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Skorzeny (Paperback)

The Most Dangerous Man in Europe

Military Biographies Military

By Charles Whiting
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 160
ISBN: 9781848842960
Published: 12th July 2010



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Skorzeny was one of the most daring figures of the 20th Century. His exploits included the rescue of Mussolini from his mountain prison, a brief affair with Eva Peron, a blackmail attempt on Winston Churchill and the kidnapping of the son of the wartime dictator of Hungary. Eisenhower declared him "The most wanted man in Europe". Charles Whiting, who actually met Skorzeny, pieces together this truly remarkable story.

Charles Whiting wrote his first novel in 1953, aged just twenty-six. He went on to become the world’s most prolific author of military books; he has sold in excess of three million in the Uk alone, and his collective works number around 200. Charles also lived abroad for thirty years working in German chemical factories, US fashion companies, newspapers, magazines, universities – as an associate professor and lecturer – and a long spell in the US army. He died in 2007.

Otto Skorzeny's description as 'the most dangerous man in Europe' was a moniker suggested by General Eisenhower in 1944, and it's easy to see why given the notorious Austrian's World War II exploits. Plots to kill Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin were the most famous of antics which would also include blackmail, sabotage, the rescue of fascist leader Mussolini from a mountain prison, and most oddly, a brief affair with Eva Peron. Skorzeny was a key figure in the Nazi regime and widely regarded as one of the most daring figures of the twentieth century, and Charles Whiting's biography attempts to provide intimate insight into the man himself. The author even provides details of several meets with Skorzeny, which themselves are compelling in their clandestine nature, on account of Skorzeny still being wanted by German authorities at the time of his death. Through the rest of the book we learn of Skorzeny's involvements throughout the war period and how his actions had huge influence on its course; yet in this intrinsically focussed account it feels as if the wider events of the war itself are merely incidental in relation to the presence of a man who, based on Whiting's first-hand knowledge and research into his personality, would clearly have enjoyed it that way. For this was a man who liked to be centre-stage and he is certainly given that platform here - Whiting covers the 'highlights' of Skorzeny's career in such colourful detail as to include specific dialogue and subtle scene-painting akin to an adventure novel. That, at the author's own admission, not all of it may be true is typical of Skorzeny's character; however this in no way makes his story less engaging.

carl (customer review)
 Charles Whiting

About Charles Whiting

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 was written while still an undergraduate, was published in 1954 and by 1958 had been followed by three wartime thrillers. Between 1960 and 2007 Charles went on to write over 350 titles, including 70 non-fiction titles covering varied topics from the Nazi intelligence service to British Regiments during World War II.

Charles Henry Whiting, author and military historian died on July 24 2007, leaving his wife and son.

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