Duff Hart-Davis

Man of War
  • Man of War

  • 'A lot of people know me,' wrote Alan Hillgarth in a letter, 'but I'm very much an enigma to most of them and regarded with suspicion because I don't fit into any category . . . I'm a trouble-maker. I ride the storm.'

    Captain Alan Hillgarth was just 15 years old when he found himself aboard the HMS Bacchante as the First World War broke out. Within months he'd fought at Gallipoli, bayoneted an attacking Turkish soldier, and been shot in the head and leg.

    After the war, Hillgarth became an author of thrillers, a gold-hunter in South America, a diplomat and a spy-master. As British Consul in Majorca during the Spanish Civil War, from 1936 to 1939, he saved countless lives acting as mediator between the two sides. From 1940 to 1943 he was Britain's most important intelligence officer in Spain, a key player in the successful Allied subterfuge Operation Mincemeat. Later he became Chief of Intelligence for the Eastern Fleet, in Ceylon, and a key advisor to Churchill, during and after the war.

    With exclusive access to the family archive, Hart-Davis is uncovering the truth about an era previously shrouded in mystery and a man that wanted it that way.

Duff Hart-Davis has written and edited fifty books on a wide variety of subjects, including eight adventure novels and biographies of Peter Fleming, the traveller and author, J.J.Audubon, the American bird artist, and most recently Philip de László, the portrait painter. A deep interest in natural history led to Monarchs of the Glen, a history of the Highland deer forests, and to the much-praised illustrated encyclopaedia Fauna Britannica. He worked on the Sunday Telegraph as Literary Editor and feature writer, reporting from many parts of the world, and from 1986 to 2001 he contributed the weekly Country Matters column on rural affairs to the Independent. Together with his wife Phyllida he now lives in a 17th-century farmhouse on the Cotswold escarpment.

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