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A Life Drawing

Shirley Hughes (Author)

The book begins with a small girl in West Kirby who is obsessed with comics: The Daily Sketch, The Daily Express and The Mirror-each of these newspapers helped to shape one of our finest illustrators. Shirley's story takes us from this gentle start, through the second world war, and to a career, which began with Art School in a blitzed Liverpool, led to Oxford, and then to London. Shirley reflects on art, and her own development, in a tale which is fascinating and full of personalities. She describes her own creative process as 'the nearest thing I know to flying into the sun' and it is this passion for the world of illustration, which shines through the book and gives it a unique personality. Lavishly illustrated throughout with sketches from her Italian sketchbooks, doodles from boring meetings, roughs from what would later become classic picture books and perfectly executed paintings done just for the fun of it, this book will be a treasured gift for those who love art and those who have grown up with the enduring characters from Shirley's books who inhabit so many homes through this country and beyond.

A Brush With The Past

Shirley Hughes (Author)

Shirley Hughes' rich narrative paintings and finely observed line illustrations are interwoven with fascinating details, capturing the atmosphere of the era.

Stunning double-page spreads offer poignant snapshots of life, from an elegant Edwardian picnic to afternoon tea in the trenches during the First World War. Each spread is followed by a 'scrapbook' of the times, featuring fascinating details about domestic life and the events and innovations that shaped the modern world.

This is an intimate book of stories within stories, told from the author's own personal experience.

A History of Britain - Volume 1

Simon Schama (Author)

Change - sometimes gentle and subtle, sometimes shocking and violent - is the dynamic of Simon Schama's unapologetically personal and grippingly written history of Britain, especially the changes that wash over custom and habit, transforming our loyalties.

What makes or breaks a nation? To whom do we give our allegiance and why? And where do the boundaries of our community lie - in our hearth and home, our village or city, tribe or faith? What is Britain - one country or many? Has British history unfolded 'at the edge of the world' or right at the heart of it?

Schama delivers these themes in a form that is at once traditional and excitingly fresh. The great and the wicked are here - Becket and Thomas Cromwell, Robert the Bruce and Anne Boleyn - but so are countless more ordinary lives: an Irish monk waiting for the plague to kill him in his cell at Kilkenny; a small boy running through the streets of London to catch a glimpse of Elizabeth I.

The first in a series, this volume paints a rich and vivid portrait of the life of the British people and their nation.

To Move The World

Jeffrey Sachs (Author)

The inspiring story of JFK, the Cold War, and the power of oratory to change the course of history.

John F. Kennedy’s last great campaign was not the battle for re-election that he did not live to wage, but the struggle for a sustainable peace with the Soviet Union. To Move the World recalls the extraordinary days from October 1962 to September 1963, when JFK marshaled the power of oratory and his astonishing political skills towards that end.

Jeffrey Sachs shows how Kennedy emerged from the Cuban Missile Crisis with the determination and capabilities to forge a new direction for the world. Together, he and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, both deeply affected by this near-death experience, would pull the world away from the nuclear precipice and chart a path for future peacemakers.

During his final year in office Kennedy gave a series of speeches in which he sought to argue, against widespread pessimism, that peace with the Soviets was possible. He used his great gifts of persuasion on multiple fronts – with fractious allies, hawkish Republican congressmen, and dubious members of his own administration – to persuade America, the Soviet Union, and the world that cooperation between the superpowers was both realistic and necessary.

To Move the World gives us a startlingly fresh perspective on Kennedy’s presidency and an inspiring model for strong leadership and problem solving in our time.

'A Senseless, Squalid War'

Norman Rose (Author)

* The troubles in Palestine between the end of the Second World War and the declaration of the state of Israel on 14 May 1948 ruptured Middle Eastern history and left an indelible mark on the modern world.

