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History Books

Intensively researched, lovingly compiled, more accessible than ever, whatever your subject of interest - this is where you’ll find it.

Thomas Cromwell The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant

Thomas Cromwell The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant

Author: Tracy Borman Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/09/2014

Thomas Cromwell is known to millions as the leading character in Hilary Mantel's bestselling Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. But who was the real Cromwell? Born a lowly tavern keeper's son, Cromwell rose swiftly through the ranks to become Henry VIII's right hand man, and one of the most powerful figures in Tudor history. The architect of England's break with the Roman Catholic Church and the dissolution of the monasteries, he oversaw seismic changes in our country's history. Influential in securing Henry's controversial divorce from Catherine of Aragon, many believe he was also the ruthless force behind Anne Boleyn's downfall and subsequent execution. But although for years he has been reviled as a Machiavellian schemer who stopped at nothing in his quest for power, Thomas Cromwell was also a loving husband, father and guardian, a witty and generous host, and a loyal and devoted servant. With new insights into Cromwell's character, his family life and his close relationships with both Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII, joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces Tracy Borman examines the life, loves and legacy of the man who changed the shape of England forever.

Britain's Lost Regiments

Britain's Lost Regiments

Author: Trevor Royle Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/10/2014

The history of the British Army is really the story of its regiments and the men who served in them. From the very beginning they formed the backbone of a singular institution that is itself a reflection of the way the people of Britain view themselves and their collective past. Beginning with the Glorious revolution of 1660 and the return to the throne of King Charles II, it was a time when Cromwell's Commonwealth and his military institutions were not popular. But the new king had to be protected and the country had to be defended. Through a process of slow growth and frequent tardiness an army eventually came into being and from the outset it was based solidly on a regimental system which needed steady supplies of recruits to keep it in being. Since then, men have joined up for many valid reasons such as adventure, patriotism or a sense of duty; but not all motives were commendable. For every young man attracted by the chance to wear a uniform there would be many more who had fallen foul of the law, been poverty-stricken or fallen into debt, or had committed a sexual indiscretion. Others were simply coerced. With the exception of the two great world wars of the twentieth century the Army rarely numbered more than 250,000 and in 2020 its numbers will have fallen to 82,000, a poor reward, one would have thought, for all past endeavours. Over the years periods of warfare have always been followed by times of peace when expenditure on the armed forces dropped, soldiers were made redundant and regiments, mainly infantry, were either disbanded or amalgamated, often with painful consequences. However, there is a case for saying that no regiment is ever entirely lost and that it will always live on in men's minds as a mystical entity. The British Army certainly makes a great deal of the 'golden thread' which still links, say, the Middlesex 'Die-Hards' to the modern Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, but the harsh reality is that those ties are only as strong as the men who made them. Like it or not, the old and bold soldiers are a dwindling band and once they have fallen out for the last time the regiments will be truly lost. For this reason Trevor Royle now explores the histories of the many regiments that have disappeared; to celebrate their existence as well as the men and officers who served with distinction within them.

Culloden Scotland's Last Battle and the Forging of the British Empire

Culloden Scotland's Last Battle and the Forging of the British Empire

Author: Trevor Royle Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/02/2016

The Battle of Culloden has gone down in history as the last major battle fought on British soil: a vicious confrontation between Scottish forces supporting the Stuart claim to the throne and the English Royal Army. But this wasn't just a conflict between the Scots and the English, the battle was also part of a much larger campaign to protect the British Isles from the growing threat of a French invasion. In Trevor Royle's vivid and evocative narrative, we are drawn into the ranks, on both sides, alongside doomed Jacobites fighting fellow Scots dressed in the red coats of the Duke of Cumberland's Royal Army. And we meet the Duke himself, a skilled warrior who would gain notoriety due to the reprisals on Highland clans in the battle's aftermath. Royle also takes us beyond the battle as the men of the Royal Army, galvanized by its success at Culloden, expand dramatically and start to fight campaigns overseas in America and India in order to secure British interests; we see the revolutionary use of fighting techniques first implemented at Culloden; and the creation of professional fighting forces.

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Farewell to the Horse The Final Century of Our Relationship

Farewell to the Horse The Final Century of Our Relationship

Author: Ulrich Raulff Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/05/2017

The relationship between horses and humans is an ancient, profound and complex one. For millennia horses provided the strength and speed that humans lacked. How we travelled, farmed and fought was dictated by the needs of this extraordinary animal. And then, suddenly, in the 20th century the links were broken and the millions of horses that shared our existence almost vanished, eking out a marginal existence on race-tracks and pony clubs. Farewell to the Horse is an engaging, brilliantly written and moving discussion of what horses once meant to us. Cities, farmland, entire industries were once shaped as much by the needs of horses as humans. The intervention of horses was fundamental in countless historical events. They were sculpted, painted, cherished, admired; they were thrashed, abused and exposed to terrible danger. From the Roman Empire to the Napoleonic Empire every world-conqueror needed to be shown on a horse. Tolstoy once reckoned that he had cumulatively spent some nine years of his life on horseback. Ulrich Raulff's book, a bestseller in Germany, is a superb monument to the endlessly various creature who has so often shared and shaped our fate.

