Archive for the ‘Böcker’ Category

IMAGE | Med monoton regelbundenhet dyker det upp artiklar och böcker som hävdar att det nu är dags att slå håll på ”myten” Winston Churchill.

New Statesman 9-15 January 2014

Alla dessa försök till historierevidering innehåller nästan alltid några gemensamma komponenter.

Författaren försöker t.ex. alltid antyda att ingen tidigare har gett den ”sanna” och ”oförfalskade” bilden av Churchill. Tydligen har sanningen om mannen, politikern och statsmannen alltför länge varit dold bakom den officiella bilden av Churchill – en bild som ingen vågar ifrågasätta.

Detta sätt att argumentera håller inte för en närmare granskning. Få politiker har nämligen varit lika kontroversiella som Churchill. Han var ifrågasatt under hela sin politiska karriär.

En annan ingrediens i dessa försök att förändra bilden av Churchill är att framhäva, inte bara hans politiska felberäkningar och misslyckanden, utan även att hans politiska åsikter inte längre ligger i linje med dagens etablerade konsensus.

Att studera Churchills politiska åsikter är naturligtvis historiskt intressant men ganska missvisande när man skall bedöma hans samlade insatser.

Med tanke på att Churchill var född 1874 (!) borde det inte förvåna någon att hans åsikter inte låg i linje med vad vi tycker idag. Det omvända skulle ha varit betydligt mer uppseendeväckande.

Churchill skulle knappast varit mer än en historisk kuriositet om hans åsikter hade överensstämt med dagens politikers.

Frågan är om han ens hade varit en identifierbar historisk person om han hade avviket alltför mycket från sin egen tid. Hade vi då ens kunnat finna några historiska spår av honom i dokument och arkiv? Sannolikt hade han aldrig blivit vare sig parlamentsledamot eller premiärminister om han haft åsikter som inte gjort honom valbar.

Många gånger liknar kritiken av Churchill vad man idag kallar ”virtue signalling” Poängen är att visa, d.v.s. signalera, vilken god människa man själv är. ”One of the crucial aspects of virtue signalling is that it does not require actually doing anything virtuous”, skriver mannen som myntade begreppet.

Ett exempel på detta är Simon Heffers artikel ”Why it’s time to debunk the myth of Churchill” i New Statesman. Rubriken säger allt. (I papperstidningen: ”The Churchill myth”.)

Ingenting av det som Heffer skriver om i artikeln är överhuvudtaget nytt för den som studerat ämnet. Alla exemplen beskrivs i de flesta historiska verk och politisk biografier om Churchill som publicerats under de senaste femtio åren.

He had an unfortunate knack of finding himself on the wrong side of too many arguments, over things that usually did not require the benefit of hindsight to be understood.


At the khaki election of 1900 he began his political career, as a Tory. He left for the Liberal Party in 1904 when the Tories, under the influence of Joseph Chamberlain, who had left the Liberals in protest against the Irish home rule bill, started to move towards protectionism. That was fair enough: but moving back to the Tories after the collapse of the coalition in 1922, when the Liberal Party had divided, imploded and been eclipsed by Labour, was widely regarded as an act of outrageous cynicism, not least by those whom he was rejoining. Churchill deployed his considerable wit to gloss over this episode – “Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat” – but a bad smell lingered in the Tory party for some time because of it.


Once the Conservatives were pushed out of office in 1929 he began his “wilderness years”, and adopted resistance to Indian self-government as one of his main causes. It was at this stage that he described Gandhi as “a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Viceregal palace . . . to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor”. Such rhetoric turned Baldwin against him and ensured he did not serve in the National Government that Baldwin formed with Ramsay MacDonald in 1931.


Despite a record of failure and misjudgement that in any other politician would offset even the most considerable achievements, Churchill in death has become largely untouchable by all, apart from those who are dismissed as mavericks and sectarians. The myth keeps us from an honest interpretation of our history in the first half of the 20th century. The false and romanticised picture we have of him, created by his reputation from 1940-45, is a huge obstacle to true understanding.

In one aspect of his life, when the man met the hour, he was as outstanding as anyone in British history has been. In all others he was just another politician on the make, firing out opinions at random in the hope that one, now and again, would hit the target. He had a bellicosity that in all circumstances other than 1940-45 could be intensely dangerous, and that had its downside even in the fight against Hitler.

But we would best understand his indisputable greatness, and our enduring debt to him, by realising how his achievements came in spite of, not because of, his parti­cular character. The myth is too much. It is more important than ever to examine the reality of his life and works, and to try to get him in a true perspective.

Tidskriftsomslag: New Statesman, 9-15 januari 2014.


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VAL 2016 | Donald Trump ser allt mer ut att kunna bli republikanernas presidentkandidat.

“He’s got the mo, he’s got the masses”, säger den politiska strategen Rick Hohlt. ”He’s attracting a new class of voters.”

Försöken att stoppa Trump har så här långt misslyckats. Inte minst för att han blivit smartare ju mer han har varit ute och kampanjat. “He knows when to push and when to back off.”

