James Leasor

Biography

James Leasor was one of the bestselling British authors of the second half of the 20th Century. He wrote over 50 books including a rich variety of thrillers, historical novels and biographies.

His works included Passport to Oblivion (which sold over 4 million copies around the World and was filmed as Where the Spies Are, starring David Niven), the first of nine novels featuring Dr Jason Love, a Somerset GP called to aid Her Majesty’s Secret Service in foreign countries, and another series about the Far Eastern merchant Doctor Robert Gunn in the 19th century. There were also sagas set in Africa and Asia, written under the pseudonym Andrew MacAllan, and tales narrated by an unnamed vintage car dealer in Belgravia.

Among non-fiction works were lives of Lord Nuffield, the Morris motor manufacturer, Wheels to Fortune and RSM Brittain, who was said to have the loudest voice in the Army, The Sergeant-Major; The Red Fort, which retold the story of the Indian Mutiny; and Rhodes and Barnato, which brought out the different characters of the great South African diamond millionaires. Who Killed Sir Harry Oakes? was an investigation of the unsolved murder of a Canadian mining entrepreneur in the Bahamas,

He wrote a number of books about different events in the Second World War, including Green Beach, which revealed an important new aspect of the Dieppe Raid, when a radar expert landed with a patrol of the South Saskatchewan regiment, which was instructed to protect him, but also to kill him if he was in danger of falling into enemy hands; The One that Got Away (later filmed with Hardy Kruger in the starring role) about fighter pilot, Franz von Werra, the only German prisoner of war to successfully escape from British territory; Singapore – the Battle that Changed the World, on the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1941; Boarding Party (later filmed as The Sea Wolves with Gregory Peck, David Niven and Roger Moore) concerned veterans of the Calcutta Light Horse who attacked a German spy ship in neutral Goa in 1943; The Unknown Warrior, the story about a member of a clandestine British commando force consisting largely of Jewish exiles from Germany and eastern Europe, who decieived Hitler into thinking that the D-Day invasion was a diversion for the main assault near Calais; and The Uninvited Envoy, which told the story of Rudolph Hess’ solo mission to Britain in 1941.

Thomas James Leasor was born at Erith, Kent, on December 20 1923 and educated at the City of London School.

He was commissioned into the Royal Berkshire Regiment and served in Burma with the Lincolnshire Regiment during World War II. In the Far East his troopship was torpedoed and he spent 18 hours adrift in the Indian Ocean. He also wrote his first book, Not Such a Bad Day, by hand in the jungles of Burma on airgraphs, single sheets of light-sensitive paper which could be reduced to the size of microdots and flown to England in their thousands to be blown up to full size again. His mother then typed it up and sent it off to an agent, who found a publisher who sold 28,000 copies, although Leasor received just £50 for all its rights. He later became a correspondent for the SEAC, the Services Newspaper of South East Asia Command, under the inspirational editorship of Frank Owen, after being wounded in action.

After the war he read English at Oriel College, Oxford before joining the Daily Express, then the largest circulation newspaper in the free world. He was soon appointed private secretary to Lord Beaverbrook, the proprietor of the newspaper, and later became a foreign correspondent. He became a full-time author in the 1960s.

He also ghosted a number of autobiographies for subjects as diverse as the Duke of Windsor, King Zog of Albania, the actors Kenneth More and Jack Hawkins and Rats, a Jack Russell terrier that served with the British Army in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Perhaps his greatest love was a series of cars, including a 1937 Cord and a Jaguar SS100 which both featured in several of his books.

He married barrister Joan Bevan on 1st December 1951 and they had three sons.

He lived for his last 40 years at Swallowcliffe Manor, near Salisbury in Wiltshire. He died on 10th September 2007.

