Download Lisbon: War in the Shadows of the City of Light, 1939–1945 Audiobook

Lisbon: War in the Shadows of the City of Light, 1939–1945 Audiobook, by Neill Lochery Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Neill Lochery Narrator: Robin Sachs Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2012 ISBN: 9781481572392
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (102 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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Throughout the Second World War, Lisbon was at the very center of the world’s attention and was the only European city in which both the Allies and the Axis powers openly operated. Portugal was frantically trying to hold on to its self-proclaimed wartime neutrality but in reality was increasingly caught in the middle of the economic, and naval, wars between the Allies and the Nazis. The story is not, however, a conventional tale of World War II in that barely a shot was fired or a bomb dropped. Instead, it is a gripping tale of intrigue, betrayal, opportunism, and double-dealing, all of which took place in the Cidade da Luz and along its idyllic Atlantic coastline. It is the story of how a relatively poor European country not only survived the war physically intact but came out of it in 1945 much wealthier than it had been when war broke out in 1939. Although much of this wealth was considered by the Allies to be “ill-gotten gain,” the Portuguese were allowed to retain the vast majority of it.

Lisbon was a city in which an apparent German plot in 1940 to kidnap the Duke and Duchess of Windsor was foiled and one in which much of the royalty of Europe lived and played in either temporary or permanent exile. Over one million refugees flooded into the city seeking passage to the United States on one of the ships that sailed from the neutral port or, for the super-rich, via the Azores on the Pan-American Boeing B314 Clipper service. Most, however, had to wait months or even years in the city before securing their onward passage. Among the refugees were prominent Jews such as the writer Arthur Koestler, the artists Marc Chagall and Max Ernst, and art collector Peggy Guggenheim. On the run from the Germans since the fall of France in the summer of 1940, many of the refugees survived on a clandestine network of financial and organizational support originating from the offices of Solomon Guggenheim in New York.

Hundreds of Allied and German agents operated openly in the city and monitored every move of the enemy. Their role was to log enemy shipping movements in and around the busy port of Lisbon, to spread propaganda, and to disrupt the supply of vital goods to the enemy. Among the agents was a young Ian Fleming busy devising Operation Golden Eye and playing blackjack against German agents at the Estoril Casino—a location that was to later provide the inspiration for a number of James Bond films. The two hundred or so British agents operating in Lisbon were controlled from London by the Iberian Desk of the Special Operations Executive, which was led by the brilliant spy chief, and traitor, Kim Philby. Writers Graham Greene and Malcolm Muggeridge worked at the same desk as Philby before Muggeridge was posted to Lisbon and eventually on to the Portuguese colonies.

As the British and German agents watched each other, their movements were, in turn, shadowed and recorded by the hugely feared Portuguese secret police, the PVDE, led by the Berlin-educated and strong anti-Communist Captain Agostinho Lourenco. His reports and decisions drew the lines that determined which espionage and propaganda activities in the city were tolerable to the authorities and which were not. As a number of British, German, and Italian secret agents and journalists found to their cost, if you tried to cross Captain Lourenco, your stay in Portugal was severely shortened. Such was the reputation of the PVDE during the 1930s that it became the model used by the Nazis to develop the Gestapo.

Lisbon was also the end of the line for escaped Allied POWs who arrived in the city to be flown back to England on the three-times-a-week BOAC-operated flights from Lisbon to Whitchurch, near Bristol. The passenger lists of the flights were a who’s who of the senior network of British spies in the city, as well as shadowy Allied industrialists involved in the trade war with the Germans. Documentary sources reveal that competition for seats on the planes was strong, with various British agencies fighting for the limited number available. Writing in 1944, Harry Pussy, BOAC operations officer in the city, described the daily scene at Lisbon’s airport as being like the movie Casablanca, but twenty-fold. In truth, Lisbon was the real Casablanca of the war, complete with refugees; British, German, Italian, and American spies; and the Portuguese secret police watching every move.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Evocative…[Lochery] skillfully documents the experiences of the rich and glamorous as well as the less fortunate and even sinister of the city’s war time arrivals…Distilling an enormous quantity of research, he has rendered a fascinating and readable account of this small country’s role in World War II.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • Lisbon is a valuable source of information about an astonishing time and place.”

    Seattle Times

  • “As interested as history readers may be in the spying, the economic war over tungsten and Allied demands for an Azores base dominate this history. A productive archival sleuth, Lochery makes original contributions to the literature of neutrality in WWII.”


  • “Lochery, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at University College London, tells the gripping story of the city known as ‘Casablanca II,’ which is largely the history of António de Oliveira Salazar, the tireless prime minister whose first priority was to maintain Portugal’s neutrality.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “An engaging account of the city of Lisbon during World War II, as dictator António de Oliveira Salazar navigated treacherous diplomatic waters in order to ensure the neutrality of Portugal…Well-researched enough for an academic, but still accessible to general readers.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Reviews

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  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrew | 11/20/2013

    " A part of WWII history unknown to me before this. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Bob | 11/20/2013

    " The title is misleading. This is a biography of Salazar & I'm not a fan of biographies. During WWII Lisbon was a neutral country & a meeting place for all sorts of people on both sides. Unfortunately this book only touched on that briefly. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Earl | 8/27/2013

    " Essentially a biography of Dictator Salazar, Some good parts lots of fantasy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Richard | 7/5/2013

    " Salazar was the right man in the right place and did as much for the Portuguese as Churchill did for the British or Roosevelt did for the Americans. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jody | 6/16/2013

    " Read in preparation of our trip to Portugal this was a mildly interesting but repetitive take on the role of Lisbon during WWII. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jonathan | 5/6/2013

    " Highly recommend if your traveling to Lisbon! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Gail | 1/12/2013

    " I tried sticking with this book but the writing left me bored. If there's any suspense, I never found it. Too bad because the subject matter certainly sounded intriguing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Francis | 1/2/2013

    " An interesting book about Portugal, Salazar and both Allied and German intrigue in a neutral country during WWII. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Richie | 12/25/2012

    " Author kept the chapters fairly short, which is great for not getting bogged-down in too many details. Liked his portrayal of Salazar: not a Saint, not a bumpkin from some backwater state. Now looking for a decent bio of Salazar. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 6/24/2012

    " A good book and well researched but could have done with more on the role of the Portuguese banks and the role the city played in the British double agents. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rod | 11/24/2011

    " There are probably better works of nonfiction on Lisbon out there. It was still a good read and does provide an interesting account of the WWII era. "

About the Author

Neill Lochery is a world-renowned source on Israel, the Middle East, and Mediterranean history. He is the author of five books and countless newspaper and magazine articles. He regularly appears on television in the US, the UK, and the Middle East. He is currently based at University College London and regularly gives talks in Europe, the Middle East, and North America.

About the Narrator

Robin Sachs (1951–2013), actor and narrator, was raised in London and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His audiobook narrations earned ten Earphones Awards. His acting credits include Alias, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dynasty, Nowhere Man, Babylon 5, Diagnosis Murder, Galaxy Quest, Northfork, Ocean’s 11, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Megalodon.