Reviews


Allies
The United States, Britain, Europe and the War in Iraq

William Shawcross is one of a handful of European intellectuals who have bravely resisted the Gadarene rush to condemn Bush and Blair for liberating a country accurately described as 'a prison above ground and a mass grave beneath it. Shawcross's well-informed, lucid account of events leading up to (and beyond) the war explains why Bush and Blair were prepared to take such enormous risks, not just with their political careers, but with the lives of twentysomething farm boys from the Carolinas or motor mechanics from Middlesbrough. Shawcross's brilliant account of high-level diplomacy is unsparingly damning of the slippery Chirac and Schröder. Let's hope that Shawcross is right in believing that the coalition leaders have the will to stay that particular course. If they don't, we will all bear the terrible consequences.

Michael Burleigh, Sunday Times (London), 14 December 2003

William Shawcross's Allies is a work of courage and clarity, a plainly, sometimes plaintively, argued piece of common sense that brings the debate back to the ground on which it too rarely stands Shawcross should be attended to not least because he has argued himself into his present position from one who was opposed: his Sideshow was an indictment of the US bombing of Cambodia. But in three decades of international reporting, including extensive writing on the UN, he has come to share the once-common, now reviled, belief that American commitment and American sacrifice are essential to the world... We live in genuinely strange and disappointing times, when the majority party of the left [Labour] has truned on a leader who has been the leading proponent of the overthrow of tyrannies. Shawcross is an antidote to these out-of-joint times: he may make a large contribution to setting them right.

John Lloyd, Herald (Glasgow), 20 December 2003

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William Shawcross's Allies is expanded and updated from his Harkness Lecture in the spring, a lucid and judicious analysis of the ways in which the challenge posed by Iraq was unlike anything previously faced by the postwar Western consensus. Shawcross gives a useful account of the development of neo-conservative thought, providing a useful corrective to some of the more absurd travesties that have hindered helpful debate.

Ian Macintyre, The Times (London), 10 January 2003

Allies is an articulate, informed presentation of the core relationship between George Bush and Tony Blair that has had such an impact on British politics Allies has its real value in its lucid and hugely readable understanding of the Bush/Blair outlook.

Paul Rogers, Independent, 22 December 2003

Allies is an account of the Iraqi crisis, its causes and consequences. Writing in persuasive prose and relying mostly on material from the media, Shawcross lets the record speak for itself... With cogency and passion, Allies makes the case that this [anti-American] kind of prejudice is disgraceful in itself a negation of reality and a potential threat to the west and to the whole world order.

David Pryce-Jones, Sunday Telegraph, 14 December 2003

There is something sad about this book. William Shawcross made his name with one of the greatest pieces of journalism, Sideshow, about the destruction of Cambodia by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. He has written some of the most committed writing on the revolutions that toppled communism in Eastern Europe. One does not have to follow Shawcross's trajectory from the Left to the neoconservative Right to admire his moral tenacity.. I am pretty sure I loathe Saddam more than Shawcross does, having had the accursed honour of seeing so much of his butchery at first hand. But this is how Shawcross's book becomes useful, and challenging. Along with his neocon politics, Shawcross's eagerness for invasion is also rooted in the most compelling section of the book, where he discusses betrayal of the persecuted in Bosnia and Rwanda by international design, Europe's didactic negligence, and what Shawcross calls the 'complicity' of the UN. This is the moment after which Blair led the Americans into Kosovo, calling it 'the first progressive war'. I think it is incumbent on those of us who agree with Shawcross on Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosovo, but who dissent on Iraq, to concede that we have a case to answer. The argument will develop as America's intentions in Iraq play out

Ed Vulliamy, in The Observer, 28 December 2003.


It all seemed so simple. Either you were for the invasion of Iraq or against it; either you believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or you didn't; either you thought Saddam was too dangerous to trust or you didn't; either you thought George Bush was right or that he was a hypocritical, bullying, imperialist oil-grabber. William Shawcross, like The Economist, was in the former of all those categories and is unrepentant about it. The point of this short, polemical book is to explain why. In also telling the story of the build-up to war, though, it shows how the issues weren't simple at all. Which is one big reason why the war took place.

