‘The soldier, mystic and explorer Francis Younghusband, who fulfilled the romantic dreams of the late British Empire, was once as legendary a figure as Lawrence of Arabia. He lives again most vividly and entertainingly in this remarkable book.’ Michael Holroyd
In this travelling biography, Patrick French tells the story of the man who held the world record for the three hundred yard dash, discovered a new overland route from China to India, and organised the early assaults on Mount Everest. In 1904 it was Francis Younghusband who single-handedly turned a small diplomatic mission into a full-scale military invasion of the last unexplored country on earth: Tibet.
Younghusband spent much of his early life as a leading player in the Great Game – the battle of wits over the uncharted territory of High Asia – and his presumed death as a spy in the Pamirs almost sparked off a war between British India and Tsarist Russia. But despite being a classic Edwardian, full of pomposity and repression, in the post-World War I era, he led the way in outlandish, mystical philosophical and sexual free-thinking.
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‘Breathtakingly accomplished.’ Jonathan Keats, Observer
‘I cannot begin to do justice to the skill and the fun of this happy work. Younghusband is a glorious biography, fair, frank, and always interesting. They don’t come much more enjoyable than this.’ Jan Morris, Independent
‘I found myself reading through the night. This is a rare gem of a book.’ Fiammetta Rocco, Independent on Sunday
‘A charming biography which mingles travel with impressive research.’ Ian Thomson, Sunday Times
‘This is a wonderful book: beautifully written, wise, balanced, fair, funny and above all extremely original…an altogether brilliant debut.’ William Dalrymple, Spectator
Praise for ‘Liberty or Death’:
‘Brilliant…There can surely now be no serious doubt French is the most impressive Western historian of modern India currently at work.’ Frank McLynn, Glasgow Herald
‘Well researched, beautifully written and immensely scholarly.’ Andrew Roberts, Sunday TimesFrom the Back Cover:
"Breathtakingly accomplished… Ranks as one of the year's most thrilling biographies"
JONATHAN KEATES, 'Observer'
"The soldier, mystic and explorer Francis Younghusband, who fulfilled the romantic dreams of the late British Empire, was once as legendary a figure as Marco Polo or Lawrence of Arabia. He lives again most vividly and entertainingly in Patrick French's remarkable book. Deftly interweaving his own research adventures with his subject's exploits, he ingeniously brings immediacy and historical perspective to his narrative. From its endearing Introduction to its revelatory Epilogue, this is a story full of excitement and insight, humour and curiosity"
"I cannot begin to do justice to the skill and fun of this happy work… 'Younghusband' is a glorious biography, fair, frank, and always interesting… They don't come much more enjoyable than this."
JAN MORRIS, 'Independent'
"A brilliant and sensitive portrait of one of the foremost players of the Great Game. A remarkable achievement."
"'Younghusband' is a charming biography which mingles travel with impressive research."
IAN THOMPSON, 'Sunday Times'
"This is a wonderful book: beautifully written, wise, balanced, fair, funny and above all extremely original… in his strange and riveting tale of Younghusband's metamorphosis, Patrick French has made an altogether brilliant debut, and it seems extremely unlikely that a more amusing or more innovative biography will be written this decade."
WILLIAM DALRYMPE, 'Spectator'
"This truly is a brilliant book, and brilliantly funny as well."
JOHN KEEGAN, 'Daily Telegraph'
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