Michael Burleigh

Worldly Wisdom

World Order: Reflections on the Character of Nations and the Course of History

By

Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 420pp £25 order from our bookshop

Forty years ago I was the only undergraduate to turn up for the first class on the Italian Renaissance at the Warburg Institute. In came Sir Ernst Gombrich, Professor Michael Baxandall and two others whose names I forget. Commenting on how London University administrators ‘might have kittens’ at this unbalanced staff-to-student ratio, Gombrich and his colleagues kindly chatted for an hour about the Renaissance with their lone student. Baxandall went on about material facts like the cost of gold leaf to a painter’s patrons. Already very old, Gombrich burbled on about ‘ze turbulence in Leonardo’s late zwawings’. To my youthful mind, Gombrich had gone cosmic, something he shares with the nonagenarian Henry Kissinger, for in his new book on ‘world order’ the former US national security advisor and secretary of state’s perspective on human affairs seems almost drawn from deep space.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • A review of fiction for Monday morning: David Jays on the Sparsholt Affair - ,
    • .@simon_schama's Belonging is a 'highly personal and idiosyncratic history of the Jews': ,
    • Hurrah! is upon us. Fill your boots with free copies of the magazine and soak up the festival goodness.,
    • Free copies of the magazine available at , starting next week. Enjoy!,
    • Newsletter - ,
    • Still some few tickets available, at a discount, using code CLFLR10 or following this link: ,
    • . begins later this week. Get your tickets if you haven't already, and look out for free copies of the magazine.,