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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Choose Your Weapons - Diplomacy or War, 6 Oct 2012
By 
Mr. D. K. Smith (South Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Choose Your Weapons: The British Foreign Secretary (Paperback)
The role of foreign secretary is a key one in British politics. In Choose Your Weapons, Douglas Hurd and Edward Young compare the approaches of a dozen or so holders of the office.

From Castlereagh and Canning, who drew pistols at dawn on Putney Heath in 1809, through Palmerston, Salisbury, Bevin and Eden, the styles of these politicians are compared and contrasted.

As the book covers a period between the early 19th to mid 20th century, Britain's changing role and influence in the world has had a major impact on the foreign secretary's influence and duties.

Also, Hurd and Young work from the premise that there are two main ways to approach the job - either by international alliances, treaties and co-operation or by active intervention and war.

Choose Your Weapons is a well-researched book which serves as a handy introduction to some of the major events of modern British history and politics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Primer For Intellectual Debate, 5 Jan 2014
This review is from: Choose Your Weapons: The British Foreign Secretary (Paperback)
How many times have you been at a dinner party or in polite company or in Court and you ahem wanted a good quote to get people to stand up and take notice with what you are saying. The usual thing one might want to say is " ... it is like when pressed, Castelreagh said to or of Canning, or Aberdeen said to or of Palmerston ..."

This book which is as with all Douglas Hurd's books, well written fits that purpose and provides that space admirably (two titans debating with or commenting on each other's political performance in the main).

For example (Salisbury on The Queens Speech of 1898):

" ... I have a strong belief that there is a danger of the public opinion of this country believing that it is our duty to take everything we can, to fight everybody and to make a quarrel of every dispute. That seems to me to be a very dangerous doctrine ... However strong you may be, whether you are a man or a nation, there is a point beyond which your strength will not go. It is madness, it ends in ruin if you allow yourself to pass beyond it."

Wise words indeed, and quite probably formulated in part from experience in Afghanistan at the time. It's a pity some modern leaders I could name have not taken these into account or (apparently) read this book, the same going for some litigants in Court....

Also I would add a short passage from the back of the book in the epilogue:

" ... It is customary at this point to recite the conventional list of our assets - the quality of our Armed Forces, our diplomatic and Intelligence Services, the achievements of our universities, our language, the financial skills of the City of London, and our Parliament. The integrity of these last two has recently been called into question, though we do not doubt that with time the damage can be repaired. All of these assets are and will remain important - but they are not the main source of our strength. It is difficult to pin down where this strength comes from precisely, although there are clues in our history ... [and in our] ... values, shared but not oppressive, binding but not too tight, which drew people together in times of danger and austerity, allowing them to weather the storm."

Fine words indeed.

This book also led me to read Douglas Hurd's books on both Peel and Disraeli.

Well worth the read I say.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but a heavy read, 14 May 2013
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Douglas Hurd having been both a career member of FO staff and subsequently Foreign Secretary himself is enthralled by the subject which makes it an interesting read but overburdened with detail and therefore much too long for all but the equaly enthusiastic.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and informative, 12 Sep 2011
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This review is from: Choose Your Weapons: The British Foreign Secretary (Paperback)
I purchased for my son who is an economist and has an interest in history. He found it both interesting and enjoyable. It was a very good read, but as it covered such a long period it did not go into any great depth.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Choose your weapons, 6 May 2012
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This review is from: Choose Your Weapons: The British Foreign Secretary (Paperback)
Really enjoyed this well written book, it brings the workings of Parliament to life in an easy manner. Highly recommend.
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Choose Your Weapons: The British Foreign Secretary
Choose Your Weapons: The British Foreign Secretary by The Rt Hon Lord Douglas Hurd of Westwell CH CBE PC (Paperback - 20 Jan 2011)
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