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Intensively researched, lovingly compiled, more accessible than ever, whatever your subject of interest - this is where you’ll find it.
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.
For most of human history, the seas have been the main means of long-distance trade and communication between peoples – for the spread of ideas and religion as well as commerce. This tremendous book begins with the earliest seafaring societies – the Polynesians of the Pacific, possessors of intuitive navigational skills long before the invention of the compass – and ends with the giant liners and container ships of today, which still conduct 80% of world trade by sea. In between, David Abulafia follows merchants, explorers, pirates, cartographers and travellers in their quests for spices, gold, ivory, slaves, lands for settlement and knowledge of what lay beyond. Avoiding as far as possible a Eurocentric approach, the book deals with the Atlantic waters before Columbus and shows how lucrative trade routes were created that carried goods and ideas along the ‘Silk Route of the Sea’ well before the Europeans burst into the Indian Ocean around 1500. In an extraordinary narrative of humanity and the oceans, Abulafia shows how maritime networks grew from many separate localities to form a continuum of interconnection across the globe. This is history of the grandest scale, and from a bracingly different perspective.
‘Cricket is an Indian game accidentally discovered by the English,’ it has been said. Today, the Indian cricket team is a powerful national symbol, a unifying force in a country riven by conflicts. But India was represented by a cricket team long before it became an independent nation. Drawing on an unparalleled range of original archival sources, Cricket Country tells the extraordinary story of how the idea of India took shape on the cricket pitch in the age of empire. Conceived by an unlikely coalition of imperial and local elites, it took twelve years and three failed attempts before the first Indian cricket team made its debut on Britain’s playing fields in the Coronation summer of 1911. This is a tale with an improbable cast of characters set against the backdrop of anti-colonial protest and revolutionary politics. The team’s captain was the embattled ruler of a powerful Sikh state. The other team members were chosen on the basis of their religious identity. Remarkably, two of the cricketers were Dalits. Over the course of their historic tour, these cricketers participated in a collective enterprise that highlights the role of sport in fashioning the imagined communities of empire and nation.
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.
This book tells the story of the Bible, explaining how it came to be constructed and how it has been understood from its remote beginnings down to the present. John Barton describes how the texts which comprise the Bible were written and when, what we know – and what we cannot know – about their authors and what they might have meant. Incisive readings shed new light on even familiar passages, exposing not only the traditions behind them, but also the busy hands of the scribes and editors who assembled them. Tracing its dissemination and interpretation in Judaism and Christianity from Antiquity to the rise of modern biblical scholarship, Barton elucidates how meaning has both been drawn from the Bible and imposed upon it. Part of the book’s originality is to illuminate the gap between religion and scripture, the ways in which neither maps exactly onto the other, and how religious thinkers from Augustine to Spinoza have reckoned with this. Barton shows that if we are to regard the Bible as ‘authoritative’, it cannot be as believers have so often done in the past.
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.
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.