‘Appeasing Hitler’ by young historian Tim Bouverie is, as all critics agree, a truly remarkable book. Not only is it a story of pre-War appeasement, of great characters (and a whole tapestry of them, not just Churchill, Chamberlain and Hitler), but it is a story of a period of time, a few short years, when in Britain politicians and public had to make their own minds up about whether the course mapped out was a good one. I use the word story advisedly as although of course it is minutely well-researched and factual nevertheless it gives a truly astonishing account of what it was like to live in those times. You have a visceral feeling of actually being there, absorbing the news as it comes in, and getting to understand what sorts of men we are dealing with and, more important, what their thinking is and how they came to hold the views they do.
“On the evening of Friday 1st September 1939, the former First Lord of The Admiralty, Alfred Duff Cooper, changed as usual into his dinner jacket before going his wife, Diana, and three fellow Conservatives at the Savoy Grill. A day of brilliant sunshine had given way to a balmy evening and there was nothing within the splendid Art Deco dining room to denote a crisis…..” How unexpected a start to a History book, who would not be drawn in to a narrative delight?
‘Appeasing Hitler’ not only made me revisit many of my own conclusions about this period and those involved, it made me realise how relevant History is and made me reflect yet again on how we should all study it. A superb book, much enjoyed by me………
John Le Carre’s ‘Agent Running In The Field’ is the latest offering by a now 89 year-old author. Can someone of that great age write with relevance and immediacy to these troubled times. You bet he can! This is a wonderful read. Not only does the author know what he is talking about….he did after all work in the Intelligence sector, but he knows every trick in the book about plot, characterisation, setting, and everything else in the difficult task of writing a spy novel. He draws you in, he gets you to an understanding of each of the characters in turn, he writes with brilliant descriptive prose in some detail but also elicits a wider picture. And all of this set around a series of badminton matches? You have got to be kidding. I like badminton, and have played many hundreds of times, and I enjoyed that it had a role to play, but don’t let that put anyone off. This is a spy novel of the highest order, thoroughly enjoyable and not one to put down til the last page has been turned.