Memories of an SOE Historian by M R D Foot - review by John Lukacs

John Lukacs

Of Arms & Men

Memories of an SOE Historian


Pen and Sword 208pp £19.99

Michael Foot is a soldier and a scholar, which is a rare combination. He is a gentleman, too, something less identifiable nowadays. One of his principal subjects is Gladstone’s papers; the other is the SOE. People who know Foot (including this writer) may tend to collate his wartime record with his solid histories of the SOE – and yet it is now evident that his work on the SOE started about two decades after the war, in which he had indeed been involved in special operations, though not with the SOE. This distinction makes Foot’s Memories more interesting, not less. His life during the war would suffice for a book by itself. He had a Good War – in spite of the deep wounds he suffered in November 1944 – because the war came during his formative years.

Other portions of this book, too, recounting a long life, are both reticent and precise. They have none of the sometimes chortling and artfully modest reminiscences of famous historians who had Good Wars. It may be bad practice for a reviewer to write about the style of a

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