History Books

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

Free

Free

Author: Lea Ypi Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

'I never asked myself about the meaning of freedom until the day I hugged Stalin. From close up, he was much taller than I expected.' Lea Ypi grew up in one of the most isolated countries on earth, a place where communist ideals had officially replaced religion. Albania, the last Stalinist outpost in Europe, was almost impossible to visit, almost impossible to leave. It was a place of queuing and scarcity, of political executions and secret police. To Lea, it was home. People were equal, neighbours helped each other, and children were expected to build a better world. There was community and hope. Then, in December 1990, a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, everything changed. The statues of Stalin and Hoxha were toppled. Almost overnight, people could vote freely, wear what they liked and worship as they wished. There was no longer anything to fear from prying ears. But factories shut, jobs disappeared and thousands fled to Italy on crowded ships, only to be sent back. Predatory pyramid schemes eventually bankrupted the country, leading to violent conflict. As one generation's aspirations became another's disillusionment, and as her own family's secrets were revealed, Lea found herself questioning what freedom really meant. Free is an engrossing memoir of coming of age amid political upheaval. With acute insight and wit, Lea Ypi traces the limits of progress and the burden of the past, illuminating the spaces between ideals and reality, and the hopes and fears of people pulled up by the sweep of history.

Renegades

Renegades

Author: Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/10/2021

Two long-time friends share an intimate and urgent conversation about life, music and their enduring love of America, with all its challenges and contradictions, in this stunningly-produced expansion of their ground-breaking Higher Ground podcast, featuring more than 350 photographs, exclusive bonus content, and never-before-seen archival material. Renegades: Born in the USA is a candid, revealing, and entertaining dialogue between President Barack Obama and legendary musician Bruce Springsteen that explores everything from their origin stories and career-defining moments to their country's polarized politics and the growing distance between the American Dream and the American reality. Filled with full-colour photographs and rare archival material, it is a compelling and beautifully illustrated portrait of two outsiders-one Black and one white-looking for a way to connect their unconventional searches for meaning, identity, and community with the American story itself. It includes: · Original introductions by President Obama and Bruce Springsteen · Exclusive new material from the Renegades podcast recording sessions · Obama's never-before-seen annotated speeches, including his "Remarks at the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches · Springsteen's handwritten lyrics for songs spanning his 50-year-long career · Rare and exclusive photographs from the authors' personal archives · Historical photographs and documents that provide rich visual context for their conversation. In a recording studio stocked with dozens of guitars, and on at least one Corvette ride, Obama and Springsteen discuss marriage and fatherhood, race and masculinity, the lure of the open road and the call back to home. They also compare notes on their favourite protest songs, the most inspiring American heroes of all time, and more. Along the way, they reveal their passion for-and the occasional toll of-telling a bigger, truer story about America throughout their careers, and explore how their fractured country might begin to find its way back toward unity.

Rise

Rise

Author: Maliha Abidi Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/10/2021

Relating the remarkable stories of 100 extraordinary women of colour, Maliha Abidi’s Rise is an inspirational, informative showstopper of an anthology. Global in scope and engagingly lively in style, it’s a powerful and beautifully curated testament to trailblazing women of colour from all walks of life, from all fields of endeavour (literature, science, engineering, business, banking, mathematics, politics, law, medicine, human rights activism, sport, art, music, dance), from all corners of the world. What a glorious gift this is to treasure - and draw inspiration from - for a lifetime. Featuring women from over 40 countries, these are pioneers who’ve risen above multiple challenges to have huge impact on the world, whether in the public eye, or behind the scenes. While the book includes seminal icons who are household names (among them Beyonce, Frida Kahlo, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks and Serena Williams), Rise also highlights lesser-known names whose work has had huge impact on our world. Like the women themselves, Maliha Abidi’s writing style is engaging and keenly focussed, and her striking portraits of each innovator are an exuberant, life-filled joy.

Star Books
The Book of Change

The Book of Change

Author: Stephen Ellcock Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/10/2021

An absolute wow of a book which offers and encourages new thoughts and feelings. I follow Stephen Ellcock on social media, he collates images and celebrates the beautiful, different, weird and wonderful and I often stop, pause, and ponder as I scroll. His first book All Good Things, was totally gorgeous, and a LoveReading Star Book. In The Book of Change Stephen states: “I am continually driven by an overwhelming, gnawing frustration at the injustices of the world and an intense desire for something better”. He goes on to explain that this book is a response to his lifelong feeling of alienation and dislocation, and the current situation we find ourselves in 2021. His introduction sings of his wish for justice, equality, and peace for all. He looks into the past, observes the present, and reaches out to the future, to information, mass media, and power, and he addresses the issues that are plaguing our planet. He offers seven sections, starting with Source, and ending with Hope, and boy, did the images contained within evoke my emotions. I found myself being drawn into each one, sometimes caught by the obvious, sometimes looking past and through into the hidden, the darkness, the suggestive heart. At times I felt uncomfortable, I was definitely challenged, and was left feeling that this book had taken on a life of its own within my thoughts and feelings. The Book of Change, so darkly beautiful and provocative, has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book. 

