Bullock, Alan (Louis Charles) Lord 1914-2004

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BULLOCK, Alan (Louis Charles) Lord 1914-2004


Born December 13, 1914, in England; died February 2, 2004; son of Frank Allen Bullock (Unitarian minister); married Hilda Yates Handy, 1940; children: Nicholas, Adrian, Rachel, Matthew. Education: Wadham College, Oxford, Lit. Hum. (first class honours), 1936, M.A. (modern history; first class honours), 1938.


Educator and author. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) European Service, diplomatic correspondent, 1940-45; Oxford University, Oxford, England, New College, fellow, dean, and tutor in modern history, 1945-52, St. Catherine's Society, censor, 1952-62, St. Catherine's College, founding master, 1960-80, vice-chancellor of the university, 1967-73; London Observer, London, England, director, 1977-81. Member of the Arts Council of Great Britain, 1961-64; the British National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers (chairman), 1963-65; the Social Science Research Council, 1966; the British Schools Council (chairman), 1966-69; the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, 1969-73; the Committee on Reading and Other Uses of the English Language (chairman), 1972-74; and the Committee of Enquiry on Industrial Democracy (chairman), 1976. Also member of Advisory Council on the Public Records, Academia Europa, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (foreign member). Also trustee for the Observer, 1957-69, and the Tate Gallery, London (chairman of trustees), 1973-80. Also trustee and fellow of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies.


Honorary doctorate, University of Marseilles; fellow, British Academy; fellow, Royal Academy; named chevalier (knight), Legion d'Honneur, 1972. Created Baron (life peer) of Leafield, 1976. Also honorary fellow of St. Catherine's College (1980), the Royal Institute of British Architects, Wadham College, Merton College, and Linacre College, Oxford.


Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1952, Bantam (New York, NY), 1958, Odhams (London, England), 1959, revised, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1960, 1962, 1971, Penguin (Harmondsworth, England), 1962.

Men, Chance, and History, Lindsey Press (London, England), 1955.

The Life and Times of Ernest Bevin, Volume I: Trade Union Leader, Heineman (London, England), 1960, Volume II: Minister of Labour and National Service, 1940-1945, Heineman (London, England), 1967, Volume III: Foreign Secretary, 1945-1951, Oxford University Press (London, England), 1983, republished in one volume as Ernest Bevin: A Biography, edited by Brian Brivati, foreword by Peter Hennessy, Politico's (London, England), 2002.

(Author of introduction) Cas Oorthuys, Term in Oxford, Viking Press (New York, NY), 1963.

Die Grossen Ströme Europas, R. Löwit (Weisbaden, Germany), 1966.

(Author of introduction) Great Rivers of Europe, Weidenfield and Nicholson (London, England), 1966.

A Language for Life: Report of the Committee of Inquiry Appointed by the Secretary of State for Education and Science under the Chairmanship of Sir Alan Bullock (also known as the "Bullock Report"), H.M.S.O. (London, England), 1975.

(With Oliver Stallybrass) The Harper Dictionary of Modern Thought, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1977, published as The Fontana Dictionary ofModern Thought, Collins (London, England), 1977, revised, with Stephen Trombly and Bruce Eadie, 1988, republished as The Harper Dictionary of Modern Thought, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1988, revised with Stephen Trombly and published as The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought, HarperCollins (London, England), 1999.

Has History a Future?, Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies (Palo Alto, CA), 1977.

Is History Becoming a Social Science?: The Case of Contemporary History, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1977.

Twentieth-Century Genius: 250 Biographies of the People Who Shaped the Greatest Period in Human History, Exeter Books, 1981.

The Past and the Future: Two Lectures, Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies (New York, NY), 1982.

Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary, 1945-1951, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1983.

The Humanist Tradition in the West (lectures), Norton (New York, NY), 1985, Thames and Hudson (London, England), 1985.

Domenico Tordi e il carteggio colonnese della Biblioteca nazionale di Firenze (biography), L. S. Olschki (Firenze, Italy), 1986.

Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (archives), L. S. Olschki (Firenze, Italy), 1991.

Natalia Ginzburg: Human Relationships in a Changing World, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives, Knopf (New York, NY), 1991, Fontana Press (London, England), 1998.

(Author of foreword) John Pimlott, The Historical Atlas of World War II, H. Holt (New York, NY), 1995.

