Old books

Historian Paul Johnson's latest book in which he presents a series of portraits of heroes from all ages of history. Special Offer £10.00 (Usual Price £20.00)

Special Offer – £10.00 (Normal Price £20.00)

In this collection of portraits, which continues an acclaimed series that began with Intellectuals and continued with Creators, Paul Johnson has cast he net wide and found heroic individuals from all ages of history.

Women are well represented. The biblical heroes Deborah and Judith appear along with King David and Samson. Mary, Queen of Scots is contrasted with Queen Elizabeth I. Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar must have place, even if, as the author reminds us, one person’s historic grandeur is another person’s gangster criminality. Henry V, probably the ablest man ever to sit on the English throne, is matched on the French side by Joan of Arc.

Washington and Wellington were both heroes, even if they lacked – unlike Nelson and Churchill, Lincoln and Robert E Lee – heroic personalities. On a lighter note, Lady Pamela Berry represents the heroism of the hostess and Jane Carlyle the heroic wife. The intense and passionate philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein was – like Socrates – put on a hero’s pedestal by his followers.

The wonderfully refreshing and readable book, strewn with vivid detail and shrewd insight, ends with two women who achieved heroic status, Mae West and Marilyn Monroe, and three figures who dismantled the Soviet empire: Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II.

2007, Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 978-029 7851899, 288pp, HB