In this episode of Secrets of Statecraft, actual historian Andrew Roberts talks to humorist and self-appointed “historian” Christopher Buckley about the faux pas and its celebrated and checkered past. This episode is brimming with witty repartee and hilarious anecdotes featuring several historically significant figures, and not one faux pas (that we know about).

To view the full transcript of this episode, read below:

Andrew Roberts: Ladies and gentlemen, hello, I'm Andrew Roberts, the Roger and Martha Mertz Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and I'd like to welcome you to my new podcast, Secrets of Statecraft. The title derives from Sir Winston Churchill's reply to a young American who asked him for some life advice as Churchill was walking through Westminster Hall on the day of the Queen's coronation in 1953.

Andrew Roberts: "Study history, study history," Churchill said, "for therein lies all the secrets of statecraft." I've been an historian for 30 years and have written or edited 18 books, and in this podcast series, I'll be talking to prominent people about the role that history has played in their careers and their decision making and also to fellow historians about how the past influenced the people they've written about.

Andrew Roberts: In the course of it, I hope to eke out some of the timeless secrets of statecraft. The faux pas has had a long and interesting history, and its foremost historian is the author and broadcaster, Christopher Buckley. Christopher, how did you first begin your scholarly interest in the subject?

Christopher Buckley: Well, I have to start by saying, having a historian of the caliber of Andrew Roberts calling me a historian is about as good as it gets, so I think I'm going to retire right after this podcast. My scholarly, indeed historical, interest in faux pas was prompted by a very embarrassing moment some years ago.

Christopher Buckley: I ran into a friend of the family, very distinguished fellow. Well, I can say his name, Bill Simon. He was in Richard Nixon's cabinet, and I said to him, "Oh, how's Carol?", Referring to his wife. His face sort of went opaque, and he said, "She died three years ago." Where do you go from there? I mean, hurriedly to the nearest exit so you can bash your head against a wall in privacy.

Andrew Roberts: That's a good one, but your father, William F. Buckley, he beat you in that department, didn't he?

Christopher Buckley: Oh, he did, indeed. My late beloved dad was always one upping me, but in this case, I was very happy to be one upped. He asked a friend of his how his wife was. The friend replied, "You were a pallbearer at her funeral three years ago, Bill." That's a major league of, oops.

Andrew Roberts: Tell me as, as the historian of the faux pas, where does the phrase originate?

Christopher Buckley: Well, as I imagine our audience already knows, it's French. It's not a term Americans use very much, which seems to me a shame because saying, "Oh dear, I've made a terrible faux pas" sounds rather more elegant than, "Man, did I just step in it!" So, its cousin term, gaffe, is also a French coinage. It's from the French word for boat hook, appropriately enough. The dictionary defines it as an unintentional remark causing embarrassment to the speaker.

Christopher Buckley: One Washington pundit, Michael Kinsley, memorably defined a gaffe as "when a politician accidentally says the truth," so it's really quite rare in Washington, but during the good old days of Watergate, The White House Press Secretary was constantly having to say, "The president misspoke himself." This struck me as a terribly awkward coinage because it made it sound as though the president had just wet himself, but then I suppose one way or the other, he had.

Andrew Roberts: It's not the same as a Freudian slip, is it?

Christopher Buckley: Ah, the eponymous Freudian slip. That's when the id climbs up the esophagus, grabs hold of the uvula, and swings out your mouth, causing faces all around to turn red, mostly yours. Freudian slips can be very awkward. I guess one of my favorite large-scale Freudian slips occurred at the 1980 Democratic Convention.

Christopher Buckley: President Jimmy Carter was trying desperately to make nice with the Democratic establishment, and he was lavishing praise on former Vice President, Hubert Horatio Humphrey. Rising to his crescendo, Mr. Carter asked the audience to join him in an ovation to Vice President Hubert Horatio Hornblower.

Christopher Buckley: Mr. Carter was a former Navy man, and it turns out he was a CS Forester fan, and the look on his face of total bewilderment as his audience combusts in mirth was a memorable moment in politics. On the other hand, I would point out that Vice President Hubert Horatio Humphrey himself had once memorably put his foot in a big pile of donkey do when, in a speech, he declared, "No sane person in the country likes the war in Vietnam, and neither does President Johnson." Loved that one.

Andrew Roberts: As well as president's courts and royalty, they're full of minefields for this full step, this faux pas, aren't they?

