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Siberia’s story is traditionally one of exiles, penal colonies and unmarked graves. Yet there is another tale to tell. Dotted throughout this remote land are pianos – grand instruments created during the boom years of the nineteenth century, and humble, Soviet-made uprights that found their way into equally modest homes. They tell the story of how, ever since entering Russian culture under the influence of Catherine the Great, piano music has run through the country like blood. How these pianos travelled into this snow-bound wilderness in the first place is testament to noble acts of fortitude by governors, adventurers and exiles. That stately instruments might still exist in such a hostile landscape is remarkable. That they are still capable of making music in far-flung villages is nothing less than a miracle. But this is Siberia, where people can endure the worst of the world — and where music reveals a deep humanity in the last place on earth you would expect to find it.
WINNER OF THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NONFICTION 2019 Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, and gives these women back their stories.
Would you sacrifice yourself to save thousands of others? In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interned at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich. His mission was to report on Nazi crimes and raise a secret army to stage an uprising. The name of the detention centre -- Auschwitz. It was only after arriving at the camp that he started to discover the Nazi's terrifying plans. Over the next two and half years, Witold forged an underground army that smuggled evidence of Nazi atrocities out of Auschwitz. His reports from the camp were to shape the Allies response to the Holocaust - yet his story was all but forgotten for decades. This is the first major account to draw on unpublished family papers, newly released archival documents and exclusive interviews with surviving resistance fighters to show how he brought the fight to the Nazis at the heart of their evil designs. The result is an enthralling story of resistance and heroism against the most horrific circumstances, and one man's attempt to change the course of history.
A fascinating story of a smart and truly tireless woman I don’t know if Clara Colby is well-known in the US but, from a UK perspective, I hadn’t heard of her before I encountered this book. Born in England in 1846, she moved to America as a child. After graduating from university (surely a remarkable thing for the time), she began campaigning for women’s votes in the US and later internationally. Her lecture schedule and the travel this required would be exhausting in our times but, with the additional travel difficulties and burdens of her times, it is truly incredible. This is a really fascinating story of a smart and tireless woman, with a chaotic personal life, always campaigning for the greater good. Sarah Webb, A LoveReading Ambassador
Glastonbury 50 is the authorised, behind-the-scenes, inside story of the music festival that has become a true global phenomenon. The story begins in 1970. The day after Jimi Hendrix's death... dairy farmer Michael Eavis invites revellers to his field in Somerset to attend a 'Pop, Folk & Blues' festival. Tickets are GBP1 each, enticing more than a thousand customers with the promise of music, dance, poetry, theatre, lights and spontaneous entertainment - as well as free milk from his own Worthy Farm cows. Fast forward through five tumultuous decades and the Eavis's vision now encompasses a gigantic 'city in the fields', with a total annual population nearing a quarter of a million. Tickets sell out within minutes, the show is beamed live to more than 40 countries around the globe, and over 3 million people are registered to attend. Meanwhile, the bill has expanded to include big name performers, artists and designers from every branch of the creative arts. Glastonbury Festival is now the largest outdoor green fields event in the world. In their own words, Michael and Emily Eavis reveal the stories behind the headlines, and celebrate 50 years of history in the Vale of Avalon. They're joined by a host of big-name contributors from the world of music - among them Adele, JAY-Z, Dolly Parton, Chris Martin, Noel Gallagher, Lars Ulrich and Guy Garvey. They're joined by artists - Stanley Donwood, Kurt Jackson and many more. Writers - Caitlin Moran, Lauren Laverne, Billy Bragg - and by a host of photographers, from Seventies icon Brian Walker to rock and roll legends Jill Furmanovsky and Greg Williams. Together they bring you the magic that makes Glastonbury, Glastonbury.
I must confess that I exclaimed with delight when I saw All Good Things for the first time. It is fabulously described as “a treasury of images to uplift the spirits and reawaken wonder”. The size is perfect, the cover divinely enticing, and it just beckoned me in. I simply sank into the pages of the most beautiful images of art from around the world and through time. You may already have heard of, or indeed follow Stephen Ellcock on social media. Over the last ten years he has shared his images with the world. And we have taken them to our heart. Here he “explores our world and the human response to it one realm at a time”, and so we visit various realms from ‘The Face of the Water’, through to ‘The Human Realm’ and ‘Gods and Monsters’. The images and their explanations sit patiently, just waiting for you to turn the page. I have quite fallen in love with this book, it is gorgeous. September Publishing has created a little masterpiece, and it has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book and one of my picks of the month. All Good Things is a treasure of a treasury and would make the most perfect gift (but make sure you keep a copy for yourself!).
