Top positive review
11 people found this helpful
The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward
on 9 December 2013
This book does not just tell the rather sordid and sad tale of Dr Stephen Ward, and examine the details of the Profumo Affair, but goes one step further and asks whether Ward was, in fact, not only made a scapegoat but even murdered. For, as Ward lay in a hospital bed, having taken a drug overdose, he was found guilty of living off immoral endings. It was the trial of the Sixties and the political scandal that brought down a government. Christine Keeler, a young girl; one of many Dr Ward certainly provided for friends and patients at his exclusive osteopathy practice, was sleeping with both Minister of War John Profumo and Russian spy Captain Yevgeny Ivanov. Obviously, the threat to national security was a real one, at a time of great political upheaval and the beginnings of the Cold War. At the centre of this scandal was Dr Stephen Ward - minor public schoolboy, osteopath, artist, a man less interested in the act of love than in being a voyeur and a provider of `Popsies' to the wealthy and influential men he aimed to impress, a social climber and, finally, a scapegoat.
This book looks in detail at Stephen Ward's early career and unhappy love affairs. If not successful in his private life, Ward was certainly a success as an osteopath - taking risks and pushing himself forward, in order to establish himself in a private practice with clients such as Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra. He was a man who wanted to impress and be accepted by society, in a London where class and connections still mattered. There were wild parties and exclusive dinner parties, with Prince Philip among others. Ward was a man eager to please; to help patients by taking them to parties and arranging introductions to beautiful young girls. He was mixing with the elite, staying in a house in the grounds of Cliveden, family home of the Astors, and yet incongruously picking up girls on the street. Despite his dubious behaviours, it is a fact that none of the women approached by Ward have anything unkind to say about him - he never attempted to corrupt girls, but approached women he already knew to be involved in the more seedy side of life and he was always courteous and kind. It simply seemed to amuse him to bring the two sides together and, undoubtedly, being a provider of beautiful women made him a desirable guest at the parties and places he was keen to gain access to. In fact, if anything, it is John Profumo - a man who took Christine Keeler to his own family home and marital bed and who even brought her the same perfume as his wife to cover up his adulterous behaviour - who comes out of the book in a worse light. Certainly not the behaviour of a gentleman, regardless of his class and status.
In this interesting read, you are taken through events; who knew what and to what extent Stephen Ward was involved with MI5. It was a fact that both MI5 and the Special Branch had been running surveillance on both Ward and Ivanov. Did Ward have communist sympathies? Did he disclose what he knew to MI5 and, if so, did it help or hurt him personally? Was J F Kennedy linked to what happened, at the sensitive time of the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis? Of course, you will read this book and make up your own mind - and it may well differ from the conclusions of the authors. Either way, this is an extremely well written account of those times and, although it does take a point of view and not remain unbiased, the authors always try to back up their statements with evidence. Whatever you decide at the end of this book, it is certain that you will enjoy reading this very interesting account of a scandal which still fascinates today.