Lords and Masters is a work of fiction, but with mastery and style Macdonell uses his undoubted journalistic skill to unmask much that was unpleasant in the West End Society circles of the early 1930s. He exposes the hypocrisy of the monied class and with biting satire weaves a tale of intrigue, turning it into a thriller. His character depiction of the unscrupulous war-profiteer Sir Montagu Anderton-Mawle is a masterpiece and his ability to so ably define all that is wrong in the world — as relevant today as it was in the 1930s — reveals a genius in the art of narrative composition.
Although written in 1936, Macdonell was early in seeing that war was becoming inevitable and in Lords and Masters he foresaw with frightening prescience how events would unfold. He was correct in foreseeing the attack on Singapore, but was happily wrong in regard to Japanese attacks on San Francisco and Montreal.
The book is built around the character of James Hanson, a steel millionaire, and the cynical manoeuvrings of those who would seek to profiteer out of human misery. James’ youngest daughter, Veronica, is a Nazi-lover, presumably modelled on Unity Mitford.
“Veronica, dear,” said Mrs. Hanson admiringly, “aren’t you being a little impertinent?”
“No, seriously, Daddy, that atrocity stuff is all rot. Hitler wouldn’t allow it for a moment. He isn’t that sort of man. A few Jews have been beaten up perhaps, but that’s nothing.
Veronica, who heartily despised the physical appearance of any male under about sixfoot- three, was not so narrow-minded as to despise male intelligence simply because it was encased in a relatively dwarfish body. After all, no one could call the Fuehrer particularly handsome, and yet what a mammoth intellect he had got! Dr. Goebbels was positively ugly, but look how he scattered the non-Aryans with his inner fires of patriotism and genius!
Happily for Macdonell, England was not invaded in 1940, otherwise he might have been on the list of those to be rounded up.
New introduction by Alan Sutton.
A. G. Macdonell, (1895-1941) was a journalist and satirical novelist. Without doubt his best-known work was England Their England, but the success of this overshadows his other books, many of which were classics in their own way. The Autobiography of a Cad must surely rank as one of the funniest books ever written and Lords and Masters is a cutting and hard-hitting satire with frightening prescience, foreseeing the Second World War as inevitable.
His American trip in 1934 is amusingly related in A Visit to America, but his other non-fiction is also powerful and beautifully written, with his highly regarded Napoleon and his Marshals providing one of the best accounts of the Napoleonic Wars in one single volume.
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm