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David Crane's first book, 'Lord Byron's Jackal' was published to great acclaim in 1998, and his second, 'The Kindness of Sisters' published in 2002, is a groundbreaking work of romantic biography. In 2005 the highly acclaimed 'Scott of the Antarctic' was published, followed by 'Men of War', a collection of 19th Century naval biographies, in 2009. His 'Empires of the Dead' was shortlisted for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize. He lives in north-west Scotland.
[Previously published as 'Went The Day Well'] 'Of all the books marking the bicentenary Waterloo, this has to be the best' Spectator 'A book to die for' Evening Standard From Samuel Johnson Prize shortlisted author David Crane, this is a breathtaking portrait of the Britain that fought the battle of Waterloo. As Wellington's rain-sodden army retreated towards an obscure valley called Waterloo, the men and women of Britain were still going to the theatre and science lectures, working in the fields and the factories, reading and writing books and sermons, painting their pictures and sitting in front of Lord Elgin's marbles. David Crane's stunning freeze-frame of Britain on this day of momentous change shifts hour by hour between Britain and Belgium. The Britain that fought Waterloo - its radicals and patriots, artisans and aristocrats, prisoners and poets - appears through the smoke of battle and the mythology of Waterloo in this magnificent and original tracing of the endless, overlapping connections between people's lives.
A sweeping political, social, military and cultural overview of the United Kingdom on the eve, and then the day, of the greatest battle fought by British arms. Midnight, Sunday, 17 June 1815. There was no town in England that had not sent its soldiers, hardly a household that was not holding its breath, not a family, as Byron put it, that would escape 'havoc's tender mercies' at Waterloo, and yet at the same time life inevitably went on as normal. As Wellington's rain-sodden army retreated for the final, decisive battle, men and women in England were still going to the theatre and science lectures, still working in the fields and the factories, still reading and writing books and sermons, still painting their pictures and sitting in front of Lord Elgin's marbles as if almost five thousand did not already lie dead. After ten hours of savage fighting, Waterloo would be littered with the bodies of something like 47,000 dead and wounded. Meanwhile, as the day unfolded, a whole nation, countryside and town, artisan and aristocrat, was brought together by war. From Samuel Johnson Prize shortlisted author David Crane, Went the Day Well is a breathtaking portrait of Britain in those moments. Moving from England to the battle and back again this vivid, stunning freeze-frame of a country on the single most celebrated day in its modern history shows Crane's full range in tracing the endless, overlapping connections between people's lives. From private tragedies, disappointed political hopes, and public discontents to grandiloquent public celebrations and monuments, it answers Wellington's call as he rallied his troops to 'Think what England is thinking of us now'.
The First World War Diaries of Manchester Pals Captain Charlie May - written and kept in secret and published now for the first time. A born storyteller, Charlie May's vivid eye for detail and warm good humour brings his experience in the trenches (and the experience of millions of ordinary men like him) to life for a 21st-century readership. Captain Charlie May was killed, aged 27, in the early morning of 1st July 1916, leading the men of `B Company', 22nd Manchester Service Battalion (the Manchester Pals) into action on the first day of the Somme. This tolerant and immensely likeable man had been born in New Zealand and - against King's regulations - he kept a diary in seven small, wallet-sized pocket books. A journalist before the war and a born storyteller, May's diaries give a vivid picture of battalion life in and behind the trenches during the build-up to the greatest battle fought by a British army and are filled with the friendships and tensions, the home-sickness, frustrations, delays and endless postponements, the fog of ignorance, the combination of boredom and terror to which every man that has ever fought could testify. His diaries reflect on the progress of the war, tell jokes - good and bad, give details of horse-rides along the Somme valley, afternoons with a fishing rod, lunch in Amiens, a gastronomic celebration of Christmas 1915 and concerts in `Whiz Bang Hall'. He describes battles not just with the enemy, but with rats, crows and on the makeshift football pitch - all recorded with a freshness that brings these stories home as if for the first time. The diaries are also written as an extended and deeply-moving love letter to his wife Maude and baby daughter Pauline. `I do not want to die', he wrote - `Not that I mind for myself. If it be that I am to go, I am ready. But the thought that I may never see you or our darling baby again turns my bowels to water.' Fresh, eloquent and warm, these diaries were kept secret from the censor and were delivered to his wife after his death by a fellow soldier in Charlie's company. Edited by his great-nephew and published for the first time, these diaries give an unforgettable account of the war that took Charlie May's life, and millions of others like him.
Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction; the extraordinary and forgotten story behind the building of the First World War cemeteries. In the wake of the First World War, Britain and her Empire faced the enormous question of how to bury the dead. Critically-acclaimed author David Crane describes how the horror of the slaughter motivated an ambulance commander named Fabian Ware to establish the Commonwealth war cemeteries. Behind these famous monuments - the Cenotaph, Tyne Cot, Menin Gate, Etaples amongst them - lies a deeply moving story; 'Empires of the Dead' chronicles a generation coming to terms with grief on a colossal scale.
Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction; the extraordinary and forgotten story behind the building of the First World War cemeteries, due to the efforts of one remarkable and visionary man, Fabian Ware. Before WWI, little provision was made for the burial of the war dead. Soldiers were often unceremoniously dumped in a mass grave; officers shipped home for burial. The great cemeteries of WWI came about as a result of the efforts of one inspired visionary. In 1914, Fabian Ware joined the Red Cross, working on the frontline in France. Horrified by the hasty burials, he recorded the identity and position of the graves. His work was officially recognised, with a Graves Registration Commission being set up. As reports of their work became public, the Commission was flooded with letters from grieving relatives around the world. Critically acclaimed author David Crane gives a profoundly moving account of the creation of the great citadels to the dead, which involved leading figures of the day, including Rudyard Kipling. It is the story of cynical politicking, as governments sought to justify the sacrifice, as well as the grief of nations, following the 'war to end all wars'.
David Crane has given us a magisterial portrait of one of Britain's greatest heroes and explorers, acclaimed as the 'masterpiece' on the subject. Reissued for the 100th anniversary of Scott's doomed expedition. 'It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more...For God's sake look after our people.' These were the final words written in Scott's diary on 29 March 1912, as he lay dying of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold, in his tent on his return journey from the South Pole. Since then he has been the subject of many books. Yet in all the pages that have been written about him, the personality behind the legend has been forgotten or distorted beyond all recognition. David Crane's magisterial biography redresses this completely. By reassessing Scott's life and his substantial scientific achievements, Crane is able to provide a fresh and exciting perspective on both the Discovery expedition of 1901-4 and the Terra Nova expedition of 1910-12. The courage and tragedy of Scott's last journey are only one part of the process, for the scientific enquiry that led up to it transformed the whole nature and ambition of Antarctic exploration. Written with the full support of Scott's surviving relatives, and with access to the voluminous diaries and records of key participants, this definitive biography sets out to reconcile the very private struggles of the man with the very public life of extremes that he led.