This long but splendid biography of George Nathaniel Curzon is worth reading, if for no other reason than that the problems Curzon wrestled with in Asia, at the apogee of the British empire, continue to haunt its successor—the current U.S. imperium. His tempestuous life reads like a Greek tragedy. Along with incomparable gifts of intellect and boundless energy, he inherited an arrogance that ultimately led to both his triumphs and eventual disappointment. Because Curzon was a member of the aristocratic circle providing the leaders of the Tory party during the high noon of the Victorian era, his political life provides a portrait of this age. Its Platonic Guardians—of whom Curzon was the most notable—ruled an empire on which the sun never set. They were trained in the Imperial nurseries of the public schools, mainly Eton, and in the ancient universities of Oxbridge, in particular Balliol College, Oxford. British politics was governed as much...

 
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