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These days, expenditure on health amounts on average to some 9 per cent of gross domestic product in the prosperous nations of the West. Whether through direct taxation, social security, social health insurance or private means, it’s a substantial amount.
The parliamentary papers of the UK are one of the most important sources for the history of the UK and its former colonies in the 18th and 19th centuries, in their original form a series of thousands of printed reports.
Andrew Thorpe’s fourth edition of A History of the British Labour Party provides a much needed update to what has become one of the leading volumes on the Labour Party since its first edition in 1997. The book, spanning 412 pages, provides an engaging read into the history of the Labour Party.
In Joseph Heller’s 1979 novel Good As Gold, the hapless protagonist, college professor and would-be public intellectual Bruce Gold, writes a light-hearted magazine article entitled ‘Nothing Succeeds As Planned’. He sends a copy to his contact at the White House, the ineffable Ralph Newsome, who is delighted with it. ‘I can’t tell you how you’re boggling our minds’, Newsome tells Gold.
In December 1916 the new British prime minister, David Lloyd George, sought to overcome the problems of waging the First World War through an unwieldy Cabinet by establishing a smaller, streamlined mechanism, the War Cabinet. He also set up a secretariat, the cabinet office, which would be overseen by the cabinet secretary, Maurice Hankey, and his deputy, Tom Jones.
A Man and an Institution is in reality three books combined into one. It is, first, a contribution to a biography of Sir Maurice Hankey, the first Cabinet Secretary; second, a history of the origins of the Cabinet Office and its development until Hankey’s retirement in 1938; and third, an account of how the Cabinet Office came to be the guardian of official secrecy.
It is one of those quirky features of our ancient, but constantly changing, Constitution that one particular Cabinet Office document may warrant such an extensive enquiry. However, Amy Baker's Prime Ministers and the Rule Book rises to the challenge and produces a convincing and illuminating study.
'The Oratory of Triumph'
For at least the first half of the twentieth century, Scottish history could be said to have stopped in 1707. The history of the Scottish nation was the history of Bruce, Wallace and the Douglases; of knights in armour, cross-border warfare and corrupt priests.