History Books

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

Splinter on the Tide

Splinter on the Tide

Author: Phillip Parotti Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/07/2021

There is a great deal to commend this engaging account of a WWII sailor’s life. For those who are fans of punctilious attention to naval and nautical detail, there is plenty here. For anyone who enjoys a sense of the era, the use of language in the dialogue and prose, and the descriptions of the food and clothing of 1940’s East Coast USA are spot on.  Fitting somewhere between a ‘how to’ guide and personal log, Splinter on the Tide gives an enlightening overview of the personal, personnel and service politics that determine a small vessel’s safety and success. Through the particularly well drawn character of Lt. (j.g.) Ashford Miller, USNR, the responsibilities, morality and attention to detail required for command are illustrated with both an endearing lightness and depth of understanding. While the tension is delivered in calm, understated measures, partially due to Parotti’s multi-conditional prose style and emphasis on small-business scene settings, the narrative zips along and truly engages, in the manner of a light, less “clipped accent” version of the 1942 British patriotic war film In Which We Serve. What prevents this from being a humdrum military tale is the crisp sense of verisimilitude, coupled with a delightfully tender, wistful timbre. It is at heart a respectful and honourable rendering of the countless heroes, whose brave and diligent duty protected the convoys of merchant shipping that were the traffic of much needed supplies during those bleak and dangerous years.  Many publications in this area glamorise the dynamic and the duty. Splinter on the Tide has no need to do so, its quiet, unpretentious tone does trick very nicely indeed.

The Commandos: Set Europe Ablaze

The Commandos: Set Europe Ablaze

Author: Dick Camp Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/07/2021

Richard Camp served as a US Marine officer for 26 years before retiring in 1988. After retiring, he became the Deputy Director of the Marine Corps' History Division and then Marine Corps Heritage Foundation's VP for Museum Operations at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. He is an accomplished historian with over 150 published articles and 14 books to his name covering military subjects from WWII through to more recent events in Iraq and Afghanistan. Commandos is Camp’s first venture into fiction. The author’s detailed knowledge of US Marine Corps history, procedure and language combined with meticulous research combine to create a highly authentic story set in the early part of WWII where a small group of Marines are posted to train with the newly created British commando forces. As their training draws near to completion, the team is notified of an urgent mission to test their newly acquired skills. They must destroy a radar facility on the German-held of Alderney off the coast of France. This is a novel for all enthusiasts of military fiction. As with all such books, if they are a good enough read, the reader is drawn into the story through the medium of fiction and then, as the story progresses you find yourself learning about the people, their training methods, the procedures and all manner of other fascinating aspects pertinent to the time. A really excellent book. Good characters, a great story and a fascinating insight into the lives of our first special-forces soldiers.

The Pathfinders

The Pathfinders

Author: Will Iredale Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/07/2021

From the opening pages describing the BBC outside broadcast recording of a nightingale singing in cellist Beatrice Harrison’s garden in Surrey as bombers pass overhead en route to Germany, Iredale makes it clear that he has done the work and is truly engaged with and passionate about his subject. From every small detail that he includes - the bombers mentioned above were heading for Mannheim and the BBC broadcast was cancelled for fear that it would warn the Nazis of their arrival – it is clear that Iredales’s aim is to honour and record the bravery of the Pathfinders as much as to give a clear account of their formation, training, equipment and role in making Bomber Command an effective force in restricting Nazi Germany’s industrial war output. Any book on the subject of wartime bombing runs the risk of glorifying destruction and disrespecting the dead. Iredale avoids this by taking great pains to treat the subject with compassion and objectivity. He features accounts of those who were on the ground on both sides as bombs landed, treating the stories of both with empathy and without judgment, while not shying away from hard truths. The stories of those who formed the units, and those who supported them, together with excellent attention to detail regarding military, technical and aviation facts and history, are drawn together through Iredale’s gift for compelling narrative which weaves tales of love and fear, bravery and failure through every chapter. With great intelligence, dignity and grace, The Pathfinders, gives voices to the voiceless. It is a worthy and admirable testament to the 20,000 from across the Commonwealth who signed up to carry out duties that many of us today would consider utterly unimaginable. The LoveReading LitFest invited Will Iredale to the festival to talk about The Pathfinders. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival.   What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member.   

