When Admiral of the Fleet Earl Mountbatten of Burma was murdered by Irish terrorists in the summer of 1979, he was an old man full of honors, who could look back with satisfaction on a long life filled with achievement. He had been the last Viceroy of India under the British Raj, whom the political leaders of the newly independent India invited to be its first Governor General; he went on to become First Sea Lord and chief of the Defense Staff. During World War II, before his viceroyalty, he had been appointed, when only forty-three, Supreme Allied Commander in Southeast Asia, and two years before that Churchill had made him director of Combined Operations.
His pedigree was as distinguished as his achievements. His mother was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, his father a descendant of the princely house of Hesse-Darmstadt who became First Sea Lord and Marquess of Milford Haven. He himself was the uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His marriage was just as dazzling as his pedigree: when only twenty-two, he had married Edwina Ashley, daughter of a Conservative Member of Parliament (and later Lord Mount Temple), a descendant of the Earl of Shaftesbury, from whom she inherited the estate of Broadlands and Classiebawn Castle near Sligo in Ireland. It was there that Mountbatten was spending the summer when the IRA murdered him with other members of his family. Edwina's grandfather on her mother's side was the financier Sir Ernest Cassel who left £7.5 million. She was his favorite granddaughter, to whom he left Brook House in Park Lane and £30,000 a year, subject to a life interest in favor of his sister; in addition, Edwina received the lion's share of the residue of his estate amounting to £2.3 million.
A magnifico, then, a grandee, eminently suited to have his career and exploits recounted and celebrated. Philip Ziegler has indeed done him proud, with a long and copious life—well-proportioned, lucid, and very readable.1 He calls it the official biography, but it is not the dull marmoreal monument which the label may lead one to fear. Ziegler is frank and open about his subject; nor, to their credit, do Mountbatten's family seem to have attempted to inhibit the author's judgments, or to have pressed him to hide or palliate episodes relating to Mountbatten's married life which might, with some justice, have been considered to belong to the private more than to the public man.
In his last chapter, Ziegler tells us that during the writing of the biography, there was a time when he became so enraged by certain traits of his subject that he found it necessary to place on his desk a notice saying: remember, in spite of everything, he was a great man. Do We then rise from the almost 800 pages of this work convinced of Mountbatten's greatness—greatness as one thinks of it when, say, Churchill or Wellington comes to mind? Is this the impression of the man which the attentive reader carries away with him from a study of Ziegler's researches?
Mountbatten began and ended his career as a naval officer, and the viceroyalty of India for which he is best known was only an interval in a sailor's life. The incidents of his naval career, the manner in which he faced the emergencies and exigencies of war may, then, provide a clue to his character as a man of action. For this is what he eminently was. As the book shows, he was not at home with ideas; he was not particularly well-read, had little intellectual curiosity, and lacked subtlety and sophistication. These, of course, are not necessary qualities in a man of action, and they may even prove to be impediments. What then was Mountbatten like as a man of action?
In the summer of 1939 he became captain of a destroyer, the Kelly, which soon saw action off the Norwegian coast. Trying to intercept a vessel which had been captured by a German battleship, Mountbatten “made what two at least of his officers felt to be an elementary and inexplicable mistake,” and failed in his mission. He followed this by purposelessly executing a reckless maneuver: while going at high speed in very rough seas, he ordered an abrupt turn which caused his ship to be hit by a great wave and to heel over fifty degrees to starboard; “as was his wont, he was ordering full steam ahead out of sheer impatience to reach wherever he was heading to start on something else.” The Kelly went into drydock for repairs.
An expedition to harass German minelayers off the Dutch coast after the Kelly had been repaired crippled it once more. Ziegler writes that the Kelly should not have been where it was when it was attacked and badly damaged by a torpedo from a German submarine:
Mountbatten allowed himself to be diverted in fruitless search of a U-boat. He then dallied too long in pursuit. . . . Finally, he had compounded his errors by making conspicuous and unnecessary signals. A report prepared for the benefit of the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, concluded that Mountbatten had blundered into a trap. Even if that attributes too much cunning to the Germans, it is evident that he contributed largely to his own undoing.
Again in November 1940, while captain of a flotilla of destroyers, he led his force in an engagement with an inferior German force which left his own ship crippled and almost sinking while the Germans escaped with superficial damage: “The weight of naval opinion is that Mountbatten blundered.”
