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Six Minutes in May

Nicholas Shakespeare (Author)

*** Selected as a 2017 Book of the Year in the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Observer and The Economist ***

‘A gripping story of Churchill’s unlikely rise to power’ Observer

London, May 1940. Britain is under threat of invasion and Neville Chamberlain’s government is about to fall. It is hard for us to imagine the Second World War without Winston Churchill taking the helm, but in Six Minutes in May Nicholas Shakespeare shows how easily events could have gone in a different direction.

It took just six minutes for MPs to cast the votes that brought down Chamberlain. Shakespeare moves from Britain’s disastrous battle in Norway, for which many blamed Churchill, on to the dramatic developments in Westminster that led to Churchill becoming Prime Minister. Uncovering fascinating new research and delving into the key players’ backgrounds, Shakespeare gives us a new perspective on this critical moment in our history.

‘Totally captivating. It will stand as the best account of those extraordinary few days for very many years’
Andrew Roberts

‘Superbly written… Shakespeare has a novelist’s flair for depicting the characters and motives of men’
The Times

‘Utterly wonderful… It reads like a thriller’
Peter Frankopan

The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain

Ian Mortimer (Author)

The past is a foreign country: this is your guidebook.

If you could travel back in time, the period from 1660 to 1700 would make one of the most exciting destinations in history. It is the age of Samuel Pepys and the Great Fire of London; bawdy comedy and the libertine court of Charles II — the civil wars are over and a magnificent new era has begun.

But what would it really be like to live in Restoration Britain? Where would you stay and what would you eat? How much should you pay for one of those elaborate wigs? Should you trust a physician who advises you to drink fresh cow’s urine to cure your gout? Why are boys made to smoke in school? And why are you unlikely to get a fair trial in court?

The third volume in the series of Ian Mortimer’s bestselling Time Traveller’s Guides answers these crucial questions and encourages us to reflect on the customs and practices of daily life. This unique guide not only teaches us about the seventeenth century but makes us look with fresh eyes at the modern world.

The Catholics

Roy Hattersley (Author)

The story of Catholicism in Britain from the Reformation to the present day, from a master of popular history – 'A first-class storyteller' The Times

Throughout the three hundred years that followed the Act of Supremacy – which, by making Henry VIII head of the Church, confirmed in law the breach with Rome – English Catholics were prosecuted, persecuted and penalised for the public expression of their faith. Even after the passing of the emancipation acts Catholics were still the victims of institutionalised discrimination.

The first book to tell the story of the Catholics in Britain in a single volume, The Catholics includes much previously unpublished information. It focuses on the lives, and sometimes deaths, of individual Catholics – martyrs and apostates, priests and laymen, converts and recusants. It tells the story of the men and women who faced the dangers and difficulties of being what their enemies still call ‘Papists’. It describes the laws which circumscribed their lives, the political tensions which influenced their position within an essentially Anglican nation and the changes in dogma and liturgy by which Rome increasingly alienated their Protestant neighbours – and sometime even tested the loyalty of faithful Catholics.

The survival of Catholicism in Britain is the triumph of more than simple faith. It is the victory of moral and spiritual unbending certainty. Catholicism survives because it does not compromise. It is a characteristic that excites admiration in even a hardened atheist.

A Bold and Dangerous Family

Caroline Moorehead (Author)

SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD

Mussolini was not only ruthless: he was subtle and manipulative. Black-shirted thugs did his dirty work for him: arson, murder, destruction of homes and offices, bribes and intimidation. His opponents – including editors, union representatives, lawyers and judges – were beaten into submission. But the tide turned in 1924 when his assassins went too far, horror spread across Italy, and antifascist resistance was born. Among those whose disgust hardened into bold and uncompromising resistance was a family from Florence: Amelia, Carlo and Nello Rosselli. Caroline Moorehead draws readers into the lives of this remarkable family – their loves, their loyalties, their laughter and their ultimate sacrifice.

Mansions of Misery

Jerry White (Author)

For Londoners of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, debt was a part of everyday life. But when your creditors lost their patience, you might be thrown into one of the capital’s most notorious jails: the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison.

In Mansions of Misery, acclaimed chronicler of the capital Jerry White introduces us to the Marshalsea’s unfortunate prisoners – rich and poor; men and women; spongers, fraudsters and innocents. We get to know the trumpeter John Grano who wined and dined with the prison governor and continued to compose music whilst other prisoners were tortured and starved to death. We meet the bare-knuckle fighter known as the Bold Smuggler, who fell on hard times after being beaten by the Chelsea Snob. And then there’s Joshua Reeve Lowe, who saved Queen Victoria from assassination in Hyde Park in 1820, but whose heroism couldn’t save him from the Marshalsea. Told through these extraordinary lives, Mansions of Misery gives us a fascinating and unforgettable cross-section of London life from the early 1700s to the 1840s.

