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Are you ready for the truth about World War Two?
The Second World War is the most cataclysmic and violent sequence of events in recent times. But for the past seven decades, our understanding of it has relied upon conventional wisdom, propaganda and an interpretation skewed by the information available. James Holland has spent over twelve years conducting new research, interviewing survivors, visiting battlefields and archives that have never before been so accessible and challenging too-long-held assumptions about the war that shaped our world.
In Germany Ascendant, the first part of this ground-breaking new history, James Holland introduces the war, beginning with the lead-up to its outbreak in 1939 and taking us up to mid-1941 as the Nazis prepared to unleash Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia. To tell the real story, he weaves together the experiences of dozens of individuals, from civilians and soldiers, to sailors, pilots, leading military strategists, industrialists and heads of state, and uncovers the strategy, tactics and events that informed not only the military aspects of the war but also the economic, political, and social aspects too.
The War in the West is a truly monumental history of the war on land, in the air, and at sea. In it, James Holland has created a captivating and epic narrative which redefines and enhances our understanding of one of the most significant conflicts in history.
In the bleakest years of the Second World War when it appeared that nothing could slow the advance of the German army, Hitler set his sights on the Mediterranean island of Crete, the ideal staging ground for domination of the Middle East. But German command had not counted on the strength of the Cretan resistance or the eccentric band of British intelligence officers who would stand in their way, conducting audacious sabotage operations in the very shadow of the Nazi occupation force.
The Ariadne Objective tells the remarkable story of the secret war on Crete from the perspective of these amateur soldiers who found themselves serving because, as one of them put it, they had made 'the obsolete choice of Greek at school'. John Pendlebury, a swashbuckling archaeologist with a glass eye and a swordstick; Xan Fielding, a writer who would later produce the English translations of books like Bridge on the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes; Sandy Rendel, a future Times reporter, who prided himself on a disguise that left him looking more ragged and fierce than the Cretans he fought alongside; and Patrick Leigh Fermor, the future travel-writing luminary who, as a teenager in the early 1930s, walked across Europe, a continent already beginning to feel the effects of Hitler's rise to power.
Having infiltrated occupied Crete, these British gentleman spies teamed with Cretan partisans to carry out a cunning plan to disrupt Nazi manoeuvres, culminating in a daring, high-risk plot to abduct the island’s German commander. In this thrilling and little known episode of Second World War history, Wes Davis paints a brilliant portrait of some extraordinary characters and tells a story of triumph against all the odds.
The history of the Conservative party has, extraordinarily, rarely been written in a single volume for the general reader. There are academic multi-volume accounts and a multitude of smaller books with limited historical scope. But now, Robin Harris, Margaret Thatcher's speechwriter and party insider, has produced this authoritative but lively history book which tells the whole story and fills a gaping hole in Britain's historiographical record.
Taking as his starting point the larger than life personalities of the Conservative Party's leaders and prime ministers since its inception, Robin Harris's book also analyses the interconnected themes and issues which have dominated Conservative politics over the years. The careers of Peel, Disraeli, Salisbury, Baldwin, Chamberlain, Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Heath, Thatcher, Major, Hague and Cameron together amount to an alternative history of Britain since the early nineteenth century.
This landmark book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in history or politics, or anyone who has ever wondered how Britain came to be the nation it is today.
If the story that struck the Grand Banks off Newfoundland in October 1991 was The Perfect Storm, the fire that destroyed London in September 1666 was The Perfect Fire.
A fire needs only three things: a spark to ignite it, and the fuel and oxygen to feed it. In 1666, a ten-month drought had turned London into a tinderbox. The older parts of the city were almost entirely composed of wood-frame buildings and shanties. The riverside wharves were stack with wood, coal, oil, tallow, hemp, pitch, brandy, and almost very other combustible material known to seventeenth century man. On 2 September 1666, London ignited. Over the next five days the gale blew without interruption and the resulting firestorm destroyed the whole city.
