counter Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography

Availability: Ready to download

Hugh Trevor–Roper's life is a rich subject for a biography —with elements of Greek tragedy, comedy, and moments of high farce. Clever, witty, and sophisticated, Trevor–Roper was the most brilliant historian of his generation. Until his downfall, he seemed to have everything: wealth and connections, a chair at Oxford, a beautiful country house, an aristocratic wife, and, ev Hugh Trevor–Roper's life is a rich subject for a biography —with elements of Greek tragedy, comedy, and moments of high farce. Clever, witty, and sophisticated, Trevor–Roper was the most brilliant historian of his generation. Until his downfall, he seemed to have everything: wealth and connections, a chair at Oxford, a beautiful country house, an aristocratic wife, and, eventually, a title of his own. Eloquent and versatile, fearless and formidable, he moved easily between Oxford and London, between the dreaming spires of scholarship and the jostling corridors of power. He developed a lucid prose style which he used to deadly effect. He was notorious for his acerbic attacks on other historians, but ultimately tainted his own reputation with a catastrophic error when he authenticated the forged "Hitler Diaries." Adam Sisman sheds new light on this fascinating and dramatic episode, but also shows that there was much more to Hugh Trevor–Roper's career than the fiasco of the Hitler Diaries hoax that became his epitaph. From wartime code–breaking to grilling Nazis while the trail was still fresh in 1945 (and finding Hitler's will buried inside a bottle), to his wide–ranging interests, his snobbery and his malice, his formidable post–war feuds, and his secret and passionate affair with an older, married woman. A study in both success and failure, Adam Sisman's biography is a revealing and personal story of a remarkable life.


Compare

Hugh Trevor–Roper's life is a rich subject for a biography —with elements of Greek tragedy, comedy, and moments of high farce. Clever, witty, and sophisticated, Trevor–Roper was the most brilliant historian of his generation. Until his downfall, he seemed to have everything: wealth and connections, a chair at Oxford, a beautiful country house, an aristocratic wife, and, ev Hugh Trevor–Roper's life is a rich subject for a biography —with elements of Greek tragedy, comedy, and moments of high farce. Clever, witty, and sophisticated, Trevor–Roper was the most brilliant historian of his generation. Until his downfall, he seemed to have everything: wealth and connections, a chair at Oxford, a beautiful country house, an aristocratic wife, and, eventually, a title of his own. Eloquent and versatile, fearless and formidable, he moved easily between Oxford and London, between the dreaming spires of scholarship and the jostling corridors of power. He developed a lucid prose style which he used to deadly effect. He was notorious for his acerbic attacks on other historians, but ultimately tainted his own reputation with a catastrophic error when he authenticated the forged "Hitler Diaries." Adam Sisman sheds new light on this fascinating and dramatic episode, but also shows that there was much more to Hugh Trevor–Roper's career than the fiasco of the Hitler Diaries hoax that became his epitaph. From wartime code–breaking to grilling Nazis while the trail was still fresh in 1945 (and finding Hitler's will buried inside a bottle), to his wide–ranging interests, his snobbery and his malice, his formidable post–war feuds, and his secret and passionate affair with an older, married woman. A study in both success and failure, Adam Sisman's biography is a revealing and personal story of a remarkable life.

30 review for Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jocky Mclean

    A solid academic effort, well researched and in the most, Sisman is adept at explaining historiographical theory and academic debate. The length of the book, about 620 pages, however, is monstrous and completely out of proportion to the subject, who was, after all, a not-very-well-known academic historian. When I attended a book launch at Christ Church, I pointed out to Mr Sisman that his biography was far longer than anything Trevor-Roper had managed to publish in his lifetime. This did not go A solid academic effort, well researched and in the most, Sisman is adept at explaining historiographical theory and academic debate. The length of the book, about 620 pages, however, is monstrous and completely out of proportion to the subject, who was, after all, a not-very-well-known academic historian. When I attended a book launch at Christ Church, I pointed out to Mr Sisman that his biography was far longer than anything Trevor-Roper had managed to publish in his lifetime. This did not go down well. Nor did my attempt to salvage the conversation by pointing out that this was merely a reflection on a rich life of historical inquiry across different periods. This is a book for historians with a lot of time and confined interests rather than the general public. The other serious flaw of the book is Sisman's clunky prose which suffers irremediably when put alongside that of Trevor Roper, a great stylist. Hence, the most enjoyable sections of the book are the long quotations from T-R's personal letters or publications.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alec Rogers

