Lectures

Max regularly lectures on a variety of subjects to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.  Here are some examples of talks he has given over the past few years:

The Media and Modern Warfare

Professional soldiers through the past century and a half have seldom thought much of the journalists who have accompanied them to war. William Howard Russell of The Times, father of modern war corresponding, was sometimes feared by the generals of the Crimea, but never admired by them. In the early days of the American Civil War, an idealistic Union general named Irvin McDowell said that he had arranged for correspondents to take the field with the army, “and I have suggested to them that they should wear white uniforms to indicate their purity of their characters.” It was not long before any delusions of that sort were shattered. By 1898, when General Kitchener started his expeditionary force up the Nile to defeat the Mahdi, he was best remembered among the accompanying journalists for his answer when they besieged his tent one morning in search of news: “Out of my way, you drunken swabs!”

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State of The Union

A lecture on ‘The State of The Union’ given in 2006 for the Scottish National Trust.

In 1617 an English courtier, Sir Anthony Weldon, reported biliously on his experience in Scotland: ‘There is great store of fowl, too, as foul houses, foul sheets, foul linen, foul dishes and pots, foul trenchers and napkins’. Scots have been defending themselves against such horrid neighbourly condescensions for well over 400 years. When that likeable Aberdeenshire lawyer Sir James Craig came south with James VI and I in 1603, he sought to correct the libellous English image of his homeland: ‘There is no country in which a man can live more pleasantly and delicately than Scotland. Nowhere else are fish so plentiful; indeed, unless they are freshly caught on the very day we refuse to eat them. There is meat of every kind. Nowhere else will you will find more tender beef and mutton…our servants are content with oatmeal, which makes them hardy’.

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Ruttenberg Lecture

David Cameron and Barack Obama said in a joint statement at the end of the president’s recent state visit to London that the relationship between our two countries is not merely special, but essential. This was a pleasantly emollient assertion, characteristic of the things statesmen say in such circumstances. But this evening I want to discuss how far it seems justified by realities, past and present, with special reference to defence, which is my own field; and what we, the British, as ever the lesser player and often suppliant, might do to strengthen our side of the affiliation. I use the word affiliation, rather than partnership, advisedly, for it seems to me that many of the difficulties and disappointments that landmark our exchanges with the United States result from exaggerated hopes of what Britain may realistically expect from its relationship with the most powerful nation on earth.

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The Falklands

The Falklands was a freak of history which today to me, and probably to you, seems almost as remote as the Boer War.   Its most important lesson , which Tony Blair has learned the hard way, is that success justifies…Read more

CPRE Lecture

Each time CPRE branches get together, many of us find ourselves thinking that there is more to alarm us, and more to fight for, than there was last time. I don’t think this reflects simply the pessimism of advancing age, but rather the reality of political developments. For the past two years, our agenda has been dominated by this government’s dramatic commitment to building huge numbers of new homes, especially in the south of England, without seriously addressing their impact on the countryside, the supporting resources and infrastructure they will need. I suppose we should really have started today’s proceedings by proposing a vote of thanks to John Prescott’s diary secretary. Her efforts have removed from control of housing and planning one of the most insensitive ministers ever to be given licence to despoil the English countryside. But no sooner had Mr.Prescott moved on to croquet lawns new, than he was succeeded by Ms.Ruth Kelly.

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