The long-awaited diaries of Duff Cooper; statesman, soldier, Member of Parliament, wit, poet, diplomat, clubman and scholar; which were very nearly destroyed by his nephew, who was shocked at their frankness. Duff Cooper was a first-rate witness of, and often a first-hand participant in, just about every significant political development that occurred between 1914 and his death forty years later. As a man about town, married to one of the most famously beautiful and remarkable women of her day, a lover of parties and good company and the author of a brilliant biography of Talleyrand, he was also ideally placed to report on the social and literary life of England during the first half of the twentieth century. Winston Churchill and General de Gaulle, Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson, Neville Chamberlain and Lloyd George, Hilaire Belloc and Evelyn Waugh, Laurence Olivier and Noel Coward - these are only a few of the names that people his pages. When this diary opens, the First World War is but a few months old and Duff Cooper is working at the Foreign Office. Eventually allowed to join up, he sees action in France during the final summer of the war and writes evocatively of leading his platoon into action, an engagement that won him the DSO. When he marries Lady Diana Manners at St. Margaret's, Westminster, such is her celebrity that mounted police are needed to hold back the crowds. He is an MP at the time of the General Strike. The abdication of Edward VIII and the Munich crisis are covered in absorbing detail. Here, too, is a brilliant account of the Peace Conference and his years at the Paris Embassy, where he was the first British ambassador after the Allies liberated the city in 1944. But Duff Cooper never underestimated the importance of pleasure, and he rarely neglects to write about the food he ate, the wine he drank and, not least - since he was a romantic through and through - the women he loved, the passages which so shocked his nephew.
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