Historians invited by Gordon Brown (himself a historian) to dinner in honor of Bush

Historians in the News

For some it was a chance to audition as the President’s ghostwriter after he leaves office. For others it was an opportunity to ponder how future generations might see the 43rd incumbent of the White House. For a minority it was all about the Churchillian menu of beef, trifle and 1934 brandy.

Only the fancy dress was missing from Sunday night’s history-themed party inside 10 Downing Street, thrown as a final send-off for George Bush before he leaves Europe for the final time as President.

While Gordon Brown has devoted his life to only one party, his wife, Sarah, was on hand to prove herself quite the formidable hostess, rolling out Britain’s historical establishment to meet Mr Bush. She had, aides said, spent weeks overseeing every detail down to the table plan.

And for once the political differences inside Downing Street were there to be celebrated.

In one corner was Simon Schama, who labelled Mr Bush as an “absolute f***ing catastrophe” in 2006. In another was Andrew Roberts, who is close to Mr Bush and his inner circle and was displaying a pair of presidential cufflinks he was given the last time they met.

He told The Times that it was “a completely wonderful and fabulous occasion — I sat next to the President. We talked about the interaction between history, politics, and personalities. That is about as far as I can go because it was a private dinner.”

Alistair Horne, another of the guests, had also met Mr Bush before and has discussed with him in the White House the parallels between Iraq and the “savage war of peace” in Algeria half a century ago.

He said: “You think about prime ministers and presidents being surrounded by cabinet officials, aides and so forth but at the end of the day, they are alone. They’re lonely.”

Downing Street aides said that Mr Bush changed seats several times over the evening, as Mr Brown strove to introduce his guest to as many people as possible.

The evening allowed both President and Prime Minister to wallow in their favourite subject of British history, with many of the guests, including Alistair Horne, David Cannadine and Valmai Holt, experts in military history and the rise and fall of Empire.

Of particular interest to Mr Bush would have been Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill. Mr Bush is fascinated by Churchill and once declared that he was an “admirer of his career, admirer of his strength, admirer of his character — so much so that I keep a stern-looking bust of Sir Winston in the Oval Office. He watches my every move.”...
Read entire article at Times (UK)

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