- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
I had known that Enoch Powell, before becoming the most controversial politician in modern British history, was an intelligence officer in World War II (and a very good one, according to his boss) and a classicist before that.
But one thing I learned in London after a wine-fueled dinner at the old school bohemian Chelsea Arts Club ("dress code: none") was that Powell was one of the editors of a very good edition of Thucydides. I checked on Amazon and unfortunately it costs too damn much.
Bonus fact: The original version of the Beatles song "Get Back" had an allusion to Powell’s "rivers of blood" speech (which itself was a reference to Virgil). It is not often that you can pack Paul McCartney, Enoch Powell, and Virgil into the same song. What a bag of cats.
I’m not even gonna get into Eric Clapton’s 1976 endorsement of Powell.
While I am on the subject of what I did in London, can anyone name the one-time terrorist who is honored with a statue just west of the Houses of Parliament? Hint: She eventually became a member of the Conservative Party.