(With Walter Schellenberg and Louis Hagen) The Labyrinth: Memoirs of Walter Schellenberg, Hitler's Chief of Counterintelligence, DaCapo Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Building Jerusalem: A Portrait of My Father, Allen Lane (London, England), 2000.


Germany's Colonial Demands, Oxford University Press (London, England), 1939, with a concluding chapter by Vincent Harlow, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1975.

(With Noël F. Newsome) Europe Liberated, Staples Press (London, England), 1945.

(With M. Shock) The Liberal Tradition: From Fox to Keynes, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1956, A & C Black (London, England), 1956, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1957.

A Select List of Books on European History, 1815-1914, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1957.

(With Gerald Barry and others) The Doubleday Pictorial Library of World History, illustrated and designed by Hans Erni, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1962.

A New English History, Evans Bros. (London, England), 1969.

(And contributor) The Twentieth Century: A Promethean Age, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1971, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1971.

The Faces of Europe, Phaidon Press (Oxford, England), 1980.

Rime: Vittoria Colonna, G. Laterza (Rome, Italy), 1982.

Le Voci della Sera: Natalia Ginzburg, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1982.

(With R. B. Woodings and John Cumming) Twentieth-Century Culture: A Biographical Companion, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1983, published as The Fontana Biographical Companion to Modern Thought, Collins (London, England), 1983.

(With Stephen Trombley) The Norton Dictionary of Modern Thought, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1999.

Bullock is also the author of "Hitler and the Origins of the Second World War" in The Origins of the Second World War, edited by Esmonde Robertson, MacMillan (London, England), 1971; John Wheeler Wheeler-Bennett, 1902-1975, British Academy; and Great Britain in the World of the Twentieth Century. Also author of reports for various government committees in Great Britain. Also general editor, with F. W. Deakin, of the textbook series Oxford History of Modern Europe.

Bullock's works have been translated into other languages, including German and Italian.


Lord Alan Bullock, distinguished historian and founding master of Oxford University's St. Catherine's College, wrote several notable books on twentieth-century European history. One of his most highly regarded works is Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, published in 1952 and long considered a definitive work on the life of the Nazi leader. Viewing the volume in retrospect, John Campbell noted in the London Times that "despite a steady flow of fresh evidence and reinterpretation, it has not been surpassed in nearly forty years." Critic Norman Davies stated in the New York Times Book Review that Bullock's "knowledge of Germany and the Nazi Reich is formidable, and his evaluation of Hitler stands largely undented." In addition to his work on Adolph Hitler, Bullock has also been noted for his exhaustive political biography of British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, as well as the 1975 report A Language for Life—commonly referred to as the "Bullock Report," which proved greatly influential in reforming the English language curriculum within the British educational system.

Bullock published the first of three volumes comprising The Life and Times of Ernest Bevin in 1960. In this unprecedented work, Bullock explored the life of Ernest Bevin, whose pioneering efforts within Britain's trade unions propelled him to a position, first, as minister of labour under Winston Churchill during World War II and, later, to British foreign secretary from 1945 until his death in 1951. "Bullock marshals the mass of material—of circulars, orders, memoranda, reports, bills and speeches—which might easily have made so dull a story, into a truly absorbing whole," noted a reviewer in the Listener, adding that, "It is very difficult to fault him on the most minor point of detail, and the shape of the whole is maintained throughout." With the publication of Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary, 1945-1951 in 1983, Bullock's massive work was complete. "Long in coming, it arrives triumphantly," concluded Stephen Koss in the New York Times Book Review, "and stands as a major landmark in the crowded field of modern political biography. Like Bevin himself, it is large in girth, forthright in its judgments and disarmingly unconventional."