The Model Occupation

Madeleine Bunting (Author)

‘A masterly work of profound research and reflection, objective and humane’ Hugh Trevor-Roper, Sunday Telegraph

What would have happened if the Nazis had invaded Britain? How would the British people have responded – with resistance or collaboration? In Madeleine Bunting’s pioneering study, we begin to find the answers to this age-old question.

Though rarely remembered today, the Nazis occupied the British Channel Islands for much of the Second World War. In piecing together the fragments left behind – from the love affairs between island women and German soldiers, the betrayals and black marketeering, to the individual acts of resistance – Madeleine Bunting has brought this uncomfortable episode of British history into full view with spellbinding clarity.

Martin Luther

Lyndal Roper (Author)

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOLFSON HISTORY PRIZE 2017
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ELIZABETH LONGFORD PRIZE 2017

'A magnificent study of one of history's most compelling and divisive figures' Richard J. Evans

When Martin Luther nailed a sheet of paper to the church door of a small university town in 1517, he set off a process that changed the Western world for ever.

Within a few years Luther’s ideas had spread like wildfire. His attempts to reform Christianity by returning it to its biblical roots split the Western Church, divided Europe and polarised people’s beliefs, leading to religious persecution, social unrest and war; and in the long run his ideas would help break the grip of religion on every sphere of life.

Yet Luther was a deeply flawed human being: a fervent believer tormented by spiritual doubts; a prolific writer whose translation of the Bible would shape the German language yet whose attacks on his opponents were vicious and foul-mouthed; a married ex-monk who liberated human sexuality from the stigma of sin but who insisted that women should know their place; a religious fundamentalist, Jew-hater and political reactionary who called ‘for the private and public murder of the peasants’ who had risen against their lords in response to his teaching. And perhaps surprisingly, the man who helped create in the modern world was not modern himself: for him the devil was not a figure of speech but a real, physical presence.

As an acclaimed historian, Lyndal Roper explains how Luther’s impact can only be understood against the background of the times. As a brilliant biographer, she gives us the flesh-and-blood figure. She reveals the often contradictory psychological forces that drove Luther forward and the dynamics they unleashed, which turned a small act of protest into a battle against the power of the Church.

A New Statesman, Spectator, History Today, Guardian and Sunday Times Book of the Year

A Walk in the Park

Travis Elborough (Author)

'A fascinating, informative, revelatory book' William Boyd, Guardian

Parks are such a familiar part of everyday life, you might be forgiven for thinking they have always been there. In fact, public parks are an invention. From their medieval inception as private hunting grounds through to their modern incarnation as public spaces of rest and relaxation, parks have been fought over by land-grabbing monarchs, reforming Victorian industrialists, hippies, punks, and somewhere along the way, the common folk trying to savour their single day of rest.

In A Walk in the Park, Travis Elborough excavates the history of parks in all their colour and complexity. Loving, funny and impassioned, this is a timely celebration of a small wonder that – in an age of swingeing cuts – we should not take for granted.

A Passing Fury

A. T. Williams (Author)

A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction 2017

After the Second World War, the Nuremberg Tribunal became a symbol of justice in the face of tyranny, aggression and atrocity. But it was only a fragment of retribution as, with their Allies, the British embarked on the largest programme of war crimes investigations and trials in history.

This book exposes the deeper truth of this endeavour, moving from the scripted trial of Goering, Hess and von Ribbentrop to the makeshift courtrooms where the SS officers, guards and executioners were prosecuted. It tells the story of the investigators, lawyers and perpetrators and asks the question: was justice done?

The Black Prince of Florence

Catherine Fletcher (Author)

‘A spectacular, elegant, brilliant portrait of skulduggery, murder and sex in Renaissance Florence’ Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard, Books of the Year

1531 – after years of brutal war and political intrigue, the bastard son of a Medici Duke and a ‘half-negro’ maidservant rides into Florence. Within a year, he rules the city as its Prince. Backed by the Pope and his future father-in-law the Holy Roman Emperor, the nineteen-year-old Alessandro faces down bloody family rivalry and the scheming hostility of Italy’s oligarchs to reassert the Medicis’ faltering grip on the turbulent city-state. Six years later, as he awaits an adulterous liaison, he will be murdered by his cousin in another man’s bed.

‘Nothing in sixteenth-century history is more astonishing’ Hilary Mantel

David Astor

Jeremy Lewis (Author)

Few newspaper editors are remembered beyond their lifetimes, but David Astor is a great exception to the rule. Growing up surrounded by astonishing wealth (the family home was so large it included a miniature railway to transport meals to the dining room) Astor’s early life was far from idyllic. At Oxford he suffered the first of the bouts of depression that were to blight his life, and he became a lost soul for much of the Thirties but when he took the Observer on in 1948 he converted a staid Sunday paper into essential reading. Employing the likes of Kim Philby, Vita Sackville-West, Clive James and Patrick O’Donovan (who became famous for writing his report on Bobby Kennedy’s funeral before it had taken place) he doubled the circulation and created a paper envied and admired.

