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Down and Out in Paris and London

George Orwell (Author)

George Orwell's vivid memoir of his time living among the desperately poor and destitute, Down and Out in Paris and London is a moving tour of the underworld of society.

'You have talked so often of going to the dogs - and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them.'

Written when Orwell was a struggling writer in his twenties, it documents his 'first contact with poverty'. Here, he painstakingly documents a world of unrelenting drudgery and squalor - sleeping in bug-infested hostels and doss houses of last resort, working as a dishwasher in Paris's vile 'Hôtel X', surviving on scraps and cigarette butts, living alongside tramps, a star-gazing pavement artist and a starving Russian ex-army captain. Exposing a shocking, previously-hidden world to his readers, Orwell gave a human face to the statistics of poverty for the first time - and in doing so, found his voice as a writer.

Orwell in Spain

George Orwell (Author) , Peter Davison (Edited by) , Christopher Hitchens (Introducer)

The volume collects together, for the first time ever, Orwell's writings on his experience of the Spanish Civil War - the chaos at the Front, the futile young deaths for what became a confused cause, the antique weapons and the disappointment many British Socialists felt on arriving in Spain to help. ORWELL IN SPAIN includes the complete text of HOMAGE TO CATALONIA.

Homage to Catalonia

George Orwell (Author)

Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism as I understand it'. Thus wrote Orwell following his experiences as a militiaman in the Spanish Civil War, chronicled in Homage to Catalonia. Here he brings to bear all the force of his humanity, passion and clarity, describing with bitter intensity the bright hopes and cynical betrayals of that chaotic episode: the revolutionary euphoria of Barcelona, the courage of ordinary Spanish men and women he fought alongside, the terror and confusion of the front, his near-fatal bullet wound and the vicious treachery of his supposed allies.

A firsthand account of the brutal conditions of the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia includes an introduction by Julian Symons in Penguin Modern Classics.

1759

Frank McLynn (Author)

Although 1759 is not a date as well known in British history as 1215, 1588, or 1688, there is a strong case to be made that it is the most significant year since 1066. In 1759 - the fourth year of the Seven Years War - the British defeated the French in arduous campaigns on four continents and also achieved absolute mastery of the seas.

Drawing on a mass of primary materials - from texts in the Vatican archives to oral histories of the North American Indians - Frank McLynn shows how the conflict between Brtiain and France triggered the first 'world war', raging from Europe to Africa; the Caribbean to the Pacific; the plains of the Ganges to the Great Lakes of North America. It also brought about the War of Independence, the acquisition by Britain of the Falkland Islands and, ultimately, the French Revolution.

Hell's Gorge

Matthew Parker (Author)

2014 is the 100-year-anniversary of the panama canal: one of the most extraordinary engineering feats in world history.

Hell's Gorge traces a heroic dream that spanned four centuries: to build a canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.The human cost was immense: in appalling working conditions and amid epidemics of fever, tens of thousands perished fighting the jungle, swamps and mountains of Panama, a scale of attrition comparable to many great battles.

Matthew Parker explores the fierce geo-political struggle behind the heroic vision of the canal, and the immense engineering and medical battles that were fought. But he also weaves in the stories of the ordinary men and women who worked on the canal, to evoke everyday life on the construction and depict the battle on the ground deep in 'Hell's Gorge'. Using diaries, memoirs, contemporary newspapers and previously unseen private letters, he draws a vivid picture of the heart-breaking struggle on the Isthmus, in particular that of the British West Indians who made up the majority of the canal workforce.

Hell's Gorge is a tale of politics, finance, press manipulation, scandal and intrigue, populated by a dazzling cast of idealists and bullies, heroes and conmen. But it is also a moving tribute to the 'Forgotten Silvermen', so many of whom died to fulfil the centuries-old canal dream.

In Europe

Geert Mak (Author) , Sam Garrett (Translator)

Geert Mak spent the year 1999 criss-crossing the continent, tracing the history of Europe from Verdun to Berlin, St Petersburg to Auschwitz, Kiev to Srebrenica. He set off in search of evidence and witnesses, looking to define the condition of Europe at the verge of a new millennium.

The result is mesmerising: Mak's rare double talent as a sharp-eyed journalist and a hugely imaginative historian makes In Europe a dazzling account of that journey, full of diaries, newspaper reports and memoirs, and the voices of prominent figures and unknown players; from the grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II to Adriana Warno in Poland, with her holiday job at the gates of the camp at Birkenau.

But Mak is above all an observer. He describes what he sees at places that have become Europe's well-springs of memory, where history is written into the landscape. At Ypres he hears the blast of munitions from the Great War that are still detonated twice a day. In Warsaw he finds the point where the tram rails that led to the Jewish ghetto come to a dead end in a city park. And in an abandoned crèche near Chernobyl, where tiny pairs of shoes still stand in neat rows, he is transported back to the moment time stood still in the dying days of the Soviet Union.

