1st Edition 1974
Paperback. First published in 1974 in the UK by "Futura Publications Ltd.".
Printed by "Hazell Watson & Viney Ltd.". Written by Charles Whiting (AKA Leo Kessler).
This is a general overview of the Battle of Arnhem.
Charles Whiting (December 18, 1926 - July 24, 2007), was a British writer and military
historian and with some 350 books of fiction and non-fiction to his credit, under his
own name and a variety of pseudonyms including Duncan Harding, John Kerrigan, Klaus Konrad
and Leo Kessler. Born in the Bootham area of York, England, he was a pupil at the
prestigious Nunthorpe Grammar School, leaving at the age of 16 to join the British Army
by lying about his age. Keen to be in on the wartime action, Whiting was attached to the
52nd Reconnaissance Regiment and by the age of 18 saw duty as a sergeant in France,
Holland, Belgium and Germany in the latter stages of World War II. While still a soldier,
he observed conflicts between the highest-ranking British and American generals which
he would write about extensively in later years.
After the war, he stayed on in Germany completing his A-levels via correspondence course
and teaching English before being enrolled at Leeds University reading History
and German Language. As an undergraduate he was afforded opportunities for study
at several European universities and, after gaining his degree, would go on to
become an assistant professor of history. Elsewhere, Whiting held a variety of
jobs which included working as a translator for a German chemical factory and
spells as a publicist, a correspondent for The Times and feature writer for such
diverse magazines as International Review of Linguistics, Soldier and Playboy.
His first novel The Frat Wagon, written while still an undergraduate, was published
by Jonathan Cape in 1954 and by 1958 had been followed by three wartime thrillers,
Lest I Fall (which was optioned by Rank but never filmed), Journey to No End and
The Mighty Fallen. The first of these thrillers was awarded the George Dowty Prize
at the 1956 Cheltenham Literature Festival which financed Whiting's study tour in
North America and led on to a contract with Maryland University which at that time
was providing degree courses for US military officers stationed in Europe.
Whiting became a touring academic living in Spain, France, Germany, Turkey and Italy
while teaching military history and strategy to the US Army. It was while doing this
that he would meet his first wife, Irma, whose father had suffered persecution
in Hamburg for his opposition to the Nazis, and eventually the couple settled in
a remote Belgian village.
It was while living there that Whiting's began to pour forth novels and non-fiction
at an unprecedented rate, initially overwhelming his publishers. Between 1970 and 1976
in a prolific burst he wrote a total of 34 books which he described as "Bang-bang,
thrills-and-spills". In dealing with his work rate, publishers would successfully
develop a number of different markets for his output, publishing his work under his
own name as well as the names Duncan Harding, John Kerrigan, and Klaus Konrad and,
at the suggestion of publisher Anthony Cheetham, his most successful nom de plume,
Leo Kessler whose annual sales would reach 60,000 copies during the 1980's.
From 1976, he was a full-time author and would average some six novels a year for
the rest of his life.
In addition to writing his novels, his weekly educational columns and dealing with
his lecturing commitments, he also established a language centre in the German city
of Trier and a European studies department at Bradford. He was also a prolific and
popular military historian, who developed a niche market for writing about the
Second World War from the point of view of the experiences of regular soldiers
rather than the military strategists and generals.
One of his most famous books of non-fiction is York Blitz
(also published as Fire Over York) about the German bombing of York in
April 1942 while his most controversial is Hemingway Goes To War, about the
(mis)adventures of the writer Ernest Hemingway during World War II.
The latter is being republished in 2008 by Humdrumming Ltd which is also republishing
some early Leo Kessler titles, kicking off with Fire Over Kabul (now available),
his final title under the Kessler name: Desperate Glory, as well as his very first novel:
The Frat Wagon. Some early Duncan Harding titles are now available from
GH Smith & Sons of York.