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Loyalists and Loners is a collection of Michael Foot’s essays. Adept at the longer distance though he was, one only has to remember The Pen and the Sword and his Aneurin Bevan biography, the essay very often saw his writing at its sharpest and most eloquent. He has been compared to Arnold Bennett and J. B. Priestley, but there is no exaggeration in extending that to A. J. P. Taylor. This volume, one of his very best, is split into four categories: A Labour Party Gallery, Four Prime Ministers, A Miscellany of Cross-breeds and Some True Prophets. Figures, sometimes unexpected ones, such as Hugh Gaitskell, Winston Churchill, Enoch Powell, Harold Nicolson and Alexander Herzen, are all written about with flair, sympathy and an infectious enthusiasm. There is nothing of the makeshift here, try his essay on Heinrich Heine, imbued with a deep knowledge and written in a sort of way as to make one immediately want to read the subject. That is a rare gift, time and time again Michael Foot demonstrated it.
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