Classic paperbacks #4: Where Eagles Dare

Where Eagles Dare
        Where Eagles Dare

The novel version of Alistair MacLean’s Where Eagles Dare is not all that it seems.

It’s a classic thriller made into an explosion-filled, action-packed film.

Well, not quite.

In fact, the book started out as the film.

Producer Elliott Kastner approached MacLean directly and asked him for an original script.

MacLean wrote the script and then the book to coincide with the movie’s release.

Years later, Kastner remember the moment he first approached the author.

“I rang Alistair MacLean at his home in Surrey, and told him that I would really like to meet with him.  He refused; he didn’t wanna meet without my telling him more details.  So I told him:  I wanted him to consider writing an original story, directly for the screen.  There was a moment of silence, followed by ‘Hmm, nobody ever asked me that before…’

“ ‘So’, he said, ‘What is it you want?’  ‘I want a team of five or six guys on a mission in the Second World War, facing enormous obstacles.  I want a mystery.  I want a sweaty, exciting adventure movie.’  That’s all I told him, just that.”

And in the book and film that is exactly what we got!

Classic paperbacks #3: The Guns of Navarone

The Guns of Navarone
        The Guns of Navarone

Fun, vivid artwork on this early edition of The Guns of Navarone by Alistair MacLean.

At one time, MacLean’s novels were everywhere. Most were made in to films. The Guns of Navarone was probably the best screen adaptation of his work.

The book originally came out in 1957.

Classic paperbacks#2: The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai was first published in 1952.

Its writer, French-born Pierre Boulle, had been a prisoner of the Japanese during WW2. He used his experiences as a background to the book.

Interestingly, the original English translation of the French title of the book was The Bridge over the River Kwai. This appears to have been changed after the appearance of the David Lean film.

A week of classic paperbacks: The Dam Busters #1

The Dam Busters
             The Dam Busters

Celebrating great books and their covers.

These are the classic paperbacks many of us grew up with.

I used to scour second hand book shops for them. I’d often end up with two or three versions of the same book.

Kicking off seven days of classic books – all with a WW2 flavour – here is The Dam Busters by Paul Brickhill. 

It was originally published in 1951 and was the first of dozens, if not hundreds, of books about the raid on the Ruhr dams.

Brickhill had been a fighter pilot, who had been shot down and imprisoned in Stalag Luft III. His first book, The Great Escape, was about events at that camp.

New Kindle edition of WW2 thriller!

Farewell Leicester Square
Farewell Leicester Square

A new edition of ‘Farewell Leicester Square’ is out now – with a brand new cover.

One for lovers of Jack Higgins and Alastair Maclean.

In the dying months of the Third Reich a fanatical alliance of SS officers and industrialists plans one final incredible mission to win the war.

They mastermind an ingenious plot to destroy London and force Britain to its knees.

But there is a spy among them.

And while the clock ticks down, a deadly race for survival takes place which could decide the fate of thousands of lives.

The action in this fast-paced novel switches from occupied Jersey to the lives of SOE and Resistance fighters in Belgium.

Intriguingly, it opens in London in 2005, as a terror attack on the city makes sickening headlines around the world.

Buy it now for just £1.29!

“A story I didn’t want to end”

Lovely new five star review for ‘Farewell Leicester Square’ on Amazon:

“Good Story, Well Written, Recommend, Well Edited…

“This book starts with an intrigue and in the present time but quickly moves back to WWII and a different perspective, that of the Channel Islands, the only part of the UK to be occupied by the Nazis during WWII.

“It quickly pulled me in and was full of pathos, well told and a story that flowed well with some twists and turns that took me off track but I pulled myself back quickly.

“It was a story I didn’t want to end and I enjoyed the book and would like a sequel!”

Farewell Leicester Square
Farewell Leicester Square

 

A woman called Nora, a heroine of WW2

Currently reading Sarah Helm’s book ‘A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE’.

It’s a fascinating portrait of the SOE officer who looked after agents heading into the field.

The remarkable Noor Inayat Khan features prominently.

Noor (she later used the name Nora) was born in 1914 in Moscow to an Indian father and an American mother. The family moved to Paris, where she was educated. She later worked writing childrens’ stories.

noor1

 

Noor escaped to England after the fall of France and in November 1940 she joined the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). In late 1942, she was recruited to join SOE as a radio operator.

In June 1943 she was flown to France to become the radio operator for the ‘Prosper’ resistance network in Paris, with the codename ‘Madeleine’. Many members of the network were arrested shortly afterwards but she chose to remain in France and spent the summer moving from place to place, trying to send messages back to London while avoiding capture.

In October, Noor was betrayed by a Frenchwoman and arrested by the Gestapo.

noor2

In November 1943, she was sent to Pforzheim prison in Germany where she was kept in chains and in solitary confinement. Despite repeated torture, she refused to reveal any information. In September 1944, Noor and three other female SOE agents were transferred to Dachau concentration camp where on 13 September they were shot. Noor was 30.

noor3

For her courage, Noor Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1949.