It is worthwhile dwelling on these early episodes in Mountbatten's career because they seem to show that, though physically courageous and hard-working, he did not possess a cool and steady judgment when quick decisions in critical and dangerous situations were needed. Ziegler compares his style as a naval commander to his style as the driver of a car. He drove fast and dangerously. If he was trying to pass a car in front of him and saw another car approaching from the opposite direction he thought it best to accelerate and press on. On the way to his house, the servants would point out black stains on the road and say: “Look, his Lordship's skid marks!” “If a destroyer could leave skid marks,” Ziegler comments, “Kelly would have disfigured every sea in which she sailed.” The unanimous judgment of those of his peers who expressed an opinion about his qualities as a captain was that “by the highest standards, he was no better than second-rate.”
It is very interesting and instructive that General Pownall, who acted as Mountbatten's Chief of Staff in Southeast Asia, came to much the same conclusion as Mountbatten's colleagues and superiors in the Navy. In an appreciation written at the end of his service with Mountbatten, Pownall declares that his chief had great drive and initiative but was apt to leap before he looked, and was too impulsive by far. Pownall also considers that Mountbatten was undoubtedly conceited, that he liked talking instead of hearing, weighing, and deciding. These characteristics no doubt have something to do with his failings, whether in war or political negotiation.
While still a cadet, Mountbatten went to Cambridge as an undergraduate in 1919. There, he made the acquaintance of another undergraduate, Peter Murphy who, until he died in 1966, remained a very close friend, confidant, and counselor. Murphy was strongly left wing, and “opened Mountbatten's eyes to what he believed to be the inherent flaws of capitalism.” Mountbatten's own intellectual resources were, as Ziegler observes, limited, and this leftism remained an abiding predisposition throughout his life. The more so in that Murphy's influence was greatly reinforced by his wife's convictions and prejudices. For Edwina Mountbatten admired all things of the Left, was indeed a committed left-winger. Visiting Moscow in 1936, at the height of the Stalinist purges, she wrote:
It's fascinating being here again and seeing the progress everything has made since 1929 . . . it's gone ahead by leaps and bounds. . . . I gather shorter hours, higher wages, and lower prices (not only from what Intourist tell one!!) and the people on the whole are contented, and the young ones happy and enthusiastic.
Ziegler also discloses that from an early period of their married life Edwina was unfaithful to her husband, and that he too had “at least two protracted love affairs outside his marriage.” These affairs of the bedroom are usually of little relevance to a public career, nor is it easy to say what effect adultery and other sexual irregularities have on the political stance or the political capacities either of those who practice them or of their victims. In a cynical age people learn to take rakish behavior in their stride, but in this particular case there are indications and hints that Edwina's way of life affected Mountbatten's character as a public figure, and perhaps also his judgment.
Ziegler speculates that the sense of inferiority and failure which Edwina's behavior instilled in her husband was perhaps in part responsible for “the furious ambition” with which he pursued his career. But the matter is perhaps even more complicated. There is quoted in this book a remarkable letter dating from 1944—twenty-two years after Mountbatten's marriage—in which he commiserates with his wife over the marriage of her “established lover”:
I must tell you again how deeply and sincerely I feel for you at this moment when, however unselfish you may be about A.'s engagement, the fact that it is bound to alter the relationship—though I feel convinced not the friendship—which has existed between you, is bound to upset you emotionally and make you feel unhappy.
You have however still got the love and genuine affection of two chaps—A. and me—and the support of all your many friends.
You have only one more bad patch in front of you—the week A. gets married.
It is of course very difficult for an outsider to penetrate into the peculiar emotional reaches where such a letter from a husband to a wife becomes intelligible and taken for granted. The biographer is better placed than any ordinary reader to put it in its proper context, and make sense of it. Ziegler, however, is content simply to cite it without comment.
Not that Mountbatten is the first or only complaisant husband. In the 18th century, Lady Melbourne, mother of the Prime Minister, was the mistress of Lord Egremont who is said to have bought her from Lord Coleraine for £13,000, of which she took a share. We may be sure that none of those who were party to such transactions or any of their circle would have dreamed of speaking in so mawkish a fashion about their partner's or their own sexual adventures. A cool, astringent style, like that, say, of Choderlos de Laclos, they would have considered much more appropriate.
