New and forthcoming

Carrington

Christopher Lee

Lord Carrington was Margaret Thatcher's Foreign Secretary when the Argentinians invaded the Falklands in 1982. Absent in Israel on the eve of the invasion, he promptly resigned since it was, he said, a point of honour. He is seen by many today as the last of his breed in politics, an honourable man committed to public service.

The descendant of a famous banking family, Carrington served as a minister in every Conservative government from Churchill to Thatcher. In this full biography, authorised but not read by the subject, author of This Sceptred Isle Christopher Lee offers a fascinating portrait of a Tory icon whose career is a window into post-war British politics and life as a politician and diplomat.

He could be viewed as a typical Tory grandee, yet he disliked the Party, claiming late in his life that he was no longer a member, and could be fiercely independent. And there were recurring oddities in his career. He was forced to offer his resignation to Churchill for bad judgement over the Crichel Down Affair. As Navy Minister he was caught in the glare of a spy ring, and, though Defence Secretary, kept out of the loop of the military operation which culminated in Bloody Sunday.

Margaret Thatcher said there was something innately reassuring walking into a room where Carrington stood. Was this a barbed compliment? Did he in fact lack the steel required of a modern politician? He certainly represents a bygone era, as this vivid and expert biography shows.

Queen of the World

Robert Hardman

WRITTEN ALONGSIDE A MAJOR UPCOMING ITV DOCUMENTARY

‘Dazzling, poignant and full of delicious surprises; the true story of how Elizabeth II took on the world – and won. The Crown is fictional. Here is the real thing.’ Andrew Roberts
_____________________________

Written by the renowned royal biographer, Robert Hardman, and with privileged access to the Royal Family and the Royal Household, a brilliant new portrait of the most famous woman in the world and her place in it.

On today's world stage, one leader stands apart. Queen Elizabeth II has seen more of the planet and its people than any other head of state, and has engaged with them like no other monarch in British history. Since her coronation, she has visited over 130 countries across the ever-changing globe, acting as diplomat, stateswoman, pioneer and peace-broker.

She has transformed her father’s old empire into the Commonwealth, her ‘family of nations’, and has come to know its leaders better than anyone. In 2018, they would gather in her own home to endorse her eldest son, the Prince of Wales, as her successor.

With extensive access to the Queen’s family and staff, Hardman tells a true story full of drama, intrigue, exotic and even dangerous situations, heroes, rogues, pomp and glamour – and, at the centre of it all, the woman who has genuinely won the hearts of the world.

Tsar: An epic chronicle of the Russian leaders

Mike Walker (and others)

Eleven compelling BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramas telling the stories of the Russian tsars

Broadcast to mark the centenary of the Russian revolution, this extraordinary drama cycle by Mike Walker comprises eleven ambitious plays spanning over 400 years, exploring the lives of Russia’s key rulers from Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin.

Ivan the Terrible: Absolute Power - The rise and fearsome reign of the first Tsar of All Russia. Starring David Threlfall as Ivan IV.

Boris Godunov: Ghosts - Did Boris Godunov have Ivan the Terrible's son killed? And what happened when the murdered boy came back from the dead - leading an army? Starring Shaun Dooley as Boris Godunov.

Peter the Great: The Gamblers - Moscow, 1682 and two joint tsars rule: one, Ivan, is feeble-minded and the other is Peter, a child of ten years old. Starring Will Howard as Peter.

Peter the Great: Queen of Spades - Distracted by his new capital, St Petersburg, and wife Catherine, Peter ignores his opponents: until his own son Alexei declares his colours. Starring Elliot Cowan as Peter.

Catherine the Great: Husbands, Lovers and Sons - Did Catherine foresee the consequences of staging a coup d'état against her husband the Tsar? Or did she want him dead from the start? Starring Samantha Spiro as Catherine II.

Alexander I: Into the Woods – The story of the reluctant Tsar who took on the greatest threat Russia had ever faced – Napoleon Bonaparte – and won. Starring Joel MacCormack as Alexander I.

Alexander II: The People’s Will – Revolutionary terrorist cell The People’s Will is determined to assassinate the Tsar. But in the struggle between autocracy and socialism, there can be only one winner. Starring Joseph Millson as Alexander.

Nikolai II: Three Hundred Years - In 1913, the Romanov dynasty celebrated three hundred years on the Russian throne. But a mere four years later, Tsar Nikolai II was forced to abdicate. Starring Raymond Coulthard as Nikolai II.

