100 results 1-20
'A masterpiece of social history' Daily Mail
There is nothing quite as beautiful as an English country house in summer. And there has never been a summer quite like that Indian summer between the two world wars, a period of gentle decline in which the sun set slowly on the British Empire and the shadows lengthened on the lawns of a thousand stately homes.
Real life in the country house during the 1920s and 1930s was not always so sunny. By turns opulent and ordinary, noble and vicious, its shadows were darker. In The Long Weekend, Adrian Tinniswood uncovers the truth about a world half-forgotten, draped in myth and hidden behind stiff upper lips and film-star smiles.
Drawing on hundreds of memoirs, on unpublished letters and diaries, on the eye-witness testimonies of belted earls and unhappy heiresses and bullying butlers, The Long Weekend gives a voice to the people who inhabited this world and shows how the image of the country house was carefully protected by its occupants above and below stairs, and how the reality was so much more interesting than the dream.
*** A Sunday Times Bestseller ***
In Roman Londinium the city was dotted with lupanaria (‘wolf dens’ or public pleasure houses), fornices (brothels) and thermiae (hot baths). Then came the Emperor Constantine, with his bishops, monks and missionaries. And so began an endless loop of alternating permissiveness and censure.
Ackroyd takes us right into the hidden history of the city; from the notorious Normans to the frenzy of executions for sodomy in the early nineteenth century. He journeys through the coffee bars of sixties Soho to Gay Liberation, disco music and the horror of AIDS.
Today, we live in an era of openness and tolerance and Queer London has become part of the new norm. Ackroyd tells us the hidden story of how it got there, celebrating its diversity, thrills and energy on the one hand; but reminding us of its very real terrors, dangers and risks on the other.
Former Prime Minister and the country’s longest-serving Chancellor, Gordon Brown has been a guiding force for Britain and the world over three decades. This is his candid, poignant and deeply relevant story.
In describing his upbringing in Scotland as the son of a minister, the near loss of his eyesight as a student and the death of his daughter within days of her birth, he shares the passionately-held principles that have shaped and driven him, reminding us that politics can and should be a calling to serve. Reflecting on the personal and ideological tensions within Labour and its successes and failures in power, he describes how to meet the challenge of pursuing a radical agenda within a credible party of government.
He explains how as Chancellor he equipped Britain for a globalised economy while swimming against the neoliberal tide and shows what more must be done to halt rising inequality. In his behind-the-scenes account of the financial crisis and his leading role in saving the world economy from collapse, he addresses the question of who was to blame for the crash and why its causes and consequences still beset us.
From the invasion of Iraq to the tragedy of Afghanistan, from the coalition negotiations of 2010 to the referendums on Scottish independence and Europe, Gordon Brown draws on his unique experiences to explain Britain’s current fractured condition. And by showing us what progressive politics has achieved in recent decades, he inspires us with a vision of what it might yet achieve today.
Riveting, expert and highly personal, this historic memoir is an invaluable insight into our times.
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.
*** 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’
‘Superbly written… Shakespeare has a novelist’s flair for depicting the characters and motives of men’
‘Utterly wonderful… It reads like a thriller’
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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 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 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?
‘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
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.
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.
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.
‘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 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
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