    Adam Sisman’s biography of English historian Hugh Trevor-Roper harkens us back to a time when the writing and teaching of history mattered. From the 1930s through the 1980s the world was highly ideological, and the interpretation of even the distant past was hotly contested as being intimately relevant to contemporary events surrounding the rise of first fascism and then communism. As the gladiators in this particular coliseum, certain historians became celebrities in a manner not seen before or Adam Sisman’s biography of English historian Hugh Trevor-Roper harkens us back to a time when the writing and teaching of history mattered. From the 1930s through the 1980s the world was highly ideological, and the interpretation of even the distant past was hotly contested as being intimately relevant to contemporary events surrounding the rise of first fascism and then communism. As the gladiators in this particular coliseum, certain historians became celebrities in a manner not seen before or, certainly, since then. Appearing on television and the radio, and writing in newspapers and journals both academic and popular, they were much in demand to provide perspective on events such as trials of Nazi war criminals, the JFK assassination and the Warren Commission. Country homes, fancy cars, and exotic foreign travels play as large a role as journal articles, conferences and books. The reader is invited into the arcane world of Oxbridge and the vicious politics that consumed its scholars. Flamboyant, brilliant, garrulous and out spoken, Trevor-Roper is a particularly engaging protagonist. One author likened him to a “pop star” in terms of his standing with the public. Although his academic work focused mostly on the 16th and 17th centuries, Trevor-Roper’s framework for understanding “his” period was in competition with those offered by Marxist historians such as Christopher Hill and Eric Hobsbawm. Which interpretation prevailed was not seen as irrelevant at a time when a Marxist superpower was claiming that “the West” was irrevocably doomed because of natural historical forces. Sisman does a particularly fine job covering the historical issues about which Trevor-Roper and his colleagues discussed and debated, sometimes in vituperative terms. At the same time, he avoids turning the book into historiography. The reader will understand just enough about the historical controversies to understand Trevor-Roper, and the controversies in which he engaged with relish, without getting too bogged down. Sisman’s generally sympathetic portrayal does not lead him astray when recognizing his subject’s shortcomings. For example, his summation of Trevor-Roper’s involvement in the controversy surrounding the Warren Commission’s report is particularly harsh (“rashness,” “poor judgment,” “obstinancy,” “arrogance”). Trevor-Roper could separate the personal from the professional in manner many others could not, and he was frequently caught off guard at how personally colleagues took what he intended to be purely professional criticisms. Sisman’s reliance on Trevor-Roper’s voluminous correspondence reminds us of the daunting challenge that will be met by anyone attempting to chronicle the life of the historians of today. One final note: the American title of the book is a curiosity (it was not used in England where readers would recognize Trevor-Roper’s name more readily). Trevor-Roper was not particularly honorable (except that he was incapable of keeping his honest opinions to himself, a sort of academic integrity perhaps) and he might wince at being identified as being more “English” than any other historian of the period, as he was very critical of those who failed to look beyond England’s borders when chronicling events. Still anyone looking for a biography of Trevor-Roper in particular or for exposure to the world of Oxford dons and historians during their golden age will enjoy Sisman’s book tremendously.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robert Lukins