Christopher Buckley: Oh, major, major minefields. Courts and palaces are strewn with the corpses of those who have messed up. There are just so many ways to put your foot wrong at court. The French even had to embed a term for just this category of faux pas, lese-majeste. Those who commit lese-majeste or could be called Les Miserables.

Christopher Buckley: For me, the most dramatic modern instance, I think of lese-majeste was the eulogy given by Princess Diana's brother at her funeral in Westminster Abbey. Eloquent it undeniably was, but its essential message to the Royal family, who being the Royal family, had front row seats was, "You were, A, horrible to her and, B, you have her blood on your hands." That must have caused a bit of buttock clenching in the Royal pews.

Christopher Buckley: Not since Mark Anthony extolled Brutus for being an honorable man has there been such an artfully subversive funeral oration. Whatever one's views about Diana, one might ask, is it appropriate to dis the queen in her own church during a funeral.

Christopher Buckley: Now, to be sure Royals themselves aren't exempt from putting their extensively shod feet wrong. Prince Andrew managed to get himself demoted and banished from public duties by giving that disastrous TV interview, which consisted of wall-to-wall faux pas. He seemed to find it bewildering, even inexplicable, that people found inappropriate his friendship with a convicted sex trafficker. Moreover, he had "no recollection at all of the 17-year-old girl in the photo, the one his arm was around.

Christopher Buckley: Andrew's nephew, Harry, now living the quiet, simple life of a Montecito, California chicken farmer, you'll remember attended a costume ball once and thought it would be jolly good find to dress up as a Nazi storm trooper complete with swastika armbands. If only he'd had a Jeeves to be there to cough softly and say, "If I might suggest, Sir, not the swastika armband."

Christopher Buckley: Harry's father, the future King Charles III, sometimes is known to step in it. I'll tell you a story. A friend of mine I'll call Dmitry who was, in fact, actually not Russian, but let's call him Dmitry, was at a wedding luncheon at Buckingham Palace once. He and his wife were going through the reception line. Well, Prince Charles and Dmitry were friends, but the Prince had never met Dmitry's wife.

Christopher Buckley: So, the Prince greeted Dmitry with a roguish wink-wink, and said, "Ah, Dmitry! I hear you've become very good friends with," let's call her Vanessa. The lady in question was the very attractive sister of Dmitry's wife. That is the wife standing right next to him in the receiving line.

Christopher Buckley: Dmitry tried frantically to signal his Royal Highness with eyeballs that this is really not an ideal subject to conversation in present company, but the Royal receptors weren't working very well that day. "Yes!", the Prince of Royals said, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. "I hear you're having a very good time with her, indeed!"

Christopher Buckley: Dmitry was reduced to croaking, "Sir, may I present my wife?", and Charles said, "Oh, God!", said to the future Queen of England. "Now I've gone and put my foot in it again!" What struck Dmitry after his wife struck him was that, again, if Charles does this sort thing all the time, the reign of Charles III is going to be to watch.

Andrew Roberts: Fortunately, there is one member of the Royal family who constitutionally never makes faux pas, isn't there?

Christopher Buckley: Indeed, Her Majesty, to whom I send greetings on her Platinum, or is it Titanium Jubilee?

Andrew Roberts: Platinum.

Christopher Buckley: Very glad to hear that...

Andrew Roberts: That's the next one. That's the hundredth is the Titanium.

Christopher Buckley: Well, I send Her Majesty all my best wishes on this, and we're all, of course, delighted that she's rid of the COVID. She's a paragon of sensitivity, Her Majesty. One of my favorite stories is, in the early 1980s, Lech Walesa, remember the heroic Polish leader of the Solidarity movement, came to Buckingham Palace for dinner, and artichokes were served.

Christopher Buckley: Well, Mr. Walesa had never seen an artichoke. It was not an item commonly found on the menu at the Gdansk Shipyard cafeteria. So, he began to eat the leaves whole, spine and all, probably thinking, "Strange people, these English." Her Majesty stepped right in and said, "Why don't you just eat the bottom part? It takes so long to eat the leaves."

Andrew Roberts: I suppose that's what you call [inaudible 00:11:57], isn't it? Her great-grandfather Edward VII had that, too, didn't he?

Christopher Buckley: He did, indeed. He did indeed. The Shah of Persia came to dine at Buckingham Palace on one occasion, and asparagus was served, a legume apparently unknown to the occupant of the Peacock Throne. The Shah ate the tip of each spear, then tossed the stalk over his shoulder onto the floor behind him.

