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Crucible

Charles Emmerson (Author)

What comes first: the character of the times, or the characters who give it theirs?

Crucible charts the trajectories of the characters who fell from power in the bloody breakdown of Europe’s old order between 1917 and 1924, and those who for whom the restless chaos marked the beginning of an unlikely rise to fame.

Year by year, we follow Kaiser Wilhelm into his wood-chopping Dutch exile, and Lenin from his Swiss library-desk to his muddled end as an invalid in revolutionary Russia gone stale. Ernest Hemingway criss-crosses the Atlantic in search of himself: soldier, hack journalist, writer, fisherman. Surrealism is born in a Paris attic. Europe suffers a nervous collapse, alternating between revolution and reaction. America takes fright. A Viennese doctor of eclectic tastes becomes an intellectual celebrity. An Austrian ex-soldier touts himself as the tribune of the German people.

Outside the classic frames of war and peace, these all-too-human tales – funny, tragic and fateful – tell a wider story of the exuberant dreams, dark fears, grubby ambition and sheer chance which marked Europe’s post-war metamorphosis, and the century to come.

The Desert War

James Holland (Author) , Keith Burns (By (artist))

Part of the new Ladybird Expert series, The Desert War is an accessible. insightful and authoritative introduction to the standoff between the Axis and Allies in the harsh deserts of North Africa.

Historian, author and broadcaster James Holland draws on the latest research and interviews with participants to bring colour, detail and a fresh perspective to the story of how the British blunted Mussolini's ambitions in Africa, making Italy a liability rather than an asset to Germany.

Inside, you'll discover how tactics, organisation and new technologies were brought to bear, about the different challenges faced by both the Axis and the Allies, and, above all, the skill, bravery and endurance of those engaged in a contest that was of critical importance to the outcome of the war.

Written by the leading lights and most outstanding communicators in their fields, the Ladybird Expert books provide clear, accessible and authoritative introductions to subjects drawn from science, history and culture.

For an adult readership, the Ladybird Expert series is produced in the same iconic small hardback format pioneered by the original Ladybirds. Each beautifully illustrated book features the first new illustrations produced in the original Ladybird style for nearly forty years.

Origin Story

David Christian (Author)

How did we get from the Big Bang to today's staggering complexity, in which seven billion humans are connected into networks powerful enough to transform the planet? And why, in comparison, are our closest primate relatives reduced to near-extinction?

Big History creator David Christian gives the answers in a mind-expanding cosmological detective story told on the grandest possible scale. He traces how, during eight key thresholds, the right conditions have allowed new forms of complexity to arise, from stars to galaxies, Earth to homo sapiens, agriculture to fossil fuels. This last mega-innovation gave us an energy bonanza that brought huge benefits to mankind, yet also threatens to shake apart everything we have created.

This global origin story is one that we could only begin to tell recently, thanks to the underlying unity of modern knowledge. Panoramic in scope and thrillingly told, Origin Story reveals what we learn about human existence when we consider it from a universal scale.

From Cold War to Hot Peace

Michael McFaul (Author)

In 2008, when Michael McFaul was asked to leave his perch at Stanford and join an unlikely presidential campaign, he had no idea that he would find himself at the beating heart of one of today's most contentious and consequential international relationships. As President Barack Obama's adviser on Russian affairs, McFaul helped craft the United States' policy known as "reset" that fostered new and unprecedented collaboration between the two countries. And then, as U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, he had a front-row seat when this fleeting, hopeful moment crumbled with Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency.

This riveting inside account combines history and memoir to tell the full story of U.S.-Russia relations from the fall of the Soviet Union to the new rise of the hostile, paranoid Russian president. From the first days of McFaul's ambassadorship, the Kremlin actively sought to discredit and undermine him, hassling him with tactics that included dispatching protesters to his front gates, slandering him on state media, and tightly surveilling him, his staff, and his family.

From Cold War to Hot Peace is an essential account of the most consequential global confrontation of our time.

