Alistair Horne

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Alistair Horne
Born 9 November 1925
Other names Sir Alistair Horne

Sir Alistair Allan Horne CBE FRSL (born 9 November 1925) is a British journalist, biographer and historian of Europe, especially of 19th and 20th century France. He is a son of Sir Allan Horne (died 1944)[1] and Auriol (née Hay-Drummond),[2] niece of the 13th Earl of Kinnoull.


Youth and education[edit]

As a boy during World War II, Horne was sent to live in the United States. He attended Millbrook School, where he befriended William F. Buckley, Jr., who remained a lifelong friend. Horne served in the RAF in 1943–44 and later as an officer in the Coldstream Guards from 1944 to 1947. He graduated from Jesus College, Cambridge as a Master of Arts (MA) and in 1993 received the degree of LittD from the University of Cambridge.


Horne worked as a foreign correspondent for The Daily Telegraph from 1952 to 1955. He is the official biographer of British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, a work originally published (in two volumes) in 1988. Horne is an Honorary Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford; a cricket enthusiast, he is a Vice President of the V&A Cricket Club.

Following the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, Horne's 1977 book A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–1962 came to be of much interest to American military officers, having been recommended to U.S. President George W. Bush by Kissinger. In October, 2006 the book was republished[3] and in January 2007, by phone from his home in England, Horne was invited to take part in an Iraq War discussion panel on the Charlie Rose Show on PBS. It was reported, in the 2 July 2007 edition of the Washington Post, that Horne met with President Bush sometime in mid-2007 at the administration's request. Staff writer Peter Baker relays that they discussed philosophy and history; he also quoted Horne to have said that, "You think about Prime Ministers and Presidents being surrounded by Cabinet officials and aides and so forth, but at the end of the day, they're alone. They're lonely. And that's what occurred to me as I was at the White House. It must be quite difficult for him [Bush] to get out and about."[4] He described his visit in a Daily Telegraph article.[5]

Horne was offered the authorship of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's official biography. He declined the honor owing to the daunting amount of work involved and his age, but opted instead to write a volume on one year in Kissinger's life (Kissinger: 1973, The Crucial Year, 2009). The job of Kissinger's official biographer went to British historian Niall Ferguson.


  • Return to Power: A Report on the New Germany. New York: Praeger, 1956.
  • 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.
  • The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune, 1870-1. London: Macmillan, 1965. 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.
  • Napoleon, Master of Europe 1805–1807. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979.
  • 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.
  • Horne, A. (ed.).Telling Lives: From W.B. Yeats to Bruce Chatwin. London: Papermac, 2000.
  • Seven Ages of Paris. London: Macmillan, 2002.
  • The Age of Napoleon. New York: Modern Library, 2004.
  • La Belle France: A Short History. Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.
  • The French Revolution, Carlton Books, 2008
  • Kissinger: 1973, The Crucial Year. Simon & Schuster, June 2009.
  • Hubris: The Tragedy of War in the Twentieth Century. Harper, 2015. ISBN 9780062397805


  • (speaking of aerial combat in World War I) "Never since the Middle Ages and the invention of the longbow had the battlefields of Europe seen this kind of single combat. When the champions of either side met to fight spectacular duels in and out of the clouds, the rest of the war seemed forgotten; even the man in the trenches paused to watch, as the hosts of Greece and Troy stood by when Hector and Achilles fought."
    • From The Price of Glory.
  • "Bush, an honourable man, might have made a good President - without Iraq. His fault was to heed too often the voices of the Zionist lobby in Washington. Never before has the Israeli tail wagged the American dog quite so vigorously; the results threaten to prove as disastrous for Israel as for the Western alliance."
    • The Daily Telegraph, 15 July 2007.[5]

Honours and awards[edit]


External links[edit]