Mak combines the larger story of twentieth-century Europe with details that suddenly give it a face, a taste and a smell. His unique approach makes the reader an eyewitness to his own half-forgotten past, full of unknown peculiarities, sudden insights and touching encounters. In Europe is a masterpiece; it reads like the epic novel of the continent's most extraordinary century.

Hidden Treasures of London

Michael McNay (Author)

A beautifully illustrated guide to over 400 of London's lesser-known cultural gems.

Nobody could deny that London is one of the most culturally and architecturally rich places in the world. We cannot think of it without calling to mind buildings such as the Houses of Parliament and St Paul's Cathedral, monuments such as Nelson's Column and the Cenotaph, and the incredible collections of museums such as the V&A and Natural History Museum. But such glories can make us overlook some of the other, less obvious wonders that the city has to offer.

In Hidden Treasures of London Michael McNay has collected these more esoteric attractions, highlighting masterpieces and locations of significance the length and breadth of the city and its suburbs. In some cases an entire building may draw his attention; perhaps a beautiful church tucked away on a backstreet or an unobtrusive townhouse which lodged some great figure. In other cases it may be only a particular object or feature; a display of photographs, or some particularly fine relief sculpture. In every case McNay describes the subject at hand in vivid detail and provides the reader with the cultural and historical context needed to fully appreciate it.

However well you may think you know the capital, Hidden Treasures of London is certain to unlock more of its secrets to you, leading you away from well-trodden tourist destinations to explore the amazing secret history of this great city.

Pistols at Dawn

John Campbell (Author)

Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone. Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher. Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. Personal rivalry is the very stuff of politics. The causes and controversies, the parties and technology may have changed over time but political conflict is still dramatised by the competition of ambitious individuals for the highest offices. Over the past two hundred years the size of the electorate has grown enormously and the means of reaching it transformed out of all recognition but human nature itself hasn't changed.

In his thought-provoking book John Campbell considers eight pairs of rivals and shows how their antagonism, which often evolved into outright loathing, has determined the course of political conflict. In each of his cases studies - Fox and Pitt, Castlereagh and Canning, Gladstone and Disraeli, Asquith and Lloyd George, Bevan and Gaitskell, Macmillan and Butler, Heath and Thatcher, Brown and Blair - he combines a vivid narrative with an authoritative assessment of the historical legacy that reveals how ideology is inextricably entwined with personality.

The Devil's Disciples

Anthony Read (Author)

The Nazi regime was essentially a religious cult, relying on the hypnotic personality of one man, Adolf Hitler, and it was fated to die with him. But while it lasted, his closest lieutenants competed ferociously for power and position as his chosen successor. This deadly contest accounted for many of the regime's worst excesses, in which millions of people died, and which brought Western civilization to its knees. The Devil's Disciples is the first major book for a general readership to examine those lieutenants, not only as individuals but also as a group. It focuses on the three Nazi paladins closest to Hitler - Goring, Goebbels and Himmler - with their nearest rivals - Bormann, Speer and Ribbentrop in close attendance. Others who were removed in various ways - like Gregor Strasser, Ernst R-hm, Heydrich and Hess - play supporting roles. Perceptive and illuminating, The Devil's Disciples is above all a powerful chronological narrative, showing how the personalities of Hitler's inner circle developed and how their jealousies and constant intrigues affected the regime, the war, and Hitler himself.

The Dukes

Brian Masters (Author)

The origins of the non-royal dukes in the British peerage divide nicely into Tudor looters, Royal bastards, opportunist generals, territorial, metropolitan or Scottish magnates. Lloyd George said that a duke, fully equipped, cost more than a dreadnought to maintain and with their palaces, possessions and retinues, they are nearly all splendid. Some of them are, of course, now poor; some of them have great wealth; some of them hit every headline and others are obscure. But within each duchy, Brian Masters tells the story of quaint grandees determined to survive.

The Dukes is an essential guide that provides vital biographical information and explores the history of the dukes in unprecedented depth. This revised edition includes new information which was not available on first publication, and brings up to date the accounts of families whose titles have passed to a subsequent generation in the intervening years.