The Road to Unfreedom

Timothy Snyder (Author)

With the end of the Cold War, the victory of liberal democracy was thought to be final. Observers declared the end of history, confident in a peaceful, globalized future. This faith was misplaced. Authoritarianism returned to Russia, as Putin found fascist ideas that could be used to justify rule by the wealthy. In the 2010s, it has spread from east to west, aided by Russian warfare in Ukraine and cyberwar and information war in Europe and the United States.

Russia found allies among nationalists and oligarchs everywhere, and its drive to dissolve Western institutions, states, and values found resonance within the West itself. The rise of populism, the British vote against the EU, and the election of Donald Trump were all Russian goals, but their achievement reveals the vulnerability of Western societies and the uncertain character of Western political order.

This threat to Western democracy presents an opportunity to better understand the pillars of our own political order. In this forceful and unsparing work of contemporary history, based on vast research as well as personal reporting, Snyder goes beyond the headlines to expose the true nature of the threat to democracy and law. By showcasing the stark choices before us – between equality or oligarchy, individuality or totality, truth and falsehood – Snyder restores our understanding of the basis of our way of life, offering a way forward in a time of terrible uncertainty.

Money

Yuval Noah Harari (Author)

How did money come to be invented? Why does it now have such significance in our lives? Does it make us happier or unhappier? And what does the future hold for it? With brilliant clarity and insight, Yuval Noah Harari takes the reader on a journey from the very first coins through to 21st century economics and shows us how we are all on the brink of a revolution, whether we like it or not.

Selected from the books Sapiens and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

VINTAGE MINIS: GREAT MINDS. BIG IDEAS. LITTLE BOOKS.

A series of short books by the world’s greatest writers on the experiences that make us human

Also in the Vintage Minis series:
Home by Salman Rushdie
Babies by Anne Enright
Eating by Nigella Lawson
Drinking by John Cheever

Blitzkrieg: Book 1 of the Ladybird Expert History of the Second World War

James Holland (Author) , Keith Burns (By (artist))

Part of the new Ladybird Expert series, Blitzkrieg is an accessible, insightful and authoritative account of the fall of Europe through the use of one of the most successful military strategies in modern warfare.

Historian, author and broadcaster James Holland draws on the latest research and interviews with participants to bring colour, detail and a fresh perspective to the story.

Inside, you'll discover how tactics, organisation and new technologies were brought to bear, about the different challenges faced by both the Axis and the Allies, and, above all, the skill, bravery and endurance of those engaged in a contest that was of critical importance to the outcome of the war.

Written by the leading lights and most outstanding communicators in their fields, the Ladybird Expert books provide clear, accessible and authoritative introductions to subjects drawn from science, history and culture.

For an adult readership, the Ladybird Expert series is produced in the same iconic small hardback format pioneered by the original Ladybirds. Each beautifully illustrated book features the first new illustrations produced in the original Ladybird style for nearly forty years.

Timbuktu: A Ladybird Expert Book

Gus Caseley-Hayford (Author)

Part of the new Ladybird Expert series, Timbuktu is a clear, simple and authoritative introduction to the land considered one of the most important trading cities of the medieval world.

Written by curator and cultural historian Gus Casely-Hayford, this book delves into the rise of the largest empire in West Africa and what made Timbuktu the most significant Saharan desert-port of the age.

You'll see the Mali Empire in its golden age, teeming with riches, scholars and trade. A history steeped in magicians, epic wars, story-tellers and missing ships. You'll learn what made Timbuktu so notorious and irresistible to the Emperor, and why centuries later it still enchants the Western World with its beauty, wealth, mystery, intellectual excellence and legacy.

Written by the leading lights and most outstanding communicators in their fields, the Ladybird Expert books provide clear, accessible and authoritative introductions to subjects drawn from science, history and culture.

For an adult readership, the Ladybird Expert series is produced in the same iconic small hardback format pioneered by the original Ladybirds. Each beautifully illustrated book features the first new illustrations produced in the original Ladybird style for nearly forty years.