Where to find James Leasor online

Books

NTR: Nothing to Report
Price: $3.49 USD. Words: 91,460. Language: English. Published: January 21, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
In the early spring of 1944, when the British fortunes of war in the East were low, the Japanese invaded India. From GHQ - the invasion must be stayed whatever the cost and thus the men of draft RAKXK were sent to one of the unknown, unheard of places in India to defend one of the smaller sectors of the front. NTR is their story and tells of their battles, their loves, their deaths.
The Red Fort
Price: $4.75 USD. Words: 124,030. Language: English. Published: December 29, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » History » Military
A year after the Crimean War ended, an uprising broke out in India which was to have equal impact on the balance of world power and the British Empire's role in world affairs. The revolt was against the East India Company which, not entirely against its will, had assumed responsibility for administering large parts of India.
The Marine from Mandalay
Price: $4.79 USD. Words: 64,220. Language: English. Published: September 4, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » History » War
This is the true story of a Royal Marine wounded by shrapnel in Mandalay in WW2 who undergoes a long solitary march to the Japanese through the whole of Burma and then finds his way back through India and back to Britain to report for duty in Plymouth. On his way he has many encounters and adventures and helps British and Indian refugees.
Follow The Drum
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 146,930. Language: English. Published: August 28, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Holiday » Adventure
India, in the mid-nineteenth century, was virtually run by a British commercial concern, the Honourable East India Company, whose directors would pay tribute to one Indian ruler and then depose another in their efforts to maintain their balance sheet of power and profit. But then came the Mutiny.
The Plague and The Fire
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 86,950. Language: English. Published: August 20, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » History » European
This book chronicles the horror and human suffering of two of the most terrible years in London's long history. 1665 brought the plague and cries of "Bring Out Your Dead" echoed the city. A year later, the already decimated capital was reduced to ashes in four days by the fire that began in Pudding Lane. James Leasor weaves in the first-hand accounts of Daniel Defoe and Samuel Pepys, among others.
Singapore - The Battle That Changed The World
Price: $4.49 USD. Words: 112,810. Language: English. Published: August 13, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » History » War
When Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942, it was a devastating blow to the Allies, the British Empire and signalled a turning point in history. James Leasor’s story begins as far back as the early nineteenth century. He charts the years leading up to Singapore’s defeat and the realisation that the West was not invincible.
Never Had a Spanner on Her
Series: Aristo Autos, Book 2. Price: $3.49 USD. Words: 74,020. Language: English. Published: August 13, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
In the sequel to “They Don’t Make Them Like That Any More” our vintage car dealer gets involved in a scheme to import some vintage cars from Nasser’s Egypt. Leasor combines his proven thriller writing skills with an encyclopaedic knowledge of vintage cars to deliver a real page turner.
The Unknown Warrior
Price: $4.49 USD. Words: 101,360. Language: English. Published: August 11, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » History » War
The Unknown Warrior is the true story of one man and his amazing part in the deception plans to persuade the Germans that the invasion would happen near Calais and not in Normandy and thus ensure that they did not commit their reserves until too late. Born to a humble German background, with a Jewish father and Catholic mother, he volunteers for an unknown secret mission that saved many lives.
Green Beach
Price: $4.49 USD. Words: 91,610. Language: English. Published: August 8, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » History » War
In 1942 radar expert Jack Nissenthall volunteered for a suicidal mission to join a combat team who were making a surprise landing at Dieppe in occupied France. His assignment was to penetrate a German radar station. Because he knew the secrets of the Allies radar technology, he had a personal bodyguard. Their orders were to protect him, but in the event of possible capture to kill him.
The One That Got Away
Price: $4.75 USD. Words: 92,190. Language: English. Published: August 8, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » History » War
Franz von Werra was the only German prisoner of war to escape and return to Germany after being captured by the Allies. An incredibly charismatic, inventive and self-confident man, he was a Luftwaffe ace shot down in the Battle of Britain. The One that Got Away tells the full and exciting story of his two daring escapes in England and his third and successful escape in Canada.
Boarding Party (The Sea Wolves)
Price: $4.79 USD. Words: 72,850. Language: English. Published: April 25, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » History » War
Filmed as The Sea Wolves, this is the story of the undercover exploit of a part time unit in WW2. A group of civilian bankers, merchants and solicitors were tasked with going to neutral Goa and blowing up some German merchant ships that were transmitting information about allied shipping to U-boats.

James Leasor's tag cloud

army    british army    british empire    british india    burma    dday    deception    dieppe raid    escape    fighter ace    hero    india    indian army    indian mutiny    japanese history    jew    jews in war    london    marines    pow camp    soe    vintage cars    ww2    ww2 fiction