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Max Hastings

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About Max Hastings

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  1. The boss of a big private equity business told me last week that he had received an approach from a City grey eminence. "What your firm needs," urged this hopeful hustler, "is a seriously high-profile public figure up front, flying the flag for you. For £4m, we can get you Tony Blair." I disbelieve 50% of that story. Though I am sure the reported offer was made, Blair would not yet dare to authorise such an explicit advance in his name. But the proposal merely anticipated reality. A few months hence - or sooner if, as the Guardian reported yesterday, cash-for-honours charges against an aide p
  2. Morality in foreign policy is often subjective. The US administration is confident that it represents the forces of democracy and freedom, and thus feels free to do whatever it judges best to promote these fine things. Israel perceives Palestinians and Arabs as committed to its destruction, justifying any action taken against them. Some in the Muslim world see no prospect of frustrating western cultural, economic and military dominance on western terms of engagement, and so choose other methods - such as suicide-bombing - that better suit their weakness. Many Americans and Israelis believe th
  3. Captain WP Nevill of the 8th East Surreys was a complete ass. In the line in France, he liked to stand on a firestep of an evening, shouting insults at the Germans. Knowing that his men were about to participate in their first battle and keen to inspire, he had a wizard idea. On leave in England, he bought footballs for each of his four platoons. One was inscribed: "The Great European Cup. The Final. East Surreys v Bavarians. Kick-off at Zero." Nevill offered a prize to whoever first put a ball into a German trench when the "big push" came. Sure enough, when the whistles blew on July 1 1916,
  4. The triumph on bestseller lists of the novel Suite Française restores one's faith in popular taste. It is very moving to see Irène Némirovsky's near-masterpiece achieve success more than 60 years after its Jewish author perished in Auschwitz. Her tale of occupied France in 1941 is all the more chilling because it is written with such generosity of spirit, not only towards the French, but even the Germans who were to murder her. Many British people who read narratives of that period find it hard to avoid complacency. The French quit, Britain fought on. Most of their people collaborated with th
  5. Most of the coverage given to last week's report from the government's Qualifications and Curriculum Authority focused upon the decline of school language studies. Because I am a historian by background and inclination, my own attention fell upon its remarks about history. It expresses concern about the overwhelming Nazi focus. It argues that schools "undervalue the overall contribution of black and other minority ethnic peoples to Britain's past, and ... ignore their cultural, scientific and many other achievements". History, says the QCA, plays "an increasingly marginal role" in both primar
  6. It is a good question, whether being poor in the 21st century is a worse experience than at any other time in history. For sure, however, there has never been a better time to be rich. Great gushers of money are flooding through the tributaries of the financial and commercial worlds, and thence into the pockets of a few million lucky men and women across the world. At the head of the stream, in Britain this week, it was revealed that Sir Martin Sorrell, chief of the WPP advertising group, collected £52m last year. The Guardian survey of executive pay shows that 230 executive directors - mere
  7. The 60th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb. The occasion will be marked by a torrent of prose from those who regard the destruction of Hiroshima and of Nagasaki three days later as "war crimes", forever attaching shame to those who ordered them. By contrast, there will be a plethora of dismissive comment from pundits who believe the nuclear assault saved a million allied casualties in 1945, by causing Japan to surrender without an invasion of its mainland. Plentiful evidence is available to both schools. In the spring of 1945, Americans fighting in the Pacific were awed by
  8. Max Hastings was the first journalist to enter Port Stanley during the Falklands War. He has also distinguished himself as a military historian, and was editor of both the Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard. A keen proponent of the countryside, he was made President of the Council for the Protection of Rural England in 2002 - and in the same year received his knighthood.
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