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History

'Better than Simon Schama, Saul David has recast history as addictive narrative...'

Independent

Fiction

'Saul David has already shown himself to be a first rate historian, now he proves to be a masterly story-teller...'

Bernard Cornwell

About Saul

Saul David is a historian, broadcaster and the author of several critically-acclaimed works of fiction and non-fiction.

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His history books include The Indian Mutiny (shortlisted for the Westminster Medal for Military Literature), Zulu (a Waterstone's Military History Book of the Year), and Operation Thunderbolt: Flight 139 and the Raid on Entebbe Airport (an Amazon History Book of the Year). Alan Furst commented in the New York Times Book Review: 'Tense and riveting...This is the achievement of a masterly, first-rate historian.' The film rights for Operation Thunderbolt were bought by Hollywood's Participant Media and used in the making of the motion picture 'Seven Days in Entebbe' which was released worldwide in the spring of 2018. The film is co-produced by Working Title, directed by José Padilha, and stars Rosamund Pike, Daniel Brühl and Eddie Marsan.

Saul's latest work of non-fiction, The Force: The legendary Special Ops Unit and WWII's Mission Impossible, was published in the US and Canada on 3 September 2019. It has been hailed as a "monumental achievement" (Douglas Brinkley) and "an essential part of anyone's library" (Doug Stanton).

Saul has also written three bestselling historical novels, Zulu HartHart of Empire and, published in 2018, The Prince and the Whitechapel Murders.

Saul is Professor of Military History at the University of Buckingham.

News & Events

Latest news and planned events from Saul.

  • 23.03.2020

    Times writer Gerard DeGroot has followed up his thumbs-up review of Saul’s new book, Crucible of Hell, with more praise in a blog on the best new books to read while we’re all at home: https://mymycorona.wordpress.com/2020/03/22/what-a-great-time-to-read/

    He writes: ‘This is the best book I’ve read on the Battle of Okinawa. Finally, a military historian has written a book which gives humanity to the Japanese, without taking anything away from what the Americans endured and achieved on that island.

    I’ve read a lot of military history over the course of my career. Too often wars are sanitised; they’re reduced to lines on a map, statistics and the decisions of supreme commanders. I saw that recently when reading Victor Davis Hanson’s The Second World Wars, a book in which no one seems to die, no one suffers. There’s none of the mud, piss or shit, the shattered limbs, the spattered brains, the screams for mother during the slow agony of death.  I really wish people wouldn’t write about war in that way. It’s misleading and irresponsible.

    Saul David is the opposite. He gets down into the foxholes with soldiers, into the cockpits with kamikaze pilots speeding toward their fiery death. ‘We were in the depths of the abyss’, one American soldier wrote of that battle, ‘the ultimate horror of war … Men struggled and fought and bled in an environment so degrading I believed we had been flung into hell’s own cesspool.’

    David restores a human dimension to this battle – both sides are brave, stoic, frightened, barbaric and occasionally cowardly.  This is narrative history at its most visceral as battles unfold almost in real time.  Kamikaze pilots gather together before a big mission and tell bawdy jokes, boasting of sexual experiences they don’t actually have.    At one point, a fierce fight on Sugar Loaf Hill is interrupted when an American ‘war dog’ escapes his lead, charges an Okinawan mutt, mounts her in no-man’s land, then obediently returns.  The battlefield falls briefly silent while dogs copulate, and then annihilation resumes.

    David fits perfectly into the fine tradition of war books by Max Hastings and Anthony Beevor. It’s war at its most beautiful and most horrible. You can read my review.’

  • 14.03.2020

    A wonderful first review of Saul’s new book Crucible of Hell has appeared in today’s The Times. Gerard DeGroot writes: ‘David restores a human dimension to this battle – both sides are brave, stoic, frightened, barbaric and occasionally cowardly. This is narrative history at its most visceral as battles unfold almost in real time… In short chapters David shifts between American and Japanese fronts, providing a gripping reconstruction of the action.’ In a separate tweet, De Groot adds: ‘This is the best book ever on the Battle of Okinawa. Great reading while you’re self-isolating.’ https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/crucible-of-hell-by-saul-david-review-the-american-invaders-flung-into-hells-own-cesspool-6zzqv0rd8

  • 6.03.2020

    Saul will talk about his new book Crucible of Hell at the Croft Hall, Hungerford, at 7.30pm on Wednesday 15 April. The event is organised by Hungerford Bookshop. For more information and to buy ticks: https://www.hungerfordbookshop.co.uk/category/events/page/2

  • 6.03.2020

    Bestselling military historian Antony Beevor has praised Saul’s Crucible of Hell (out on 2 April). He writes: ‘Excellent. Saul David’s gripping narrative is admirably clear.’

  • 31.01.2020

    Saul will give the first talk on his new book, Crucible of Hell: Okinawa – The Last Great Battle of the Second World War – at Chorleywood War Memorial Hall, Common Road, Chorleywood, WD3 5LN, at 7pm on Tuesday 7 April 2020. The event is organised by Chiltern Bookshops. For more details and to book tickets: https://chilternbookshops.co.uk/event/saul-david-crucible-of-hell/

  • 20.01.2020

    Historian David Reynolds has praised Saul’s new book, out in April 2020. ‘Gripping, even gruesome, yet deeply moving,’ he writes, ‘Crucible of Hell sweeps us masterfully from a coral charnel house in the Pacific to the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima.’

  • 16.11.2019

    Another wonderful review of The Force has appeared in the Wall Street Journal. “A very fine book,” writes Alexander Rose. “[David] has both a knack with the pen and a nose for a thrilling tale… Special forces are always cool and books relating their exploits are always exciting, especially when related in so masterly a style… Readers should exult in ‘The Force’, whose heroic subjects deserve to be forever remembered.”

  • 16.11.2019

    The Winnipeg Free Press hailed Saul’s new book as “a fitting tribute to the heroism of these soldiers… While David rightly celebrates the heroism of the Force, he never loses sigh of the grimness and tragedy of war. His account brings wartime experience – the gruelling training, the ferocity of combat – vividly to life with an immediacy that is breathtaking.”

  • 29.09.2019

    Saul’s new book The Force has been praised by Paul Dickson in the Washington Independent Review of Books. Describing the book as “riveting and harrowing”, Dickson adds: “David does a remarkable job in bringing these rugged, non-conforming men back to life…[He] has written an important, highly engaging work that is, as novelist Raymond Chandler once wrote of a book he was reviewing, unputdownable.”

    http://www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/index.php/bookreview/the-force-the-legendary-special-ops-unit-and-wwiis-mission-impossible

  • 20.09.2019

    Saul’s forthcoming book, Crucible of Hell: Okinawa – The Stalingrad of the Pacific, has been sold to Chinese publishing company Beijing Huaxia Winshare Books, and will be available in mainland China from April 2020, the 75th anniversary of the Okinawa landings.

Broadcasting

An experienced TV and radio broadcaster.

BBC, BBC Radio 4, Channel 4Saul has presented and appeared in history programmes for all the major TV channels and is a regular on Radio 4. Visit the Broadcasting page for a full list of credits. In 2019 he appears in programmes on the US Presidents at war, the Second World War in Colour, and Prince Albert, and presents part of a series on great inventions ('Revolutions')