Living with the Gods

Neil MacGregor (Author)

A panoramic exploration of peoples, objects and beliefs over 40,000 years from the celebrated author of A History of the World in 100 Objects and Germany, following the new BBC Radio 4 documentary and British Museum exhibition. Available for pre-order now.

No society on Earth lacks beliefs about where it has come from, its place in the world, and the connection of individuals to the eternal. Neil MacGregor's dazzling new book traces how different societies have understood and articulated their place in the cosmic scheme. He brilliantly turns his kaleidoscope of objects, monuments and ideas to examining mankind's beliefs - not from the perspective of institutional religions, but by focusing on the shared narratives that have shaped our societies, and our relationships with each other.

'The new blockbuster by the museums maestro Neil MacGregor ... The man who chronicles world history through objects is back ... examining a new set of objects to explore the theme of faith in society' Sunday Times

The Accidental President

A J Baime (Author)

Heroes are often defined as ordinary characters who find themselves facing extraordinary circumstances and, through courage and a dash of luck, cement their place in history. Chosen as President Roosevelt's fourth term Vice President for his admired work ethic, good judgement and lack of enemies, Harry S. Truman was the prototypical ordinary man from small-town America. That is, until he was thrust in over his head following the sudden death of Roosevelt.

With the world still caught up in the inferno of the Second World War, Truman found himself playing the roles of both judge and jury during the founding of the UN, the Potsdam Conference, the Manhattan Project, the German surrender, the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps and the decision to drop the Bomb and bring the war to the end.

Tightly focused, meticulously researched and drawing on documentation not available to previous biographers, The Accidental President escorts readers into the situation room with Truman during this tumultuous, history-making four months - when the stakes were high and the challenges even higher . . .

Paul Sinha's History Revision: The Complete Series 1-3

Paul Sinha (Author), Paul Sinha (Read by)

In his fascinating and hilarious BBC Radio 4 stand up show, comedian and quizzer Paul Sinha shines a light on the important historical moments that you never got taught at school, and explains why so much of what you did learn is wrong. There will also, as ever, be puns.

He explains how Portugal's invasion of Morocco in 1415 led directly to the 2014 World Cup; how the 1909 launch of an Austro-Hungarian submarine prevented Dr Zhivago from winning an Oscar; and the story of the black woman who refused to give up a seat on an Alabama bus and ended up changing the law - no, it wasn't Rosa Parks.

"Sinha's gift for finding humour in it all makes him worth a listen" - The Telegraph

Paul Sinha is an acclaimed stand-up who was nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy award for his show Saint or Sinha?. He frequently appears on The News Quiz, The Now Show, and Fighting Talk, and he is a resident 'chaser' on the ITV quiz show The Chase. He wrote and starred in The Sinha Test (2011) and The Sinha Games (2012) on Radio 4 and in 2013 had his own four-part series, Paul Sinha's Citizenship Test.

Paul Sinha’s History Revision was the winner of the 2016 Rose d’Or Award for 'Best Radio Comedy'.

Written and performed by: Paul Sinha
Producer: Ed Morrish

Global Discontents

Noam Chomsky (Author) , David Barsamian (Author)

'If I were a voter in Britain, I would vote for [Jeremy Corbyn]' - Noam Chomsky, 2017

Global Discontents is an essential guide to geopolitics and how to fight back, from the world's leading public intellectual

What kind of world are we leaving to our grandchildren? How are the discontents kindled today likely to blaze and explode tomorrow?

From escalating climate change to the devastation in Syria, pandemic state surveillance to looming nuclear war, Noam Chomsky takes stock of the world today. Over the course of ten conversations with long-time collaborator David Barsamian, spanning 2013-2016, Chomsky argues in favour of radical changes to a system that cannot possibly cope with what awaits tomorrow.

Interwoven with personal reflections spanning from childhood to his eighth decade of life, Global Discontents also marks out Chomsky's own intellectual journey, mapping his progress to revolutionary ideas and global prominence.