* Chronicling in gripping detail this critical period that led, for the Jews, to the establishment of their national homeland, and, for the Palestinians, to their Nakba ('Catastrophe'), Norman Rose's 'A Senseless, Squalid War' gives powerful expression to all those who took part in these stirring events: Britons, Jews and Arabs alike.

* The book draws on a rich medley of official documents, private papers, biographies, memoirs, diaries, letters, newspapers, novels, songs, plays and reminiscences. It vividly reconstructs the attitudes and experiences of the many diverse participants, be they foot-soldiers or generals, hawks or doves, politicians or diplomats, dissidents, terrorists, writers, teachers, or simply men and women on the street, each voice telling its own story, woven into a compelling historical narrative that shifts seamlessly from one level of experience to another.

* A diplomatic stalemate amidst the horrific revelations of the Holocaust; militant guerrilla groups plagued by internal divisions on both the Palestinian and Zionist sides, seeking to undermine the British presence; Jewish refugees in their tens of thousands trying to reach Palestine on the notorious 'death ships' from war-torn Europe, with tragic - often fatal - consequences; the mounting tensions that culminated in an inter-communal 'civil war' and later in the threat of a 'war of extermination and momentous massacre'; and finally the plight of many thousands of Palestinians who emerged from the war without a home.

* All these events, and the voices of those who lived through them, are recreated as never before. A Senseless, Squalid War' makes a dramatic and original contribution to our understanding of one of the most deep-rooted and controversial international problems that continues to baffle and bedevil us to this day.

Against Elections

David Van Reybrouck (Author)

Democracy is in bad health. Against Elections offers a new diagnosis and an ancient remedy.

Fear-mongering populists, distrust in the establishment, personality contests instead of reasoned debate: these are the results of the latest elections.

In fact, as this ingenious book shows, the original purpose of elections was to exclude the people from power by appointing an elite to govern over them.

Yet for most of its 3000-year history, democracy did not involve elections at all: members of the public were appointed to positions in government through a combination of volunteering and lottery.

Based on studies and trials from around the globe, this hugely influential manifesto presents the practical case for a true democracy – one that actually works.

Urgent, heretical and completely convincing, Against Elections leaves only one question to be answered: what are we waiting for?

A Genius for Failure

Paul O'Keeffe (Author)

* Haydon's first attempt at suicide ended when the low calibre bullet fired from his pistol fractured his skull but failed to penetrate his brain.
* His second attempt also failed: a deep slash across his throat left a large pool of blood at the entrance to his studio, but he was still able to reach his easel on the opposite side of the room.
*Only his third attempt, another cut to the throat which sprayed blood across his unfinished canvas, was successful. He died face-down before the bespattered 'Alfred and the First British Jury', his final bid 'to improve the taste of the English people' through the High Art of historical painting.
* Such intensity, struggle and near-comic inability to succeed encapsulate Haydon's career. Thirty years before his death his huge, iconic paintings had made him the toast of early 19th-century London, drawing paying crowds to the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly for months and leading to nationwide tours.
* However, his attempt to repeat such success three months before his death was to destroy him: barely a soul turned up, leaving the desperate painter alone, humiliated, and facing financial ruin.
* In A Genius for Failure Paul O'Keeffe makes clear that the real tragedy of Haydon lay in the extent to which his failures were unwittingly engineered by his own actions - his refusal to resort to the painting of fashionable portraits, for example, and his self-destructively acrimonious relationship with the RA.
* The company he kept - Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington, among many others - and the momentous events he lived through - The Battle of Waterloo, the Coronation of George IV, and the passing of the first Parliamentary Reform Bill - make A Genius for Failure not only the definitive biography of this fascinating and tragic painter, but a stirring portrayal of an age.

London in the Twentieth Century

Jerry White (Author)

Jerry White's London in the Twentieth Century, Winner of the Wolfson Prize, is a masterful account of the city’s most tumultuous century by its leading expert.

In 1901 no other city matched London in size, wealth and grandeur. Yet it was also a city where poverty and disease were rife. For its inhabitants, such contradictions and diversity were the defining experience of the next century of dazzling change.

