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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 and broadcaster.

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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.

In 2019, Saul brought out The Force: The legendary Special Ops Unit and WWII's Mission Impossible, which was hailed as a "monumental achievement" (Douglas Brinkley) and "an essential part of anyone's library" (Doug Stanton). His latest book, Crucible of Hell: Okinawa - The Last Great Battle of the Second World War, was published in the spring of 2020 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the campaign. It has been described by Antony Beevor as 'Excellent...gripping narrative' and named as a Times/Sunday Times Non-fiction Book of the Year.

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.

  • 16.06.2020

    Saul gave a live online presentation on his London-based MA in Military History by Research that runs from September 2020-September 2021 (or from Sept 2020-Sept 2022 if you do the Master’s part-time). It is also possible to join the programme as an Associate: meaning you can attend the guest lectures and dinners, but do not need to submit written work.   Click here to watch the presentation  Click here for more information and to apply

  • 25.05.2020

    Saul’s latest book CRUCIBLE OF HELL was given a 5-star review by Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph. Heffer wrote: ‘Saul David is…peerless now among our military historians… [A] superb book…that often reads like a screenplay, but depicts suffering that was all too real’. Click here to read full review

  • 25.05.2020

    Saul spoke to Mark LiVecche of Providence magazine about his new book Crucible of Hell. Click here to watch

  • 22.05.2020

    Saul was interviewed about his new book CRUCIBLE OF HELL by Dr Mark LiVecche for Providence magazine. https://providencemag.com/video/crucible-hell-conversation-saul-david/

  • 22.05.2020

    For those budding military historians out there, Saul will be holding a live webinar at 6pm on Monday 15 June 2020 for his London-based one year MA in Military History (or two years part-time), starting this September. Do join him. https://www.buckingham.ac.uk/event/military-history-from-marlborough-to-montgomery-and-macarthur/

  • 21.05.2020

    Saul’s new book Crucible of Hell has been chosen as an Amazon.com History Book of the Month for May 2020. Chris Schluep wrote for Amazon Book Review: ‘Okinawa was the largest air-land-sea battle in history. It was a battle that lasted more than 80 days, and it truly was a crucible. Saul David brings those days to brilliant, bloody, dramatic life in his book.’

  • 21.05.2020

    Saul spoke about his new book Crucible of Hell on a live webinar for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans on 20 May 2020. Click here to watch

  • 28.04.2020

    Crucible of Hell has received more praise. ‘Written with verve and style,’ notes Malcom Murfett in the Literary Review. ‘If you like your war bold and bloody, its here in abundance… David brings the ghastly mayhem of war to life in a vivid way. You can almost feel the ghoulishness of Hacksaw Ridge and smell the stench of death in the caves cut into the Shuri Heights.’ Jay Elwes adds in The Spectator: ‘Superbly researched, well-written book.’ For the full reviews, click here and here

  • 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

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 appeared in programmes on the US Presidents at war and the Second World War in Colour, and presented Prince Albert: A Victorian Hero Revealed, and part of a series on great inventions ('Revolutions')