Christopher Buckley: The footman didn't know what to do. Julian Fellowes could probably turn that into an entire episode of Downton Abbey, but King Edward came to the rescue. He started tossing his asparagus spears over his shoulder onto the floor. Soon, everyone at table was following suit. As my fellow historian, Andrew, I'm sure you agree with me that it's a tragedy no photograph exists of this memorable meal.

Andrew Roberts: The pile of asparagus tips behind the monarchs. Aren't mispronunciations a long established source of faux pas?

Christopher Buckley: Yes, they can be. Mispronunciation can lead to all sorts of trouble. This happened memorably to a Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish. Only PG Wodehouse could've come up with that name, but she was actually a real person. She was a great grande dame of The Gilded Age in New York and in Newport, Rhode Island where people went in summer to be rich together.

Christopher Buckley: The occasion was a costume ball. They loved to dress as Gilded Agers. So, on entering the ballroom, Mrs. Fish whispered the theme of her costume to the emballeur. That's the guy with the pole who would bang it on the floor to announce arrivals.

Christopher Buckley: The theme of Mrs. Fish's costume was a Norman peasant. Well, the emballeur seems to have misheard. He banged his staff on the floor and announced in a booming voice to the creme de la creme of Newport, "Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish, an enormous pheasant." Wouldn't you love to have been there?

Andrew Roberts: You'd never talk about anything else for years, would you?

Christopher Buckley: Probably keep it going for 10 years.

Andrew Roberts: Which brings us on to the fact that appearances can deceive, can't they, and they can also lead to a rich source of faux pas.

Christopher Buckley: Appearances can, indeed, be tricky. Robert Benchley, you remember him, the great wit, member of the Algonquin Round Table along the Dorothy Parker and others. He was leaving the 21 Club in New York one night. It had been a bibulous evening as evenings at 21 tended to be.

Christopher Buckley: He saw a man heavily decorated in gold braid and, assuming he was the doorman, told him to call a cab. The extravagantly braided man replied, rather huffily, "I'll have you know, sir. I'm an Admiral." "Oh?", Benchley said, "Well, in that case, call me a battleship." I love that story. The dressing or the occasion, it seems that the greater the potential for a faux pas disaster.

Christopher Buckley: You may remember in 1966, British Foreign Minister, George Brown was at a state dinner in Vienna, and Mr. Brown had enjoyed his wine, as he was famously want to. So, the orchestra struck up a tune, and he turned to the exquisite creature in red seated next to him and said, "Madam, you look ravishing. May we dance?"

Christopher Buckley: The exquisite creature in red replied, "No, Mr. Brown, for three reasons. First, this is the state dinner, not a ball. Second, that's the Austrian State Anthem, not a waltz. The third, I am the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna." Would've loved to have been there, too.

Christopher Buckley: You know what? Appearances can, can deceive. In the 1930s, a dinner was given in honor of Wellington Koo, another PG Wodehouse name, but in fact, a real one. He was Chiang Kai-shek's foreign minister. Koo was a highly educated, deeply erudite man. He was fluent in seven or eight languages. Well, the lady seated next to him looked at him and began the conversation by asking, "Chiney man come far in boaty?"

Christopher Buckley: Koo decided to have some fun, so he nodded and smiled, and she carried on this way all through dinner, explaining to him how to use a knife, fork, a finger bowl, napkin and all the rest. Koo merely responded with more nods and smiles. When it came time for the toast, he rose and gave a brilliant disposition, [inaudible 00:17:38] of all the major issues of the day. He sat down and said to his dinner partner, "You likey speechy?"

Andrew Roberts: Superb put-down. Sometimes. People actually create faux pas even when they're just trying to be polite, don't they?

Christopher Buckley: Indeed, indeed. It's unfair, but it happens. Life is often unfair that way. It happened when I was working in the Reagan administration. Mrs. Walter Annenberg served with great distinction as the US Chief of Protocol at the State Department. The Chief of Protocol is the one who welcomes foreign visitors.

Christopher Buckley: She caused quite a stir by greeting Prince Charles at Andrews Air Force Base with rather a deep curtsy. She was only trying to be courteous, poor dear, There were howls of republican protests. As it was pointed out that our country had fought a war and earned the privilege of not having to bow, much less scrape, before royalty.

