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The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransomeby Roland Chambers
Synopses & Reviews
In this biography, Chambers traces Ransome's life back to his earliest childhood, his struggles as a hack writer, and his flight from a disastrous marriage, then on to the decade he spent in Russia during that country's violent, formative years, ostensibly as a journalist, but more accurately as a spy (albeit a sympathetic one). The book's genius lies in Chambers's complete understanding of the Revolution's complexity, the rise and fall of the factions, the extreme personalities who guided it and were often sacrificed to it. He explores the tensions Ransome always felt between his allegiance to England's decencies and the egalitarian Bolshevik vision, between competing romantic attachments, between the Lake Country he loved and always considered home and the lure of the Russian steppes to which he repeatedly returned. What emerges is not only history, recorded by someone who was there to witness it, but also the story of an immensely troubled and conflicted human being not entirely at
Arthur Ransome is best known for the twelve immortal "Swallows and Amazons" books he wrote on his return from Russia in 1928. Ransome led a double, and often tortured, life. Before his fame as an author, he was notorious for very different reasons: between 1917 and 1924, he was the Russian correspondent for the Daily News and the Manchester Guardian, and his sympathy for the Bolshevik regime gave him access to its leaders, politics, and plots. He was friends with Karl Radek, the Bolshevik's Chief of Propaganda, and Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the secret police.
In this biography, Chambers explores the tensions Ransome felt between his allegiance to England's decencies and the egalitarian Bolshevik vision, between the Lake Country he loved and always considered home and the lure of the Russian steppes to which he repeatedly returned. What emerges is not only history, but also the story of an immensely troubled man not entirely at home in either culture or country.
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