The Best Defense

Enoch Powell, Thucydides, the Beatles, and a female terrorist turned Tory

I had known that Enoch Powell, before becoming the most controversial politician in modern British history, was an intelligence officer in World War II (and a very good one, according to his boss) and a classicist before that.

But one thing I learned in London after a wine-fueled dinner at the old school bohemian Chelsea Arts Club ("dress code: none") was that Powell was one of the editors of a very good edition of Thucydides. I checked on Amazon and unfortunately it costs too damn much. 

Bonus fact: The original version of the Beatles song "Get Back" had an allusion to Powell's "rivers of blood" speech (which itself was a reference to Virgil). It is not often that you can pack Paul McCartney, Enoch Powell, and Virgil into the same song. What a bag of cats.  

I'm not even gonna get into Eric Clapton's 1976 endorsement of Powell.

While I am on the subject of what I did in London, can anyone name the one-time terrorist who is honored with a statue just west of the Houses of Parliament? Hint: She eventually became a member of the Conservative Party. 


The Best Defense

Quote of the day: A journalist's aside about speaking the Army's language

Greg Jaffe had this nice aside in a recent article about U.S. Army troops fighting along the Kabul-Kandahar highway: "Horney grew up in Lebanon, Pa., where his father was a recruiter for the Army Reserve. He's fit, with an open, friendly manner and a slight drawl -- an accent best described as career Army." (My italics.)

In other journalism news, David Wood, whose terrific war reporting has been saluted here several times, picked up a historic Pulitzer Prize -- apparently the first given to an on-line only publication for reporting.

And while we are on the Afghan War, here is a link for the free PDF of that new Marine history of the war in Afghanistan by Robert Cassidy that was reviewed here the other day.