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History Books

Intensively researched, lovingly compiled, more accessible than ever, whatever your subject of interest - this is where you’ll find it.

24 Hours on the Somme My Experiences of the First Day of the Somme 1 July 1916

24 Hours on the Somme My Experiences of the First Day of the Somme 1 July 1916

Author: Edward G.D. Liveing Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2016

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.

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The Lost Tommies

The Lost Tommies

Author: Ross Coulthart Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/05/2016

 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.

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Sisters of the Somme True Stories from a First World War Field Hospital

Sisters of the Somme True Stories from a First World War Field Hospital

Author: Penny Starns Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2016

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.

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Shakespeare in Ten Acts

Shakespeare in Ten Acts

Author: Gordon McMullan Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/04/2016

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.

First Day of the Somme The Complete Account of Britain's Worst-Ever Military Disaster

First Day of the Somme The Complete Account of Britain's Worst-Ever Military Disaster

Author: Andrew Macdonald Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2016

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.

The Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

The Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

Author: Gavin Stamp Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2016

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.

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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.