The Last Englishmen

Title:
The Last Englishmen
Love, War, and the End of Empire
Deborah Baker
Price$28.00
Available for purchase on August 21, 2018
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“A Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist takes readers on a journey through the Indian subcontinent at the closing of the British Empire. . . . Seemingly covering disparate topics, Baker beautifully connects them all with an incisive, clear writing style and sharp descriptions of the terrain.”Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Deborah Baker combines a novelistic alertness to the inner life with an anthropologist’s understanding of multiple cultures and a historian’s eye for major events. The result, yet again, is a continuously absorbing and stimulating book, which enlarges the cultural and political history of the mid-twentieth century even as it grippingly relates the adventures of a few men and women.”—Pankaj Mishra

About the Book

A sumptuous biographical saga, both intimate and epic, about the waning of the British Empire in India
 
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.
 

Additional Reviews

“Love, war, politics, psychoanalysis, poetry, Calcutta and, especially, the Himalayas—Deborah Baker’s meticulously researched account of India and Britain in the forties reads like the very best of novels.”—Siddhartha Deb