Nor would they have cared sentimentally to mix public business and private entanglements. For this is what may have happened when Mountbatten was Governor General of India. Countess Mountbatten, it would seem, developed a “relationship” with the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. It was “intensely loving, romantic, trusting, generous, idealistic, even spiritual. If there was any physical element it can only have been of minor importance to either party.” In 1952 Edwina asked her husband to keep Nehru's letters for her. Some of these, she wrote, were “love letters in a sense, though you yourself well realize the strange relationship—most of it spiritual—that exists between us.” These words, it appears, “repaired the only injury that the relationship had done him, that sometimes he had felt himself not merely excluded but kept in the dark.” He assured her that he knew and had always understood “the very special relationship between Jawaharlal and you.” Indeed this was made the easier “by my fondness and admiration for him.”
Ziegler declares that to call this a triangle, or Mountbatten a complaisant husband, “would be to belittle a relationship that was enriching to all concerned.” He could be right. Still, we may fairly conclude that the man who was to become the last Viceroy had in him a powerful streak both of impetuosity and of sentimentality likely to affect a political judgment which was anyway swayed by the leftism to which he was clearly partial, through the influence both of his wife and of his lifelong friend, Peter Murphy.
As the Supreme Commander in Southeast Asia, Mountbatten had to deal with the aftermath of the Japanese occupation. Time and again he was to favor indigenous left-wingers in the belief that they represented the inevitable wave of the future, and that they were simply struggling for national freedom. He believed, for instance, that the Chinese Communists were “not Communists in the Russian sense at all, and that their territory is far more justly and competently governed than that of the central government.” He favored and supported the Communists in Malaya. Ziegler writes:
At a ceremony in Singapore after liberation the Supreme Commander presented medals to a large gathering of resistance leaders. The ceremony was much photographed. Mountbatten's critics alleged that the resulting pictures were of great value to the British security forces for the identification of the terrorist leaders in Malaya's long-drawn-out civil war.
Mountbatten's opinions were by no means eccentric. A great many officials and political figures shared his illusions. Thus, U.S. intelligence is quoted here as declaring that the Vietminh League was not Communist, and stood for “freedom and reforms from French harshness.” It is of course true that Western dominance had been shaken and discredited in the whole of Southeast Asia by the Japanese invasion. Whether the former masters could now resume their rule when they themselves had been ruined by the effort to defeat the Nazis was by no means clear. But if they did not, then the prospect in Southeast Asia was a somber one. Corruption, arbitrariness, insecurity, oppression by local rulers, and fearful doctrinaire experiments were what anyone with a modicum of political judgment should have expected, and what, in the event, has by and large ensued. What counts against Mountbatten and the legion of bien pensants who thought like him is their blithe assurance that, once power had been placed in native hands, an era of freedom and prosperity would surely dawn.
It was in Burma that Mountbatten—helped and fortified no doubt by Murphy, who was employed to go through papers sent to the Supreme Commander for decision, and to produce concise summaries with proposals—was able to apply his theories to the utmost. He disagreed with the Governor, Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith, whom he dismissed as a reactionary blimp, and who was suspicious of Aung San, the leader of the Burma National Army. Mountbatten advocated handing over power to Aung San and his party, and his advice was followed by Attlee, the new Labor Prime Minister. “The ultimate vindication of Mountbatten's policies,” writes his biographer, “would have been Aung San's emergence as a wise and benevolent statesman. He was murdered, along with most of his ministers, before he had a chance to prove himself.” But this is to beg the whole question, for Aung San's murder by political rivals betokens a polity in which it is vain to expect stability, freedom, and prosperity, however wise and benevolent a particular political leader might be—a polity, in fact, where wise and benevolent intentions are quickly denatured and invariably pave the proverbial road to hell. The history of Burma since its independence gives no warrant for thinking otherwise.
It seems that Mountbatten's advice on Burmese affairs found favor with Attlee. In any case, Mountbatten had no difficulty in accommodating himself to the Labor government which came to power in July 1945, and with whose prominent members he contrived to establish contact shortly after they assumed office. When, therefore, Attlee decided toward the end of 1946 that Viscount Wavell, who had been Viceroy of India since 1943, had to go, Mountbatten must have readily occurred to him as a most suitable replacement.
