• Lisbon

  • War in the Shadows of the City of Light, 1939–1945
  • By: Neill Lochery
  • Narrated by: Robin Sachs
  • Length: 8 hrs and 30 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (206 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Throughout the Second World War, Lisbon was at the very center of the world’s attention and was the only European city in which both the Allies and the Axis powers openly operated. Portugal was frantically trying to hold on to its self-proclaimed wartime neutrality but in reality was increasingly caught in the middle of the economic, and naval, wars between the Allies and the Nazis. The story is not, however, a conventional tale of World War II in that barely a shot was fired or a bomb dropped. Instead, it is a gripping tale of intrigue, betrayal, opportunism, and double-dealing, all of which took place in the Cidade da Luz and along its idyllic Atlantic coastline. It is the story of how a relatively poor European country not only survived the war physically intact but came out of it in 1945 much wealthier than it had been when war broke out in 1939. Portugal’s emergence as a prosperous European Union nation would be financed in part, it turns out, by a cache of Nazi gold.

During the war, Lisbon was a temporary home to much of Europe’s exiled royalty, over one million refugees seeking passage to the US, and to a host of spies, secret police, captains of industry, bankers, prominent Jews, writers and artists, escaped POWs, and black marketeers. An operations officer writing in 1944 described the daily scene at Lisbon’s airport as being like the movie Casablanca - times twenty.

In this riveting narrative, renowned historian Neill Lochery draws on his relationships with high-level Portuguese contacts, records recently uncovered from Portuguese secret police and banking archives, and other unpublished documents to offer a revelatory portrait of the war’s backstage.

©2011 Neill Lochery (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“As interested as history readers may be in the spying, the economic war over tungsten and Allied demands for an Azores base dominate this history. A productive archival sleuth, Lochery makes original contributions to the literature of neutrality in WWII." ( Booklist)

What listeners say about Lisbon

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Expostiion of Little Known Story

I didn’t know much (well truthfully – nothing) about the role that Portugal played in the Second World War when I opened Lisbon: War in the Shadows of the City of Light, 1939-45. I found Neil Lochery’s book both engaging, informative, and entertaining. In this volume, Lochery (While Blame Israel 2011; View from the Fence 2006) tells the story of how dictator Antonio Salazar kept Portugal neutral in WWII and left his country relatively intact after the conflict. I found insights into how Salazar dealt with day-to-day management of the country intriguing. Anecdotes revealing how Salazar made decisions and implemented policies are particularly interesting. Certainly, Salazar was a gifted leader in this context. I would have appreciated more discussion of fascism in this context and how Salazar fit into that era. Perhaps Lochery has another book which will shed more light. At any rate, I was well rewarded by reading this book. The narration of Robin Sachs is excellent.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

WRONG TITLE NOT ABOUT LISBON

I got this book included in my subscription, if I had paid for it I would have sued under false description. The book opens likening it the story of Casablanca, it is not, it contains little of intrigue or glamor. It is a biography of an evil anti semetic Nazi sympathizing dictator, written by someone who viewed him through rose tinted glasses.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A remarkable period in the history of Lisbon

I was born in Lisbon and in my youth I still glimpsed the city and times the book refers to.

I felt transported to that epoch, such is the coherence of what I remember and know with the atmosphere recreated by the story and the narration.

I was unaware of some of the details of the planned occupation of the Azores and the gold trade but they certainly seem believable and in line with the known (to me) facts.

To the end the book abandons description and turns judgmental: it would have been a better book without that unnecessary twist.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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great story but the writing could be better

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The writer presented this too much like what I remember history books I read in school. Although the story is great and compelling, it could have been written much better

What did you like best about this story?

learning the story and role of Lisbon during the war; we had visited it this fall

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

If they could learn from Casablanca [good intro but couldn't sustain it]

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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And I thought it was just the Allies who won WW2

While I thought the narrator was very dry and monotone, I found "Lisbon: war in the shadows of the city of light" to be a very interesting book. I had no idea how much a player th neutral Portugal had been, on both sides, during WW2. The port city of Lisbon was major hub for european refugees headed for North America and Palistine as well as locally mined tungstan bound for Nazi Germany. The cafes and casinos were full of spies, celeberties, and royal ex-patriots and seemed alot like the real life version of the movie Casablanca. As much as I did enjoy this book, I did find it tragic that the Portugese Government was able to profit to the degree it did off of the suffering of others.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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great book