Lenin: Tears – As the Soviet era begins, Lenin joins the provisional government, but soon becomes set on seizing complete power for his Bolsheviks. Starring Paul Ritter as Lenin.

Joseph Stalin: The Last Bolshevik – In 1941, the Soviet Union was invaded by the Nazis – and Joseph Stalin retired to his dacha, seemingly defeated... Starring Brian McCardie as Stalin.

The Shield and the Sword – Thirteen interconnected stories about the enigmatic Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Starring Nicholas Murchie as VV.

Written by Mike Walker
Produced and directed by Sasha Yevtushenko and Alison Hindell

The Shoemaker and his Daughter

Conor O'Clery

'An arresting and evocative story.' Keggie Carew, author of Dadland

'Welcomed by everyone who cares about good writing and human stories.' Richard Lloyd Parry, author of Ghosts of the Tsunami

'A tour de force ... O'Clery is a gifted writer.' Luke Harding, bestselling author of Collusion

The Soviet Union, 1962. Shoemaker Stanislav Suvorov is imprisoned for five years. His crime? Selling his car for a profit, contravening the Kremlin’s strict laws of speculation. Laws which, thirty years later, his daughter Zhanna helps to unravel. In the new Russia, yesterday’s crime is today’s opportunity.

On his release from prison, social shame drives Stanislav to voluntary exile in Siberia, moving his family from a relatively comfortable, continental life in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, to frigid, farthest-flung Krasnoyarsk. For some, it is the capital of the gulag. For others, it is the chance to start over again.

These are the last days of a Soviet Union in which the Communist Party and KGB desperately cling to power, in which foreigners are unwelcome and travel abroad is restricted, where the queues for bread are daily and debilitating and where expressing views in favour of democracy and human rights can get you imprisoned or sent into exile.

The Shoemaker and His Daughter takes in more than eighty years of Soviet and Russian history through the prism of one family – a family author Conor O’Clery knows well: he is married to Zhanna. It paints a vivid picture of a complex part of the world at a seismic moment in its history: of erratic war and uneasy peace; of blind power and its frequent abuse; of misguided ideologies and stifling bureaucracy; of the slow demise of Communism and the chaotic embrace of capitalism. The Suvorovs witness it all. Both intimate and sweeping in scale, this is a story of ordinary lives battered and shaped by extraordinary times.

The Stepney Doorstep Society

Kate Thompson

The unsung and remarkable stories of the women who held London's East End together during not one, but two world wars.
_____________

Minksy, Gladys, Beatty, Joan, Girl Walker. While the men were at war, these women ruled the streets of the East End. Brought up with firm hand in the steaming slums and teeming tenements, they struggled against poverty to survive, and fought for their community in our country's darkest hours.

But there was also joy to be found. From Stepney to Bethnal Green, Whitechapel to Shoreditch, the streets were alive with peddlers and market stalls hawking their wares, children skipping across dusty hopscotch pitches, the hiss of a gas lamp or the smell of oxtail stew. You need only walk a few steps for a smile from a neighbour or a strong cup of tea.

From taking over the London Underground, standing up to the Kray twins and crawling out of bombsites, The Stepney Doorstep Society tells the vivid and moving stories of the matriarchs who remain the backbone of the East End to this day.

Lust For Life

Irving Stone

Lust for Life is the classic fictional re-telling of the incredible life of Vincent Van Gogh.

“Vincent is not dead. He will never die. His love, his genius, the great beauty he has created will go on forever, enriching the world… He was a colossus… a great painter… a great philosopher… a martyr to his love of art. “

Walking down the streets of Paris the young Vincent Van Gogh didn’t feel like he belonged. Battling poverty, repeated heartbreak and familial obligation, Van Gogh was a man plagued by his own creative urge but with no outlet to express it. Until the day he picked up a paintbrush.

Written with raw insight and emotion, follow the artist through his tormented life, struggling against critical discouragement and mental turmoil and bare witness to his creative journey from a struggling artist to one of the world’s most celebrated artists.