Christopher Buckley: By the way, I never know what scrape means. Everyone says bow and scrape. I know what a bow is, but we didn't used to have to, or indeed every day now, scrape before royalty, unless you know what scrape means.

Christopher Buckley: I'll defer to Julian Fellowes on that one.

Andrew Roberts: Julian will know. Julian will know what the scraping bit was all about. Exactly. No, no, no. Sorry. Carry on. Carry on about Mrs. Walter Annenberg.

Christopher Buckley: Well, there's actually a moment in Brideshead Revisited when Andrew, Anthony Blanche shows up at Charles Ryder's opening of his painting, and he stopped by a woman at the door and he goes into a riff. He says, "I have not come here to scrape acquaintance from Lady Celia."

Andrew Roberts: One can imagine Samgrass, but Mr. Samgrass also probably scraped quite a bit in that book, didn't he? Back to Ms. Walter Annenberg, Chris.

Christopher Buckley: Well, she resigned shortly after, poor thing. Imagine her thoughts as she got on her private plane to go back to Palm Springs was rather un-protocolish, "You can take this job and shove it!"

Andrew Roberts: I once made, it wasn't faux pas actually, it was something that Lady Di talked about, people making faux pas where they, in long lines, the gentleman when introducing his wife, she would go first and curtsy, and then the man, overexcited and nervous, would curtsy, too.

Andrew Roberts: Princess Diana told me over lunch one day, she said it was the most difficult thing about being a Royal was to keep a totally straight face because there were often photographers present, of course, and the person did not want is one moment with the Princess of Wales to be an ugly, humiliating one, so she had to keep a totally straight face.

Christopher Buckley: She had a great sense of humor, too.

Andrew Roberts: She did have a great sense of humor.

Christopher Buckley: Doubly hard.

Andrew Roberts: I said to her, "Is it difficult to do?", and she said, "Well, have a go." So, I got up from the lunch table and curtsied to her, and she gave me eight-and-a-half out of 10. I'm mighty proud of that.

Christopher Buckley: Does a photograph exist of that because it should be the jacket photograph on your next...

Andrew Roberts: No, diplomacy is, as we've already mentioned the Foreign Minister, George Brown, but it's a rich theme from which to mine the faux pas, isn't it?

Christopher Buckley: Well, diplomacy is in a way sort of the highest stage of all, even in ways higher than a palace court because everyone's watching. In 2000, then German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, visited Israel.

Christopher Buckley: This was the first official visit to Israel by a German leader, so it was a bit of an exercise in walking on eggshells, as you can imagine. The visit went very smoothly until the chancellor's visit to Yad Vashem, the memorial to the six million Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

Christopher Buckley: When the moment came for him to turn up the eternal flame, he turned the switch the wrong way, extinguishing the flame. So, you can just imagine. It was sort of a combination ach du lieber moment. More a funnier instance, I think at least for me, was the... I'm sure you remember Andrew being a fellow historian. Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra, five times President of Ecuador. You remember him, of course.

Andrew Roberts: Thank you so much for reminding of that. Yes, yes, of course, I knew that. Of course, I knew.

Christopher Buckley: You wrote a book on him. I'm pretty sure I have [crosstalk 00:23:23].

Andrew Roberts: I'm about to. I'm just about to, researching it at the moment.

Christopher Buckley: Well, you'll have to research diligently because he was five times President of Ecuador. He was constantly being deposed and, on one occasion, he showed up at an embassy reception. Accounts vary, that he either urinated in the punch bowl or threw up on the [inaudible 00:23:49] an ambassador. In one version, he managed both, scoring a diplomatic perfecta, I guess. The army promptly deposed him again for having compromised the dignity of the republic.

Christopher Buckley: Then, there's our beloved Gerald Ford, President Ford, who inherited The White House. After the years of agony of Watergate, Jerry Ford was one of the most honorable and decent man ever to occupy the oval office. Yet today, he's largely remembered for faux pas, literal and verbal.

Christopher Buckley: The literal instance came while he was disembarking Air Force 1 in Salzburg. He put a foot wrong and tumbled down the rain-slick ramp, providing endless comic material for the new television show, Saturday Night Live, remember? I'm Chevy Chase and you're not." Mr. Ford's stumble, it was so ironic. He was a man who had attended the University of Michigan on a football scholarship. There, he covered himself and his team in gridiron glory.

