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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.

In America

Geert Mak (Author) , Liz Waters (Translator)

In 1960 John Steinbeck and his dog Charley set out in their green pickup truck to rediscover the soul of America, visiting small towns and cities from New York to New Orleans.The trip became Travels With Charley, one of his best-loved books.

Half a century on, Geert Mak sets off from Steinbeck’s home. Mile after mile, as he retraces Steinbeck’s footsteps through the potato fields of Maine to the endless prairies of the Midwest and stumbles across glistening suburbs and boarded-up stores, Mak searches for the roots of America and what remains of the world Steinbeck describes. How has America changed in the last fifty years; what remains of the American dream; and what do Europe and America now have in common?

The Last Days of Detroit

Mark Binelli (Author)

Once America's capitalist dream town, the Silicon Valley of the Jazz Age, Detroit became the country's greatest urban failure, having fallen the longest and the furthest. The city of Henry Ford, modernity, and Motown found itself blighted by riots, arson, unemployment, crime and corruption.

But what happens to a once-great place after it has been used up and discarded? Who stays there to try to make things work again? And what sorts of newcomers are drawn there?

Mark Binelli returned to his native Detroit to explore the city's swathes of abandoned buildings, miles of urban prairie, and streets filled with wild dogs, to tell the story of the new society emerging from the debris. Here he chronicles Detroit with its urban farms and vibrant arts scene, Detroit as a laboratory for the post-industrial, post-recession world, Detroit reimagined as a city for a new century.

Nancy: The Story of Lady Astor

Adrian Fort (Author)

In 1919, Nancy Astor became the first woman to take a seat in parliament.

She was not what had been expected. Far from a virago who had suffered for the cause of female suffrage, she was already near the centre of the ruling society that had for so long resisted the political upheavals of the early twentieth century, having married into the family of one of the richest men in the world. She was not even British. She would prove to be a trailblazer and beacon for the generations of women who would follow her into Parliament.

This new biography charts Nancy Astor's incredible story, from penury in the American South, to a lifestyle of the most immense riches, from the luxury of Edwardian England, through the 'Jazz Age', and on towards the Second World War: a world of great country estates, lavish town houses and the most sumptuous entertainments, peopled by the most famous and powerful names of the age. But hers was not only the life of power, glamour and easy charm: it was also defined by principles and bravery, by war and sacrifice, by love and bitter disputes.

With glorious, page-turning brio, Adrian Fort has brought to life this restless, controversial American dynamo, an unforgettable woman who left a deep and lasting imprint on the political life of our nation.

Revolutionaries

Jack Rakove (Author)

In this remarkable book, Jack Rakove offers a new and revealing perspective on the men who shaped the idea of an American nation. Each portrait brims with fresh and fascinating insights: Washington as a flawed tactician but expert manager; Jack Laurens as a slave trader's son who developed a plan to recruit black soldiers; Jefferson as a powerful critic of Europe's social order but a voracious consumer of its culture.

Spanning the most crucial decades of the country's birth, Revolutionaries uses the stories of famous (and not so famous) men to capture - in a way no single biography ever could - the intensely creative period of the republic's founding.

By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution.

American Caesars

Nigel Hamilton (Author)

The twentieth century has been called 'the American Century'. Not since the days of the Roman emperors has there been such a succession of rulers holding the fate of the world in their hands. Now, award-winning biographer Nigel Hamilton gives us the lives of the twelve men, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush, who presided over America's imperial fortunes - the good, the bad and the truly awful.

How did these American Caesars reach the White House? What were the challenges they faced when they got there and how did they meet them? And who were these men in their private lives?

Compulsively readable, packed with unforgettable characters as well as stories, lessons and revelations, American Caears is essential reading for our times.

The Last Stand

Nathaniel Philbrick (Author)

This is the archetypal story of the American West. Whether it is cast as a tale of unmatched bravery in the face of impossible odds or of insane arrogance receiving its rightful comeuppance, Custer's Last Stand continues to captivate the imagination.

Nathaniel Philbrick brilliantly reconstructs the build-up to the Battle of the Little Big Horn through to the final eruption of violence. Two legendary figures dominate the events: George Armstrong Custer and Sitting Bull. Those involved are brought vividly to life, as well as the history, geography and haunting beauty of the Great Plains.

This book provides a thrilling account of what happened there - and why - at the end of June 1876.

War Without Fronts

Bernd Greiner (Author)

Shortly before 8 am on 16 March 1968, C Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Regiment, 11th Brigade, Americal Division, on a search-and-destroy mission in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam, entered the hamlet of My Lai. By noon more than 400 women, children and old men had been systematically murdered.

To this day, the My Lai massacre has remained the most shocking episode of the Vietnam War. Yet this infamous incident was not an exception or aberration. Based on extensive research and unprecedented access to US Army archives, and tracing the responsibility for these atrocities all the way up to the White House and the Pentagon, War Without Fronts reveals the true extent of war crimes committed by American troops in Vietnam and how a war to win hearts and minds soon became a war against civilians.

