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Archibald Wavell: The Life and Times of an Imperial Servant [Hardcover]

Adrian Fort
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

22 Jan 2009
Archibald Wavell was born a few years before Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and died shortly after the end of the Second World War (1883-1950). During that time the country in which he was born and brought up in changed beyond recognition, undergoing a fundamental revision in the attitudes, expectations, prejudices and hopes of the British people. His life epitomises that of a generation of famous men whose education and upbringing equipped them for a future that was to prove an illusion. At seventeen, Archibald Wavell joined the army and as a young officer saw action in the Boer War and on the North West Frontier.In the Great War, he was often close to the greatest generals in the British Army; he fought in the trenches, was decorated for bravery and lost an eye. Between the wars his career included command of troops attempting to keep the peace in Palestine as revolt engulfed the country. His victorious campaigns early in the Second World War attracted a blaze of public admiration and renown; but he also tasted defeat and rejection, both in Africa and from 1941 as commander-in-chief of Allied forces in India, wilting before the Japanese onslaught in Burma and Singapore. In 1943 he was appointed Viceroy of India, where he took on the task of guiding that country's destiny as it crossed the brink of Empire into the turmoil of independence.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; First ediiton edition (22 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224076787
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224076784
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 774,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Adrian Fort's book tells the story thoroughly and accurately. -- Daily Telegraph

`well-researched, well-written and highly positive new biography'
-- Literary Review


Adrian Fort's book tells the story thoroughly and accurately.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Archibald Wavell was a man of many accomplishments, most of them after the age of fifty. Adrian Fort's new biography, 'Archibald Wavell, The Life and Times of an Imperial Servant', devotes the first eighty pages to the subject's first fifty years, and then the next 300-plus to his last seventeen. One of a generation of military men instructed in the ways of Empire only to be confronted with its 20th-century dissolution, Wavell brought a keen imagination into the mix. He sailed through the Winchester public school, which gave him a firm grounding in the Classics, and then the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where the military culture he had absorbed through family life now occupied his studies as well. One is struck throughout the book at the way this brilliant but somewhat reticent man showed surprising flexibility when confronted with a host of challenges, ranging from unpredictable wartime conditions to the hiring of gay subordinates (he had no problem with it) to dealing with the exigencies of India's approaching independence. He saw action in the Boer War, was part of The Black Watch Regimental force in India (during which time he added Urdu and Hindustani to his store of languages), learned Russian in Moscow, and returned to England to write a handbook on the Russian Army in 1912. Concern over the viability of Empire had already begun to form; the Japanese victory in the 1905 Russo-Japanese War shocked the British. This 'victory of a non-white people over a white people' was much discussed in military colleges, as well as in the great civilian universities.
After seeing action in the Ypres Salient during World War I (and losing his left eye to shrapnel), Wavell was sent to be a liaison between the War Office and General Sir Edmund Allenby of the Mideast Headquarters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding biography of Lord Wavell 5 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are many biographies available about this great soldier but the present biography of Earl Wavell by Adrian Fort is outstanding one as it is written in simple and lucid language and covers the entire life.He was great soldier, Competent Viceroy and above all a man of letters. His period in India as Viceroy is memorable but he was not treated well. He was dismissed from the post of Viceroy but he did not compromise with his principles
and tenets. It is piteous that he was born at the time of Great Queen Victoria^s Golden Jubilee in year 1887 and died after few years Great Empire was lost to Britain. It is well believed in India that their Independence might not have been full of turmoil and tumult if he continued to be Viceroy of India in place of Lord Mountbatten , but it was will of providence. ^It was put clearly by Lord Wavell in an informal speech made after he left India The English would be remembered, he believed, not by this institution or that institution, but by ideals they left behind of what a District Officer should be.And if today Indian peasant looks to the new district officer of his own race with the expectation of receiving justice and sympathy, that is our memorial^
It is also memorable that his tomb stone might have born witness to the symbols of his deeds and his val-our: Field Marshall ,Viceroy,Earl, Privy counselor, GCB,GCIE,GCSL,CMG, MC, but this would not have been his way. Instead ,except date of his life, the plain stone bore only one word WAVELL
I have enjoyed this historical document with relish and very strongly recommend this fascinating biography of Great Viceroy of India to those who are interested in period of great RAJ and and very important period of History
ks chaturvedi
Mathura India
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Peter Wade VINE VOICE
I have read a few military biographies and quite a few military books in general.

The modern idea of a biography is that it should be as interesting to read as a novel. That is it should tell a story and keep the readers interest.

Apart from a few facts such as he was in the desert in the early part of the war and later in Burma I knew very little about Wavell.

This is a highly readable book because it does not fall in to the trap of a lot of military books of giving you far too much technical information. That is long lists of battalions and, places and personnel. It tells Wavell's story simply and you keep interested. It starts with him in south Africa and the end of the Boer war.

Another good point is the book does not lard itself with great explanations of the history of that he was involved in. It assumes quite rightly that anyone interested enough to read this book knows enough about the Boer war the first world ward and the second world war to have to have it all explained to them. Also it keeps the book to a manageable size. if it repeated all the causes and battles of the wars that Wavell was involved in the book would be twice the size. Most serious readers are looking for original material not a rehash of the history of the wars of the first half of the twentieth century.

The author also keeps to fairly plain language and apart from three words I did not have to look anything up. They were axiomatic which I could have guessed, hegemony which is pointless and exiguous which is even more pointless as there are perfectly good plain alternatives.
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