Wavell had to go because the government considered that he was no longer able to cope with the Indian political situation. The problem was how to reconcile the demands of the Indian Congress party with those of the Muslim League. A Cabinet mission had visited India in 1946 but had failed to achieve a settlement. Wavell now said that the failure of the mission made the governance of India impossible. Either the British should withdraw from India, evacuating British armed forces, officials, and their dependents province by province starting from the south and gradually concentrating them in the north, the whole operation to be completed by March 1948, or else they should resolve to stay and govern the place for fifteen years, until the Congress and the League could be brought to a more accommodating frame of mind. Neither alternative pleased the government. The first was considered to be a shameful scuttle, while the second went against the emancipatory views of the administration, and moreover constituted a burden which it was not prepared to shoulder.
When Mountbatten was approached, he laid down a condition which the government accepted. This condition was in reality little different from what Wavell had proposed and what had been denounced as a scuttle. What Mountbatten insisted on was a fixed date for handing over power, whether or not the Indian leaders had reached an acceptable settlement; otherwise, Indians would never believe that he and the government were really determined to get rid of India. The government agreed to his condition, and Mountbatten's final instructions therefore laid it down that he should aim at June 1, 1948 as the effective date for the transfer of power.
The leader of the Muslim League, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, was adamant that the Indian Muslims should have their own state, and not be under Hindu domination. The Congress leaders were equally opposed to the partition of India. Wavell had not been able to see a way around this difficulty. Mountbatten's insistence that the transfer of power should take place on a specified date less than eighteen months after his arrival in India was a high-risk policy. For all that Jinnah had to do was to remain adamant until June 2, 1948, and he would then obtain his Pakistan.
But the partition of India, as many pointed out, was a prospect fraught with violence and horror. Mountbatten—and the British government which had agreed to his condition—inflexibly committed to the transfer of power on a fixed date a few months hence, found themselves inexorably driving toward an inevitable crash. The crash was inevitable owing to the fear and panic which the prospect of partition would provoke among Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs hitherto living side by side. They had been able to coexist because they could rely on the British Raj to maintain order and public security. If this disappeared, suddenly and in short order, then inter-communal hostility would flare up and trust would disappear, life and property would be in danger, and men would kill lest they themselves be killed. Only timely precautions could possibly hope to avoid that which it is the plain duty of any civilized government to prevent.
Mountbatten's timetable left no scope for the discharge of this duty. Even Jinnah could scarcely believe that the Viceroy would accept and will this consequence of his strategy. In a conversation which they had in April 1947 (quoted in The Great Divide by H.V. Hodson) Mountbatten explained to Jinnah how difficult it was to partition India and divide the Indian army in the time which remained before the deadline he had set himself. Jinnah “smiled in a cryptic way and asked, ‘How then do you propose to leave at that time—do you intend to turn this country over to chaos and bloodshed and civil war?’ ”
Mountbatten arrived in Delhi on March 22, 1947. By the beginning of May, he had come to the conclusion that there was no prospect of a united India, that partition was inevitable. He drew up a scheme for partition with options for Bengal and the Punjab—which contained sizable Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh communities—to be split between India and Pakistan, to join in entirety with either state, or to go it alone. The plan was sent to London for approval by the Cabinet. Nehru, however, when he was unofficially shown a copy, vehemently objected to some features, and Mountbatten had to fly to London to persuade the Cabinet to make changes to meet Nehru's objections. He left New Delhi on May 18 and came back on May 31. On June 2 and 3 the Viceroy met the Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh leaders and secured their approval. On June 4 the plan was published and Mountbatten held a press conference. It was there that he divulged that the transfer of power would take place on August 15, 1947, i.e., in less than ten weeks. Ziegler declares that there is little evidence that this or any other precise date had been established beforehand with his advisers, with Whitehall, or with the Indian leaders. Mountbatten's sudden decision to accelerate the transfer of power puts one in mind of his habits as a driver and as a captain of destroyers.
