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What comes first: the character of the times, or the characters who give it theirs?
Crucible charts the trajectories of the characters who fell from power in the bloody breakdown of Europe’s old order between 1917 and 1924, and those who for whom the restless chaos marked the beginning of an unlikely rise to fame.
Year by year, we follow Kaiser Wilhelm into his wood-chopping Dutch exile, and Lenin from his Swiss library-desk to his muddled end as an invalid in revolutionary Russia gone stale. Ernest Hemingway criss-crosses the Atlantic in search of himself: soldier, hack journalist, writer, fisherman. Surrealism is born in a Paris attic. Europe suffers a nervous collapse, alternating between revolution and reaction. America takes fright. A Viennese doctor of eclectic tastes becomes an intellectual celebrity. An Austrian ex-soldier touts himself as the tribune of the German people.
Outside the classic frames of war and peace, these all-too-human tales – funny, tragic and fateful – tell a wider story of the exuberant dreams, dark fears, grubby ambition and sheer chance which marked Europe’s post-war metamorphosis, and the century to come.
An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America - the first African-American to serve in that role - she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her - from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it - in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations - and whose story inspires us to do the same.
Allan Mallinson, one of Britain's most accomplished and acclaimed military historians, was commissioned by The Times as part the newspaper's ongoing marking of the centenary of the First World War, to write a series of features chronicling the progress of the war - and Britain's war in particular - month by month.
Based on these much praised features, comprising 52 chapters in all, and published in anticipation of the centenary of the cessation of hostilities on 11 November 1918 - Fight to the Finish is a comprehensive and unique single volume history of the 'war to end all wars'.
Characterised by contemporary references and astute military comment born of the author's extensive experience as a professional soldier, this up-to-the-minute history of Britain’s war on land, at sea and in the air from 1914-18 is both accessible and, as The Times’ centenary chronicle, definitive.
Winston Churchill dominates our view of the history of Britain in the twentieth century - the brash, brave and ambitious young aristocrat who sought out danger in late Victorian wars, the mercurial First Lord of the Admiralty who was responsible for the Dardanelles disaster in 1915, the Home Secretary who crushed the General Strike in 1926, the Colonial Secretary who rode with T. E. Lawrence and Gertrude Bell at the Pyramids, the Chancellor who took the country back to the Gold Standard and then spent more than ten years in the political wilderness - and who, finally, was summoned to save his country in 1940. 'I felt that I was walking with destiny, and all my life had been but preparation for that hour.' Andrew Robert's titanic new biography interprets all these events, especially Churchill's leadership during the Second World War, which he sees through the prism of all Churchill's earlier life. He gives full visibility to Churchill's flaws, and brilliantly explains his genius.
Roberts has used over forty collections of papers not available to Churchill's previous biographer Roy Jenkins (2001) and he is the first Churchill biographer to be granted access by the Queen to the private diaries of King George VI. This is the Churchill biography for our times and the next generation.
Published: 4 Oct 2018
Gandhi lived one of the great 20th-century lives. He inspired and enraged, challenged and delighted many million men and women around the world. He lived almost entirely in the shadow of the British Raj, which for much of his life seemed a permanent fact, but which he did more than anyone else to destroy, using revolutionary and inspirational tactics. In a world defined by violence on a scale never imagined before and by ferocious Fascist and Communist dictatorship, he was armed with nothing more than his arguments and example.
This magnificent book tells the story of Gandhi's life, from his departure from South Africa to his assassination in 1948. It is a book with a Tolstoyan sweep, both allowing us to see Gandhi as he was understood by his contemporaries and the vast, unbelievably varied Indian societies and landscapes which he travelled through and changed beyond measure. Drawing on many new sources and animated by its author's wonderful sense of drama and politics, the publication of Gandhi is a major event.
A thrilling Cold War story about a KGB double agent, by one of Britain's greatest historians
On a warm July evening in 1985, a middle-aged man stood on the pavement of a busy avenue in the heart of Moscow, holding a plastic carrier bag. In his grey suit and tie, he looked like any other Soviet citizen. The bag alone was mildly conspicuous, printed with the red logo of Safeway, the British supermarket.
The man was a spy. A senior KGB officer, for more than a decade he had supplied his British spymasters with a stream of priceless secrets from deep within the Soviet intelligence machine. No spy had done more to damage the KGB. The Safeway bag was a signal: to activate his escape plan to be smuggled out of Soviet Russia. So began one of the boldest and most extraordinary episodes in the history of spying. Ben Macintyre reveals a tale of espionage, betrayal and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War forever...
