Narrated By: Tim Frances
Duration: 10 hours and 3 minutes
What to expect
SOLDIER, ESCAPER, SPYMASTER, POLITICIAN – Airey Neave was assassinated in the House of Commons car park in 1979. Forty years after his death, Patrick Bishop’s lively, action-packed biography examines the life, heroic war and death of one of Britain’s most remarkable 20th century figures.
Airey Neave was one of the most extraordinary figures of his generation. Taken prisoner during WW2, he was the first British officer to escape from Colditz and using the code name ‘Saturday’ became a key figure in the IS9 escape and evasion organisation which spirited hundreds of Allied airmen and soldiers out of Occupied Europe. A lawyer by training, he served the indictments on the Nazi leaders at the Nuremburg war trials. An ardent Cold War warrior, he was mixed up in several of the great spy scandals of the period.
Most people might consider these achievements enough for a single career, but he went on to become the man who made Margaret Thatcher, mounting a brilliantly manipulative campaign in the 1975 Tory leadership to bring her to power.
And yet his death is as fascinating as his remarkable life. On Friday, 30 March 1979, a bomb planted beneath his car exploded while he was driving up the ramp of the House of Commons underground car park, killing him instantly. The murder was claimed by the breakaway Irish Republican group, the INLA. His killers have never been identified.
Patrick Bishop’s new book, published to mark the 40th anniversary of his death, is a lively and concise biography of this remarkable man. It answers the question of who killed him and why their identities have been hidden for so long and is written with the support of the Neave family.
Biography: historical, political & military, Military history
Listen to a sample
‘Sympathetic, magnificent … This exemplary biography is a timely corrective when the fashion is for politicians to run away after they suffer a setback’ Times
‘Neave was a brave, modest and decent man. Bishop shows him also to be complex, sometimes troubled, and more interesting than many who did not know him understood. He deserves a first-rate biography, and Bishop has written it’ Daily Telegraph
‘It succeeds triumphantly. Masterly on military matters, sympathetic, psychologically acute and alert to irony’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Bishop writes with admirable brevity and insight’ Sunday Times
Praise for Patrick Bishop:
‘This is a terrifically readable, authoritative book that told me many fascinating things I did not know’ Max Hastings, Sunday Times
‘As a former war correspondent with more than 30 years’ experience, Bishop brings journalistic strengths to his second career as a popular historian: an easily readable and exciting writing style, a knowledge of what fighting means to those at the sharp end, a nose for the nub of the story, and an admirable compassion for the victims of war on all sides…a book that at once educates, explains, and excites’ BBC History magazine, Book of the Month
‘Monumental … after Bishop's pilot's eye views of the war in Fighter Boys and Bomber Boys, Air Force Blue counts as a publishing event. It won't disappoint” Times
‘Compelling … Mr Bishop has an enormous tale to tell as he leads up to 1939 and six years of formative war…what Mr. Bishop does so well is to show how the RAF came to be such a distinctive and effective force’ Country Life
‘Full of excellent and vivid stories, this terrifically readable and authoritative book tells the dramatic story of the RAF during the Second World War’ Sunday Times
‘This meticulously compiled survey sets out to combine encomium with a series of unblinkered evaluations’ TLS