History Books

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

May 2022 Featured Books

The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe

The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe

Author: Angela Kelly Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/05/2022

When Angela Kelly and The Queen are together, laughter echoes through the corridors of Buckingham Palace. Angela has worked with The Queen and walked the corridors of the Royal Household for twenty-eight years, initially as Her Majesty’s Senior Dresser and then latterly as Her Majesty’s Personal Advisor, Curator, Wardrobe and In-house Designer. As the first person in history to hold this title, she shares a uniquely close working relationship with The Queen. Her Majesty has personally given Angela her blessing to share their extraordinary bond with the world. Whether it’s preparing for a formal occasion or brightening Her Majesty’s day with a playful joke, Angela’s priority is to serve and support. Sharing never-before-seen photographs – many from Angela’s own private collection – and charming anecdotes of their time spent together, this revealing book provides memorable insights into what it’s like to work closely with The Queen, to curate her wardrobe and to discover a true and lasting connection along the way. This special edition of The Other Side of the Coin has been revised and updated to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, containing previously unseen chapters covering the Royal Household’s isolation during the pandemic, Angela’s own devotion to service to keep the monarch safe, and the light and laughter that was shared behind closed doors, even in the darkest moments.

England on Fire

England on Fire

Author: Stephen Ellcock Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/05/2022

A stunningly provocative and thought-provoking book viewing England from a different perspective, one where: “magic and rebellion and destruction are the horses to which the country is hitched. On these fabled shores we are all castaways, whether our family has lived here for four thousand years or four”. Stephen Ellcock’s books are particular favourites of mine, I regularly dip into All Good Things, and The Book of Change. Here he has joined forces with Mat Osman, whose short texts sit as an introduction to each chapter where the images chosen are allowed to sing. I love Mat’s introduction! He perfectly describes Stephen’s talent for choosing images and picking up on the thoughts and feelings of the moment. He also brings England to life: “Like a teenager sulking in their room, England is in one of its periodic spasms of insularity - but no matter, we’ve been here before”. Look deeper, explore roots that are bound to the ancient and to wilderness, join protests and anti-fascist marches, adore our absurdity while remaining aware of our capacity for division  and discord. While our dark times are explored, hope springs in the form of a new breed of artists, the images chosen here matter, they speak of and to our deepest emotions. This book has helped me to feel connected again with the country in which I live, my eyes opened in a new awareness. A LoveReading Star book, England on Fire is truly beautiful, it’s astute, inclusive, and absolutely magical.

Star Books
The Nutmeg Trail

The Nutmeg Trail

Author: Eleanor Ford Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

Beautifully presented, Eleanor Ford's The Nutmeg Trail blends delicious recipes with fascinating spice-trading history and travel writing flair to concoct a book that’s informative, inspirational and bursting with wonderful ways to spice-up your menu. “Using recipes as our maps, we are embarking on a culinary journey that weaves through history and halfway around the world, following the ancient maritime trade known as the spice routes”. The journey begins with an introductory A-Z spice library that’s invaluable, as are the flavour profiles detailing which spices are sweet and warming (like nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and allspice), and which are hot, earthy, medicinal, fragrant and floral, and sour. And so the scene is set for a glorious gastronomic trip. Each spread is a colourful delight, from the map displaying the origins of spices, to the elegant food photography. The chapters and recipes are organised by spice as the book follows the ancient spice route to present recipes from Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Sri Lanka, India, Iran, and the Emirates. Ginger, for example, with its “rasping heat and woody notes” is represented by the likes of tangy Burmese ginger salad, salted chicken, and aphrodisiac greens, while black pepper (once known as “black gold”) features in recipes for Balinese green bean wraps, hot and tingly hand-pulled noodles, and sticky-sweet pepper pork. Meanwhile, chili adds fire to explosive gunpowder okra, Malaysian devil’s curry, and Kashmiri vindaloo. And, when you’re in the mood for something earthier (think cumin and turmeric), take your pick from curried udon noodles, or Indonesian spiced beef martabak. With eighty recipes, all of them easy to follow and eminently achievable, and tonnes of tips on how to layer flavours, The Nutmeg Trail is a spicy slam-dunk of a book.

April 2022 Featured Books

The War on the West

The War on the West

Author: Douglas Murray Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

The brilliant and provocative new book from one of the world's foremost political writers 'The anti-Western revisionists have been out in force in recent years. It is high time that we revise them in turn...' In The War on the West, international bestselling author Douglas Murray asks: if the history of humankind is one of slavery, conquest, prejudice, genocide and exploitation, why are only Western nations taking the blame for it? It's become perfectly acceptable to celebrate the contributions of non-Western cultures, but discussing their flaws and crimes is called hate speech. What's more it has become acceptable to discuss the flaws and crimes of Western culture, but celebrating their contributions is also called hate speech. Some of this is a much-needed reckoning; however, some is part of a larger international attack on reason, democracy, science, progress and the citizens of the West by dishonest scholars, hatemongers, hostile nations and human-rights abusers hoping to distract from their ongoing villainy. In The War on the West, Douglas Murray shows the ways in which many well-meaning people have been lured into polarisation by lies, and shows how far the world's most crucial political debates have been hijacked across Europe and America. Propelled by an incisive deconstruction of inconsistent arguments and hypocritical activism, The War on the West is an essential and urgent polemic that cements Murray's status as one of the world's foremost political writers.

