In May 1947 Alexander Rubowitz, a Jewish teenager, was mysteriously abducted in Jerusalem. He was never seen again. Rubowitz was active in a Zionist underground group fighting British rule in Palestine. Witnesses said he was seized by British policemen. A grey felt hat found at the scene was traced to Major Roy Farran, a highly decorated ex-SAS officer leading a covert counter-terrorist squad.As evidence of murder grew Farran fled to Syria. He was persuaded to return and was acquitted after a sensational court martial. He came home to a heros welcome. But the Zionist underground swore vengeance. It had already penetrated British homeland security and now it sent its top man after Farran.Major Farrans Hat explores the reasons why Britain lost Palestine, why its counter-insurgency strategy collided with its diplomacy, and why the tactics of the security forces were ill-judged, poorly executed, and futile. Setting Farrans remarkable story in the context of the first modern campaign of international terrorism, it draws on recently declassified files of the Security Services to reveal the full extent and ambition of Jewish terrorist attacks on Britain in the late 1940s.Part Boys Own adventure, part narrative history, Major Farran's Hat solves a murder mystery and exposes a shady episode in the final years of the British empire. This story of violence, cover ups and expediency throws light on Britain's legacy in the Middle East, with remarkable echoes of todays War on Terror.
David Cesarani is Research Professor in History at Royal Holloway, University of London. His publications include Justice Delayed: How Britain Became a Refuge for Nazi War Criminals, Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind and, most recently, Eichmann: His Life and Crimes, which won the 2006 US National Jewish Book Award for History. He has written and edited several books exploring the relationship between Britain, British Jews, and Zionism including The Jewish Chronicle and Anglo-Jewry and The Making of Modern Anglo-Jewry.