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The end papers of the book testify to the Catastrophe of the title, we start with an idyllic late Victorian boating scene and end with a scene of carnage at the Battle of the Marne. The tragedy of the war is caught brilliantly by Max Hastings who records not just the military and political views and actions but the experiences of the ordinary man and woman whose records brings an added vividness to the narrative. We see political grandstanding, armies coming to terms with the horrors of the new mechanical war and devastating loss of human life. I would also add praise for two things; Max Hastings’ decision to include the battlefronts of Serbia and Galicia thus extending our knowledge of the war and for his ability to separate the fact from the fiction, the amount of fakery and destroyed and corrupt material historians contend with is quite astounding. A remarkable record of a terrible year. Like for Like Reading1913: The World Before the Great War, Charles EmmersonThe War that Ended Peace: How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War, Margaret MacMillan
On leaving the plane I can only say I felt very lonely, except that the sky was full of bullets coming upwards. Fortunately, it wasn't long before my feet hit the ground with a thud. Almost as soon as my feet touched the ground, I was to find that I had landed directly in front of the muzzle of a German Machine Gun and I received a burst of fire straight at me. I can remember being hit and spinning round with a sudden yell of shock and finishing up flat on my back...I lay there rather dazed for a while, expecting to be hit again at any moment . (John Hunter, Parachute Regiment, Northants). Seventy years ago, on 6 June 1944, a great Allied Armada landed on the coast of Normandy. The invasion force launched on D-Day was a size never seen before and never likely to be seen again. 150,000 soldiers, more than 6,000 ships and 11,000 combat aircraft took part in the assault. The success of that attack led 11 months later to the final liberation of Europe from a ruthless dictatorship that had threatened to permanently enslave it. Such an undertaking on such a scale could not have been achieved without tremendous cooperation between Land, Sea and Air Forces. In We Remember D-Day we hear from the men and women who were involved in the assault; those who risked their lives for a better future. Their stories tell of human bravery and endeavour, pain and heartache, and, most importantly, freedom and hope.
One of the last men able to look back on the Dambuster raids and say they were there, George “Johnny” Johnston recalls his decision to join the RAF then on joining the 617 squadron and the relentless training for the raids. Published just 8 days before the 71st anniversary of the flight to the Ruhr valley, a day when 53 men out of his squadron of 132 men died in trying to halt Germany’s military output. This is how it was, a dangerous and one-chance only mission, a story of bravery, stoicism and good old British stiff-upper lip. Like for Like ReadingDam Busters: The Race to Smash the Dam, James HollandDambusters: A Landmark Oral History, Max Arthur
This is the story of a national obsession. Ever since the Ratcliffe Highway Murders caused a nation-wide panic in Regency England, the British have taken an almost ghoulish pleasure in 'a good murder'. This fascination helped create a whole new world of entertainment, inspiring novels, plays and films, puppet shows, paintings and true-crime journalism - as well as an army of fictional detectives who still enthrall us today. A Very British Murder is Lucy Worsley's captivating account of this curious national obsession. It is a tale of dark deeds and guilty pleasures, a riveting investigation into the British soul by one of our finest historians.
For our inconclusive times, there is an attractive resonance with 1832, with its 'rotten boroughs' of Old Sarum and the disappearing village of Dunwich, and its lines of most resistance to reform. This book is character-driven - on the one hand, the reforming heroes are the Whig aristocrats Lord Grey, Lord Althorp and Lord John Russell, and the Irish orator Daniel O'Connell. They included members of the richest and most landed Cabinet in history, yet they were determined to bring liberty, which whittled away their own power, to the country. The all-too-conservative opposition comprised Lord Londonderry, the Duke of Wellington, the intransigent Duchess of Kent and the consort of the Tory King William IV, Queen Adelaide. Finally, there were 'revolutionaries' and reformers, like William Cobbett, the author of RURAL RIDES. This is a book that features one eventful year, much of it violent. There were riots in Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham, and wider themes of Irish and 'negro emancipation' underscore the narrative. The time-span of the book is from Wellington's intractable declaration in November 1830 that 'The beginning of reform is the beginning of revolution', to 7th June 1832, the date of the extremely reluctant royal assent by William IV to the Great Reform Bill, under the double threat of the creation of 60 new peers in the House of Lords and the threat of revolution throughout the country. These events led to a total change in the way Britain was governed, a two-year revolution that Antonia Fraser brings to vivid dramatic life.
On the eve of marking the centenary of the opening of the hostilities that devastated the world and changed its history, old wounds gape rawly open. No two countries in Europe possess a stronger history of cultural and familial sympathy, trust and mutual respect than Britain and Germany. This book sets out the diverse stories of some of the people who contributed to the building of a house of shared dreams and aspirations, of mutual enlightenment and fruitful exchange. These are the stories of emperors, kings and queens, of travellers, writers, artists, students and political exiles; of ambassadors, reformers and the families so closely woven into the fabric of both countries that, when war came, divided loyalties ripped them apart. All these people have played their part. All, in their different ways, are remarkable; all deserve to be called noble for what they set out to achieve. All - glimpsed here only at the point where they contribute to the story of England and Germany - have earned their place in a history of the love and mutual admiration that two nations once shared - and that they deserve to share again.