Minarets in the Mountains

Minarets in the Mountains

Author: Tharik Hussain Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/07/2021

A magical, eye-opening account of a journey into a Europe that rarely makes the news and is in danger of being erased altogether. Another Europe. A Europe few people believe exists and many wish didn't. Muslim Europe. Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize 2021. Londoner Tharik Hussain sets off with his wife and young daughters around the Western Balkans, home to the largest indigenous Muslim population in Europe, and explores the regions of Eastern Europe where Islam has shaped places and people for more than half a millennium. Encountering blonde-haired, blue-eyed Muslims, visiting mystical Islamic lodges clinging to the side of mountains, and praying in mosques older than the Sistine Chapel, he paints a picture of a hidden Muslim Europe, a vibrant place with a breathtaking history, spellbinding culture and unique identity. Minarets in The Mountains, the first English travel narrative by a Muslim writer on this subject, also explores the historical roots of European Islamophobia. Tharik and his family learn lessons about themselves and their own identity as Britons, Europeans and Muslims. Following in the footsteps of renowned Ottoman traveller Evliya Celebi, they remind us that Europe is as Muslim as it is Christian, Jewish or pagan. Like William Dalrymple's In Xanadu, this is a vivid reimagining of a region's cultural heritage, unveiling forgotten Muslim communities, empires and their rulers; and like Kapka Kassabova's Border, it is a quest that forces us to consider what makes up our own identities, and more importantly, who decides?

Himalaya

Himalaya

Author: Ed Douglas Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/07/2021

The mountains of the Himalaya, prised up by tectonic plates, emerged from the ocean ahead of any other land mass on our planet and are therefore not only the highest, but also the oldest in the world. No wonder then that the human stories to subsequently be written upon this landscape should be so unique, so extraordinary and so often full of remarkable bravery and endeavour. Ed Douglas, the author of Himalaya: A Human History has entwined these stories together in what will surely come to be regarded as the definitive account of this region. It is certainly difficult to see how it might be improved. The book is dense, detailed and written with wit, wisdom and deep knowledge undoubtedly acquired to large extent through the author’s years editing the Alpine Journal. A mountaineer as well as an exceptional journalist, Douglas brings together tales of cultures, trading, adventures, myths, arts, religions.. but also sciences such as geology, genetics and botany, which all feature in the tapestry of the Himalaya. This writer has mastered the art of opening a chapter with a modern day scenario or incident - often outside Asia - only to skilfully escort you back through time in order to find its roots in the region. His eye for connectivity, for threading history, is what allows the reader to relate to such a distant and perhaps alien place that has nevertheless across the centuries embedded itself in all our minds on the strength of its majesty and mystery. At the centre of the Himalaya is of course Nepal, and above it the Tibetan plateau, which together separate China from India. This fragile geo-political position, combined with the challenges provided by altitude, are what makes the future of the area such a concern and the consequences of climate change will fall heavily here, and indeed already are. Himalaya: A Human History is an impressive work and an epic love letter to an unequalled place which deserves to feel the embrace of the whole world.

Dutch Girl

Dutch Girl

Author: Robert Matzen Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

Thoughtfully, in fact beautifully handled, this is an absolutely fascinating look at the early life of Audrey Hepburn as she lived through the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Ask me to name my favourite Movie Stars and Audrey Hepburn would appear. I have watched her films and read biographies detailing her life, she made a difference both with her art and her humanitarian work. This book takes you to the time before she became a movie star, a time that has previously been invented and misinterpreted in accounts. In Dutch Girl, the detailed historical explanation of the Second World War flows over and around Audrey, allowing you to see just why and how she became the woman so much admired around the world. The foreword by Audrey’s son Luca Dotti actually tells you everything you need to know about this biography, he thanks author Robert Matzen, calling the book a true gift. The preface tells you a little about the meticulous research carried out for Dutch Girl, Robert Matzen says that his investigation took many twists and turns and also provided surprising answers. He has located quotes from Audrey about the Second World War, has included new interviews, and used archives to form a detailed, compelling account. The photos are fascinating and act as a visual support to what is already a vivid biography. Entering this book enables you to touch history, to feel the effects of the war as it would have affected Audrey. If you’re just looking for glitz and glamour you most certainly won’t find it here. Dutch Girl is the most compassionate and wise book, it takes you beyond and behind the image of the Hollywood star, to what lay beneath.   

Star Books
The Leadership of Muhammad: A Historical Reconstruction

The Leadership of Muhammad: A Historical Reconstruction

Author: Joel Hayward Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/07/2021

‘The Leadership of Muhammad: A Historical Reconstruction’ by Joel Hayward is an insightful and intellectual look into the ways in which the Prophet Muhammad was a great and successful leader. Looking not only at the theological texts, Hayward references early Arabic sources to examine the ways that Muhammad excelled during his twenty-three years as a leader. There are traits mentioned throughout the book that I’m sure would be beneficial to modern leaders (setting an example, good delegation, being approachable to discuss alternative ideas when appropriate) however the author is careful not to explore the Prophet's actions in relation to modern concepts, thought processes and standards. I thought that this book was authoritative and informative and I think that it would appeal widely to those with an interest in history as well as more specifically in Islamic studies. I found the writing clear and accessible throughout, making it easy to comprehend for non-academic purposes. I also liked the way that the book was structured. Each chapter has a clear focus, whether it be Muhammad’s Military leaderhsip, strategic vision or his leadership through diplomacy, with a great deal of detail and plenty of references to extant sources. This book is clear and concise and educated me on the history of Islam as well as the successes of the Prophet Muhammad and the leadership qualities that led to such success. Whether you’re looking for a book of History, Islamic studies, or an interesting look into great leadership, ‘The Leadership of Muhammad: A Historical Reconstruction’ has plenty to offer. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