The American Civil War

John Keegan (Author)

The American Civil War was one of the longest and bloodiest of modern wars. It is also one of the most mysterious. It has captured the imagination of writers, artists and film-makers for decades but the reality of it confuses and divides historians even today.

In this magisterial history of the first modern war, the distinguished military historian John Keegan unpicks the geography, leadership and strategic logic of the war and takes us to the heart of the conflict. His captivating work promises to be the definitive history of the American Civil War.

The American Future

Simon Schama (Author)

The American Future traces the history of a country whose most enduring trait is its capacity for self-renewal, especially at times of disaster. Examining issues of power, race and immigration, religious fervour and prosperity, this masterful portrait of the world's most controversial superpower looks backwards and forwards to understand why now, more than ever, the fate of America, and by extension the rest of the world, is hanging in the balance.

Rough Crossings

Simon Schama (Author)

Rough Crossings is the astonishing story of the struggle to freedom by thousands of African-American slaves who fled the plantations to fight behind British lines in the American War of Independence. With gripping, powerfully vivid story-telling, Simon Schama follows the escaped blacks into the fires of the war, and into freezing, inhospitable Nova Scotia where many who had served the Crown were betrayed in their promises to receive land at the war's end. Their fate became entwined with British abolitionists: inspirational figures such as Granville Sharp, the flute-playing father-figure of slave freedom, and John Clarkson, the 'Moses' of this great exodus, who accompanied the blacks on their final rough crossing to Africa, where they hoped that freedom would finally greet them.

Jesse James

T J Stiles (Author)

At sixteen, Jesse James began his fighting career by killing Unionist neighbours on their doorsteps. In the bloodshed and bitterness that followed the South's surrender at Appomattox, Jesse and his fellow guerillas, with their gunfights and hold-ups, became part of the intensely brutal struggle by the White South against the racial egalitarianism and Federal power fostered by Reconstruction.

In the first serious biography of Jesse James in forty years, T. J. Stiles paints a strikingly new and vivid portrait of the period before the American Civil War, during the conflict and its aftermath. With groundbreaking scholarship and dazzling reinterpretation, T. J. Stiles has refashioned one of the great legends of American history.

All God's Children

Rene Denfeld (Author)

In May 2003 the body of nineteen-year-old Jessica Kate Williams was found by a railway track in Portland Oregon: beaten, broken and horribly burnt. But the terrible chain of events that led to her death had been put in place almost a decade before.

James Daniel Nelson first hit the streets as a teenager in 1992, joining a clutch of runaways and misfits who camped out together in a squat under a Portland bridge. Within a few months the group - they called themselves a 'family' - was arrested for a string of violent murders. While Nelson sat in prison, the society he had helped form grew into a phenomenon. In 2003, almost eleven years after his original murder, Nelson, now called 'Thantos', got out of prison, returned to Portland, created a new street family, and was ready to kill again.

In this dark and compelling portrait of one of America's most frightening subcultures, Rene Denfeld draws on material gathered over a decade spent with the 'families', revealing the dark side of an American ideal, and the extremes to which desperate teenagers (the majority of whom hail from loving middle-class homes) will go in their search for a sense of a belonging.

The Big Oyster

Mark Kurlansky (Author)

When Peter Minuit bought Manhattan for $24 in 1626 he showed his shrewdness by also buying the oyster beds off tiny, nearby Oyster Island, renamed Ellis Island in 1770.

From the Minuit purchase until pollution finally destroyed the beds in the 1920s, New York was a city known for its oysters, especially in the late 1800s, when Europe and America enjoyed a decades-long oyster craze. In a dubious endorsement, William Makepeace Thackeray said that eating a New York oyster was like eating a baby.

Travellers to New York were also keen to experience the famous New York oyster houses. While some were known for their elegance, due to a longstanding belief in the aphrodisiac quality of oysters, they were often associated with prostitution. In 1842, when the novelist Charles Dickens arrived in New York, he could not conceal his eagerness to find and experience the fabled oyster cellars of New York City's slums.

The Big Oyster is the story of a city and of an international trade.Filled with cultural, social and culinary insight - as well as recipes, maps, drawings and photographs - this is history at its most engrossing, entertaining and delicious.

Triksta

Nik Cohn (Author)

What lunacy would cause a 55-year-old white male to embroil himself in the world of New Orleans rap - as ideas man, talent-spotter, lyricist, and would-be producer? Nik Cohn has loved (and hated) hip-hop since its birth and loved (and hated) New Orleans for even longer - an addiction he's never wanted to kick. But nothing prepared him for the experience of being pitched, more or less by accident, into the role of Triksta, rap impresario.

A white alien in a black world, with no funding or qualifications, and not a clue what he was doing, he had to rethink himself from scratch. Surrounded by a cast that included such names as Choppa and Soulja Slim, Big Ramp and Lil T, Bass Heavy, Fifth Ward Weebie, and Shorty Brown Hustle, he entered a world of tiny backstreet studios, broken-down slums and gun turfs.

Triksta is the story of a three-year odyssey to the heart of rap, and New Orleans, and self-knowledge.

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