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Sinclair McKay - Author

About the Author

Sinclair McKay writes regularly for the Daily Telegraph and The Secret Listeners and has written books about James Bond and Hammer horror for Aurum. His next book, about the wartime Y Service during World War II, is due to be published by Aurum in 2012. He lives in London.

 

Author photo © Liam Bergin

Featured books by Sinclair McKay

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park The History of the Wartime Codebreaking Centre by the Men and Women Who Were There

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park The History of the Wartime Codebreaking Centre by the Men and Women Who Were There

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/08/2011

Bletchley Park was where one of the war's most famous - and crucial - achievements was made: the cracking of Germany's Enigma code in which its most important military communications were couched. This country house in the Buckinghamshire countryside was home to Britain's most brilliant mathematical brains, like Alan Turing, and the scene of immense advances in technology - indeed, the birth of modern computing. The military codes deciphered there were instrumental in turning both the Battle of the Atlantic and the war in North Africa. But, though plenty has been written about the boffins, and the codebreaking, fictional and non-fiction - from Robert Harris and Ian McEwan to Andrew Hodges' biography of Turing - what of the thousands of men and women who lived and worked there during the war? What was life like for them - an odd, secret territory between the civilian and the military?

Other books by Sinclair McKay

The Tower of London Puzzle Book

The Tower of London Puzzle Book

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/10/2020

If you cracked the GHCQ Puzzle Book and tore through the Ordnance Survey Puzzle Book, you must show off your brainteaser abilities with the newest puzzle book from the bestselling author of Bletchley Park Brainteasers... The Tower of London is one of the world's most famous landmarks, with its iconic Beefeaters guarding the gates, Crown Jewels that remain securely within and ravens that flock to its walls. It holds a rich history of invasion, intrigue and murder that has captured imaginations for decades. Even though the Tower of London is recognised by people all over the world, it is surprising how very few know about the stories that echo around the ancient walls. From the Norman Conquest to the Reformation and through the break with Rome; from the murder of a King to the execution of numerous queens; from exotic animals held captive, to Nazi spies in the 1940s, the Tower of London has seen a parade of pageantry, political violence and passionate revolution that is shocking and ultimately, fascinating. Now it's time to use your smarts to take on brilliant brainteasers and incredible conundrums inspired by the Tower of London's greatest events. From logic games involving daring attempts on the Crown Jewels to decoding messages smuggled around the Tower by its famous prisoners, to finally discovering what happened to the princes murdered in their sleep, this book will be a maze of addictively brilliant challenges that will take you through the most secret and sacred recesses of this extraordinary London citadel. So it's time to don your bearskin, and embark on a mind-bending journey into the depths and dungeons of London's most ominous landmark in The Tower of London Puzzle Book.

Dresden

Dresden

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/09/2020

'Powerful . . . there is rage in his ink. McKay's book grips by its passion and originality. Some 25,000 people perished in the firestorm that raged through the city. I have never seen it better described' Max Hastings, Sunday Times In February 1945 the Allies obliterated Dresden, the 'Florence of the Elbe'. Explosive bombs weighing over 1,000 lbs fell every seven and a half seconds and an estimated 25,000 people were killed. Was Dresden a legitimate military target or was the bombing a last act of atavistic mass murder in a war already won? From the history of the city to the attack itself, conveyed in a minute-by-minute account from the first of the flares to the flames reaching almost a mile high - the wind so searingly hot that the lungs of those in its path were instantly scorched - through the eerie period of reconstruction, bestselling author Sinclair McKay creates a vast canvas and brings it alive with touching human detail. Along the way we encounter, among many others across the city, a Jewish woman who thought the English bombs had been sent from heaven, novelist Kurt Vonnegut who wrote that the smouldering landscape was like walking on the surface of the moon, and 15-year-old Winfried Bielss, who, having spent the evening ushering refugees, wanted to get home to his stamp collection. He was not to know that there was not enough time. Impeccably researched and deeply moving, McKay uses never-before-seen sources to relate the untold stories of civilians and vividly conveys the texture of contemporary life. Dresden is invoked as a byword for the illimitable cruelties of war, but with the distance of time, it is now possible to approach this subject with a much clearer gaze, and with a keener interest in the sorts of lives that ordinary people lived and lost, or tried to rebuild. Writing with warmth and colour about morality in war, the instinct for survival, the gravity of mass destruction and the manipulation of memory, this is a master historian at work. 'Churchill said that if bombing cities was justified, it was always repugnant. Sinclair McKay has written a shrewd, humane and balanced account of this most controversial target of the Anglo-American strategic bombing campaign, the ferocious consequence of the scourge of Nazism' Allan Mallinson, author of Fight to the Finish 'Beautifully-crafted, elegiac, compelling - Dresden delivers with a dark intensity and incisive compassion rarely equalled. Authentic and authoritative, a masterpiece of its genre' Damien Lewis, author of Zero Six Bravo 'Compelling . . . Sinclair McKay brings a dark subject vividly to life' Keith Lowe, author of Savage Continent 'This is a brilliantly clear, and fair, account of one of the most notorious and destructive raids in the history aerial warfare. From planning to execution, the story is told by crucial participants - and the victims who suffered so cruelly on the ground from the attack itself and its aftermath' Robert Fox, author of We Were There

