Lloyd George once spoke of 'a very powerful combination - in its way the most powerful in the country'. Its proceedings were invariably conducted at Cliveden, the country estate of the fabulously wealthy Nancy and Waldorf Astor. Collectively dubbed 'God's Truth Ltd', the group included leading politicians, academics, writers and newspaper editors. Its pedigree impeccable, its social standing beyond reproach, its persuasive powers permeated the clubs and institutions of London, the senior common rooms of Oxbridge colleges, the quality press and the great country houses of England. Suddenly, in the late 1930s, the 'Cliveden Set' was catapulted into uncalled-for notoriety. It had been identified as a cabal that sought to manipulate, even determine, British foreign policy in order to uphold its narrow class interests. It would use any means, however devious - even negotiate a humiliating, dishonourable settlement with Nazi Germany - to maintain its privileges, those of a decaying ruling class. But was the 'Cliveden Set' a traitorous cabal, challenging 'the constitutional structures of British democracy', or simply an unstructured think-tank of harmless do-gooders?
Norman Rose discerningly probes this fascinating tale, brilliantly disentangling fact from fiction, and setting this privileged clique in the wider perspective of its times.
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(234mm x 156mm x 19mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
The 'Cliveden Set', the socially-exclusive and politically well-connected group centred on The Berkshire home of Nancy and Waldorf Astor in the 1930s, has long been notorious for what were seen as its unpatriotic if not treasonable activities in seeking to influence in a pro-German direction the editors, politicians, diplomats, business men and dons who constituted the foreign policy making elite of the time. Cland Cockburn, the leftwing journalist who invented the name 'The Cliveden Set'and cultivated its myth, went further by claiming that its pro-Hitler outlook was the product of its upper-class interest in bringing about the defeat of Stalin and Soviet Communism. Rose reveals this as somewhat fanciful and says that the Clivedenites were no more than a like-minded group of right-wing people with exaggerated ideas of their own importance and influence who met together socially, but who had no plans for undermining the government and who, after Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia in Spring 1939, rapidly abandoned their pro-appeasement ideas, though by then many of their reputations were irreparably damaged. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Norman Rose
Norman Rose is a graduate of the LSE and now holds the Chair of International Relations at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. A distinguished historian and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he is also the author of much acclaimed biographies of Winston Churchill and Chaim Weitzman, as well as a study of the Cliveden Set.