ROBERT BOOTHBY

A PORTRAIT OF CHURCHILL'S ALLY

A masterly biography of Robert Boothby, a Conservative politician now little remembered, whose Parliamentary career spanned more than 50 years during the interwar and post-WW II period. Here, James, British historian and M.P. (Anthony Eden, 1987, etc.), offers a portrait with far greater significance than the subject might suggest. Based on unfettered access to most of Boothby's papers, James's study provides unusual insight into the characters of both Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan. Boothby, a charismatic, ebullient figure, regarded as one of the best orators of his time, was also considered a possible Conservative Prime Minister. Elected to the House of Commons in his 20s and shortly thereafter appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Churchill when the future P.M. was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Boothby seemed destined for the highest office. But his very brilliance, his unwillingness to subordinate his judgment to the demands of the party, and his recklessness in financial matters—all contributed to the failure of that promise. The most significant cause, however, may have been his affair with Lady Dorothy Macmillan, Harold's wife, which lasted from 1930 until her death in 1967. That, and a minor scandal just after he had taken office as Minister of Food during WW II, helped to destroy his reputation. As a result, a politician who had been right on almost every major issue of importance, from the economy in the 1930's to the danger from Nazi Germany, became ultimately no more than a peripheral figure. But Boothby's career gives an unusual view of the ruthlessness of Churchill in his treatment of one of his main supporters, and of the determination and charity with which Macmillan faced his own unhappiness, ultimately even giving Boothby a peerage. A fascinating insight into British politics through the life of someone who knew everyone of significance, and who possessed an unusual capacity to tell the truth, however much it hurt him. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-670-82886-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1991

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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