Dresden

Dresden

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/02/2020

The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller 'Powerful . . . there is rage in his ink. McKay's book grips by its passion and originality. Some 25,000 people perished in the firestorm that raged through the city. I have never seen it better described' Max Hastings, Sunday Times Published for the 75th anniversary In February 1945 the Allies obliterated Dresden, the 'Florence of the Elbe'. Bombs weighing over 1,000 lbs fell every seven and a half seconds and an estimated 25,000 people were killed. Was Dresden a legitimate military target or was the bombing a last act of atavistic mass murder in a war already won? From the history of the city to the attack itself, conveyed in a minute-by-minute account from the first of the flares to the flames reaching almost a mile high - the wind so searingly hot that the lungs of those in its path were instantly scorched - through the eerie period of reconstruction, bestselling author Sinclair McKay creates a vast canvas and brings it alive with touching human detail. Along the way we encounter, among many others across the city, an elderly air-raid warden and his wife vainly striving to keep order amid devouring flames, a doctor who carried on operating while his home was in ruins, novelist Kurt Vonnegut who never thought that his own side might want to unleash the roaring fire, and fifteen-year-old Winfried Bielss, who, having spent the evening ushering refugees, wanted to get home to his stamp collection. Impeccably researched and deeply moving, McKay uses never-before-seen sources to relate the untold stories of civilians and vividly conveys the texture of contemporary life. Dresden is invoked as a byword for the illimitable cruelties of war, but with the distance of time, it is now possible to approach this subject with a much clearer gaze, and with a keener interest in the sorts of lives that ordinary people lived and lost, or tried to rebuild. Writing with warmth and colour about morality in war, the instinct for survival, the gravity of mass destruction and the importance of memory, this is a master historian at work. 'Churchill said that if bombing cities was justified, it was always repugnant. Sinclair McKay has written a shrewd, humane and balanced account of this most controversial target of the Anglo-American strategic bombing campaign, the ferocious consequence of the scourge of Nazism' Allan Mallinson, author of Fight to the Finish 'Beautifully-crafted, elegiac, compelling - Dresden delivers with a dark intensity and incisive compassion rarely equalled. Authentic and authoritative, a masterpiece of its genre' Damien Lewis, author of Zero Six Bravo 'Compelling . . . Sinclair McKay brings a dark subject vividly to life' Keith Lowe, author of Savage Continent 'This is a brilliantly clear, and fair, account of one of the most notorious and destructive raids in the history aerial warfare. From planning to execution, the story is told by crucial participants - and the victims who suffered so cruelly on the ground from the attack itself and its aftermath' Robert Fox, author of We Were There

The Scotland Yard Puzzle Book

The Scotland Yard Puzzle Book

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 17/10/2019

Pit your wits against the brilliant minds of Scotland Yard, from the bestselling author of Bletchley Park Brainteasers, Sinclair McKay. If you cracked the GCHQ Puzzle Book and tore through the Ordnance Survey Puzzle Book, you MUST show off your brainteaser abilities and prove that you have what it takes to be a detective at the Yard... How can a man be in two places at once? How might a murder be committed when no one is seen entering or exiting the house? Can an entire crime be solved with just a suitcase of empty beer bottles? It's time for you to tackle the conundrums that confounded the best detectives over the years. Since it opened its doors in 1829, Scotland Yard has used the science of detection to solve the most macabre of murders and catch the most audacious of thieves. The Scotland Yard Puzzle Book takes a look through the history of this famous institution and recreates some of the most complex puzzles its detectives have ever faced. Technology can now shine a light on some of the most difficult cases, but the analytical mind needed to crack the clues remains as essential as ever. Do you have what it takes to be a Scotland Yard detective?

