Magazine February 6, 2012, Issue

The Writer’s Life

From the cover of But What Do You Actually Do? (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
But What Do You Actually Do?: A Literary Vagabondage, by Alistair Horne (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 416 pp., ₤25)

Sir Alistair Horne is a British journalist and historian who will be familiar to longtime NR readers, since he has contributed to this magazine almost from its inception. He is known mainly as a historian of France (The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916, Seven Ages of Paris, The Age of Napoleon, The French Army and Politics), but he has also produced compellingly readable, superbly informed books on several other countries. He has also written the official biography of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and a recent semi-official biography of Henry Kissinger. As he remarks at one point in this memoir, “You name

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