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Intensively researched, lovingly compiled, more accessible than ever, whatever your subject of interest - this is where you’ll find it.
Edited by trailblazing broadcaster, editor and critic Margaret Busby OBE - Britain’s first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison and Busby in the 1960s - New Daughters of Africa is an extraordinary feat of publishing, presenting as it does the diverse work of 200+ women of African heritage across more than 900 pages. In 1992, Busby published Daughters of Africa, and this epically-proportioned - and realised - re-visitation duplicates none of the writers featured in the first incarnation. Busby hopes in her introduction, “may all who find their way to this anthology, regardless of gender, class or race, feast well on its banquet of words.” And I defy any reader not to do just that. This rich feast presents all kinds of writers – academics and activists; critics and curators; fiction writers and filmmakers; poets and politicians, to name but a few - from all parts of the world. There are wise words to chew on from familiar figures, among them Diane Abbott, Angela Levy, Bernardine Evaristo, Malorie Blackman, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Afua Hirsch. And there are individuals and pieces I was grateful to discover for the first time, such as Bermudian Angela Barry’s Without Prejudice story, and Yvette Edwards, a London writer of Montserratian origin. The collection’s historical entries are engrossing too, among them Sarah Parker Remond’s (1815-1894) “Why Slavery is Still Rampant” piece, and Meta Davis Cumberbatch’s (1900-1978) powerfully rousing poem, “A Child of Nature (Negro of the Caribbean)”. This is an exceptional anthology to savour - a uniquely nourishing banquet for mind and heart. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Wing Commander Frank Brock OBE was a daredevil adventurer who made a unique contribution to the British war effort during World War I. Gunpowder and Glory tells the story, not just of Frank Brock, but of the family business he was born into. Brock is a name synonymous with fireworks and November 5th. Brock himself was an inventor who is one of very few people to have been commissioned in all three of our armed services. He designed weapons that included the incendiary device that brought an end to Zeppelin domination of British skies. This book has all the ingredients for an explosive and entertaining yarn. It doesn’t disappoint. A fascinating and well-researched read, not just for military enthusiasts but for anybody interested in fireworks, and the workings of a successful family business.
In 1901, two literary gentlemen were appointed a novel task: to preserve the memory of Queen Victoria in her own words. By the time they were finished, 460 volumes of the Queen's correspondence had become just three; their decisions -- and distortions -- would influence perceptions of Victoria for generations to come. The editors chosen for the task were deeply eccentric and complicated men. Baron Esher was the consummate royal confidant who hid his obsession with Eton boys and incestuous relationship with his youngest son behind a persona of charm and discretion. Arthur Benson, an ex-Etonian master and closeted homosexual, struggled to fit in with the blue-blooded clubs and codes of the court while fighting bouts of severe depression. Together with King Edward VII they would decide how Victoria was to be remembered -- avoiding scandal, protecting the new king, promoting their own preconceptions about Victoria and her court, obscuring her role as a mother, and propping up the politics of the day. Based on unprecedented access to the original archives, this is a fascinating piece of historical detective work.
When Queen Victoria died, two gentlemen embarked on a monumental task: sorting through and making sense of her vast written legacy. For the first time, a British monarch's letters - carefully edited of course - were going to be published. The men chosen for the job were complex and peculiar characters. Viscount Esher, the consummate royal confidant, was blessed with charm, but he hid a secret obsession with Eton schoolboys and preyed upon his own son. Arthur Benson, schoolmaster and author, was plagued by depression, and he never felt at ease among the blue-blooded swells of the royal court. Together with King Edward VII, these men would decide how Victoria would be remembered. In their hands hundreds of volumes of the Queen's correspondence were whittled down to a mere three, and their decisions - and distortions - would influence perceptions of Victoria for generations to come. Based on unprecedented access to the royal archives at Windsor Castle, Censoring Queen Victoria is a rare and fascinating piece of historical detective work, revealing aspects of the Queen-Empress that we were never meant to see.
A third spellbinding book from Yuval Noah Harari that looks at the most important issues we face today. Featured in Episode 5 of the LoveReading Podcast
This is The Sunday Times Bestseller. Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us. We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us Sapiens? In this bold and provocative book, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here and where we're going. Sapiens is a thrilling account of humankind's extraordinary history - from the Stone Age to the Silicon Age - and our journey from insignificant apes to rulers of the world. It tackles the biggest questions of history and of the modern world, and it is written in unforgettably vivid language. You will love it! (Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel).
