I enjoy reading diaries of famous or notable people. Sir Henry Channon, better known as "Chips" by friends and detractors alike, managed to make a name for himself --- albeit on a minor scale --- in politics (as a member of the British Parliament between 1934 & 1953) and high society.
Though born an American, "Chips" divorced himself from his native land shortly after the First World War, and embraced fully and unreservedly all things British. Indeed, he became a British subject and married into one of the wealthiest families in Britain during the early 1930s. This added to the wealth he had already inherited from his father's side of the family, allowed "Chips" to lead a largely carefree existence. One of his contemporaries, Harold Nicolson, who was a frequent guest at the parties the Channons became known for, reflected that: "Oh my God how rich and powerful Lord Channon has become! There is his house in Belgrave Square next door to Prince George, Duke of Kent and Duchess of ditto and little Prince Edward. The house is all Regency upstairs with very carefully draped curtains and Madame Récamier sofas and wall-paintings. Then the dining-room is entered through an orange lobby and discloses itself suddenly as a copy of the blue room of the Amalienburg near Munich - baroque and rococo and what-ho and oh-no-no and all that. Very fine indeed."
As a member of Parliament, "Chips" supported Franco during the Spanish Civil War and became associated with the pro-appeasement wing of the Conservative Party, as exemplified by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. "Chips" had a special fondness for Chamberlain, who gave him a small diplomatic role in Yugoslavia (Prince Paul of Yugoslavia had been a schoolmate of "Chips" in Oxford; the two had become the best of friends) early in the Second World War. His hopes of acquiring a higher political profile were dashed when Winston Churchill (with whom "Chips" was fairly acquainted) succeeded Chamberlain as Prime Minister on May 10, 1940.
The best part about this book was "Chips' " unerring skill --- through his wit and keen powers of observation --- for conveying to the reader his perceptions of places, events, and people with whom he socialized or served with in Parliament. He's unflinchingly honest, not above pointing out the shortcomings of his friends. I enjoyed the journey this book took me on. But "Chips" Channon was not somebody I found likeable. He was vain, pompous, and a snob. Yet, for all that, I found what "Chips" related about life both between the wars and in the immediate postwar era fascinating stuff. Now I wonder what other juicy tidbits will come to light when the rest of "The Diaries" (in toto, it runs to 3 million words) will become available to the general public in 2017? For anyone who loves to read juicy, engaging, and well-written diaries from famous/notable people in decades past, this is the book for YOU.