God

Reza Aslan (Author)

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In God, Reza Aslan sheds new light on mankind’s relationship with the divine and challenges our perspective on faith and the birth of religion.

From the origins of spiritual thought to the concept of an active, engaged, divine presence that underlies all creation, Aslan examines how the idea of god arose in human evolution, was gradually personalized, endowed with human traits and emotions, and eventually transformed into a single Divine Personality: the God known today by such names as Yahweh, Father, and Allah.

Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, God challenges everything we thought we knew about the origins of religious belief, and with it our relationship with life and death, with the natural and spiritual worlds, and our understanding of the very essence of human existence.

Somme

Hugh Sebag-Montefiore (Author)

THE SUNDAY TIMES TOP 10 BESTSELLER

'The best new narrative of the battle thus far, reflecting his gifts for fluent prose and moving quotations.' Max Hastings, Sunday Times

No conflict better encapsulates all that went wrong on the Western Front during World War I than the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The tragic loss of life and stoic endurance by troops who walked towards their death is an iconic image - but this critically-acclaimed bestseller, on the four months of battle, shows the extent to which the Allied armies were in fact able to break through the German front lines again and again.

In eight years of research, Hugh Sebag-Montefiore -- the author of Dunkirk -- has found extraordinary new material from Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, and the British - from heartbreaking diaries and letters to hitherto unseen Red Cross files - recounting their experiences amid the horror of war. It has been hailed as the best book about the battle, which, though not an Allied victory, was the beginning of the slide towards German defeat.

A Short History of Drunkenness

Mark Forsyth (Author)

By the author of the Sunday Times no. 1 bestseller The Etymologicon

Almost every culture on earth has drink, and where there's drink there's drunkenness. But in every age and in every place drunkenness is a little bit different. It can be religious, it can be sexual, it can be the duty of kings or the relief of peasants. It can be an offering to the ancestors, or a way of marking the end of a day's work. It can send you to sleep, or send you into battle.

A Short History of Drunkenness traces humankind's love affair with booze from our primate ancestors through to Prohibition, answering every possible question along the way: What did people drink? How much? Who did the drinking? Of the many possible reasons, why? On the way, learn about the Neolithic Shamans, who drank to communicate with the spirit world (no pun intended), marvel at how Greeks got giddy and Romans got rat-arsed, and find out how bars in the Wild West were never quite like in the movies.

This is a history of the world at its inebriated best.

The Square and the Tower

Niall Ferguson (Author)

'Ambitious and illuminating ... the historian who more than most connects our age to its past' Evening Standard, Books of the Year
'Silicon Valley needed a history lesson and Ferguson has provided it' Eric Schmidt
'The most brilliant British historian of his generation' The Times

What if everything we thought we knew about history was wrong? From Niall Ferguson, the global bestselling author of Empire, The Ascent of Money and Civilization, this is a whole new way of imagining the world.

Most history is hierarchical: it's about popes, presidents, and prime ministers. But what if that's simply because they create the historical archives? What if we are missing equally powerful but less visible networks - leaving them to the conspiracy theorists, with their dreams of all-powerful Illuminati?

The twenty-first century has been hailed as the Networked Age. But in The Square and the Tower Niall Ferguson argues that social networks are nothing new. From the printers and preachers who made the Reformation to the freemasons who led the American Revolution, it was the networkers who disrupted the old order of popes and kings. Far from being novel, our era is the Second Networked Age, with the computer in the role of the printing press. Once we understand this, both the past, and the future, start to look very different indeed.

The Penguin Book of Modern Speeches

Brian MacArthur (Edited by) , Brian MacArthur (Author)

*FULLY REVISED AND UPDATED*

Whether it was Churchill rousing the British to take up arms or the dream of Martin Luther King, Fidel Castro inspiring the Cuban revolution or Barack Obama on Selma and the meaning of America, speeches have profoundly influenced the way we see ourselves and society.

