Alistair MacLean

(born April 1922 - died February 1987) - Glasgow

Alistair MacLean

Glasgow-born Alistair MacLean was the hugely successful author of adventure thrillers and spy books, many of which have been filmed. A native Gaelic speaker, MacLean was raised in Daviot in the Highlands before attending high school in Glasgow. In 1941 he joined the Royal Navy, becoming a torpedo operator in the Home, North Sea and Mediterranean theatres during WWII. He also served in the far east.

After the war, MacLean studied English at Glasgow University and became a school teacher after graduating in 1953. His first novel, HMS Ulysses, was published in 1955. A lone cruiser battles German U-boats, a mutinous crew and the harsh North Sea weather in a doomed attempt to protect a convoy - a novel which set the template for many of his later novels. His most famous novel is The Guns of Navarone, the 1961 film of the novel won several Golden Globe awards and an Oscar for Best Special Effects. Force 10 from Navarone, written in 1968, was a sequel to the film and not the book.

MacLean also wrote two novels under the pseudonym Ian Stuart, The Dark Crusader and The Satan Bug. When Eight Bells Toll was the only novel set in Scotland.

Alistair MacLean never considered himself a novelist, and appeared not to enjoy writing. He once told the New York Post "I'm not a novelist, I'm a storyteller. There's no art in what I do, no mystique". He has also said "I'm not a born writer, and I don't enjoy writing. I wrote each book in thirty-five days flat - just to get the darned thing finished." Despite his reticence, he sold 30 million novels.

HarperCollins are republishing many of his novels in collected form.

  • Cover scan of Bear Island
    Bear Island - Paperback
    Reissue of the classic tale of adventure and death on a mysterious Arctic island, from the acclaimed master of action and suspense.
  • Cover scan of Circus
    Circus - Paperback
    Reissue of the classic tale of espionage set in Cold War Europe, where the world's greatest circus acrobat must break into an impenetrable fortress, from the acclaimed master of action and suspense.
  • Cover scan of Force 10 From Navarone
    Force 10 From Navarone - Paperback
    The sequel to 'The Guns of Navarone'. The guns have been silenced, but the heroic survivors have no time to rest on their laurels. Keith Mallory, Andrea and Dusty Miller are parachuting into war-torn Yugoslavia to rescue a division of Partisans.
  • Cover scan of The Guns Of Navarone
    The Guns Of Navarone - Paperback
    Twelve hundred British soldiers isolated on the small island of Kheros off the Turkish coast, waiting to die. Twelve hundred lives in jeopardy, lives that could be saved if only the guns could be silenced.
  • Cover scan of HMS Ulysses
    HMS Ulysses - Paperback
    In this classic novel of heroism and the sea, Alistair MacLean tells the story of Convoy FR77 to Murmansk - a voyage that pushes men to the limits of human endurance, crippled by enemy attack and the bitter cold of the Arctic.
  • Cover scan of Partisans
    Partisans - Paperback
    While Tito's rebel forces resist occupation, the Germans infiltrate and plan their destruction. Three Yugoslavs set out from Rome to relay the German battle plan - but their loyalties lie elsewhere. A dangerous journey with dangerous companions, where the three find intrigue and betrayal around every corner.
  • Cover scan of San Andreas
    San Andreas - Paperback
    Suddenly, just before dawn, the lights went out aboard the San Andreas. For the British hospital ship sailing the deadly, U-boat patrolled Norwegian waters, a nightmare of violence and betrayal has begun.
  • Cover scan of Seawitch
    Seawitch - Paperback
    The massive oil-rig, Seawitch, is the hub of a great empire and the pride of its billionaire owner. Lord Worth cares only for Seawitch and his two daughters. One man who knows this is spoiling for revenge, and in one week, Worth's world explodes.
  • Cover scan of The Way to Dusty Death
    The Way To Dusty Death - Paperback
    Reissue of the classic tale of high-octane adventure set in the world of 1970s Formula One, from the acclaimed master of action and suspense.
  • Cover scan of When Eight Bells Toll
    When Eight Bells Toll - Paperback
    Millions of pounds in gold bullion are being pirated in the Irish Sea. Investigations by the British Secret Service, and a sixth sense, have brought Philip Calvert to a bleak, lonely bay in the Western Highlands. But the sleepy atmosphere of Torbay is deceptive.
  • Cover scan of Where Eagles Dare
    Where Eagles Dare - Paperback
    One winter night, seven men and a woman are parachuted onto a mountainside in wartime Germany. Their objective is to rescue an American general before the Nazi interrogators can force him to reveal secret D-Day plans.


Collection of short stories

  • The Lonely Sea (1985)

Other books

  • All About Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  • Alistair MacLean Introduces Scotland (1972)
  • Captain Cook (1972)


  • Alistair MacLean's Sea Thrillers (2007) - containing The Golden Rendezvous and San Andreas
  • Alistair MacLean's Arctic Chillers (2007) - containing Bear Island and Athabasca