History Books

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

Censoring Queen Victoria

Censoring Queen Victoria

Author: Yvonne Ward Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/03/2014

In 1901, two literary gentlemen were appointed a novel task: to preserve the memory of Queen Victoria in her own words. By the time they were finished, 460 volumes of the Queen's correspondence had become just three; their decisions -- and distortions -- would influence perceptions of Victoria for generations to come. The editors chosen for the task were deeply eccentric and complicated men. Baron Esher was the consummate royal confidant who hid his obsession with Eton boys and incestuous relationship with his youngest son behind a persona of charm and discretion. Arthur Benson, an ex-Etonian master and closeted homosexual, struggled to fit in with the blue-blooded clubs and codes of the court while fighting bouts of severe depression. Together with King Edward VII they would decide how Victoria was to be remembered -- avoiding scandal, protecting the new king, promoting their own preconceptions about Victoria and her court, obscuring her role as a mother, and propping up the politics of the day. Based on unprecedented access to the original archives, this is a fascinating piece of historical detective work.

Censoring Queen Victoria How Two Gentlemen Edited a Queen and Created an Icon

Censoring Queen Victoria How Two Gentlemen Edited a Queen and Created an Icon

Author: Yvonne M. Ward Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/03/2015

When Queen Victoria died, two gentlemen embarked on a monumental task: sorting through and making sense of her vast written legacy. For the first time, a British monarch's letters - carefully edited of course - were going to be published. The men chosen for the job were complex and peculiar characters. Viscount Esher, the consummate royal confidant, was blessed with charm, but he hid a secret obsession with Eton schoolboys and preyed upon his own son. Arthur Benson, schoolmaster and author, was plagued by depression, and he never felt at ease among the blue-blooded swells of the royal court. Together with King Edward VII, these men would decide how Victoria would be remembered. In their hands hundreds of volumes of the Queen's correspondence were whittled down to a mere three, and their decisions - and distortions - would influence perceptions of Victoria for generations to come. Based on unprecedented access to the royal archives at Windsor Castle, Censoring Queen Victoria is a rare and fascinating piece of historical detective work, revealing aspects of the Queen-Empress that we were never meant to see.

Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind

Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind

Author: Yuval Noah Harari Format: Audiobook Release Date: 05/07/2018

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical - and sometimes devastating - breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, palaeontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come? Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power ...and our future.

Audiobooks of the Month
21 Lessons for the 21st Century

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Author: Yuval Noah Harari Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/08/2019

**THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER** In twenty-one bite-sized lessons, Yuval Noah Harari explores what it means to be human in an age of bewilderment. '21 Lessons is, simply put, a crucial book' Adam Kay How can we protect ourselves from nuclear war, ecological cataclysms and technological disruptions? What can we do about the epidemic of fake news or the threat of terrorism? What should we teach our children? Yuval Noah Harari takes us on a thrilling journey through today's most urgent issues. The golden thread running through his exhilarating new book is the challenge of maintaining our collective and individual focus in the face of constant and disorienting change. Are we still capable of understanding the world we have created? 'Fascinating... compelling... [Harari] has teed up a crucial global conversation about how to take on the problems of the 21st century' Bill Gates, New York Times 'Truly mind-expanding... Ultra-topical' Guardian

Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love

Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love

Author: Xinran Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/02/2010

A heartbreaking example of how history can still preserve a tight grip on the present with Xinran presenting 10 accounts from women who had to give up their daughters. If tradition were not enough then economic circumstances and China’s single-child policy also play their part. The very darkest side of this sacrifice is also revealed, with cases of girl-children minutes old being drowned. It makes for very sober reading but Xinran’s style of utterly involving herself in her narrative, her empathy for her interviewees brings a level of hope for the future. Like for Like ReadingThe Good Women of China: Hidden Voices, XinranWild Swans, Jung ChangStory of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter, Adeline Yen Mah

A History of Food in 100 Recipes

A History of Food in 100 Recipes

Author: William Sitwell Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/03/2015

William Sitwell has chosen 100 recipes that illustrate a history of Western Food. He starts with a bread recipe from Ancient Egypt and progresses through to today ending with a Heston Blumenthal creation. Tailor-made for dipping into this book illuminates, informs and amuses, a lively look at food and our eating habits.   Like for Like Reading Consider the Fork: A History of How we Cook and Eat, Bee Wilson The Edible Atlas: Around the World in Thirty-Nine Cuisines, Mina Holland

eBooks of the Month
Counting One's Blessings Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

Counting One's Blessings Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

Author: William Shawcross Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/10/2012

