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In 1918, the RAF was established as the world's first independent air force. To mark the 100th anniversary of its creation, Penguin are publishing the Centenary Collection, a series of six classic books highlighting the skill, heroism esprit de corps that have characterised the Royal Air Force throughout its first century.
Two months before the outbreak of the Second World War, eighteen-year-old Geoffrey Wellum becomes a fighter pilot with the RAF...
Desperate to get in the air, he makes it through basic training to become the youngest Spitfire pilot in the prestigious 92 Squadron. Thrust into combat almost immediately, Wellum finds himself flying several sorties a day, caught up in terrifying dogfights with German Me 109s.
Over the coming months he and his fellow pilots play a crucial role in the Battle of Britain. But of the friends that take to the air alongside Wellum many never return.
The Centenary Collection:
1. The Last Enemy by Richard Hillary
2. Tumult in the Clouds by James Goodson
3. Going Solo by Roald Dahl
4. First Light by Geoffrey Wellum
5. Tornado Down by John Peters & John Nichol
6. Immediate Response by Mark Hammond
'DESERVES TO JOIN REACH FOR THE SKY AND THE LAST ENEMY AS ONE OF THE GREAT RAF BOOKS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR' - ANDREW ROBERTS
As I write, I can clearly recall the stinging heat of aburning Blenheim, smells, tastes, expressions, sounds of voices and, most ofall, fear gripping deep in me.
Flying Officer Alastair Panton was just twenty-three when his squadron deployed across the Channel in the defence of France. They were desparate days.
Pushed back to the beaches as the German blitzkrieg rolled through the Low Countries and into France, by June 4th 1940 the evacuation ofthe Allies from Dunkirk was complete. A little over two weeks later France surrendered.
Flying vital, dangerous, low-level missions throughout the campaign in support of the troops on the ground, Panton's beloved but unarmed Bristol Blenheim was easy meat for the marauding Messerschmitts. At the height of fighting he was losing two of his small squadron's crews to the enemy every day.
Discovered in a box by his grandchildren after his death in 2002, Alastair Panton's Six Weeks of Blenheim Summer is a lostclassic. One of the most moving, vivid and powerful accounts of war inthe air ever written. And an unforgettable testament to the courage, stoicism, camaraderie and humanity of Britain's greatest generation.
'THE BEST ACCOUNT OF THE CHAOS AND CONFUSION OF WAR OUTSIDE THE PAGES OF EVELYN WAUGH' BORIS JOHNSON
'ONE CAN'T HELP FEELING AWE AND REVERENCE. THERE ARE ENOUGH ADVENTURES HERE FOR A LIFETIME'
LOUIS DE BERNIERES
'SIMPLY WONDERFUL. ONE OF THE BEST ACCOUNTS OF WWII I HAVE EVER READ'
The shocking true story of the first British politician to stand trial for murder
Behind oak-panelled doors in the House of Commons, men with cut-glass accents and gold signet rings are conspiring to murder. It's the late 1960s and homosexuality has only just been legalised, and Jeremy Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal party, has a secret he's desperate to hide. As long as Norman Scott, his beautiful, unstable lover is around, Thorpe's brilliant career is at risk. With the help of his fellow politicians, Thorpe schemes, deceives, embezzles - until he can see only one way to silence Scott for good.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE 2018
TLS BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2017
'Generous and empathetic ... opens up postwar migration in all its richness' Sukhdev Sandhu, Guardian
'Groundbreaking, sophisticated, original, open-minded ... essential reading for anyone who wants to understand not only the transformation of British society after the war but also its character today' Piers Brendon, Literary Review
'Lyrical, full of wise and original observations' David Goodhart, The Times
The battered and exhausted Britain of 1945 was desperate for workers - to rebuild, to fill the factories, to make the new NHS work. From all over the world and with many motives, thousands of individuals took the plunge. Most assumed they would spend just three or four years here, sending most of their pay back home, but instead large numbers stayed - and transformed the country.
