Who said: "It is a fact of life that any discourse...will always please if it is five minutes shorter than people expect"

BookBrowse's Favorite Quotes

"It is a fact of life that any discourse, on any subject, whatever the occasion and whatever the status of the speaker, will always please if it is five minutes shorter than people expect." - Paul Johnson

English journalist, historian, speechwriter and author Paul Bede Johnson was born in 1928 in Manchester, educated at a private Roman Catholic school, and then at Magdalen College, Oxford. After graduating with a second-class honours degree he completed his national service in the army mainly in Gibraltar (a tiny British territory on the south coast of Spain). In 1952 he went to work in Paris, first for a French magazine as assistant editor, and then as Paris correspondent for the New Statesman.

After witnessing Franco's regime during his military service and the ferocious police response to the 1952 riots soon after his arrival in Paris, Johnson became strongly left-wing in his outlook. But by the 1970s his political pendulum had swung to embrace a distinctly conservative outlook. During the 1980s he was one of Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's closest advisers and also wrote a regular column for the weekly conservative British magazine The Spectator (from 1981 to 2009), primarily addressing issues and events that he felt indicated a decline in society in general.

He still writes for The Spectator occasionally and also contributes to The Daily Telegraph, the The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and National Review. To date, in addition to numerous magazine and newspaper articles, he has he published over 40 books.

Strongly anti-communist, and popular with the conservative movement in the United States, he is known for statements that (would appear to intentionally) provoke. For example, some of his more controversial positions include defending Richard Nixon for Watergate and Oliver North's involvement in the 1986 Iran-Contra affair. Despite his early experiences with the regime during his military service, he apparently has been known to express qualified admiration for General Franco and, according to Heroes Are People, Too (2007), considers Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet one of his heroes.

More Quotes

This quote & biography originally ran in an issue of BookBrowse's membership magazine. Full Membership Features & Benefits.

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hag-Seed
    by Margaret Atwood
    There's a scene in The Tempest that many critics have concluded is indicative of Shakespeare&#...
  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.