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Diary

Max Hastings: Letters from the Front, 10 September 2015

... shall raise a glass to the memory of a relation whom I never knew – a great-uncle called Aubrey Hastings, who was killed at the Battle of Loos a century ago, on 5 October 1915. In that era of large families, he was one of five of my close forebears who fought in France during the First World War. Three wrote letters and reflections about the trench ...

Big Man to Uncle Joe

Max Hastings: The Big Three, 22 November 2018

The Kremlin Letters: Stalin’s Wartime Correspondence with Churchill and Roosevelt 
edited by David Reynolds and Vladimir Pechatnov.
Yale, 660 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 300 22682 9
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... Winston Churchill​ was the dominant personality on the allied side in the Second World War: not the leader of the most important belligerent, nor even the most influential warlord in the Grand Alliance, but the most significant human being. His prodigious literary skills afterwards enabled him, thanks to the writing, publication and long-lasting celebrity of his war memoirs, immensely to distort the conflict’s historiography ...

Wrath of the Centurions

Max Hastings: My Lai, 25 January 2018

My Lai: Vietnam, 1968 and the Descent into Darkness 
by Howard Jones.
Oxford, 504 pp., £22.99, June 2017, 978 0 19 539360 6
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... Before​ examining the most notorious war crime of the Vietnam era, it seems useful to glance at some other modern horror stories. At 2.15 p.m. on the afternoon of 10 June 1944, a company of the 2nd SS panzer division, ‘Das Reich’, entered the small French town of Oradour-sur-Glane, herded most of its population, swollen by refugees, into barns and garages, the women and children into the church, then killed them with firearms and grenades ...
The Korean War 
by Max Hastings.
Joseph, 476 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 9780718120689
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The Origins of the Korean War 
by Peter Lowe.
Longman, 256 pp., £6.95, July 1986, 0 582 49278 5
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Korea: The War before Vietnam 
by Callum MacDonald.
Macmillan, 330 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 333 33011 0
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... interpretation. The scale and weight of the North Korean attack speaks for itself. And as Max Hastings properly reminds us, the United States deliberately deprived Synghman Rhee’s forces of an offensive capability, as the Soviet Union did not for their own clients. The Pentagon hoped, in the event of a North Korean attack, that US air ...

Soldier’s Soldier

Brian Bond, 4 March 1982

Auchinleck: The Lonely Soldier 
by Philip Warner.
Buchan and Enright, 288 pp., £10.50, November 1981, 9780907675006
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Das Reich: Resistance and the March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division through France, June 1944 
by Max Hastings.
Joseph, 264 pp., £9.95, November 1981, 0 7181 2074 4
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... not to be involved in the terrible events in France in June 1944 most readably reconstructed by Max Hastings. On D-Day the notorious 2nd SS Panzer (Das Reich) Division, filled with fanatical Nazis and brutalised by its recent experiences on the Eastern Front, was resting at Montauban some 450 miles from the Channel coast. Even allowing for ...

Politician’s War

Tam Dalyell, 3 March 1983

The Battle for the Falklands 
by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins.
Joseph, 384 pp., £10.95, February 1983, 0 7181 2228 3
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... In the opening paragraph of their important book on the Falklands War, Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins write: ‘So extraordinary an event was it that, even after men began to die, many of those taking part felt as if they had been swept away into fantasy, that the ships sinking and the guns firing round them had somehow escaped from a television screen in the living-room ...

A Different Sort of Tory

Ronald Stevens: Max Hastings, 12 December 2002

Editor: An Inside Story of Newspapers 
by Max Hastings.
Macmillan, 398 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 333 90837 6
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... Something about the British press attracts Canadians. In the 1920s Max Aitken bought the Daily and Sunday Express, turned them into successful popular papers and became Lord Beaverbrook in the process. In the 1950s Roy Thomson bought Kemsley Newspapers, added the Times to his empire in 1966, and was similarly rewarded with a seat in the House of Lords ...

Terror Was Absolute

Chris Mullin: Vietnam, 18 July 2019

Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-75 
by Max Hastings.
Collins, 722 pp., £9.99, May 2019, 978 0 00 813301 6
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... of the Vietnam War, but the range of available sources has widened over the years and Max Hastings has made expert use of them. There is no shortage of memoirs and official papers that shed light on the war from every conceivable American angle. The Vietnamese experience is harder to document, not least because of the secretive and ...

