Nigel Jones

The Potato Peer Who Knew No Fear

Palmerston: 'The People's Darling'

By

John Murray 564pp £25 order from our bookshop

IF BRITAIN WAS the global superpower of the nineteenth century, then Lord Palmerston was its Teddy Roosevelt – he spoke softly, carried a big stick, and if he needed to (he rarely did) was not afraid to use it. In our guilt-ridden, powerless, post-colonial days, Palmerston is, frankly, an embarrassment. The man most identified with the concept of gunboat diplomacy, who sent a fleet to blockade Greece’s ports just because Don Pacifico, a Gibraltar-born Portuguese Jew with British citizenship, had had his house torched in a riot and claimed inflated compensation, is hardly a role model – or is he?

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