No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…Find out more
Intensively researched, lovingly compiled, more accessible than ever, whatever your subject of interest - this is where you’ll find it.
This is a fascinating yet controversial account of Britain's role in India in the lead up to Independence in 1947 and in particular the last three years. It is a very different view to the history we have taken as true until now. I was sceptical before opening this book yet on reading it, there clearly is another dimension to the story of the period which perhaps in official circles was ignored and his writing is concise and persuasive. Given the author, Walter Reid is a hugely admired and respected writer on military and political history whose research is incredibly impressive, his viewpoint should not be ignored. Keeping the Jewel in the Crown is an incredibly readable work of non-fiction that deserves to be read. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... ‘Keeping the Jewel in the Crown is in the best traditions of historical writing. It’s well researched, concisely written, stimulating and controversial. Walter Reid has an extraordinary talent to get to the heart of the matter, to make sense of complex issues, to present a balanced viewpoint and to present it clearly. Liberal use of anecdote about the personalities and events he describes adds another dimension, bringing out the human element which is so crucial to our understanding of history.’ Andrew Simmons, Managing Editor, Birlinn
There are many accounts of the Battle of the Somme by surviving British soldiers. But the Somme was not a single battle but a series of offensives and small localised attacks fought over four and a half months. What is etched into the British psyche is the huge loss of life suffered by the 'poor bloody infantry' on the first day of the Somme, 1 July 1916. The carnage was such that few survived to tell the tale of that first horrific day and the existing published memoirs are about later in the Battle or by non-infantry troops who while involved in the offensive, didn't actually go 'over the top'. What is also unique about Edward Liveing's vivid and detailed account is that it begins the evening before the attack and ends close to 24 hours later and is entirely focussed on the first day of the Somme. A young junior officer in the London Regiment on the battlefield that infamous day, he was in command of a platoon of about fifty men, when he scaled the crest of his trench into no-mans land.
Stephen Bates, a former Guardian Royal Correspondent, chronicles the ups and downs of the British Monarchy and their evolution into today's Royalty Inc. He writes about how we perceive Royalty, the changes made to accommodate public access via media or the recent invention of “The Walkabout”. Shocking to read of photographers hurling abuse at Royals in the hope of a snap of temper, an ill-judged remark but that seems the least of the relentless press and media attentions matched only by a struggling Royal Household trying to deal with it. It's a portrait of change and adaptation and above all the life of a woman about to become our longest ever serving Monarch. Like for Like Reading On Duty with the Queen, Dickie Arbiter with Lynne Barrett-Lee Behind Palace Doors, Colin Burgess
Firstly, I'm no expert on history so can't answer for the accuracy of the text and the range of material used in writing this history. For me as a general (female) reader it was a gripping read, especially as the role of women – as noted in the subtitle is well-covered with some illuminating interviews describing their lives and new found freedoms and responsibilities. That the RAF routed the German Luftwaffe during WWII is well-known, less well-known perhaps is just how desperate the fight was and it was this struggle – against destruction and possible invasion that really held my attention. Sinclair McKay vividly conveys the benzedrine fuelled exploits of the pilots, the infighting between the brass-hats and he is especially good at the development of the technologies, the radar, guns and planes that helped the RAF as they progressed from a small force building their reserves to the triumphs of the Battle of Britain and on to the controversial bombing raids over Germany. Like for Like ReadingChurchill's Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914-1945, Nicholas Rankin Spies in the Skies: The Secret Battle for Aerial Intelligence During World War Two, Taylor Downing
For much of the First World War, the small French village of Vignacourt was always behind the front lines - as a staging point, casualty clearing station and recreation area for troops of all nationalities moving up to and then back from the battlefields on the Somme. Here, one enterprising photographer took the opportunity of offering portrait photographs. A century later, his stunning images were discovered, abandoned, in a farm house. Captured on glass, printed into postcards and posted home, the photographs enabled soldiers to maintain a fragile link with loved ones at home. In 'Lost Tommies', this collection covers many of the significant aspects of British involvement on the Western Front, from military life to the friendships and bonds formed between the soldiers and civilians. With servicemen from around the world these faces are gathered together for what would become the front line of the Battle of the Somme.
With First World War casualties mounting, there was an appeal for volunteers to train as front-line medical staff. Many women heeded the call: some responding to a vocational or religious calling, others following a sweetheart to the front, and some carried away on the jingoistic patriotism that gripped the nation in 1914. Despite their training, these young women were ill-prepared for the anguished cries of the wounded and the stench of gangrene and trench foot awaiting them at the Somme. Isolated from friends and family, most discovered an inner strength, forging new and close relationships with each other and establishing a camaraderie that was to last through the war and beyond.
A fascinating portrait of life in Shakespeare's London, seen from the theatrical perspective, by popular historian, Catharine Arnold. Arnold creates a vivid portrait of Shakespeare and his London from the bard's own plays and contemporary sources, combining a novelist's eye for detail with a historian's grasp of his unique contribution to the development of the English theatre. This is a portrait of Shakespeare, London, the man and the myth.
