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  • The Secret History of Flight 149

  • The True Story Behind the Most Shocking Government Cover-Up of the Last Thirty Years
  • By: Stephen Davis
  • Narrated by: Colin Mace
  • Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (390 ratings)

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Summary

Previously published under the title Operation Trojan Horse.

On 1 August, 1990, British Airways Flight 149 departed from Heathrow airport, destined for Kuala Lumpur. It never made it there, and neither did its nearly 400 passengers. Instead, Flight 149 stopped to refuel in Kuwait, as Iraqi troops amassed on the border - delivering the passengers and crew into the hands of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi army, to be used as 'human shields' during their invasion.

Why did BA flight 149 proceed with plans to refuel in Kuwait City, even as all other flights were rerouted - and even though British and American governments had clear intelligence that Saddam was about to invade? The answer lies in an exchange of favours at the highest echelons of government, and a secret, unaccountable organization - authorised by Margaret Thatcher - carrying out a 'deniable' intelligence operation to sneak in a group of intelligence offers into Kuwait aboard the flight. The plane was the 'Trojan Horse', and the plan - as well as the horrific, traumatic consequences for the civilian passengers - has been lied about, denied and covered up by successive British Governments ever since.

Soon to be a major TV drama, this explosive book is written with the full cooperation of the survivors, as well as astonishing and conclusive input from a senior intelligence source. It is a story of scandal, betrayal and misuse of intelligence at the highest levels of UK and US governments - which has had direct, horrifying impact on terror attacks in the West and the shape of the Middle East today. It is high time the truth is told.

©2021 Stephen Davis (P)2021 Bonnier Books UK
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about The Secret History of Flight 149

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The Story Behind The Story

I'd never heard of the events covered in this book until seeing it advertised in one of my Audible emails. Really? I thought as I read the synopsis, I remember that 1991 Gulf War so well and yet I'd never heard of this, not even a hint of it. Yes, I remember quite clearly those human shields used by Saddam and their appearance on television,but had no idea that many of them were there as a result of decisions made at the highest levels. Not only were they used as pawns by Saddam in his propaganda war, but also by the British government.

So, with this in mind, I grabbed this book hot off the press as it were. Not long into this book however, I wasn't enamoured by the narrator. He would leave gaps before ending a sentence, perhaps because he'd reached the end of a line and paused as he began reading the next. This jarred at times. To be fair, it appeared to lessen as the book progressed, but there were further instances of this. Although the narrator had the right sort of voice for the subject matter, he lacked the flow, I felt, to provide a fluid reading experience.

Not enjoying the narration of a book doesn't make for easy listening and I found that what should otherwise have been a real page turner for me, just wasn't. I was able to put this down after relatively short listening sessions and pick it up a day or two later.

I can't really summarized just what it was about the narration that put me off this read.

In addition, I wasn't impressed with, to me at least unless I'm missing some subtle use of terminology, a clear and obvious typo. Even the narrator seemed to hesitate for just a second before reading the word. As far as I can tell, the line ought to have been something like:

"The plane had a chequered history."

Instead, as read by the narrator, so presumably something he saw on the page, it actually read:

"The plane had a chickened history."

For me, if I come across such blatant typographical errors, it detracts from the gravitas of the book and particularly in this case, the serious subject matter at hand.

The story itself was clearly a labour of love for the author, taking some 15 years of painstaking research to accomplish. To that end, it's a book that should be read. Those poor people that were used as human shields and all they endured, needs to be seen by the world at large. However, and I can't quite put my finger on it, this wasn't nearly as compelling a read as I thought it might be. Maybe it was the narrator that killed it a bit for me, I can't say for certain, but I found it a bit of a struggle to get through in places. Although the author describes the terrible situations and conditions the hostages suffered, and that alone should be reason enough to read this book, I just felt the way the book was written lacked the more personal aspects of the terror people were experiencing. In many instances, it was more a case of lacking material comforts, as with those trapped in the American embassy. Don't get me wrong, I am in no way belittling the plight of those poor people. I'm sure the daily threat of capture hung over their heads heavily. It's just I didn't get the full sense of this much of the time. There were places where this came through more, but in others the telling of the story felt somewhat flat to me.

I am aware just what a monumental task this book was for the author and how much of his life was put into it, it's just the way the non diary parts of the book were written felt like a slightly detached documentary.

I'd have liked to give this book top marks, but in all honesty I can't. it's not the story itself, more the way it was told that wasn't what I was hoping for. Combine this with a narrator that wasn't as fluid as others I've heard and I am left feeling rather disappointed.

I heard this book is part of a television documentary. My hope is that the visceral nature of the fear endured by those hostages comes across far better when spoken by those who went through it.

16 people found this helpful

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This book promised much but delivered little

The world knows that there were hostages taken in the first Gulf War. The conflict brought disaster and unspeakable cruelty - which is immensely sad and my heart goes to those people. However, there is no strong narrative and the greatest revelation is that governments and military often need to be covert in their actions. Hindsight is wonderful, but in some occasions the public does not have the right to know.

6 people found this helpful

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Inside look on deniable operations

What a super listen very easy to get into with great narration that seems to put you in the room
A very interesting subject that I now want to know more about
Highly recommended ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

5 people found this helpful

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Sadly disappointing

I was very much looking forward to this however it really disappointed. As per the other reviews, unfortunately - and not to be too personal to the narrator - I was very distracted by the constant swallowing into the microphone and at times hearing the gurgling of gas up through his throat. Don’t listen to it through Airpods as they really do pick up everything. As for the content/story its not so much a factual investigation into the theory of a trojan horse and more 8hrs of diaries/the story of the human shields, which in itself is important to hear, but not what this book was sold on. Not recommended. Sorry.

3 people found this helpful

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Slow and doesn’t draw any conclusions

Meandering story telling- found myself just wanting to get to the end and see what conclusions were drawn, but even then it was disappointing

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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An amazing insight into an amazing story

A fantastic listen, so much I listened twice. It really opens up the story, so much beyond “Last Flight to Kuwait” did, it fills in the gaps left by that programme, and brings a far more, rounded and personal side to the story.

I wish the victims all the luck in the world, finally getting their closure.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Governments Can Not Be Trusted!

I wouldn't call it "The Most Shocking Government Cover-Up Of The Last 30 Years" (watch the Keira Knightley movie "Official Secrets" or do your own research into the covid "Pandemic") but it is another prime example of how governments and the mainstream media cannot be trusted!!

2 people found this helpful

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great story, well read!

really enjoyed this book. it was well read and a fantastic story. well done!

1 person found this helpful

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Mind provoking story

I really enjoyed the content, delivery and detail given in the story. I've never been a fan of audio books but this kept me engaged right through to the end.

1 person found this helpful

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What a surprise devious the so called elite.!

Excellent book well presented a read. Which has confirmed that, that flight should been diverted and not allowed to land in Kuwait. I will recommend it to one and all.

1 person found this helpful