Memory Hold-the-Door

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First edition
(publ. Hodder & Stoughton)

Memory Hold-the-Door is the 1940 autobiography of John Buchan. It was published in the United States under the title Pilgrim's Way.

John Buchan died in February 1940, and Memory Hold-the Door was published posthumously. The author states clearly in the preface that this personal memoir is not intended as an autobiography per se, given, for example, the lack of objective references. The book recounts Buchan's life of public service, his literary work from his early days in the Scottish Highlands through his years at Oxford, and his service in both Britain's Boer campaign and World War I (the latter, as Britain's Director of Intelligence and Information for the War Cabinet), before covering his years in Parliament, and appointment as Governor General of Canada. Of particular interest are Buchan's personal profiles of such contemporaries as Lord Grey, Lord Oxford, Raymond Asquith, Lord Haldane, Earl Balfour, Lord French, Sir Henry Wilson, Lord Haig, Lord Byng of Vimy, T.E. Lawrence, and King George V.

Pilgrim's Way (as it was called in America) was said to be John F. Kennedy's favourite book.[1] A list of Kennedy's favourite books given to Life magazine in 1961 was headed by Buchan's Montrose, and another list sent out upon request to various libraries during National Library Week was headed by David Cecil's Lord Melbourne,[2] but there is no evidence that either of these lists placed the books in order of preference. Kennedy urged anyone he wanted to understand him to read Pilgrim's Way,[1] and often quoted passages from it to friends and associates whom he regarded as equally appreciative of fine prose.