Kings of Spin

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Clever book, clever title. The image of Britain for most people is not one of a shiny-faced David Cameron in a Savile Row suit or a pixie-faced Jeremy Corbyn in his Lenin cap. Instead, we see the Queen, impeccably turned out in a pastel day dress, handbag to the fore, or in a shimmering gown, […]

Negusa Negast

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

It is just as well that Ras (the word literally means ‘head’, but is often translated as ‘duke’) Kassa, when he fled from Addis Ababa in May 1936 in the face of an advancing Italian army with his cousin the emperor Haile Selassie, took his youngest son, Asserate, with him. Had he not done so, […]

Sworn In, Worn Out

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

This time next year, America will inaugurate president number forty-five. Does he or she know what they’re in for? William Leuchtenburg’s history of 20th-century presidents suggests that the office is a poisoned chalice. Only a lunatic or a masochist would drink from it. Hillary Clinton, by all accounts, is a little of both. The American […]

Car Park King

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Shakespeare has a lot to answer for when it comes to the portrayal of English kings, whether heroes or villains – especially when interpreted by Laurence Olivier. The actor’s hyperbolic version of Henry V, screened recently at numerous celebrations – sorry, commemorations – of the 600th anniversary of Agincourt, is vivid in its verbosity, ramming […]

Bloody Relations

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

What took place ninety-eight years ago in the Ipatiev House has cast its shadow over the Romanov dynasty. The brutal, bloody end to the lives of Nicholas II, Alexandra, their five children and several retainers in the early hours of 17 July 1918 has left the impression that the family was somehow cursed from the start. Yet, as Simon Sebag Montefiore shows in his captivating new book, the story of the house of the Romanovs, when viewed from the perspectives of power, prestige and longevity, is one of startling success. Few regimes could boast of adding nearly 150 square kilometres a day to their empire for over 300 years, eventually ruling over one sixth of the earth. ‘Empire-building’, Montefiore notes

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