THE DREADFUL JUDGEMENT tells the true, human story of the Great Fire of London through the eyes of the individuals caught up in it. It is a historical story combining modern knowledge of the physics of fire, forensics and arson investigation with the moving eye-witness accounts to produce a searing depiction of the terrible reality of the Great Fire of London and its impact on those who lived through it.
Published: 1 May 2012
On 5 July 1884, the yacht Mignonette set sail from Southampton bound for Sydney. Halfway through their projected one hundred and twenty day voyage, Captain Tom Dudley and his crew of three men were beset by a monstrous storm off the coast of Africa. After four days of battling towering waves and hurricane gales, their yacht was finally crushed by a ferocious forty foot wave.
The survivors were cast adrift a thousand miles from the nearest landfall in an open thirteen foot dinghy without provisions, water or shelter from the scorching sun. When, after twenty four days, they were finally rescued by a passing yacht, the Moctezuma, only three men were left and they were in an appalling condition. The ordeal that they endured and the trial which followed their eventual return to England held the whole nation - from the lowliest ship's deckhand to Queen Victoria herself - spellbound during the following winter.
This is the true story of the voyage and the subsequent court case which outlawed for ever a practice followed since men first put to the ocean in boats: the custom of the sea.
Published: 1 Sep 2009
In April 2006 a small British peace-keeping force was sent to Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. Within weeks they were cut off and besieged by some of the world's toughest fighters: the infamous Taliban, who were determined to send the foreigners home again. Defence Secretary John Reid had hoped that Operation Herrick 4 could be accomplished without a shot being fired; instead, the Army was drawn into the fiercest fighting it had seen for fifty years. Millions of bullets and thousands of lives have been expended since then in an under-publicized but bitter conflict whose end is still not in sight. Some people consider it the fourth Anglo-Afghan War since Victorian times. How on earth did this happen? And what is it like for the troops on the front line of the 'War on Terror'?
James Fergusson takes us to the dark heart of the battle zone. Here, in their own words and for the first time, are the young veterans of Herrick 4. Here, unmasked, are the civilian and military officials responsible for planning and executing the operation. Here, too, are the Taliban themselves, to whom Fergusson gained unique and extraordinary access. Controversial, fascinating and occasionally downright terrifying, A Million Bullets analyses the sorry slide into war in Helmand and asks this most troubling question: could Britain perhaps have avoided the violence altogether?
'Continual, destruction in the foretop, the pox above board, the plague between decks, hell in the forecastle and the devil at the helm.'
It is the summer of 1588, and the fate and future of England hangs in the balance. Obsessed by the dream of reclaiming England for the Catholic Church - and adding another country to his sprawling dominions - Philip II of Spain has assembled a fleet of huge, castle-crowned galleons that stretches for miles across the face of the ocean. In wait in the Netherlands lies a battle-hardened Spanish army, ferocious professionals with a taste for rape, looting and atrocity.
Across the Channel the English are scraping together bands of barely trained men, many armed only with scythes, stakes or longbows. Great warning beacons stand all along the coast of England; torches and kindling lie to hand. Watchmen strain their eyes to see over the horizon. Their only hope lies in the English Navy.
But Philip's Armada is doomed before it even leaves port. As soon as it engages with the English fleet, its shortcomings are clear in the face of superior tactics and firepower. Its hulls shot through with cannon fire, its men dying in thousands from wounds and disease, the mightiest fleet ever assembled is mercilessly harried into fleeing north, at the mercy of the elements. Over forty Spanish ships are wrecked on the Irish coast; survivors crawling ashore have their throats slit and their purses ransacked. The dream of subduing the Protestant English lies in tatters.
A triumphant combination of historical detail and storytelling flair, THE CONFIDENT HOPE OF A MIRACLE draws on undiscovered and little known personal papers and records to tell the epic story of the Spanish Armada in all its scope. No book has ever conveyed in such vivid, living detail how kings, queens and courtiers, sea captains, deckhands and galley slaves, the highest and the lowest in the land, fared in those turbulent months as the fate of England teetered on the brink.
Published: 1 Sep 2004