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 "The British Press and Germany",
a review by Carroll Quigley in Georgetown Today, January 1972,
of a book:
THE BRITISH PRESS AND GERMANY, 1936-1939,
by Franklin Reid Gannon.
Oxford University Press: New York, 1971

 

"The British Press and Germany"

 

The British Press and Germany, 1936-1939.
By Franklin Reid Gannon, Ph.D.,
Oxford University Press, New York, N.Y. 1971. 314 pages.

 

 

   Georgetowners of the early 1960s will remember Frank Gannon (FS '64) as the most prominent undergraduate of his day on the East Campus. He was in politics as president of his freshman class and eventually president of the Walsh Area Student Council and was active on the Courier and WGTB. Perhaps he is best remembered for his musical talents, as a pianist at the 1789 who could play instantly any piece suggested and as principal composer of the fine Calliope musical shows of the 1962-64 era. He also played occasionally at the White House in the Kennedy period.

   Few who saw Frank on the campus in those days thought of him as a serious student, simply because he was always in the public view and could have had so little time for studying. But, in fact, he was deeply concerned with public affairs and with history and, in his junior year, decided to go to graduate school. Since then he has had a brilliant record in scholarship, taking a master's degree at the London School of Economics in economics and a doctoral degree at Oxford in history. While in England, he made many friends in English public and academic life and did some of the research for the second volume of Randolph Churchill's life of Winston Churchill.

   The British Press and Germany, 1936-1939 is a revision of Frank's doctoral dissertation, and reveals his extraordinary talent in understanding the most diverse kinds of people and his ability to have himself accepted by persons of power and influence. This book shows a deep understanding of such persons in Britain in the late appeasement period and displays a knowledge of the complexities of English social, political, and academic life such as few Americans ever get. So much in English life, especially the internal relations of the power structure, is never stated that only a very perceptive person with unusual opportunities to get inside affairs can handle these matters with the sure touch which is found in this book.

   Among the opportunities which Gannon had were access to the archives of The Times and of The Manchester Guardian and to various private papers such as the diary of F. A. Voigt of The Guardian, the papers of Geoffrey Dawson of The Times, and those of G. Ward Price of The Daily Mail. He also had conversations with and letters from some of the survivors of the appeasement period. These materials were used to supplement a careful reading of 10 chief papers and some periodicals of this three-year period.

   Gannon's only weakness is in his first introductory chapter, which goes into the historical background of his period, and which does not reveal the same degree of understanding as is shown in his own special period. This is, perhaps, not surprising, as the history of appeasement has not yet been written. When it is written, it will show that appeasement had little to do with Hitler directly. It goes back even before the armistice of 1918 and may be seen at that time in such straws in the wind as Lord Milner's warning, in October 1918, that Germany must not be crushed in the war's end and the peace settlement in order to preserve a balance of power in Europe. Aside from the minor weaknesses of this first chapter, however, Gannon's book is a very fine piece of historical research.


Reviewed by Dr. Carroll Quigley
Professor of History.

 

 

Scan of original review

 

 

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