For the very first time, The War That Never Was tellsthe fascinating story of a secret war fought by British mercenaries in the Yemen in the early 1960s. In a covert operation organised over whisky and sodas in the clubs of Chelsea and Mayfair, a group of former SAS officers - led by the irrepressible Colonel Jim Johnson - arranged for a squadron of British mercenaries to travel to the remote mountain regions of the Yemen, to arm, train and lead Yemeni tribesmen in their fight against a 60,000-strong contingent of Egyptian soldiers.
It was one of the most uneven running battles ever waged; the Egyptians fielded a huge, professionally-trained army. The British fought back at the head of a ragtag force of tribal warriors and, ultimately, won. Egypt's President Nasser described the battle in the Yemen as 'my Vietnam'.
It's a fascinating, forgotten, and rip-roaringly entertaining pocket of British military history, much in the spirit of Ben MvIntyre's bestselling Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat.
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Remarkable story ... Hart-Davis tells splendidly the astonishing tale he has uncovered - Max Hastings for The Sunday Times
Duff Hart-Davis has taken over the writing of this book from Jim Johnson's second-in-command, Tony Boyle, who was working from Johnson's archive; both men died before the work was completed. He has done his extraordinary subject justice. Why did any of them get involved with the project? Well, the pay was good, but that is exactly the sort of thing men say to cover their enjoyment and excitement. The fact of the matter is that it was a terrific adventure - Philip Hensher for The Spectator
Plenty of books claim to be about forgotten aspects of the past. Yet Duff Hart-Davis has managed to go one better in this tale of British mercenaries and Egyptian skulduggery by unearthing a war that has hitherto remained more or less secret - James Owen for Mail on Sunday
An extraordinary story that needed to be told... Duff Hart-Davis tells their fascinating story, which will be new to many readers, remarkably well - Charles Guthrie for the Literary Review
This dramatic piece of history is thoroughly researched, drawn from first-hand accounts of the mercenaries' experience. Written at the pace of a James Bond thriller, Hart-Davis leavens his gung-ho tale with details that are at times touching and humorous - The Herald
An extradordinary story, told for the first time - Today, Radio 4
Their gung-ho story is told with much buckle and swash - The Times
A barnstorming history - i Independent
This true story has all the ingredients of a John Buchan 1920s thriller - Country Life
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.