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By the time of the ‘Scramble for Africa’ in the late nineteenth century, Africa had already been globally connected for many centuries. Its gold had fuelled the economies of Europe and the Islamic world since around 1000 CE, and its sophisticated kingdoms had traded with Europeans along the coasts from Senegal down to Angola since the fifteenth century. Until at least 1650, this was a trade of equals, using a variety of currencies – most importantly shells: the cowrie shells imported from the Maldives, and the nzimbu shells imported from Brazil. Toby Green’s groundbreaking new book transforms our view of West and West-Central Africa. A Fistful of Shells draws not just on written histories, but on archival research in nine countries, on art, praise-singers, oral history, archaeology, letter and the author’s personal experience to create a new perspective on the history of one of the world’s most important regions.
1913: the last long summer before the war. The country is gripped by suffragette fever. These impassioned crusaders have their admirers; some agree with their aims if not their forceful methods, while others are aghast at the thought of giving any female a vote. Meanwhile, hundreds of women are stepping out on to the streets of Britain. They are the suffragists: non-militant campaigners for the vote, on an astonishing six-week protest march they call the Great Pilgrimage. Rich and poor, young and old, they defy convention, risking jobs, family relationships and even their lives to persuade the country to listen to them. This is a story of ordinary people effecting extraordinary change. By turns dangerous, exhausting and exhilarating, the Great Pilgrimage transformed the personal and political lives of women in Britain for ever.
The Doomsday Machine is Ellsberg's hair-raising account of the most dangerous arms build-up in the history of civilisation, whose legacy - and proposed renewal under the Trump administration - threatens the very survival of humanity. It is scarcely possible to estimate the true dangers of our present nuclear policies without penetrating the secret realities of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, when Ellsberg had high level access to them. No other insider has written so candidly of that long-classified history, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era. Ellsberg's discussion of recent research on nuclear winter shows that even a 'small' nuclear exchange would cause billions of deaths by global nuclear famine. Framed as a memoir - a chronicle of madness in which Ellsberg acknowledges participating - this gripping expose reads like a thriller with cloak-and-dagger intrigue, returning him to his role as whistle-blower. It is a real-life Dr Strangelove story, but an ultimately hopeful - and powerfully important - book.
From rebel writers and outrageous occultists, to mayhem-making musicians, the exuberant individuals described herein are a heady hotchpotch of hell-raising, trailblazing outsiders, united by their links to London. As the author notes in his introduction, the city has “always been home to outsiders. To people who won't, or can't, abide by the conventions of respectable society” and, beginning with the rabble-rousing antics of Shakespeare’s unrulier contemporaries, this entertaining book takes readers on an exhilarating journey, with the Big Smoke’s most rebellious residents as tour guides. We encounter familiar flamboyant figures afresh - William Blake, Mary Shelley, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Dylan Thomas. We also meet lesser-known figures, such as the wealthy women at the heart of the Bright Young Things scene of the twenties and thirties. Later, we are thrust into the Swinging Sixties, and propelled into punk, which opened a door for London’s working class youth to make their own music and art, and thereby make something of themselves. This miscellany of miscreants comes highly recommended for anyone with an interest in London’s colourful cultural history, and for readers who are fuelled by the flames of rebellion. ~ Joanne Owen BUY DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER
Auntie's War is a love letter to radio. While these were the years when her sometimes bossy tones earned the BBC the nickname `Auntie', they were also a period of truly remarkable voices: Churchill's fighting speeches, de Gaulle's broadcasts from exile, J. B. Priestley, Ed Murrow, George Orwell, Richard Dimbleby and Vera Lynn. Radio offered an incomparable tool for propaganda; it was how coded messages, both political and personal, were sent across Europe, and it was a means of sending less than truthful information to the enemy. At the same time, eyewitness testimonies gave a voice to everyone, securing the BBC's reputation as reliable purveyor of the truth. Edward Stourton is a sharp-eyed, wry and affectionate companion on the BBC's wartime journey, investigating archives, diaries, letters and memoirs to examine what the BBC was and what it stood for. Full of astonishing, little-known incidents, battles with Whitehall warriors and Churchill himself, and with a cast of brilliant characters, Auntie's War is much more than a portrait of a beloved institution at a critical time. It is also a unique portrayal of the British in wartime and an incomparable insight into why we have the broadcast culture we do today.
