Although wielding huge influence in late Victorian and Edwardian political life, Reginald Baliol Brett (1852 _ 1930), the second Lord Esher was, an enigma to his contemporaries and still remains a puzzle to historians.??At the heart of British and Imperial political affairs for several decades, Esher sat in both Houses of Parliament, was a high ranking civil servant, friend and confidential advisor to three Sovereigns and four Prime Ministers (of differing political hues) and yet refused high office offered by both Liberals and Conservatives. Yet his behind-the-scenes influence through his range of friends in high places gave him unmatched, some thought undemocratic, power. Despite his lack of military service he was instrumental through his work on the Committee for Imperial Defence (CID) and its Secretarial for the wholesale reorganisation of the Armed Forces. It could be said that Esher, with his grasp of power without responsibility, was a unique phenomenon in British history.??The Author, while compiling this fascinating study, drew on Cabinet and CID files, the Royal Archives and the papers of the Esher, Balfour, Asquith and Lloyd George estates. The result is a brilliant readable yet scholarly addition to British political bibliography.
Deep History and the Tory Theme in British Foreign Policy, 1679-2014
Author: Jeremy Black
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Political decisions are never taken in a vacuum but are shaped both by current events and historical context. In other words, long-term developments and patterns in which the accumulated memory of what came earlier, can greatly (and sometimes subconsciously) influence subsequent policy choices. Working forward from the later seventeenth century, this book explores the ‘deep history’ of the changing and competing understandings within the Tory party of the role Britain has aspired to play on a world stage. Conservatism has long been one of the major British political tendencies, committed to the defence of established institutions, with a strong sense of the ‘national interest’, and embracing both ‘liberal’ and ‘authoritarian’ views of empire. The Tory party has, moreover, at several times been deeply divided, if not convulsed, by different perspectives on Britain’s international orientation and different positions on foreign and imperial policy. Underlying Tory beliefs upon which views of Britain’s global role were built were often not stated but assumed. As a result they tend to be obscured from historical view. This book seeks to recover and reconsider those beliefs, and to understand how the Tory party has sought to navigate its way through the difficult pathways of foreign and imperial politics, and why this determination outlasted Britain’s rapid decolonisation and was apparently remarkably little affected by it. With a supporting cast from Pitt to Disraeli, Churchill to Thatcher, the book provides a fascinating insight into the influence of history over politics. Moreover it argues that there has been an inherent politicisation of the concept of national interests, such that strategic culture and foreign policy cannot be understood other than in terms of a historically distorted political debate.
‘ Well written and persuasive … objective and well-rounded… .this scholarly rehabilitation should be the standard biography’ **** Andrew Roberts, Mail on Sunday ‘ A true judgment of him must lie somewhere between hero and zero, and in this detailed biography Gary Sheffield shows himself well qualified to make it … a balanced portrait’ Sunday Times ‘ Solid scholarship and admirable advocacy’ Sunday Telegraph Douglas Haig is the single most controversial general in British history. In 1918, after his armies had won the First World War, he was feted as a saviour. But within twenty years his reputation was in ruins, and it has never recovered. In this fascinating biography, Professor Gary Sheffield reassesses Haig’ s reputation, assessing his critical role in preparing the army for war.
How Two Gentlemen Edited a Queen and Created an Icon
Author: Yvonne M. Ward
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
In 1901, two literary gentlemen were appointed a novel task: to preserve the memory of Queen Victoria in her own words. By the time they were finished, 460 volumes of the Queen’s correspondence had become just three; their decisions — and distortions — would influence perceptions of Victoria for generations to come. The editors chosen for the task were deeply eccentric and complicated men. Baron Esher was the consummate royal confidant who hid his obsession with Eton boys and incestuous relationship with his youngest son behind a persona of charm and discretion. Arthur Benson, an ex-Etonian master and closeted homosexual, struggled to fit in with the blue-blooded clubs and codes of the court while fighting bouts of severe depression. Together with King Edward VII they would decide how Victoria was to be remembered — avoiding scandal, protecting the new king, promoting their own preconceptions about Victoria and her court, obscuring her role as a mother, and propping up the politics of the day. Based on unprecedented access to the original archives, this is a fascinating piece of historical detective work.
This addition to the Britain in Old Photographs series brings together a collection of black-and-white pictures spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Drawn from family albums, local collections and professional photographers, they show the way things were and how they have changed.
The essays that comprise this collection examine the development and influence of the British General Staff from the late Victorian period until the eve of World War II. They trace the changes in the staff that influenced British military strategy and subsequent operations on the battlefield.