After the overwhelming horrors of the first half of the 20th century, described by Ian Kershaw in his previous book as having gone 'to Hell and back', the years from 1950 to 2017 brought peace and relative prosperity to most of Europe. Enormous economic improvements transformed the continent. The catastrophic era of the world wars receded into an ever more distant past, though its long shadow continued to shape mentalities.
Europe was now a divided continent, living under the nuclear threat in a period intermittently fraught with anxiety. Europeans experienced a 'roller-coaster ride', both in the sense that they were flung through a series of events which threatened disaster, but also in that they were no longer in charge of their own destinies: for much of the period the USA and USSR effectively reduced Europeans to helpless figures whose fates were dictated to them depending on the vagaries of the Cold War. There were, by most definitions, striking successes - the Soviet bloc melted away, dictatorships vanished and Germany was successfully reunited. But accelerating globalization brought new fragilities. The impact of interlocking crises after 2008 was the clearest warning to Europeans that there was no guarantee of peace and stability.
In this remarkable book, Ian Kershaw has created a grand panorama of the world we live in and where it came from. Drawing on examples from all across Europe, Roller-Coaster will make us all rethink Europe and what it means to be European.
Japan Story is a fascinating, surprising account of Japan's culture, from the 'opening up' of the country in the mid 19th century to the present, through the eyes of people who always had their doubts about modernity - who greeted it not with the confidence and grasping ambition of Japan's familiar modernizers and nationalists, but with resistance, conflict, distress.
We encounter writers of dramas, ghost stories and crime novels where modernity itself is the tragedy, the ghoul and the bad guy; surrealist and avant-garde artists sketching their escape; rebel kamikaze pilots and the put-upon urban poor; hypnotists and gangsters; men in desperate search of the eternal feminine and feminists in search of something more than state-sanctioned subservience; Buddhists without morals; Marxist terror groups; couches full to bursting with the psychological fall-out of breakneck modernization. These people all sprang from the soil of modern Japan, but their personalities and projects failed to fit. They were 'dark blossoms': both East-West hybrids and home-grown varieties that wreathed, probed and sometimes penetrated the new masonry and mortar of mainstream Japan.
The unsung and remarkable stories of the women who held London's East End together during not one, but two world wars.
While the men were away at war it was strong women like Joan, Marie, Babs, Beattie and Minksy who ruled the streets of the East End. Kate Thompson tells the real stories of the war experienced by these matriarchs, a tribe of working-class women in the stinking streets, teeming tenements and sweatshops of East London.
Forget church halls and jam making, these powerfully authentic stories will have you questioning what you thought you knew about wartime women. From standing up to the Kray twins, taking over the London Underground, and crawling out of bombsites, these women fought to survive and protect their community in some of our country's darkest hours.
The definitive history of the Great Financial Crisis, from the acclaimed author of The Deluge and The Wages of Destruction.
In September 2008 the Great Financial Crisis, triggered by the collapse of Lehman brothers, shook the world. A decade later its spectre still haunts us. As the appalling scope and scale of the crash was revealed, the financial institutions that had symbolised the West's triumph since the end of the Cold War, seemed - through greed, malice and incompetence - to be about to bring the entire system to its knees.
Crashed is a brilliantly original and assured analysis of what happened and how we were rescued from something even worse - but at a price which continues to undermine democracy across Europe and the United States. Gnawing away at our institutions are the many billions of dollars which were conjured up to prevent complete collapse. Over and over again, the end of the crisis has been announced, but it continues to hound us - whether in Greece or Ukraine, whether through Brexit or Trump. Adam Tooze follows the trail like no previous writer and has written a book compelling as history, as economic analysis and as political horror story.
'Luminous, elegant, haunting, - I read it straight through' Philippe Sands, Author of East West Street
'Remarkable, deeply moving' Penelope Lively
The enthralling story of a man's search for the astonishing truth about his family's past
The last time Lien saw her parents was in the Hague when she was collected at the door by a stranger and taken to a city far away to be hidden from the Nazis. She was raised by her foster family as one of their own, but a falling out well after the war meant they were no longer in touch. What was her side of the story, Bart van Es - a grandson of the couple who looked after Lien - wondered? What really happened during the war, and after?
So began an investigation that would consume and transform both Bart van Es's life and Lien's. Lien was now in her 80s and living in Amsterdam. Reluctantly, she agreed to meet him, and eventually they struck up a remarkable friendship. The Cut Out Girl braids together a powerful recreation of Lien's intensely harrowing childhood story with the present-day account of Bart's efforts to piece that story together. And it embraces the wider picture, too, for Holland was more cooperative in rounding up its Jews for the Nazis than any other Western European country; that is part of Lien's story too.
