Was he a far-sighted war hero, or an ambitious networker promoted well above his natural talent? Admired as a modernising chief of staff, a timely decoloniser, and a genuine player on the world stage, Mountbatten nevertheless continues to attract fierce criticism. In this timely new biography, Adrian Smith offers a fresh and convincing perspective, depicting Mountbatten as a quintessentially modern, highly professional figure within the Royal Navy, and at Combined Operations and SE Asia Command, a hands-on officer who enthusiastically embraced new technology; someone who, although an aristocrat, was by instinct a progressive, innovative in his approach to man management. Smith brings Mountbatten to life, acknowledging the essential qualities as well as the obvious weaknesses. Beneath the rich, vain, often ruthless, embodiment of power and privilege could be found a very human, even vulnerable, character - the complex personality of a pivotal figure in the history of twentieth-century Britain and her empire.
Adrian Smith is Senior Lecturer in History and Acting Director of the Centre for the Study of Britain and its Empire at the University of Southampton, with access to the Mountbatten papers at Southampton and the Broadlands Estate Archive. He has taught at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and the University of Kent. He is an established author, broadcaster and journalist on the political, social and cultural history of the 20th century, military history and biography. His books include City of Coventry: Twentieth Century Icon (I.B. Tauris), Sport and National Identity in the Postwar World (with Dilys Porter).