Pistols at Dawn, By John Campbell

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The Independent Culture

For Lloyd George, "there is no friendship at the top". If the titanic Blair-Brown feud bore out the dictum of a Westminster street-fighter who gave as good as he got, then their intimate enmity has parallels over two centuries.

In this cleverly conceived and stylishly executed book about "200 years of political rivalry", Campbell brings his historian's depth of vision to the family rows of Parliament.

From Pitt against Fox in Napoleon's era to Gladstone and Disraeli, Thatcher-Heath, and more recent sulphurous spats, he gives each side in these eight legendary bouts their due.

Campbell points to a "continuity" in the venom and vehemence of these battles that outlives shifts in party and ideology: a British disease, or just a human one?