An Empire On The Edge

Nick Bunker (Author)

WINNER OF THE 2015 GEORGE WASHINGTON PRIZE
FINALIST FOR THE 2015 PULTIZER PRIZE IN HISTORY

In this powerful narrative, Nick Bunker tells the story of the last three years of mutual embitterment that preceded the outbreak of America’s war for independence in 1775. It was a tragedy of errors, in which both sides shared responsibility for a conflict that cost the lives of at least twenty thousand Britons and a still larger number of Americans.

Drawing on careful study of primary sources from Britain and the United States, An Empire on the Edge sheds new light on the Tea Party’s origins and on the roles of such familiar characters as Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Thomas Hutchinson. At the heart of the book lies the Boston Tea Party, an event that arose from fundamental flaws in the way the British managed their affairs.

With lawyers in London calling the Tea Party treason, and with hawks in Parliament crying out for revenge, the British opted for punitive reprisals without foreseeing the resistance they would arouse. For their part, the Americans underestimated Britain’s determination not to give way. By the late summer of 1774, the descent into war had become irreversible.

The German War

Nicholas Stargardt (Author)

WINNER OF THE 2016 PEN HESSELL-TILTMAN PRIZE

The Second World War was a German war like no other. The Nazi regime, having started the conflict, turned it into the most horrific war in European history, resorting to genocidal methods well before building the first gas chambers. Over its course, the Third Reich expended and exhausted all its moral and physical reserves, leading to total defeat in 1945. Yet 70 years on – despite whole libraries of books about the war’s origins, course and atrocities – we still do not know what Germans thought they were fighting for and how they experienced and sustained the war until the bitter end.

When war broke out in September 1939, it was deeply unpopular in Germany. Yet without the active participation and commitment of the German people, it could not have continued for almost six years. What, then, was the war Germans thought they were fighting? How did the changing course of the conflict – the victories of the Blitzkrieg, the first defeats in the east, the bombing of Germany’s cities – change their views and expectations? And when did Germans first realise that they were fighting a genocidal war?

Drawing on a wealth of first-hand testimony, The German War is the first foray for many decades into how the German people experienced the Second World War. Told from the perspective of those who lived through it – soldiers, schoolteachers and housewives; Nazis, Christians and Jews – its masterful historical narrative sheds fresh and disturbing light on the beliefs, hopes and fears of a people who embarked on, continued and fought to the end a brutal war of conquest and genocide.

Black Earth

Timothy Snyder (Author)

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2015 SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE

We have come to see the Holocaust as a factory of death, organised by bureaucrats. Yet by the time the gas chambers became operation more than a million European Jews were already dead: shot at close range over pits and ravines. They had been murdered in the lawless killing zones created by the German colonial war in the East, many on the fertile black earth that the Nazis believed would feed the German people.

It comforts us to believe that the Holocaust was a unique event. But as Timothy Snyder shows, we have missed basic lessons of the history of the Holocaust, and some of our beliefs are frighteningly close to the ecological panic that Hitler expressed in the 1920s. As ideological and environmental challenges to the world order mount, our societies might be more vulnerable than we would like to think.

Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands was an acclaimed exploration of what happened in eastern Europe between 1933 and 1945, when Nazi and Soviet policy brought death to some 14 million people. Black Earth is a deep exploration of the ideas and politics that enabled the worst of these policies, the Nazi extermination of the Jews. Its pioneering treatment of this unprecedented crime makes the Holocaust intelligible, and thus all the more terrifying.

The World Hegemon

William D. Rubinstein (Author)

‘In many respects, the nineteenth century belonged to Britain.’

For much of the period between 1800 and 1914 Britain was at the height of its power and influence, one of the world’s superpowers, if not its greatest.

It was the golden Victorian age – one of prosperity and transformation. Britannia ruled the waves, and through its achievements and influence, it was a leader for political, economic and cultural change. Its cities and population expanded rapidly, industrialisation and the advent of the steam railway revolutionised trade and the economy. The rise of the middle classes changed the social structure forever.

Politics was dominated by debate on Irish Home Rule, Britain escaped revolution by timely political reform, and the delicate balance of power in Europe was assiduously protected, despite minor wars in outposts of the Empire. This century clearly saw seismic change, but what did this mean to the nation? Just a few decades later, most of what Victorian Britain held dear would be shattered by the aftermath of the looming Great War.

