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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.

Nelson: Battle of The Nile

Sam Willis (Author)

Part of the new Ladybird Expert series Nelson: Battle of the Nile is an accessible and authoritative introduction to the naval battle in that established Nelson's fame.

Written by historian, archaeologist, and broadcaster Sam Willis, Nelson: Battle of the Nile details the British Royal Navy's glorious defeat of the French naval expedition, thwarting Napoleon's plans to invade Egypt jeopardising Britain's trade routes and stake in India.

You'll learn how the roots of this significant battle lie in the French Revolution, track Napoleon's rise to prominence and the effect of France's move from revolution to dictatorship on the balance of power in Europe. This book will take you though the dramatic turning points of the battle and Nelson's celebrated tactical leadership.

The only way to stop Napoleon seemed to be at sea, and although Britain claimed victory in Aboukir Bay, the war was far from over.

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.

A Short History of Europe

Simon Jenkins (Author)

The first short, single-volume history of the continent, from the author of the bestselling A Short History of England

Europe is an astonishingly successful place. In this dazzling new history, bestselling author Simon Jenkins grippingly tells the story of its evolution from warring peoples to peace, wealth and freedom - a story that twists and turns from Greece and Rome, through the Dark Ages, the Reformation and the French Revolution, to the Second World War and up to the present day.

Jenkins takes in leaders from Julius Caesar and Joan of Arc, to Wellington and Angela Merkel, as well as cultural figures from Aristotle to Shakespeare and Picasso. He brings together the transformative forces and dominant eras into one chronological tale - all with his usual insight, colour and authority.

Despite the importance of Europe's politics, economy and culture, there has not been - until now - a concise book to tell this story. Covering the key events, themes and individuals, Jenkins' portrait of the continent could not be more timely - or masterful.

'Full of stand-out facts ... absolutely fascinating' - Richard Bacon, BBC Radio 2, on 'A Short History of England'

'Masterly, perhaps a masterpiece' - Independent, Books of the Year on England's Thousand Best Churches

'Jenkins is, like all good guides, more than simply informative: he can be courteous and rude, nostalgic and funny, elegant, convincing and relaxed' - Adam Nicolson on 'England's Thousand Best Houses', Evening Standard

'Full of the good judgements one might hope for from such a sensible and readable commentator, and they alone are worth perusing for pleasure and food for thought' - Michael Wood on 'A Short History of England', New Statesman

'Any passably cultured inhabitant of the British Isles should ask for, say, three or four copies of this book' - Max Hastings on 'England's Thousand Best Houses', Sunday Telegraph

A Political History of the World

Jonathan Holslag (Author)

A three-thousand year history of the world that examines the causes of war and the search for peace

In three thousand years of history, China has spent at least eleven centuries at war. The Roman Empire was in conflict during at least 50 per cent of its lifetime. Since 1776, the United States has spent over one hundred years at war. The dream of peace has been universal in the history of humanity. So why have we so rarely been able to achieve it?

In A Political History of the World, Jonathan Holslag has produced a sweeping history of the world, from the Iron Age to the present, that investigates the causes of conflict between empires, nations and peoples and the attempts at diplomacy and cosmopolitanism. A birds-eye view of three thousand years of history, the book illuminates the forces shaping world politics from Ancient Egypt to the Han Dynasty, the Pax Romana to the rise of Islam, the Peace of Westphalia to the creation of the United Nations.

This truly global approach enables Holslag to search for patterns across different eras and regions, and explore larger questions about war, diplomacy, and power. Has trade fostered peace? What are the limits of diplomacy? How does environmental change affect stability? Is war a universal sin of power? At a time when the threat of nuclear war looms again, this is a much-needed history intended for students of international politics, and anyone looking for a background on current events.

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

Letters to Change the World

Travis Elborough (Edited by)

Letters that have made, and still can make, the world a better place

In an era where the liberties we often take for granted are under threat, Letters To Change the World is a beautifully produced collection of inspiring letters – some private and some open - that offer reminders from history that standing up for and voicing our personal and political beliefs is a crucial right and a duty if we want to change the world.

From Abraham Lincoln and Emmeline Pankhurst through to Obama and Malala, many are penned by major figures from the world stage, others by ordinary citizens caught up in the stream of history in their pursuit of what’s right.

The letters, each briefly introduced to give its full historical context, cover every modern political and social cause and give a sense of the struggles of the past with the intimate first-hand access that only letters allow.

The collection includes George Orwell’s warning on totalitarianism, Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Albert Camus on the reasons to fight a war, Bertrand Russell on being a conscientious objector, Emmeline Pankhurst rallying her suffragettes, Nelson Mandela’s letters home to his children from prison and Obama’s letter to his daughters on Inauguration.

Endeavour

Peter Moore (Author)

The Enlightenment was an age of endeavours. From Johnson’s Dictionary to campaigns for liberty to schemes for measuring the dimensions of the solar system, Britain was consumed by the impulse for grand projects, undertaken at speed. ‘Endeavour’ was also the name given to a Whitby collier bought by the Royal Navy in 1768 for an expedition to the South Seas. A commonplace, coal-carrying vessel, no one could have guessed that Endeavour would go on to become the most significant ship in the history of British exploration.

Endeavour famously carried James Cook on his first great voyage, visiting Pacific islands unknown to European geography, charting for the first time New Zealand and the eastern coast of Australia and almost foundering on the Great Barrier Reef. But Endeavour has a secret history too. She was there at the Wilkes Riots in London in 1768. During the battles for control of New York in 1776 she witnessed the bloody birth of the United States of America. As well as carrying botanists, a Polynesian priest and the remains of the first kangaroo to arrive in Britain, she transported Newcastle coal and Hessian soldiers. According to Charles Darwin, she helped Cook add a hemisphere to the civilised world. NASA named a space shuttle after her. To others she would be a toxic symbol, responsible for the dispossession of the oldest continuous human society and the disruption of many others.

