Tinkler would have remained just another anonymous and forgotten colonial policeman were it not for his unexpected death, at the hands of Japanese marines and an incompetent local doctor, in June 1939. His suspicious death created a noisy diplomatic incident that was picked up by journalists and splashed across the front pages of Britain's newspapers. Many of Tinkler's personal letters survived, and they describe his personal life in unusually vivid detail, including his relationships, his knowing masculinity, his travels, and his bitter meditations on his lowly position in a powerful but waning empire.
Robert Bickers absorbing biography uses Tinkler's letters as well as extensive archival research to tell the story of this man's everyday life and violent decline in a colonial worldâa story that offers an uncommonly candid history of twentieth-century imperialism.
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