A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the London office of a Conservative MP who was in despair at the prospect that Mr Boris Johnson was poised to become leader of his party, and then prime minister. We chatted about politics and about what books we had been reading.

I mentioned that I had just finished Sebastian Haffner’s memoir, Defying Hitler. “I’ve got it right here,” replied the MP, reaching back into his shelves. “Isn’t it brilliant?”

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