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Intensively researched, lovingly compiled, more accessible than ever, whatever your subject of interest - this is where you’ll find it.
As 6th June, the 75th anniversary of the world’s largest amphibian invasion fast approaches, it was, perhaps, perfect timing to have the opportunity to read and review this gem of a book. Interspersed with personal anecdotes from those who were there, complimented by some excellent photographs, maps and diagrams, and littered with incredible stories of bravery, D-Day is a fascinating insight into not only what happened on the day of the invasion but also the huge range of talent, ingenuity and downright genius that came into play as Operation Overlord was organised and kept secret from the occupying German forces. Trickery, subterfuge, technology and invention all played their part. Will Fowler has created an excellent work for people who would like to understand how the liberation of Europe began but who don’t have the will or the time to wade through the vast array of works written on the subject. This book brings it all together in sufficient detail that you can appreciate and applaud without being bogged down. I learned a lot from reading this book, an awful lot, and my respect for the generation who gave so many lives that we may enjoy ours, grew with that experience. Highly recommended.
More than any other canonical English writer, Geoffrey Chaucer lived and worked at the centre of political life—yet his poems are anything but conventional. Edgy, complicated, and often dark, they reflect a conflicted world, and their astonishing diversity and innovative language earned Chaucer renown as the father of English literature. Marion Turner, however, reveals him as a great European writer and thinker. To understand his accomplishment, she reconstructs in unprecedented detail the cosmopolitan world of Chaucer’s adventurous life, focusing on the places and spaces that fired his imagination.
'Behind every great woman is a man who tried to stop her.' A century on from the first votes for women in the UK, award-winning author Jeanette Winterson asks what we still stand to learn from the Suffragettes. Examining recent women's rights movements, the worlds of politics and technology, social media and changes in the law, Winterson celebrates how far we have come but demands that we do more. There is still so far to go, so much courage we still need to find. Witty and wise, incisive and inspiring, Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere is a powerful reminder of the need for true equality and an urgent call to arms.
Readers less interested in speculating about who Jack the Ripper was in favour of learning more about the women murdered in London’s East End have had little reason to clear shelf space – until now. Finally, a decade on from Neal Shelden’s book, which skims the surface of victims’ stories, Hallie Rubenhold offers a deep-dive into their lives. Divided chronologically in terms of their deaths in 1888, parts covering ‘Polly’, ‘Annie’, ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Kate’ contain four chapters each; the fifth, ‘Mary Jane’, contains two and is relatively weak. Illustrations are uninspired. Notwithstanding the lack of archival material leading Rubenhold to interchange between telling specific stories of the “canonical” five and a general social history of the Victorian period, meticulous research undergirds captivating portraits akin to those featured in her histories of Georgian women. Shelden is the only Ripperologist widely cited by a historian who arguably pays insufficient acknowledgement to researchers who have revealed much of the known information on these vulnerable women. This is not to say they have nothing to learn, however, unless they know of Polly’s husband’s infidelity, Annie’s treatment in a sanatorium for alcoholism or are versed in Liz’s upbringing in Sweden. Rubenhold’s thesis that three of the five slept – not solicited – on the streets is as intriguing as her tendency to fill gaps in the source material with speculation is irksome, yet no serious Ripperologist can ignore The Five. More significantly, the book’s indictment of past and present misogyny will help ensure such discrimination has no future. Lee Ruddin
For more than 25 years, David Nott has taken unpaid leave from his job as a general and vascular surgeon with the NHS to volunteer in some of the world's most dangerous war zones. From Sarajevo under siege in 1993 to clandestine hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, he has carried out lifesaving operations and field surgery in the most challenging conditions, and with none of the resources of a major London teaching hospital. The conflicts he has worked in form a chronology of 21st-century combat: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur, Congo, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Gaza and Syria. But he has also volunteered in areas blighted by natural disasters, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal. Driven both by compassion and passion, the desire to help others and the thrill of extreme personal danger, he is now widely acknowledged to be the most experienced trauma surgeon in the world. But as time went on, David Nott began to realise that flying into a catastrophe - whether war or natural disaster - was not enough. Doctors on the ground needed to learn how to treat the appalling injuries that war inflicts upon its victims. Since 2015, the foundation he set up with his wife, Elly, has disseminated the knowledge he has gained, training other doctors in the art of saving lives threatened by bombs and bullets. War Doctor is his extraordinary story.
