The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made


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School of History. Ball leeds. ISBN PhD Cantab.

Student education International History and Politics Since the holder of the Chair of International History and Politics has been the senior faculty member for a specialised undergraduate degree programme. Back to top.

Looking at political history from the perspectives of these four men makes for an interesting and intimate perspective, one worth examining further. The Guardsmen is in many ways a very sad book, most notably in the later chapters as the friendship between the four men increasingly fragments and unravels. It is not easy to keep friends in politics, as any reader of political diaries and memoirs will note.

What makes it all the more sad is that even as Macmillan, Salisbury, Lyttleton and Crookshank were drifting apart, the rising generation of the s found their generation a worthy and easy target for scorn and satire — the play Oh! What a Lovely War! Where once they had been young dashing heroes, now they were either laughable or pitiful old men, hopelessly out of touch and even viewed by some more radical writers as little better than war criminals for the part they had played in both world wars. The world they had made had somehow fallen away from them, and to a man they almost seemed to end their days in frustration and sorrow.

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Elsewhere Harold Macmillan nearly died of six separate wounds, while an explosion castrated Harry Crookshank. Only Robert Cranborne later sixth Marquess of Salisbury , temporarily deafened, escaped serious wounds, only to be stricken by postwar polio. The Guardsmen, which must surely take its place as a historical classic, gathers together the experiences of these four.

They were together at Eton, in the Guards, on the western front, as Tory politicians, anti-appeasers, ministers and, finally, between Salisbury and Macmillan, enemies in a troublesome quarrel. The idea of a collective biography, made possible by newly available sources, is an excellent one.

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Guard of honour

Brilliantly executed, it provides both new light and major revisions of judgment, and not just upon the four guardsmen. Anthony Eden's career runs tangentially across theirs, never, in all its glittering inadequacy, to his advantage. Salisbury, who no longer seems the shrill, reactionary stick-insect of 50s myth, stood behind him long before Munich.


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The savage judgments of David Carlton's Eden are confirmed. Lyttelton's belief in resisting the Nazis had roots in his own experience.

Books About Winston Churchill

He was a businessman, chiefly in the metal trade; and many friends and colleagues in the German associate of his company were Jewish. When Kristallnacht was staged, Lyttelton was in Frankfurt. The synagogue was fired, and rioters "threw the stock for the shops into the gutter, and added to them all the small household possessions and household goods of the owner".

The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made
The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made
The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made
The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made
The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made
The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made

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