DESCENT TO SUEZ: Foreign Office Diaries 1951--1956 by Evelyn Shuckburgh

DESCENT TO SUEZ: Foreign Office Diaries 1951--1956

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The diaries of Anthony Eden's private secretary during Eden's stint as Foreign Secretary in Winston Churchill's 50's government. These diaries cover the period 1951 through 1954 (when Shuckburgh was private secretary) and the following two years when he left that post to become undersecretary in charge of Middle East Affairs. Although the title suggests a documentary study of the Suez crisis of 1956 and what led up to it, these diaries cover many other issues as well, particularly Eden's bitterness as he waited for Churchill to accept his encroaching senility and retire. Shuckburgh, although he started out in Eden's comer, came to disagree intensely with him. Still, he insists on praising Eden's achievements as Foreign Secretary: ""He is judged to an unfair degree by what happened after he had achieved his ambition to become Prime Minister and after his intestines had ceased to serve him properly."" In this light, Shuckburgh praises Eden for smoothing Britain's relations with the Russians and the Chinese. ""He had a large share of responsibility for preventing our becoming involved in war in the Far East in the 1950's."" Unusual for an English diplomat, Shuckburgh heaps praise on Dulles and Eisenhower for their statesmanship. He recounts, for instance, Churchill's insistence on going to Moscow alone to meet with Molotov, showing it to be the egotistical move of a senile mind. Such a tactic would have created a great rift between the Western Allies, and Shuckburgh here shows how Eisenhower tactfully led Churchill away from his intention. A fine addition to the historic record, and written in an amusing, literate, and revealing manner to boot.

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 1986
Publisher: Norton