Secret Treason

He wanted only what every journalist of the time did: an exclusive interview with the Duke of Windsor. What he got was an astonishing proposition that sent him on an urgent top-secret visit to the White House and a once-in-a-lifetime story that was too hot to print—until now.

It was, said one of the few people who knew about it, “the greatest news story on earth.” It belonged exclusively to my father, a prolific writer, but he knew it could not be published. The story presented an appalling picture of the former King of England, the Duke of Windsor. It contained dreadful secrets, including an urgent proposal for President Franklin Roosevelt, a message so damning and dangerous that my father actually feared for his life after he had delivered it.Read more »

How British Are You?

Very. The legacy of British traits in America is deeper and more significant than we knew.

As one of the most imaginative historians in contemporary America, David Hackett Fischer has produced a work that may put his fellow scholars’ teeth on edge. Historians, rather conservative in temperament, are reluctant converts when their choice ideas are thrown into question. Yet Fischer’s latest book, Albion‘s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (Oxford University Press) will fascinate them as well as the general reading public.Read more »

Return To East Anglia

It is to the U.S. Air Force what Normandy is to the U.S. Army. The monuments are harder to find, but if you’re willing to leave the main roads, you will discover a countryside still eloquent of one of the greatest military efforts in history.

From 1941 to 1945 the biggest aircraft carrier in the North Atlantic was England. Once the U.S. 8th Air Force arrived in 1942, a new field was started every three days. By war’s end there were more than 700 airfields spread across the country; the 8th had built 130 of them. Enough concrete had been slathered across cornfields and cow pastures to pave four thousand miles of highway—all in an area about the size of Vermont.Read more »

Pleasure In Creation

Born in response to the shoddy, machine-made goods available in the marketplace, the Arts and Crafts movement in America began in isolated workshops and spread to the public at large, preaching the virtues of the simple, the useful, and the handmade

THROUGHOUT AMERICA GRADE SCHOOLS AND summer camps teach “arts and crafts.” In my rural school we mitered wooden boxes, hammered decorative copper, and crackle-glazed clay pots—all under the gaze of a man who wore a dirty smock and a white beard, marks of individuality unknown to other instructors. We worked as if within an ancient order (or, in our case, youthful disorder) of craftsmen.Read more »

The British Vew

The recent British ambassador to Washington takes a generous-spirited but clear-eyed look at the document that, as he points out, owes its existence to King George III

The guest at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., leaves his car and is ushered through a comparatively modest, low-ceilinged entrance hall. The architect, Edwin Lutyens, wished to surprise him, for the entrance hall opens up into a magnificent double staircase that mounts toward the still more opulent reception rooms above, the central feature of which is a sixty-six-yard-long corridor. It is Lutyens’s equivalent of Beethoven’s transition to the finale of his C Minor Symphony. “Lovely corridors,” said a distinguished predecessor of mine, before my wife and I came.Read more »

The Lion Caged

An outstanding American historian follows Winston Churchill through a typical day during his political exile in the 1930s and uses that single twenty-four-hour period to reveal the character of the century’s greatest Englishman in all its complexity. See Churchill lay bricks, paint a landscape, tease his dinner guests, badger his secretaries, dictate a history, make up a speech, write an article (that’s how he earns his living), refuse his breakfast because the jam has been left off the tray, refight the Battle of Bull Run, feed his fish, drink his brandy, fashion a “bellyband” to retrieve a particularly decrepit cigar, recite all of “Horatius at the Bridge,” take two baths—and await with noisy fortitude the day when he will save the world.

THE GREAT SANCTUARY Read more »

The Great North Sea Mine Barrage

An extraordinary World War I naval operation is recounted by the commander of a decaying coastal steamer crammed with a terrifying new explosive

When my father, Rear Adm. D. Pratt Mannix 3rd, died in 1957, he had served as a midshipman on a square-rigger and lived to see the atomic bomb dropped on Japan. Born in 1878, he had fought in eight wars, been awarded six medals, and had seen action against Moro pirates and the Imperial German Navy. He had watched the United States grow to be the most powerful country in the world. As the U.S. Navy was responsible for much of this growth, he had had an opportunity to see, firsthand, history being made.Read more »

Winston Churchill And “the Natural Captain Of The West”

Fifty years after FDR first took office, a British statesman and historian evaluates the President’s role in the twentieth century’s most important partnership

Franklin Roosevelt was, and remains, a hero to the British. During his rise to power we were detached from and ignorant of American internal politics to an extent that is not easily imaginable today. The Atlantic in the twenties and thirties was still very wide. The majority, including those politically involved and informed, never crossed it. Very few did so frequently.Read more »

“Suddenly, There Were The Americans”

A British schoolboy sees the quiet English countryside come alive with excitement toward the end of 1943 when …

Read more »

England’s All-american Corner

At Bath the British can catch glimpses of their rebellious daughter country’s history in an unusual museum

The scene is one of a quintessential Englishness: a stately manor house with sparkling bay windows giving out upon a broad expanse of finely trimmed lawn that reaches out toward the river Avon in the valley below, an exquisite formal garden with pebbled walks and a delicate fountain, the whole set off against a stone balustrade supporting a majestic row of classical stone urns. But there is something weirdly wrong with the picture nevertheless—what is that huge tepee, with all the children running in and out of it, doing out in front of the manor?Read more »