Intensively researched, lovingly compiled, more accessible than ever, whatever your subject of interest - this is where you’ll find it.
From that first traumatic remembrance service at 11am on 11th November 1919, the last post continues to be played to end the two minute silence, most famously at The Cenotaph. Alwyn Turner considers the history of the bugle, the music and the part it plays in creating a memorial to the fallen. Like for Like Reading Empires of the Dead: How One Man's Vision Led to the Creation of World War One's War Graves, David Crane The Poppy: A History of Conflict, Loss, Remembrance, and Redemption, Nicholas J Saunders
April 2014 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. The 1990’s - the last decade and already how far away it seems, some of the attitudes, the fashions and the politics make it seem a distant time, older and wiser, we’re glad to have survived. This attempt to catch the 1990’s and its affect on Britain is largely successful and in its way a triumph. Especially good is the knitting together of high politics and low culture with everything in between and at over 600 pages a long, deliciously detailed trawl through a decade and a bit. Like for Like Reading No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980's, Andy McSmith Austerity Britain 1945-1951, David Kynaston
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 25 November 2010. In A World on Fire Amanda Foreman brings her unique style of epic biography to the American Civil War. This is a new and dramatic account of the first modern war and of Britain's part in it, for good or ill.
In the heroic days of rail travel, you could dine on kippers and champagne aboard the Brighton Belle; smoke a post-prandial cigar as the Golden Arrow closed in on Paris, or be shaved by the Flying Scotsman's on-board barber. Everyone from schoolboys to socialites knew of these glamorous 'named trains' and aspired to ride aboard them. In Belles and Whistles, Andrew Martin recreates five of these famous train journeys by travelling aboard their nearest modern day equivalents. Sometimes their names have survived, even if only as a footnote on a timetable leaflet, but what has usually - if not always - disappeared is the extravagance and luxury. As Martin explains how we got from there to here, evocations of the golden age contrast with the starker modern reality: from monogrammed cutlery to stirring sticks, from silence on trains to tannoy announcements, from compartments to airline seating. For those who wonder whatever happened to porters, dining cars, mellow lighting, timetables, luggage in advance, trunk murders, the answers are all here. Martin's five journeys add up to an idiosyncratic history of Britain's railways, combining humour, historical anecdote, reportage from the present and romantic evocations of the past.
Why did Guy Burgess, 1st class Cambridge scholar and apparently one of the most British of characters, agree to work for a foreign power, of which he knew very little, as a student and continue to serve them as one of the Cambridge Spies for some thirty years before disappearing permanently to the Soviet Union as the net closed in? So accessible and at times reading like a who's who from 1920 to 1950, Andew Lownie’s biography of Guy Burgess draws on incredibly extensive interviews with more than a hundred people who knew Burgess personally and the discovery of hitherto secret files, to bring to life the many lives of one of Britain’s most notorious, fascinating, charming and and yet ruthless traitors. Whether you detest the idea of someone so intelligent, gifted and privileged undermining his own country in the wholesale way he did, or not, the book deserves to be read so people can see beyond the vilified stereotype and understand the effect that social, political and intellectual upheaval can have on an impressionable young man, with no moral compass and a deep-seated desire to be someone and to shape events. A message from the Author... I’ve been fascinated by the Cambridge Spy Ring since Andrew Boyle’s The Climate of Treason led to the exposure of Anthony Blunt in 1979. Why had these members of the Establishment betrayed everything to which they apparently subscribed? What did they betray and how did they get away with it? The most enigmatic, complex and , I discovered, the most important was Guy Burgess who is a gift for a biographer. I hope I have conveyed the paradoxes of Stalin’s Englishman and you enjoy the book as much as I’ve enjoyed researching and writing it. Like for Like ReadingA Spy Among Friends: Philby and the Great Betrayal, Ben MacintyreDeception: Spies, Lies and How Russia Dupes the West, Edward Lucas
It took several million bullets and roughly an hour to effectively destroy General Sir Douglas Haig's grand plans for the first day of the Somme, 1 July 1916. By day's end, 19,240 British soldiers were dead, crumpled khaki bundles scattered across pasture studded with the scarlet of poppies and smouldering shell holes. A further 35,493 were wounded. This single sunny day remains Britain's worst-ever military disaster. Responsible were hundreds of German machine guns and scores of artillery batteries that had waited silently to deal death to the long-anticipated attack. Reviewing the day's events fully from, for the first time, both the British and German perspectives, Andrew Macdonald explains how and why this was a disaster waiting to happen. While laying the blame for the butchery squarely on widespread British command failure, he also shows that the outcome was a triumph of German discipline, planning and tactics, with German commanders mostly outclassing their opposite numbers.
Winner of the Galaxy Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2010. Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 17 December 2009. The book to accompany the brilliant TV series is equally as engrossing. Andrew Marr looks at one of the most interesting and complex times of British history with the fall of the empire at the end of Victoria's reign through to the end of World War Two. Marr is passionate and knowledgeable and very accessible. A really interesting and insightful read.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 17 December 2009. The book to accompany the brilliant TV series is equally as engrossing. Andrew Marr looks at one of the most interesting and complex times of British history with the fall of the empire at the end of Victoria's reign through to the end of World War Two. Marr is passionate and knowledgeable and very accessible. A really interesting and insightful read.
A look at post war political history in Britain from one of our most popular political journalists. If you want a general overview of this period then this is a great book to give you a solid grounding. As it covers quite a large period of time don't expect an in depth study of everything but it is accessible and interesting.
The loss of America in 1781 has traditionally been blamed on incompetent British military commanders and political leaders whose arrogant confidence and out-dated tactics were no match for the innovative and determined Americans. But this is far from the truth. Weaving together the personal stories of ten prominent characters, including King George III, Prime Minister Lord North, General Burgoyne, and the Earl of Sandwich, Andrew O'Shaughnessy demolishes the myths, emerging with a very different and much richer account of the conflict - one driven by able and even brilliant leadership.
On 1 July 1916, after a five-day bombardment, 11 British and 5 French divisions launched their long-awaited 'Big Push' on German positions on high ground above the Rivers Ancre and Somme on the Western Front. Some ground was gained, but at a terrible cost. In killing-grounds whose names are indelibly imprinted on 20th-century memory, German machine-guns - manned by troops who had sat out the storm of shellfire in deep dugouts - inflicted terrible losses on the British infantry. The British Fourth Army lost 57,470 casualties, the French Sixth Army suffered 1,590 casualties and the German 2nd Army 10,000. And this was but the prelude to 141 days of slaughter that would witness the deaths of between 750,000 and 1 million troops.
Without the railways for the Great Powers, the most terrible conflict the world has ever known would have taken a very different form - if it had happened at all. In a remarkable historical railway journey through Britain and Europe, author Andrew Roden tells the story of the men and women who manned the tracks and the trains, and who relied on them to get them to battle and back home again. Drawing on diaries, memoirs and archive material he reveals the personal stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and pays tribute to their overlooked contribution. Supported with remarkable illustrations and photography, Roden interweaves memories of his own present day travels by train with diary excerpts of ambulance train nurses, returning POWs, drivers that put their lives in danger for everyone on board and other key voices. Roden takes the reader on a gripping journey, from the secret planning rooms in Berlin, through to the killing fields of the trenches, as well as the home fronts of the key combatants. Looking at defining moments of railway history on both sides of the Great War they build a unique and very human picture of a wartime railway across Europe.
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.