Andrew Roberts (historian)

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Andrew Roberts
Born (1963-01-13) 13 January 1963 (age 52)
London, England
Occupation Historian and journalist
Spouse(s) Susan Gilchrist

Andrew Roberts, F.R.S.A., F.R.S.L. (born 13 January 1963), is a British historian and journalist.[1] Roberts is perhaps best known for his 2009 non-fiction work The Storm of War, a look at the Second World War covering historical factors such as Hitler's rise to power, which has been lauded by several publications such as The Economist.[2]


Roberts was born in London, England, the son of Simon (a business executive) from Cobham, Surrey, and Katie Roberts. Simon Roberts inherited Job's Dairy milk business and owned the United Kingdom contingent of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants.[3]

Roberts was raised in the Church of England (Anglican) and attended Cranleigh School until he was expelled[citation needed] for a variety of misdemeanours. Roberts obtained a first class honours BA degree in Modern History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in 1985, where he is an honorary senior scholar[3] and PhD. Dr Roberts began his post-graduate career in corporate finance as an investment banker and private company director with the London merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co., where he worked from 1985 to 1988.

He is divorced from his first wife with whom he had two children, Henry and Cassia, who live in Edinburgh. Roberts is married to Susan Gilchrist, CEO of the corporate communications firm Brunswick Group LLP and a Governor of the South Bank Centre. They live in New York City.

Support for the Iraq War and the "Fourth World War"[edit]

Roberts supports a strong American military. During the buildup to the Iraq War Roberts supported the proposed invasion, arguing that anything less would be tantamount to appeasement. He strongly supported Tony Blair's foreign policy, saying that Blair displayed "astonishing leadership" and compared him to Winston Churchill in the 1930s.[4] In 2003, he wrote "for Churchill, 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",[5] and commented on the human cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, saying that Britain has "lost fewer soldiers than on a normal weekend on the Western Front".[6] and "the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 and the victory over Saddam Hussein two years later were won at an incredibly low cost in historical terms".[7] He has also commented on the financial costs of these two conflicts, arguing that they were cost effective interventions "rarely can the British tax payer have received such excellent value for money from their public services".[8] He has made no comment on the lack of weapons of mass destruction found nor on the hundreds of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis killed since the invasion.[citation needed]

He has defended the use of waterboarding by the C.I.A., writing that "sometimes the defense of liberty requires making some pretty unpalatable decisions".[9] He has said that the Iraq War is being fought by the English-speaking peoples as "an existential war for the survival of their way of life" and that "this struggle against Islamofascism is the fourth world war" [the Cold War being the third world war] in which "the English-speaking peoples find themselves in the forefront of protecting civilization",[10] just as they were against the Nazis. He believes that history will judge George W. Bush a success.[6]


The first of Roberts' books was the biography of Neville Chamberlain's and Winston Churchill's foreign secretary, Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax, entitled The Holy Fox, and published in 1991. Roberts provided a revisionist account of Wood, a one-time Viceroy of India and the Foreign Secretary in Chamberlain's government. Halifax has been charged with appeasement, along with Chamberlain, but Roberts asserts that Halifax in fact began to move his government away from that policy vis-à-vis Hitler's Germany, following the 1938 Munich Crisis.

This work was followed by Eminent Churchillians, in 1994, a collection of essays about friends and enemies of Churchill. A large part of the book is an attack on Admiral of the Fleet Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and other prominent members of the elite. The title is an obvious allusion to the famous and similarly combative book of biographies Eminent Victorians.

In 1999, he published Salisbury: Victorian Titan, the authorised biography of the Victorian prime minister Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, which won the Wolfson History Prize and the James Stern Silver Pen Award for Non-Fiction. In September 2001, Napoleon and Wellington, an investigation into the relationship between the two generals, was published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and was the subject of the lead review in all but one of Britain's national newspapers.