The Economist
, 30 January 2004

Shawcross's book is a passionate polemic in defence of the decision to go to war, written with the verve and vigour of one would expect from this author. Shawcross's two chief villains are President Jaques Chirac of France and the British chattering classes. Chancellor Gerhardt Schröder of Germany and, even more so, President Vladimir Putin of Russia get off more lightly. This allocation of responsibility is probably well justified, even before the misguided showmanship of France's foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin made it unavoidable. As to the chattering classes, Shawcross demonstrates the extent to which their opposition was fuelled not only by strongly held positions of principle but, in many instances, also by visceral anti-Americanism.

David Hannay, TLS, 13 February 2004


Queen & Country

Shawcross's thesis that the Queen's unchanging nature has been invaluable in a half century when British society has suffered bewildering changes is not new, but is well argued and impressively buttressed with sound historical commentary. What is quite new is the generous portrait of an attractive and funny woman.

Andrew Roberts, Sunday Telegraph


This engaging documentary, with commentary by William Shawcross, offers up a new and appealing profile of the Queen. It shows a woman who chooses her public persona very carefully, despite the fact it masks a woman of intelligence, humour, wit and diverse interests.

Tony Johnston, Sunday Herald Sun


The BBC's four part series on the Queen is a wonderful piece of TV. In fact, we would argue it is one of the best and most revealing documentaries the Beeb has ever commissioned. William Shawcross, who made the series, humanises the Queen in a way we have not seen before.The Queen comes over as a witty, likeable, feisty, intelligent lady who has borne the burden of monarchy with great style. Better still, the Royals emerge as a resilient family with a sense of humour- and a real affection for each other. Shawcross has not done this through spin. He has done it by allowing the viewer to see the real family.This series will change the way ordinary Brits view the Monarchy for ever. It is a TRIUMPH.

The Sun


Queen and Country (is) a serious historical documentary fronted by a respected journalist William Shawcross .No BBC series with this kind of access could be expected to put the boot in, but to what extent should the documentary get down on one knee ? Realising how risky opinion is, the solution of Shawcross and his producer, John Bridcut, is to concentrate on what all good history should attempt : the sharp, small, unexpected detaisl from the past.

Mark Lawson, Guardian.

Deliver Us From Evil

Shawcross is quite simply one of the best reporters of his generation. In this remarkable but disturbing book he takes us on a tour of the past decade's worst international trouble spots.

Daily Mail

The title is precisely the theme of this dramatic and stimulating book... Shawcross describes recent examples vividly and with feeling, sparing us no astrocities.

The Sunday Telegraph

The most readable account of UN peacekeeping you are ever likely to get your hands on.

Financial Times

The world still has much to learn about how to combat evil, but this book makes an outstanding contribution to that learning experience.

The Sunday Times

The book is both a political history of the 'nineties, detailing the various international episodes in which the UN has intervened, and a philosophical examination of the wider issues involved.

The Week

William Shawcross stands as the foremost journalist of his generation, and his stature in this book is not so much observer as moral participant... this is an admirable book by an admirable man.

The Irish Times

It would be a miracle if every politician, UN and national government official, NGO worker, and soldier read this book. But it would be a start.

The Times

...a highly readable account... political leaders would do well to read thisbook.

Mail on Sunday

A panoramic account of conflicts and humanitarian interventions.

The Independent

Shawcross's book is long overdue.

Observer

An important contribution to an ongoing debate.

New Statesman

It is an intellectual pleasure to read William Shawcross ... clear-sighted, objectiveand rational [and] a relief from the usual fare of fantasising served up by our standing army of the self-righteous. When you finish the book you will feel that, finally, you understand. This is an honest book by an honest reporter.

Sunday Independent

With this book Shawcross holds a mirror up to ourselves as we respond ineffectively to the world's horrors.

Glasgow Herald

An experienced observer of the world's troubled spots, Shawcross offers a sobering account of what are now well known paradoxes of international peacekeeping and relief efforts. [He] offers a useful reality check for all those well-meaning people who clamour for the United Nations to do something when the dark side of human nature stirs trouble in some remote corner of the world.

Glasgow Sunday Herald

A meticulously researched book, with new insights into the wars of the 1990s and the world's complex reaction to them. More than any writer before him Shawcross has attempted to analyse the consequences, failures and achievements of the UN peacekeeping mission, Shawcross excels.

Literary Review