100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical - and sometimes devastating - breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, palaeontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come? Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power ... and our future. 'Here is a simple reason why Sapiens has risen explosively to the ranks of an international bestseller. It tackles the biggest questions of history and of the modern world, and it is written in unforgettably vivid language. You will love it!' - Jared Diamond
A heartbreaking example of how history can still preserve a tight grip on the present with Xinran presenting 10 accounts from women who had to give up their daughters. If tradition were not enough then economic circumstances and China’s single-child policy also play their part. The very darkest side of this sacrifice is also revealed, with cases of girl-children minutes old being drowned. It makes for very sober reading but Xinran’s style of utterly involving herself in her narrative, her empathy for her interviewees brings a level of hope for the future. Like for Like ReadingThe Good Women of China: Hidden Voices, XinranWild Swans, Jung ChangStory of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter, Adeline Yen Mah
William Sitwell has chosen 100 recipes that illustrate a history of Western Food. He starts with a bread recipe from Ancient Egypt and progresses through to today ending with a Heston Blumenthal creation. Tailor-made for dipping into this book illuminates, informs and amuses, a lively look at food and our eating habits. Like for Like Reading Consider the Fork: A History of How we Cook and Eat, Bee Wilson The Edible Atlas: Around the World in Thirty-Nine Cuisines, Mina Holland
One of the great revelations of William Shawcross's official biography was the Queen Mother's private correspondence. Indeed, The Sunday Times described her letters as 'wonderful ...brimful of liveliness and irreverence, steeliness and sweetness.' Now, drawing on the vast wealth of material in the Royal Archives, at Glamis Castle, and elsewhere, Shawcross has put together a selection of those letters. A prolific correspondent from her earliest childhood to the very end of her life, her letters offer readers a vivid insight into the person behind the public face.
The First World War was too big to be grasped by its participants. In the retelling of their war in the competing memories of leaders and commanders, and the anguished fiction of its combatants, any sense of order and purpose, effort and achievement, was missing. Drawing on the experience of front line soldiers, munitions workers, politicians and those managing the vast economy of industrialised warfare, Attrition explains for the first time why and how this new type of conflict born out of industrial society was fought as it was. It was the first mass war in which the resources of the fully-mobilised societies strained every sinew in a conflict over ideals - and the humblest and highest were all caught up in the national enterprise.
As 6th June, the 75th anniversary of the world’s largest amphibian invasion fast approaches, it was, perhaps, perfect timing to have the opportunity to read and review this gem of a book. Interspersed with personal anecdotes from those who were there, complimented by some excellent photographs, maps and diagrams, and littered with incredible stories of bravery, D-Day is a fascinating insight into not only what happened on the day of the invasion but also the huge range of talent, ingenuity and downright genius that came into play as Operation Overlord was organised and kept secret from the occupying German forces. Trickery, subterfuge, technology and invention all played their part. Will Fowler has created an excellent work for people who would like to understand how the liberation of Europe began but who don’t have the will or the time to wade through the vast array of works written on the subject. This book brings it all together in sufficient detail that you can appreciate and applaud without being bogged down. I learned a lot from reading this book, an awful lot, and my respect for the generation who gave so many lives that we may enjoy ours, grew with that experience. Highly recommended.
Revealing the beautiful romance between a couple who went on to be married for 58 years alongside fascinating social history, this anthology of letters - enhanced with dozens of photos and detailed footnotes - is an enthralling delight. Ronnie and Hilda met in 1945 when he was home on leave from Italy after fighting in some of the most brutal battles of WW2. Though they came from different backgrounds – Ronnie’s much tougher then Hilda’s more secure, carefree upbringing - there was a spark between them and they were engaged only ten days after meeting, before Ronnie returned to his duties. Through the letters that grace the pages of this elegantly executed book, we’re offered a window into how they came to know one another, with an abundance of sweetness laced through all their correspondence, such as when Ronnie remarks early on, “By the way, I’ve got a lovely cold. I’m really enjoying my eyes watering because I caught it off you!” Hilda and Ronnie’s letters lay bare their personal love story, and provide unique insights into the social history of life for post-war Britons, both at home and overseas. Ronnie shares his experience of attending the trials of SS soldiers and witnessing firing squads, while also expressing a longing to see Hilda in her “new dress, deep red cherry”, while Hilda tells of comings and goings at home, sharing ideas and plans for their much-anticipated wedding. Framed by family history and details of the couple’s later life, this is a radiant read from start to finish. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
The colourful and often gruesome life of the 18th-century pioneering surgeon and anatomist John Hunter generally regarded as the father of modern medicine
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.