Amusing, inspirational and underpinned by a radiant reverence for its subjects, this collection shares the indomitable acts of fifteen fascist-fighting “loose canons”, toppling the perception that Christians of the cloth are meek and mild. The acts of opposition are framed within the context of Christianity’s ideological history: ”Since the days of St Paul, Christianity has had a lack of internal ethnic distinction as a key tenet of its teaching (if not, regrettably, always of its practice). Paul wrote that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female; all are one in Christ.” Within these dynamic accounts we meet a bedazzling band of brave clerics from across the continent. Take Abbé Pierre, the “miraculous mountaineering monk”, for example. He started out as “an awkward and gangly young would-be monk” and“ended his career the most respected and popular man in France” on account of his pivotal role in the Resistance against the Nazis and Italian Fascists. Enduring the massacre of comrades and incarceration, and having engaged in numerous audacious acts of Resistance, plucky Pierre’s spirit and ethos (“to serve the most needy first”) lives on today in his charity that spans thirty-seven countries. The author duly acknowledges that, “for every tale of bravery related above, there were tales of cowardice and collaboration”. He also points out that many of the men and women of the Resistance exhibited “the frailty of humanity” and goes on to posit the view that “true strength is achieved in embracing our weakness”. Sage words to conclude a book that’s suffused in the vitality of its subjects’ inspirational acts and the author’s affable wit.
A stimulating, fresh, and thoughtful read that ponders and wanders through some of the big questions in philosophy. When I initially picked this book up, I did wonder whether it was a quirky guide to training your dog, I very quickly realised that it is in fact an interesting introduction to philosophy (for humans). The author Anthony McGowan is an award winning writer for children and young adults, and has lectured widely on creative writing and philosophy (he has a BA, Mphil and PhD in philosophy). He has joined the two together to produce the most fabulous book for anyone who has questions about the way we humans think and act. The author and his dog Monty chat about philosophy on their daily walks. And so we join them as they take a humorous light stroll through some really pretty big subjects, including happiness and ethics. It made me consider and think about some of the things I take for granted, the discussion between the two helps stimulate thoughts. There is one part where I simultaneously wanted to berate and hug the pair, you’ll know what I mean when you get there! At the end there are suggestions for further reading, including on logic, and the meaning of life. If you’re at all curious about philosophy and want a fascinating introduction, then look no further than How To Teach Philosophy to Your Dog as it is a wonderfully inspiring read.
Authoritative and inspirational, this new Rough Guide has been published in cooperation with the Liberation Route Europe Foundation to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in 2019-2020. It’s a uniquely informative, engaging tool that will enable travellers to discover enlightening sights and experiences along the path of the Liberation Route. The Liberation Route is a remembrance trail that connects important milestones from modern European history, forming a link between the main regions impacted by the Liberation of Europe in 1944–1945, and managed by the Liberation Route Europe (LRE) Foundation. In the words of project founder Jurriaan de Mol, the LRE is committed to “remembrance and reflection”. Its multi-perspective approach encourages people to visit remembrance sites and experience history firsthand. Now, with the publication of Rough Guide to the Liberation Route Europe, touring this fascinating trail has never been easier or more rewarding. The book’s bringing together of history, biography and travel information will both inspire pre-trip planning and inform while on the road. Features include: Carefully considered routes to help travellers plan their trip. Detailed regional coverage of important Liberation sights in all nine countries – UK, Italy, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic and Germany. Evocative in-depth features, including inspirational biographies of war heroes. Suggestions for unique on-the-road experiences, from exploring D-Day beaches in a D-Day Jeep in Normandy, to witnessing Nijmegen’s daily Sunset March. About Founded in 1970, Apa Publications is the globally-renowned publisher of Rough Guides, Insight Guides and Berlitz travel books, maps, language-learning resources and apps, with over 900 publications. The wide range of innovative, high-quality travel and language products is designed to meet the needs of every kind of traveller, from first-time visitors to the round-the-world explorers. Synonymous with practical travel information, quality writing and a trustworthy “tell it like it is” ethos, ROUGH GUIDES has been inspiring independent-minded travellers for over 35 years. The Rough Guides list includes over 400 titles, from country guides, pocket guides and inspirational travel specials, to phrasebooks and eBooks.www.roughguides.com also offers a booking platform for tailor-made trips. Head here to discover more about the Liberation Route Europe.