The creation of Pakistan meant the partition of Bengal and the Punjab. In the event, this proved to mean massive and panic-stricken movements of Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs determined not to stay where they would be ruled by their enemies, with their lives continually at risk. In the Punjab it also meant horrific massacres by Sikhs of Muslims, and by Muslims of Sikhs and Hindus. Mountbatten does not seem to have expected serious trouble. To a Sikh Maharajah who told him at the end of April that the Sikhs meant to fight the Muslims, he said that if the Sikhs started a war he would not hesitate to crush them. He repeated the threat to the Sikh leader Sardar Baldev Singh and warned him that in such an event he would instruct him, as Defense Member in the Executive Council, to use the army and air force to fight them. A Muslim leader of the Congress reported him as saying:
I shall see to it that there is no bloodshed and riot. I am a soldier, not a civilian. Once partition is accepted in principle, I shall issue orders to see that there are no communal disturbances in the country. If there should be the slightest agitation, I shall adopt the sternest measures to nip the trouble in the bud. I shall not use even the armed police. I will order the army and air force to act and I will use tanks and aero-planes to suppress anybody who wants to create trouble.
In the upshot, this proved to be empty bombast.
The victims of the Punjab bloodletting amounted, at a conservative estimate, to some 200,000. The Governor General, however, believed that “only” 100,000 people had died. Whatever the exact figure, the ghastly slaughter in the summer of 1947 betokens a radical failure of the British Raj and of the man who was at its head.
It has been argued that given Jinnah's absolute determination to establish Pakistan, the massacres, the hordes of refugees, the suffering, and the heartache became inevitable. The argument smacks of justification ex post facto. The decision to set a fixed date for relinquishing British power made Mountbatten a lame-duck Viceroy from the moment he set foot in India. And it is this decision which served to give Jinnah's determination its doom-laden quality.
It has also been argued (most cogently by Sir Penderel Moon in Divide and Quit) that the Sikhs of the Punjab were willy-nilly determined not to be subject to Muslim rule, and hence were determined to expel by force the Muslims of East Punjab (awarded to India) in order to make room for the Sikhs who would have to leave West Punjab (awarded to Pakistan), and that a delay in the transfer of power would have made no difference at all.
However cogent, these arguments remain speculative. They assume that Sikh determination was a fixed quantity, unshakable and irresistible whatever the circumstances, and whatever the actions of the authorities and of the other parties involved. But consider Bengal, where antagonism between Muslim and Hindu cannot have been any less virulent than that between Muslim and Sikh in the Punjab. Massacres were averted in Bengal at the partition because, it is widely argued, Gandhi went to Calcutta and brought troubles to a stop by deciding to fast unto death. If Gandhi is supposed to have changed the course of events in Bengal, why should events in the Punjab have taken an inexorable and fated course?
It appears that one reason Mountbatten advanced the date of the transfer of power from June 1948 to August 1947 was that if independence came at the earlier date, Congress would agree to leave India in the Commonwealth. To keep India in the Commonwealth was considered by many in London to be of the utmost importance. The Chiefs of Staff believed that if India were in the Commonwealth, it would take part in the defense of the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. This was pure illusion.
Mountbatten also believed in the Commonwealth. His vision was that of a Commonwealth much wider than that composed of the lands of British settlement, but which would still preserve the same traditions of constitutional and parliamentary rule. This too was an absurd illusion, which many officials both in Britain and in India scoffed at and dismissed.
They were, of course, right. The Commonwealth is, today, little more than a Third World pressure group, many of whose members, India foremost among them, belong to, and are active in, the nonaligned movement. It was clearly a misjudgment on the part of Mountbatten and the Chiefs of Staff to set such store by India's membership in the Commonwealth, and to entertain such expectations of the Commonwealth as a power bloc. This is not hindsight, since the difficulty of getting the Commonwealth countries to act together, even when its members were bound by strong ties of kinship and sentiment, was well-known at the time, and since many officials, as has been said, did point out the fundamental change which the Commonwealth would suffer should states like India join it.
As his view of the Commonwealth and its importance shows, Mountbatten's was an essentially commonplace mind, lacking a cutting edge where politics was concerned. Just as he uncritically accepted that the Commonwealth was a good thing and a powerful force in the world, so he was also a devotee of the United Nations: “Idealistic, international, progressive, dedicated to the cause of peace, the United Nations was irresistibly attractive to Mountbatten. . . . World government might be a distant prospect, but it was a dream which he would have felt it cowardly to dismiss.”
