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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Duff Cooper Diaries: 1915-1951
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on 27 March 2015
Duff Cooper was a well connected man who grew up in the early years of the 20th century. Until well after the end of the First World War his chief ambition was to have a good time. He drank enough champagne to float a very big boat and pursued the opposite sex with great determination. He visited prostitutes.
He married Lady Diana Manners,ostensibly the daughter of the Duke of Rutland but really the daughter of someone else. She had a reputation for beauty, although the black and white photography of the time does not do her justice.
She was Duff's No 1, although this did not stop Duff 'making love' to other women. When he says 'making love', I think he means showering with compliments as a part of his effort to get women into bed. At the age of 25 he says he'd only slept with prostitutes and married women, who seem to have been easier game.He went on doing this.
He knew everybody of consequence, and was a talented politician, writer and indeed soldier.He was independent-minded, and resigned over Munich. I was interested to see that he was on good terms with Hore-Belisha.
The early years of WW2 are missed, but 1944-1947 is dealt with in great detail. He was a good ambassador to France at a very tricky time.
When Labour took over in 1945 they wisely retained him. All the governmental people ate like pigs and drank like fish, to the detriment of their health. Ordinary folk had rationing which kept them healthier. After retirement Duff still had about 450 bottles of champagne in his cellar.
He and his wife had servants and lived the high life. They and their friends were the celebrities of the day.
Duff could be humorous, immoral,kind, snobbish,liked animals(although he liked shooting birds) and seems to have been one of life's cavaliers.
Today his lifestyle would be acceptable in a pop star but not in a politician. Attitudes were different then.
This is a riveting book and a marvellous account of the life of the privileged classes in the first half of the 20th century.
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on 3 February 2015
This is an extraordinary document written by a man who might have been Prime Minister instead of Churchill. He was a bon viveur, heavy drinker, inveterate womaniser, compulsive gambler and married to one of the most beautiful and talented women of his era. His diary extends from the First World War to the early 1950s and covers many of the key moments of that momentous period including the abdication of Edward VIII - whom he knew personally and to whom he gave advice. It seems he met almost everyone of importance during his life - Winston Churchill, Lloyd George, Max Beaverbrook, Vita Sackville-West, Cole Porter and a host of people from the world of politics and the arts. He was also a gifted author. I found his memoirs fascinating - and well edited by his son Julius John Norwich into a readable whole. In some ways Duff Cooper was a flawed individual, but that should not deter anyone from reading this unique description of upper class British life in the first half of the twentieth Century. Strongly recommended. (It's also a useful model of how to write a diary and make it interesting.)
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on 15 August 2015
What a dull man he seems here - and how terrible for an Englishman to read about one of the country's movers and shakers being such a sh*tty person in almost every regard. If he wasn't chasing some bit of skirt, he was thinking about his next meal or how to make money or appear famous and important.
I am really quite angry that my country was, in part, ruled by effete twats like this man - he was a disgrace in every way I can think of.

No - time to stop, before I become ungracious!
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on 21 February 2018
A bit long,but informative in ITS contents ?I envy all the meeting with famous people ! I I Wonder What analyse Duff Cooper would have made
Of some of the most eminent people if he used his skill from Talleyrand on his fellows in the British foreign diplomacy and the German representatives in England.He left his post after the Munich treaty and showed good judgement in difficult times.
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VINE VOICEon 28 April 2007
I read a lot of diaries and this one is well up there with the most informative and entertaining. I found Cooper to be a man who grew up during the course of these diaries and from playboy status became a very thoughtful minister at the time of impending war with Germany.

Fascinating to hear of his obsessions with women,good food and drink. Not perhaps a nice man as he clearly cheated on his beautiful wife many times.

The insights into relationships with important figures of the day are a helpful aid to understanding these complicated personalities. If you like diaries please try Harold Nicholson's they are probably better and more carefully written and cover a similar period of time.
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on 10 January 2018
enjoyed it ,very interesting.
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on 22 October 2016
Very interesting read. Not a nice man in many ways but his post-war work in France maybe excused his multiple unfaithfulness's. Wonder if he and Alan Clark ever compared notes.
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on 11 February 2016
A very interesting eye witness account of significant political and social changes in the first half of the twentieth Whilst D.C. may be difficult to take to in some respects, one is forced to admire the depth of his intellect and his accute eye for assessing colleagues and 'fellow players'.
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on 28 September 2014
Very pleased to receive this book,practically brand new
despite hiccough ,everything fine
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on 17 November 2016
An insight into the indolent lifestyle of the upper classes
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