National Review / Digital
The Writer’s Life
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 it, I’ve been there and written about it.”

Horne was born some 80 years ago, and his first great experience — like that of a number of British children — was being shipped to the United States for safety during the Blitz, a story he later told in A Bundle from Britain (1992). He was enrolled at Millbrook School in New York, where (providentially) his classmate and best friend was William F. Buckley Jr. By the time he graduated in 1943, he was old enough to enlist in the British forces, so he made his way home determined to become a Spitfire pilot in the RAF. Instead, he ended up in the Coldstream Guards, and from there went to Sandhurst. Upon commissioning he was assigned to intelligence at British General Headquarters in Cairo, with frequent secondments to the Palestine Mandate, where the Zionist underground was already making things hot for the occupying authority.

February 6, 2012    |     Volume LXIV, No. 2

  • Why Ron Paul appeals to the millennial generation.
  • MSNBC drops the mask.
  • Rating agencies certify the euro zone’s parlous state.
  • Candidates, Americans, and their foreign languages.
  • Stephen Colbert’s NPR LOL.
Books, Arts & Manners
  • Ron Haskins reviews Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010, by Charles Murray.
  • Henry Olsen reviews Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, from Eisenhower to the Tea Party, by Geoffrey Kabaservice.
  • John J. Miller reviews Ambrose Bierce: The Devil’s Dictionary, Tales, & Memoirs, edited by S. T. Joshi.
  • Mark Falcoff reviews But What Do You Actually Do?: A Literary Vagabondage, by Alistair Horne.
  • Ross Douthat reviews The Artist.
  • John Derbyshire tours the Guggenheim.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
The Bent Pin  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .