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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.

The Word at War World War Two in 100 Phrases

The Word at War World War Two in 100 Phrases

Author: Philip Gooden, Peter Lewis Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/09/2014

War words have embedded themselves in our collective psyche; British politicians are fond of invoking the 'Dunkirk spirit' whenever the country is faced with major crisis or even minor adversity, and Roosevelt's famous description of Pearl Harbor as 'a date which will live in infamy' was echoed by many US commentators after the 9/11 attacks. So far, so familiar. Or is it? How many of us know, for instance, that 'Keep Calm and Carry On', far from achieving its morale-boosting aim, was considered at the time to be deeply patronizing by the people it was directed at, and so had only limited distribution? The Word at War explores 100 phrases spawned and popularized in the lead-up and during the conflict of World War Two. Substantial essays explore and explain the derivations of, and the stories behind, popular terms and phraseology of the period, including wartime speeches (and the words of Churchill, Hitler and FDR); service slang; national stereotypes; food and drink; and codewords.

The West End Front The Wartime Secrets of London's Grand Hotels

The West End Front The Wartime Secrets of London's Grand Hotels

Author: Matthew Sweet Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/11/2011

The Ritz, the Savoy, the Dorchester and Claridge's - during the Second World War they teemed with spies, con-artists, deposed royals and the exiled governments of Europe. Meet the girl from MI5 who had the gravy browning licked from her legs by Dylan Thomas; the barman who was appointed the keeper of Churchill's private bottle of whisky; the East End Communist who marched with his comrades into the air-raid shelter of the Savoy; and, the throneless prince born in a suite at Claridge's declared Yugoslav territory for one night only. Matthew Sweet has interviewed them all for this account of the extraordinary events that unfolded under the reinforced ceilings of London's grand hotels. Using the memories of first-hand witnesses, the contents of newly declassified government files and a wealth of previously unpublished letters, memoirs and photographs, he has reconstructed a lost world of scandal, intrigue and fortitude.

The War Behind the Wire The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War, 1914-18

The War Behind the Wire The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War, 1914-18

Author: John Lewis-Stempel Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/01/2014

On capture, British officers and men were routinely told by the Germans 'For you the war is over'. Nothing could be further from the truth. British Prisoners of War merely exchanged one barbed-wire battleground for another. In the camps the war was eternal. There was the war against the German military, fought with everything from taunting humour to outright sabotage, with a literal spanner put in the works of the factories and salt mines prisoners were forced to slave in. British PoWs also fought a valiant war against the conditions in which they were mired. They battled starvation, disease, Prussian cruelties, boredom, and their own inner demons. And, of course, they escaped. Then escaped again. No less than 29 officers at Holzminden camp in 1918 burrowed their way out via a tunnel (dug with a chisel and trowel) in the Great Escape of the Great War. It was war with heart-breaking consequences; more than 12,000 PoWs died, many of them murdered, to buried in shallow unmarked graves. Using contemporary records - from prisoners' diaries to letters home to poetry - John Lewis-Stempel reveals the death, life and, above all, the glory of Britain's warriors behind the wire. For it was in the PoW camps, far from the blasted trenches, that the true spirit of the Tommy was exemplified.

The War Behind the Wire The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War, 1914-18

The War Behind the Wire The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War, 1914-18

Author: John Lewis-Stempel Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/11/2014

On capture, British officers and men were routinely told by the Germans 'For you the war is over'. Nothing could be further from the truth. British Prisoners of War merely exchanged one barbed-wire battleground for another. In the camps the war was eternal. There was the war against the German military, fought with everything from taunting humour to outright sabotage, with a literal spanner put in the works of the factories and salt mines prisoners were forced to slave in. British PoWs also fought a valiant war against the conditions in which they were mired. They battled starvation, disease, Prussian cruelties, boredom, and their own inner demons. And, of course, they escaped. Then escaped again. No less than 29 officers at Holzminden camp in 1918 burrowed their way out via a tunnel (dug with a chisel and trowel) in the Great Escape of the Great War. It was war with heart-breaking consequences: more than 12,000 PoWs died, many of them murdered, to be buried in shallow unmarked graves. Using contemporary records - from prisoners' diaries to letters home to poetry - John Lewis-Stempel reveals the death, life and, above all, the glory of Britain's warriors behind the wire. For it was in the PoW camps, far from the blasted trenches, that the true spirit of the Tommy was exemplified.

ebook of the month

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.