Brownshirts under the bed

Credit: Shutterstock How to Stop Fascism Paul Mason, Allen Lane, 256 Pages, £20 KEN BELL finds a noted Labour intellectual fighting an imaginary enemy Paul Mason is one of those interesting characters who now seem to pop up everywhere, telling the rest of us what to believe. In his student days he was a member…

Another portion of Chips

Chips and Honor Channon Henry “Chips” Channon, Diaries Vol. 2, 1938-1943 Edited by Simon Heffer, Hutchinson, 1,120 Pages, £35 KEN BELL renews his acquaintance with the famous Tory diarist The Conservative MP and socialite, Henry “Chips” Channon, was a brilliant writer with an acid wit who also had an amazing capacity to misunderstand the people…

The year of Dr. No – and rural poverty

On the Cusp: Days of ’62 David Kynaston, Bloomsbury, 239 P, £18.99 KEN BELL admires a study of 1962, but wonders why that year was singled out for attention David Kynaston must be the premier social historian of post-war Britain writing today, and his latest book is a fine, standalone work which really captures the…

Social ranking redux

Credit: Shutterstock The New Snobbery David Skelton, Biteback Publishing, 253 pp, £16.99 KEN BELL says many members of the middle classes have found ingenious new ways of disliking people Britain is notoriously obsessed with class, but now there is a new, ideological way of looking down on people. David Skelton, a native northeasterner who is…

Diary of a Somebody

Image: Wikimedia Commons The Diaries 1918-1938 Henry Channon, edited by Simon Heffer, Penguin, London, hb, 1,002 pages, £35 KEN BELL dives into an interwar atmosphere of complacency and privilege The complete diaries of Sir Henry “Chips” Channon are now being published and the first volume will be required reading for anyone interested in the interwar…

Brexit blindness

Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain Fintan O’Toole, Head of Zeus, 2019 Three Years in Hell: The Brexit Chronicles Fintan O’Toole, Head of Zeus, 2020 KEN BELL says a prominent Remainer still doesn’t comprehend Brexit I have just finished reading Heroic Failure and Three Years In Hell, both by Fintan O’Toole, which is…

A realm apart – why Brexit happened

SHUTTERSTOCK This Sovereign Isle: Britain In and Out of Europe Robert Tombs, Allen Lane, 224 pages, £11.22 KEN BELL praises an exceptionally historically-informed Brexit explainer The small numbers who read the Guardian will no doubt disagree, but the argument over Brexit is now as much a part of history as the Free Trade debate that…

Chumservatives

KEN BELL enjoys an amusing and observant, if ultimately insubstantial, account of an eventful political period The Diary of an MP’s Wife, Sasha Swire, Little, Brown, 544 pages, £8 A diarist needs a good eye for the little details that makes the reader feel that he is in the room where the events are happening.…