Stars Beneath The Sea

Trevor Norton (Author)

This is the remarkably funny true story of some of the brave, brilliant and often barmy men that invented diving. It is a story of explosive tempers and exploding teeth, of how to juggle live hand grenades and steer a giant rubber octopus. A series of vivid portraits reveal the eccentric exploits of these underwater pioneers. They include Guy who held a world altitude record when only sixteen, wrote a film for Humphrey Bogart, invented snorkelling and loved his wife enough to shoot her. Roy wore a backet over his head and stole a coral reef. Bill wearied of fishing with dynamite and wrestling deadly snakes, so he sealed himself in a metal coffin to dangle half a mile beneath the ocean. Cameron, testing the bouncing bomb for dam busters, made a plastic ear for a dog, a false testicle for a stallion and invented a mantrap disguised as a lavatory. He ascended from a depth of 200 feet without breathing equipment to see if his lungs would burst, then studied the effects of underwater explosions by standing closer and closer until shattered by the blast. The book also traces the evolution of underwater exploration, from spear fishermen to conversationalists, from treasure hunters to archaeologists, from photographers to philosophers. The sea is a secretive and seductive place and the author describes, with incredible humour, knowledge and historical accuracy, the magic and mystery of being beneath the waves.

A History Of The World

Neil MacGregor (Author) , Neil MacGregor (Read by)

In 2010, the BBC and the British Museum embarked on an ambitious project: to tell the story of two million years of human history using one hundred objects selected from the Museum’s vast and renowned collection. Presented by the British Museum’s Director Neil MacGregor, each episode focuses on a single object - from a Stone Age tool to a solar-powered lamp - and explains its significance in human history. Music, interviews with specialists and quotations from written texts enrich the listener’s experience. On each CD, objects from a similar period of history are grouped together to explore a common theme and make connections across the world. Seen in this way, history is a kaleidoscope: shifting, interlinked, constantly surprising and shaping our world in ways that most of us have never imagined. This box set also includes an illustrated booklet with additional background information and photographs, and each CD includes PDF images of the featured objects.

20 CDs. 25 hrs.

Nick Robinson's The Prime Ministers Series 1

Nick Robinson (Author) , Nick Robinson (Read by)

This series explores how Prime Ministers have used their power and responded to the great challenges of their time and how they made the job what it is today. Nick Robinson explores the life and times of the following: Sir Robert Walpole, the first and longest-serving prime minister; Lord North, remembered as the prime minister who lost America; Sir Robert Peel, who put national interest before party; Lord Palmerston, who cultivated a cavalier image and dominated mid-Victorian politics; Benjamin Disraeli, who turned his skills as a novelist to politics and became Britain’s first Jewish-born prime minister; David Lloyd George, a Welsh radical who set up the early welfare state, became a presidential PM in the First World War and split the Liberal party; Stanley Baldwin, the first prime minister to master radio broadcasting, whose notion of Englishness shaped inter-war Britain and Clement Attlee, who lacked any charisma, but created the modern welfare state and managed the big political beasts in his Cabinet. Extract from speech by Lloyd George: British Library Board. All Rights Reserved.

2 CDs. 1 hr 52 mins.

America Empire Of Liberty

David Reynolds (Author) , David Reynolds (Read by)

This epic narrative tells America’s story through the voices of those who lived it – Presidents and farmers, mothers and children, settlers and soldiers, slaves and Indians. The series celebrates the country’s achievements but also examines its paradoxes by investigating three abiding themes of American life: empire, liberty and faith. These first thirty episodes start with the Native Americans, who arrived from Asia around 15,000 years ago. In a fascinating journey that takes in the impact of Columbus, the founding of Puritan New England, the Declaration of Independence, the slave trade and the forced relocation of the Indians, Reynolds shows how the U.S. expanded to cover a whole continent, laying the foundations of a superpower – if the country could stay united. And that seemed a big ‘if’ in 1861 as the conflicts over liberty and slavery brought America to the brink of Civil War.

6 CDs. 7 hrs 30 mins.

The Condition of the Working Class in England

Friedrich Engels (Author) , Victor Kiernan (Edited by)

This forceful polemic explores the staggering human cost of the Industrial Revolution in Victorian England. Engels paints an unforgettable picture of daily life in the new industrial towns, and for miners and agricultural workers in a savage indictment of the greed of the bourgeoisie. His later preface, written for the first English edition of 1892 and included here, brought the story up to date in the light of forty years' further reflection.

Paris

Andrew Hussey (Author)

Paris is the city of light and the city of darkness - a place of ceaseless revolution and reinvention that for two thousand years has drawn those with the highest ideals and the lowest morals to its teeming streets.

In Andrew Hussey's wonderful book we encounter the myriad citizens whose stories have shaped Paris: the nineteenth-century flaneurs aimlessly wandering Haussman's new streets; survivors and victims of ravaging plagues; the builders of Notre Dame Cathedral; those who turned the River Seine red with blood on St Bartholomew's Day; and the many others whose lives have imprinted themselves on a city that has always aroused strong emotions.

