Synopses & Reviews
Lisbon had a pivotal role in the history of World War II, though not a gun was fired there. The only European city in which both the Allies and the Axis power operated openly, it was temporary home to much of Europes exiled royalty, over one million refugees seeking passage to the U.S., and a host of spies, secret police, captains of industry, bankers, prominent Jews, writers and artists, escaped POWs, and black marketeers. An operations officer writing in 1944 described the daily scene at Lisbons airport as being like the movie Casablanca,” times twenty.
In this riveting narrative, renowned historian Neill Lochery draws on his relationships with high-level Portuguese contacts, access to records recently uncovered from Portuguese secret police and banking archives, and other unpublished documents to offer a revelatory portrait of the Wars back stage. And he tells the story of how Portugal, a relatively poor European country trying frantically to remain neutral amidst extraordinary pressures, survived the war not only physically intact but significantly wealthier. The countrys emergence as a prosperous European Union nation would be financed in part, it turns out, by a cache of Nazi gold.
"While spared fighting during WWII, few cities saw more intrigue and espionage than Lisbon. Neutral Portugal maintained economic ties to both Axis and Allied powers, and was the world's largest exporter of wolfram, a metal crucial to producing armaments. The capital, previously a provincial backwater, suddenly bulged with arms dealers, profiteers, opportunists, spies of every nationality, and tens of thousands of refugees, primarily Jews seeking passage to America or Palestine. Lochery, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at University College London, tells the gripping story of the city known as 'Casablanca II,' which is largely the history of AntÃ³nio de Oliveira Salazar, the tireless prime minister whose first priority was to maintain Portugal's neutrality to avoid 'economic sanctions from the Allied powers, and outright invasion by the Germans.' Lochery's portrayal of Salazar is broadly sympathetic while not hagiographic, a corrective to the popular image of an authoritarian Franco-lite. While engrossing and rewarding, the book exhibits problems with pacing and structure, introducing characters and concepts in a pointillist fashion; in four pages, Lochery discusses an honorary degree Cambridge University bestowed on Salazar, British efforts to prevent Germany from obtaining wolfram, the prevalence of prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases, and a rally for national unity held by Salazar. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Neill Lochery, PhD, is a world-renowned source on Israel, the Middle East, and Mediterranean history. He is the author of five books and countless newspaper and magazine articles. He regularly appears on television in the UK, the USA, and the Middle East. He is currently based at University College London and regularly gives talks in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, and North America.