While Bullock's Hitler: A Study of Tyranny has stood the test of time as a comprehensive biography of that controversial figure, the historian again returned to the subject in Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives, published in 1991. Interweaving the life of the German dictator with a detailed biography of Josef Stalin, Bullock incorporated the wealth of scholarship that has been generated over the past decades into a panorama that encompasses not only these two men, but also much of twentieth-century Europe: the Russian Revolution, the growing Nazi movement, World War II, and the growth of Communism in the newly-formed Soviet Union. Reviewing the 1,100-page Hitler and Stalin, Paul Johnson remarked in the Times Literary Supplement that although the history is heavily documented with biography and narrative accounts, there is little analysis of the influence of each man on the other, nor of the effect of the epoch within which they lived on their rise to power. "With less description and more elucidation," Johnson wrote, "Lord Bullock might have given us a more valuable and certainly less unwieldy book." Campbell, however, praised the book and its author, stating, "Serious historians do not often tackle such huge themes.… It sounds like a recipe for confusion, irritation and indigestion. In fact, it works brilliantly. The book is a triumph of organisation, lucidity, and perspective." Johnson also questioned the assumption underlying Bullock's work; that Stalin's "right-wing" Marxism and the fascist philosophies of Hitler stood in political opposition. Johnson described Stalin and Hitler as "pseudo-intellectuals" familiar both with nineteenth-and twentieth-century political philosophy: "It is vital to grasp that they shared much of the same ideological genealogy," he noted, "and worth while going back a bit to see exactly what it was." While praising the revisionist viewpoint that allowed Bullock to view Stalin in the same "rogues' gallery" as Hitler, Davies cautioned against the historian's overall conservative perspective. "He belongs by temperament to the cautious, common-sense school of history," noted Davies, "with a touch of his native Yorkshire's obstinacy thrown in; he is reluctant to enter the war of ideas." However, Ronald Spector praised Bullock's "monumental" work in the Washington Post Book World. "The writing is invariably interesting and informed and there are new insights and cogent analysis in every chapter," Spector wrote of Hitler and Stalin. "Altogether, it is an impressive literary and scholarly achievement."

Among many other editorial projects, Bullock—with the aid of author, film director, and editor Stephen Trombley—undertook the editing of the 1999 revision of the Norton Dictionary of Modern Thought, an encyclopedia written by a mix of scholars, artists, and scientists who highlight specialized areas of knowledge and break them down in layman's terms for the interest and education of the general public. A Booklist contributor reported that the target audience for TheNorton Dictionary of Modern Thought is "educated people who recognize that there are some areas of knowledge about which they know practically nothing. Editor Bullock notes that most of us never give up the attempt to explore our areas of ignorance." The contributor attributed this ignorance to a "formidable barrier of unfamiliar language, terms, and concepts," voicing that the key to this publication's success is that it is "written by experts using simple language," and concluding that "this is an excellent ready-reference source that packs a tremendous amount of information into one handy volume."

In 2000, Bullock published Building Jerusalem: A Portrait of My Father, in which he disclosed the details of the life of his father, Frank Bullock, who worked his way up from gardening apprentice to Unitarian minister. Bullock related how his father was raised as a Congregationalist, but turned to Unitarianism later in life. The Frank Bullock of Building Jerusalem is portrayed as an exceptionally hard worker. During the day he worked as a fruit farmer, and at night he studied a variety of subjects, including history, literature, and theology. His life was built on learning and sharing his love of God with others. "Family biography is always a risky enterprise, and sons who write about their fathers usually attract more psychological analysis than literary criticism," remarked reviewer Roy Hattersley in a review of Building Jerusalem for London's Times. "Affection is said to outweigh judgment.… The son can only escape the allegation of dubious intention if the father is so intrinsically interesting that, filial piety aside, he deserves a biography. Even then it must be written with affectionate objectivity and relate its subject to the history of its time.… Alan Bullock's Building Jerusalem passes every one of the tests and is, in consequence, a minor classic," Hattersley concluded.

In 2002, Bullock's trilogy on Ernest Bevin was republished in one volume as Ernest Bevin: A Biography. The work was edited by historian Brian Brivati, who cut the works down to approximately half their original size. Regardless, the new work contains over eight hundred pages on the life of the British politician. "The fact that no other lives of Bevin have appeared is [a] tribute to its comprehensiveness," stated Andrew Roberts in a review of Ernest Bevin for London's Sunday Telegraph. In a Times Literary Supplement review, Mark Wickham-Jones speculated that "no doubt future research will unearth new points about Bevin's life and work, and different interpretations of his achievements will be made." Wickham-Jones concluded, however, that "for the present, this serves well as the commanding account." In New Statesman, critic Edward Vaizey expressed hope that the publication of Ernest Bevin "will introduce a new generation to a great politician." He also expressed an admiration for its author, commenting that Bullock was "like Bevin, a combative man with a gritty Yorkshire exterior" and "one of the best historians and academics." Bullock passed away on February 2, 2004. Stated professor and master of St. Catherine's College, Oxford, Roger Ainsworth, "Lord Bullock's energy and vision were renowned for stimulating academics and students alike. The pre-eminence of his academic writing, and his creative dynamism which led to the founding of St. Catherine's, provide an enduring legacy."



