Tag Archives: book review

Lloyd George and Spanish Flu: In Sickness and in Health

The most treasured possessions inherited from my grandfather are undoubtedly two blue volumes that have been with me for most of my life, The War Memoirs of David Lloyd George. Lloyd George was my grandfather’s political hero, and so he became mine too. As a teenager, I read the Memoirs avidly, and they were probably the reason that I became a historian. They were, of course, very much a personal view and not necessarily to be relied upon as an accurate account of all events. But they were the words of Lloyd George.

One of the remarkable things about the Memoirs is that, while dealing with grave matters and costly military campaigns, they are largely silent on Lloyd George’s brush with death. The recent illness of Boris Johnson has inevitably drawn comparisons with Lloyd George’s contraction of ‘Spanish flu’ in September 1918. Lloyd George was the same age as our current Prime Minister and, like Johnson, had taken over the premiership at a time of a national crisis. Lloyd George’s illness was particularly poignant. Just as the Liberal premier was on the verge of a great victory at the end of a brutal war, his own life was in serious danger. At the time, few knew how grave matters had become.

Posted in Books and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

The uneven path of British Liberalism – from Jo Grimond to Brexit by Tudor Jones

Tudor Jones has updated his 2011 publication setting out and analysing Liberal thinking so that now his purview runs from 1956 to 2016. Everything in the review of the earlier volume applies to his extended work. There is no better single-volume reference work on sixty years of Liberal thought, and Tudor Jones’ analysis of the numerous and diverse publications during that period is both rigorous and reliable. 

The additional chapters in this new volume cover the years leading into the Coalition of 2010 and the disastrous electoral consequences of that Coalition. Tudor Jones deals with the policy issues raised by the Orange Book and its answering volume Reinventing the State. He points out that the reputation the Orange Book acquired for expounding a Liberal economic doctrine was exaggerated and was more tone than detail. He traces the development of a shift from the Ashdown ending of equidistance between Conservative and Labour, and his effort to achieve an arrangement with Tony Blair, with an almost imperceptible move towards being more friendly towards conservatism, a trend, he says, that was not unacceptable to Nick Clegg.

Posted in Books and Op-eds | 11 Comments

Book review – Jeremy Paxman: A Life in Questions

Santa kindly got me this book. I have just finished it – which for me counts as “speed reading”. (I once spent an entire year reading “To kill a mocking bird“).

Jeremy Paxman’s memoirs, “A Life in Questions” is an excellent read – it presents a journalist of great integrity, an interesting life story which is, in turns, fascinating, gripping and, sometimes, hilarious.

Posted in Books | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Book review – Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews

Books and films about the last second of President John F Kennedy’s life have been plentiful. “Jack Kennedy – Elusive hero” by Chris Matthews is a very engaging book which focusses on the great politician’s life before that last second.

Chris Matthews is a very well-known US TV broadcaster. He prefaces this book in a personal context – explaining his great admiration for JFK. The book does an excellent job in answering the key question which John F Kennedy himself described as the pivotal one for biographies: “What was he like?”

Posted in Books | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Zen and the art of the crunching rugby tackle

Why on earth would a political website carry a review of a book about amateur rugby?

Well, in pitching my review of ‘My Life as a Hooker’ to the editors I make two points. The first is that the author – Steven Gauge – is a seasoned Liberal Democrat campaigner. The second is that the book itself contains lessons that reach far beyond the gates of Warlingham Rugby Club car park. I doubt the book will ever replace Milton’s Areopagitica as the enduring symbol of Liberal values. But its underlying philosophy of self-help, communal activity, tolerance, respect and beer …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • Peter Martin
    (cont) .....Governments haven't wanted to borrow, or the EU has set limits on Govt borrowing, which has meant that the borrowing has been pushed on to the priv...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Joe B, "Policy failures (in housing and debt) in the UK have resulted in widening intergenerational inequality....." OK but what are these poli...
  • Greg
    @ John O'Donnell You don't need an NHS number to receive the vaccine. Staff will ask for it as it makes their job easier. Just contact your local CCG, threaten...
  • Joseph Bourke
    It has always been something of a puzzle that British civil servants have been able to establish practical governance and institutional arrangements in places l...
  • Catherine Royce
    Its very clear as a UK citizen ( which she certainly is) she must be able to return to the UK to face investigation and whatever follows. None of us know whethe...
Thu 11th Mar 2021