‘[Jonathan Clements] has combined the knowledge of a historian with the accessibility of a novelist. I hadn’t heard much about Finland’s Gustaf Mannerheim before, but I am certainly intrigued to read more about his fascinating life.’
‘… [an] exemplary and generously illustrated account; it incorporates new historical material’
Times Literary Supplement
Gustaf Mannerheim was on of the greatest figures of the twentieth century. As a young Finnish officer in Russian service he witnessed the coronation the last Tsar and was both reprimanded for his foolhardiness and decorated for his bravery in the Russo-Japanese War.
He spent two years undercover in Asia as an agent in the ‘Great Game’, posing as a Swedish anthropologist. Crossing China on horseback, he stopped en route to teach the thirteenth Dalai Lama how to shoot a pistol and spied on the Japanese navy.
Having escaped the Bolshevicks by the skin of his teeth in 1917, he led the anti-Russian forces in the local revolt and civil war and later, during Finland’s darkest hour, he lead the defence of his country against the impossible odds of the Winter War.
In this, the first major English language biography of Mannerheim for a decade, Jonathan Clements brings new material to light on Mannerheim’s time in Manchuria, China and Japan. The result is a fascinating appraisal of an adventurer and explorer who would go on to forge a new nation.
JONATHAN CLEMENTS has written biographies of Mao, Marco Polo and Admiral Togo, as well as volumes on Wellington Koo: China and Prince Saionji: Japan in Haus’ Makers of the Modern World series. After living in Finland for over a decade, Jonathan became a Finnish citizen in 2021.
Also by this author, A Short History of Finland, A Short History of Beijing, A Short History of Tokyo, A History of the Silk Road.