Stephen Howarth was born 8 years after the end of the Second World War. Nevertheless, in his writing on the war years and before, he displays an unusual talent for describing past events as they appeared to those who took part, not simply as matters of dates and places.

Increasingly noted as a naval historian, Howarth's previous books are "The Koh-I-Noor Diamond" (1980), "The Knights Templar (1982)", "Morning Glory: the Story of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1895-1945" (1983) and two books co-written with his father, the naval historian David Howarth, "The Story of the P&O" (1986) and "Nelson: The Immortal Memory" (1988).