Patrick Bishop spent twenty-five years as a foreign correspondent covering conflicts around the world. He is the author of two hugely acclaimed books about the Royal Air Force during WWII, Fighter Boys and Bomber Boys. 3 Para, an epic account of the British deployment to Afghanistan, was published in the summer of 2006. His first novel, A Good War, was published by Hodder and Stoughton in May 2008 and the follow-up to 3 Para, Ground Truth: 3 Para Return to Afghanistan, was published in May 2009 by HarperPress. His most recent novel, Follow Me Home, was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2011. His other books include Wings, a history of the RAF, published by Atlantic in October 2012, and Target Tirpitz, about the sinking of Hitler’s most prized battleship, published by HarperCollins in February 2012, and The Reckoning, the story of the death of Avram Stern, was published by HarperCollins in February 2014.
The Cooler King, which tells the story of WWII POW and escapee William Ash, was published by Atlantic in September 2015.
His latest book, Air Force Blue, which celebrates 100 years of the RAF, is a Sunday Times Bestseller.
In 2018 the RAF is one hundred years old. In his new book, destined to be a classic, Patrick Bishop examines the high point of its existence – the Second World War, when the Air Force saved the nation from defeat then led the advance to victory.
Air warfare was a terrible novelty of the modern age, requiring a new military outlook. From the beginning, the RAF’s identity set it apart from the traditional services. It was innovative, flexible and comparatively meritocratic, advancing the quasi-revolutionary idea that competence was more important than background.
The Air Force went into the war with inadequate machines, training and tactics, and the early phase was littered with setbacks and debacles. Then, in the summer of 1940, in full view of the population, Fighter Command won one of the decisive battles of the struggle. Thereafter the RAF was gilded with an aura of success that never tarnished, going on to make a vital contribution to Allied victory in all theatres.
Drawing from diaries, letters, memoirs, and interviews, Air Force Blue captures the nature of combat in the skies over the corrugated wastes of the Atlantic, the sands of the Western Desert and the jungles of Burma. It also brings to life the intensely lived dramas, romances, friendships and fun that were as important a part of the experience as the fighting.
Air Force Blue portrays the spirit of the RAF – its heart and soul – during its finest hours. It is essential reading for the millions in Britain and the Commonwealth whose loved ones served, and for anyone who wants to understand the Second World War.
Buy it here.
The Cooler King tells the astonishing story of William Ash, an American flier brought up in Depression-hit Texas, who after being shot down in his Spitfire over France in early 1942 spent the rest of the war defying the Nazis by striving to escape from every prisoner of war camp in which he was incarcerated.
It is a saga full of incident and high drama, climaxing in a break out via a tunnel dug in the latrines of the Oflag XXIB prison camp in Poland – a great untold episode of the Second World War. Alongside William Ash is a cast of fascinating characters, including Douglas Bader, Roger Bushell, who would go on to lead the Great Escape, and Paddy Barthropp, a dashing Battle of Britain pilot who despite his very different background became Ash’s best friend and shared many of his adventures.
By weaving together contemporary documents and interviews with Ash’s comrades, Patrick Bishop vividly recreates the multiple escape attempts, while also examining the P.O.W. experience and analysing the passion that drove some prisoners to risk death in repeated bids for freedom.
The Cooler King is at once uplifting and inspirational, and stands as a testament to the durability of decent values and the invincible spirit of liberty.
THE RECKONING: HOW THE KILLING OF ONE MAN CHANGED THE FATE OF THE PROMISED LAND — Buy it here
From the best-selling author of ‘Fighter Boys’, the mesmerising true story of two ruthless adversaries and the wartime killing of Avraham Stern – an event that shook the modern world.
On a cold morning in February 1942, with the world plunged in the horrors of World War Two, Avraham Stern hid in an attic in Tel Aviv, a price on his head. He’d been on the run for weeks, his picture blazoned across newspapers all over Palestine. As leader of the Stern Gang, he had committed spectacular and murderous crimes, sparking outcry from both British and Jewish groups. An intellectual poet and mystic, Stern believed himself destined for greatness; the Jewish liberator of British Palestine. Drawn always to the margins – his writings were drenched in images of martyrdom and blood.
Assistant Superintendent Geoffrey Morton, a middle-class Londoner who had swopped milk deliveries for the dangers of colonial policing, was the man tasked with stopping Stern. Seemingly so different, in fact the men had much in common – ambition, dedication and conviction in his own righteousness. The incidents of that morning would be endlessly contested but two things were clear; Morton had cornered Stern and, minutes later, shot him dead. The shots Morton fired that day would echo down the remaining years of British rule in Palestine and through the titanic events that shaped the birth of Israel.
