Neil Hanson is the author of an acclaimed series of narrative histories including The Custom of the Sea; The Great Fire of London; The Confident Hope of a Miracle: The True History of the Spanish Armada; Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the Great War; and Monk Eastman: The Gangster Who Became a War Hero. Published by Alfred A. Knopf in New York and Doubleday in London, his books have been hailed by critics on four continents, and led one critic to compare him to "Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves and a dozen other immortals".
He has lectured on his work all over the world, is an award winning after-dinner speaker and has made regular appearances on TV and radio in Britain, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund in 2007.
His latest book, The Ticket Collector from Belarus: An Extraordinary True Story of Britain's Only War Crimes Trial (S&S, 2022) is co-authored with Mike Anderson and tells the remarkable story of two interwoven journeys. Ben-Zion Blustein and Andrei Sawoniuk were childhood friends in 1930s Domachevo, a holiday and health resort in what is now Belarus. During the events that followed the Nazi invasion in 1941, they became the bitterest of enemies. After the war, Ben-Zion made his way to Israel, and ‘Andrusha the bastard’ to England, where he found work as a British Rail ticket collector in London.
They next confronted each other in the Old Bailey, over half a century later, where one was the principal prosecution witness, and the other charged with a fraction of the number of murders he was alleged to have committed.