This is an astonishing, moving reckoning with a young girl's struggle for survival during war. It is a story about the powerful love and challenges of foster families, and about the ways our most painful experiences - so crucial in defining us - can also be redefined.
John Auden was a pioneering geologist of the Himalayas. Michael Spender was the first to survey the northern approach to the summit of Mount Everest. While their younger brothers – W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender – achieved literary fame, they vied to be included on an expedition that would see an Englishman be the first to reach the summit of Everest, a quest that had become a metaphor for Britain’s struggle to maintain power over India. To this rivalry was added another: in the summer of 1938 both men fell in love with a painter named Nancy Sharp. Her choice would determine each man’s wartime loyalties.
From Calcutta to pre-war London to the snowy slopes of Everest, The Last Englishmen tracks a generation obsessed with a romantic ideal. As political struggle rages in Spain, the march to war with Germany seems inevitable, Communist spies expand their ranks and the fight for Indian independence enters its final bloody act, writers and explorers, Englishmen and Indians must pick their cause.
From the acclaimed author of Britain's War Machine and The Shock of the Old, a bold reassessment of Britain's twentieth century.
It is usual to see the United Kingdom as an island of continuity in an otherwise convulsed and unstable Europe; its political history a smooth sequence of administrations, from building a welfare state to coping with decline. Nobody would dream of writing the history of Germany, say, or the Soviet Union in this way.
David Edgerton's major new history breaks out of the confines of traditional British national history to redefine what it was to British, and to reveal an unfamiliar place, subject to huge disruptions. This was not simply because of the world wars and global economic transformations, but in its very nature. Until the 1940s the United Kingdom was, Edgerton argues, an exceptional place: liberal, capitalist and anti-nationalist, at the heart of a European and global web of trade and influence. Then, as its global position collapsed, it became, for the first time and only briefly, a real, successful nation, with shared goals, horizons and industry, before reinventing itself again in the 1970s as part of the European Union and as the host for international capital, no longer capable of being a nation.
Packed with surprising examples and arguments, The Rise and Fall of the British Nation gives us a grown-up, unsentimental history which takes business and warfare seriously, and which is crucial at a moment of serious reconsideration for the country and its future.
The Race to Save the Romanovs is major new work of investigative history that will completely change the way in which we see the Romanov story. Finally, here is the truth about the secret plans to rescue Russia’s last imperial family.
On 17 July 1918, the whole of the Russian Imperial Family was murdered. There were no miraculous escapes. The former Tsar Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, and their children – Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexey – were all tragically gunned down in a blaze of bullets.
On the 100-year-anniversary of these brutal murders, historian Helen Rappaport set out to uncover why the Romanovs’ European royal relatives and the Allied governments failed to save them. It was not, ever, a simple case of one British King’s loss of nerve. In this race against time, many other nations and individuals were facing political and personal challenges of the highest order.
In this incredible detective story, Rappaport draws on an unprecedented range of unseen sources, tracking down missing documents, destroyed papers and covert plots to liberate the family by land, sea and even sky. Through countless twists and turns, this revelatory work unpicks many false claims and conspiracies, revealing the fiercest loyalty, bitter rivalries and devastating betrayals as the Romanovs, imprisoned, awaited their fate.
Witness the birth of Surrealism in Sue Roe's lively account of the artists who lived, loved and worked together
In this entertaining and informative biography, Sue Roe illustrates how surrealism emerged in Paris amidst an artistic ambience of lively experimentation. Before surrealism made its startling impact, artists including Marcel Duchamp and Giorgio De Chirico had already begun to shift the focus of the art scene in Montparnasse. Beginning with Duchamp, Roe tells the story of the wonderfully eccentric and avant-garde Dada movement, the birth of Surrealist photography with Man Ray and his muse Kiki de Montparnasse, the love triangle between writer Paul Éluard, his wife Gala and the artist Max Ernst, until the arrival of Salvador Dalí in 1929. In Montparnasse recounts the extraordinary, revolutionary work these artists undertook as much as the salons, café life, friendships, rows and love affairs that were their background.
Praise for In Montmartre
'Enjoyable, engaging, rollicking - the storytelling is lively' Spectator
'Admirable. What an eye for art Roe has. Brilliant' Guardian
'An elegant synthesis of complex material. It excels: Roe is a skilled and graceful writer' Telegraph
The definitive biography of the greatest French statesman of modern times
In six weeks in the early summer of 1940, France was over-run by German troops and quickly surrendered. The French government of Marshal Pétain sued for peace and signed an armistice. One little-known junior French general, refusing to accept defeat, made his way to England. On 18 June he spoke to his compatriots over the BBC, urging them to rally to him in London. 'Whatever happens, the flame of French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished.' At that moment, Charles de Gaulle entered into history.