Queen Elizabeth II For Dummies

Queen Elizabeth II For Dummies

Author: Stewart Ross Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/04/2022

The longest-reigning monarch in European history! If the news about Harry, William, Kate, Meghan, and the rest of the British royals has you wondering about how this latest generation of princes, princesses, dukes, and duchesses got their start, you’re not alone. Queen Elizabeth II For Dummies takes you on a fascinating journey through the life of Great Britain’s longest-serving monarch. You’ll find revealing stories about Queen Elizabeth II’s family background, her childhood, early ascension to the throne, and her role during times of national crisis and triumph. The book combines must-know facts about the monarchy with details of the remarkable woman who has held the crown for over 68 years (and counting). You’ll also read about: Where shows like The Crown stay true-to-life and where they take artistic liberties with historical fact Queen Elizabeth II’s relationship with Prince Charles, the late Prince Phillip, Princess Diana, and the thousands of famous figures she has encountered during her reign The subtle and at times controversial role of a hereditary Head of State in a democracy Perfect for anyone with an interest in the monarchy, British governance, power and society, leadership, or the resurgence of the British monarchy in popular culture, Queen Elizabeth II For Dummies is a cracking read full of trivia, secrets, and history that puts one of the most central figures of the 20th and 21st centuries in the palm of your hand.

Superheroes, Orphans and Origins

Superheroes, Orphans and Origins

Author: Foundling Museum Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/03/2022

What a fascinating, thought-provoking, and fabulous book this is! I am a bit of a comic fan, have been since I was a child, and yet I’d never, not once, considered just how many of the characters found in comics and graphic novels were orphaned or abandoned children. Just think about some of the iconic superheroes, Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Wolverine, and there are many more who are also orphaned, adopted, and fostered. The Foundling Museum and Unicorn Publishing explore the last 125 years of comics and graphic novels, travelling to nine different countries and three continents in order to encourage: "a new way to experience comics”. In her foreword, Caro Howell the Foundling Museum Director mentions Lemn Sissay’s poem, Superman was a Foundling, which sits as a mural in the museum, and says it: “presents an implicit challenge to the viewer: Why, when looked-after children have such a powerful presence in culture, are they so marginalised in real life?” she hopes to: “raise awareness of the immense resilience needed to overcome separation, loss, stigma and society’s indifference, and to build a sense of self and self-worth”. Brilliant, vividly vibrant artwork appears, along with the thoughts and perspectives from different contributors who have been in care. I found my thoughts exploring new paths, and I want to stand up and applaud this book. Superheroes, Orphans and Origins is an eye-opening exploration that I can highly recommend, and it’s been chosen to sit as a LoveReading Star Book.

Star Books

March 2022 Featured Books

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

Author: Dawnie Walton Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/03/2022

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2021 A queen of punk before her time. A duo on the brink of stardom. A night that will define their story for ever. Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, a Black punk artist before her time. Despite her unconventional looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her one night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together. In early seventies New York City, just as she's finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal's bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially Black women, who dare to speak their truth. Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo's most politicized chapter, but as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens everything. Provocative and haunting, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev introduces a bold new name in contemporary fiction and a heroine the likes of which we've not seen in storytelling.

Queen of Our Times

Queen of Our Times

Author: Robert Hardman Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/03/2022

The definitive biography of Her Majesty The Queen by one of Britain’s leading royal authorities. With original insights from those who know her best, new interviews with world leaders and access to unseen papers, bestselling author Robert Hardman explores the full, astonishing life of our longest reigning monarch in this compellingly authoritative yet intimate biography. Elizabeth II was not born to be queen. Yet from her accession as a young mother of two in 1952 to the age of Covid-19, she has proved an astute and quietly determined figure, leading her family and her people through more than seventy years of unprecedented social change. She has faced constitutional crises, confronted threats against her life, rescued the Commonwealth, seen her prime ministers come and go, charmed world leaders, been criticised as well as feted by the media, and steered her family through a lifetime in the public eye. Queen of Our Times is a must-read study of dynastic survival and renewal, spanning abdication, war, romance, danger and tragedy. It is a compelling portrait of a leader who remains as intriguing today as the day she came to the throne aged twenty-five.

The Dark Queens

The Dark Queens

Author: Shelley Puhak Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Reading Dark Queens by Shelley Puhak, I found myself astounded that the two women at the centre of the book ­– Brunhild and Fredegund – are not known far and wide. This isn’t the kind of feminist retelling of well-known stories we rightly lap up today. It’s simply a telling; proof of their existence at all – and I soaked up every detail. Puhak takes us to Merovingian France during the 6th Century. In this most bloody of bloody Middle Ages, the Romans have left a power vacuum, and the Franks are fighting among themselves for the spoils. This is not a world we would assume is for women, who are normally depicted sewing and sitting dutifully beside their husbands. Brunhild and Fredegund are out to stake their claim to power, with brutal consequences. It’s fascinating how these female characters seem as though they were fashioned in our modern-day image – women who wielded real power and shaped the people and land they presided over for decades. It’s thanks to Puhak’s wonderfully detailed storytelling that we are so engaged. I loved the countless other characters, too, whose lives could fill a dozen sequels. Required reading, for lovers of medieval fiction and non-fiction alike.

Hard Choices

Hard Choices

Author: Peter Ricketts Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2022

The international order put in place after World War II is rapidly coming to an end. Disastrous foreign wars, global recession, the meteoric rise of China and India, and the Covid-19 pandemic have undermined the power of the West's institutions and unleashed the forces of nationalism and protectionism around the world. Britain faces unprecedented dilemmas: how do we influence events outside the EU? Can we protect ourselves from cyber attacks and terrorism? Will we accept our diminished role in the international arena? In this lucid and wide-ranging book, one of Britain's most experienced senior diplomats explores how the country moves forward, arguing that international co-operation and solidarity are the surest ways to prosper in a world more dangerous than ever.

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.