In the worlds of work and popular culture, politics and crime, through war, immigration and sexual revolution, Jerry White’s richly detailed and captivating history shows how the city shaped their lives and how it in turn was shaped by them.

Centuries of Change

Ian Mortimer (Author)

In Centuries of Change bestselling historian Ian Mortimer takes you on a whirlwind tour of the last ten centuries of Western history. It is a journey into a past vividly brought to life and bursting with ideas, that pits one century against another in his quest to measure which century saw the greatest change.

We journey from a time when there was a fair chance of your village being burnt to the ground by invaders, and dried human dung was a recommended cure for cancer, to a world in which explorers sailed into the unknown and civilisations came into conflict with each other on an epic scale.

Here is a story of godly scientists, shrewd farmers, cold-hearted entrepreneurs and strong-minded women – a story of discovery, invention, revolution and cataclysmic shifts in perspective.

Centuries of Change is a journey into the past like no other. Our understanding of change will never be the same again, and the lessons we learn along the way are profound ones for us all.

Introducing the Ancient Greeks

Edith Hall (Author)

Who were the ancient Greeks? They gave us democracy, philosophy, poetry, rational science, the joke. But what was it that enabled them to achieve so much?

The ancient Greeks were a geographically disparate people whose civilization lasted over twenty centuries – and that made us who we are today. And here Edith Hall gives us a revelatory way of viewing this scattered people, identifying ten unique personality traits that she shows to be unique and central to the widespread ancient Greeks.

Hall introduces a people who are inquisitive, articulate and open-minded but also rebellious, individualistic, competitive and hedonistic. They prize excellence above all things but love to laugh. And, central to their identity, they are seafarers whose relationship with the sea underpins every aspect of their society.

Expertly researched and elegantly told, this indispensable introduction unveils a civilization of incomparable richness and a people of astounding complexity.

A Blueprint for a Safer Planet

Nicholas Stern (Author)

* Further substantial climate change is unavoidable and the risks to the natural world, the economy and our everyday lives are immense. The way we live in the next thirty years - how we invest, use energy, organise transport and treat forests - will determine whether these risks become realities.

* Although poor countries - the least responsible for climate change - will be hit earliest and hardest, all countries must adapt to the effects: hurricanes and storms strike New Orleans and Mumbai; flooding causes devastation in England and Mozambique; droughts occur in Australia and Darfur; and sea level rise will affect Florida and Bangladesh.

* Lord Stern, author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change and former Chief Economist at the World Bank, is the world's leading authority on what we can do in the face of such unprecedented threat. Action on climate change will require the greatest possible international collaboration, but if successful will ensure not just our future, but our future prosperity.

* Focusing on the economic management of investment and growth from the perspective of both adaptation and mitigation, Stern confronts the most urgent questions facing us now: what is the problem? What are the dangers? What can be done to reduce emissions, at what cost? How can the world adapt? And what does all this mean for corporations, governments and individuals?

* A Blueprint for a Safer Planet provides authoritative, inspirational, and hopeful, answers.

The Icky, Sticky Snot and Blood Book

Steve Alton & Nick Sharratt (Author) , Nick Sharratt (Illustrator)

Everyone knows where snot comes from but why's it there and what's it for? Dig deep (inside this book, of course!) and discover all the fantastic facts about breathing, blood and bogeys.

This irreverent pop-up guide is a fascinatingly fun read for any child. It's a fantastic companion for anyone studying science at Key Stage 1 & 2 - where children are taught about respiration and how blood circulates round the body.

The Face Of Battle

John Keegan (Author)

The Face of Battle is military history from the battlefield: an imperishable account of the direct experience of individuals at 'the point of maximum danger'.

It examines the physical conditions of fighting, the particular emotions and behaviour generated by battle, as well as the motives that impel soldiers to stand and fight rather than run away.