Christopher Buckley: He led the Wolverines, and that was his team, to undefeated seasons and national titles. He eventually got some payback at his Saturday Night Live tormentor at the Washington Correspondence Dinner. Mr. Ford was making his way to the podium and he paused and turned and yanked Chevy Chase's tablecloth out from under his dinnerware, spilling it all onto his lap. He said, "I'm Gerald Ford," he grinned, "and you are not."

Andrew Roberts: Might President Ford's verbal mishaps have had serious political repercussions then?

Christopher Buckley: Yeah, yeah. In fact, it's quite possible that his verbal faux pas may have actually cost him reelection. He was debating his challenger, Governor Jimmy Carter, and the subject of East Germany and the Soviet Union came up. Mr. Ford declared, and I quote, "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration."

Christopher Buckley: Well, this probably came as news in Warsaw and Lech Walesa probably choked on his artichoke. Anyway, a year later... Karma is really an amazing thing. President, now President Jimmy Carter was in Warsaw to give a well intentioned speech.

Christopher Buckley: The faux pas in this case was provided by his state department translator who had Mr. Carter telling the Poles that "desired them carnally." Poor Jimmy Carter. He was probably the most chaste president in American history, but he always seemed to be in a state of lust.

Andrew Roberts: The French, who as we established earlier, invented the phrase faux pas. They're also pretty good at committing them themselves, aren't they?

Christopher Buckley: Ca va sans dire, which is, I believe that's French for, you can say that again. The Duke de Richelieu was a great friend of King Louis XV, and one of his many titles was Gentleman of the Bedchamber. What a great title.

Christopher Buckley: Anyway, one day, the Duke opened the wrong door at Versailles only to discover the Duchess de Richelieu, his wife, in bed with another member of the court. He said nothing, just quietly closed the door. Later, he said to her, "Madame, [inaudible 00:27:59] honte! Shame! What if I had been someone else? Only a Frenchman, only a Frenchman.

Christopher Buckley: And a French aristocrat, as well, [crosstalk 00:28:10].

Andrew Roberts: To handle the Situation like that with such je ne sais quoi.

Christopher Buckley: David Niven, he's famously good at faux pas, isn't he?

Christopher Buckley: It's quite my favorite faux pas story. David Niven was, of course, the wonderful English actor, and in real life, a charmer and a gentleman down to his tiptoes, but one night he was at a fancy party. He was chatting with a man he'd just met, and they were standing at the foot of a grand staircase.

Christopher Buckley: Two ladies appeared at the top and started to walk down. David nudged his companion and said, "I say! That has to be the homeliest woman I've ever seen." The man stiffened and said, "That's my wife." David just said, "I meant the other one." "That's my daughter." David just said, "I didn't say it." In our household, we call that the David Niven defense.

Andrew Roberts: Tell me, in a wider sense, what does the faux pas tell us about human nature, would you say, Chris?

Christopher Buckley: Well, I guess to me, faux pas are reminders that, however much the human race dresses itself up, you still can't take it out. I find something touching, almost endearing, in these examples of our frailty because I think they reveal us for what we are, despite all our pretensions, namely fallible.

Christopher Buckley: Ultimately, we're all players in what Balzac called la comedie humaine, the human comedy. Our humanity never seems more human than those unrehearsed moments when we put a foot wrong and slip on banana peels, largely of our own strewing. Aquinas called man the risible animal. He meant risible because we laugh. I would add risible, too, by virtue of our talent for occasion laughter.

Christopher Buckley: You certainly recall that Roman generals who achieved great glory were accorded the honor of a triumphal procession, and they would ride on a chariot with great fanfare and flowers. Behind them stood a slave, whispering into their ear amidst all this fanfare, "Remember that you are mortal and that all glory is fleeting."

Christopher Buckley: Well, this must have been very annoying for the generals. I wonder if they ever said to the slave, "Will you please shut up? I'm trying to enjoy my triumph here, to which the slave might reply, "You're fabulous. I'm just saying, watch your step." Actually me, if it were my triumph, I think I'd have tossed the slave off the chariot.

Andrew Roberts: A sudden push might be the answer.

Christopher Buckley: A good push. That's great.

Andrew Roberts: I think this is a moment for telling you about my worst faux pas, which was at a party. I knew these two people, and I wondered, I couldn't remember the names of either of them, but I wanted to introduce them to each other and did.

Andrew Roberts: I asked whether they knew one another, and Lord Longford said, "I have been married to Lady Longford now for some 60 years," but this shows his innate kindness. He said, "But on a deeper level, do we ever really know anyone else?" I thought it was so kind, so kind to me anyway as my face went bright puce as you can imagine.