William Cavendish, the father of the first Earl, dissolved monasteries for Henry VIII. Bess, his second wife, was gaoler-companion to Mary Queen of Scots during her long imprisonment in England. Arbella Stuart, their granddaughter, was a heartbeat away from the throne of England and their grandson, Lord General of the North, fought to save the crown for Charles I. Fifty years later, the First Duke of Devonshire conspired to depose James II, and make William of Orange king. For the next two centuries the Devonshires were at the heart of fashionable society and the centre of political power. The Fourth Duke became prime minister and Georgiana, wife of the Fifth, scandalised even the Regency. Spencer Compton, the last of the great Devonshires, was three times offered the preimership, and three times refused it. Even the Devonshire servants made history. Joseph Paxton was their gardner and Thomas Hobbes was the family tutor. With the help of previously unpublished material from the Chatsworth archives, The Devonshires reveals how the dynasty made and lost fortunes, fought and fornicated, built great houses, patronised the arts and pioneered the railways, made great scientific discoveries, and, in the end, came to terms with changing times. It is popular history at its very best.
A study of the poetry of the First World War, made, not in isolation but set against a history of the war itself, putting the poetry into context. We learn too about the poets, their writing and their role in the war, above all we learn why these men were inspired to write their experiences into verse. Like for Like Reading The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry, Various The Great War and Modern Memory, Paul Fussell
11pm, Tuesday 4 August 1914: with the declaration of war London becomes one of the greatest killing machines in human history. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers pass through the capital on their way to the front; wounded men are brought back to be treated in London's hospitals; and millions of shells are produced in its factories. The war changes London life for ever. Women escape the drudgery of domestic service to work as munitionettes. Full employment puts money into the pockets of the London poor for the first time. Self-appointed moral guardians seize the chance to clamp down on drink, frivolous entertainment and licentious behaviour. As the war drags on, gloom often descends on the capital. And at night London is plunged into darkness for fear of German bombers and Zeppelins that continue to raid the city. Yet despite daily casualty lists, food shortages and enemy bombing, Londoners are determined to get on with their lives and flock to cinemas and theatres, dance halls and shebeens, firmly resolved not to let Germans or puritans spoil their enjoyment. Peopled with patriots and pacifists, clergymen and thieves, bluestockings and prostitutes, Jerry White's magnificent panorama reveals a struggling yet flourishing city.
The First World War is often viewed as a war fought by armies of millions living and fighting in trenches, aided by brutal machinery that cost the lives of many. But behind all of this a scientific war was also being fought between engineers, chemists, physicists, doctors, mathematicians and intelligence gatherers. This hidden war was to make a positive and lasting contribution to how war was conducted on land, at sea and in the air, and most importantly life at home. Secret Warriors provides an invaluable and fresh history of the First World War, profiling a number of the key figures who made great leaps in science for the benefit of 20th Century Britain. Told in a lively, narrative style, Secret Warriors reveals the unknown side of the war.
The year is 1845 and a murderer is caught by the first Electric telegraph, installed on the Great Western Railway. John Tawell, an upright citizen, a Quaker who had erred and been sent to Australia for his pains came back a rich man. So – did he then go on to murder Sarah Hart, poisoning her with prussic acid? It was a case that electrified the country- people following every step of the investigation and subsequent trial. From our point of view there is much to fascinate, the telegraph, a first step to mass communication, the burgeoning science that was beginning to identify poisons and the trial itself. Carol Baxter is very good on the small details, John Tawell’s story is well told. Like for Like Reading The Fatal Shore, Robert Hughes Silent Witnesses: A History of Forensic Science, Nigel McCrery Click here to find out more about this book.
This is shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award. A gripping thriller, an unspeakable crime, an essential history . (John Le Carre). Hanns Alexander was the son of a prosperous German family who fled Berlin for London in the 1930s. Rudolf Hoss was a farmer and soldier who became the Kommandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp and oversaw the deaths of over a million men, women and children. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the first British War Crimes Investigation Team is assembled to hunt down the senior Nazi officials responsible for the greatest atrocities the world has ever seen. Lieutenant Hanns Alexander is one of the lead investigators, Rudolf Hoss his most elusive target. In this book Thomas Harding reveals for the very first time the full account of Hoss' capture. Moving from the Middle-Eastern campaigns of the First World War to bohemian Berlin in the 1920s, to the horror of the concentration camps and the trials in Belsen and Nuremberg, Hanns and Rudolf tells the story of two German men whose lives diverged, and intersected, in an astonishing way.
A Person, a Country, The World
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