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It provoked clichés of good and evil that fell easily into the two distinct ideological sides. As Cecil Day Lewis famously wrote, it appeared to be ‘the battle between light and darkness’. The historian Dante A. Puzzo attributed the impact of the war to its curious ‘purity’, despite the violence and corruption. ’139 The Spanish war raised acutely the problem of political commitment for the intelligentsia. It offered a choice of alienation or involvement. Crawford remained a dispassionate observer, in contrast to the exuberant participation exhibited by those who joined the International Brigades to fight Franco.

41 The pilgrimage to England provided the impressionable young man with an insight into the imperial system in operation and countless opportunities to challenge and test his compassion with the less fortunate. These sympathies were shaped by Crawford’s fervent Christian ideals. The Church was the focal point of his early life. 42 Despite this strong emphasis on Christian doctrine, compassion was not always evident in Crawford’s youthful responses to life and, at times, he lacked the assurance to speak out against intolerance.

He had become 30 An Historian’s Life comfortable with its privileges and lifestyle. 88 As Crawford negotiated an identity that reconciled both an Australian and a British persona, he became the quintessential Oxford man: urbane, polished and confident. As he anticipated in a letter to his family, this was a busy period of study, punting on the river, tutoring, problems to be settled, Gilbert and Sullivan, tennis, walks and club meetings. 89 Crawford’s Balliol education ended in 1930 with first-class honours and the Kingston Oliphant Prize, a Balliol prize for an essay on an historical subject.

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