Alistair Irwin

Causes and consequences

Despite its puzzlingly hideous appearance, this is an excellent book. Subtitled ‘Reflections on the History of the Twentieth Century’, it consists of 18 chapters being, with one exception, the texts of lectures given by Professor Howard between 1991 and 2003. It is not easy to craft a good lecture that reads well on the page,

Fighting a war in all but name

Listing page content here There is much in common between a Richard Holmes book and a bottle of the finest Speyside malt. Both look and feel good, full of promise. Extract the stopper from one, open the other and the anticipation quickens. After that it is a question of taste or habit as to whether

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

Duty and pleasure in happy tandem

I have never met the 2nd Earl Jellicoe. I wish I had because to shake hands with this remarkable man, the Achilles of the title, would be to shake hands with honour, courage and duty fulfilled. If the author has him right it would also be to shake hands with wisdom, fun and a whiff

Tops of the top brass

The subtitle of this latest study of British generalship, ‘Ten British Commanders Who Shaped the World’, sets the bar exclusively high. Perhaps this is why in the introduction we are given three other criteria for the selection of subjects. The author seeks to illustrate military success or failure in the context of the political control