    Absorbing story of a writer who never quite wrote the great work expected of him; a historian whose reputation was broken by the Hitler Diary hoax; a brilliant mind that could rarely settle.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    Absorbing life of great British historian. Sisman claims to have been a friend of T-R but he's fair in doling out blame and credit in what was the life of a public intellectual. T-R's interests and talents, not to mention a pen frequently dipped in acid, led him into many scrapes. It also meant that for much of his career he was unable to finish any book he started to write. Sisman probably goes overboard covering in detail the many university post elections T-R was involved in- it's always a su Absorbing life of great British historian. Sisman claims to have been a friend of T-R but he's fair in doling out blame and credit in what was the life of a public intellectual. T-R's interests and talents, not to mention a pen frequently dipped in acid, led him into many scrapes. It also meant that for much of his career he was unable to finish any book he started to write. Sisman probably goes overboard covering in detail the many university post elections T-R was involved in- it's always a surprise to me though how Oxbridge grads retain a tie with their school to the ends of their lives. The Hitler diary hoax is handled well and while T-R erred it's clear as much blame should be pinned on Rupert Murdoch and Stern magazine.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anson Cassel Mills

    Rarely have I read such an enjoyable biography about a personality that I’ve found so distasteful. Sisman not only possesses considerable literary gifts, he knew Trevor-Roper personally, gained exclusive access to a treasure trove of primary sources, and was both willing and able to delineate his subject’s strengths and weaknesses. Trevor-Roper was a fine historian whose instincts were usually more correct than politically correct. He could be generous with his better students, and to a certain Rarely have I read such an enjoyable biography about a personality that I’ve found so distasteful. Sisman not only possesses considerable literary gifts, he knew Trevor-Roper personally, gained exclusive access to a treasure trove of primary sources, and was both willing and able to delineate his subject’s strengths and weaknesses. Trevor-Roper was a fine historian whose instincts were usually more correct than politically correct. He could be generous with his better students, and to a certain extent he mellowed with age. As Sisman emphasizes, Trevor-Roper was often bold, determined, and independently minded. Yet he also displayed “rashness, poor judgment, obstinacy, and, perhaps arrogance.” (382) A colleague, Maurice Bowra, wrote in a private letter that Trevor-Roper was “a very clever man, a good writer, on the right side on all academic matters, and a sturdy fighter. On the other hand he is quite inhuman. He does not like anyone or wish to be liked; what he wants is to impress and be admired.” (307) At the end of his book, Sisman suggests that future generations will regard Trevor-Roper’s involvement with the Hitler diaries fiasco a “mere footnote” to his respected historical career. (578) I have my doubts: hubris and nemesis have had a long run in Western Civilization, and the example of a respected historian falling prey to presumption is not a lesson that should be (nor probably will be) lost. As for the biography itself, Sisman has done a remarkable job. American political scientist Wallace Stanley Sayre once wrote that academic politics were so bitter because the stakes were so low. Even so, Sisman makes interesting most of the Oxbridge variety. I would have trimmed some of the intramural feuds (which, to an American, occasionally border on the unintelligible) as well as Trevor-Roper’s clandestine courtship, which renders both parties to adultery more petty, boring, and ill tempered than perhaps they really were. Regardless, this biography is exceptional, the best I’ve ever read of a historian.

  6. 4 out of 5

    False

    A thorough and well-written accounting of the life of erudite Hugh Trevor-Roper. An Oxford trained historian, he produced very few books of importance in his lifetime--his book on the last days of Hitler being the best sold and most known. I've ordered some of his other work to study, and I'll be re-reading the Hitler since it's been a while since I first read it. His marriage is a great puzzle. In the end, I never realized what compelled him to marry his chosen, given the age disparity (she was A thorough and well-written accounting of the life of erudite Hugh Trevor-Roper. An Oxford trained historian, he produced very few books of importance in his lifetime--his book on the last days of Hitler being the best sold and most known. I've ordered some of his other work to study, and I'll be re-reading the Hitler since it's been a while since I first read it. His marriage is a great puzzle. In the end, I never realized what compelled him to marry his chosen, given the age disparity (she was older) or social disparity (she came from a higher background.) Many say it was this marriage that held him back from writing the great works of which he was capable. When you have a wife given to couture Jacques Fath dresses and glamorous dwellings, it's easier to succumb to television appearances and book reviews.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Allegria

