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Peter Calvocoressi (born in 1912) is a British political author and a former intelligence officer at Bletchley Park during World War II.


Early years

Calvocoressi was born in Karachi, nowadays in Pakistan, to a family of Greek origins from the island Chios. His mother, Irene, was a Ralli, a leading Chiot family. When he was three months old, the family moved to Liverpool, England. Calvocoressi's father Pandia had spent the first seven years of his life in Manchester and the next ten at San Stefano (on the fringeoiionbul). He attended the Sorbonne from the age of 17 for three years and then joined the merchant firm of Ralli Brothers in New York. Pandia Calvocoressi and Irene Ralli married in London in 1910. Shortly afterwards Pandia was posted to India where Peter was born. Calvocoressi's mother and her mother were both born in India but spent most of their lives in England.

In 1926 he was elected a scholar of Eton in second place, a position which he retained for the greater part of the next five years. Switching from the standard Classical curriculum to History, he was taught by, among others, the young Robert Birley. At Balliol College Oxford, in 1931-34, he was tutored in Modern History mainly by B H Sumner and V G Galbraith and got a First.


He was called to the Bar in 1935 and worked in Chancery Chambers until the outbreak of World War II. He spent most of the war as an RAF intelligence officer at Bletchley Park, becoming head of the section dealing with the interpretation and dissemination to commanders in the field of intelligence derived from the decryption of Luftwaffe machine ciphers (Ultra). He was seconded by British Intelligence to the four Chief Prosecutors at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and later advised the US Chief Prosecutor (General Telford Taylor) in some of the American follow-up trials. In 1950-55 he worked at the Royal Institute for Foreign Affairs (Chatham House), writing five volumes in the series of Annual Surveys of International Affairs which had been written between the wars by Professor Arnold Toynbee. In 1955-66 he was a partner in the publishing firms of Chatto and Windus and the Hogarth Press and in 1966-73 Reader in International Relations at Sussex University. In 1973 he was enticed back to publishing by the offer of the newly-created post of Editor-in-Chief of Penguin Books and was apppointed Publisher and Chief Executive of Penguin in the following year, but fell victim to disagreements, etc and was removed in 1976. Over this period he was for 10 years a part-time member of the UN Subcommission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities, was Chairman of the Africa Bureau, the London Library, Chios Charities and Open University Enterprises Ltd. He also served on the governing bodies of Chatham House, the Institute of Strategic Studies and Amnesty.

He has written 20 books, mostly on contemporary history; one of these – World Politics Since 1945 – achieved nine editions, and an autobiography, Threading My Way. He set private life before and above his career and never had cause to question this priority.

In 1990, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University.


Full list of Peter Calvocoressi's books -

See also





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