Plus or (mostly) minus a paragraph here and there, this is the text of the television series ""Lord Mountbatten: A Man for...



Plus or (mostly) minus a paragraph here and there, this is the text of the television series ""Lord Mountbatten: A Man for the Century"" made in Britain between 1966 and 1969--with the subject's participation--and aired here only recently, following Mountbatten's assassination. TV-viewers will recall that Mountbatten, speaking in his own voice, shares the narrative with an unseen announcer, who fills out the historical record, and with individual witnesses to Mountbatten's role. It's the latter, very much alive on the screen, whose voices, too, are mostly missing here. But Mountbatten's words, as edited and bridged by military historian Terraine, retain the directness and openness and personal imprint of speech--the very qualities missing from most ghosted memoirs (and obscured, usually, when royalty writes about itself). And, as Terraine approvingly notes in his Epilogue, Mountbatten doesn't hedge. He pronounces the formidable Sir John Fisher, his father's predecessor as First Lord of the Admiralty, equally a fanatic and a visionary--""He scrapped 154 obsolete ships, amid howls of execration--fifty years later I got some idea of what that means!? Offered the post of Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia, he hesitates--but not for the reason that ""Winston"" suggests', ""I replied that I had a congenital weakness for thinking I could do anything."" (And what he did do when ""it all boiled down to beating the Japanese in Burma,"" is memorably retold here.) He's also aware of the criticism he incurred by his haste, as Viceroy, in moving India toward independence--and the attendant partition riots. But he caps this still-controversial episode, personally if not historically, by returning to a relatively-lowly Mediterranean naval command and working his way up--in a very different, diminished Britain--to his father's old post of First Sea Lord. A refresher for those who saw the series, a teaser for those who didn't--and a documentary record of passing interest to the military-history crowd.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 1980


Page Count: -

Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1980