The Last Englishman - the double life of Arthur Ransome
by Chambers, Roland
pub. Faber & Faber Ltd. London - 2009 - isbn 978-0-571-22262-9 - - 390 p. B&W photos - Notes on sources - Bibliography - Index
Chambers has written a definitive biography of Arthur Ransome in Russia. Ransome arrived in Russia when it was still being run by the tsar and shortly before the Russian Revolution started. He managed to befriend or at least interact with most of the leaders of the revolution including Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Karl Radek and many others. Ransome was often debriefed, and sometimes fetched and held until debriefing by English MI5 organization. He actually worked for MI6 for some time. He met fell in love with and eventually married Evegenia Shelepina who was Trotskys secretary.
Exhaustive study of not only Ransomes own notes, but those at the English foreign office, recently released documents from the Soviet archives and various other contacts papers allowed Chambers to get a much better picture of Ransomes activities. Chambers also fills in historical details which is of great assistance for those of us who are not expert in Russian history or the events on the Eastern Front during WWI.
This biography of Arthur Ransome fills in the gaps left by Ransoms autobiography and the excellent biography by Hugh Brogan (which covers his early life and his life back in England after Russia in much greater detail.)
This is a -must read- for anyone wanting to understand the background of the author of the Swallows and Amazons series of very popular childrens books.
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