Douglas Hurd

Douglas Hurd’s books of the year

All Hell Let Loose by Max Hastings. However many books are written about the second world war there will always be room for one more — provided that it is first class. Max Hastings has now established himself in eight separate volumes as a master of this subject. He does not glorify war; indeed through

No rules to waive

Kwasi Kwarteng is a young Tory MP and it is right and proper that he should begin his analysis of the British Empire with a quotation from Disraeli. The fact that he is of Ghanaian origin shows merely that we live in an unpredictable world: In the European nations there is confidence in this country

Backs to the wall

Susan Gibbs begins her book by describing the death from cancer of her first husband after 13 years of happy marriage. She ends with her farewell to Africa and her journey to Britain in 1983 with her second husband, Tim, and four children. Between these events she led a tense life farming in Zimbabwe, watching

Go out and govern New South Wales

‘In the mists and damp of the Scottish Highlands, 61-year-old Sir Bartle Frere was writing a letter. ‘In the mists and damp of the Scottish Highlands, 61-year-old Sir Bartle Frere was writing a letter. Straight-backed, grey-haired, he had the bright eye and bristled moustache of an ageing fox-terrier.’ Reading this, at the beginning of a

A going-away present

A great time ago when the world was young there was a pleasant and harmless custom by which a British ambassador when leaving his post could sit down and write a valedictory dispatch to the Foreign Secretary. This was not compulsory; often an ambassador withheld his opinions until he was leaving not just a particular

Latvian Notebook

Monday morning, on the Baltic Air 137 to Riga. I finish a taut John Grisham thriller, dip into Kilcullen’s brilliant thesis on counter insurgency, The Accidental Guerrilla, then ponder my editor’s benevolent but searching comments yesterday on the book which I have written with Ed Young on British foreign secretaries. Nearly three hours well spent.

Overstretched and over there

Douglas Hurd on James Fergusson’s new book Des Browne, our Defence Secretary, has recently returned from another visit to the British Army in Afghanistan. Once again he issued an optimistic statement on military progress. He should read the devastating account in James Fergusson’s book of his previous visits. The purpose of this excellently written book is to

Several careers open to talent

There are two ways of writing a successful book about oneself. The first is to be so successful in life that you command attention regardless of your prose style. The second, adopted by Ferdinand Mount, is to place the author in a self-deprecating way at the centre of a whirling mass of colourful and entertaining

Handing your life to a stranger

Adam Lang, until recently Prime Minister, is keen to write his memoirs as soon as possible. He employs for this task a hulking apparatchik who was part of his inner team at 10 Downing Street. He takes his wife Ruth, his secretarial staff and this ghost-writer to a luxurious house made available by a millionaire

Peel is the model for Cameron

The balance between style and substance varies sharply with each Prime Minister. In a few weeks, we will see yet another swing of the pendulum. But never has the contrast been greater than in Queen Victoria’s reign. Disraeli was the man for style — an exception rather than a model, for his combination of gifts

Half a century on, the ghosts of Suez return

Fifty years since Suez, and this week the cauldron boils over yet again. Some of the ingredients are different. Britain and France used force in a way they would not now dare. The United States in 1956 had the power to stop the crisis which it has now lost. Most Arabs today accept the existence

Ill-considered imperial gestures

Listing page content here During 1956 three major powers made dramatic efforts to prop up their position by the use of armed force. The British and French, in collusion with Israel, invaded Egypt to overthrow its dictator and regain the Suez Canal; their attempt failed within a few hours. The Soviet Union used its tanks

What next — after the end of history?

Professor Fukuyama is famous for having told us at the end of the Cold War that history was at an end. By this he meant that the slow advance of liberal democracy was inevitable. As he explains in his latest book he did not mean that we should try to accelerate the process by killing

Ketchup and thunder

I have read somewhere that the friends of this author are worried. Apparently he is an MP, a shadow minister, a performer on chat shows, editor of a weekly magazine, the next prime minister but three — and now out pops a novel. How can he manage it all? They need not worry. On the