Soldier, Sailor, Poacher

E.S. Turner, 3 October 1985

Great Britons: 20th-Century Lives 
by Harold Oxbury.
Oxford, 371 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 19 211599 5
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The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes 
edited by Max Hastings.
Oxford, 514 pp., £9.50, October 1985, 0 19 214107 4
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The Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain 
by Harry Hopkins.
Secker, 344 pp., £12.95, August 1985, 9780436201028
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... the place-name Huy. Haig, rather surprisingly, is the subject of no anecdotes at all. Wisely, Max Hastings decided not to have five hundred solid pages of anecdote, but to include longer passages describing, in the liveliest prose available, famous events: Horatius holding the bridge, the Waterloo Ball, Rorke’s Drift, the charge at Omdurman and so ...

Monopoly Mule

Anthony Howard, 25 January 1996

Plant Here the ‘Standard’ 
by Dennis Griffiths.
Macmillan, 417 pp., £35, November 1995, 0 333 55565 1
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... Daily Mail and then by its own subsequent and most famous owner, Lord Beaverbrook, who, as Sir Max Aitken, had effectively taken control of the Daily Express in 1915. Perhaps there was always something a bit archaic about the Standard as a national daily. For all the fame of its foreign correspondents – the boys’ author G.A. Henty was one – or the ...

Diary

Ian Aitken: Closing Time at the Last Chance Saloon, 6 August 1992

... the Times. (Indeed, he might have added that matters are even worse when his own editor-in-chief, Max Hastings, rejects the same offer by declaring that nothing would induce him to go to ‘that brothel’.) But we can’t dismiss these events simply as the consequence of national decline. Something must be gravely wrong with the Times itself when its ...

In Pyjamas

R.W. Johnson: Bill Deedes’s Decency, 17 November 2005

Dear Bill: A Memoir 
by W.F. Deedes.
Macmillan, 451 pp., £14.99, July 2005, 9781405052665
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... himself on his ability to turn out a thousand good words in no time and under pressure: the reason Max Hastings, who followed him as editor of the Telegraph, and his successors always wanted to keep him on as a writer. He can be cutting about journalists whose main ambition is to rise to an executive level where they only boss around those who write ...

Other People’s Capital

John Lanchester: Conrad and Barbara Black, 14 December 2006

Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge 
by Tom Bower.
Harper, 436 pp., £20, November 2006, 0 00 723234 9
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... stories of what happened next. One is the external story, the one the world saw. Black appointed Max Hastings to run the Telegraph, and was able – thanks to the way Rupert Murdoch destroyed the power of the print unions by moving to his new plant in Wapping – to make the paper spectacularly profitable. The printing staff went from 2200 to 507, and ...

Keeping the peace

E.S. Turner, 2 April 1987

March to the South Atlantic: 42 Commando Royal Marines in the Falklands War 
by Nick Vaux and Max Hastings.
Buchan and Enright, 261 pp., £11.50, November 1986, 0 907675 56 5
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Further Particulars: Consequences of an Edwardian Boyhood 
by C.H. Rolph.
Oxford, 231 pp., £12.50, January 1987, 0 19 211790 4
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... The French Marshal MacMahon said: ‘I shall remove from my promotion list any officer whose name I have seen on the cover of a book.’ He spoke for high commanders everywhere. ‘Damn your writing, mind your fighting’ was the snub likely to greet a British officer with literary pretensions. The Duke of Cambridge opposed the founding of the Army Journal and the Cavalry Journal on the grounds that nothing but indiscipline could result from allowing serving officers to discuss their profession in print ...

Phwoar!

Suzanne Moore: Amanda Platell, 6 January 2000

Scandal 
by Amanda Platell.
Piatkus, 297 pp., £5.99, November 1999, 0 7499 3119 1
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... 16 eyed size 12 with open hostility.’ In some parallel universe I like to think that Max Hastings and Paul Dacre and John Witherow and Alan Rusbridger behave like this. Dominic Lawson may well have said to Charles Moore in some gentleman’s outfitters what Sharon says to Georgina: ‘Well, we can’t both buy this, can we, babe? And I know ...

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