George Ramsay, the 9th Earl of Dalhousie, was Governor General of Nova Scotia from 1816 to 1820, and Governor General of British North American from 1...moreGeorge Ramsay, the 9th Earl of Dalhousie, was Governor General of Nova Scotia from 1816 to 1820, and Governor General of British North American from 1821 to 1828. He was a patron and sponsor of some of the first European artists who celebrated the glorious Canadian environment.
Abundant, lavish illustrations more than compensate for a rather dry text. (less)
I can't believe I'm awarding only two stars to a book written by Ian Kershaw, who is a great historian of Nazi Germany, an excellent researcher and wr...moreI can't believe I'm awarding only two stars to a book written by Ian Kershaw, who is a great historian of Nazi Germany, an excellent researcher and writer. But this book too often illustrates the cliché of "beating a dead horse." There's really no reason for a 350 page book about a minor British political figure of the early 1930s who by general agreement had only a very minimal impact upon his colleagues.
About half of the book is made up of Kershaw's interpretation of the general causes and consequences of British appeasement in the 1930s, but by no means was Lord Londonderry in the "mainstream" of appeasement, and it hardly seems appropriate to treat such an important subject as a secondary focus. That is to say, if Kershaw really wanted to deal with appeasement as the MAIN subject of the book, he should have concerned himself with MacDonald, Baldwin, Chamberlain, and Halifax as his primary subjects, not as figures on the fringes of his concern with Lord Londonderry.
Moreover, Kershaw proposes that Lord Londonderry be considered as representative of a broader trend, "The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy." Really, though, David Cannadine deals with that subject in a much more convincing (and nuanced) fashion. And Kershaw doesn't explain why Londonderry should be regarded as any more representative of the aristocracy than other figures such as Lord Salisbury - or Winston Churchill, who after all would never allow people to forget that he was the grandson of a Duke.
One of the best accounts I've ever read of Britain in the twenty years before World War I, particularly focusing upon the mentality of those from the...moreOne of the best accounts I've ever read of Britain in the twenty years before World War I, particularly focusing upon the mentality of those from the privileged classes who marched gaily and enthusiastically off to war in 1914. (less)
"The Tsar was handsome in an exotic way, with high cheekbones, a Kalmuck nose set in a chubby, round face, sideburns bushy as a squirrel's tail, and a...more"The Tsar was handsome in an exotic way, with high cheekbones, a Kalmuck nose set in a chubby, round face, sideburns bushy as a squirrel's tail, and a fresh complexion that resulted, supposedly, from washing his face daily with a block of ice. The imperial shoulders were heavily padded - gossips claimed one was lower than the other - and his cinched-in, wasp waist had to be seen to be believed. Since even a sovereign's buckskin breeches had be to wetted down before they were donned, His Imperial Majesty must have been hoisted into his, for he wore them so skintight that no woman was ever left in doubt concerning the imperial desire."
Oh! If you like this kind of thing, Rosalynd C. Pflaum is certain to meet _your_ desire as well. This is a face-paced, easy-reading, and rather trashy history of a mother and her two daughters who were determined not to allow their gender to prevent them from playing an outsized role in European affairs in the early 19th century. Of course, the only way they could do so was by having their own "European affairs," with Tsar Alexander of Russia, the French Prince Talleyrand, and Austria's Foreign Minister Count Metternich - among others! (less)
Well written memoir of a childhood spent in the autumnal glow of the Late Victorian aristocracy. Pleasingly free of sentimentality.
Lady Cynthia Asquit...moreWell written memoir of a childhood spent in the autumnal glow of the Late Victorian aristocracy. Pleasingly free of sentimentality.
Lady Cynthia Asquith was the eldest daughter of Hugo Charteris, 11th Earl of Wemyss (1857-1937) and his wife Mary Wyndham – sister of Chief Secretary for Ireland George Wyndham.
The Charteris family was Scottish, but their primary residence was the lovely Tudor era mansion of Stanway, in Gloucestershire. It was in the Cotswolds, where it had originally been the Abbot’s residence in a one of the monasteries “dissolved” and re-allocated by King Henry VIII. (Later, Stanway was leased to family friend and “Peter Pan” author J.M. Barrie, for whom Lady Cynthia served as secretary for many years.
Her mother, Mary, Lady Wemyss (1862-1937) was one of the leading members of the social group “The Souls”. She was a warm hostess, and was particularly close to future Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, with whom she corresponded frequently. Although the Wemyss family had multiple houses, and animals, and lived in an aristocratic manner, Lady Cynthia remembers that there was a constant concern for finances, and much discussion about the need for “retrenchment.” For example, all of the family, except for Lord Wemyss, travelled third class on trains. He had lost money on the stock exchange as a young man, and never really recovered financially.
Lady Cynthia was frequently the “sitter” for a number of prominent portrait artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She recollects memories of her encounters with a number of these “greats”: Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), and Augustus John (1878-1961). As a girl, she also met G.F. Watts (1817-1904), though she never sat for him. Later, she and her husband were good friends of painter and designer Rex Whistler (1905-1944); they spent a magical evening with Whistler shortly before his death in World War II.
Two of Lady Cynthia's brothers were killed in World War I, as was a brother-in-law, Raymond Asquith. She also bore sad memories of a very dear brother who died of scarlet fever at the age of 4. But Lady Cynthia doesn't dwell on the pain of family loss: the emphasis here is on childhood, and the tone certainly merits the adjective "haply". (less)
Poorly written account of a scandalous inheritance trial in the early 1900s. In the right hands, it could be marvelous, but this reads like a bad nove...morePoorly written account of a scandalous inheritance trial in the early 1900s. In the right hands, it could be marvelous, but this reads like a bad novel. No attempt to substantiate sources, either, so you have no idea how much it the authors are inventing themselves, and how much they have borrowed (or stolen) from earlier writers. (less)