Kirsty Young's castaway is military historian, Sir Antony Beevor. His books about some of the key battles of the Second World War are best-sellers and have been credited with reinvigorating the whole genre. There was little indication of this future success while he was boarder at Winchester public school where he failed to pass either his History or his English A levels.
During the five years he spent in the army, including two years at Sandhurst for officer training, he studied history under the great military historian, John Keegan. On deciding he wanted to be a writer, his first three novels had limited success, and he was encouraged by his publishers to draw on his experience of army life and turn his talents to military history.
His ground-breaking work Stalingrad was based on what he discovered in the Russian military archives and won him the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize. In his book Berlin: the Downfall 1945, he wrote about the mass rapes of German women committed by the Red Army at the end of the war. He was knighted in the 2017 New Year honours list. He is married to the writer Artemis Cooper.
Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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