Mountbatten's combined illusions about the Commonwealth and the United Nations made their best showing during the Suez crisis in the summer of 1956. He was then First Sea Lord and, when the crisis erupted, acting chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. Through Edwina he was kept informed of Nehru's opposition to, and deep disapproval of, Eden's policy. Edwina criticized Mountbatten for being too loyal a servant of the government. But Mountbatten defended himself against the accusation, “I'm sorry,” he wrote to her in August 1956, “we seem so often to have got at cross purposes about Egypt. Basically we feel the same and I am doing all and more than I ought to do as a serving officer to try and work for a peaceful solution.”
Indeed, Mountbatten adamantly opposed military action against Nasser, and made his views known to the other Chiefs of Staff, to various Ministers, and to Eden himself. He also threatened to resign, but in the end did not do so. He believed that the Middle East conflict was about “ideas, emotions, loyalties” and that these could not be fought with troops and weapons. He deplored the effect on the British way of life of exposing troops to the moral damage which they would suffer if they were to act as an occupation army in Egypt. He believed that the Egyptian people were “solidly” behind Nasser, and that an attack on Egypt would unleash serious and continual disorder elsewhere in the Middle East. He seems also to have believed that for a serving officer to obey orders to attack Egypt was analogous to German officers obeying the orders of the Nazi government—an act for which they had been convicted at Nuremberg. He also registered “the strongest possible protest” at the Navy's Having to take part in operations in which civilians might be injured. When the United Nations General Assembly called for a cease-fire, Mountbatten wrote to the Prime Minister. He expressed his belief that “a just and lasting settlement of any dispute” could not be worked out under a threat of military action, and he appealed to Eden to accept the resolution of the overwhelming majority of the United Nations to cease military operations.
As his language shows, Mountbatten was ignorant of the character of politics in Egypt and the Middle East. He clearly equated the subjects of Oriental despotisms with the citizens of free states, and assumed that they too were moved by the same active loyalty to their leaders and institutions. In this, he was simply repeating the received opinion current in the left-wing circles whose judgment he tended to respect. But what is puzzling in someone who had been a naval officer all his life is the belief that military power is not to be used because civilians might get hurt in the process, and that anyway no settlement of a dispute between states can be reached under threat of military action.
Mountbatten's outlook on Suez, the United Nations, the Commonwealth, and the partition of India was by no means eccentric. On the contrary, he shared this outlook with a great many among the British political and official classes. Compounded of muddle and illusion, it issued in a decadent, cynical, and complacent defeatism which marked these classes in the postwar decades—a defeatism demeaning to the erstwhile imperial rulers and ruinous to the multitudes who had been ruled and were now suddenly exposed to insecurity and civil war, and eventually to corrupt despotisms.
A recent British television series, The End of Empire, included a program on the ending of white rule in Rhodesia and its conveyance to Robert Mugabe and his party. This was accomplished by the Conservative administration which took office in 1979. It dispatched to Rhodesia, as Governor, the Lord President of the Council, Lord Soames, with the mission of holding “free and fair” elections so as to produce a government acceptable to the majority. The program makes clear that the elections were neither free nor fair, but held in the shadow of thousands of armed men under Mugabe's control who, in contravention of a cease-fire agreement, did not assemble in camps set aside for them, but movely freely in the countryside and made sure that the correct results were obtained.
As the program also makes clear, this state of affairs was well known to the Governor and his officials. In a remarkable interview, Lord Soames discloses that some of his advisers wanted Mugabe's party banned for intimidation, but that he decided to do nothing. “I believed,” Lord Soames says,
he [Mugabe] was going to win anyhow and I used to say, you must remember this is Africa. This isn't little Puddleton-in-the-Marsh and they behave differently. And they think nothing of sticking tent poles up each other's whatnot you know and doing filthy, beastly things to each other. It does happen, I'm afraid, and it's a very wild thing, an election.
Quite so. On various occasions, from the Punjab in 1947 to Rhodesia in 1980, various tent poles were well and truly stuck up Asia's and Africa's whatnot, all with the best intentions, and with the benevolent assistance of the imperial power and its servants. Mountbatten's biography helps us to see how it was done.
1 Mountbatten, Knopf, 784 pp., $24.95.