Secret Service Brainteasers

Secret Service Brainteasers

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 20/09/2018

Sinclair McKay's Bletchley Park Brainteasers was the runaway quiz book bestseller of 2017, now it's time to pit your wits against the secret heroes of MI5 and MI6 and find out if YOU have what it takes to be a spy! If you cracked the GCHQ Puzzle Book and followed the Ordnance Survey Puzzle Book, you MUST show off your James Bond credentials with Secret Service Brainteasers ... Whether you have linguistic flair, an instinct for technology or good old common sense, pit your wits against some of the greatest minds of our time with ingenious brainteasers including secret languages, sabotage themed brain bogglers, deadly countdowns and hidden codes. Weaving astonishing stories of the men and women who operate from the shadows, the secret heroes and heroines of MI5 and MI6 who have faced extraordinary and terrifying challenges and a wide range of mind twisting puzzles, Secret Service Brainteasers will test your mental agility to discover: Do YOU have what it takes to be a spy?

The Lady in the Cellar

The Lady in the Cellar

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/08/2018

'Gripping, gothic and deeply poignant' Mail on Sunday Standing four storeys tall in an elegant Bloomsbury terrace, number 4, Euston Square was a well-kept, respectable boarding house, whose tenants felt themselves to be on the rise in Victorian London. But beneath this genteel veneer lay a murderous darkness. For on 9th May 1879, the body of a former resident, Matilda Hacker, was discovered by chance in the coal cellar. The ensuing investigation stripped bare the dark side of Victorian domesticity, revealing violence, sex and scandal, and became the first celebrity case of the early tabloids. Someone must have had full knowledge of what had happened to Matilda Hacker. For someone in that house had killed her. So how could the murderer prove so elusive? In this true story, Sinclair McKay meticulously evaluates the evidence and, through first-hand sources, giving a gripping account that sheds new light on a mystery that eluded Scotland Yard.

The Mile End Murder

The Mile End Murder

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/06/2018

'A fascinating book, by turns riveting and unsettling, and wonderfully rich in period detail.' Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday On 16th August 1860 wealthy widow Mary Emsley was murdered in her own home. The investigation that followed had an abundance of suspects, from disgruntled step children concerned about their inheritance and an admirer repeatedly rejected by the widow, to a trusted employee, former police officer and spy. The eventual public trial was dominated by surprise revelations and shock witnesses, before culminating with one of the final public executions at Newgate. But was an innocent person sent to the gallows? Years after the case was closed Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle became convinced a miscarriage of justice had occurred but was unable to find the real killer. After confounding the best detectives for years, the case has finally been solved by bestselling author Sinclair McKay. Discover 'whodunit' as the real murderer is revealed for the first time exclusively in this captivating study of a murder case in the nineteenth century, a story never told before.

Bletchley Park Brainteasers

Bletchley Park Brainteasers

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 19/10/2017

Bletchley Park Brainteasers was the runaway Christmas bestseller in 2017 and delighted hundreds of thousands of devoted puzzlers with its fiendish puzzles, riddles and enigmas. It's never to late to join the code breakers of Bletchley Park in their enjoyment of a devilish challenge! Would you love to master morse code? Could you have have outsmarted an enigma machine? Would your love of chess have seen you recruited into the history books? When scouring the land for top-level code breakers, the Bletchley Park recruiters left no stone unturned. As well as approaching the country's finest mathematicians, they cast their nets much wider, interviewing sixth-form music students who could read orchestral scores, chess masters, poets, linguists, hieroglyphics experts and high society debutantes fresh from finishing school. To assess these individuals they devised various ingenious mind-twisters - hidden codes, cryptic crosswords, secret languages, complex riddles - and it is puzzles such as these, together with the fascinating recruitment stories that surround them, that make up the backbone of this book. The code breakers of Bletchley Park were united in their love of a good puzzle. If you feel the same, why not dive in, put your mental agility to the test and discover: Would Bletchley Park have recruited YOU?

The Mile End Murder

The Mile End Murder

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/08/2017

'A fascinating book, by turns riveting and unsettling, and wonderfully rich in period detail.' Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday In 1860, a 70 year old widow turned landlady named Mary Emsley was found dead in her own home, killed by a blow to the back of her head. What followed was a murder case that gripped the nation, a veritable locked room mystery which baffled even legendary Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle. With an abundance of suspects, from disgruntled step children concerned about their inheritance and a spurned admirer repeatedly rejected by the widow, to a trusted employee, former police officer and spy, the case led to a public trial dominated by surprise revelations and shock witnesses, before culminating with one of the final public executions at Newgate. This is the case Conan Doyle couldn't solve and, after confounding the best detectives for years, has finally be solved by author Sinclair McKay. Discover 'whodunit' as the real murderer is revealed for the first time exclusively in this captivating study of a murder case in the nineteenth century, a story never told before.