For the rest of the war, de Gaulle frequently bit the hand that fed him. He insisted on being treated as the true embodiment of France, and quarrelled violently with Churchill and Roosevelt. He was prickly, stubborn, aloof and self-contained. But through sheer force of personality and bloody-mindedness he managed to have France recognised as one of the victorious Allies, occupying its own zone in defeated Germany. For ten years after 1958 he was President of France's Fifth Republic, which he created and which endures to this day. His pursuit of 'a certain idea of France' challenged American hegemony, took France out of NATO and twice vetoed British entry into the European Community. His controversial decolonization of Algeria brought France to the brink of civil war and provoked several assassination attempts.
Julian Jackson's magnificent biography reveals this the life of this titanic figure as never before. It draws on a vast range of published and unpublished memoirs and documents - including the recently opened de Gaulle archives - to show how de Gaulle achieved so much during the War when his resources were so astonishingly few, and how, as President, he put a medium-rank power at the centre of world affairs. No previous biography has depicted his paradoxes so vividly. Much of French politics since his death has been about his legacy, and he remains by far the greatest French leader since Napoleon.
Published: 7 Jun 2018
The great airborne battle for the bridges in 1944 by Britain's Number One bestselling historian
On 17 September 1944, General Kurt Student, the founder of Nazi Germany's parachute forces, heard the growing roar of aero engines. He went out on to his balcony above the flat landscape of southern Holland to watch the vast air armada of Dakotas and gliders,carrying the British 1st Airborne and the American 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. He gazed up in envy at the greatest demonstration of paratroop power ever seen.
Operation Market Garden, the plan to end the war by capturing the bridges leading to the Lower Rhine and beyond, was a bold concept: the Americans thought it unusually bold for Field Marshal Montgomery. But the cost of failure was horrendous, above all for the Dutch who risked everything to help. German reprisals were cruel and lasted until the end of the war.
The British fascination for heroic failure has clouded the story of Arnhem in myths, not least that victory was possible when in fact the plan imposed by Montgomery and General 'Boy' Browning was doomed from the start. Antony Beevor, using many overlooked and new sources from Dutch, British, American, Polish and German archives, has reconstructed the terrible reality of this epic clash. Yet this book, written in Beevor's inimitable and gripping narrative style, is about much more than a single dramatic battle. It looks into the very heart of war.
The gripping story of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union from an acclaimed historian and writer
On the morning of 26 April 1986 Europe witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history: the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Soviet Ukraine. The outburst put the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation. In the end, less than five percent of the reactor's fuel escaped, but that was enough to contaminate over half of Europe with radioactive fallout.
In Chernobyl, Serhii Plokhy recreates these events in all of their drama, telling the stories of the firefighters, scientists, engineers, workers, soldiers, and policemen who found themselves caught in a nuclear Armageddon and succeeded in doing the seemingly impossible: extinguishing the nuclear inferno and putting the reactor to sleep. While it is clear that the immediate cause of the accident was a turbine test gone wrong, Plokhy shows how the deeper roots of Chernobyl lay in the nature of the Soviet political system and the flaws of its nuclear industry. A little more than five years later, the Soviet Union would fall apart, destroyed from within by its unsustainable communist ideology and the dysfunctional managerial and economic systems laid bare in the wake of the disaster.
A poignant, fast paced account of the drama of heroes, perpetrators, and victims, Chernobyl is the definitive history of the world's worst nuclear disaster.
God Save Texas is a journey through the most controversial state in America. It is a Republican state in the heart of Trumpland that hasn't elected a Democrat to a statewide office in more than twenty years; but it is also a state in which minorities already form a majority (including the largest number of Muslim adherents in the United States). The cities are Democrat and among the most diverse in the nation. Oil is still king but Texas now leads California in technology exports and has an economy only somewhat smaller than Italy's.
The Texas economic model of low taxes and minimal regulation has produced extraordinary growth but also striking income disparities. Texas looks a lot like the America that Donald Trump wants to create. And Wright's profound portrait of the state not only reflects the United States back as it is, but as it was and as it might be.
Completed as Texas battles to rebuild after the devastating storm of summer 2017, Lawrence Wright's new book manages to be both delighted and appalled by the place he has lived much of his life.