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Intensively researched, lovingly compiled, more accessible than ever, whatever your subject of interest - this is where you’ll find it.
The unpredictable origins and etymologies of our cracking Christmas customs. We don't know that the date we celebrate was chosen by a madman, or that Christmas, etymologically speaking, means 'Go away, Christ'. Nor do we know that Christmas was first celebrated in 243 AD on 28 March - and only moved to 25 December in 354 AD. We're oblivious to the fact that the advent calendar was actually invented by a Munich housewife to stop her children pestering her for a Christmas countdown. And we would never have guessed that the invention of crackers was merely a way of popularizing sweet wrappers.
Winner of The Edward Stanford Travel Book of the Year 2017. An investigation into an intriguing subject – Islands that feature in myth, even been found on historical maps, they all have one thing in common, they don’t exist - by Malachy Tallack whose 60 Degrees North was published to acclaim recently. I much enjoyed reading about the history of these islands and was frequently distracted by the beautiful full-colour illustrations by Katie Scott, who has previously worked with the New York Times, Kew Gardens and the BBC. This is a book to cherish and to dip in and out of when time allows. Like for Like ReadingThe Book of Imaginary Lands, Umberto Eco An Atlas of Countries that Don’t Exist: A Compendium of Fifty Unrecognized and Largely Unnoticed States, Nick Middleton
How much do we really know about the place we call 'home'? In this sweeping, timely book, Nicholas Crane tells the story of Britain. The British landscape has been continuously occupied by humans for 12,000 years, from the end of the Ice Age to the twenty-first century. It has been transformed from a European peninsula of glacier and tundra to an island of glittering cities and exquisite countryside. In this geographical journey through time, we discover the ancient relationship between people and place and the deep-rooted tensions between town and countryside. The twin drivers of landscape change - climate and population - have arguably wielded as much influence on our habitat as monarchs and politics. From tsunamis and farming to Roman debacles and industrial cataclysms, from henge to high-rise and hamlet to metropolis, this is a book about change and adaptation. AS Britain lurches from an exploitative past towards a more sustainable future, this is the story of our age.
Hearing of this title my heart sunk a little, a book filled with (mostly) Victorian moustache twiddling tales of derring do – or so I thought - how wrong can you be? Instead the word journey has been interpreted in its broadest sense. Undersea and above, the distant past to the present, space and sky exploration, up mountains and down chasms. Adventurers and explorers are in groups or alone, escaping, seeking, migrating and just plain discovering, well known tales sit aside litle known travels with heroic stories on every page. Among accounts of tragedy, cruelty and desperation sit many records of men – and women striving to discover and add to the sum of human knowledge. ~ Sue Baker October 2016 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. Like for Like ReadingThe Seventy Great Journeys in History, Robin Hanbury-TenisonThe Faber Book of Exploration, Benedict Allen (Editor)
I was ten years old when I came across Boadicea, and she became the first woman to make me realise that the designated future of a girl born in 1950 - to be sweet, domesticated, undemanding and super feminine - was not necessarily the case. Boadicea battled the Romans. Nancy Astor fought in Parliament. Emmeline Pankhurst campaigned for female suffrage. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became a pioneering physician in a man's profession. Mary Quant revolutionised the fashion industry. Britain has traditionally been defined by its conflicts, its conquests, its men and its monarchs. It's high time that it was defined by its women.
At the end of 1918 one prescient American historian began to write a history of the Great War. What will you call it? he was asked. The First World War, was his bleak response. In Between the Wars Philip Ziegler examines the major international turning points - cultural and social as well as political and military - that led the world from one war to another. His approach is panoramic, touching on all parts of the world where history was being made, examining Gandhi's March to the Sea and the Chaco War in South America alongside Hitler's rise to power. It is the tragic story of a world determined that the horrors of the First World War would never be repeated, yet committed to a path which in hindsight was inevitably destined to end in a second, even more devastating conflict. Each chapter bears the unmistakable stamp of Ziegler's scholarship: a keen eye for the telling anecdote, elegant and fluid prose, and calm and fair judgments. In a world that grows ever more uncertain, its perspective on how hopes of peace can dissolve into the promise of war becomes more relevant with each passing day.
GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2016 'The most brilliant and fascinating book I have read in my entire life' Dan Snow 'Blitzed is making me rethink everything I've ever seen and read about WWII...terrific!' Douglas Coupland 'A huge contribution...remarkable' Antony Beevor, BBC RADIO 4 'Extremely interesting ...a serious piece of scholarship, very well researched' Ian Kershaw The promiscuous use of drugs at the very highest levels also impaired and confused decision-making, with Hitler and his entourage taking refuge in potentially lethal cocktails of stimulants administered by the physician Dr Morell as the war turned against Germany. While drugs cannot on their own explain the events of the Second World War or its outcome, Ohler shows, they change our understanding of it. Blitzed forms a crucial missing piece of the story.
Offers an examination of our nation's history told through 50 key documents. In this book, the authors explain their criteria for the selection of each one and its relevance. From the Magna Carta to Tim Berners Lee's memo for a World Wide Web, it is suitable for all history enthusiasts. Peter and Dan Snow historians with a wealth of experience in politics, military history, and current affairs explore the implications and impact of these treasures, which they personally chose. Ten of these documents appear in facsimile form, and all reproductions are the same size as the original.
Dogs as hunters, fighters, companions and helpers – all feature in this compendium of 100 dogs famous and otherwise. There are dogs in fact - revealing some little-known stories of bravery and love and dogs from fiction too – the infamous Hound of the Baskervilles to Bullseye from Oliver Twist and - I was glad to see - Timmy from Enid Blyton's Famous Five gets a mention too. The addition of copious illustrations from woodcuts to drawings and paintings as well as numerous photographs make this a dog-lovers delight. ~ Sue BakerLike for Like Reading:Dogs of Courage: When Britain's Pets went to War 1939-1945, Clare & Christy Campbell The Spirit of the Dog: An Illustrated History, Tamsin Pickeral A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'Dogs have always been by our side, working with and comforting us through times of both peace and war. This new book by historian and dog lover Emma White illustrates the many roles dogs have played in shaping our nation’s history, from famous breeds and royal pets to scrappy heroes and loveable mutts.' ~ Sophie Bradshaw, The History Press
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.
Winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2017. Christopher de Hamel is a man happy in his work – his enthusiasm and love for his subject lights up this account of medieval manuscripts and their history. With first-rate illustrations, we too can feel that we are examining these early books, sharing their beauty, learning of their importance and their long and complex histories. Above all I loved this book as a celebration of scholarship refuting the ridiculous comments regarding experts we have heard recently. Experts this painstaking, knowledgeable and inquisitive are to be welcomed – especially when they communicate with such wit and enjoyment. ~ Sue BakerLike for Like ReadingBooks of Hours, Phaidon EditorsBestiary, Richard Barber Wolfson History Prize Judges: “Imaginatively conceived, beautifully written and illustrated… de Hamel offers serious new insights in every chapter.”
'Impeccably researched, superbly told - by far the best book on the SAS in World War II' - Antony Beevor In the summer of 1941, at the height of the war in the Western Desert, a bored and eccentric young officer, David Stirling, came up with a plan that was radical and entirely against the rules: a small undercover unit that would inflict mayhem behind enemy lines. Despite intense opposition, Winston Churchill personally gave Stirling permission to recruit the toughest, brightest and most ruthless soldiers he could find. So began the most celebrated and mysterious military organisation in the world: the SAS. Now, 75 years later, the SAS has finally decided to tell its astonishing story. It has opened its secret archives for the first time, granting historian Ben Macintyre full access to a treasure trove of unseen reports, memos, diaries, letters, maps and photographs, as well as free rein to interview surviving Originals and those who knew them.
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.