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park

Author: Sinclair McKay, Bletchley Park Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/01/2016

This is beautifully slipcased presented collector' s edition of the best selling title, The Lost World of Bletchley Park, a comprehensive illustrated history of this remarkable place, from its prewar heyday as a country estate, its wartime requisition and how it became the place where modern computing was invented and the German Enigma code was cracked, to its post-war dereliction and then rescue towards the end of the twentieth century as a museum. Removable memorabilia includes: 1938 recruiting memo with a big tick against Turing' s name Churchill' s ' Action this day' letter giving code breakers extra resources Handwritten Turing memos Top Secret Engima decryptions, about the sinking of the Bismark, German High Command' s assessment of D-Day threat and the message announcing Hitler' s suicide A wealth of everyday items such as call-up papers, security notices and propoganda posters Newly redesigned interiors with 25% new content, high end slipcase package featuring removable facsimile documents, this is an essential purchase for everyone interested and wanting to experience the place where code-breaking helped to win the war.

Dunkirk

Dunkirk

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/01/2015

The Lost World of Bletchley Park

The Lost World of Bletchley Park

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/10/2013

The first comprehensive illustrated history of a remarkable Victorian mansion in Buckinghamshire that played such an important role in British history. From its prewar heyday as a country estate under the Liberal MP Sir Herbert Leon, through its wartime requisition with the addition of the famous huts within the grounds, to become the place where modern computing was invented and the German Enigma code was cracked, its post-war dereliction and then rescue towards the end of the twentieth century as an engrossing museum of wartime codebreaking whose visitor numbers have more than doubled in the last five years. Featuring over 200 photographs, some previously unseen, this is a complete and comprehensive guide to a country estate that played in pivotal role in winning the war against the Nazis.

Ramble On

Ramble On

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/03/2013

This fascinating ramble through the history of walking delves into our relationship with the British countryside. 'Ramble On' tells the story of how country walks were transformed from a small and often illegal pastime to the most popular recreational activity in the country. From the brave band of hikers who scaled the off-limits peak Kinder Scout in 1932, via the intricate Lake District guides of Alfred Wainwright, to the resistant landowners (including the notorious Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, Madonna and Jeremy Clarkson) who have done their level best (and worst) to keep walkers off their land - this is the definitive history of rambling. Perfectly capturing the sense of exhilaration on reaching the summit of a blustery hill-top path, 'Ramble On' is for anyone who has ever pulled on a pair of walking boots or is partial to the taste of Kendal mintcake.

Ramble On

Ramble On

Author: Sinclair McKay Format: eBook Release Date: 07/06/2012

A history of walking and our relationship with the British countryside. On the afternoon of Sunday April 24, 1932, a group of approximately five hundred men and women set out for the summit of Kinder Scout, the highest point in Derbyshire's Peak District. They were not here to take in the fresh air and breathtaking vistas: they were here to make a stand. Kinder Scout, like almost every other site of natural beauty in Britain at that time, was privately owned and fiercely guarded. This wild, open landscape was one that they had absolutely no right to visit. Ramble On tells the story of how country walks and rambling were transformed from a small and often illegal pastime to the most popular recreational activity in the country.But the story of rambling is not so much about parliamentary acts as it is about the remarkable people who campaigned for (and in some cases against) the pastime. There was a Lancastrian town council accountant called Alfred Wainwright, who in the 1950s changed his life, and the lives of many others, when he popularised walking in the Lake District with his series of guides. And any history of rambling would be incomplete without mentioning the resistant landowners - from the notorious Nicholas Van Hoogstraten to celebrities such as Madonna and Jeremy Clarkson - who have done their level best (and worst) to keep walkers off their land. Above all, this tale is about the exhilaration of a gusty hill-top path; the curious unease that a labyrinthine dark forest floor can induce; the feel of different soil, peat and rock; the sight of alternating sunlight and shadow sweeping across vast valleys. Both a biography of Britain's favourite outdoor pursuit and a celebration of our wonderful countryside, Ramble On is for anyone who has ever pulled on a pair of walking boots or is partial to the taste of Kendal mintcake.

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