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Nicholas Rankin spent twenty years broadcasting for BBC World Service where he was Chief Producer and won two UN awards. He is the author of Dead Man's Chest, Telegram from Guernica and the bestselling Churchill's Wizards, the story of British intelligence in the two World Wars.
In 1942, Lieutenant-Commander Ian Fleming was personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence - the dynamic figure behind James Bond's fictional chief, 'M'. Here, Fleming had a brilliant idea: why not set up a unit of authorised looters, men who would go in hard with the front-line troops and steal enemy intelligence? Known as '30 Assault Unit', they took part in the major campaigns of the Second World War, landing on the Normandy beaches and helping to liberate Paris. 30AU's final amazing coup was to seize the entire archives of the German Navy - thirty tons of documents. Ian Fleming flew out in person to get the loot back to Britain, where it was combed for evidence to use in the Nuremburg trials. In this gripping and highly enjoyable book, Nicholas Rankin, author of the best-selling Churchill's Wizards , puts 30 Assault Unit's fascinating story in a strategic and intelligence context. He also argues that Ian Fleming's Second World War service was one of the most significant periods of his life - without this, the most popular spy fiction of the twentieth century would not have been written.
Two months before he shot himself, Adolf Hitler saw where it had all gone wrong. By failing to seize Gibraltar in the summer of 1940, he had lost the war. The Rock of Gibraltar, a pillar of British seapower since 1704, looked formidable but was extraordinarily vulnerable. Menaced on all sides by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Vichy France and Francoist Spain, Gibraltar also had to let thousands of foreigners across its frontier to work every day. Among them came spies and saboteurs, eager to blow up the Rock's twenty five miles of secret tunnels. Nicholas Rankin's revelatory book, whose cast of characters includes Haile Selassie, Anthony Burgess and General Sikorski, sets Gibraltar in the wider context of the struggle against Fascism, from Italy's invasion of Abyssinia, through the Spanish Civil War, to the end of the Second World War.
Two months before he shot himself, Adolf Hitler saw where it had all gone wrong. By failing to seize Gibraltar in the summer of 1940, he lost the war. The Rock of Gibraltar, a pillar of British sea-power since 1704, looked formidable but was extraordinarily vulnerable. Though menaced on all sides by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Vichy France and Francoist Spain, every day Gibraltar had to let thousands of people cross its frontier to work. Among them came spies and saboteurs, eager to blow up its 25 miles of secret tunnels. In 1942, Gibraltar became US General Eisenhower's HQ for the invasion of North Africa, the campaign that led to Allied victory in the Mediterranean. Nicholas Rankin's revelatory new book, whose cast of characters includes Haile Selassie, Anthony Burgess and General Sikorski, sets Gibraltar in the wider context of the struggle against fascism, from Abyssinia through the Spanish Civil War. It also chronicles the end of empire and the rise to independence of the Gibraltarian people.
Adolf Hitler's failure to take Gibraltar in 1940 lost him the Second World War. But in truth the formidable Rock, jutting between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, was extraordinarily vulnerable. Every day, ten thousand people crossed its frontier to work, spy, sabotage or escape. It was threatened by Spain, Vichy France, Italy and Germany. After the USA entered the war, Gibraltar became General Eisenhower's strategic headquarters for the invasion of North Africa and the battle for the Mediterranean.
On 26 April 1937, in the rubble of the bombed city of Guernica, the world's press scrambled to submit their stories. But one journalist held back, and spent an extra day exploring the scene. His report pointed the finger at secret Nazi involvement in the devastating aerial attack. It was the lead story in both The Times and the New York Times, and became the most controversial dispatch of the Spanish Civil War. Who was this Special Correspondent, whose report inspired Picasso's black-and-white painting Guernica - the most enduring single image of the twentieth century - and earned him a place on the Gestapo Special Wanted List? George Steer, a 27-year-old adventurer, was a friend and supporter of the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I. He foresaw and alerted others to the fascist game-plan in Africa and all over Europe; initiated new techniques of propaganda and psychological warfare; saw military action in Ethiopia, Spain, Finland, Libya, Egypt, Madagascar and Burma; married twice and wrote eight books. Without Steer, the true facts about Guernica's destruction might never have been known. In this exhilarating biography, Nicholas Rankin brilliantly evokes all the passion, excitement and danger of an extraordinary life, right up to Steer's premature death in the jungle on Christmas Day 1944.
The real story of how Winston Churchill and the British mastered deception to defeat the Nazis - by conning the Kaiser, hoaxing Hitler and using brains to outwit brawn. By June 1940, most of Europe had fallen to the Nazis and Britain stood alone. So, with Winston Churchill in charge the British bluffed their way out of trouble, drawing on the trickery which had helped them win the First World War. They broadcast outrageous British propaganda on pretend German radio stations, broke German secret codes and eavesdropped on their messages. Every German spy in Britain was captured and many were used to send back false information to their controllers. Forged documents misled their intelligence. Bogus wireless traffic from entire phantom armies, dummy airfields with model planes, disguised ships and inflatable rubber tanks created a vital illusion of strength. Culminating in the spectacular misdirection that was so essential to the success of D-Day in 1944, Churchill's Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914-1945 is a thrilling work of popular military history filled with almost unbelievable stories of bravery, creativity and deception. Nicholas Rankin is the author of Dead Man's Chest, Telegram From Guernica and Ian Fleming's Commandos. 'This is a story clamouring to be told. We could not have imagined the scope of the inventiveness, the daring of these people's imaginations . . . I could not stop reading this book.' Doris Lessing
'Delightful . . . the ideal book to take with you on holiday.' Independent 'Rankin is a wizard of digression and cross-reference . . . He is a natural sleuth, writes well in slim nuggety paragraphs, and he teaches us a great deal about Stevenson en route.' Richard Holmes First published to widespread acclaim in 1987, Nicholas Rankin's account of a journey in pursuit of Robert Louis Stevenson has won plaudits ever since for its blend of scholarship and flair. Through Europe and America, from the Highlands of Scotland to the islands of the Pacific, Rankin explores an offbeat and enthralling trail, charting how a Scottish bohemian became an honorary chief among the Samoans, and how a European aesthete turned to Pacific politics. At once a pioneering travel book, an eye-opening biography and a critical reassessment of a remarkable man of letters, Dead Man's Chest is a unique and absorbing study of one of the most influential figures in the English-speaking world.