de mortuis

Two things Bob Conquest told me to Reagan’s credit: that he was the only politician who ever actually listened when he, Conquest, was giving an opinion he had been asked for. For most of them asking for an opinion is a mark of favour, not of interest in what you might have to say. Secondly, that his loathing of communism came from his time in the SAG, when he dealt with real communist cells and realised what treacherous and disciplined bastards they were.

I passed the first snippet along to my mother, who worked alongside Conquest and my father in the IRD, the black propaganda department of the Foreign Office. Her response was incredulity that Conquest could ever express an opinion in terms that Reagan could understand.

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