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October 18 , 2009

Hugh Trevor-Roper

The Biography


The first biography of the great historian whose career was made and unmade by Hitler.

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Hugh Trevor-Roper's life is a rich subject for a biography - with elements of Greek tragedy, comedy and moments of high farce. Clever, witty and sophisticated, Trevor-Roper was the most brilliant historian of his generation. Until his downfall, he seemed to have everything: wealth and connections, a chair at Oxford, a beautiful country house, an aristocratic wife, and, eventually, a title of his own. Eloquent and versatile, fearless and formidable, he moved easily between Oxford and London, between the dreaming spires of scholarship and the jostling corridors of power. He developed a lucid prose style which he used to deadly effect. He was notorious for his acerbic attacks on other historians, but ultimately tainted his own reputation with a catastrophic error when he authenticated the forged 'Hitler Diaries'.

Adam Sisman sheds new light on this fascinating and dramatic episode, but also shows that there was much more to Hugh Trevor-Roper's career than the fiasco of the Hitler Diaries hoax that became his epitaph. From wartime code-breaking to grilling Nazis while the trail was still fresh in 1945 (and finding Hitler's will buried inside a bottle), to his wide-ranging interests, his snobbery and his malice, his formidable post-war feuds with Evelyn Waugh, Tawney, Toynbee, Taylor and many others, and his secret and passionate affair with an older, married woman. A study in both success and failure, Adam Sisman's biography is a revealing and personal story of a remarkable life.

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