In This Review

Mountbatten: A Biography
Mountbatten: A Biography
By Philip Ziegler
Knopf, 1985, 784 pp

The authorized biography of privilege incarnate-and disciplined. The Mountbattens were a legend in their lifetime: his royal blood and dashing eminence, her wealth and good looks, their glittering presence. A seasoned biographer, mastering enviable caches of private papers, reconstructs a grand life: Mountbatten's rise to the highest posts in World War II, as last viceroy of India, as postwar chief of the defense staff. Ziegler discusses the many criticisms leveled against Mountbatten, acknowledges his many weaknesses, but is fascinated by this great man and his meteoric career. He concentrates on the public Mountbatten but understands the private life as well: the arrogance, vanity, impetuosity, vulnerability, the marriage of trusting complexity. A rich and marvelously readable book, with a great sweep across British history of four decades. One could have wished for still greater historical depth, but he has written a luminous romance in grim times.