The Life of Sir George Macartney, 18 January 1867 - 19 May 1945
The subject of this biography, Sir George Macartney, was of mixed Scottish-Chinese parentage. Based in remote Kashgar on the famous Silk Road, he was caught up in the great 19th and early 20th century power-struggle between Britain, China and Russia over control of Central Asia in what came to be known as ‘The Great Game’. Here he met the scheming Russian Consul Nicolai Petrovsky who was to prove a cunning adversary in the political contest for control in this turbulent region. Much of the book is concerned with Petrovsky's devious machinations to outflank the British agent. Macartney's wife, Catherine, has provided intimate descriptions of their domestic life and some of the hazardous journeys they made with their family when travelling to and from the United Kingdom on leave. Her very few visitors were unstinting in their praise for her courage and adaptability, not least when seriously threatened by revolutionaries. They also recognised that only George Macartney, with his renowned tact and diplomacy, allied to steely determination, could have maintained the British position with so little external support. His dangerous encounter leading a mission to the Bolshevik revolutionaries in Tashkent made for a dramatic finale to his extraordinary career in a restive region now causing concern to the Chinese government.
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