Andrew Roberts

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In the face of a danger that the left, the Church of England, much of the establishment, the press and the French denied really existed, a lone voice told the truth unashamedly again and again until events forced the rest of the nation to listen. This brave politician faced public obloquy and collapsing political popularity, until he was proved right, when he became the most popular prime minister in recent memory. For Churchill, this apotheosis came in 1940; for Tony Blair, it will come when Iraq is successfully invaded and hundreds of weapons of mass destruction are unearthed from where they have been hidden by Saddam's henchmen.
—Andrew Roberts, on the Tony Blair's role during the invasion of Iraq in 2003[1]


Andrew Roberts (1963–) is a British neoconservative millitary historian, biographer and political pundit. A notorious chickenhawk and a Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher fanboy, Roberts started as a Trotskyist,[2] but is today, according to himself "extremely right-wing".[3]

The good[edit]

The best thing about Andrew Roberts is his books, and most of them were praised even from left-wing sources. Roberts has written many doorstop books that were (overall) well received, even if they had their dose of controversy. It should be noticed that, despite writing informative, well-researched books that usually have more than 100 pages of references alone, Roberts doesn't even try to hide his fanboyism about some historical figures and events, and due to his partiality one should read them with a grain of salt.

Historical books and research[edit]

Roberts wrote many books, convering especially (but not only) military history. In 2008, The Economist gave him the title of the "title of Britain's finest contemporary military historian", only two years after an extra extra harsh critique over one of his books (more on that later), listing his Masters and Commanders: The Military Geniuses Who Led the West to Victory in World War II among the greatest books of that year. [4]

In 2009, Roberts published his most known work, The Storm of War, which accounts for the whole history of the Second World War. Roberts main interest was to find out the reasons why Nazi Germany lost the war, and if they could have won it. In his view, Germany had a clear advantage at the beginning of the War, but Corporal Hitler made many blunders, not only not in the strategic department; for example dismissing most of his generals. Hitler should have handled his allies differently. For instance, instead of declaring war against the United States (his greatest mistake along with theOperation BarbarossaWikipedia according to Roberts), Hitler should had convinced Japan to declare war against the Soviet Union and invade them in the Siberia. That would: 1/ drive most of the American effort out of the war; 2/ force the Russians to fight in two fronts, just as the Germans were fighting; 3/ grant Japan the natural resources they needed so much, while denying the Russians the same resources if the invasion was successful. Hitler's racism and sexism also played a major role on his defeat: the resources Hitler spent on the Holocaust could be used where they were needed (ie. in the actual war), and the slave labor in the concentration camps simply didn't pay off. Some really smart jews fled from Germany and helped the creation of the atomic bomb in the United States. If Hitler had nuclear weapons instead, he could get at least a stalemate even in 1944. Unlike the the Allies, especially the Russians, who employed women as a major workforce during the war, Hitler decided to not recruit them. Roberts finishes his book with an ambiguous, laconic phrase answering whether Germany could have won the war:

The real reason why Hitler lost the Second World War was exactly the same one that caused him to unleash it in the first place: he was a Nazi.

Biographies[edit]

Roberts started his career as a writer with a Lord HalifaxWikipedia biography. More recently, Roberts also published two hefty hagiographies biographies about Napoleon and Winston Churchill. His Napoleon's bio reaches almost one thousand pages, the Churchill one reaches 1,200. Both received lots of praise and won lots of prizes, with The New York Times and The TimesWikipedia calling his Churchill's bio the best single-volume biography of Churchill ever written.[5][6] In both books, Roberts also tries to debunk some popular theories: for instance, in Napoleon's case, Roberts dismisses the idea that he was actually poisoned with Scheele's GreenWikipedia, and in Churchill's case, he argues that the British Prime Minister not only didn't have anything to do with the Great Bengal Famine of 1943, but also prevented an even worse outcome.

The bad[edit]

Iraq War[edit]

Despite writing many good books, Roberts' career as a political pundit is, however, less than stellar, with many polemics especially during the 2000's. He strongly endorsed the Iraq War in 2003 believing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. When the invading forces failed to find these weapons, Roberts didn't change his mind, saying that "George Bush's (a fan of his) visceral responses to the attacks of a fascistic, totalitarian death cult will be seen as having been substantially the right ones... Iraq has been a victory for the US-led coalition".[7] Roberts even suggested to Bush that he should adopt a "mass internment" of Iraqis during the war. [8], suggesting that even the American ex-president holds more respect for the human rights than Roberts.

Springbok Club controversy[edit]

Roberts was once friends with the Springbok ClubWikipedia, a British racist pressure group of expatriated Apartheid supporters, celebrating his 36th birthday with them. According to him, he didn't know the Springbok Club was racist back then [9].

A History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900[edit]

At least one of his books, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900, published in 2006, became especially controversial, to say the least. A spiritual sequel of Winston Churchill's A History of the English-Speaking PeoplesWikipedia, it was especially berated due to its claims that Imperialism was not so bad[10] with The Economist calling it "less a history than a giant political pamphlet larded with its author's prejudices, with sneers at those who do not share them and with errors" [11]. One of the most controversial passages in the book was the defense of the Jallianwala Bagh massacreWikipedia, which, according to Roberts, actually prevented deaths. Roberts also supported the concentration camps - which killed more than 30 thousand people - in South Africa during the Boer WarWikipedia for similar reasons. Nonetheless, the book was praised by the conservative media.[12][13]

Transforming a critical review in praise[edit]

A relatively rare scathing review on his The Storm of War came from the British historian and his Cambridge fellow Richard J. EvansWikipedia, who said that "This is not a new history of the Second World War in any meaningful sense of the word; it is not even an adequate history of the Second World War."[14], also suggesting that Roberts should write a biography on Winston Churchill, something that he would do ten years later. Evans harsh criticism didn't prevent Roberts from adding the review on his site mentioning it as a favorable one.[15]

See also[edit]

Niall Ferguson, another conservative Briton.


References[edit]