    Hugh Trevor-Roper appears an arrogant, malicious, intellectual snob. He gained both financially and academically from his misjudged authentication of the 'Hitler Diaries'. Throughout his Oxford and Cambridge careers he used influence and money to full advantage with little heed to anyone below his perceived social scale who sought assistance, thereby forgetting his own middle class start in life. Perhaps his later reported regret at attending Charterhouse rather than Stowe speaks volumes! Adam Si Hugh Trevor-Roper appears an arrogant, malicious, intellectual snob. He gained both financially and academically from his misjudged authentication of the 'Hitler Diaries'. Throughout his Oxford and Cambridge careers he used influence and money to full advantage with little heed to anyone below his perceived social scale who sought assistance, thereby forgetting his own middle class start in life. Perhaps his later reported regret at attending Charterhouse rather than Stowe speaks volumes! Adam Sisman has written a warts and all biography well worth reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patrick von Stutenzee

    If you ever wondered why celebrities tend to publish their invented biographies while alive, here’s one to read at all cost. The author manages to stay out of most cat fights, but the truth is hurting enough without the need to add slander. This is not how historian Hugh Trevor-Roper imagined to be remembered. Read the full review If you ever wondered why celebrities tend to publish their invented biographies while alive, here’s one to read at all cost. The author manages to stay out of most cat fights, but the truth is hurting enough without the need to add slander. This is not how historian Hugh Trevor-Roper imagined to be remembered. Read the full review

  9. 5 out of 5

    Yooperprof

    I am in some ways "the ideal reader" for this biography: an Anglophile and a British Historian, as well as someone with a considerable interest in mid-20th century intellectual history. I was in graduate school in the 1980s, and I was aware at the time of several of main skirmishes and battles fought between Trevor-Roper and his intellectual peers over the course of several earlier decades. Reading this book now, I can put them into perspective more much clearly than I could at the time, so that I am in some ways "the ideal reader" for this biography: an Anglophile and a British Historian, as well as someone with a considerable interest in mid-20th century intellectual history. I was in graduate school in the 1980s, and I was aware at the time of several of main skirmishes and battles fought between Trevor-Roper and his intellectual peers over the course of several earlier decades. Reading this book now, I can put them into perspective more much clearly than I could at the time, so that now I can perceive nuances and shades of conflict that were undecipherable at the time. There's a lot of great "back-story" in Sisman's biography: of course, it helps to be already somewhat familiar with what the "front-story" was. (I'm thinking in particular about matters involving Trevor-Roper's well-known public feud with Evelyn Waugh, but it also pertains to his engagement with rival historians and "frenemies" like Lawrence Stone, Keith Thomas, and A.J.P Taylor.) Other reviewers have commented on the considerable length of Sisman's text: 575 pages. Really, the length is justified by Sisman's "mission" to maintain and defend Trevor-Roper's professional reputation. In the last decades of his life, Trevor-Roper made a series of unfortunate decisions that tarnished the name he had earned for himself with his careful and probing work in the earlier part of his historical career. He accepted the Mastership of Peterhouse College, Cambridge, a position for which he was unsuited and which proved to be in his own words "seven wasted years"; he maintained his association with the "Times" newspaper concern long after Rupert Murdoch took it over, when it was clear to outsiders that Murdoch was using Trevor-Roper's prestige as a cover for his own union-busting policies; and most notoriously, he lent his name, position, and expertise to the doomed effort to pass off the supposed Hitler Diaries as genuine. Sisman does succeed in presenting a good case that Trevor-Roper should be remembered not for this later mis-steps, but rather for his earlier sterling work, especially for "The Last Days of Hitler" which is just as interesting and readable today as if was when published nearly 70 years ago.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joe Moody