One of the great revelations of William Shawcross's official biography was the Queen Mother's private correspondence. Indeed, The Sunday Times described her letters as 'wonderful ...brimful of liveliness and irreverence, steeliness and sweetness.' Now, drawing on the vast wealth of material in the Royal Archives, at Glamis Castle, and elsewhere, Shawcross has put together a selection of those letters. A prolific correspondent from her earliest childhood to the very end of her life, her letters offer readers a vivid insight into the person behind the public face.

eBooks of the Month
Attrition Fighting the First World War

Attrition Fighting the First World War

Author: William Philpott Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/08/2014

The First World War was too big to be grasped by its participants. In the retelling of their war in the competing memories of leaders and commanders, and the anguished fiction of its combatants, any sense of order and purpose, effort and achievement, was missing. Drawing on the experience of front line soldiers, munitions workers, politicians and those managing the vast economy of industrialised warfare, Attrition explains for the first time why and how this new type of conflict born out of industrial society was fought as it was. It was the first mass war in which the resources of the fully-mobilised societies strained every sinew in a conflict over ideals - and the humblest and highest were all caught up in the national enterprise.

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.   

D-Day The First 24 Hours

D-Day The First 24 Hours

Author: Will Fowler Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/03/2019

As 6th June, the 75th anniversary of the world’s largest amphibian invasion fast approaches, it was, perhaps, perfect timing to have the opportunity to read and review this gem of a book. Interspersed with personal anecdotes from those who were there, complimented by some excellent photographs, maps and diagrams, and littered with incredible stories of bravery, D-Day is a fascinating insight into not only what happened on the day of the invasion but also the huge range of talent, ingenuity and downright genius that came into play as Operation Overlord was organised and kept secret from the occupying German forces. Trickery, subterfuge, technology and invention all played their part. Will Fowler has created an excellent work for people who would like to understand how the liberation of Europe began but who don’t have the will or the time to wade through the vast array of works written on the subject.  This book brings it all together in sufficient detail that you can appreciate and applaud without being bogged down. I learned a lot from reading this book, an awful lot, and my respect for the generation who gave so many lives that we may enjoy ours, grew with that experience.   Highly recommended.  

Ronnie and Hilda's Romance (Towards a new Life after World War II)

Ronnie and Hilda's Romance (Towards a new Life after World War II)

Author: Wendy Williams Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/06/2019

Revealing the beautiful romance between a couple who went on to be married for 58 years alongside fascinating social history, this anthology of letters - enhanced with dozens of photos and detailed footnotes - is an enthralling delight. Ronnie and Hilda met in 1945 when he was home on leave from Italy after fighting in some of the most brutal battles of WW2. Though they came from different backgrounds – Ronnie’s much tougher then Hilda’s more secure, carefree upbringing - there was a spark between them and they were engaged only ten days after meeting, before Ronnie returned to his duties. Through the letters that grace the pages of this elegantly executed book, we’re offered a window into how they came to know one another, with an abundance of sweetness laced through all their correspondence, such as when Ronnie remarks early on, “By the way, I’ve got a lovely cold. I’m really enjoying my eyes watering because I caught it off you!”  Hilda and Ronnie’s letters lay bare their personal love story, and provide unique insights into the social history of life for post-war Britons, both at home and overseas. Ronnie shares his experience of attending the trials of SS soldiers and witnessing firing squads, while also expressing a longing to see Hilda in her “new dress, deep red cherry”, while Hilda tells of comings and goings at home, sharing ideas and plans for their much-anticipated wedding.  Framed by family history and details of the couple’s later life, this is a radiant read from start to finish. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
The Knife Man

The Knife Man

Author: Wendy Moore Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/04/2006

WINNER OF THE MEDICAL JOURNALISTS' OPEN BOOK AWARD 2005 Revered and feared in equal measure, John Hunter was the most famous surgeon of eighteenth-century London. Rich or poor, aristocrat or human freak, suffering Georgians knew that Hunter's skills might well save their lives but if he failed, their corpses could end up on his dissecting table, their bones and organs destined for display in his remarkable, macabre museum. Maverick medical pioneer, adored teacher, brilliant naturalist, Hunter was a key figure of the Enlightenment who transformed surgery, advanced biological understanding and even anticipated the evolutionary theories of Darwin. He provided inspiration both for Dr Jekyll and Dr Dolittle. But the extremes to which he went to pursue his scientific mission raised question marks then as now. John Hunter's extraordinary world comes to life in this remarkable, award-winning biography written by a wonderful new talent.

eBooks of the Month