The Last Englishmen

Deborah Baker

'A continuously absorbing and stimulating book, which enlarges the cultural and political history of the mid-20th century' Pankaj Mishra

John Auden was a pioneering geologist of the Himalayas. Michael Spender was the first to survey the northern approach to the summit of Mount Everest. While their younger brothers – W.H Auden and Stephen Spender – achieved literary fame, they vied for a place on an expedition that would finally conquer Everest, a quest that had become a metaphor for Britain’s efforts to maintain power over India. To this rivalry was added another: in the summer of 1938 both men fell in love with a painter named Nancy Sharp. Her choice would determine each man’s wartime loyalties.

From Calcutta to pre-war London to the snowy slopes of Everest, The Last Englishmen tracks a generation obsessed with a romantic ideal. As political struggle rages in Spain, the march to war with Germany seems inevitable, Communist spies expand their ranks and the fight for Indian independence enters its final bloody act, writers and explorers, Englishmen and Indians must pick their cause.

The Last Englishmen is an engrossing story that traces the end of empire and the stirring of a new world order. It encourages us to look again at our national story, to seek out the viewpoints of those on the other end of unchecked power, and to question our own mythologies.

The Cut Out Girl

Bart van Es

'Luminous, elegant, haunting, - I read it straight through' Philippe Sands, Author of East West Street

The enthralling story of a man's search for the truth about his family's past

The last time Lien saw her parents was in the Hague when she was collected at the door by a stranger and taken to a city far away to be hidden from the Nazis. She was raised by her foster family as one of their own, but a falling out well after the war meant they were no longer in touch. What was her side of the story, Bart van Es - a grandson of the couple who looked after Lien - wondered? What really happened during the war, and after?

So began an investigation that would consume and transform both Bart van Es's life and Lien's. Lien was now in her 80s and living in Amsterdam. Reluctantly, she agreed to meet him, and eventually they struck up a remarkable friendship. The Cut Out Girl braids together a powerful recreation of Lien's intensely harrowing childhood story with the present-day account of Bart's efforts to piece that story together. And it embraces the wider picture, too, for Holland was more cooperative in rounding up its Jews for the Nazis than any other Western European country; that is part of Lien's story too.

This is an astonishing, moving reckoning with a young girl's struggle for survival during war. It is a story about the powerful love and challenges of foster families, and about the ways our most painful experiences - so crucial in defining us - can also be redefined.

'Remarkable, deeply moving' Penelope Lively

'An awe-inspiring account of the tragedies and triumphs within the world of the Holocaust's "hide-away" children, and of the families who sheltered them' Georgia Hunter

'A complex and uplifting tale' Kirkus

The Hurricane Girls

Jo Wheeler

Celebrating the lives of the magnificent women, the ATA girls, who courageously flew Spitfires, Tiger Moths, Lancaster Bombers and many other aircraft during World War Two.

These extraordinary women, Mary Ellis, Jackie Moggridge and Pauline Gower are just a few of the remarkable stories inside . . .

Since the invention of aeroplanes, women have taken to the skies. They have broken records, performed daredevil stunts and faced such sexism and prejudice that they were effectively barred from working as pilots.

That changed in the Second World War. Led by firebrand Pauline Gower, an elite group of British women were selected as ferry pilots to fly for the Air Transport Auxiliary. They risked their lives flying munitions and equipment for the boys on the front line.

Flying day and night without radio; dodging storms, barrage balloons and anti-aircraft fire; and with only a map, compass and their eyesight to guide them, they navigated the treacherous wartime skies.
____________

The Hurricane Girls is the thrilling, moving and inspirational story of the female air force who once ruled our skies.

Henry I (Penguin Monarchs)

Edmund King

The youngest of William the Conqueror's sons, Henry I (1100-35) was never meant to be king, but he was destined to become one of the greatest of all medieval monarchs, both through his own ruthlessness and intelligence and through the dynastic legacy of his daughter Matilda, who began the Plantagenet line that would rule England until 1485. A self-consciously diligent and thoughtful king, his rule was looked back on as the real post-invasion re-founding of England as a new realm, integrated into the continent, wealthy and stable.

Edmund King's wonderful portrait of Henry shows him as a strikingly charismatic and thoughtful man. His life was dogged by a single great disaster, the death of his teenage heir William in the White Ship disaster. Despite astonishing numbers of illegitimate sons, Henry was now left with only a daughter. This fact would shape the rest of the 12th century and beyond.

Never miss a story... 

Sign up to the Penguin newsletter
 

By signing up, I agree to Penguin Random House's Privacy Policy.