Reading Sonia Purnell's study of Clementine Churchill's life one is made aware of quite how far Clementine Churchill has dropped out of public awareness. Wrongly as we quickly learn as she was Winston Churchill's helpmeet and supporter, advising and helping, she was a superb hostess, a tireless worker for charity and good causes, a woman remembered and respective by nearly everyone she met. Her rackety upbringing will be a revelation for anyone new to the Churchill story as will the story of her marriage to Winston, her rivals in love and her own doubts for her future happiness. Churchill was quoted as saying he couldn't have won the Second World War without her and in First Lady we learn how this true marriage of love and mind came about and carried through to the end. Like for Like Reading Speaking for Themselves: The Private Letters of Sir Winston and Lady Churchill, Mary Soames (Editor Clementine Churchill, Mary Soames
Four hundred years after Shakespeare's death, it is difficult to imagine a time when he was not considered a genius. But those 400 years have seen his plays banished and bowdlerized, faked and forged, traded and translated, re-mixed and re-cast. Shakespeare's story is not one of a steady rise to fame; it is a tale of set-backs and sea-changes that have made him the cultural icon he is today. This revealing new book accompanies an innovative exhibition at the British Library that will take readers on a journey through more than 400 years of performance. It will focus on ten moments in history that have changed the way we see Shakespeare, from the very first production of Hamlet to a digital-age deconstruction. Each performance holds up a mirror to the era in which it was performed. The first stage appearance by a woman in 1660 and a black actor playing Othello in 1825 were landmarks for society as well as for Shakespeare's reputation. The book will also explore productions as diverse as Peter Brook's legendary A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mark Rylance's 'Original Practices' Twelfth Night, and a Shakespeare forgery staged at Drury Lane in 1796, among many others.Over 100 illustrations include the only surviving playscript in Shakespeare's hand, an authentic Shakespeare signature, and rare printed editions including the First Folio. These - and other treasures from the British Library's manuscript and rare book collections - will feature alongside film stills, costumes, paintings and production photographs.In this book ten leading experts take a fresh look at Shakespeare, reminding us that the playwright's iconic status has been constructed over the centuries in a process that continues across the world today.
Shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Non-Fiction Award 2016. Mary Beard has pulled off a totally involving and immersive history of Ancient Rome. She calls it her view of why Rome matters – and it does as she makes so clear. What makes this such an involving history is that it isn't a dogged linear narrative, it darts about with Mary Beard's authorial voice acting as a guide not only to the history but the people, their language and the evidence for what we know. Bringing evidence from every corner, from funeral monuments to the contents of middens, from underwater and underground, she makes this an enthralling narrative, bringing Ancient Rome and its people to vivid life. It's well illustrated with a very good further reading list. An absolute ten out of ten from me. Like for Like ReadingCity of the Sharp-Nosed Fish, Peter Parsons Under Another Sky:Journeys in Roman Britain, Charlotte Higgins Mary Beard's Inheritance Books...1. Charlotte Bronte, Jane EyreThe classic novel about what women want, or think they want, or don't. Is 'Reader, I married him' the ultimate happy ending or not? It's a book that changes in all kinds of interesting ways as you re-read it over a lifetime.2. Homer, The OdysseyAt the very start of Western literature, the Odyssey underlies so much of what we read right down to the present day. A story of homecoming, temptation and the perilous boundary between civilisation and barbarism.3. Germaine Greer, The Female EunuchThe liveliest and punchiest classic of feminism: somethimg every woman and man should read. It still changes lives, like it changed mine.
November 2015 Book of the Month. Mary Beard has pulled off a totally involving and immersive history of Ancient Rome. She calls it her view of why Rome matters – and it does as she makes so clear. What makes this such an involving history is that it isn't a dogged linear narrative, it darts about with Mary Beard's authorial voice acting as a guide not only to the history but the people, their language and the evidence for what we know. Bringing evidence from every corner, from funeral monuments to the contents of middens, from underwater and underground, she makes this an enthralling narrative, bringing Ancient Rome and its people to vivid life. It's well illustrated with a very good further reading list. An absolute ten out of ten from me. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like ReadingCity of the Sharp-Nosed Fish, Peter Parsons Under Another Sky:Journeys in Roman Britain, Charlotte Higgins Mary Beard's Inheritance Books...1. Charlotte Bronte, Jane EyreThe classic novel about what women want, or think they want, or don't. Is 'Reader, I married him' the ultimate happy ending or not? It's a book that changes in all kinds of interesting ways as you re-read it over a lifetime.2. Homer, The OdysseyAt the very start of Western literature, the Odyssey underlies so much of what we read right down to the present day. A story of homecoming, temptation and the perilous boundary between civilisation and barbarism.3. Germaine Greer, The Female EunuchThe liveliest and punchiest classic of feminism: somethimg every woman and man should read. It still changes lives, like it changed mine.
It took several million bullets and roughly an hour to effectively destroy General Sir Douglas Haig's grand plans for the first day of the Somme, 1 July 1916. By day's end, 19,240 British soldiers were dead, crumpled khaki bundles scattered across pasture studded with the scarlet of poppies and smouldering shell holes. A further 35,493 were wounded. This single sunny day remains Britain's worst-ever military disaster. Responsible were hundreds of German machine guns and scores of artillery batteries that had waited silently to deal death to the long-anticipated attack. Reviewing the day's events fully from, for the first time, both the British and German perspectives, Andrew Macdonald explains how and why this was a disaster waiting to happen. While laying the blame for the butchery squarely on widespread British command failure, he also shows that the outcome was a triumph of German discipline, planning and tactics, with German commanders mostly outclassing their opposite numbers.
Edwin Lutyens' Memorial to the Missing of the Somme at Thiepval in Northern France, visited annually by tens of thousands of tourists, is arguably the finest structure erected by any British architect in the twentieth century. It is the principal, tangible expression of the defining event in Britain's experience and memory of the Great War, the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916, and it bears the names of 73,000 soldiers whose bodies were never found at the end of that bloody and futile campaign.
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.