    Sisman does an excellent job of following the life of a unique individual in his comprehensive biography of Hugh Trevor-Roper, An Honorable Gentleman. He follows Trevor-Roper from a loveless, bookish childhood through his drink filled school days at Oxford through his involvement in World War Two into his investigative inquiries and his turbulent scholarly career. Many feel that Trevor-Roper never reached his full potential. Even though he became very well known through his works on Nazi Germany Sisman does an excellent job of following the life of a unique individual in his comprehensive biography of Hugh Trevor-Roper, An Honorable Gentleman. He follows Trevor-Roper from a loveless, bookish childhood through his drink filled school days at Oxford through his involvement in World War Two into his investigative inquiries and his turbulent scholarly career. Many feel that Trevor-Roper never reached his full potential. Even though he became very well known through his works on Nazi Germany, only Archbishop Laud focused on his specialty (17th century England). What made him most famous came from his infamous blunder of the credibility he gave to the “Hitler diaries” in the Sunday Times, a horrible stain on his career, which led to a mention even in his obituary. Sisman shows that the importance of this blemish diminishes when observing the whole of his scholarly career. Although the man did not publish as much as he had planned, many believe his scattered interests instead resulted in a better fit within the confines of the essay and his commentary in newspapers. Even his written feuds in response to literary peers show brilliance and a multifaceted personality, often underrepresented in his three major published works of history. Sisman best achieves success through his examination of the personality of Hugh Trevor-Roper, who comes across as the definitive snob, with a viable excuse that can be blamed on his childhood, his intellect and his surroundings. A strong wit is also evident in his letters and other correspondences that help to form camaraderie between reader and subject, a product of Sisman’s ability, no doubt. Perhaps this work will help to save the name of Hugh Trevor-Roper from “Hitler diary hoax victim” to loveable snob.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Howard

    Although I thought this biography frequently served up too much information, I couldn't stop reading it. Trevor-Roper left behind a pile of 80-percent finished manuscripts when he died, and he never really wrote the great book in his field (early modern England) that was expected of him. But, through his essays, mostly, he put his stamp on many a major historiographical debate of his day. He knew everyone and argued with almost all of them. I was in graduate school while T-R was still actively t Although I thought this biography frequently served up too much information, I couldn't stop reading it. Trevor-Roper left behind a pile of 80-percent finished manuscripts when he died, and he never really wrote the great book in his field (early modern England) that was expected of him. But, through his essays, mostly, he put his stamp on many a major historiographical debate of his day. He knew everyone and argued with almost all of them. I was in graduate school while T-R was still actively trying to integrate political and social history, and some of the controversies Sisman puts a human dimension to were matters my classmates and I confronted, which might explain why I kept reading and reading these nearly 600 pages. Politically conservative, and puckishly irreligious, Hugh Trevor-Roper had a great gift for, among other things, seeing contemporary relevance in historical events. He damaged his reputation by hastily publishing criticism of the Warren Commission report, which he was forced to retract, and later, and much more seriously, by authenticating an alleged Hitler diary, later proven to be a fraud, but he was nevertheless a public intellectual of the first rank. He was one of a kind, no doubt, but we could use more like him in the public discourse of our own day.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robert Nevins