What did you love best about Lisbon?

book is easy to listen to. very interesting in its narrative. It portrayed Mr Salazar in a very interesting light, certainly an immensely smart man that dealt with both warring sides with great diplomacy and tact and was able to keep Portugal safe. He describes in a very entertainng way the intricacies of the relationships taking place during the war,

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

It’s about Salazar

I was looking for a more general impression of this interesting and important way station on the way for thousands to reach America and freedom. The book was interesting but centered on the struggle of the leader, Prime Minister Salazar (dictator) had in trying to stay neutral in WWII so he would not be invaded by the axis powers.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • JK
  • 10-19-21

INTERESTING

This book is about politics and money to be made during a war and in this case WWII.
I started listening and eventually finishing the book hoping that it would be more about rescuing Jewish refugees.
I had read that Portugal was a safe haven for the Jews escaping the Nazis.
An interesting fact, not mentioned in this book, but I had read it elsewhere.
I am a lover of classical music.
Claude Frank was a Jewish pianist. When he was in his early teens his family tried to escape Hitler, via Portugal.
While in Lisbon, awaiting transport to the USA a Beethoven piano recital was scheduled for an official function. The pianist, who was designated to play, canceled. Claude was asked to fill in. He did and was a tremendous success.
The family eventually got passage on a ship to the USA, with a stop over in Cuba, where he and fellow Jews where put in a camp, awaiting papers to enter the USA. They were the lucky ones.
Claude Frank became a virtuoso.
I am lucky to have the few CDs available of his performances.
This whole story has nothing to do with the review of this book, but it is interesting and I was hoping that the author had addressed some “escape” stories.
I gave it 4 stars for the effort of all involved, JK

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Sideshow That Played A Major Role in WWII

Portugal and its capital Lisbon were neutral during WWII. Despite this, Portugal played a major part in some of the key dramas, escapees from the pending Holocaust, wartime profiteering and asset/gold looting. The author paints a very interest scene of what a decadent wartime city of intrigue and deception Lisbon was. This is an area of history that has been largely neglected. I found it highly engaging and informative. Excellent narration.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Mostly about Antonio Salazar

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

I listened to this book and wonder whether I would have finished it if I'd been reading it on the page. Lisbon was the Casablanca of the famous movie, the place where spies and diplomats and bankers all met to do their wartime business in a neutral capital. This is first and foremost the story of Salazar, the dictator who ruled Portugal for 36 years. His greatest achievement was to keep Portugal neutral through the war which meant he traded with both the British and the Germans.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gillian
  • 12-04-11

Lisbon - War in the Shadows... an excellent read

Excellent writing about a little known 'theatre' during WWII that happened in Portugal. A wide-ranging conscientious indepth researched book with fascinating photographs of the various participants taken during 1939-1945.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Drew Lawrence
  • Drew Lawrence
  • 06-16-22

Good with caveats...

The story was engaging. The narration could have been better (although I don't want to speak ill of the dead), as Robin Sachs is sadly no longer withbus

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Glenn Michael Harper
  • Glenn Michael Harper
  • 04-25-22

a glimpse of Rick's Cafe Americain

The expected tray of pasteis de nata is shown briefly before huge plates of Ferrero Rocher are brought out en masse for the clientele in this restaurant.

The various decor shows posters of Casablanca, James Bond, etc.

The story documents the diplomatic world that surrounded Prime Minister Salazar and his Estado Novo. The narration by Sachs evokes a WWII ministerial briefing room in a good way.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Rui Ribeiro
  • Rui Ribeiro
  • 09-03-21

Very interesting

The book is more about the way the ruling strongman of Portugal steered the country through World War II, managing to stay neutral, while enduring the pressures of the Allies (and a centuries old Alliance with Britain) and Germany. It covers some of the known places of Lisbon and that is done in quite an interesting manner.

The narration was good, even if the narrator clearly struggled with the correct pronounciation of Portuguese names, with some names completly off the mark.

I enjoyed the book a lot. It's worth a read (or listen) to anyone interested in this period of the history of World War II or Portugal.