Based on revelatory research, the private archive of Morton and interviews with witnesses, ‘The Reckoning’ is the first book to tell the tale of a rebel who terrorized Palestine, the lawman determined to stop him and the creation of a cult of martyrdom that destroyed any hope of compromise between Arab and Jew.
PUBLISHER: William Collins
PUBLICATION DATE: 27th February 2014
WINGS: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF BRITISH AERIAL WARFARE
The Royal Air Force is synonymous with its heroic achievements in the summer of 1940, when Winston Churchill’s ‘famous few’ – the Hurricane and Spitfire pilots of RAF Fighter Command – held Goering’s Luftwaffe at bay in the Battle of Britain, thereby changing the course of the war. For much of the twentieth century, warplanes were fixed in the world’s imagination, a symbol of the perils and excitements of the modern era. But within the space of a hundred years, military aviation has morphed from the exotic to the mundane. An activity which was charged with danger – the domain of the daring – is now carried out by computers and pilotless drones. Aviators have always seemed different to soldiers and sailors – more adventurous, questing and imaginative. Their stories gripped the public and in both wars and air aces dominated each side’s propaganda, capturing hearts and dreams. Writing with the verve, passion and the sheer narrative aplomb familiar to many thousands of readers from his bestselling Second World War aerial histories, Fighter Boys and Bomber Boys, Patrick Bishop’s Wings is a rich and compelling account of military flying from its heroic early days to the present.
PUBLICATION DATE: 1st October 2012
Buy it here.
A gripping account of the epic hunt for Hitler’s most terrifying battleship – the legendary Tirpitz – and the brave men who risked their lives to attack and destroy this most potent symbol of the Nazi’s fearsome war machine.
Tirpitz was the pride of Hitler’s navy. To Churchill, she was ‘the Beast’, a menace to Britain’s supply lines and a threat to the convoys sustaining Stalin’s armies. Tirpitz was said to be unsinkable, impregnable –no other target attracted so much attention.
In total 36 major Allied operations were launched against her, including desperately risky missions by human torpedoes and midget submarines and near-suicidal bombing raids. Yet Tirpitz stayed afloat. It was not until November 1944 that she was finally destroyed by RAF Lancaster Bombers flown by 617 Squadron – the Dambusters – in a gruelling mission that tested the very limits of human endurance.
The man who led the raid – Willie Tait – was one of the most remarkable figures of the war, flying missions almost continuously right from the start. Until now his deeds have been virtually unknown. With exclusive co-operation from Tait’s family, Patrick Bishop reveals the extraordinary achievement of a man who shunned the spotlight but whose name will be renowned for generations to come.
The book is a magnificent, accessibly written wartime adventure, perfect for fans of Ben Macintyre’s ‘Agent Zigzag’ or ‘Operation Mincemeat’.
GROUND TRUTH: 3 PARA RETURN TO AFGHANISTAN — Buy it here
Afghanistan, 2008. After their eighteen-month epic tour of Helmand Province, the troops of 3 Para are back. This time, the weight of experience weighs heavily on their shoulders.
In April 2006 the elite 3 Para Battle Group was despatched to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on a tour that has become a legend. All that summer the Paras were subjected to relentless Taliban attacks in one of the most gruelling campaigns fought by British troops in modern times.
Two years later the Paras are back in the pounding heat of the Afghanistan front lines. The conflict has changed. The enemy has been forced to adopt new weaponry and tactics. But how much progress are we really making in the war against the insurgents? And is there an end in sight?
In this searing account of 3 Para’s return, bestselling author Patrick Bishop combines gripping, first-person accounts of front-line action with an unflinching look at the hard realities of our involvement in Afghanistan. Writing from a position of exclusive access alongside the Paras, he reveals the ‘ground truth’ of the mission our soldiers have been given. It’s a sombre picture. But shining out from it are stories of courage, comradeship and humour, as well as a gripping account of an epic humanitarian operation through Taliban-infested country to deliver a vitally needed turbine to the Kajaki Dam.
Frank, action-packed and absorbing, ‘Ground Truth’ is a timely and important book that will set the agenda for discussion of the Afghan conflict for years to come.
PUBLISHER: William Collins
PUBLICATION DATE: 4 February 2010
3 PARA – Buy it here
Afghanistan, Summer 2006. This is war.
Afghanistan in the summer of 2006. In blazing heat in remote outposts the 3 Para battlegroup is pitted against a stubborn enemy who keep on coming. Until now, the full story of what happened there has not been told. This is it.