Revealing the beautiful romance between a couple who went on to be married for 58 years alongside fascinating social history, this anthology of letters - enhanced with dozens of photos and detailed footnotes - is an enthralling delight. Ronnie and Hilda met in 1945 when he was home on leave from Italy after fighting in some of the most brutal battles of WW2. Though they came from different backgrounds – Ronnie’s much tougher then Hilda’s more secure, carefree upbringing - there was a spark between them and they were engaged only ten days after meeting, before Ronnie returned to his duties. Through the letters that grace the pages of this elegantly executed book, we’re offered a window into how they came to know one another, with an abundance of sweetness laced through all their correspondence, such as when Ronnie remarks early on, “By the way, I’ve got a lovely cold. I’m really enjoying my eyes watering because I caught it off you!” Hilda and Ronnie’s letters lay bare their personal love story, and provide unique insights into the social history of life for post-war Britons, both at home and overseas. Ronnie shares his experience of attending the trials of SS soldiers and witnessing firing squads, while also expressing a longing to see Hilda in her “new dress, deep red cherry”, while Hilda tells of comings and goings at home, sharing ideas and plans for their much-anticipated wedding. Framed by family history and details of the couple’s later life, this is a radiant read from start to finish. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
“I was born black, working class and northern in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain”, so begins the author’s personal prologue to a book that provides a vital, alternate lens through which to view Europe. Growing up as such, Pitts felt “I was being forced to react against one culture or overidentify with the other”. A visit to the Calais Jungle in 2016 resulted in him being stopped, searched and ID’d before being allowed in, albeit still under suspicion. A bleak reminder that when non-whites have the right documents, “I wasn’t all the way in”. What follows is a document of Pitts’s encounters and meetings with dozens of Afropeans; black citizens of Europe juggling identities and loyalties – a self-described ‘black French militant’ on the outskirts of Paris; a Belgian-Congolese artist in Brussels; a Sudanese-German chef in Berlin; a fascinating interview with Caryl Philipps, the acclaimed Kittian-British writer. A remarkable feat of research and understanding, this seminal book is reportage at its finest, enhanced by the author’s striking photography.
A thrilling Cold War story about a KGB double agent, by one of Britain's greatest historians - now with a new afterword. 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...
Exploring black music and social movements from Motown, soul and the civil rights movement, through the Black Panther Movement, Jimi Hendrix and Black Woodstock, this trilogy is a triumphant mix of meticulous research and an author’s palpable passion for his subject. Set against the tinderbox backdrop of the Vietnam War and widespread civil unrest, the trilogy begins in Detroit, 1967, and tells the twelve-month story of a city on the edge, with one of the world’s most famous record labels – Detroit-based Motown – at a pivotal point in its history, while riots in the city prove pivotal to the wider country. Taken as a whole, this smart sequence provides a multi-angled view of the time, and it’s clear how social deprivation and a spirit of resistance led to both political action and revolutions of a musical kind. In-depth, enlightening, entertaining and affecting, these forensically evocative books will make you want to delve deeper into the work of the seminal musicians who wrote the soundtrack to this seminal period of American history.
History is such a broad and universal subject. After all, we’re all living through it and we all have our own. Here’s where you can get new perspectives on past events, discover a subject you’ve never explored or broaden your existing knowledge.
Our resident expert, Sue Baker, has compiled a wide range of great books covering everything from the major wars, or the creation of nations to the life-journeys of world-changing individuals. From social history (Family Britain by David Kynaston) and the World Wars (Swansong 1945 by Walter Kempowski) to the much loved periods of popular fiction authors (The Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones; The Rise of the Tudors: The Family that Changed Britain by Chris Skidmore): From the realities of often romanticised times (The Knight who saved England by Richard Brooks) to the lives of history’s extraordinary people (Cecily Neville: Mother of Kings by Amy Licence). You’ll find a resource here to fascinate on many levels. History without histrionics.