Gathered here are some of the most extraordinary and memorable speeches of the last century - from Lenin to Reagan, Thatcher to Malala. Some are well known, others less so, but all helped form the world we now inhabit.

The Internationalists

Oona Hathaway (Author) , Scott Shapiro (Author)

'It will change the way you remember the 20th century and read the news in the 21st' Steven Pinker

'A clarion call to preserve law and order across our planet' Philippe Sands

'A fascinating and important book ... given the state of the world, The Internationalists has come along at the right moment' Margaret MacMillan, Financial Times

Since the end of the Second World War, we have moved from an international system in which war was legal, and accepted as the ultimate arbiter of disputes between nations, to one in which it was not. Nations that wage aggressive war have become outcasts and have almost always had to give up their territorial gains. How did this epochal transformation come about? This remarkable book, which combines political, legal, and intellectual history, traces the origins and course of one of the great shifts in the modern world.

'Sweeping and yet personable at the same time, The Internationalists explores the profound implications of the outlawry of war. Professors Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro enrich their analysis with vignettes of the many individuals (some unknown to most students of History) who played such important roles in this story. None have put it all together in the way that Hathaway and Shapiro have done in this book' Paul Kennedy

'In this timely, elegant and powerful book, Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro help us understand the momentous significance of the individuals who imagined an end to war. As the world stands on the cusp of a return to an earlier age, The Internationalists is a clarion call to preserve law and order across our planet' Philippe Sands

The Cold War

Odd Arne Westad (Author)

'Odd Arne Westad's daring ambition, supra-nationalist intellect, polyglot sources, masterly scholarship and trenchant analysis make The Cold War a book ofresounding importance for appraising our global future as well as understanding our past' Richard Davenport-Hines, TLS, Books of the Year

As Germany and then Japan surrendered in 1945 there was a tremendous hope that a new and much better world could be created from the moral and physical ruins of the conflict. Instead, the combination of the huge power of the USA and USSR and the near-total collapse of most of their rivals created a unique, grim new environment: the Cold War.

For over forty years the demands of the Cold War shaped the life of almost all of us. There was no part of the world where East and West did not, ultimately, demand a blind and absolute allegiance, and nowhere into which the West and East did not reach. Countries as remote from each other as Korea, Angola and Cuba were defined by their allegiances. Almost all civil wars became proxy conflicts for the superpowers. Europe was seemingly split in two indefinitely.

Arne Westad's remarkable new book is the first to have the distance from these events and the ambition to create a convincing, powerful narrative of the Cold War. The book is genuinely global in its reach and captures the dramas and agonies of a period always overshadowed by the horror of nuclear war and which, for millions of people, was not 'cold' at all: a time of relentless violence, squandered opportunities and moral failure.

This is a book of extraordinary scope and daring. It is conventional to see the first half of the 20th century as a nightmare and the second half as a reprieve. Westad shows that for much of the world the second half was by most measures even worse.

The Sceptred Isle: The Dynasties

Christopher Lee (Author) , Anna Massey (Read by)

The Sceptred Isle provided the definitive radio account of the British nation, from 55BC to the end of the 20th century. Now its attention turns towards the incredibly powerful families which have wielded power behind the scenes for the past 1,000 years. The Dynasties relates how the loyalties of this privileged elite, many of whom are older than the monarchy itself, were tested and rewarded; it also uncovers a multitude of murderous plots, bloody battles, adulteries, intrigues and shocking executions.

The first volume examines three powerful houses: The Godwines, the north-dwelling Percys and the royalist Despensers.

Volume two looks at the Mortimers, the Berkeleys and a triumvirate of warring Irish dysnasties: the Macmurroughs, the Fitzgeralds and the O'Neills.

The third volume investigates the Churchills, the Cecils and the Scottish Dalrymples.

In the fourth volume the Cavendishes appear, along with the Comptons and the Russells.

In the fifth and final volume, the families examined include the Carringtons, the Waldegraves and the Norfolks. There is also a look at the families who today continue the tradition of dynastical power at the highest levels.

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