In April 2006, the elite 3 Para battlegroup was despatched to Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. They were tasked with providing security to reconstruction efforts, a deployment it was hoped would pass off without a shot being fired. In fact, over the six months they were there, the 3 Para battle group saw near continuous combat – one gruelling battle after another – in what would become one of the most extraordinary campaigns ever fought by British troops.
Around parched, dusty outposts reliant on a limited number of helicopters for food and ammunition resupply, troops were subjected to relentless Taliban attacks, as well as energy-sapping 50 degree heat and spartan conditions. At the end of the tour, the Taliban offensive aimed at driving the British and Afghan Government troops out of Helmand had been tactically defeated. But 3 Para paid a high price: fourteen soldiers and one interpreter were killed, and 46 wounded.
3 Para will tell the stories of the men and women who took part in this extraordinary and largely unreported saga. Best-selling author Patrick Bishop has been given exclusive access to the soldiers whose tales of courage and endurance provide an unforgettable portrait of one of the world’s finest and most fascinating fighting regiments, and a remarkable band of warriors. Their bravery was reflected in the array of gallantry medals that were bestowed on their return, including the Victoria Cross awarded to Corporal Bryan Budd and the George Cross won by Corporal Mark Wright, both of whom were killed winning their awards.
“Wonderfully compelling … a fast-paced story of incredible bravery that at times reads like a thriller.” Christina Lamb, Sunday Times
“Bishop gives a gripping insight into deployment in Afghanistan last year of 3 Para…written with the fluent, rich and engaging fashion typical of the author’s as a journalist.” The Times
“He presents an inspiring story of courage, discipline and…selfless comradeship…the frenzy of close–quarters combat…is captured particularly vividly…fast–paced and absorbing.” Daily Mail
PUBLICATION DATE: August 2007
A GOOD WAR – Buy it here
Adam Tomaszewski is a Polish airman, flying Hurricanes alongside British pilots as the Battle of Britain rages in the summer skies over Kent and Sussex. Facing death daily and far from his friends and family, Adam finds himself drawn to a maverick Irish soldier called Gerry Cunningham. ‘You’re out of luck, brother,’ are the first words Gerry says when they meet in the crush of men competing for the few women at a dance in a seaside hotel, but when Gerry betrays his lover Moira, Adam’s fortunes seem to have changed. For the next four years, Adam’s life and Gerry’s are intertwined like good luck and bad, love and loss, life and death, their paths crossing at various points on Adam’s perilous journey from the ruins of Poland to the rolling English countryside, from Egypt to Occupied France. A hauntingly evocative picture of wartime Britain, a twisting drama of fighting behind enemy lines, a compelling, suspenseful love story, A GOOD WAR proves Patrick Bishop – already acclaimed as a great historian of the war in the air – to be a superbly gifted novelist.
“Bishop writes an exciting aerial dogfight, rich in the telling detail that makes for authenticity. Yet this is a good deal more than a bloke’s yarn, with well-drawn, convincing characters and plenty of what the movie-makers used to call love interest, too.” Daily Mail
“Gripping…powerful descriptions of the air battles and life on a RAF station…equally good at capturing the mood in a rural pub, or a smoky, sweaty ballroom…The final, most thrilling, part of the book takes place in the aftermath of the D-Day landings in 1944…a poignant end to an enthralling tale, and I hope not the last of Bishop’s wartime novels” Spectator
“Best known for his fine histories of the RAF in the Second World War, Bishop proves equally adept at historical fiction with this well-crafted and beautifully written debut novel…A compelling read. ” Saul David, Independent on Sunday
“A measured, lyrical novel of remarkable scope and poise, A GOOD WAR is also replete with the realism and authenticity that are the author’s hallmark…wonderfully evocative…A GOOD WAR confirms Patrick Bishop as a writer of fiction who has come of age” Damien Lewis, author of Apache Dawn
PUBLICATION DATE: 1 May 2008
FOLLOW ME HOME — Buy it here
High summer in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Two young soldiers, Milo and Zac, are on a mission which could really make their names. Their special duties team is to ambush and capture a notorious Taliban leader.
The operation has been meticulously planned and set up. But suddenly – all is chaos.
The hunters are now the hunted. To reach safety they must make their way through fifty kilometres of hostile territory, with a Taliban captive and a young, frightened woman in tow. Perilous at every turn, the journey is the biggest test any of them has ever faced, and it will change their lives forever.
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton
PUBLICATION DATE: 28th April 2011
RIGHTS CONTROLLED: Translation