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Archibald Wavell

Adrian Fort (Law, 1966)

Archibald Wavell was born a few years before Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, at the zenith of the British Empire, and died shortly after the end of the Second World War. During that time Great Britain changed beyond recognition, undergoing fundamental revision in the attitudes, expectations, prejudices and hopes of the British people. Consequently, Wavell’s 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, 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 fought in the trenches, was decorated for bravery and lost an eye. Between the wars his meteoric career included command of the British forces in Palestine as revolt swept the country. His victorious campaigns early in the Second World War were emblazoned around the world; but he also tasted bitter defeat and rejection, both in North Africa and as commander-in-chief of the Allied forces in the Far East, as the furious Japanese onslaught engulfed Malaya, Singapore and Burma. In 1943 he was appointed Viceroy of India, where he held the ring between Muslims, Hindus and the British Government, guiding India’s destiny as it slipped from the heart of Empire into the turmoil of independence.

In this authoritative biography Adrian Fort chronicles the remarkable life of a talented and complex man – a famous imperial servant whose life was often beset by controversy. For more information about the book click here.

 

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