Ernest Bevin, British Officials and British Soviet Policy, 1945–47
It is now some ten years since D.C. Watt wrote his open letter to British historians inviting them to take advantage of the release of British official documents at the Public Record Office under the thirty-year rule to break down the American monopoly on the interpretation of the origins of the cold war.1 The response has, in large measure, overturned the bipolarity of cold war historiography. It has also seen the development of something approaching an orthodoxy in relation to Britain’s role in the cold war which is in some danger of obscuring the manner in which policy was developed and the inevitable doubts and clashes of opinion at the time about the way forward. Perhaps the inadvertent focus for this orthodoxy has been Alan Bullock’s final volume of his masterly biography of Ernest Bevin.2. Frank Roberts, Bevin’s private secretary in the years 1947–49 has commented: ‘All of us who worked closely with Bevin in the Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service, developed an appreciation as well as an admiration for him which could unwittingly stifle criticism and inhibit an objective evaluation.’3 It may well be that historians of the cold war need to be similarly careful that analysis is not held hostage to Bevin orthodoxy.
KeywordsPrime Minister Middle East British Library Soviet Policy British Policy
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.