Men hans motståndare måste försöka göra något för att stoppa honom om man skall ha en rejäl chans att bli nominerad.

Enligt David Von Drehle på tidskriften Time har Ted Cruz plockat fram en gammal strategi som användes av Barry Goldwater redan 1964.

Men om denna strategi lyckas kan det mycket väl innebära att Cruz splittras och sänka möjligheterna för Cruz att bli president om han skulle lyckas bli nominerad.

The man is moving people, and politics does not get more basic than that. Trump is a bonfire in a field of damp kindling—an overcrowded field of governors and former governors and junior Senators still trying to strike a spark. His nearest rival, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, has traction in Iowa among the evangelical bloc and—in contrast to Trump—is a tried-and-true Suite 3505 by F. Clifton Whieconservative. But with little more than half the support Trump boasts in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, Cruz has a long way to go to show that he can move masses.

Cruz staffers, tellingly, have been studying a 1967 tome titled Suite 3505 as a playbook for their campaign. This F. Clifton White memoir, long out of print, tells the story of the 1964
Barry Goldwater campaign. That was the last successful populist rebellion inside the Republican Party, propelling a rock-ribbed conservative past the Establishment insiders–just as Cruz hopes to do. But this triumph of intramural knife fighting proved a disaster at general-election time. Goldwater suffered one of the worst defeats in American political history. It’s no wonder that GOP leaders are every bit as wary of Cruz as they are of Trump.

In short, the GOP has awakened less than a month from the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary to find itself in bed between a bombshell and a kamikaze. It’s a sobering dawn for a political party that seemed, not long ago, just a tweak or two away from glory.

Bild: Omslaget till boken Suite 3505 av F. Clifton White.

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RETORIK I A Journey skriver Tony Blair om hur han underminerade förtroendet för de konservativa partiledarna.

Tony Blair - A Journey

Det är ingen mening med att försöka ta ära och redlighet från en politisk motståndaren. Det är aldrig trovärdigt. Bättre att då vara lite mer subtil i sin politiska kommunikation.

Genom att plantera ett frö hos väljarna att motståndaren inte har det som krävs för jobbet som premiärminister kan man, enligt Blair, långsiktigt underminera förtroendet för motståndaren.

With each successive Tory leader, I would develop a line of attack, but I only did so after a lot of thought. Usually I did it based on close observation at PMQs. I never made it overly harsh. I always tried to make it telling. The aim was to get the non-politician nodding. I would wonder not what appealed to a Labour Party Conference in full throttle, but what would appeal to my old mates at the Bar, who wanted a reasonable case to be made; and who, if it were made, would rally.

So I defined Major as weak; Hague as better at jokes than judgment; Howard as an opportunist; Cameron as a flip-flop, not knowing where he wanted to go.  (The Tories did my work for me in undermining Iain Duncan Smith.) Expressed like that, these attacks seem flat, rather mundane almost, and not exactly inspiring—but that’s their appeal. Any one of those charges, if it comes to be believed, is actually fatal. Yes, it’s not like calling your opponent a liar, or a fraud, or a villain or a hypocrite, but the middle-ground floating voter kind of shrugs their shoulders at those claims. They don’t chime. They’re too over the top, too heavy, and they represent an insult, not an argument. Whereas the lesser charge, because it’s more accurate and precisely because it’s more low-key, can stick. And if it does, that’s that. Because in each case, it means they’re not a good leader. So game over.

Bild: Pocketupplagan av A Journey av Tony Blair (Arrow Books, 2011)

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VAL 2016Bluewater Productions kommer inför valet ta fram seriebiografier om några av presidentkandidaterna. En del går redan att beställa.

Female Force Hillary Clinton The Road to the White House

Female Force: Hillary Clinton: The Road to the White House

Political Power Rand Paul number 1

Political Power: Rand Paul

Political Power Chris Christie

Political Power: Chris Christie

Förutom Hillary Clinton finns nu också album med Rand Paul och Chris Christie i huvudrollen. Man planerar även album om Jeb Bush, Bernie Sanders och Marco Rubio.

Författaren till Hillary Clinton: The Road to the White House är Michael L. Frizell. Joe Paradise har stått för illustrationerna.

Redan 2008 tog man fram album om om bl.a. Clinton och Sarah Palin under vinjetten ”Female Force”.

Läs mer: Fler serier med politiskt innehåll på hemsidan för Bluewater.

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HISTORIA | När valrörelsen nu är inne på sina sista dagar kan det passa bra att tipsa om en bok som t.o.m. premiärminister David Cameron har lovprisat.

Dole Queues and Demones by Stuart Ball

Dole Queues and Demons: British Election Posters from the Conservative Party Archive av Stuart Ball (och förord av Maurice Saatchi) innehåller 200 valaffischer från åren 1909-2010.

Professor Sir Robert Burgess, vice-chancellor University of Leicester, fick ett tackbrev från Cameron för att han skickat ett exemplar av boken till honom.

