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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and surprising
I grew up listening to Haw-Haw on the radio, so I was pleased to find an account that is so accessible to the non-academic reader. Farndale's style is engaging and difficult to put down: it drew me along and I felt he developed a kinship with his subject matter that I had not found with the other books on Joyce, which are often indigestible and, in at least one case,...
Published on 1 Dec 2005 by _alex_christie

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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars READABLE
This is a lively read, and it makes up for lack of solid research by readability. It is like a TV adaptation of William Joyce’s life, dramatised and somewhat sentimentalised. It doesn’t have proper source references, and the announcement of ‘unpublished material’ at the Public Records Office is a little disingenuous. The Haw-Haw documents at the...
Published on 25 Nov 2005


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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and surprising, 1 Dec 2005
I grew up listening to Haw-Haw on the radio, so I was pleased to find an account that is so accessible to the non-academic reader. Farndale's style is engaging and difficult to put down: it drew me along and I felt he developed a kinship with his subject matter that I had not found with the other books on Joyce, which are often indigestible and, in at least one case, riddled with errors.
I'm very glad to see that the elegance of Farndale's style and care in research has been recognised by the Whitbread prize committee: if you buy this book you won't be disappointed: it reveals much about the motivations and thoughts of those behind propaganda, but is more importantly a genuine biographical account of a couple who have been sidelined and misrepresented by time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Last Laugh, 1 Nov 2010
By 
Ian Millard - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book examines the case of the famous "Lord Haw Haw", William Joyce, the radio personality who broadcast from Berlin during WW2 and was later convicted of treason in the UK after WW2. The book also delves into the lesser-known facts in respect of his wife, Margaret, who also broadcast from Berlin but who was never brought to trial.

The legal background is examined in good detail and contained (as did the rest of the book) some facts unknown to me. When I was in the first year of a law degree (1984-1985) R. v. Joyce was a leading authority on the law of treason, which at that time based on the Treason Act 1351, subject to minor amendment by Treason Act 1945 (there is now a 2006 Treason Act which may, I do not know, change the situation in respect of future similar cases).

It is generally accepted that, from a strict legal point of view, Joyce was wrongly convicted, because, mainly:
1. Joyce was a U.S. citizen, born in NY City to a naturalized U.S. citizen father;
2. Though Joyce had applied for and been granted a British passport in 1938 (on false declaration), he left the U.K. for the German Reich before outbreak of hostilities in 1939, destroyed his British passport (which in any case expired in 1940) and became naturalized citizen of the German Reich in 1940.

I was interested to be reminded that the eventual House of Lords appeal (refusing his appeal against conviction and the then-consequent death sentence) contained a dissenting judment by the most erudite of the then Lords of Appeal, Lord Porter. It was also interesting to see that Lord Jowitt, the Lord Chancellor, who presided, told Beaverbrook in 1952 that the split was originally not 3-1 but 2-2, meaning that the appeal might have been allowed, had not non-legal argument won over one of the judges. that information was not in the public domain until noted in the Daily Telegraph in 1995.

The trial judge in 1945 had called Joyce a traitor in an earlier pre-war case; one of the appeal judges had prosecuted Joyce for a political offence in 1933.

About 40 British people broadcast from Germany in WW2. Only Joyce was hanged, apart from John Amery, who had also tried to form an anti-Soviet British force from British POW's.

The book is very interesting on the whole role of MI5, suggesting that Joyce had reported to MI5's freewheeling officer Maxwell Knight (in fact himself quite pro-peace and anti-Semitic) during the 1930's. It seems that Joyce was a source regarding the activities of Mosley in the mid to late 1930's.

The suggestion is also made that Joyce cut a deal with Knight after WW2: Joyce not to mention his link with MI5 during his trial, in return for which Margaret would go free (which she did). Joyce was also not to mention compromising cables from Churchill to Roosevelt, which formed the main reason why the also-rigged Kent-Wolkoff trial of 1940 was held in camera. One example from Churchill:
"I am half American and the natural person to work with you [Roosevelt]. If I were to become PM of GB we could control the world." In other words, the exact opposite of the "Hitler wanted to control the world" propaganda which still resonates.

The MI5 files on Joyce are STILL not open to public view for the most part. some seem to have been shredded in the 1980's. also v. interesting.

Another point which I found of interest was that, according to early opinion polls, mmore people were not only listening to Lord Haw Haw than to the BBC, but more people trusted his information than that given out by the BBC.

There was a big public campaign to save Joyce from the noose, but it failed and he was hanged in the end. The book is good on all of this.

The book also details the life of the Joyce's in Germany during the war and the fact that even Goebbels (whom Joyce, surprisingly, never met) respected Joyce as a real idealist, not in it for money or an easy time. Joyce's wartime book Twilight Over Germany, is mentioned.

The book is not entirely reliable in respect of some statistics. The author says on one particular page that by 1943, 300,000 German civilians had been killed by Allied bombing. On the same page he says in a footnote that the total for the whole war was 75,000 (and like English casualties 65,000). Reasonably authoritative sources, such as the article on strategic bombing in WW2 in Wikipedia give the the total for German civilian deaths by Allied bombing as between 400,000 and 600,000 (and the English civilian death-by-bombing total as 60,000). Other sources put the total for German civilians so killed as nearer 800,000.

I should say that on the whole this book is a good read and a good contribution to the history of those times. There are a couple of kneejerk comments about Joyce's supposedly wrongheaded beliefs etc, but the writer (a 15-year Sunday Telegraph columnist etc) is generally fair to Joyce and does point out, for example, that he had a First from London University and was fluent in not only German but Icelandic, Old Norse etc.

