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.
'Lord Louis Mountbatten is one of the most glittering yet mercurial figures of twentieth-century British history. Nobody was neutral about him. For some he was a far-sighted hero; for others he was an intellectual charlatan and a chancer. Adrian Smith gets us very close to the real Lord Louis, and the time is right for a reappraisal of his extraordinary trajectory across military, public and political life.' - Professor Peter Henessy, Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History, Queen Mary College, University of London