The War That Never Was: The True Story of the Men Who Fought Britain’s Most Secret Battle by Duff Hart-Davis - review by Charles Guthrie

Charles Guthrie

Arabian Knights

The War That Never Was: The True Story of the Men Who Fought Britain’s Most Secret Battle

By

Century 382pp £14.99 order from our bookshop
 

This is an extraordinary story that needed to be told. The events this book records happened some fifty years ago in a world very different from today’s, when the Cold War was at its height. British influence across the globe was in decline – Suez was a recent humiliation – but in South Arabia the British still had responsibility for a protectorate comprising a number of small states known as the South Arabian Federation. One of these states, Aden, had been under British control since 1838. By the 1960s it had little to offer; the duty-free port, once an important coaling station serving vessels going to and from India, attracted ever fewer ships. It shared a troubled border with Yemen. 

Nasser, the Egyptian president, wanted to control Yemen and eventually Aden in pursuit of his dream of a united Arab state. He attempted to bribe the drunken, drug-afflicted Yemeni crown prince to kill his father, the Imam. Father and son were soon reconciled, but the Imam died of

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