Star Books
The Library

The Library

Author: Arthur der Weduwen, Andrew Pettegree Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

A fascinating in-depth history of the library, this book weaves its way through time and is overflowing with tidbits and facts. The Library calls itself a: “fragile history”, and as beleaguered as our public libraries are today, you can see their past suffering too. This isn’t a light and breezy offering, it is serious, and seriously epic in its scope. I took my time, and soaked up the information, from learning about the gathering of baked clay tablets in Mesopotamia, how Popes, Kings, and Monasteries affected Libraries, the arrival of vertical shelving rather than trunks, all the way through and past the Second World War. I have always supported the idea of the library, but never before really thought about how they came into being, how books are selected, the discrimination and censorship that has taken place. Libraries should be a safe welcoming place for everyone, but that of course depends on a huge range of factors, all of which are detailed here. Arthur der Weduwen and Andrew Pettegree have spent time in over 300 libraries and archives, their acknowledgements and research material is listed. If you are interested in a detailed thought-provoking look into the history of the library, then The Library will answer your call. Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Empireland

Empireland

Author: Sathnam Sanghera Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2021

EMPIRE explains why there are millions of Britons living worldwide. EMPIRE explains Brexit and the feeling that we are exceptional. EMPIRE explains our distrust of cleverness. EMPIRE explains Britain's particular brand of racism. Strangely hidden from view, the British Empire remains a subject of both shame and glorification. In his bestselling book, Sathnam Sanghera shows how our imperial past is everywhere: from how we live and think to the foundation of the NHS and even our response to the COVID-19 crisis. At a time of great division, when we are arguing about what it means to be British, Empireland is a groundbreaking revelation - a much-needed and enlightening portrait of contemporary British society, shining a light on everything that usually gets left unsaid. 

Ghost Town

Ghost Town

Author: Jeff Young Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/10/2021

Liverpool is a city of ghosts. Through the centuries, millions have lived here or come to find a new life, and found safe harbour. More than any other city in Britain its history resonates in the buildings, landscapes and stories that have seeped into the lives of its inhabitants. n Ghost Town, Jeff Young takes us on a journey through the Liverpool of his childhood - down back alleys and through arcades, into vanished tenements and oyster bars, strip tease pubs and theatres. We watch as he turns from schoolboy truant into an artist obsessed with Kafka, Terence Davies and The Fall. Along the way he conjures ghosts and puts hexes on the developers who've ruined the city of his dreams. Layering memoir, history, photography and more this is a highly original approach to this great city.

Atlas of Imagined Places from Lilliput to Gotham City

Atlas of Imagined Places from Lilliput to Gotham City

Author: Matt Brown, Rhys B. Davies Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/09/2021

In Atlas of Imagined Places, Matt Brown and Rhys B. Davies have conjured a cartographic spectacle. This ingeniously executed, gorgeously presented book delivers a cornucopia of imagined locations, covering classics you might expect alongside unexpected places from pop culture you probably didn’t, from the legendary land of Atlantis and Gulliver’s Lilliput, to The Flintstones’ Bedrock and Springfield, of The Simpsons fame. Organised by areas of the world, and covering places known from myths, literature, comics, games, film and TV, this is a fantastic feat of research and design, delivered with wit and style. The detailed, vintage-style maps highlight everything from key buildings and towns, to notable mountains and seas, with each location (over 5000 in total) mapped for readers to further discover in the entertaining text. Clearly a labour of love for its clever creators, Atlas of Imagined Places is set to become a much-loved, long-treasured gift for map enthusiasts and culture vultures alike.

Blood Legacy

Blood Legacy

Author: Alex Renton Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/09/2021

LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE Through the story of his own family's history as slave and plantation owners, Alex Renton looks at how we owe it to the present to understand the legacy of the past. When British Caribbean slavery was abolished across most of the British Empire in 1833, it was not the newly liberated who received compensation, but the tens of thousands of enslavers who were paid millions of pounds in government money. The descendants of some of those slave owners are among the wealthiest and most powerful people in Britain today. A group of Caribbean countries is calling on ten European nations to discuss the payment of trillions of dollars for the damage done by transatlantic slavery and its continuing legacy. Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter and other activist groups are causing increasing numbers of white people to reflect on how this history of abuse and exploitation has benefited them. Blood Legacy explores what inheritance - political, economic, moral and spiritual - has been passed to the descendants of the slave owners and the descendants of the enslaved. He also asks, crucially, how the former - himself among them - can begin to make reparations for the past.

