Allan Massie

Allan Massie

Allan Massie is an author and journalist. He has written more than twenty novels, most recently the Bordeaux Quartet, crime novels set in France during the years of the German Occupation 1940-45. He reviews books for The Wall Street Journal, The Scotsman and The Spectator. He lives with his wife in the Scottish Borders, and is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Neville Chamberlain

Lit Crit

Harris Takes On ‘Munich’

The other evening I chaired an event in Edinburgh at which Robert Harris was introducing his splendid new novel, Munich. It’s sure to be a best-seller, deservedly, and Harris has reached a rare and enviable position in which his novels are ...


Who Can Say?

Long before I started writing about politics, I learned one important lesson: What is said to be inevitable doesn’t necessarily happen. Way back in 1965 I read a book by the distinguished American columnist Richard Rovere. I can’t remember the ...

Environmental Snafus

Why Risk It?

Twenty years or so ago I was doubtful about climate change and global warming. This was partly because I remembered that back in the 1970s we were being threatened with a new ice age. I recall an apocalyptic article in The Times, written, I think, ...

International Affairs

Engaging the Hermit Kingdom

Writing about an international crisis a couple of days before publication risks making you look like a fool—okay, a bigger fool than usual. Politicians, of course, suffer likewise. In the first days of the Norway campaign in 1940, Neville ...


Out of Bounds?

The young man at the supermarket checkout asked me if I would be watching the fight. “No,” I said, “more a media event than sport.” He wasn’t convinced. He would be paying to watch it, and he was backing Conor McGregor to win. I didn’t ...

Panjshir, Afghanistan

International Affairs

History Lessons

“History teaches us no lessons but we insist on trying to learn from it.” That’s the first sentence of a Spectator review of John Bew’s admirable biography of Clement Attlee, Labour’s most successful prime minister. It’s an extraordinary ...


Looking Backwards

Few people will speak in favor of slavery now. It’s illegal in every country with any claim to being civilized. I doubt if even the white supremacists who brought violence to Charlottesville, Va., last weekend would wish to reintroduce what was ...

Looking Back

Hitler’s Survival

Robert Harris’ new novel, Munich, will be published in September. It’s too early to review it, but I’ve read a proof copy and can say it’s as intelligent and gripping as one has come to expect from Harris, while the depictions of Chamberlain ...


Swearing Up and Down

What I take to be a very well-oiled revolving door has ejected Mr. Scaramucci from the White House before he had properly got in. I’m not, for the moment anyway, concerned with the rapidly changing cast list of the Trump administration, even ...

Westminster, U.K.


The Shipbuilder’s Words

In the first chapter of Shadows of Empire, a novel I wrote twenty years ago, an old shipbuilder and shipping magnate, in conversation with his grandson, my narrator, speaks up in 1906 for Free Trade. "€œGlasgow,"€ he says, "€œwas built on ...


A Question of Courage

John Lodwick was a British author"€”Anglo-Irish, really"€”who had an adventurous war, to put it mildly, wrote a dozen or so novels, and was killed in a car crash in Spain when he was only 43. A good biography by Geoffrey Elliott has just been ...

International Affairs

Patience and Time

In War and Peace Tolstoy has Russian generals urging the commander in chief Marshal Kutuzov to stand and fight Napoleon instead of continuing to retreat. He refuses. "€œPatience and Time,"€ he says. "€œPatience and Time will save Russia."€ ...