Andrew's Reviews > Lisbon: War in the Shadows of the City of Light, 1939-45

Lisbon by Neill Lochery
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's review
Jan 11, 2012

really liked it
Read in January, 2012

A solid history of Portugal's role as a neutral country and Antonio Salazar's efforts to keep the country from being drawn into World War II -- or worse, being attacked by Spain. It tells the story of the capital, Lisbon, which was the capital of espionnage and counter-espionnage for the Allies and Axis powers during the war. Lochery keeps the story relevant to American readers by not delving too deeply into the histories of various Portugese personalities in the story, even cutting the story of banker Ricardo Espirito Santos too short early in the book by saying that his "role in the war remains very much misrepresented and misunderstood."

It also contains the most-detailed account of BOAC Flight 777A, which carried actor Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes of "Gone with the Wind") and his agent. The flight was shot down by a Luftwaffe fighter on June 1, 1943. German agents had been alerted to look out for Winston Churchill returning from the Casablanca conference and it has long been believed that a German agent mistook Howard's portly agent for the British prime minister. Lochery says that British intelligence were alerted by Ultra decrypts that the flight was targeted but allowed it to proceed. He also notes that three or four others on the flight might have been the real targets of German spies, including Ivan Sharp, a British wolfram expert, and Wilfrid Israel, a Zionist activist and Jewish rescue worker.

The book is only marred by an error at the outsidet of the chapter titled "Ancient Alliance". Twice it says that Antonio Salazar was informed of the Allies' invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch) in November, 1943 -- when it happened in 1942. The apparent typo in the first edition confuses the rest of the chapter, which details discussions by the Allies to gain access to the Portugese Azores for logistics.
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