An examination of 10 meals, not celebrated for any gourmet delights that might have been on show but for when they happened and who was at the dinner table. These meals changed history, starting with dinner on the eve of the Battle of Culloden through to Jimmy Carter’s peace brokering between Egypt and Israel. Accompanying the history, Chef Tony Singh has researched and recreated the meals to give a full picture of what was on the table at these momentous meetings. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like ReadingA History of Food in 100 Recipes, William Sitwell £16.99 Paperback 352 pages William Collins 12th March 2015 9780007412006Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, Bee Wilson £9.99 Paperback 416npages Penguin 24th October 2013 97801410849083
Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2018 "In the 1840s, operative surgery was a filthy business fraught with hidden dangers. It was to be avoided at all costs”. So states the author near the opening of this grippingly grisly work. But despite (or perhaps because of) these risk-riddled conditions, medical voyeurism became a sought-after source of Victorian entertainment. This was an era in which pus was seen as a sign of healing; when surgeons rarely washed their instruments or hands; an era in which theatres of death rang with the screams of patients and the gasps of shocked spectators. It was among such a medico-cultural environment that a young surgeon named Joseph Lister voiced the audacious idea that germs were the cause of infection, and they could be treated. Dripping with gory detail, drama and reverence for a medical visionary, this is absolutely fascinating stuff - a lively, enlightening journey through social and medical history, a brilliant biography of an ingenious doctor whose invention of antisepsis was nothing short of revolutionary. ~ Joanne Owen
Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2018 Combining exemplary investigative research with enthralling readability and a radiant human touch, this book will surely transform commonly-held perceptions of sixteenth century England, and the role of minorities in British history. Through detailed portraits of ten fascinating individuals whose stories have gone untold, this book lays bare the varied and often vital roles played by Africans who lived free and varied lives in Tudor times. As the author points out in her introduction, the popular view is that “people of African origin first arrived in England when the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury in 1948.” Not so, and the author also rebuffs the assumption that African presence in Tudor England was always an experience of “enslavement and discrimination”. Among these absorbing pages we discover John Blanke, a King’s trumpeter, most likely to have been born in North or West Africa, and Jacques Francis, a salvage diver who was the first known African to testify before an English court. Then there’s Moroccan Mary Fillis who came to England as a child and was baptised. This riveting reassessment of an oft-explored era deserves to be widely read. ~ Joanne Owen
I have a book, in similar format and subject on my own area showing excerpts from all the relevant mapping from the earliest to current times, the fascination being one of watching change happening as it does here in John Moore’s book. From the very beginnings, a tiny Glasgow steadily growing until it needs a map just to show where the sludge vessel is going to tip its load. Then, of course there are the world-famous docks, changing and developing along the banks of the Clyde. There are small towns obliterated by grandiose plans, naval maps and town plans, sewage works and ferries. It is quite startling to pass beyond some beautiful maps to a modern-day map of Strathclyde Loch which looks like a child’s drawing, thankfully that chapter is very short so we can go back and linger longer on the beauty of the mapmakers art. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading Giants of the Clyde: The Great Ships and the Great Yards by Robert Jeffrey Old Glasgow and the Clyde by Sandra Malcolm
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 lavishly illustrated account of human journeys with a foreword by Simon Reeve, from Ancient Persian couriers to the ascent of Everest, the invention of Concorde, and the voyage into space itself. Discover biographies of conquerors, explorers, and travellers, stories of scientific discovery and technological innovation, stunning works of art, and catalogues of travel-related memorabilia. This truly worldwide account is a glorious celebration of human journeys.
The story of England's medieval queens is vivid and stirring, packed with tragedy, high drama and even comedy. In the first volume of this epic new series, Alison Weir strips away centuries of romantic mythology and prejudice to reveal the lives of England's queens in the century after the Norman Conquest.
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.