Almanac of Famous People, 6th edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998, 8th edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2003.

The Blue Book, Leaders of the English-Speaking world, 1976 edition, St. James Press (London England), 1976, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), n.d., reprinted in two volumes, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1979.

Debrett's People of Today, Debrett's Peerage Ltd. (London, England), 2002.

Myers, Robin, compiler and editor, A Dictionary of Literature in the English Language. From 1940 to 1970, Pergamon Press (Oxford, England), 1978.

Parry, Melanie, editor, Chambers Biographical Dictionary, 6th edition, Larousse Kingfisher Chambers (New York, NY), 1997.

Stringer, Jenny, editor, The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Literature in English, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Ward, A. C., Longman Companion to Twentieth Century Literature, Longman Group (London, England), 1970.


American Reference Books Annual, 2001, review of The Norton Dictionary of Modern Thought, p. 13.

Booklist, December 1, 1999, review of The Norton Dictionary of Modern Thought, p. 724.

Choice, March, 2000, D. G. Davis, Jr., review of The Norton Dictionary of Modern Thought, p. 1258.

Historian, winter, 1993, Ken Wolf, review of Hitler and Stalin, pp. 332-333.

Illustrated London News, April 29, 1967.

Journal of Modern History, March, 1995, Theodore S. Hamerow, review of Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives, pp. 124-125.

Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Guide, May, 1994, review of Hitler and Stalin, p. 34.

Listener, April 27, 1967, pp. 563-564.

New Statesman, March 25, 2002, Edward Vaizey, review of Ernest Bevin: A Biography, p. 56.

New York Times Book Review, May 6, 1984, pp. 13-14; March 22, 1992, pp. 3, 31; January 30, 1994, review of Hitler and Stalin, p. 28; June 5, 1994, review of Hitler and Stalin, p. 60.

Observer (London, England), April 16, 1967; June 28, 1998, review of Hitler and Stalin, p. 18.

Punch, May 3, 1967, p. 655.

Sixteenth Century Journal, summer, 1997, Konrad Eisenbichler, "Le Rime," pp. 615-616.

Sunday Telegraph (London, England), March 31, 2002, Andrew Roberts, review of Ernest Bevin, p. 13.

Times (London, England), November 10, 1983; June 22, 1991, p. 21; January 20, 2000, Roy Hattersley, "When 'Honor Thy Father' Isn't an Empty Phrase: Book Reviews," review of Building Jerusalem: A Portrait of My Father, p. 42; January 13, 2001, "The Wallenberg Story: The Great Men Whose Fate Was Shaped by Hitler and Stalin," p. 25.

Times Higher Education Supplement, January 21, 2000, Jonathan Ree, review of The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought, pp. 26-27; March 17, 2000, May Warnock, review of Building Jerusalem, p. 24.

Times Literary Supplement, April 20, 1967; July 5, 1991, pp. 4-6; March 10, 2000, John Whale, review of Building Jerusalem, p. 34; July 6, 2002, Mark Wickham-Jones, review of Ernest Bevin, p. 32.

Washington Post Book World, May 3, 1992, p. 4.


National Archives Learning Curve Web site,http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ (February 19, 2004), "Alan Bullock."

St. Catherine's College, Oxford Web site,http://www.stcatz.ox.ac.uk/ (February 19, 2004), "Lord Bullock, 1914-2004."

University of Leeds,http://www.leeds.ac.uk/ (February 19, 2004), "Honorary Graduands: Alan Bullock."

W. W. Norton and Company Web site,http://www.wwnorton.com/ (February 19, 2004), description of The Norton Dictionary of Modern Thought.



Time, February 6, 2004, "Milestones," p. 23.


Guardian Web site,http://www.guardian.co.uk/ (February 3, 2004), "Lord Bullock of Leafield."

Herald Sun Web site,http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/ (February 4, 2004), "UK Historian Alan Bullock Dies."

USA Today Web site,http://www.usatoday.com/ (February 3, 2004), "Hitler Biographer Alan Bullock Dies at 89."*