidable figure: formidable in size, in his fearsome temper—and as a genius in the art of war. I first met the General in Oman a few weeks before the unleashing of the First Gulf War of 1990, where he commanded a remarkable array of coalition forces, including Egyptians and Syrians.

Picking sides in Syria, the Algerian experience

Some thirty-five years ago, in 1977 to be exact, I first published A Savage War of Peace, a definitive history of France’s war in Algeria. The war dragged on from 1954 to 1962, torpedoed six French governments, and the Fourth Republic itself, bringing de Gaulle to power. It also introduced a new meaning to the

The bravest of the brave

I suppose I may be one of the few people still alive to have known Krystyna Skarbek (aka Christine Granville), though, perhaps regrettably, not as well as many others in her brilliant, stormy but eventually tragic life. Today she would have been over 100. Of all the women agents who risked their lives in Nazi-occupied


Britain has not been lucky with her Defence Secretaries. I cannot remember one ‘fit for purpose’ since George Robertson, back in 1999. There followed, under New Socialism, the colourless provincial lawyer who helped Blair lie his way into Iraq (I forget his name, as it’s always imprudent to libel a lawyer). Then came the wee

A portrait of the Lady

Aung San Suu Kyi is free, but has the ruling junta won the battle for Burma’s future? Aung San Suu Kyi’s late husband, Michael Aris, was a good friend of mine at St Antony’s, Oxford. The gentlest of gentle academics, he helped establish a centre in Tibetan studies at Oxford, and converted to Buddhism. In

Kissinger’s man from Moscow

When Anatoly Dobrynin died earlier this month, aged 90, the British press paid little notice. Yet it is increasingly clear that he was one of the most remarkable players in the Cold War — someone who did much to stop the conflict turning hot. Over 24 years he served as Soviet ambassador to six US

Recalling the Cuban Missile Crisis

Like the assassination of JFK, everybody alive then can remember where they were that Doomsday Week of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. That Saturday, 27 October, was, and remains, the closest the world has come to nuclear holocaust — the blackest day of a horrendous week. It was an incredibly beautiful autumn day.

Diary – 18 November 2006

In tandem with Asa Briggs, I am speaking at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center atop Boston University. This is a truly remarkable institution, yet, even in Boston, Mass., surprisingly few people know about it. Gotlieb himself was an extraordinary man; a Rhodes scholar, he began by collecting British archives over 40 years ago —

Roots of terror

On the night of All Saints, 1954, a young honeymooning couple of French school teachers, dedicated to their work among underprivileged children, were dragged off a bus in the Aurès Mountains of Algeria and shot down. Their murder by the newly created FLN (National Liberation Front) marked the beginning of organised revolt against the French