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Antony Beevor
Berlin - The Downfall 1945

  The award-winning military historian Antony Beevor was born in England in December 1946 and when he was small suffered from a condition called Perthes disease, which makes the hipbone go soft, with the result that medical treatment, between the ages of four and seven, required that he go on crutches.

His second level education was completed at Winchester College where he failed his A-level course due to what he regards as his own 'undirected bloody-mindedness'. From Winchester Beevor went to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where he studied under Sir John Keegan who was himself a recognised military historian. A regular officer 1967-70 with the 11th Hussars, he left the Army to write. He has had four novels published beginning with Violent Brink in 1975, and six works of non-fiction. They include The Spanish Civil War (1982); Crete — The Battle and the Resistance (1991), which was awarded a Runciman Prize, and Paris After the Liberation, 1944-1949 (written with his wife Artemis Cooper - 1994).

These early works gained some critical acceptance and seemed to offer some hope of material rewards but it was with Beevor's Stalingrad, first published in 1998, which won the first Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature in 1999 that his celebrity as a military historian was firmly established. The British edition, a number one bestseller in both hardback and paperback, has so far sold over half a million copies. The book is also published in the United States and will be appearing in twenty-four foreign editions. Worldwide sales exceed 1.1 million.

It was not in fact his own idea to endeavour to produce Stalingrad but had the subject suggested to him by a literary editor of some of his earlier works. Antony Beevor has said of this work that the tactical aspects of the story had been very well covered previously but that in terms of his own approach to the subject 'The challenge was to put back in the detail of human experience'.

It is such reconstructions that Beevor has made his signature. Few describe with more sympathy and pathos the quotidian business of soldiering: the lore, the rituals, the sorrows, the joys - even the jokes.

"Those surrounded by danger do become intensely superstitious," Beevor explains. "Outsiders sometimes fail to understand that armies are very emotional organisations; on the surface is discipline and hierarchy but the emotions boiling underneath are terribly strong."

"Even the German army in its most murderous mode in Russia was appallingly sentimental. Appallingly because while the troops were celebrating Christmas in Stalingrad in 1942 - and being terribly sentimental about their camaraderie, loyalty and their families at home - they were busily starving to death Russian prisoners, who were reduced to cannibalism."

Berlin – The Downfall 1945, published in 2002, was accompanied by a BBC Timewatch programme on his research into the subject. The book will also be appearing in twenty-four foreign editions. It has already been a No. 1 Bestseller in a number of countries apart from Britain.

Antony Beevor was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government in 1997 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He was the 2002-2003 Lees-Knowles lecturer at Cambridge. In 2003, he received the first Longman-History Today Trustees’ Award. He is a member of the management committee of the Society of Authors and the London Library. He is also Visiting Professor at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck College, University of London. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

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Antony Beevor
Berlin - The Downfall 1945