In this stunningly vivid reassessment of three battles, John Keegan conveys their reality for the participants, whether facing the arrow cloud of Agincourt, the levelled muskets of Waterloo or the steel rain of the Somme.

Cosmic Imagery

John D. Barrow (Author)

* Certain key images embody our understanding of life and the universe we inhabit. Some, like Robert Hooke's first microscopic views of the natural world, or the stunning images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, were made possible by our new technical capabilities.
* Others, like the first graph, were breathtakingly simple but perennially useful. Vesalius's haunting pictures of the human anatomy were nothing less than works of art, while the simple diagram now known as Pythagoras' Theorem - proved by the ancient Babylonians, Chinese, Indians and Egyptians long before the Greeks themselves - lay the foundations for modern mathematics.
* Many of these images have shattered our preconceptions about the limits and nature of existence: the first breathtaking pictures of the Earth from space stimulated an environmental consciousness that has grown ever since; the mushroom cloud from atomic and nuclear explosions became the ultimate symbol of death and destruction; the flying saucer came to represent the possibility of extraterrestrial life; while Mercator's flat map of the Earth coordinated an entire world-view.
* Cosmic Imagery takes us on a tour through the most influential images in science. Each holds an important place in the growth of human understanding and carries with it a story that illuminates its origin and meaning. Together they reveal something of the beauty and truth of the universe, and why, so often, a picture is better than a thousand words.

Predictioneer

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (Author)

* Bruce Bueno de Mesquita can predict the future. He is a master of game theory, a rather fancy name for a simple idea: when people compete with each other they always do what they think is in their own best interest. Bueno de Mesquita uses game theory to foretell - and even engineer - political, financial and personal events. In fact, Bueno de Mesquita's forecasts, for everyone from the CIA to major companies, have an astonishing ninety per cent success rate. In this startling and revelatory book he describes his methods and allows us to play along.

* Bueno de Mesquita explores the origins of game theory as formulated by John Nash, the Nobel Prize-winner who became the subject of the film A Beautiful Mind. He has developed Nash's ideas to create a rigorous and pragmatic system of calculation that enables us to think strategically about what our opponents want, how much they want it, and how they might react to our every move.

* Bueno de Mesquita applies his methods to many of the most pressing issues of our day. He advises how best to contain the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea. He shows how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might be resolved. He explains how corporate fraud can be anticipated and prevented. He addresses climate change and international terrorism: their likely evolution and our most effective response.

* But, as Bueno de Mesquita makes clear, game theory isn't just for saving the world. It can also help in your own life - to succeed in a legal dispute, to advance your career or that of a colleague, and even to buy a car at the lowest possible price.

* Shrewd, provocative and original, Predictioneer will change your understanding of the world - both now and in the future. If life's a game, then Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is the one essential member of your team.

Chasing Alpha

Philip Augar (Author)

In 1997 it seemed that things in the City could only get better. The incoming Labour government gave the Bank of England independence, it introduced a state of the art system of light-touch regulation; and it signalled that it was happy to see finance let rip.

For ten years everything went according to plan. Buoyed by a strong pound and cheered on by an excitable media, the bankers became the heroes of the age. The City embarked on a giddy programme of innovation, asset prices boomed and Britain seemed at last to have shaken off its post-war malaise. Politicians took to lecturing their European counterparts on the need to deregulate, to focus on shareholder value and to dispense with an outdated and discredited social market model.

And then in the summer of 2007 everything began to collapse. One household name after another - Northern Rock, Bradford & Bingley, HBOS - failed or was forcibly merged. Barely a year later the government took controlling stakes in the banking sector and the reputation of the City was in tatters.

In Chasing Alpha Philip Augar tells the extraordinary story of how a major economy tried to reinvent itself as a hedge fund crossed with an offshore tax haven. It is all here: the greed, the guile, the excess. Anyone who worked in finance, and anyone who watched the disaster unfold, will be riveted by this, the first sober history of an intoxicated decade.