Tracing the political, social and economic cultures of the period, as well as what might have been, William D. Rubinstein seeks to uncover how this fascinating century of change impacted the British people and their sense of identity.

The Zhivago Affair

Peter Finn (Author) , Petra Couvee (Author)

The story of a forbidden book that became a symbol of freedom and rebellion in the battle between East and West.

1956. Boris Pasternak presses a manuscript into the hands of an Italian publishing scout with these words: ‘This is Doctor Zhivago. May it make its way around the world.’ Pasternak knew his novel would never be published in the Soviet Union as the authorities regarded it as seditious, so, instead, he allowed it to be published in translation all over the world - a highly dangerous act.

1958. The life of this extraordinary book enters the realms of the spy novel. The CIA, recognising that the Cold War was primarily an ideological battle, published Doctor Zhivago in Russian and smuggled it into the Soviet Union. It was immediately snapped up on the black market. Pasternak was later forced to renounce the Nobel Prize in Literature, igniting worldwide political scandal.

With first access to previously classified CIA files, The Zhivago Affair gives an irresistible portrait of Pasternak, and takes us deep into the Cold War, back to a time when literature had the power to shake the world.


A Spectator and Sunday Times Book of the Year

The Scandalous Lady W

Hallie Rubenhold (Author)

First published with the title Lady Worsley’s Whim, read the book behind the major new BBC drama starring Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)

It was the divorce that scandalised Georgian England... She was a spirited young heiress. He was a handsome baronet with a promising career in government.

Their marriage had the makings of a fairy tale but ended as one of the most salacious and highly publicised divorces in history.

For over two hundred years the story of Lady Worsley, her vengeful husband, and her lover, George Maurice Bisset, lay forgotten. Now Hallie Rubenhold throws open a window to a rarely seen view of Georgian England, one coloured by passion, adventure and the defiance of social convention.

Originally published with the title Lady Worsley's Whim

Waterloo

Paul O'Keeffe (Author)

After midnight, 19 June 1815...

On the battlefield more than 50,000 men and 7,000 horses lie dead and wounded; the wreckage of a once proud French Grande Armée struggles in abject disorder to the Belgian frontier pursued by murderous Prussian lancers; and Napoleon Bonaparte, exhausted and stunned at the scale of his defeat, rode through the darkness towards Paris, abdication and captivity.

In the days, weeks and months that followed, news of the battle shaped the consciousness of an age. Drawing on a multiplicity of contemporary voices and viewpoints, Paul O’Keeffe brings into focus as never before the sights, sounds and smells of the battlefield, of conquest and defeat, of celebration and riot.

The Spy with 29 Names

Jason Webster (Author)

He fought on both sides in the Spanish Civil War. He was awarded the Iron Cross by Hitler and an MBE by Britain. To MI5 he was known as Garbo. To the Abwehr, he was Alaric. He also went by Rags the Indian Poet, Mrs Gerbers, Stanley the Welsh Nationalist – and 24 other names. He tricked Hitler over D-Day. He was the greatest double agent in history.

But who, exactly, was Juan Pujol?

Using his intimate knowledge of Spain and his skills as a crime novelist, Jason Webster tells for the first time the full true story of the character who captured the imagination in Ben Macintyre’s Double Cross. He tells of Pujol’s early life in Spain, his determination to fight totalitarianism ­and his strange journey from German spy to MI5. Working for the British, whom he saw as the exemplars of freedom and democracy, he created a bizarre fictional network of spies – 29 of them – that misled the entire German high command, including Hitler himself. Above all, in Operation Fortitude he diverted German Panzer divisions away from Normandy, playing a crucial role in safeguarding D-Day and ending the war, and securing his reputation as the most successful double agent of the war.

Meticulously researched, yet told with the verve of a thriller, The Spy with 29 Names uncovers the truth – far stranger than any fiction – about the spy behind one of recent history’s most important and dramatic events.

God’s Traitors

Jessie Childs (Author)

*Winner of the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize*
*Longlisted for The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction*
*A Sunday Times Book of the Year*
*A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year*
*A Times Book of the Year*
*An Observer Book of the Year*

A woman awakes in a prison cell.

She has been on the run but the authorities have tracked her down and taken her to the Tower of London - where she is interrogated about the Gunpowder Plot.

The woman is Anne Vaux - one of the ardent, brave and exasperating members of the aristocratic Vauxes of Harrowden Hall.

Through the eyes of this remarkable family, award-winning author Jessie Childs explores the Catholic predicament in Elizabethan England - an age in which their faith was criminalised and almost two hundred Catholics were executed.

From dawn raids to daring escapes, stately homes to torture chambers, God's Traitors exposes the tensions masked by the cult of Gloriana - and is a timely reminder of the terrible consequences when religion and politics collide.

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