The Last Enemy is the story of Richard Hillary, one of Sebastian Faulks' three 'fatal englishmen'. In this extraordinary account, the author details his experiences as a fighter pilot in the Second World War, in which he was shot down, leading to months in hospital as part of Archibald McIndoe's 'Guinea Pig Club', undergoing pioneering plastic surgery to rebuild his face and hands.
The Last Enemy was first published in 1942, just seven months before Hilary's untimely death in a second crash and has gone on to be hailed as one of the classic texts of World War Two.
Richard Hillary was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1919. He was sent to boarding school in England and went to Trinity College, Oxford in 1937. He was still at Oxford when the Second World War broke out and, with other members of the R.A.F Volunteer Reserve, was immediately called to duty. He blew Spitfires in the Battle of Britain before being shot down and horribly burned. He underwent several operations by the great plastic surgeon, Archibald McIndoe. After a slow and very painful recovery, Hilary begged to be allowed to return to flying. He was killed, at the age of 23, when his plane crashed in a night training operation.