Dead white men

The first time I saw journalist Johan Hakelius was in a book by Camilla Thulin about men with style. He was presented as a kind of Anglophile dandy, a man with a passionate love for tweed and colorful cords. Indeed he is very stylish, in a way that would be considered excentric in Britain as well, I think. Apparently he is quite a television personality, but I clearly don´t watch when he is on.

Hakelius has recently published a book called "Ladies" (same title in Swedish), about excentric Englishwomen, a follow-up to "Dead white men" (Sw. "Döda vita män") from 2009. Being a bit of an Anglophile myself, I immediately set out to find these books, and the first one that fell into my lap was "Dead white men".

This is 400 pages of fun facts about 14 British excentrics, probably men to whom the author feels some kind of affinity. Some of them I have taken an interest in myself, like Alec Guinness. He is perhaps the least excentric of them all, he only seemed odd, I think, because he was a pretty conventional and normal bloke in a profession (acting) where the normal thing was to be odd. I had also heard about Alan Clarke, Oswald Mosley and Evelyn Waugh. But Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk? Just the name is spectacularly excentric!

The book is a compliation of interesting bits from the author´s bookshelves, a piece of armchair journalism. And it´s a fun, entertaining read, that will deepen and broaden the general knowledge of British 20th Century culture, if that is your special interest. Or maybe you just like to read about outrageous people. What the book is lacking, and I think this is a big fault for an entertainment read of the lighter variety, is pictures. I find myself reaching for my computer and Google about every ten pages, just to get a face to these men.

On the whole, I have had a pleasurable weekend in Mr Hakelius company.

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