Drawing on an amazing array of unusual and surprising sources, Clair Wills' wonderful new book brings to life the incredible diversity and strangeness of the migrant experience. She introduces us to lovers, scroungers, dancers, homeowners, teachers, drinkers, carers and many more to show the opportunities and excitement as much as the humiliation and poverty that could be part of the new arrivals' experience. Irish, Bengalis, West Indians, Poles, Maltese, Punjabis and Cypriots battled to fit into an often shocked Britain and, to their own surprise, found themselves making permanent homes. As Britain picked itself up again in the 1950s migrants set about changing life in their own image, through music, clothing, food, religion, but also fighting racism and casual and not so casual violence.
Lovers and Strangers is an extremely important book, one that is full of enjoyable surprises, giving a voice to a generation who had to deal with the reality of life surrounded by 'white strangers' in their new country.
Discover the hidden corners and forgotten crevices of Britain's landscapes, from lost rural treasures to unseen urban gems.
Landscapes reflect and shape our behaviour. They make us who we are and bear witness to the shifting patterns of human life over the generations.
Bringing to bear a lifetime's digging, archaeologist Francis Pryor delves into Britain's hidden urban and rural landscapes, from Whitby Abbey to the navvy camp at Risehill in Cumbria, from Tintagel to Tottenham's Broadwater Farm. Through fields, woods, moors, roads, tracks and towns, he reveals the stories of our physical surroundings and what they meant to the people who formed them, used them and lived in them. These landscapes, he stresses, are our common physical inheritance. If we can understand how to make them yield up their secrets, it will help us, their guardians, to maintain and shape them for future generations.
Part of the Penguin Monarchs series: short, fresh, expert accounts of England's rulers in a collectible format
In the popular imagination, as in her portraits, Elizabeth I is the image of monarchical power. The Virgin Queen ruled over a Golden Age: the Spanish Armada was defeated and England's enemies scattered; English explorers reached almost to the ends of the earth; a new Church of England rose from the ashes of past conflict, and the English Renaissance bloomed in the genius of Shakespeare, Spenser and Sidney. But the image is also armour.
In this illuminating new account of Elizabeth's reign, Helen Castor shows how England's iconic queen was shaped by profound and enduring insecurity-an insecurity which was both a matter of practical political reality and personal psychology. From her precarious upbringing at the whim of a brutal, capricious father and her perilous accession after his death, to the religious division that marred her state and the failure to marry that threatened her line, Elizabeth lived under constant threat. But, facing down her enemies with a compellingly inscrutable public persona, the last and greatest of the Tudor monarchs would become a timeless, fearless queen.
The Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller on India's experience of British colonialism, by the internationally-acclaimed author and diplomat Shashi Tharoor
'Tharoor's impassioned polemic slices straight to the heart of the darkness that drives all empires ... laying bare the grim, and high, cost of the British Empire for its former subjects. An essential read' Financial Times
In the eighteenth century, India's share of the world economy was as large as Europe's. By 1947, after two centuries of British rule, it had decreased six-fold. The Empire blew rebels from cannon, massacred unarmed protesters, entrenched institutionalised racism, and caused millions to die from starvation.
British imperialism justified itself as enlightened despotism for the benefit of the governed, but Shashi Tharoor takes demolishes this position, demonstrating how every supposed imperial 'gift' - from the railways to the rule of law - was designed in Britain's interests alone. He goes on to show how Britain's Industrial Revolution was founded on India's deindustrialisation, and the destruction of its textile industry.
In this bold and incisive reassessment of colonialism, Tharoor exposes to devastating effect the inglorious reality of Britain's stained Indian legacy.
Jonathan Swift was a man of contradictions: a man who satirized the powerful but aspired to political greatness, who mocked men's vanity but held himself in high esteem, a religious moralizer famed for his malice - a man sharply aware of humanity's flaws, but no less susceptible to them.
As with his acclaimed biography of John Donne, John Stubbs paints a vivid portrait of an extraordinary man and a turbulent period of English and Irish history.
