James Holland is a historian of the Second World War, as well as a writer and broadcaster. In April 2003, he published his first work of history, Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege 1940-43 (Orion), which became a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. It was published in the United States in October 2003 and has since been published in Italy as well. Film rights were sold to Miramax Films (The English Patient, Cold Mountain etc). In January 2004, his first novel, The Burning Blue, set to a backdrop of the Battle of Britain, was published by William Heinemann. In May 2005, his second work of history, Together We Stand: North Africa 1942-1943, Turning the Tide in the West, was published by HarperCollins, and was published in the United States by Miramax Books in February 2006. His second novel, A Pair of Silver Wings, was published in March 2006. In August 2007, he published Heroes: The Greatest Generation and the Second World War. In March 2008, he published a major new work on the Italian Campaign, Italy’s Sorrow: A Year of War, 1944-1945, which has since been published in the United States and which has also been translated into four other languages.
In May 2008, Bantam Press published The Odin Mission, the first in a series of wartime novels to feature Jack Tanner. The television rights were bought by Tiger Aspect. The second Tanner novel, Darkest Hour, was published in June 2009 and the third, Blood of Honour, 2010. The fourth, Hellfire, came out in 2011, and the fifth, Devil’s Pact, is due to be published in July 2013.
In May 2010, he published The Battle of Britain, a new history and the first account to tell the events of the summer of 1940 from both sides. It went straight into the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list. His most recent work of history, Dam Busters, was published in May 2012, and also went straight into the Sunday Times top ten, reaching the No. 3 spot.
In May 2005, he wrote and presented a film about the end of the war in Europe, Victory in Europe for UKTV History, reviewed as the day’s choice by fourteen newspapers and magazines, and which was watched by over a million viewers. He has also taken part in several other historical documentaries. In September 2010, he wrote and presented a film called Battle of Britain: The Real Story for BBC 2, made by Maya Vision International, owned by historian Michael Wood, and also took part in Battle of Britain Night on BBC 4. In 2011, he made Dam Busters: The Race to Smash the Dams, also with Maya Vision and for BBC 2. Both Dam Busters and Battle of Britain were shortlisted for Baftas. He was a series consultant and contributor for Heroes of the Skies on Channel 5, a joint production with CBC and the History Channel made by Cineflix, and is currently making a further documentary with Maya Vision for BBC 2 on the Siege of Malta during the Second World War, which is due for transmission in January 2013. Next year, he will be presenting a two-part series on Britain and the Jet Age for BBC 2.
James is currently working a new non-fiction project: a new and revisionist two-volume history of the Second World War in the West. Also in the pipeline is the editing of Stanley Christopherson’s wartime diaries, and a new authorised biography of Field Marshal Earl Alexander, The Last Great Hero.
He has also written for a number of magazines and newspapers, including the Sunday Telegraph (for whom he went to Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2008), Sunday Times, The Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, BBC History Magazine, Mail on Sunday and Sunday Express, and reviews books regularly for the Sunday Telegraph.
James regularly leads Second World War battlefield tours for both the British military and privately. James is also the Co-Founder and Co-Chair and Programme Director of the Chalke Valley History Festival, which in 2012 is in its second year.
James Holland was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire in 1970, and educated King’s School, Bruton, in Somerset, and at St Chad’s College, University of Durham, where he read history. He graduated in 1992. Subsequently, he worked in the PR and Marketing Department of Random House UK Ltd Publishers. In 1996 he left and went to work in the PR department of Reed Publishers and then a year later the PR department of Penguin Books UK Ltd, where he remained for five years. He is a member of the British Commission for Military History and the Guild of Battlefield Guides, and lives in a village near Salisbury with his wife, son and daughter.
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