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There is nothing quite as beautiful as an English country house in summer. And there has never been a summer quite like that Indian summer between the two world wars, a period of gentle decline in which the sun set slowly on the British Empire and the shadows lengthened on the lawns of a thousand stately homes. Real life in the country house during the 1920s and 1930s was not always so sunny. By turns opulent and ordinary, noble and vicious, its shadows were darker. In The Long Weekend, Adrian Tinniswood uncovers the truth about a world half-forgotten, draped in myth and hidden behind stiff upper lips and film-star smiles.
WINNER OF THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION SHORTLISTED FOR THE SLIGHTLY FOXED BEST FIRST BIOGRAPHY AWARD AND JQ-WINGATE LITERARY PRIZE The first is the hidden story of two Nuremberg prosecutors who discover, only at the end of the trial, that the man they are prosecuting may be responsible for the murder of their entire families in Nazi-occupied Poland, in and around Lviv. The two prosecutors, Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin, were remarkable men, whose efforts led to the inclusion of the terms 'crimes against humanity' and 'genocide' in the judgement at Nuremberg. The defendant, Hans Frank, Hitler's personal lawyer and Governor-General of Nazi-occupied Poland, turns out to be an equally compelling character. The lives of these three men lead Sands to a more personal story, as he traces the events that overwhelmed his mother's family in Lviv and Vienna during the Second World War. At the heart of this book is an equally personal quest to understand the roots of international law and the concepts that have dominated Sands' work as a lawyer. Eventually, he finds unexpected answers to his questions about his family, in this powerful meditation on the way memory, crime and guilt leave scars across generations, and the haunting gaps left by the secrets of others.
Using up to the minute archaeological research together with the latest scientific insights, Alice Roberts provides a thoroughly readable introduction to the world of the Celts. There are intriguing new theories overtaking the established ideas we have of the Celts – ideas that have political implications even today. She's very good at balancing what the established Greek and Roman records give us with what is likely propaganda and what we know. The book accompanies a forthcoming BBC series, The Celts, and there you will be able to see some of the evidence discussed in the book, the sites, the art, including some amazing early sculptures, and the gravegoods that tell us so much about our ancestors. Like for Like Reading A History of Ancient Britain, Neil Oliver The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe, Graham Robb
World War Two - we are an island, don't produce enough food, enough raw materials, armaments or men to fight - Britain's unique vulnarability. It led to The Battle of the Atlantic, fighting back against the German planes, U-boats and battle ships. What a desperate fight it was and how well Jonathan Dimbleby illuminates the confusion, the losses and the resistance to the superior German forces. He gives us the course of the battle(s), the strategies and plans – or lack of them but what I found most humbling was the human story he brings us, the sacrifice and bravery of the ordinary seamen, the sheer terror of being bombed and shipwrecked, lost in the vast ocean, prey to the enemy and to the cold. Like for Like Reading. The Cruel Sea (Novel), Nicholas Monsarrat. Citizen Sailors: The Royal Navy in the Second World War, Glyn Prysor.
This is a fascinating yet controversial account of Britain's role in India in the lead up to Independence in 1947 and in particular the last three years. It is a very different view to the history we have taken as true until now. I was sceptical before opening this book yet on reading it, there clearly is another dimension to the story of the period which perhaps in official circles was ignored and his writing is concise and persuasive. Given the author, Walter Reid is a hugely admired and respected writer on military and political history whose research is incredibly impressive, his viewpoint should not be ignored. Keeping the Jewel in the Crown is an incredibly readable work of non-fiction that deserves to be read. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... ‘Keeping the Jewel in the Crown is in the best traditions of historical writing. It’s well researched, concisely written, stimulating and controversial. Walter Reid has an extraordinary talent to get to the heart of the matter, to make sense of complex issues, to present a balanced viewpoint and to present it clearly. Liberal use of anecdote about the personalities and events he describes adds another dimension, bringing out the human element which is so crucial to our understanding of history.’ Andrew Simmons, Managing Editor, Birlinn
In association with the flagship BBC2 series. Voices of World War Two tells this multi-faceted story through the eye-witness accounts of those who were there, from Japanese prisoner of war Fergus Anckorn to Dame Vera Lynn, from Bletchley Park veteran Jean Valentine to Dad's Army creator Jimmy Perry, and from fighter pilot Tom Neil to the Queen's cousin Margaret Rhodes. Together their testimony creates a vivid, often deeply moving picture of an extraordinary epoch - and the extraordinary people who lived through it.
'I do not live in a corner. A thousand eyes see all I do.' Elizabeth I The Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers. Even in their most private moments, they were accompanied by a servant specifically appointed for the task. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed. These attendants knew the truth behind the glamorous exterior. They saw the tears shed by Henry VII upon the death of his son Arthur. They knew the tragic secret behind 'Bloody' Mary's phantom pregnancies. And they saw the 'crooked carcass' beneath Elizabeth I's carefully applied makeup, gowns and accessories. It is the accounts of these eyewitnesses, as well as a rich array of other contemporary sources that historian Tracy Borman has examined more closely than ever before.
'Well written and persuasive ...objective and well-rounded...this scholarly rehabilitation should be the standard biography', Andrew Roberts, Mail on Sunday 'A true judgment of him must lie somewhere between hero and zero, and in this detailed biography Gary Sheffield shows himself well qualified to make it ...a balanced portrait' The Sunday Times 'Solid scholarship and admirable advocacy' Sunday Telegraph Douglas Haig is the single most controversial general in British history. In 1918, after his armies had played a major role in the First World War, he was feted as a saviour. But within twenty years his reputation was in ruins, and it has never recovered.
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.
Stephen Bates, a former Guardian Royal Correspondent, chronicles the ups and downs of the British Monarchy and their evolution into today's Royalty Inc. He writes about how we perceive Royalty, the changes made to accommodate public access via media or the recent invention of “The Walkabout”. Shocking to read of photographers hurling abuse at Royals in the hope of a snap of temper, an ill-judged remark but that seems the least of the relentless press and media attentions matched only by a struggling Royal Household trying to deal with it. It's a portrait of change and adaptation and above all the life of a woman about to become our longest ever serving Monarch. Like for Like Reading On Duty with the Queen, Dickie Arbiter with Lynne Barrett-Lee Behind Palace Doors, Colin Burgess
Firstly, I'm no expert on history so can't answer for the accuracy of the text and the range of material used in writing this history. For me as a general (female) reader it was a gripping read, especially as the role of women – as noted in the subtitle is well-covered with some illuminating interviews describing their lives and new found freedoms and responsibilities. That the RAF routed the German Luftwaffe during WWII is well-known, less well-known perhaps is just how desperate the fight was and it was this struggle – against destruction and possible invasion that really held my attention. Sinclair McKay vividly conveys the benzedrine fuelled exploits of the pilots, the infighting between the brass-hats and he is especially good at the development of the technologies, the radar, guns and planes that helped the RAF as they progressed from a small force building their reserves to the triumphs of the Battle of Britain and on to the controversial bombing raids over Germany. Like for Like ReadingChurchill's Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914-1945, Nicholas Rankin Spies in the Skies: The Secret Battle for Aerial Intelligence During World War Two, Taylor Downing
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.
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.