Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s books include The Controversy of 
Zion, The Strange Death of Tory England, and Yo, Blair! His new book, Churchill’s Bust, will be published next year.
 (December 2018)

IN THE REVIEW

One Hundred Years of Destruction

A Royal Air Force Lancaster bomber during a night raid over Hamburg, Germany, 1943

RAF: The Birth of the World’s First Air Force

by Richard Overy

Aerial Warfare: The Battle for the Skies

by Frank Ledwidg
A whole great city is ablaze. After two nights of intensive bombing with high explosives and incendiaries, several square miles burn for hours at hundreds of degrees Centigrade, an inferno consuming every living creature. At least 40,000 civilians—mostly women or girls, more than 10,000 of them children—die awful deaths. This …

Bad Company

A mural in London’s East End by the street artist Kalen Ockerman, known as Mear One. It was erased in 2012 because of concerns that it was anti-Semitic.
Although British local council elections are often dissected, like the American midterms, for possible clues to the next general election, it’s very rare for the media to focus on the result in a single borough. But that was what happened on May 3, when Labour failed to take Barnet, a …

A Star Is Born

Four Churchills, clockwise from top left: Albert Finney in The Gathering Storm, 2002; Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour, 2017; Richard Burton in Walk With Destiny, 1974; and Robert Hardy in The Wilderness Years, 1981

Churchill

a film directed by Jonathan Teplitzky

Darkest Hour

a film directed by Joe Wright
In May 1941, Winston Churchill gave orders for a cinema to be installed at Chequers. This house in Buckinghamshire, built under Queen Elizabeth I but heavily gothicized under Queen Victoria, and which a benefactor had presented to the nation in 1917 as a country residence for the prime minister, had …

NYR DAILY

Conor Cruise O’Brien at 100

By the end of the two-day symposium at Trinity, a more measured and nuanced appreciation of this extraordinary man was clear than during much of his life, or even at the time of his death. Cruise O’Brien has been called one of those people whose role it is to be brilliantly wrong. He was certainly wrong some of the time, as in his anti-anti-communist days when he speciously downplayed the character of Soviet tyranny, or later when he, likewise speciously, opposed a boycott of South Africa, which gave his enemies an opportunity to label him, wrongly, as an apologist for apartheid. But the two most impassioned speakers suggested that he was right often enough.

The Rural Vision of Ravilious & Friends

Eric Ravilious: Two Women in a Garden, 1933

There is a palpable mood of nostalgia in England at present. This may have been expressed politically in Brexit, but it is also visible in the popular taste for “heritage” and lost worlds. In particular, Britain is awash with books and films about World War II, which all these painters lived through and which became part of their artistic legacy. The England that Ravilious and Bawden evoked so powerfully reflected neither reactionary sentiment nor aimless aesthetic ideals. Their rural vision was not about an escapist rural retreat or nostalgic nationalism, but about a precious common heritage, something worth fighting for.

Loving the Vicious Race

Chris Froome during the Vuelta a España race, August 27, 2016

Even those with no interest in bike racing might try watching the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, and the Vuelta a España, which starts on August 19, on television: they are the best possible travelogues, with aerial shots of three countries ravishingly beautiful in different ways, landscape of mountains and valleys, meadows and vineyards, castles, cathedrals and churches, great cities and pretty little towns. It might make even the most zealous Brexiter or American Firster warm a little to the glories of Europe.

The Queen and the Camera

Count de Montizon: The Hippopotamus at the Zoological Gardens, Regent’s Park, 1852

Photography, and Queen Victoria’s interest in it, emerged into public light with the Great Exhibition of 1851, partly Prince Albert’s brainchild. Many of the astonishing six million people who visited the exhibition in Hyde Park saw photographs for the first time, a number of which can be seen at a new exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum and in the handsome accompanying book by Anne M. Lyden, both called “A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography.”

NYR CALENDAR