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Sir Edmund Backhouse was a strange and very unappealing Englishman who lived in China for decades and lied to everyone, about everything. This is not enough to merit a 300-page book given Trevor-Roper's writing style, which lacks fluidity. There's no narrative flow during much of the book, and the rather dotty way in which it is organized does not help. In spite of the fact that the awful Backhouse should be an interesting subject, the reader's attention frequently wanders. Someone should have taken this book firmly in hand and edited it. Trevor-Roper's The Invention of Scotland was much easier to read, probably because it was edited by someone else.
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