Sir John Norton-Griffiths

I have to read a lot for school. Normally, I read assignments while watching a movie or wondering around on my computer and thus the pages blend together in a haze. Every now and again something catches my eye. A couple days ago I was reading Daniel Yergin's "The Prize" and stumbled across a brief discussion of an adventurer named Sir John Norton-Griffiths (pictured above). Here is the exert that captured my imagination:

“The British Government took matters into its own hands (the sabotaging of German occupied Russian oil fields) and recruited Colonel John Norton-Griffiths M.P., to organize the destruction of the Romanian oil industry. A larger-than-life figure, Norton-Griffiths was one of the great engineering contractors of the British Empire. He had undertaken construction projects in almost every corner of the world—railways in Angola and Chile and Australia, harbors in Canada, aqueducts in Baku, sewage systems in Battersea and Manchester. On the eve of World War I, he was in the midst of promoting a plan for a new subway for Chicago. Handsome, physically imposing and with the strength and endurance of a prize fighter, Norton-Griffiths was a charming swashbuckler and a persuasive showman. Men invested in his projects, women were attracted to him. He was considered ‘one of the most dashing men of the Edwardian era.’ He was also a man of fiery temperament, rebellious nature, and uncontrollable rages. He lacked discipline and perseverance, and some of his projects were spectacular financial flops. But he did achieve prominence as a Parliamentary back-bencher, variously known as ‘Hell-fire Jack,’ and ‘the Monkey’ (for having eaten a monkey while in Africa) and since he was a thoroughgoing imperialist—by the sobriquet he treasured most, ‘Empire Jack.’” (Daniel Yergin, The Prize, 180)

I will leave it at that....

Here are some more links,
The Prize (Amazon),
Sir John Norton-Griffiths (Wikipedia),
Sir John Norton-Griffiths (Royal Engineering Museum and Library),