Brogan, (Denis) Hugh (Vercingetorix) 1936-
BROGAN, (Denis) Hugh (Vercingetorix) 1936-
PERSONAL: Born March 20, 1936, in Oxford, England; son of Denis William (a historian) and Olwen Phillis Frances (an archaeologist; maiden name, Kendall) Brogan. Education: St. John's College, Cambridge University, B.A., 1959, M.A. 1964. Hobbies and other interests: Collecting English epitaphs.
ADDRESSES: Office—Department of History, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, England. Agent—Mark Paterson, Wivenhoe, Colchester, England.
CAREER: Writer and historian. The Economist, staff member, 1959-62; St. John's College, Cambridge, fellow, 1964-74; University of Essex, Colchester, England, lecturer in history, 1974-92, R. A. Butler Professor of History, 1992-98. Military service: Royal Regiment of Artillery, 1954-56.
MEMBER: Royal Historical Society (fellow), British Association of American Studies, Historical Association, American Historical Association, Reform Club London, Survivors Club (Colchester, England; president, 1984-86).
AWARDS, HONORS: Harkness fellow, Commonwealth Fund, 1962-64; fellowship, St. John's College, Cambridge, 1964-74.
Tocqueville, Fontana (London, England), 1973.
(Editor) The American Civil War: Extracts from "The Times," 1860-65, Times Books (London, England), 1975.
The Life of Arthur Ransome, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 1984.
Mowgli's Sons: Kipling and Baden-Powell's Scouts, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 1987.
(Editor) Arthur Ransome, Coots in the North and Other Stories, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 1988.
(With A. P. Kerr) Conversations et Correspondance d'Alexis de Tocqueville et Nassau William Senior, 1991.
(With Charles Mosley) American Presidential Families, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1993.
Kennedy, Longman (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor) Signalling from Mars: The Letters of Arthur Ransome, Pimlico (London, England), 1998.
The Penguin History of the United States of America, 2nd edition, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Contributor of reviews to the Times Literary Supplement, New Statesman, and the Listener.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A biography of Alexis de Tocqueville.
SIDELIGHTS: Hugh Brogan's first book was Tocqueville, a brief monograph on the life and works of Alexis de Tocqueville, the nineteenth-century philosopher, historian, and essayist. Tocqueville's writings on the American and French revolutions and on the character of democracy are still considered relevant, and the man is brought to life by Brogan, who, according to a reviewer for Times Literary Supplement, "writes engagingly. He is direct, neat, amusing." The critic added, "It seems likely that the reader will profit from Mr. Brogan's enthusiasm both for Tocqueville and for the ideals of liberty."
Brogan's continuing interest in the United States was expressed in his next publication, The American Civil War, which presented and commented on essays originally published in the London Times on the subject of the Civil War. Although a reviewer for Times Literary Supplement suggested that the reader heed Brogan's advice to consult a more broad history of the war while reading his book, the critic added: "This small but expert anthology of reports, leaders, letters and other items culled from the contemporary Times is a useful addition to the literature from a British point of view."
Brogan chronicled the life of a celebrated British journalist, nature lover, and children's book author in The Life of Arthur Ransome. Ransome walked away from an unhappy marriage in England to go to Russia, in hopes of gathering a manuscript of the country's folktales. Described by Christopher Hawtree in Spectator as "an essentially simple man whose love of books had led him into a life for which picaresque might be too conservative a description," Ransome returned to England only after consorting with the leaders of the Russian Revolution and reporting on the events of the pivotal decade of 1910-20 for an English newspaper. The biography earned praise from reviewers, including Hawtree, who described the work as "a portrait of the man that is as objective as it is affectionate." Hawtree praised the clarity with which Brogan discusses the complex events that took place during Ransome's stay in Russia, and J. P. Crowther of the London Times noted the part played by "the success of Hugh Brogan's definitive Ransome biography" in the revival of interest in Arthur Ransome in England in the 1980s. Brogan also edited Ransome's unfinished manuscript, titled Coots in the North and Other Stories, which constitutes the last volume in Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" series for children. Remarked Crowther: "Coots in the North is a writer's masterclass of mood, time, and character." Ransome's letters were collected in Signalling from Mars: The Letters of Arthur Ransome. A London Times reviewer noted that Ransome's inability to understand why the daughter he abandoned would later forcefully reject him is "the only really sad note in this book."
Brogan contributed a volume on John F. Kennedy to a British book series titled "Profiles in Power." The author believes that Kennedy was a very important historical figure, on a par with the likes of Napoleon and Oliver Cromwell. His book "does not prove that contention," found John Robert Greene in History: Reviews of New Books, who also faulted the author for his "chatty" writing style. Nevertheless, Greene found Brogan's attention to the significance of Kennedy's writing to be "refreshing," and called his description of Kennedy's run for the presidency "thoughtful and revealing." Esmond Wright, commenting on the book for Contemporary Review, approved of its treatment of foreign policy, Vietnam, and civil rights, and lauded Brogan for writing "with passion yet with objectivity." Wright concluded: "This is a valuable introduction to JFK, and offers a vivid and intelligent commentary on a remarkable personality."
Hugh Brogan told CA: "The only vital subjects are love and money. The rest is silence."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Review, April, 1997, Esmond Wright, review of Kennedy, p. 217; October, 1999, review of The Longman History of the United States of America, 2nd edition, p. 244; June, 2001, review of The Penguin History of the United States of America, 2nd edition, p. 377.
History: Reviews of New Books, fall, 1997, John Robert Greene, review of Kennedy, p. 39.
History: The Journal of the Historical Association, October, 1999, Mark J. White, review of Kennedy, p. 703.
History Today, April, 1994, review of American Presidential Families, p. 57.
Journal of American Studies, April, 1998, Iwan Morgan, review of Kennedy, p. 167.
Observer, July 26, 1992.
Spectator, April 26, 1997, Juliet Townsend, review of Signalling from Mars: The Letters of Arthur Ransome, p. 38; January 21, 1984, Christopher Hawtree, reivew of The Life of Arthur Ransome, p. 22.
Times (London, England), October 29, 1988; March 20, 1997, review of Signalling from Mars, p. 47.
Times Literary Supplement, April 27, 1973; June 13, 1975, p. 680; May 2, 1997, T. J. Binyon, review of Signalling from Mars, p. 36.
University of Essex Web site, http://www.essex.ac.uk/ (July 25, 2005), author bio.*