Douglas Hurd CH CBE retired as Foreign Secretary in July 1995, after a distinguished career in Government spanning sixteen years.
After positions as Minister of State in the Foreign Office and the Home Office, he served as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1984 to 1985, Home Secretary from 1985 to 1989 and Foreign Secretary from 1989 to 1995.
Douglas Hurd was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained a first class degree in history.
After joining the Diplomatic Service, he went on to serve at the Foreign Office in Peking, New York (UN) and Rome.
He ran Edward Heath’s private office from 1968 to 1970 and acted as his Political Secretary at 10 Downing Street from 1970 to 1974.
He was MP for Mid-Oxfordshire (later Witney) from 1974 to 1997. He was created a Life Peer in 1997.
Lord Hurd has held a number of important posts such as Deputy Chairman of NatWest Markets and Coutts & Co. He is Chairman of the Prison Reform Trust Charity.
He was Chairman of the judging panel of the 1998 Booker Prize for Fiction.
His other pursuits include writing, walking and reading. He wrote The Search for Peace (with the 1997 BBC TV series), The Shape of Ice (a novel), Ten Minutes to Turn the Devil (a collection of short stories, 1999) and a political thriller, Image in the Water (2001). His memoirs were published in October 2003. Orion published his biography of Robert Peel in 2007 and CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS on British Foreign Secretaries in 2010.
His biography of DISRAELI written with Ed Young was published by Orion in June 2013 and was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson prize.
CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS
When writing his magnificent life of Robert Peel, Douglas Hurd found himself caught up again in a debate that has always fascinated him as a former diplomat and Foreign Secretary – the argument between the noisy popular liberal interventionist approach and the more conservative diplomatic approach concentrating on co-operation between other nations. The argument has run for two centuries – and is at the heart of heated discussion on both sides of the Atlantic today. Hurd concentrates on personalities and circumstances. He begins with the dramatic antagonism after Waterloo between Canning (liberal, populist, interventionist) and Castlereagh (institutions, compromise, real politics) – the last occasion on which ministerial colleagues fought a duel. A generation later comes Palmerston vs Aberdeen, from which Palmerston, the noisy interventionist, emerged the victor. A fascinating, but forgotten vignette is provided by the quarrel between Disraeli and his old friend and Foreign Secretary, Lord Derby, which led to Derby resigning as a protest against jingoism and Disraeli spreading the rumour that Lady Derby was leaking secrets to the Russian Ambassador. Salisbury and then Edward Grey wrestled with the same dilemma in the context of imperialism (Salisbury) and the European balance of power (Grey). Between the wars, another vignette describing Austen Chamberlain, the decent, monocled Foreign Secretary who began as an idealist (Locarno Treaty) and ended as a passionate opponent of appeasement. Finally Eden and Bevin, from wholly different backgrounds, combined with the Americans to create a post-war compromise, which served its purpose for half a century, but is coming apart today as the old questions resurface in new and savage forms in an era of terrorism and racial conflict.
“One of the great achievements of this thoughtful and elegant book is to emphasise the thread of continuity running through British foreign policy from the age of Napoleon to the cold war… If William Hague wants to prepare for the rigours of the Foreign Office, he should buy a copy immediately” Sunday Times. “Douglas Hurd has done the impossible. Together with his co-author, Edward Young, he has produced a page-turning book about the history of British foreign policy.” Independent. “This is a fascinating book” David Owen, Guardian. “A hugely enjoyable book… Any future foreign secretary would be well advised to read this engrossing book on their first day in office.” Jack Straw, Observer.
PUBLICATION DATE: February 2010
SIR ROBERT PEEL
Robert Peel, as much as any man in the nineteenth century, transformed Great Britain into a modern nation. He invented our police force, which became a model for the world. He steered through the Bill which allowed Catholics to sit in Parliament. He reorganised the criminal justice system. He put Britain back on the gold standard; he invented the Conservative Party which we know today. He sent his constituents at Tamworth the first modern election manifesto. He settled Canada’s border with the United States.
Above all he tackled poverty by repealing the Corn Laws. Thanks to Peel the most powerful trading nation chose free trade and opened the door for our globalised world of today.
Peel was not all politics. He built two great houses, filled them with famous pictures and was devoted to a beautiful wife. Yet he was a stiff, not easy to know. ‘Such a cold odd man’ wrote Queen Victoria – who later became a keen admirer – and Disraeli attacked him for dishonesty.
Many followers never forgave him for splitting his Party. But when in 1850 he was carried home after a fall from his horse crowds gathered outside, mainly of working people, to read the medical bulletins. When he died a few days later, factories closed, flags flew at half mast and thousands contributed small sums to memorials in his honour. He was the man who provided cheap bread and sacrificed his career for the welfare of ordinary people.
Douglas Hurd, like Peel, was Home Secretary and argued for Peel’s One Nation philosophy. He too lived through a time of conflict in the Conservative Party and has watched its defeat and rebirth. In this biography, with one eye on the present, he charts Peel’s life and work through the dramas of nineteenth-century politics.
PUBLICATION DATE: June 2007
Douglas Hurd retired as Foreign Secretary in 1995 after a distinguished career in Government spanning 16 years. As Secretary of State for Ireland, Home Secretary and then six years in the Foreign Office in Margaret Thatcher and John Major’s administrations, he was at the very heart of modern political decision-making. Earlier he had run Edward Heath’s private office from 1968 to 1970 and acted as his Political Secretary when Heath was Prime Minister (1970-74). This, then, is the political memoir of a man who has been at the heart of government for a generation. A Life Peer since 1997, Hurd continues to write political novels and works in the City as Chairman of the Advisory Committee of Hawkpoint Partners.
