Filed under "history"

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.

Read More

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

Nemesis: The Battle For Japan 1944-45

Why do people like me go on writing books about the Second World War ? 62 years after it ended, what new can there possibly be to be said, about the most exhaustively chronicled event in human history ? On the odd occasions when a new book is published which claims to have uncovered revelations- that Winston Churchill secretly plotted De Gaulle’s assassination or that allied troops murdered thousands of German prisoners in Europe in 1945, they always turn out to be nonsense.

Read More

Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-45

To a remarkable degree, even in 2010 the period of Winston Churchill’s war leadership continues to define many British people’s view of our own country. We have been told more about him than any other human being. Thousands of people of many nations have recorded encounters. The most vivid wartime memory of a British Eighth Army veteran whom I once met derived from a day in August 1942 when he found the prime minister his neighbour in a North African desert latrine.

Read More

Armageddon: The Battle For Germany 1944-45

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Forty-something years ago, when I was a teenager, even then avidly preoccupied with the Second World War, the study of its history was still dominated by fiercely nationalistic perceptions. Americans wildly overrated their battlefield contribution to victory, and perhaps underestimated their decisive industrial one. The British, astonishingly enough, still perceived themselves as the inhabitants of middle earth. The Russians barely acknowledged that the western allies had participated in the war at all.

Read More