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A chatty, meandering memoir of the British historian widely known for his definitive, two-volume biography of the late prime minister Harold Macmillan (1989). As a ""bundle from Britain"" -- a child evacuee to America during WW II -- Home is able to offer an interesting perspective on events and attitudes in the US prior to and shortly after this country entered the war, in particular a strong anti-British sentiment that changed only with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Horne's story begins in England with a rather drawn-out portrait of his journalist mother, Auriol, who died an untimely death in an automobile accident. After delivering an exhaustive account of every member of his extended family -- including amusing anecdotes about some of their more notorious servants -- Home details his dreary and often brutal experiences in British boarding schools. In July 1940, he boarded the Britannic, bound for New York City and safety. He was ""adopted"" by the prestigious Cutler family and spent the next three years attending Millbrook Academy and living among the cream of East Coast society. Home is not above a bit of name-dropping and often interrupts his narrative with detailed personal histories of famous friends, acquaintances, and relatives of the Cutlers. Upon graduation from Millbrook, Home attempted to join the RAF but was disqualified because of poor eyesight. He returned to England, where he managed to be accepted into the Coldstream Guard. Home has a keen eye for significant historical events, but he buries his day-to-day reminiscences beneath an avalanche of information -- his story seems more researched than remembered. The same qualities that produce brilliance in his historical writings -- a penchant for detail and a pursuit of the social connections that bind his subjects together into complex entanglements -- render his autobiography detached and impersonal.

Pub Date: Aug. 31st, 1994
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's