No one has ever told Endeavour’s complete story before. Peter Moore sets out to explore the different lives of this remarkable ship, from the acorn that grew into the oak that made her, to her rich and complex legacy.

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)

'I have long been a fan of David Christian. In Origin Story, he elegantly weaves evidence and insights from many scientific and historical disciplines into a single, accessible historical narrative' Bill Gates

This is the epic story of the universe and our place in it, from 13.8 billion years ago to the remote future

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.

Football in Sun and Shadow

Eduardo Galeano (Author)

'Football is a pleasure that hurts'

This unashamedly emotional history of football is a homage to the romance and drama, spectacle and passion of a 'great pagan mass'. Through stories of superstition, heartbreak, tragedy, luck, heroes and villains, those who lived for football and those who died for it, Eduardo Galeano celebrates the glory of a game that - however much the rich and powerful try to control it - still retains its magic.

'The Uruguayan whose writing got right to the heart of football ... readers were never in doubt of the warmth of the blood running through his veins' Guardian

'Galeano can run rings round our glamorous football intelligentsia' When Saturday Comes

'Stands out like Pele on a field of second-stringers' New Yorker

The Road to Unfreedom

Timothy Snyder (Author)

'A brilliant and disturbing analysis, which should be read by anyone wishing to understand the political crisis currently engulfing the world' YUVAL NOAH HARARI, author of SAPIENS


The past is another country, the old saying goes. The same might be said of the future. But which country? For Europeans and Americans today, the answer is Russia.

Today's Russia is an oligarchy propped up by illusions and repression. But it also represents the fulfilment of tendencies already present in the West. And if Moscow's drive to dissolve Western states and values succeeds, this could become our reality too.

In this visionary work of contemporary history, Timothy Snyder shows how Russia works within the West to destroy the West; by supporting the far right in Europe, invading Ukraine in 2014, and waging a cyberwar during the 2016 presidential campaign and the EU referendum. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the creation of Donald Trump, an American failure deployed as a Russian weapon.

But this threat presents an opportunity to better understand the pillars of our freedoms, confront our own complacency and seek renewal. History never ends, and this new challenge forces us to face the choices that will determine the future: equality or oligarchy, individualism or totalitarianism, truth or lies.

The Road to Unfreedom helps us to see our world as if for the first time. It is necessary reading for any citizen of a democracy.

Money

Yuval Noah Harari (Author)


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

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.

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 ALL-NEW Ladybird Expert series.

Learn about the fall of Europe in the Second World War in one of the most successful military strategies of modern warfare in this accessible, insightful and authoritative account.

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.

You'll find out how Hitler quickly turned Germany into a war machine: the recruitment of key allies, control over German media, the significance of Poland and military attitudes towards the power of Germany's armies.

Inside, you'll discover . . .

- Why the Germans allied with the Soviet Union
- Why it was so easy for Germany to invade Poland
- The propaganda war in Germany, France and Britain
- Why the German approach to war was called Bewegungskrieg
- The power of radio
- And much more . . .

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 ALL-NEW Ladybird Expert series.

Learn about Timbuktu, in this clear and authoritative introduction to the place considered to be 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 encounter the Mali Empire in its golden age, teeming with riches, scholars and trades. Its history steeped in magicians, epic wars, story-tellers and missing ships. You'll learn what made Timbuktu so notorious and irresistible to Europe, and why centuries later it still enchants the Western World with its beauty, wealth, mystery, intellectual excellence and legacy.

Inside you'll discover . . .

- The significance of The River Niger
- The great advantages in the introduction of camels
- The birth of Mali
- The connections between Islam and the Mali Empire
- How the libraries give vivid access to the medieval African perspective
- And much more . . .

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.

The Accidental President

A J Baime (Author)

The remarkable story of President Harry Truman's first four months in office when this unlikely, small-town, Washington outsider had to take on Germany, Japan, Stalin and the atomic bomb, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance - one of the most extraordinary challenges in American presidential history.

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 . . .

Age of Anger

Pankaj Mishra (Author)

LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE 2018

NEW STATESMAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2017

'The kind of vision the world needs right now...Pankaj Mishra shouldn't stop thinking' Christopher de Bellaigue, Financial Times

'This is the most astonishing, convincing, and disturbing book I've read in years' Joe Sacco

'Urgent, profound and extraordinarily timely' John Banville

How can we explain the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world - from American 'shooters' and ISIS to Trump, from a rise in vengeful nationalism across the world to racism and misogyny on social media? In Age of Anger, Pankaj Mishra answers our bewilderment by casting his gaze back to the eighteenth century, before leading us to the present.

He shows that as the world became modern those who were unable to fulfil its promises - freedom, stability and prosperity - were increasingly susceptible to demagogues. The many who came late to this new world or were left, or pushed, behind, reacted in horrifyingly similar ways: intense hatred of invented enemies, attempts to re-create an imaginary golden age, and self-empowerment through spectacular violence. It was from among the ranks of the disaffected that the militants of the 19th century arose - angry young men who became cultural nationalists in Germany, messianic revolutionaries in Russia, bellicose chauvinists in Italy, and anarchist terrorists internationally.

Today, just as then, the wider embrace of mass politics, technology, and the pursuit of wealth and individualism has cast many more millions adrift in a literally demoralized world, uprooted from tradition but still far from modernity - with the same terrible results

Making startling connections and comparisons, Age of Anger is a book of immense urgency and profound argument. It is a history of our present predicament unlike any other.

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.

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