*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 fourteenth century was a time of fabled crusades and chivalry, glittering cathedrals and grand castles. It was also a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague.
Here, Barbara Tuchman masterfully reveals the two contradictory images of the age, examining the great rhythms of history and the grain and texture of domestic life as it was lived: what childhood was like; what marriage meant; how money, taxes and war dominated the lives of serf, noble and clergy alike.
Granting her subjects their loyalties, treacheries and guilty passions, Tuchman recreates the lives of proud cardinals, university scholars, grocers and clerks, saints and mystics, lawyers and mercenaries, and, above all, knights. The result is an astonishing reflection of medieval Europe, a historical tour de force.
Edward VI died a teenager in 1553, yet his brief reign would shape the future of the nation, unleashing a Protestant revolution that propelled England into the heart of the Reformation. This dramatic account takes a fresh look at one of the most significant and turbulent periods in English history.
'A challenging, elegant and persuasive biography of an unjustly neglected king' Jerry Brotton, author of This Orient Isle
'MacCulloch puts the young Edward at the centre of the action ... as this excellent and lively study shows, his ghost continues to haunt the history of Anglicanism' Sunday Times
'This is Reformation history as it should be written, not least because it resembles its subject matter: learned, argumentative, and, even when mistaken, never dull' Eamon Duffy, author of The Stripping of the Altars
'One of the best historians writing in English today' Sunday Telegraph
THE SUNDAY TIMES TOP 10 BESTSELLER AND THE FIRST AUTHORITATIVE ACCOUNT FOR 30 YEARS.
'By far the clearest book ever written about the Holocaust, and also the best at explaining its origins and grotesque mentality, as well as its chaotic development' Antony Beevor
'Groundbreaking. You might have thought that we know everything there is to know about the Holocaust but this book proves there is much more' Andrew Roberts, Mail on Sunday
Two fundamental questions about the Holocaust must be answered:
How did it happen? And why?
More completely than any other single work of history yet published, Laurence Rees's Holocaust definitively answers them.
'With The Holocaust Rees has set himself the task of writing an accessible chronological account of the murder of six million Jews in conditions of scarcely imaginable horror. He's done it excellently. There is no shortage of books on the Holocaust but Rees's stands out as a readable and authoritative exposition of how and why it happened, and the barbarous methods by which it was pursued. The amount of ground it covers in 500 pages is remarkable - from the anti-Semitism of popular German literature of the 19th century to Hitler's suicide and the surrender of his regime. It's excellently written and skilfully interweaves narrative history, sound interpretation and the recollections (through interviews, listed in the notes as "previously unpublished testimony") of survivors. Rees provides an exemplary account of how the greatest crime in modern history came about' The Times
'Rees has distilled 25 years of research into this compelling study, the finest single-volume account of the Holocaust. It is not a book for the faint-hearted. Some of the first-hand testimony is both shocking and heart-rending. Yet it has important things to say about human nature - what our species is capable of doing if not prevented by civilized laws - and demands to be read' Saul David, Telegraph
'Anyone wanting a compelling, highly readable explanation of how and why the Holocaust happened, drawing on recent scholarship and impressively incorporating moving and harrowing interviews need look no further than Laurence Rees's brilliant book' Professor Ian Kershaw, bestselling author of Hitler
The Reformation which engulfed England and Europe in the sixteenth century was one of the most highly-charged, bloody and transformative periods in their history, and has remained one of the most contested. In this dazzling book, Diarmaid MacCulloch explores a turbulent and endlessly fascinating era.
'A masterly take on the Reformation ... absorbing and compelling, full of insights' Linda Hogan, Irish Times
'One of our very best public historians ... as this collection triumphantly confirms, MacCulloch writes authoritatively and engagingly on a remarkably diverse range of topics in the history of Christian culture' Peter Marshall, Literary Review
'Written with elegance and sometimes donnish wit ... he wears his learning lightly' Robert Tombs, The Times
'Dazzling ... prodigiously learned ... MacCulloch has a gift for explaining complicated things simply' Jack Scarisbrick, Catholic Herald
*20th anniversary edition featuring a new afterword*
Glamour. Duty. Tragedy: The Woman Behind the Princess.