The Infiltrators

The Infiltrators

Author: Norman Ohler Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/07/2021

Summertime, 1935. On a lake near Berlin, a young man is out sailing when he glimpses a woman reclining in the prow of a passing boat. Their eyes meet - and one of history's greatest conspiracies is born. Harro Schulze-Boysen had already shed blood in the fight against Nazism by the time he and Libertas Haas-Heye began their whirlwind romance. She joined the cause, and soon the two lovers were leading a network of antifascists that stretched across Berlin's bohemian underworld. Harro himself infiltrated German intelligence and began funnelling Nazi battle plans to the Allies, including the details of Hitler's surprise attack on the Soviet Union. But nothing could prepare Harro and Libertas for the betrayals they would suffer in this war of secrets - a struggle in which friend could be indistinguishable from foe. Drawing on unpublished diaries, letters and Gestapo files, Norman Ohler spins an unforgettable tale of love, heroism and sacrifice.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Black Teacher

Black Teacher

Author: Beryl Gilroy Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/07/2021

What a voice, what a story, what experiences, and what a vital record of the Windrush Generation experience, as told by a skilled teacher who came to Britain to be confronted with racist colour bars in place of the anticipated welcoming arms of the colonial Motherland. Black Teacher is an important, engaging and eye-opening piece of social history, and its author, Beryl Gilroy, has outstanding literary flair - her dialogue and evocation of character is first-class. Born in British Guyana in 1924, Beryl Gilroy arrived in Britain as an experienced, respected teacher and yet, “Here I was, over twenty years later, feeling and acting like a novice. I was afraid to go to school.” So Beryl said to her husband ahead of beginning her second term as the Headmistress of a North London infants school (in 1969, she was Camden’s first black headteacher). And the reason for her trepidation? The school was “full of tense, fighting people,” its pupils disruptive due to boredom and a lack of purpose, with parents who mutter that there’s “nothing but blacks everywhere.” And all this followed years of battling to secure a teaching position - Beryl moved to Britain in 1958 to study Child Development, but found herself continually overlooked for teaching positions. As a result, she took work as in an office, then as a lady’s maid, while never giving up on her vocation. Throughout the author is an inspiration - a loveable, valiant pioneer whose story, resilience and dedication had me enthralled from start to finish.

The Blind Light

The Blind Light

Author: Stuart Evers Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/06/2021

As the 1950s draw to a close, and the Cold War escalates, the shape of Drummond Moore's life is changed beyond measure when he strikes up an unlikely friendship with James Carter, a rich and well-connected fellow national serviceman. Carter leads him to Doom Town - an army base that seeks to recreate the effects of a nuclear war - where he meets Gwen, a barmaid with whom he shares an instant connection. Set over sixty years of British history, The Blind Light by Stuart Evers is the compelling story of one family as they deal with the personal and political fallout of their times.

Aftermath

Aftermath

Author: Harald Jähner Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/06/2021

Germany, 1945: a country in ruins. Cities have been reduced to rubble and more than half of the population are where they do not belong or do not want to be. How can a functioning society ever emerge from this chaos? In bombed-out Berlin, Ruth Andreas-Friedrich, journalist and member of the Nazi resistance, warms herself by a makeshift stove and records in her diary how a frenzy of expectation and industriousness grips the city. The Americans send Hans Habe, an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist and US army soldier, to the frontline of psychological warfare - tasked with establishing a newspaper empire capable of remoulding the minds of the Germans. The philosopher Hannah Arendt returns to the country she fled to find a population gripped by a manic loquaciousness, but faces a deafening wall of silence at the mention of the Holocaust. Aftermath is a nuanced panorama of a nation undergoing monumental change. 1945 to 1955 was a raw, wild decade poised between two eras that proved decisive for Germany's future - and one starkly different to how most of us imagine it today. Featuring black and white photographs and posters from post-war Germany - some beautiful, some revelatory, some shocking - Aftermath evokes an immersive portrait of a society corrupted, demoralised and freed - all at the same time.

The Sweetness of Water

The Sweetness of Water

Author: Nathan Harris Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/06/2021

In the dying days of the American Civil War, newly freed brothers Landry and Prentiss find themselves cast into the world without a penny to their names. Forced to hide out in the woods near their former Georgia plantation, they're soon discovered by the land's owner, George Walker, a man still reeling from the loss of his son in the war. When the brothers begin to live and work on George's farm, the tentative bonds of trust and union begin to blossom between the strangers. But this sanctuary survives on a knife's edge, and it isn't long before the inhabitants of the nearby town of Old Ox react with fury at the alliances being formed only a few miles away . . .