    Hugh Trevor Roper was the reason I chose to study history at University. Unfortunately, like him, I went to Peterhouse (he as Master, I, as lowly undergrad) and we actually overlapped by a year. Our only encounter was a written apology from me for some drunken misdemeanor; something else, I discovered from this book, we had in common. Three years earlier, I had eulogised him to Maurice Cowling during my entrance interview and may thereby have contributed to Cowling's recommending him for Master Hugh Trevor Roper was the reason I chose to study history at University. Unfortunately, like him, I went to Peterhouse (he as Master, I, as lowly undergrad) and we actually overlapped by a year. Our only encounter was a written apology from me for some drunken misdemeanor; something else, I discovered from this book, we had in common. Three years earlier, I had eulogised him to Maurice Cowling during my entrance interview and may thereby have contributed to Cowling's recommending him for Master , thus contributing to his '7 wasted years' there and, quite possibly, his Hitler diary humiliation. Anyway, this book reminded me of why I was so excited by his writing and also why I was so unexcited by studying history - and by college life in general - at Peterhouse. That section of his life was painful for me to read, but virtually all that preceded it was a massive pleasure. The highlights for me are his vicious duels with Evelyn Waugh and A L Rowse but there is masses to enjoy here. HTR initially studied Classics and underlying all his subsequent work as an historian was a love of reading and writing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    I have to say I sympathize with Trevor-Roper's inability to finish a major project. While I don't have nearly his breadth of learning, I do have his breadth of interests and it can be fatal to large projects. I had to laugh reading his early history--my early fantasy of academic life personified in reading and study with little teaching! Alas, such lives are few today.... A fascinating look at a complex man who inspired both anger and admiration--and sometimes in the same people. It says somethin I have to say I sympathize with Trevor-Roper's inability to finish a major project. While I don't have nearly his breadth of learning, I do have his breadth of interests and it can be fatal to large projects. I had to laugh reading his early history--my early fantasy of academic life personified in reading and study with little teaching! Alas, such lives are few today.... A fascinating look at a complex man who inspired both anger and admiration--and sometimes in the same people. It says something that those who liked him least still often had positive things to say about his historical work.

  14. 4 out of 5

    D

    A very readable and interesting biography of the historian that mistakenly thought (at first, and under huge pressure from Rupert Murdoch) that a bunch of notebooks presented as Hitler's diaries were authentic. I appreciated the insights the book provides in university politics and the quirky college system as practised in the UK. Especially the description of the goings on at 'Peterhouse' college before and during the time that Trevor-Rope was master there are hilarious and almost incredible. Th A very readable and interesting biography of the historian that mistakenly thought (at first, and under huge pressure from Rupert Murdoch) that a bunch of notebooks presented as Hitler's diaries were authentic. I appreciated the insights the book provides in university politics and the quirky college system as practised in the UK. Especially the description of the goings on at 'Peterhouse' college before and during the time that Trevor-Rope was master there are hilarious and almost incredible. The comic novel "Porter house blues" by Tom Sharpe may have been based on true stories about Peterhouse.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David McClure

    A perfect biography - tightly written, insightful and very funny in its own understated way. It lifts the lid on the sheer viciousness of academic life. The book is superior to his earlier study of AJP Taylor because Trevor Roper had a more interesting life and is more satisfying that his latest study of John Le Carre because he is not constrained by a subject that is still alive.

  16. 4 out of 5

    UChicagoLaw

    An engrossing account of academic life in Oxford and Cambridge. The intrigues and infighting among the ‘dons’ described by the author made me thankful to be at the University of Chicago. It is a very good ‘read,’ perfect for a long trip. - R. H. Helmholz An engrossing account of academic life in Oxford and Cambridge. The intrigues and infighting among the ‘dons’ described by the author made me thankful to be at the University of Chicago. It is a very good ‘read,’ perfect for a long trip. - R. H. Helmholz

  17. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Being a historian and living in Oxford (with a partner at Christ Church) this seemed to me to be a must-read. I knew very little of HT-R before reading the book and it was an enjoyable read throughout. Sisman has written this book well and I couldn't put it down. Being a historian and living in Oxford (with a partner at Christ Church) this seemed to me to be a must-read. I knew very little of HT-R before reading the book and it was an enjoyable read throughout. Sisman has written this book well and I couldn't put it down.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steve Walker

    Excellent biography of a man who was one of the top historians. However, his ego, his disdain for some colleagues, and a certain "so-called" diary led to his down fall. Excellent biography of a man who was one of the top historians. However, his ego, his disdain for some colleagues, and a certain "so-called" diary led to his down fall.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    This book was great.

  20. 4 out of 5

    david davis

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kioumars

  22. 5 out of 5

    Geoffrey Rose

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sue Conway

  24. 4 out of 5

    Fosta Sakala

  25. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jay

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brontanio Select

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Compton

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Howard

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.