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Fight to the Finish

Allan Mallinson (Author)

From the opening shots to the signing of the armistice, the First World War lasted almost 52 months. It was fought on, or in the waters of, six of the seven continents, and in all of the Seven Seas. For the first time, the fighting was on land, sea and in the air. It became industrial, and unrestricted: poison gas, aerial bombing of cities, and the sinking without warning of merchantmen and passenger ships by submarines. Military and civilian casualties probably exceeded 40 million. Four empires collapsed during the course of the war – the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman. In all its military, political, geographical, economic, scientific, technological and above all human complexity, the First World War is almost impossible to comprehend. The day-by-day narratives – excellent reference books – can be dizzying for the reader trying to make sense of the whole. Freer-flowing accounts, while helping to understand the broader trends and factors, can give less of a sense of the human dimension of time. The month is a more digestible gauge. We remember months, because months have names, because they are linked to the seasons, and because they have their own character. Looking at the First World War month by month reveals its complexity while preserving the sense of time.

Based on the author’s monthly commentaries in The Times throughout the centenary, Fight to the Finish is a new and original portrait of “The War to End War.”

The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places

Neil Oliver (Author)

The British Isles, this archipelago of islands, is to Neil Oliver the best place in the world. From north to south, east to west it cradles astonishing beauty. The human story here is a million years old, and counting. But the tolerant, easygoing peace we enjoy has been hard won. We have made and known the best and worst of times. We have been hero and villain and all else in between, and we have learned some lessons.

The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places is Neil’s very personal account of what makes these islands so special, told through the places that have witnessed the unfolding of our history. Beginning with footprints made in the sand by humankind’s earliest ancestors, he takes us via Romans and Vikings, the flowering of religion, through civil war, industrial revolution and two world wars. From windswept headlands to battlefields, ancient trees to magnificent cathedrals, each of his destinations is a place where, somehow, the spirit of the past seems to linger. Beautifully written, his book is majestic, awe-inspiring, a kaleidoscopic history of a place with a story like no other.

The War in the West: A New History

James Holland (Author)

'Ranks as a towering work of historical research and writing' – Nigel Jones, BBC History Magazine


In the second volume of his acclaimed new history of the Second World War, James Holland examines the momentous turning points of 1941–1943: Hitler’s invasion of Russia; America’s entry into the conflict; the devastating Thousand Bomber Raids over Germany; the long struggle in the deserts of North Africa; and the defeat of the U-boats in the crucial Battle of the Atlantic.

As in his first volume, Germany Ascendant, he interweaves his account of the well-known events of the period with the personal stories of individuals caught up in them - on all sides. Through interviews, letters, diaries and reports, he allows us to see the war not just from the perspective of politicians, military commanders and strategists, but also through the eyes of civilians bombed out of their homes, resistance members stranded in the frozen Norwegian winter, sailors risking their lives in the Atlantic convoys, German aces striving for supremacy in the air, and ordinary soldiers battling for survival in the scorching sands of Libya.

He also looks behind the scenes at the all-important ‘machinery’ of war: the manufacturing, farming and vital supply lines that underpinned the entire conflict and ultimately determined its course. From the battle fronts on land, sea and air, to the streets, fields and factories of Britain, America and Germany, he paints a dramatic and compelling portrait of these pivotal years when the tide began to turn.

Combining his own research with only recently accessible archive material, Holland looks afresh at this cataclysmic conflict, reassessing long-held views and challenging conventional assumptions. The result is ground-breaking history that redefines the war in the West and makes us think again about the events that shaped our modern world.

Houses of Power

Simon Thurley (Author)

What was it like to live as a royal Tudor? Why were their residences built as they were and what went on inside their walls? Who slept where and with who? Who chose the furnishings? And what were their passions?

The Tudors ruled through the day, throughout the night, in the bath, in bed and in the saddle. Their palaces were genuine power houses - the nerve-centre of military operations, the boardroom for all executive decisions and the core of international politics. Houses of Power is the result of Simon Thurley's thirty years of research, picking through architectural digs, and examining financial accounts, original plans and drawings to reconstruct the great Tudor houses and understand how these monarchs shaped their lives. Far more than simply an architectural history - a study of private life as well as politics, diplomacy and court - it gives an entirely new and remarkable insight into the Tudor world.

Includes:

· Baynard’s Castle
· Bridewell Palace
· Coldharbour
· Durham Place
· Eltham Palace
· Friars’ churches at Greenwich and Richmond
· Kennington Palace
· Blackfriars
· Palace of Westminster
· Somerset Place
· St James’s Palace
· St Paul’s
· Suffolk Place
· Tower of London
· Westminster Abbey
· Whitehall Palace (formerly York Place)
· Dartford Priory
· Enfield
· Esher Place
· Hampton Court Palace
· Hanworth House
· Havering-atte-Bower
· Nonsuch Palace
· Oatlands Palace
· Richmond Palace
· Syon Monastery
· Wanstead House
· Windsor Castle
· Woking Palace
· Abingdon Abbey (now in Oxfordshire)
· Reading Abbey
· Ditton House
· Basing House
· Birling House
· Cobham Hall
· Dover Castle
· Knole
· Leeds Castle
· Otford
· Rochester Priory
· St Augustine’s Priory, Canterbury
· Westenhanger Castle
· Woodstock Palace
· Guildford Friary
· Woking House
· Cowdray House
· Petworth House
· Beaulieu (formerly New Hall)
· Ingatestone Hall
· Ruckholt Manor
· Ewelme Manor
· Thornbury Castle
· Wolfhall
· Loughborough Hall
· Burghley House
· Collyweston House
· Fotheringay Castle
· Grafton Manor
· Nottingham Castle
· Ludlow Castle
· Kenilworth Castle
· Royal House, Langley
· Tickenhill Manor
· Ampthill House
· Ashridge Priory
· Berkhampstead Castle
· Hatfield House
· Hitchin
· Hundson House
· Manor of the More
· Theobalds House
· Tyttenhanger House
· Kenninghall Place
· Hengrave Hall
· Newcastle
· Warkworth Castle
· Hull Manor
· Middleham Castle
· Pontefract Castle
· York Abbey

Fred Dibnah - Made in Britain

David Hall (Author)

In 2004, after felling his last chimney and retiring from steeplejacking, Fred took to the road on his engine for the BBC series Made in Britain. Travelling the length and breadth of the country, his intention was to seek out the remarkable achievements of the craftsmen, engineers, inventors and industrial workers whose endeavour made engines like Fred's possible. It was a journey that took him to Britain's most iconic engineering marvels as well as less familiar sites: from the Forth Bridge and the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge to Europe's last deep-working iron ore mine in Cumbria and a local castings workshop in Bo'ness. Along the way he called in on numerous old friends and even managed to squeeze in a trip to Buckingham Palace to collect his MBE.

This behind-the-scenes account of that ambitious journey is made all the more remarkable by Fred's heroic efforts to complete it while suffering from terminal cancer. It is not only a glorious testament to our nation's industrial achievements but also a story of the friendships, unfailing courage and determination of the nation's favourite steeplejack.

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