January 2003 saw the publication of Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership, which coincided with Roberts's four-part BBC 2 history series. In the book, which addresses the leadership techniques of Hitler and Churchill, he delivered a rebuttal to many of the assertions made by Clive Ponting and Christopher Hitchens concerning Churchill.

Also in 2003, he became a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 2004, he edited What Might Have Been, a collection of twelve "What If?" essays written by historians and journalists, including Robert Cowley, Antonia Fraser, Norman Stone, Amanda Foreman, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Lord Black of Crossharbour, and Anne Somerset. In 2005, Roberts published Waterloo: Napoleon's Last Gamble, which was published in America as Waterloo: The Battle for Modern Europe.

His A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, a sequel to the four volume work of Churchill, was published in September 2006 and won the Intercollegiate Studies Institute Book Award. Masters and Commanders describes how four figures shaped the strategy of the West during the Second World War. It was published in November, 2008 and won the International Churchill Society Book Award and was shortlisted for two other military history book prizes. The Art of War is a two-volume chronological survey of the greatest military commanders in history. It was compiled by a team of historians, including Robin Lane Fox, Tom Holland, John Julius Norwich, Jonathan Sumption and Felipe Fernández-Armesto, working under the general editorship of Roberts.

The Storm of War was published in August 2009. It is Roberts best-selling title to date and reached number two in The Sunday Times bestseller list. The book was awarded British Army Military Book of the Year 2010.[11] The book has received a wide variety of praise in publications from The Daily Beast, where historian Michael Korda praised it as written "superbly well",[12] to The Wall Street Journal, where historian Jonathan W. Jordan said that Roberts "splendidly weaves a human tragedy into a story".[13]

Journalism and lecturing[edit]

The second strand of Roberts' published output are articles in national newspapers, such as the Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph and their Sunday editions and also the Daily Express and The Sunday Times.

In addition, since 1990, Roberts has addressed hundreds of diverse institutional and academic audiences in many countries, including a lecture to George W. Bush at the White House.

Roberts has appeared on US television during royal funerals and weddings. He first came to prominence in the USA due to acting as an expert on the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997, and he was later in a similar role during the CNN broadcast of the death of the Queen Mother and on the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.[14] In Britain in 2003, he presented The Secrets of Leadership, a four-part history series on BBC 2 about the secrets of leadership which looked at the different leadership styles of Churchill, Hitler, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Roberts is a Director of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation in New York, a founder member of José Maria Aznar’s Friends of Israel Initiative, and in 2010 chaired the Hessell-Tiltman Award for Non-Fiction.

Roberts is a judge on the Elizabeth Longford Historical Biography Prize. He chaired the Conservative Party's Advisory Panel on the Teaching of History in Schools in 2005, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has also been elected a Fellow of the Napoleonic Institute and an Honorary Member of the International Churchill Society (UK). He is a Trustee of the Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust and of the Roberts Foundation.[15]

During the fall of 2013, Roberts served as the inaugural Merrill Family visiting professor in history at Cornell University, teaching a course entitled "Great European Leaders of the 19th and 20th Centuries and their Influence on History."[16]


Roberts' 2006 work, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900, was critically acclaimed in some sections of the media.[17][18] Yet The Economist drew attention to some historical, geographical, and typographical errors,[19] and the news magazine provided a generally scathing review of the book. It referred to the book as "a giant political pamphlet larded with its author's prejudices".[19] However, his book The Storm of War, published in 2009, was described in The Economist as "magnificent".[3]

Controversial journalist Johann Hari wrote in The Independent that in his writings Roberts is supportive of the Amritsar massacre, the concentration camps for Afrikaners during the Anglo Boer War and mass internments in Ireland. He also wrote that Roberts addressed the expatriate South African Springbok Club that flies the pre-1994 South African national flag and calls for "the re-establishment of civilised rule throughout the African continent".[20] Roberts claimed he did not realise the Springbok Club was racist when he took on the speaking engagement[21] and said that Hari "must have a secret crush" on him.[22]