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The First Bohemians Life and Art in London's Golden Age

The First Bohemians Life and Art in London's Golden Age

Author: Vic Gatrell Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/06/2014

This is the colourful, salacious and sumptuously illustrated story of Covent Garden - the creative heart of Georgian London - from Wolfson Prize-winning author Vic Gatrell. It is shortlisted for the hessell tiltman prize 2014. In the teeming, disordered, and sexually charged square half-mile centred on London's Covent Garden something extraordinary evolved in the eighteenth century. It was the world's first creative 'Bohemia'. The nation's most significant artists, actors, poets, novelists, and dramatists lived here. From Soho and Leicester Square across Covent Garden's Piazza to Drury Lane, and down from Long Acre to the Strand, they rubbed shoulders with rakes, prostitutes, market people, craftsmen, and shopkeepers. It was an often brutal world full of criminality, poverty and feuds, but also of high spirits, and an intimacy that was as culturally creative as any other in history. Virtually everything that we associate with Georgian culture was produced here.

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Soldier, Spy A Survivor's Tale

Soldier, Spy A Survivor's Tale

Author: Victor Gregg, Rick Stroud Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/11/2015

Beginning in 1946, when Victor Gregg was demobbed after the end of the Second World War and deposited in London Paddington, Soldier, Spy is the story of a soldier returning to civilian life and all the challenges it entails. Facing a new and ever-changing London, a shifting political landscape and plenty of opportunities to make a few bob, repairing the bomb damage and doing construction work on the Festival of Britain site, Vic moves from one job and pastime to the next, becoming by turns cyclist, builder, decorator, trade union official, Communist Party member and long-distance lorry driver. Finally he is offered 'a nice clean job' as chauffeur to the chairman of the Moscow Narodny Bank in which he will be able to return home to his wife and children every night. However, there is more to his new employers than meets the eye, and it is not long before his wartime work with the Long Range Desert group catches up with him in the form of an approach from the security services. Lured by the excitement his postwar life has lacked, Vic adds spy to his roster of employments, risking everything in the process.

Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes The Story of Women in the 1950s

Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes The Story of Women in the 1950s

Author: Virginia Nicholson Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/03/2015

In Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes, Virginia Nicholson tells the story of women in the 1950s: a time before the Pill, when divorce spelled scandal and two-piece swimsuits caused mass alarm. Turn the page back to the mid-twentieth century, and discover a world peopled by women with radiant smiles, clean pinafores and gleaming coiffures; a promised land of batch-baking, maraschino cherries and brightly hued plastic. A world where the darker side of the decade encompasses rampant prostitution, a notorious murder, and the threat of nuclear disaster. Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes reconstructs the real 1950s, through the eyes of the women who lived it. Step back in time to where our grandmothers scrubbed their doorsteps, cared for their families, lived, laughed, loved and struggled. This is their story.

Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes The Story of Women in the 1950s

Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes The Story of Women in the 1950s

Author: Virginia Nicholson Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2016

In Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes, Virginia Nicholson tells the story of women in the 1950s: a time before the Pill, when divorce spelled scandal and two-piece swimsuits caused mass alarm. Turn the page back to the mid-twentieth century, and discover a world peopled by women with radiant smiles, clean pinafores and gleaming coiffures; a promised land of batch-baking, maraschino cherries and brightly hued plastic. A world where the darker side of the decade encompassed rampant prostitution, a notorious murder, and the threat of nuclear disaster. Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes reconstructs the real 1950s, through the eyes of the women who lived it. Step back in time to when our grandmothers scrubbed their doorsteps, cared for their families, lived, laughed, loved and struggled. This is their story.

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Hitler: A Biography Ascent 1889-1939

Hitler: A Biography Ascent 1889-1939

Author: Volker Ullrich Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2016

Selected as a Book of the Year by the New York Times, Times Literary Supplement and The Times Despite his status as the most despised political figure in history, there have only been four serious biographies of Hitler since the 1930s. Even more surprisingly, his biographers have been more interested in his rise to power and his methods of leadership than in Hitler the person: some have even declared that the Fuhrer had no private life. Yet to render Hitler as a political animal with no personality to speak of, as a man of limited intelligence and poor social skills, fails to explain the spell that he cast not only on those close to him but on the German people as a whole. In the first volume of this monumental biography, Volker Ullrich sets out to correct our perception of the Fuhrer. While charting in detail Hitler's life from his childhood to the eve of the Second World War against the politics of the times, Ullrich unveils the man behind the public persona: his charming and repulsive traits, his talents and weaknesses, his deep-seated insecurities and murderous passions.

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Swansong 1945 A Collective Diary from Hitler's Last Birthday to VE Day

Swansong 1945 A Collective Diary from Hitler's Last Birthday to VE Day

Author: Walter Kempowski Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/11/2014

Swansong 1945 brings together hundreds of letters, diary extracts and autobiographical accounts to chronicle four days in 1945: 20th April, Hitler's last birthday, 25th April, when American and Soviet troops first met at the Elbe, 30th April, the day Hitler committed suicide, and 8th May, the day of the German surrender. Side by side in these pages, we encounter civilians fleeing on foot to the west, British and American POWs dreaming of home, concentration camp survivors, loyal soldiers from both sides of the conflict as well as national leaders including Churchill. These first-hand accounts, which Walter Kempowski painstakingly collected, organised and shaped for publication over twenty years, provide the raw material of history unmediated by a historian's narrative. The voices of individuals speak for themselves, and through their many experiences, perspectives and situations, the condition of Europe during the zero hour of war is viscerally recreated. A modern classic, this vital work brings to life a time whose repercussions are still felt today.

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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.