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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An English Affair
Although I was born after 'The Profumo Affair' I have vague images of the characters involved and what happened, but knew very little detail. This wonderfully written book certainly filled any gaps in my knowledge, presenting a detailed and fascinating account of who was involved, what happened and painting a picture of an era when London was poised on the brink of...
Published 21 months ago by S Riaz

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars part of my life
This took me back to the sixties when I was a young teacher, and Britain was experiencing a sea change in outlook especially in matters to do with sex. I found the opening chapter on 'Supermac' revealing and entertaining. After that the book ran into a slow decline with only the odd snippet, revelation or insight.Somehow, the drama of the crisis didn't come through...
Published 12 months ago by Mr. P. Skeldon


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 10 July 2014
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bit stodgy in places and the writer does like to show off his vocabulary but overall good read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, if opinionated, take on the social-historical background to the Profumo Affair, 21 Jun 2014
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D. K. BROWN (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: An English Affair (Hardcover)
Coming to this book after reading David Kynaston's books on the 50s, I was struck by the similarities and differences between the two authors. Both give a fascinating account of the social historical background to the period (which I lived through, but as a child). However where Kynaston is self-effacing, Davenport-Hines is opinionated, perhaps to a fault. Not only does he write from a particular political perspective (which I would describe as socially-progressive Tory), but more importantly, he seems to have little sympathy for any of the characters he writes about. Some of his judgments strike me as dubious - for example, he is dismissive of the Labour Party's peddling of the 'security angle' to the scandal. However, while I was convinced by Davenport-Hines that no security lapse actually occurred, it seems to me this was at least a legitimate concern (cabinet minister sleeps with girl who sleeps - or at least associates - with Soviet diplomat).

In this account the social background is presented more clearly than the personal characters of the participants. Ward in particular remains an enigma. The girls (Keeler and Rice-Davies were only 16 when they got involved in the seedy Soho world) are given only limited coverage - particularly Rice-Davies. The person to whom Davenport-Hines gives his most sympathetic treatment is Lord Astor, who comes across as weak and naive, but well-intentioned. A harsher criticism of Astor seemed justified to me. Leaving aside criticism of the Astor set's hedonistic lifestyle (which Davenport-Hines would call the "politics of envy"), surely Astor's refusal to appear as a character witness for Ward was an act of personal cowardice, particularly as the rest of Ward's friends used Astor's example as a precedent for them also abandoning Ward. Moreover, unless I missed it, Davenport-Hines never expresses a view on whether Astor actually went to bed with Rice-Davies. Astor's denial prompted Rice-Davies famous "Well he would, wouldn't he?" comment. I tend to believe Rice-Davies on this occasion.

Nevertheless this was a very interesting read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a very good documentary, 9 Jun 2014
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of a period. I found it interesting but rather dry. Everyone else who is in my book club loved it, though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 29 Jan 2014
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I remember this whole scandal very clearly, and I lived in the part of London where much of it took place. It is fascinating to read the true wider background, and the political machinations that brought it all about. We were very naïve in those days, and the media did not comment and fill in the details as they do nowadays (I believe that D-notices were probably still in force preventing it). The sex scandal bit sounds dreadfully dated, but it is reassuring to know that politicians were just as devious and self-serving in those days.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, 15 Nov 2013
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Jools Verne (North of England) - See all my reviews
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The text can be quite illuminating and then suddenly switch to the banal, without any seeming irony. Overall a good reminder of that period, worth reading for a general overview.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gosh, so much I ddn't know!!!, 8 Nov 2013
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Don't t let the first densely written chapter put you off. Feels lke the writer was trying to show off his credentials by using the dictionary at least twice a page to find words not in common usage. But after that, it feels like it was written by a different person. Just speeds along, taking you with him. So much that was hidden. But you do still want more!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profumo Affair, 17 Sep 2013
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Having lived through this period I was particularly interested in the wealth of detail, and the way the author fitted all the complicated pieces of the jigsaw together. Extremely detailed and requiring concentration in reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation!, 10 Sep 2013
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Having lived through the period as a teenager, and remembering the lurid press stories of the time and seeing it play out on the television news, I found this book fascinating. Where it excels, in my views, is in its exploration in detail of each of the characters who were the main players on the Profumo affair stage; for me, it clarified a lot of details, and its exposure of the quite corrupt political scene at the time is illuminating. In an age today where we have experienced recent press abuses, the press behaviour of the early 1960s is still quite shocking; shocking in its obtrusiveness, its ready manipulation of both vulnerable and undeserving victims - especially the Sunday press - as described in this book makes sobering reading. I found it well written, well structured, and I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who wants to get into the feel of the times as well as any book can, 50 years after the event.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read about the key sex & politics scandal of the 1960s, 4 Aug 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed and learned quite a lot from this book, though I was already familiar with the threads of the Profumo/Keeler/Ward story, primarily through the John Hurt/Joanne Whalley-Kilmer movie about 25 years ago. The book fills in the rest of the tale in capturing the Tory-led politics of early 60s Britain, its starchy middle class morality and hypocrisy rooted in the class system and an establishment intent on preserving its own. It's a rather entertaining and lively examination of a country on the verge of Beatlemania and the sexual and social permissiveness that we know today.

In retrospect it's all too easy for today's generation steeped daily in tabloid celebrity and political shenanigans to wonder why there was so much fuss about an aristocratic Govt Minister sleeping with a young party girl, both of whom were connected to a society osteopath and an attache at the Russian Embassy. But this was indeed the sort of toxic mix that sparked an unprecedented scandal in post-war Britain and brought down a longstanding Tory government.

I enjoyed the excellent early thematic chapters that examine Macmillan's govt and Profumo's career, the tabloid press's relations with the establishment, crime and Rachmanism, British espionage failures at the time and London's aristocratic bohemia that so attracted glamorous young things like Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies and spat them out after services were rendered.

The author then carries us through the narrative of events which led to Profumo's resignation and Stephen Ward's trial on trumped up charges before he killed himself. The book describes in great detail how the latter was conceived in a concerted campaign of high moral censure rather than criminal investigation, mainly by agents of the govt, and through collusion between the tabloid press and the police (which gives the book rather a modern resonance). The author was clearly intent on filleting the various myths surrounding the scandal, principally the notions that Ward lived off immoral earnings and that Keeler was a prostitute, neither of which were ever proven to be true. Basically, I think he succeeds in providing the definitive account of the scandal that will stand from now on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The elites exposed, 19 July 2013
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Lucidly written and analysed in depth, this book exposes relentlessly the corruption of the press barons,journalists, the police and, if not the corruption, at least the incompetence of the judiciary (the reputation of Lord Denning takes a hammering).Nowhere is this more highlighted than the way in which Stephen Ward was left to hang out and dry.

The book does much to help our understanding of why the Conservative Government became demoralised by 1963
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An English Affair
An English Affair by Richard Davenport-Hines (Hardcover - 3 Jan 2013)
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