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Biography Archibald Wavell – man of letters, Field-Marshal, Viceroy. A key figure in military and political operations from the Boer to the Second World War.

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.

Reviews

Prof is thorough and even-handed: Fort reveals many aspects of his subject that have previously been glossed over by historians.

Sam Schweber, Times Literart Supplement

A great many anecdotes enliven Adrian Fort's welcome biography of the scentist who, in two wars, strove to unite science and the conduct of war.

Professor Richard Overy, Literary Review

Good-natured and shrewd biography

Geoffrey Best, London Review of Books

This thoughtful, amused and well-researched biography

Ben Pimlott, Guardian

This wholly admirable...scholarly book which provides fascinating, if sometimes disconcerting, glimpses of the world of science and government in the 1930's and 1940's

Professor Raymond Carr, Spectator

Adrian Fort does a good job of bringing Llindemann's life back into focus

Peter Forbes, Independent

If Prof remains a hard man to like, he is easy to respect. In showing us that, Fort has done a good thing.

Robert Hanks, Daily Telegraph

In this measured and finely-written biography, Adrian Fort paints a sympathetic but not uncritical portrait of a difficult, fastidious and enigmatic man.

David Stafford, BBC History Magazine

Lindemann remains the most important man you've never heard of... The new biography by Adrian Fort is timely. He has searched widely to uncover every available scrap of relevant information about his subject. It is clear that private papers and official documents were opened to him, shedding new and brighter light on some parts of Lindemann's influential life

Dr Stuart Young, Nature

This admirable, and overdue, biography is fully worthy of its subject

Peter Weston, Western Daily Press

A Machiavellian figure in the background of countless books about the war effort, he takes centre stage in Adrian Fort's intriguing biography

Andrew Crumey, Scotland on Sunday

Adrian Fort has found new material. He writes wittily and well. He evidently knows his science, and he takes an eminently balanced view of his rebarbative subject

Piers Brendon, Oldie

This is a well-researched, well-written book about an exceptional man

Richard Watkins, Field

This admirable biography...thoughtful, well-written, judicious account of a brilliantly clever man.

Sir Max Hastings, Sunday Telegraph

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Formats & editions

  • EBook

    9781407092935

    July 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    512 pages

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  • Hardback

    9780224076784

    February 15, 2009

    Jonathan Cape

    512 pages

    RRP $59.99

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