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The Last Englishmen

Love, War, and the End of Empire
Deborah Baker
John Auden was a pioneering geologist of the Himalaya. Michael Spender was the first to draw a detailed map of the North Face of Mount Everest. While their younger brothers—W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender—achieved literary fame, they vied to be included on an expedition that would deliver Everest’s summit to an Englishman, a quest that had become a metaphor for Britain’s struggle to maintain power over India. To this rivalry was added another: in the summer of 1938 both men fell in love with a painter named Nancy Sharp. Her choice would determine where each man’s wartime loyalties would lie.

Set in Calcutta, London, the glacier-locked wilds of the Karakoram, and on Everest itself, The Last Englishmen is also the story of a generation. The cast of this exhilarating drama includes Indian and English writers and artists, explorers and communist spies, Die Hards and Indian nationalists, political rogues and police informers. Key among them is a highborn Bengali poet named Sudhin Datta, a melancholy soul torn, like many of his generation, between hatred of the British Empire and a deep love of European literature, whose life would be upended by the arrival of war on his Calcutta doorstep.

Dense with romance and intrigue, and of startling relevance for the great power games of our own day, The Last Englishmen is an engrossing story that traces the end of empire and the stirring of a new world order.
 

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$28.00
ISBN
978-1-55597-804-4
Format
Hardcover
Publication Date
Pages
384
Trim Size
6 x 9
A sumptuous biographical saga, both intimate and epic, about the waning of the British Empire in India
 

About the Author

Deborah  Baker
Credit: Julienne Schaer
Deborah Baker is the author of The Last Englishmen; Making a Farm; In Extremis, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography; A Blue Hand; and The Convert, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. She lives in India and New York.

http://www.deborahbaker.net/
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Praise

  • “Baker writes beautifully, and she’s done ample research. Drawing on a host of private and public archives, she crafts memorable portraits of dynamic, flawed men and women.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Ms. Baker draws from a rich stock of unpublished memoirs, journals, police reports and other documents, deploying fresh material with a light touch. . . . As narrative history this is skillful work.”The Economist
  • “What the deeply researched, marvelously portrayed life stories recounted in The Last Englishmen show is just how muddled these world-historical changes actually look when you’re living in the middle of them. That makes the book a valuable supplement to the more conventional accounts of decolonization as a process driven by clear-eyed activists and historical logic. If anything, histories like Baker’s may be precisely what are needed in the present heated moment, as reminders of the many ways in which people find their way through political transformation.”Foreign Affairs
  • “A book rich in fascinating details drawn from personal archives.”—BBC Culture
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