David Huntley is a native Englishman and current Allen resident who has turned his fascination with World War II history and childhood memories of surviving the London blitz into a novel entitled “Death Watch Beetle: An Historical Post WWII Spy Thriller.” The book is for sale on Amazon.com. More information is available at www.deathwatchbeetle.net. Huntley’s next book signings are at Plano Senior Center on May 12 and Parkview Retirement Home on May 24.
Star Local Media: Give us some background on where you’re from, your upbringing, and what you went through with regards to the war.
David Huntley: I was born in London near Woolwich Arsenal but when the Germans started targeting this area my father moved us to Clapham and nearby to Clapham Common where the anti-aircraft guns were situated. My father had served in WWI and then again in WWII when he was wounded and evacuated from Dunkirk. He then served as a Fire Warden standing outside our house in Clapham reporting on incendiary bomb damage in our neighborhood.
SLM: How did you wind up in Allen, TX of all places?
DH: My wife and I left Europe in 1957 and immigrated to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and then later to South Africa. We left Africa in 1978 and arrived in Dallas with four children and two cats.
SLM: What is your novel about?
DH: England and the rest of Europe are trying to recover from WWII and also cope with a belligerent Soviet Union intent on dominating the Cold War. An executive of a British engineering company, Donald Harvey, is co-opted in the early 1950's by a joint project of the CIA and British Secret Service MI6 to assist in tracing the whereabouts of a missing WWII high-level Nazi. This war criminal had been responsible for the design of death camps, and the sealing of the Warsaw Ghetto.
It has something for everyone; it has intrigue, espionage, some world history, it has a love story, it has great locations of the world, as well some fascinating insight into Africa. The book has garnered 10 five-star reviews on Amazon as well a strong review by the prestigious literary group, Kirkus Reviews.
SLM: Why do you think, 70 years later, that WWII is still so widely discussed? A lot of other history has happened since then, but you still see books being written all the time, movies being made, TV shows, etc. Why is it still so relevant?
DH: It’s probably because no other event in recent history comes close to the enormity of how the free world came to the brink of totalitarian control than at that time. Therefore, the generations who have followed since find they have some familial link to the brave souls who prevented a calamity from taking place with their blood and sacrifice. Everyone has a father, a grandfather, an uncle, a mother, a grandmother who may have participated in WWII, which brings these stories into focus for these offspring.
SLM: Last but not least, best novel based on a war: Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front,” or Heller’s “Catch-22?”
DH: Hemingway’s story would take a lot to beat in that genre, but I think there is one true story that helps to show how enemies can become friends and is a remarkable testament to the bonds of adversity. The book is “A Higher Call” by Adam Makos. One other book that I would recommend everyone should read is the third and last of the William Manchester series on Churchill. It’s from Churchill’s period from 1940 to 1965. Again, it’s not a novel, but better than any fiction could ever hope to be.