Room at the Top?

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

There are many ways to measure fairness in a society. Social mobility – the movement of groups or individuals in a social hierarchy – is one. The concept is as old as Dick Whittington, but has its intellectual origins in Pitirim Sorokin’s Social Mobility (1927), and came alive in Britain during the 1950s, first in […]

Stock Horror

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

When Neil Woodford’s fund management group collapsed in October 2019, it sent shock waves through the investment world. But it barely registered with the wider British public. This was perhaps because most of the 400,000 victims were well heeled and perhaps also because the questions the scandal raised – about whether the UK’s system for […]

To Play the King

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Bookshelves creak with memoirs and biographies of prime ministers. Even the dullest occupant of Number 10 becomes the subject of many studies. There are far fewer books, however, on the nature of the office and its freakish demands. This is an unfortunate imbalance. Each incumbent fascinates, but what about the qualifications for leading the UK? […]

What Did Banks Ever Do For Us?

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The age of the celebrity central banker began in the United States with Paul Volcker, who tamed inflation in the early 1980s with eye-watering interest rates. It was taken to a new level by Alan Greenspan, who bestrode the financial world like a colossus as chair of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006. Barely […]

Shoulders Have I Rubbed

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Nicholas Coleridge was given sound advice as an eighteen-year-old intern at a Cornish newspaper called the Falmouth Packet. ‘Mention as many names as possible in your copy,’ the editor told him. When covering a school sports day, ‘don’t come back with fewer than a hundred names – kids, parents, teachers, all of them.’ When filing a story on Port Pendennis marina, ‘mention every

Tiger Wives

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Anyone familiar with Jung Chang’s earlier work will know what to expect from her. She paints China’s intense and complex history in bold strokes. This new book offers up roughly a century’s worth of extreme personalities, revolutions, wars, venality and brutality. It is history in black and white, with splashes of red all over. Chang […]

He Did Business in Great Waters

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The official biographies of Lord Louis Mountbatten (known as ‘Dickie’) and his wife, Edwina, written respectively by Philip Ziegler and Janet Morgan, are admirable and authoritative but also discreet and emollient, leaving ample scope for this more candid life of the famous couple by Andrew Lownie. His task was not easy. Many of the Mountbattens’ […]

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RLF - March