See also[edit]



  • Virtual History (1997) One Essay
  • What If? (1999) One Essay
  • The Kings and Queens of England (2000) One Chapter
  • The Railway King: A Biography of George Hudson (2001) Introduction
  • Historian’s Holiday (2001) Introduction
  • What If? Volume 2 (2001) One Essay
  • Protestant Island (2001) Introduction
  • Spirit of England (2001) Introduction
  • The Secret History of P.W.E. (2002) Introduction
  • Rich Dust (2002) Introduction
  • A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (2002) Introduction
  • Spirit of England (2002) Preface
  • Historian's Holiday (2002) Preface
  • What Ifs of American History? (2003) One Essay
  • The Multicultural Experiment (2003) One Chapter
  • British Military Greats (2004) One Chapter
  • Lives for Sale (2004) One Chapter
  • Hitler's Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB (2005) Foreword
  • Liberty and Livelihood (2005) One Chapter
  • The Eagle’s Last Triumph (2006) Introduction
  • The Eagle's Last Triumph : Napoleon's Victory at Ligny, June 1815 (2006) Foreword
  • Postcards from the Russian Revolution (2008) Introduction
  • Postcards of Political Icons (2008) Introduction
  • Postcards from Checkpoint Charlie (2008) Introduction
  • A Week at Waterloo (2008) Introduction
  • The Future of National Identity (2008) One Chapter
  • Postcards from the Trenches (2008) Introduction
  • Postcards from Utopia: The Art of Political Propaganda (2009) Introduction
  • Postcards of Lost Royals (2009) Introduction
  • Napoleon Bonaparte by Georges Lefevre (2010) Introduction
  • Letters from Vicky: The Letters of Queen Victoria to Vicky, Empress of Germany 1858–1901 (2011) Introduction and Selection
  • A History of the World in 100 Weapons (2011) Introduction

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Andrew Roberts 1963-" in Contemporary Authors Online, (Gale, 2011).
  2. ^ The Storm of War
  3. ^ a b c Marre, Oliver (26 July 2009). "Andrew Roberts: The history man who loves to party". The Observer (London). Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  4. ^ "The UN: Right or wrong?". The Guardian (London). 8 March 2003. 
  5. ^ History News Network – Historians Debate Iraq
  6. ^ a b Andrew Roberts (14 January 2009). "History will show that George W Bush was right". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "ANDREW ROBERTS: Hideously amoral Little England has stepped through the looking glass | Mail Online". Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ How Torture Helped Win WWII - The Daily Beast
  10. ^ At stake in the Iraq war: survival of a way of life / The Christian Science Monitor -
  11. ^ Andrew Roberts web-site.
  12. ^ 05.16.11 (1940-11-14). "'The Storm of War' by Andrew Roberts: Best History of World War II". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  13. ^ Jordan, Jonathan W. (2 July 2011). "Hell's Ethos". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  14. ^ [Source: Andrew Roberts website]
  15. ^ Andrew Roberts web-site
  16. ^ Andrew Roberts (26 August 2013). "HIST 1502 Great European Leaders of the 19th and 20th Centuries and their Influence on History". Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Daniels, Anthony (2 November 2006). "The case for the defence". The Spectator. Retrieved 16 April 2010. 
  18. ^ Massie, Allan (22 Oct 2006). "Happy is he who speaks English". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 16 April 2010. 
  19. ^ a b "Going out in the midday sun". The Economist. 2 November 2006. 
  20. ^ "Johann Hari: The dark side of Andrew Roberts". The Independent (London). 31 July 2009. 
  21. ^ Johann Hari (31 July 2009). "The dark side of Andrew Roberts". London: The Independent. Retrieved 4 March 2011. 
  22. ^ "Londoner's Diary | Evening Standard". 2013-12-06. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 

External links[edit]