Tom Pocock

Clare Hollingworth, 1911 – 2017: the bravest of us all

Clare Hollingworth, the veteran British war correspondent who broke the news that World War Two had started, has died at the age of 105. In 1991, Tom Pocock recalled the nerve of his colleague in The Spectator: It’s odd to think that Clare Hollingworth turned 80 last week. She is for ever briskly middle-aged in the

The man we love to love

The life and death of Nelson grip the imagination, not just because of the bicentenary of Trafalgar but because more is known about him than any other major figure in British history. He was a tireless correspondent, writing for hours with his left hand letters that would be kept in their hundreds because he was

The first great bourgeois victory

The proposal that the English have a long tradition of violence is the opening of Adam Nicolson’s book and he supports his belief by invoking the Book of Revelations, Virgil, Homer, Joanna Southcott, the Methodists, Jane Austen and William Blake to bring this together at Trafalgar. That occasion cannot, of course, be without Nelson, and

When there was nowhere to go but down

It goes without saying that the second world war was decided as much on the western ocean as in the sky over England. Indeed the Battle of the Atlantic could be seen as the Battle of Britain in slow motion, its critical period lasting for the first three and a half years of the war.

The anatomy of a hero

The first word of Edgar Vincent’s biography of Nelson is not encouraging. It is ‘Jump!’, which is what a sailor is supposed to have shouted to young Horatio as he boarded the boat that was to take him out to his first ship. How does Mr Vincent know that the sailor shouted that? He might

Hervey remounts his horse

Those who prefer their history straight may look askance at the historical novel, particularly if it is military. Accuracy is all. Surely it was the 31st Foot rather than the 38th and was the rifle yet in service and when did the Iron Duke say that it had been a really, really close-run thing? But