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LISBON by Neill Lochery

LISBON

War in the Shadows of the City of Light, 1939-45

By Neill Lochery

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-58648-879-6
Publisher: PublicAffairs

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.

Middle East expert Lochery (Loaded Dice: The Foreign Office and Israel, 2008, etc.) chronicles the city’s importance to the war on both sides, portraying it as a sort of Casablanca, complete with an entrenched gambling establishment. Salazar worked hard to ensure that his country was neutral and managed to improve its economic condition during the war by playing each side against the other. Both rich and poor fled to Lisbon from continental Europe in hopes of procuring passage off the continent, whether by selling jewels and gold or by more desperate means. Lochery presents a flashy city while also reminding readers of the plight of poorer refugees and Portuguese citizens who did not have the resources of the rich. Though the author mostly portrays Salazar in a positive light, he emphasizes the leader’s lack of sympathy toward the Jews fleeing the Nazis. Lochery keeps the pages turning, never allowing his narrative to become dry or difficult; as a result, it is ideally suited to the interested layperson. However, the author does assume that the readers have knowledge of the major events of the time period, particularly those preceding WWII.

Well-researched enough for an academic, but still accessible to general readers.