Alistair Horne

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Person.png Alistair Horne   AmazonRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Died25 May 2017 (Age 91)
Alma materLe Rosey, Millbrook School, Jesus College (Cambridge)
SpouseSheelin Horne
Member ofKönigswinter/Speakers, Le Cercle
UK historian with deep intelligence ties

Sir Alistair Allan Horne CBE FRSL was a was a British spy[1], journalist, biographer and historian of Europe, especially of 19th- and 20th-century France. His attendance in Le Cercle meetings shows that his intelligence ties were extensive, both as an operative and as a propagandist.


He attended Millbrook School, where he befriended William F. Buckley, who remained a lifelong friend.

World War II

Horne served in the Royal Air Force in 1943–44 and Posted to Palestine, Horne was put in charge of intelligence-gathering under the future head of MI6, Maurice Oldfield. After the war he was transferred to the Intelligence Corps, and attended a training school in Surrey. As a subaltern of 21 he was based in Cairo monitoring Soviet satellite powers in the Balkans. He officially served in the Coldstream Guards from 1944–1947.[1]

After leaving the Guards, Horne read English at Jesus College, Cambridge. He returned briefly to spying in Tito’s Yugoslavia, then in 1952 joined The Daily Telegraph as a junior correspondent in post-war Berlin and Bonn – a job he got by claiming, falsely, that he could speak fluent German.[1]

The following year he was approached by his old boss Maurice Oldfield, who wanted him to run three agents for MI6, all of whom worked in sensitive posts in various West German ministries.[1]

“I said I thought the Telegraph wouldn’t be too pleased about me being a spy,” Horne recalled, “but Maurice said they’d have a word with the foreign editor, who’d been a wartime intelligence officer himself, and there wouldn’t be a problem.”[1]

He embarked on a long and successful career as a historian. His first book, Back in Power: A Report on the New Germany, was published in 1955 to enthusiastic reviews from Hugh Trevor-Roper and others. His second, The Land is the Bright (1958), part travel book, part paean to the American way of life, was intended to repair Anglo-American understanding after the Suez Crisis,[1] and no doubt given encouragement and publicity by the political/intelligence apparatus.

After consulting Maurice Oldfield, by then deputy head of MI6, in 1971 he went on a scouting mission to Salvador Allende’s Chile with William F Buckley, and wrote Small Earthquake in Chile (1973).[1]

Horne was offered the authorship of Henry Kissinger's official biography but declined, opting instead to write a volume on one year in Kissinger's life (Kissinger: 1973, The Crucial Year, published in 2009.

Deep political connections

He attended Le Cercle.

Selected works

  • Return to Power: A Report on the New Germany. New York: Praeger, 1956. Template:OCLC
  • The Land is Bright. 1958.
  • Canada and the Canadians. Toronto: Macmillan, 1961.
  • The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1962. Reissued in 1963. Template:OCLC
  • The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune, 1870-1. London: Macmillan, 1965. Template:OCLC Revised edition: Penguin Books 2007, ISBN 978-0-141-03063-0.
  • To Lose a Battle: France 1940. London, Macmillan, 1969.
  • Death of a Generation Neuve Chapelle to Verdun and the Somme 1970
  • The Terrible Year: The Paris Commune, 1871. London, Macmillan, 1971.
  • Small Earthquake in Chile: A Visit to Allende's South America. London: Macmillan, 1972. (Expanded edition, 1990.)
  • A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–1962. London: Macmillan, 1977. ISBN 0670619647
  • Napoleon, Master of Europe 1805–1807. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979. ISBN 0297776789
  • The French Army and Politics, 1870–1970. New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1984.
  • Harold Macmillan. New York: Viking Press, 1988. [Official biography]
    • Volume I: 1894-1956
    • Volume II: 1957-1986
  • A Bundle from Britain. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.
  • Montgomery, David (co-author). Monty: The Lonely Leader, 1944–1945. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.
  • How Far from Austerlitz? Napoleon, 1805–1815. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996. ISBN 0312155484
  • Horne, A. (ed.).Telling Lives: From W.B. Yeats to Bruce Chatwin. London: Papermac, 2000.
  • Seven Ages of Paris. London: Macmillan, 2002. American ed., ISBN 0679454810
  • The Age of Napoleon. New York: Modern Library, 2004. ISBN 1588363643
  • Friend or Foe: An Anglo-Saxon History of France. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004. ISBN 0297848941
  • La Belle France: A Short History. Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. ISBN 1400041406
  • The French Revolution. Carlton Books, 2009.
  • Kissinger: 1973, The Crucial Year. Simon & Schuster, June 2009. ISBN 9780743272834
  • But What Do You Actually Do?: A Literary Vagabondage. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2011. ISBN 029784895X
  • Hubris: The Tragedy of War in the Twentieth Century. Harper, 2015. ISBN 9780062397805