Sarah Bradford delivers an authoritative and explosive study of the greatest icon of the twentieth century: Diana.
After more than a decade interviewing those closest to the Princess and her select circle, Sarah Bradford exposes the real Diana: the blighted childhood, the old-fashioned courtship which saw her capture the Prince of Wales, the damage caused by the spectre of Camilla Parker Bowles, through to the collapse of the royal marriage and Diana's final and complicated year as single woman.
Diana paints an honest portrait of a woman riddled with contradictions and whose vulnerability and unique empathy with the suffering made her one of the most extraordinary figures of the modern age.
How one man's mad mission became one of the best-loved places in the world
The creation of London Zoo - when only one other existed across the world - is a story of jaw-dropping audacity. It is the story of trailblazing scientists, rival keepers and aristocratic naturalists collecting amazing animals from all around the world - and sending them to what was dubbed "the ark" by the mocking press.
Telling this almost unbelievable true story, Isobel Charman depicts a highly colourful but often forgotten moment in cultural history, through the eyes of incredible characters both famous and unfamiliar - from Stamford Raffles, Lord Stanley and a young Charles Darwin, to the chief competitor, the medical attendant and the head keeper.
And then there are the animals! Based on unprecedented research, Charman describes Tommy the Chimpanzee who lived, homesick, in his keeper's house; the giraffes that walked through the city and scared the cows; and Obaysch the celebrity hippo, the first that anyone in Britain had ever seen.
Against a background of domestic reform and industrialisation, this is the thoroughly refreshing story of the weird and wonderful oasis at the heart of an global empire. It's a new history of a new world.
'Thrilling, tremendously enjoyable' The New York Times
'A nail-biting escape story' Financial Times
At the age of twenty-four, Winston Churchill already believed he was destined for greatness. This is the incredible story of how one incredible year in Churchill's life - an adventure involving war in South Africa, imprisonment, endurance and escape - would be the making of one of the most extraordinary men in history.
'Few can match the originality and narrative power of Candice Millard's elegantly written and surprisingly revealing account of the young Churchill's exploits' Saul David, Daily Telegraph
'A thrilling account ... This book is an awesome nail-biter and top-notch character study rolled into one' Jennifer Senior, The New York Times, Books of the Year
Gripping ... thrilling ... Millard tells it with gusto ... casts an interestingly oblique light on Churchill's personality, and on a traumatic war' Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Observer, Books of the Year
'Completely engrossing' Andrew Roberts
'A breathtaking, magisterial panorama, telling the epic story of post-war anarchy, dying empires and rising nation states. It makes us rethink our understanding of Europe's twentieth century' David Motadel, The Times Literary Supplement
For the Western allies 11 November 1918 has always been a solemn date - the end of fighting which had destroyed a generation, and also a vindication of a terrible sacrifice with the total collapse of their principal enemies: the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. But for much of the rest of Europe this was a day with no meaning, as a continuing, nightmarish series of conflicts engulfed country after country. In this highly original, gripping book Robert Gerwarth asks us to think again about the true legacy of the First World War.
'Lucid, incisive and packed with fascinating details' Financial Times, Books of the Year
'Important and timely ... obliges us to reconsider a period and a battlefront that has too often been neglected' Margaret MacMillan, The New York Times Review of Books
'This narrative of continent-wide chaos performs a valuable service by chronicling the postwar turmoil of Europe ... helps us understand why few wars reach tidy conclusions' Max Hastings, Sunday Times
'Reminds us, in vivid and often shocking detail, that only some countries saw killing end on the 11th day of the 11th month ... leaves a sense of foreboding for our own time' Robert Tombs, The Times
'Dazzling ... a trenchant, provocative account of the intimate relations of Britain and Europe and how each shaped the other' Prospect Magazine
'Elegant, refreshing and wide-ranging ... this is essentially a brief history of the UK but a deliciously different one' Literary Review
Britain has always had a tangled, complex, paradoxical role in Europe's history. It has invaded and been invaded, changed sides, stood aloof, acted with both brazen cynicism and the cloudiest idealism. Every century troops from the British isles have marched across the mainland in pursuit of a great complex of different goals, foremost among them the intertwined defence of parliamentary liberty in Britain and the 'Liberties of Europe'. Dynastically Britain has been closely linked to countries as varied as Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and France.
