The Week, 1933-1946

A leftist newsletter in times of appeasement and war

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This online collection contains all issues of the leftist newsletter The Week, edited and published by Claud Cockburn between 1933-1946. Over 600 issues (3,559 pages) are available as full-text searchable PDFs.

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong in the 1930s, but one extremely cynical observer of the world at its worst was usually right on the essentials, even if he did tend to err on the side of hyperbole. That man was 'the journalist’s journalist’, Claud Cockburn, who left The Times of London in 1933 to found, edit and write The Week, a closely informed, extraordinarily prescient newsletter that serves both as a roadmap through the 1930s and served its contemporaries as a warning of the horrors in store.

From Whitehall to Kasumigaseki to the Kremlin - some said from the Kremlin. From Cliveden to the Commons to the Reichstag, Claud Cockburn’s The Week brewed a potent mixture of informed gossip and brutal fact from a network of concerned diplomatic, military and journalistic insiders gathered during his years on The Times of London and on the far left.

Cockburn, Beijing born and the son of a British diplomat, took the pulse of the 1930s and gave his diagnosis in The Week. As he saw it, the clouds of war were gathering and no amount of appeasement would see them off, and few disagreed. Typed up, mimeographed and stapled in a dingy London attic, Claud Cockburn's brown-buff coloured six-page weekly was initially mailed to no more than a few thousand subscribers, but from its first issue of 29 March 1933 its influence soon grew out of all proportion to its circulation.

By its 4th edition in late April 1933, the circulation of The Week had not only trebled; it had become essential reading in the London bureau of every national daily and news agency in the world. The subscription list included the legations and embassies of every nation represented in London and soon in Washington, and would soon extend to Tokyo and Nanjin. In the City of London, The Week’s subscribers included all the major British banks and merchant banks, and the representative foreign banks of mercantile powers the world over.

For all its casual amateurishness, its snickering asides and shoestring budget, The Week told the movers and players of its day exactly how little they thought of each other, exposing the fairweather alliances of the 1930s and the utter futility of gentlemanly undertakings. Dismissed, denied and praised to the skies as much by its contemporaries as by its successors, Claud Cockburn's The Week is as essential reading in our day as it was in its heyday.

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Advisor: Peter O'Connor, Musashino University, Tokyo
This collection has been digitised by the British Library from the originals in their holdings.

We are grateful to the Cockburn family for their cooperation and considerable generosity in making The Week archive available for publication.