Paperback published August 2004
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
PUBLICATION DATE: Octboer 2003
IMAGE IN THE WATER
After a narrow Labour Party victory that is dependent on Scottish Labour votes, the young, ambitious and right-wing Alcester sweeps in as Tory leader of the opposition. He has married the previous Prime Minister’s daughter, and when their baby boy is kidnapped it leads to an upsurge of support for the bright new Party leader.
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
PUBLICATION DATE: October 2001
THE SEARCH FOR PEACE: A CENTURY OF PEACE DIPLOMACY
We live in a world of nation states, immortal and political entities that act as a focus for the loyalty of the citizen but cannot by themselves meet those citizens’ needs. As the history of our own continent illustrates, a Europe of nation states has bred a Europe of endemic warfare. Such has been the problem facing international diplomacy for nearly two hundred years. Douglas Hurd traces the search for peace back to the Treaty of Vienna in 1815, focusing his attention on four key events – the Congress of Vienna, the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, the Yalta settlement of 1945 and the collapse of Communism. He demonstrates how the diplomatic realism that kept Europe at peace for a century was destroyed by both American idealism at the end of the First World War and the accompanying rise of Nazism, Fascism and Marxism. Only by appreciating the lessons of the past, can we meet the new challenges presented by the tumultuous events of 1989, when the threat of nuclear war was replaced by the open wound of Bosnia. Combining acute historical analysis with the unique insight of a former Foreign Secretary, THE SEARCH FOR PEACE is a major contribution to our understanding of international politics.
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
PUBLICATION DATE: 13 November 1997
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean a coup d’etat threatens a country to which Britain has treaty obligations. The Foreign Secretary has been killed in an aircrash; the Prime Minister has promoted a senior and much-respected back-bencher; a rising TV commentator, feeling that he is not rising fast enough, sees his chance.
PUBLISHER: Black Dagger Crime
PUBLICATION DATE: November 1999
TEN MINUTES TO TURN THE DEVIL
As an MP, Douglas Hurd would write a new short story every year during the summer Parliamentary recess. This collection comprises ten tales, including a moving account of a family in Bosnia (The Last Day of Summer), a caper about drugrunning off Florida (A Suitcase Between Friends), and a grimly realistic Ulster vignette (Fog of Peace). Each of these stories reflects the intelligent concerns of a politician engaged in, and committed to, both the everyday world of domestic matters and at the highest level. All admirers of the bestselling THE SHAPE OF ICE will derive enjoyment from them.
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
PUBLICATION DATE: 4 November 1999
VOTE TO KILL
Sir James Percival, a cool, world-weary veteran of Tory politics, finds himself with a small but workable majority after 7 years of Labour rule and might be forgiven for looking forward to a quiet life. But life, especially in politics, isn’t like that. His 2nd wife Helena & disreputable son Antony don’t get on & the move to No.10 leads to flare-ups that can’t be kept private. The Cabinet are soon at odds over Ireland where a new wave of violence has crested out of a calm sea. Popular, brilliant Jeremy Cornwall, young rogue elephant of the Toryies, exploits the opportunity with a crusade to Bring the Boys Home. The Government’s attempt to counter-attack is disastrously betrayed by someone inside No.10. Suddenly in a matter of weeks the government is fighting for its life & the PM has sinister information that his own may be at short call. How these events themselves with the personal relationships of the PM’s immediate circle, how people in a tight corner discover qualities they were never suspected of, how the sheer pace of events takes charge, how politics is the most addictive of all drugs, Douglas Hurd shows with all the deceptively easy mastery of the real professional.
PUBLICATION DATE: 9 October 1975
THE PALACE OF ENCHANTMENTS
An ambitious Conservative Junior Minister, Edward Dunsford, seems to be doing all the right things in his bid to become Foreign Secretary. Until, that is, a moment’s sentimental weakness precipitates his career into chaos, his party into crisis and his own marriage onto the rocks.
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton
PUBLICATION DATE: 1 July 1985
THE SHAPE OF ICE
Prime Minister Simon Russell’s personal alarm clock is ticking away. Beyond No 10, prison riots, bombs in Ireland, corporate blackmail in China and civil unrest in Russia jostle for his attention. As the pressure builds, his judgement and his relationships become distorted.
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
PUBLICATION DATE: 21 May 1998
THE SMILE ON THE FACE OF THE TIGER
PUBLICATION DATE: January 1969
Benjamin Disraeli was the most gifted parliamentarian of the nineteenth century. A superb orator, writer and wit, he twice rose to become Prime Minister, dazzling many with his famous epigrams along the way.
But how much do we really know about the man behind the words? How did this bankrupt Jewish school dropout and trashy novelist reach the top of the Victorian Conservative Party? And why does his reputation continue to have such a hold over British politics today?
In this engaging reassessment, Douglas Hurd and Edward Young explore the paradoxes at the centre of Disraeli’s ‘two lives': a dandy and gambler on the one hand, a devoted servant and favourite Prime Minister of the Queen on the other. A passionately ambitious politician, he intrigued and manoeuvred with unmatched skill to get to – in his own words – ‘the top of the greasy pole’, but he also developed a set of ideas to which he was devoted. His political achievements are never quite what they seem: he despised the idea of a more classless society, he never used the phrase ‘One Nation’, and although he passed the Second Reform Act he was no believer in democracy.
By stripping away the many myths which surround his career, Douglas Hurd and Edward Young bring alive the true genius of Disraeli in this wonderfully entertaining exploration of his life.
“Splendidly written, finely judged and thoroughly persuasive” Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
“This is an invigorating account, bracingly cynical and told with commanding ease — at least one of these authors has been around the political block a bit — and a lovely dry turn of phrase” Sam Leith, The Spectator