In this bracing and highly enjoyable book, Brendan Simms describes the highlights and low-points in the Euro-British encounter, from the Dark Ages to the present. The critical importance of understanding this history is shown in the final chapter, which dramatizes the issues around British relations with the European Union. Britain's Europe is a vital intervention for our times.
WINNER OF THE CUNDHILL HISTORY PRIZE 2017
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOLFSON HISTORY PRIZE 2017, THE PUSHKIN HOUSE RUSSIAN BOOK PRIZE 2017 AND THE LONGMAN-HISTORY TODAY BOOK PRIZE 2017
THE TIMES, SPECTATOR, BBC HISTORY and TLS BOOKS OF THE YEAR
'Masterful, gripping ... filled with astonishing, vivid and heartbreaking stories of crime and punishment, of redemption, love and terrifying violence. It has an amazing cast of despots, murderers, whores and heroes. It's a wonderful read' Simon Sebag Montefiore
It was known as 'the vast prison without a roof'. From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the Russian Revolution, the tsarist regime exiled more than one million prisoners and their families beyond the Ural Mountains to Siberia.
The House of the Dead, brings to life both the brutal realities of an inhuman system and the tragic and inspiring fates of those who endured it. This is the vividly told history of common criminals and political radicals, the victims of serfdom and village politics, the wives and children who followed husbands and fathers, and of fugitives and bounty-hunters.
The tsars looked on Siberia as creating the ultimate political quarantine from the contagions of revolution. Generations of rebels - republicans, nationalists and socialists - were condemned to oblivion thousands of kilometres from European Russia. Over the nineteenth century, however, these political exiles transformed Siberia's mines, prisons and remote settlements into an enormous laboratory of revolution.
This masterly work of original research taps a mass of almost unknown primary evidence held in Russian and Siberian archives to tell the epic story both of Russia's struggle to govern its monstrous penal colony and Siberia's ultimate, decisive impact on the political forces of the modern world.
'An absolutely fascinating book, rich in fact and anecdote.' - David Aaronovitch
'A splendid example of academic scholarship for a public audience. Yet even though he is an impressively calm and sober narrator, the injustices and atrocities pile up on every page.' - Dominic Sandbrook
'A superb, colourful history of Siberian exile under the tsars' - The Times
SHORTLISTED FOR THE LONGMAN - HISTORY TODAY PRIZE 2017
'An energetic, ambitious, provocative work by a young historian of notable gifts, which deserves a wide readership' Max Hastings, The Sunday Times
'Bold and breathtaking... I have never read a more daringly panoramic survey of the period' Jonathan Wright, Herald Scotland
The most terrible emergency in Britain's history, the Second World War required an unprecedented national effort. An exhausted country had to fight an unexpectedly long war and found itself much diminished amongst the victors. Yet the outcome of the war was nonetheless a triumph, not least for a political system that proved well adapted to the demands of a total conflict and for a population who had to make many sacrifices but who were spared most of the horrors experienced in the rest of Europe.
Britain's War is a narrative of these epic events, an analysis of the myriad factors that shaped military success and failure, and an explanation of what the war tells us about the history of modern Britain. As compelling on the major military events as he is on the experience of ordinary people living through exceptional times, Todman suffuses his extraordinary book with a vivid sense of a struggle which left nobody unchanged - and explores why, despite terror, separation and deprivation, Britons were overwhelmingly willing to pay the price of victory.
This volume begins with the coronation of George VI and ends with the disasters in the Far East in December 1941. A second volume will tell the story from 1942 to Indian independence in 1947.