Vasily Grossman, author of Life and Fate, was transformed by his experiences as a war correspondent. Following the shock invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Grossman volunteered for front line duty. Declared unfit for active service he was assigned to Red Star newspaper as a special correspondent. In these BBC Radio programmes, Elliot Levey reads three of Vasily Grossman's front line despatches.
Kwasi Kwarteng is the child of parents whose lives were shaped as subjects of the British Empire, first in their native Ghana, then as British immigrants. He brings a unique perspective and impeccable academic credentials to a narrative history of the British Empire, one that avoids sweeping judgmental condemnation and instead sees the Empire for what it was: a series of local fiefdoms administered in varying degrees of competence or brutality by a cast of characters as outsized and eccentric as anything conjured by Gilbert and Sullivan.
The British Empire was the creation of a tremendous outpouring of energy and opportunism, when the British were at their most self-confident, and the wealth they gathered was prodigious. At its heart lay a sense of the rectitude of the British way of life, meted out to vast swathes of the rest of the world without let or hindrance. Yet, as this book explains, the empire was not formed by coherent policy, and its decline reflected this.