This is an extraordinary story that needed to be told. The events this book records happened some fifty years ago in a world very different from today’s, when the Cold War was at its height. British influence across the globe was in decline – Suez was a recent humiliation – but in South Arabia the British still had responsibility for a protectorate comprising a number of small states known as the South Arabian Federation. One of these states, Aden, had been under British control since 1838. By the 1960s it had little to offer; the duty-free port, once an important coaling station serving vessels going to and from India, attracted ever fewer ships. It shared a troubled border with Yemen.
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'Thirkell was a product of her time and her class. For her there are no sacred cows, barring those that win ribbons at the Barchester Agricultural.'
The novelist Angela Thirkell is due a revival, says Patricia T O'Conner (£).
'Only in Britain, perhaps, could spy chiefs – conventionally viewed as masters of subterfuge – be so highly regarded as ethical guides.'
In this month's Bookends, @AdamCSDouglas looks at the curious life of Henry Labouchere: a friend of Bram Stoker, 'loose cannon', and architect of the law that outlawed homosexual activity in Britain.