Christopher Buckley: That's great savoir faire.

Andrew Roberts: Thank you. Now, on these podcasts, I sometimes ask a couple of questions. The first one is, what's your favorite historical counterfactual? Have you got a 'what if' that you particularly enjoy about history?

Christopher Buckley: Well, I just read an extraordinary book by a French woman named, I think Laurent Binet. You've probably heard of it. It's called Civilizations, and it's a 300-page novel, technically, but she's a historian, or she's a fellow historian, I should say, in which she sort of reverses things to the point that the conquistadors come over, get conquisted themselves.

Christopher Buckley: Atahualpa, Chief of the Incas, ends up invading Europe and taking over the [inaudible 00:33:33] empire. It's a marvelously precise piece of counterfactual history. I mean, the detail in it is just stunning. I urge our listeners, after they buy your new book and my new book, to buy Civilizations.

Andrew Roberts: That's a very good one. Is there an actual history book or a biography that you are reading at the moment?

Christopher Buckley: Yeah, just last night, I've started Allen Guelzo's, if I'm pronouncing his name correctly, biography of Robert E. Lee. In fact, there's a diffusive, a blurb at the very top of the back by someone named Andrew Roberts.

Andrew Roberts: Yeah, it's a brilliant book. It really is very, very, good.

Christopher Buckley: Absolutely brilliant book. He begins, I think the first, I'll muff the actual wording, but the first sentence is, "So, how do you write the biography of a traitor?", and then he goes about answering it very elegantly. I'm only on chapter two, but it's an extraordinary book. I think it's the best book, best biography I've read since I read your biography of Napoleon about a month ago, which is extraordinary, but I do not know how you knock these out every year.

Andrew Roberts: Well, thank you for the praise. We might well have to edit the praise out of the ultimate recording, I have to say.

Christopher Buckley: Oh, no, no, no. The praise is what this is all about. I see this podcast for what it really is.

Andrew Roberts: Now. On a serious and sad note, indeed, PJ O'Rourke, your long time and good friend, died recently. There was universal lamentation across the globe, really, about this brilliant man's life. I wonder if you'd just like to give us a few memories of him, a eulogy to him, essentially.

Christopher Buckley: Well, this is impromptu. I was asked by the New York Times to write an appreciation. There were three pieces in the New York Times, and there was an extraordinary outpouring. PJ O'Rourke was, The Wall Street Journal called him the funniest writer in America, and he was. He was incapable of not being aphoristic.

Christopher Buckley: In my appreciation of him I used the word hyper-aphoristic, and I got a lot of emails saying that people, they had to look it up, but if you pick up a book of quotations, in particular a book of comic quotations, PJ is right up there with Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker, I mean, in terms of sheer numbers. He was simply that way, but he was very far from just a funny man. He was our generation's Mencken, and he was deeply learned and deeply read, bright as a whip.

Christopher Buckley: He was a funny man, but he was also a serious man in the sense that Mencken might have used the German word for that, ernster mann. I mean, he was someone to be reckoned with, and I teased him because I'd just finished my 20 book, and I think I was one book up on him. He wrote 19, but I have no illusions about whose books are going to still be in print a hundred years from now...

Andrew Roberts: So, now I could praise you if you want because that's not necessary.

Christopher Buckley: ... maybe yours and PJ's, but he was also into the bargain, a lovely, lovely man, and he was very well known in your neck of the woods, across the Herring Pond in England. So, his loss is great. He was 74. He was diagnosed with an inoperable lung tumor on December 23rd.

Christopher Buckley: In his email, he told me that, and he had in parenthesis, "and a Merry Christmas to you, too, Doc," and he was gone two months later. So, at least his suffering wasn't prolonged, but the delight that he brought to all of us will live on long after his departure.

Andrew Roberts: Christopher Buckley, thank you very much, indeed, for giving us this brilliant dissertation, historical dissertation on the faux pas. Thank you so much.

Christopher Buckley: Thank you, my fellow historian, Andrew.

Andrew Roberts: Thank you for listening. Please join me on our next episode when we'll go in a very different direction and speak to Dr. Henry Kissinger.

Speaker 4: This podcast is a production of the Hoover Institution, where we advance ideas that define a free society and improve the human condition. For more information about our work or to listen to more of our podcasts or watch videos, please visit

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