Roberts, Andrew 1963-
ROBERTS, Andrew 1963-
PERSONAL: Born January 13, 1963, in London, England; son of Simon (a company director) and Katie (Hilary-Collins) Roberts. Education: Attended Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Politics: Conservative. Religion: Church of England.
ADDRESSES: Home and office—19 Collingham Place, London SW5 0QF, England. Agent—A. Lownie, 15 Heddon St., London WC2 2LF, England.
CAREER: Robert Fleming and Co., London, England, investment banker, 1985-88; writer. Director of private companies.
The Holy Fox: A Biography of Lord Halifax, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1991.
Eminent Churchillians, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1994, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
The Aachen Memorandum, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1995.
Salisbury: Victorian Titan, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1999.
(With Antonia Fraser) The House of Windsor, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA) 2000.
Napoleon and Wellington: The Long Duel, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2001, published as Napoleon and Wellington: The Battle of Waterloo—And the Great Commanders Who Fought It, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: British author Andrew Roberts is the author of several books of history, from the 1991 The Holy Fox: A Biography of Lord Halifax to Napoleon and Wellington, published in 2001. In his first title, Roberts provides a revisionist account of Lord Halifax, a one-time viceroy to India and the Foreign Secretary in Prime Minister Chamberlain's government. Long charged with appeasement, along with his Prime Minister, Lord Halifax in fact began to move his government away from that policy vis-à-vis Hitler's Germany, according to Roberts, and wisely made way for Winston Churchill to become prime minister instead of himself. "The scholarship is sound and the account is thoroughly readable," noted Keith Robbins in the English Historical Review. Robbins further commented that "Roberts perhaps overstates the extent of the Foreign Secretary's role in abandoning appeasement, but his study is generally cogent and worth careful attention." A reviewer for the Economist also found Roberts's account praiseworthy, noticing that his narrative "grips and convinces," though he also felt that Halifax still "emerges from these friendly pages as just the cold, compromising nobleman of legend." And reviewing the same title in History Today, Steven Fielding felt that "Roberts writes with some elegance and to good effect."
Roberts next published a best-selling collection of essays about friends and enemies of Winston Churchill, entitled Eminent Churchillians. Reviewing that book, a contributor to the Economist wrote that Roberts, "a young right-wing revisionist historian from Cambridge, has brought off an odd feat. He follows his first book, 'The Holy Fox,' a rightly acclaimed life of Edward Wood, Lord Halifax, with a much ruder and a much worse one . . . written in a tone calculated to infuriate the old, the staid and the loyal." A large part of the book is an attack on Lord Mountbatten and other prominent members of the ruling class. Roberts's essays managed to rub many the wrong way, in and out of the press. However, Kenneth O. Morgan, writing in New Statesman & Society, called the book a "sparky collection of essays," both "forceful and opinionated," which "provide an excellent read by a very promising young scholar." Reviewing the American publication of Eminent Churchillians, a contributor for Publishers Weekly was less complimentary, calling it a "slashing and unsettling reappraisal of key figures in Britain of the period 1940-55." Among these was Roberts's portrayal of Churchill as a "profound, unrepentant racist and white supremacist." And Booklist's Gilbert Taylor concluded that "Roberts pushes World War II revisionism to a new—some might say snarlingly scandalous—level."
Roberts also tackled a heavyweight of the nineteenth century—Lord Salisbury; his Salisbury: Victorian Titan weighed in at almost one thousand pages. "This is a big book because the author has a lot to say," wrote Richard Wilkinson in History Review, "both about the importance of Salisbury's career and about his unusual and entertaining personality. My interest never flagged." Salisbury, who dominated Victorian politics, held high office for twenty-one years, for thirteen of which he was Prime Minister. Yet he is, according to a reviewer for the Economist, "unpopular or neglected among historians and biographers." In fact he is one of those leaders whom few historians bother to research—something of an unsolved puzzle. "Andrew Roberts's new biography helps answer the puzzle," commented the Economist reviewer. "Even if Mr. Roberts is enthusiastic about his subject for all the wrong reasons, this biography represents an achievement." Wilkinson also had praise for Roberts's research and writing: "Roberts brilliantly establishes what a character Salisbury was. Nothing could be further from the stereotype of Victorian grandee."
In Napoleon and Wellington, Roberts compares the two leaders who met each other in battle at Waterloo. Roberts organizes this unusual double biography chronologically, from their births in 1769, and their subsequent famous rivalry throughout the Napoleonic Wars. In his study, Roberts once again takes to task the received interpretation of this rivalry. "The chief triumph of this book is its depiction of Wellington," commented a critic for the Economist. "He remains a great general, but is shown to have had feet of clay inside those famous boots .... [The book] redefines Wellington without diminishing his achievements." Praise for Roberts's book also came from Christopher Hibbert in the London Sunday Times, noting that though the "field of Napoleonic studies may be a crowded one . . . Roberts, one of our brightest young historians, is by no means overshadowed in his new book." Hibbert found Napoleon and Wellington "well written and well organised" and as "entertaining as it is instructive . . . , original and judicious both as military and personal history." Jeremy Black, writing in History Today, called the book a "sparkling new work [which] offers a different approach, a study of the personal relationship between Napoleon and Wellington and of the way it changed across their careers." Black further noted that Roberts avoids "the stodgy route of joint biography," but instead "focuses on what each man thought, wrote and said about the other." Black also had praise for the narrative itself: "Beautifully written, stuffed full with a fabulous cast, and proceeding by a series of excellent anecdotes...."A "brilliant work," Black concluded.
In a Spectator review of Napoleon and Wellington, Jane Ridley remarked that "Roberts has an enviable knack for hitting on neat, sexy subjects which combine history and biography and give a fresh spin to old chestnuts."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 1995, Gilbert Taylor, review of Eminent Churchillians, pp. 1857-1858.
Contemporary Review, January, 1995, p. 56.
Economist, March 30, 1991, review of The Holy Fox, p. 86; August 6, 1994, review of Eminent Churchillians, pp. 71-72; November 13, 1999, "British Politicians: Just Say No," p. 7; September 29, 2001, "Fighting Words: Napoleon and Wellington."
English Historical Review, September, 1994, Keith Robbins, review of The Holy Fox, pp. 1031-1032.
Foreign Affairs, November-December, 1995, pp. 127-128.
History Review, March, 2001, Richard Wilkinson, review of Salisbury: Victorian Titan, p. 51.
History Today, March, 1994, Steven Fielding, review of The Holy Fox, p. 55; January, 1996, Steven Fielding, review of Eminent Churchillians, p. 56; December, 2001, Jeremy Black, review of Napoleon and Wellington, p. 54.
Library Journal, June 15, 2001, Michael Rogers, review of The House of Windsor, p. 108.
New Leader, October 9, 1995, pp. 16-18.
New Statesman & Society, August 12, 1994, Kenneth O. Morgan, review of Eminent Churchillians, p. 36.
Publishers Weekly, June 5, 1995, review of Eminent Churchillians, p. 47.
Spectator, September 18, 1999, Jane Ridley, review of Salisbury: Victorian Titan, pp. 54-55; August 25, 2001, Jane Ridley, review of Napoleon and Wellington, p. 30.
Sunday Times (London), September 9, 2001, Christopher Hibbert, "The Best of Enemies," p. 35.
Times Literary Supplement, October 22, 1999, p. 3.
Andrew Roberts Home Page,http://www.andrewroberts.net/ (January 28, 2002).
"Roberts, Andrew 1963-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 19, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/roberts-andrew-1963-0
"Roberts, Andrew 1963-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Retrieved January 19, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/roberts-andrew-1963-0
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