Nicholas Rankin

A Pirate and Predator

The Meinertzhagen Mystery: The Life and Legend of a Colossal Fraud

By

Potomac Books 353pp £14 order from our bookshop

Since his death forty years ago, the soldier and ornithologist Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, DSO, CBE, has bagged four biographers. The first two, John Lord and Peter Capstick, were worshippers who believed everything their hero said and wrote. The third, Mark Cocker in 1989, had qualms, but gave his subject the benefit of the doubt. And now we have the fourth, a sceptic: Brian Garfield, 67-year-old former president of the Mystery Writers of America, who has drawn together a decade’s worth of worldwide research to indict the rangy Colonel M as a cross between Harry Flashman and Baron Munchhausen; as a bully, a cheat, and a pathological fantasist. In short, a shit.

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