The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus (Author) , J. Cohen (Translator)

No gamble in history has been more momentous than the landfall of Columbus's ship the Santa Maria in the Americas in 1492 - an event that paved the way for the conquest of a 'New World'. The accounts collected here provide a vivid narrative of his voyages throughout the Caribbean and finally to the mainland of Central America, although he still believed he had reached Asia. Columbus himself is revealed as a fascinating and contradictory figure, fluctuating from awed enthusiasm to paranoia and eccentric geographical speculation. Prey to petty quarrels with his officers, his pious desire to bring Christian civilization to 'savages' matched by his rapacity for gold, Columbus was nonetheless an explorer and seaman of staggering vision and achievement.

The Deluge

Adam Tooze (Author)

WINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES PRIZE FOR HISTORY

FINANCIAL TIMES AND NEW STATESMAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2014

On the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, Deluge is a powerful explanation of why the war's legacy continues to shape our world - from Adam Tooze, the Wolfson Prize-winning author of The Wages of Destruction

In the depths of the Great War, with millions of dead and no imaginable end to the conflict, societies around the world began to buckle. As the cataclysmic battles continued, a new global order was being born.

Adam Tooze's panoramic new book tells a radical, new story of the struggle for global mastery from the battles of the Western Front in 1916 to the Great Depression of the 1930s. The war shook the foundations of political and economic order across Eurasia. Empires that had lasted since the Middle Ages collapsed into ruins. New nations sprang up. Strikes, street-fighting and revolution convulsed much of the world. And beneath the surface turmoil, the war set in motion a deeper and more lasting shift, a transformation that continues to shape the present day: 1916 was the year when world affairs began to revolve around the United States.

America was both a uniquely powerful global force: a force that was forward-looking, the focus of hope, money and ideas, and at the same time elusive, unpredictable and in fundamental respects unwilling to confront these unwished for responsibilities. Tooze shows how the fate of effectively the whole of civilization - the British Empire, the future of peace in Europe, the survival of the Weimar Republic, both the Russian and Chinese revolutions and stability in the Pacific - now came to revolve around this new power's fraught relationship with a shockingly changed world.

The Deluge is both a brilliantly illuminating exploration of the past and an essential history for the present.

The Loss of the Ship Essex Sunk By a Whale

Owen Chase (Author), Thomas Nickerson (Author), Nathaniel Philbrick (Edited by), Thomas Philbrick (Edited by)

The gripping first-hand story of the disaster that inspired Melville's Moby-Dick and is the basis for a major new feature film, In the Heart of the Sea.

In 1820, the Nantucket whaleship Essex was sailing in the South Pacific when it was rammed by an angry sperm whale. The ship sank, leaving twenty crew members floating in three small boats for ninety days. By taking drastic measures, eight men survived to reveal their astonishing tale. This authoritative edition brings together the harrowing tales of the survivors, including Owen Chase's 'Narrative of the Wreck of Whaleship Essex' and an account by Thomas Nickerson, the 15-year old cabin boy who was steering the ship when the whale attacked.

Thomas Nickerson and Owen Chase were two of the eight surviving crew members of the Ship Essex.

Thomas Philbrick is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Pittsburg and has edited critical editions of the works of Joshua Slocum and Henry Dana Jr.

Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of In the Heart of the Sea and director of the Egan Institute of Maritime Studies. He is also a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association.

The Penguin History of the World

J M Roberts (Author) , Odd Arne Westad (Author)

The completely updated edition of J. M. Roberts and Odd Arne Westad's widely acclaimed, landmark bestseller The Penguin History of the World

For generations of readers The Penguin History of the World has been one of the great cultural experiences - the entire story of human endeavour laid out in all its grandeur and folly, drama and pain in a single authoritative book. Now, for the first time, it has been completely overhauled for its 6th edition - not just bringing it up to date, but revising it throughout in the light of new research and discoveries, such as the revolution in our understanding of many civilizations in the Ancient World. The closing sections of the book reflect what now seems to be the inexorable rise of Asia and the increasingly troubled situation in the West.

About the authors:

J.M. Roberts, CBE, published The Penguin History of the World in 1976 to immediate acclaim. His other major books include The Paris Commune from the Right, The Triumph of the West (which was also a successful television series), The Penguin History of Europe and The Penguin History of the Twentieth Century. He died in 2003.

Odd Arne Westad, FBA, is Professor of International History at the London School of Economics. He has published fifteen books on modern and contemporary international history, among them The Global Cold War, which won the Bancroft Prize, and Decisive Encounters, a standard history of the Chinese civil war. He also served as general co-editor of the Cambridge History of the Cold War.

Reviews:

'A work of outstanding breadth of scholarship and penetrating judgements. There is nothing better of its kind' Lord Jonathan Sumption, Sunday Telegraph

'A stupendous achievement' A. J. P. Taylor

'A brilliant book ... the most outstanding history of the world yet written' J. H. Plumb

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