The Janus Point

Julian Barbour (Author)

What is time? Why is the past so different from the present and the future?

This simple question is in fact one of the deepest, most long-standing problems in physics. None of the known laws of the universe can explain it. In The Janus Point, Julian Barbour presents a bold new thesis and a possible solution, with radical implications for our understanding of the Big Bang and the nature of time itself.

His argument rests on two vital insights. The first is that the most common explanation for time – entropy – is flawed: firstly, because we have no way of explaining how the concentration of energy that would allow the Big Bang to take place came about, and secondly because none of our understanding of entropy takes into account the fact that the universe is infinitely expanding. In addition, our universe is actually becoming ever more complex and ordered as it expands, not less so. The second is a phenomenon which Barbour labels ‘The Janus Point’: any system of particles in motion will pass through a single moment of smallest size, never to be repeated.

Combining these two observations, Barbour argues that the universe, and therefore time itself, may not have begun at the Big Bang, but rather at The Janus Point, thus solving the conundrum of entropy.

Monumental in vision and scope, The Janus Point offers a ground-breaking challenge to our understanding of the universe and a brilliant solution of breath-taking elegance and import to this most fundamental of problems.

Ebola

David Quammen (Author)

In 1976 a deadly virus emerged from the Congo forest. As swiftly as it came, it disappeared, leaving no trace.

Over the four decades since, Ebola has emerged sporadically, each time to devastating effect. It can kill up to 90% of its victims. In between these outbreaks, it is untraceable, hiding deep in the jungle. The search is on to find Ebola’s elusive host animal. And until we find it, Ebola will continue to strike.

Acclaimed science writer and explorer David Quammen first came near the virus whilst travelling in the jungles of Gabon, accompanied by local men whose village had been devastated by a recent outbreak. Here he tells the story of Ebola, its past, present and its unknowable future.

100 Essential Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know About Maths and the Arts

John D. Barrow (Author)

What can maths tell us about art and design?

Professor John D. Barrow has all the answers. In 100 Essential Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know About Maths and the Arts, he shows us that mathematics and the arts are not so far removed from each other. He takes us on a 100-step tour, guiding us through art forms as various as sculpture, literature, architecture and dance, and reveals what maths can tell us about the mysteries of the worlds of art and design.

We find out why diamonds sparkle, how many words Shakespeare knew and why the shower is the best place to sing. We discover why an egg is egg-shaped, why Charles Dickens crusaded against maths and how a soprano can shatter a wine glass without touching it...

Enlivening the everyday with a new way of looking at the world, this book will enrich your understanding of the maths and art that surround us in our day-to-day lives.

Tiepolo Pink

Roberto Calasso (Author)

The eighteenth-century Venetian painter Giambattista Tiepolo spent his life executing commissions in churches, palaces, and villas, often covering vast ceilings like those at the Würzburg Residenz in Germany and the Royal Palace in Madrid with frescoes that are among the glories of Western art. The life of an epoch swirled around him - but though his contemporaries appreciated and admired him, they failed to understand him.

Few have even attempted to tackle Tiepolo's series of thirty-three bizarre and haunting etchings, the Capricci and the Scherzi, but Roberto Calasso rises to the challenge, interpreting these etchings as chapters in a dark narrative that contains the secret of Tiepolo's art. Blooming ephebes, female satyrs, Oriental sages, owls, snakes: we will find them all, including Punchinello and Death, within the pages of this book, along with Venus, Time, Moses, numerous angels, Cleopatra and Beatrice of Burgundy - a motley, gypsyish company always on the go.

Calasso makes clear that Tiepolo was more than a dazzling intermezzo in the history of painting. Rather, he represented a particular way of meeting the challenge of form: endowed with a fluid, seemingly effortless style, Tiepolo was the last incarnation of that peculiar Italian virtue sprezzatura, the art of not seeming artful.

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