Satan's Gut, Sausage Boats and Ice Kisses: Review by Sam Lewis This is travel guide for those seeking a thrilling experience or a bold adventure! Written almost as a journal/information book, this non fiction write up details Tony’s courage at his daring outdoor pursuits and valiant voyages. The author has written informally, and the book almost has the feel that you are catching up with a friend. There are many humerous elements to his style of writing and although adventure travelling to the extreme that the author did, is not for me I imagine that he would be very appealing to those seeking the same thrills. If I am being completely honest the book in its entirety was not for me but not because of the way it was presented, it had interesting points, drew you in with the humour and beautiful pictures of exciting landscapes. Ordinarily this book would not be for me due to the genre, as it is not something I would have picked up, however I do feel that there is a niche audience for this and those interested would be encouraged by it. Interesting insight into a extreme travellers guide for beginners or those teetering on the edge of a thrilling adventure!
'Anthony Howell’s new prose book, with a title that would have enthralled Rimbaud, incarnates otherness from within an ultra-inventive mind that creates, coolly and passionately at the same time, a coalition of the alienated or, more mildly, differentiated selves which make up this post-modern personality with its urban Jewish and rural Quaker roots. It took an epileptic fit to trigger Howell’s remarkable exploration of psychic chaos which is contained, not so paradoxically, in a super-formalistic structure, a systems network involving repetition as in a baroque poem, that would be a credit to French formalists such as Jacques Roubaud, Raymond Queneau and Alain Robbe-Grillet. Among many themes there is a harsh critique of Israel, but written as much in sorrow as in anger from within the goodly tent. The author intersperses his own text with his fluent version of a novella by Mamdou Adwan, the tragic story of an old Palestinian who has been dispossessed of all he owns. This counterpoint complicates further the music of Howell’s earthly spheres, but such are his skills that we read the book as a straightforward story, a story whose unrevealed codes work on us subliminally so that we are transported, as if listening to Bach.' — Anthony Rudolf
In the early twentieth century, a teenage Greek girl in Constantinople loses both her parents and, together with her younger sister, gets thrown into a massive population exchange between Greece and Turkey. She ends up in a refugee camp in northern Greece. With determination she creates a life in her new country, becoming a teacher in a small mountain town near Greeces northwestern borders with Albania and Yugoslavia. She meets and marries a young lawyer from a historic and tragic Macedonian family. Her story extends through a century of war and peace and is peppered with likable characters, horrific events, and a love story. Among the protagonists are two strong women, a charming and indomitable man, and a smart but sickly kid. Now and again her drive, perseverance, and common sense will save the day and reward her with happiness, which nevertheless will come and go like interludes of sunshine in otherwise endlessly stormy weather. The reader will also get candid and authentic glimpses on poorly known historical conflicts such as the Balkan Wars, the worlds greatest ethnic cleansing, the occupation loan that the Nazis exacted from Greece, the Greek Civil War, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and the dispute over the use of the name Macedonia.
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.
A third spellbinding book from Yuval Noah Harari that looks at the most important issues we face today. Featured in Episode 5 of the LoveReading Podcast
Letters from Alice is an enchanting mix of mystery, social history and family dynamics. It focuses on the work of almoners (usually women), who were the forerunners to modern social workers, responsible for the welfare of hospital patients and their families. Petrina Banfield brings to life the sounds, sights and aromas of 1920s London in a cleverly crafted drama that reads like fiction but is steeped in fact. I was mesmerised by almoner Alice Hudson’s story, which is based on original archive material – reports, newspaper articles, letters, receipts and even weather reports. Letters from Alice was hard to put down, with its realistic colourful characters, a mystery to solve and vivid descriptions of the grit and grime of the poorest parts of London. This is a thought-provoking read and also incredibly moving, highlighting the hardships experienced by many families at that time. Yet despite the sadness of the story, I also found myself full of hope, knowing that these hardworking almoners were fighting for patients’ rights and welfare. If you have an interest in social history (whether non-fiction or fiction), this is a perfect choice for you - a delightful story, a learning experience and a joy to read. Perfect for fans of Call the Midwife and other British dramas.
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.