I should add that there is a bibliography, which includes a few books in my own llibrary and which I can recommend: The Officer In The Tower, by Norman Baillie-Stewart; the autobiographical trilogy by Dennis wheatley.

A good read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant and accessible, 1 Dec 2005
I bought this biography because it has been shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize and, I have to say, it lives up to expectations. The story of William and Margaret Joyce is a strange and sometimes disturbing one and Nigel Farndale tells it with great deftness and humanity. The account of Lord Haw-Haw’s controversial treason trial in 1945 is particularly haunting. A brilliantly crafted and unforgettable book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Biography of An Interesting and Tragic Character, 11 Mar 2008
By 
Dr. R. Brandon (England) - See all my reviews
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This very readable biography of William Joyce, Lord Haw-Haw of wartime radio fame, is most interesting. The complete life of Joyce is covered from his childhood and youth in Ireland, to his time in the British Union of Fascists as virtually second in command to Mosley and then on to Germany. His links with MI5 are also made clear. The section describing his five years or so in Berlin is gripping and using recently available material Farndale manages to conjure a very clear idea of daily life for Joyce and his wife Margaret and their later experience of shortages and Allied bombing. Finally his arrest and trial are covered and the machinations of the legal establishment well reviewed. Again the text is lucid and illuminates the condition of Joyce very well. A beautifully written biography of a most interesting, intelligent, and tragic character, well worth a read.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable., 30 Nov 2005
By A Customer
This is an excellent, well-researched and original joint biography of a flawed but fascinating couple. I found the chapters concerning the Joyces’ time in wartime Berlin especially edifying and unexpected. I read some of the papers on Lord Haw-Haw which the National Archives published in book form three years ago, but found the accompany text irritating and sour. That book was full of mistakes, too – the writer claimed the MI5 spymaster Maxwell Knight had been a member of the British Union of Fascists, for example, when he hadn’t. This book seems to have set the record about the Joyces straight. I found it gripping and beautifully written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and well written, 6 Feb 2008
This review is from: Haw-Haw: The Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce (Paperback)
I have encountered the character of William Joyce on a few occasions, in a number of different books over the past few years yet none have brought his character to life in as much detail as this book. Certainly the very central position and character of his wife was never included in any of the works, even in passing reference.
Farndale tells a very good story, filling the plot with many interesting and infamous characters and finally also questions (quite rightly) the legitimacy of Joyce's execution and Margaret's culpability yet eventual freedom due to Matters of State.
A cracking read and well worth five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding biography, 15 Feb 2014
Whatever anyone writes about Joyce, in the minds of many he deserved his fate. He emerges as a very interesting character, a brilliant linguist who according to one source did not complete his PhD because of his known anti-Semitic views. He could even speak Latin, a rare achievement. I found the story fascinating. The author tries to be scrupulously fair. The role of some of the lesser characters such as Maxwell Knight and Dennis Wheatley leaves you wondering how much more there is to be discovered, and if even now there are individuals who are being protected. Joyce never appears a sympathetic character. He is true to himself for the most part and in his own way loyal to Britain. He even destroys his passport so that the Germans cannot use it for their own purposes. It is likely Maxwell Knight tipped him off he was due to be arrested, which led to his flight. This puts a different slant on his reasons for going to Germany. The description of life in wartime Germany is fascinating, not least because no-one else has ever told it from this perspective.
The legality of his execution is debatable. In the context of post war Britain his fate was already sealed.
I lent this book to a friend who agreed it is a fascinating story and you cannot avoid wanting to read it from cover to cover.
Highly recommended.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars READABLE, 25 Nov 2005
By A Customer
This is a lively read, and it makes up for lack of solid research by readability. It is like a TV adaptation of William Joyce’s life, dramatised and somewhat sentimentalised. It doesn’t have proper source references, and the announcement of ‘unpublished material’ at the Public Records Office is a little disingenuous. The Haw-Haw documents at the PRO have now been published and even reproduced in fascsimile by the PRO themselves – in 2003 – in an excellent book by Peter Martland.
People who know the area will spot errors and omissions, and there are better books on the subject. This is much more up to date than the book Faber published some (in fact many) years ago about Haw-Haw, but better books include Mary Kenny’s 'Germany Calling', which has real research, properly sourced, and is very strong on Joyce’s Irish context, which is crucial to understanding him, and the PRO book by Martland 'Lord Haw Haw: The English Voice of Nazi Germany', which is the single most indispensable book. Even 'Hitler’s Englishman', by Francis Selwyn, is still a good solid book.
The argument that Joyce should never have been hanged is already taken for granted by previous books. He wasn’t really a traitor because he wasn’t British but Irish/American. He was a scapegoat, and his real offence was falsely obtaining a British passport, for which the maximum penalty should have been a £2 fine. This is already well known and not a radical new point.
I was in two minds about this. First of all, not-quite-serious books about all too serious historical subjects (bigotry, fascism, and anti-semitism are not popular entertainment) just muddy the water. But on the other hand, it is well done at its level, it treats its central character with respect, and I enjoyed reading it: it’s a “good read.” I mainly read history and this read more like a novel, so it was a break.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, 24 April 2014
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This review is from: Haw-Haw: The Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce (Paperback)
Very well-paced and informative piece of writing in terms of British social history and World War Two alike. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Xmas, 26 Jan 2013
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It was a present for my son in law so I have not read it but it was good value
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Haw-Haw: The Tragedy of  William and Margaret Joyce
Haw-Haw: The Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce by Nigel Farndale (Paperback - 3 Mar 2006)
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