ARENA OF AMBITION: A History of the Cambridge Union

ARENA OF AMBITION: A History of the Cambridge Union

STEPHEN PARKINSON    Book Number: 80294    Product format: Hardback

Founded in 1815, the Cambridge Union immediately became the subject of controversy when an attempt was made to shut it down on the grounds that it was interfering with students' studies. The real fear was that revolutionary ideas were being disseminated, but although frequently flamboyant, the Union's speakers were on the whole members of the establishment. A century later John Maynard Keynes honed his economic theories in the debating chamber and became President, while in 1920 Lord Mountbatten, supported by Churchill, opposed the motion that the time was now ripe for a Labour government. They carried the motion triumphantly. The Oxford Union's resolution in the thirties against fighting for king and country achieved notoriety, while similar motions at Cambridge passed unnoticed. During World War II, the Union building was used covertly to plan the D-Day landings, using large-scale models of the Normandy beaches. Following the War, the Union was again a staging post for aspiring Conservative politicians, dubbed the 'Cambridge mafia', although in 1964 Simon Schama, sporting an apricot bow tie, proposed that the House would support violent revolution in South Africa. During the sixties there was also a wealth of dramatic talent in the Footlights theatre club: David Frost, Peter Cook, several Monty Pythons, Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen, to name a few. Interspersed with the history of the Society are recollections of activists including Michael Howard, Lord Lamont, Arianna Huffington and Peter Bazalgette. 418pp. B/w photos.
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ISBN 9781848310612
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