Park Life Around the World in 50 Parks

Park Life Around the World in 50 Parks

Author: Tom Chesshyre Format: Ebook Release Date: 09/09/2021

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it's that people love parks As horizons shrank, we took stock. At first, a sense of panic set in: nowhere to go, nothing to do... Then we all went to the park, and we realized something: we need greenery - we crave it. Whether we're in Colombia or Korea, America or Australia, urban parks are places where we can find calm amid the chaos. They can also (more often than we may realize) conceal intriguing hidden histories, and can tell us something about modern life in our frenzied world, too. With fondness and humour, travel writer Tom Chesshyre recalls 50 of his favourite urban parks from across the world, in a love letter to the green escapes that bring us joy in our cities.

eBooks of the Month
Waves Across the South

Waves Across the South

Author: Sujit Sivasundaram Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/08/2021

British Academy Book Prize shortlist Starting from the ocean and from the forgotten histories of ocean-facing communities, this is a new history of the making of our world. After revolutions in America and France, a wave of tumult coursed the globe from 1790 to 1850. It was a moment of unprecedented change and violence especially for indigenous peoples. By 1850 vibrant public debate between colonised communities had exploded in port cities. Yet in the midst of all of this, Britain struck out by sea and established its supremacy over the Indian and Pacific Oceans, overtaking the French and Dutch as well as other rivals. Cambridge historian Sujit Sivasundaram brings together his work in far-flung archives across the world and the best new academic research in this remarkably creative book. Too often, history is told from the northern hemisphere, with modernity, knowledge, selfhood and politics moving from Europe to influence the rest of the world. This book traces the origins of our times from the perspective of indigenous and non-European people in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. From Aboriginal Australians to Parsis and from Mauritians to Malays, people asserted their place and their future as the British empire drove unexpected change. The tragedy of colonisation was that it reversed the immense possibilities for liberty, humanity and equality in this period. Waves Across the South insists on the significance of the environment; the waves of the Bay of Bengal or the Tasman Sea were the context for this story. Sivasundaram tells how revolution, empire and counter-revolt crashed in the global South. Naval war, imperial rivalry and oceanic trade had their parts to play, but so did hope, false promise, rebellion, knowledge and the pursuit of being modern. This is a compulsive story full of cultural depth and range, a world history that speaks to urgent concerns today. The book weaves a bracingly fresh account of the origins of the British empire. Only when looking from the water can we understand where we are now.

Diamonds In The Mud

Diamonds In The Mud

Author: Brian Reade Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/08/2021

If you don’t read the Daily Mirror, or have much interest in football, you may not know of columnist and commentator Brian Reade. In which case you have a real treat in store and should pick up a copy of this book and immerse yourself in it immediately. No really, stop reading this review and do it now.  From its title, drawn from a kerbside conversation in Garston before a mural of Spanish Civil War veteran and trade union leader, Jack Jones, and its subtly adapted John Lennon lyric subtitle, Reade launches into a powerful and principled analysis of why, as a nation, we have been duped into the reverence and recognition of the supposedly great and the good, when all too often it is those of more humble backgrounds who are the true heroes.  To crassly paraphrase Mr Reade, have you ever thought for a moment why the NHS staff who risked their lives and worked obscene hours in the toughest of conditions got a national clap and yet still fight for a modest pay rise, while many of those who sold dodgy PPE goods ended up with millions in the bank and big slaps on the back from our political classes? In drawing on his deep knowledge, superb research and award winning articles, and ranging across illustrative chapters on Dennis Skinner, Barbara Castle, Doreen Lawrence, the Hillsborough Mothers, Muhammed Ali and many more, Reade paints a picture of the corrupt, unspoken and all too often hidden systems that suppress real social mobility, hinder justice and prevent true heroes from receiving the credit they so richly deserve. As Ali put it to Reade in a 2001 interview at his Berrien Springs, Michigan home, “Service for others is the rent we pay on earth.” Reade has done us all a great service with this heart-wrenching, anger-inducing, truth-telling book that will make you weep with frustration while making you profoundly aware of the true nature of heroism and those who really deserve the statues, medals and infinite praise of grateful nations. It is the most affecting and truest hymn to stalwart, silent  - and too often silenced - heroism that you will read this year, and for many years to come.

Star Books