By David Gilmour
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Paperback, 9780374530242, 704pp.)
Publication Date: February 7, 2006
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"Elegant biography . . . a fast-moving, entertaining, and finely written story." --Simon Schama, The New Yorker
George Nathaniel Curzon's controversial life in public service stretched from the high noon of his country's empire to the traumatized years following World War I. As viceroy of India under Queen Victoria and foreign secretary under King George V, the obsessive Lord Curzon left his unmistakable mark on the era. David Gilmour's award-winning book is a brilliant assessment of Curzon's character and achievements, offering a richly dramatic account of the infamous long vendettas, the turbulent friendships, and the passionate, risky love affairs that complicated and enriched his life.
Born into the ruling class of what was then the world's greatest power, Curzon was a fervent believer in British imperialism who spent his life proving he was fit for the task. Often seen as arrogant and tempestuous, he was loathed as much as he was adored, his work disparaged as much as it was admired. In Gilmour's well-rounded appraisal, Curzon is seen as a complex, tragic figure, a gifted leader who saw his imperial world overshadowed at the dawn of democracy.
David Gilmour is the author of many works of literary and political history, including The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling (FSG, 2002) and The Last Leopard: A Life of Giuseppe di Lampedusa. He lives in Edinburgh.
"[An] absorbing, intelligent, quizzical, and stylish biography . . . No clearer and more vivid account has been written of the high point of the Raj--its workaday management as well as its pomp." --Benjamin Schwartz, The Atlantic Monthly