It’s a wonderful book and very good of you to have thought to send it to me.

I thoroughly enjoyed looking through it. It’s fascinating to see how political imagery has changed so much over the years, while so many of the themes – family aspiration, strong nation, good leadership – have remained the same.

Please pass on my congratulations to Dr Ball on producing such a wonderful book.

Läs mer: Affischerna kan ses på Conservative Party Archive (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford).

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VAL 1966 | Matthew Dalleks bok fokuserar författaren på ett område som andra författare tidigare ignorerat när det gäller Ronald Reagan.

The Right Moment by Matthew Dallek

Dallek konstaterar att t.o.m. Reagans officiella levnadstecknare, Edmund Morris, avverkar 1966 års guvernörsval i Kalifornien på ett par sidor.

Detta trots att valet var en av de viktiga vändpunkterna i USA:s historia. Reagans seger över sin demokratiska motståndare, guvernör Edmund ”Pat” Brown, blev början på vad som har kommit att kallas Reagans revolution.

Strategin som användes i valkampanjen – att koncentrera sig på ekonomi, lag och ordning och försvarsfrågor – var den samma som tog Reagan till Vita huset 1981.

Så här skriver Dallek om valets betydelse för den konservativa revolution som bar Reagans namn.

In truth the Reagan revolution began in 1966, and it was not primarily about economics or foreign policy. Reagan’s stunning, out-of-nowhere victory in the California governor’s race against two-term incumbent and Democratic giant Pat Brown marked the arrival of the Right in postwar American politics. Reagan’s leadership of that movement is perhaps his most enduring legacy.


Ronald Reagan’s race against Pat Brown — the real Reagan revolution — began as a debate about retaking control of a society in chaos. What Ronald Reagan stood for above all was law and order.

Reagan and Brown clashed on every issue, major and minor, of the day. Understanding the collapse of the liberal order and the rise of the conservative movement requires understanding how Reagan and Brown, during the several years leading up to 1966, came to embrace such bitterly opposed visions of government and society.

Reagan was a card-carrying conservative, Brown a proud liberal. For Reagan, opposing communism was paramount. For Brown, anticommunism was but one issue in foreign affairs and a nonissue at home. Reagan saw the welfare-state policies of recent decades as a slippery slope toward socialism. Brown viewed governmental programs as the best way to achieve a ”great society.” Reagan denounced moral decline on campus; Brown thanked God for the spectacle of students protesting. Brown seized an opportunity to lead the civil rights movement into the new frontier of fair housing; Reagan believed that even the 1964 Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional. Faced with urban riots, Brown looked to government to help eradicate poverty; Reagan vowed zero tolerance for criminals.


It was Reagan’s promise to arrest moral decline that won him a million-vote victory over the popular incumbent, who had beaten Richard Nixon in 1962 and seemed destined to usher in California’s progressive future.


In 1966 these two titans faced off in a battle of worldviews. Law and order was the hinge on which an era turned, yet the particular strategies involved were crucial. For the first time, the conservative movement was able to distance itself from the anticommunist fringe. For the first time, the conservatives learned how to push the right buttons on key issues, from race and riots to war and crime. Reagan successfully linked the liberal social programs of the ’60s with disorder in the streets, and offered an alternative vision of what government should and should not do. The Reagan revolution would prove so lasting because the formulas developed in the heat of the moment — pro-social order, pro-individual liberty, anti-government meddling — had a lasting appeal. Americans, like most people, crave peace and prosperity. The Reagan revolution has come to be associated with the free market. Yet at its origins, and perhaps still today, it is equally about social order.

Bild: The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics av Matthew Dallek.

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RYSSLAND | Bill Browders bok om korruption och maktövergrepp inom den ryska affärsvärlden under Vladimir Putins styre har kommit ut på svenska.

Red Notice by Bill Browder

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice har på svenska fått namnet Mitt krig mot Putin: den sanna historien om stora pengar, mord och en mans kamp för rättvisa.

Nyhetsmagasinet Time har publicerat ett utdrag från boken. Så presenteras författaren:

Bill Browder may be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s No. 1 foe. For the past several years the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management has led an international campaign to expose deep corruption and human-rights abuses in Putin’s Russia. His efforts culminated with Congress’s 2012 passage of the Magnitsky Act, which forbids gross abusers of human rights in Russia from banking in or visiting the U.S. It’s named after Browder’s lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, a whistle-blower who was murdered in a Moscow prison in 2009 after uncovering massive Russian government fraud.

Before he became an unlikely human-rights activist, Browder was for a time one of the largest foreign investors in Russia. In the tumultuous years following the fall of the Soviet Union, he made a fortune for himself and his clients by confronting some of the country’s corrupt oligarchs. But in Russia, shareholder activism could be dangerous work, as Browder explains in this excerpt from his new book Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man’s Search for Justice.

Läs mer: “The fallen idol: seeing Putin in a new light” är A. D. Millers recension av Browders bok i The Spectator.

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