History Books

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

The Colour of Time

The Colour of Time

Author: Dan Jones, Marina Amaral Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/08/2022

The third volume in Marina Amaral and Dan Jones's bestselling Histories in Colour series. The Colour of Time: Women, 1850–1960 explores the many roles – domestic, social, cultural and professional – played by women across the world from 1850–1960, before second-wave feminism took hold. Using Marina's colourized images and Dan Jones's words, this survey shines a light on the varied pursuits of women both celebrated and ordinary, whether in the home or the science lab, protesting on the streets or performing on stage, fighting in the trenches or exploring the wild. Each chapter is introduced by a woman who works in that field, offering insights into their job and experiences. The book includes photographs of Queen Victoria, Edith Cavell, Josephine Baker, Mildred Burke, Eva Peron, Eleanor Roosevelt, Virginia Woolf, Clara Schumann, Martha Gellhorn, Simone de Beauvoir, Agatha Christie, Frida Kahlo, Emmeline Pankhurst, Harriet Tubman, Florence Nightingale, Hattie McDaniel and Gertrude Bell; as well as revolutionaries from China to Cuba, Geishas in Japan, protestors on the Salt March, teachers and pilots, nurses and soldiers. This vivid and unique history brings to life and full colour the female experience in a century of extraordinary change.

Growing Out

Growing Out

Author: Barbara Blake Hannah Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

'A gorgeously exuberant account. . . writing that is natural and vivacious . . . a fascinating and hugely enjoyable read.' Bernardine Evaristo, from the Introduction Travelling over from Jamaica as a teenager, Barbara's journey is remarkable. She finds her footing in TV, and blossoms. Covering incredible celebrity stories, travelling around the world and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Germaine Greer and Michael Caine - her life sparkles. But with the responsibility of being the first black woman reporting on TV comes an enormous amount of pressure, and a flood of hateful letters and complaints from viewers that eventually costs her the job. In the aftermath of this fallout, she goes through a period of self-discovery that allows her to carve out a new space for herself first in the UK and then back home in Jamaica - one that allows her to embrace and celebrate her black identity, rather than feeling suffocated in her attempts to emulate whiteness and conform to the culture around her. Growing Out provides a dazzling, revelatory depiction of race and womanhood in the 1960s from an entirely unique perspective. A title in the Black Britain: Writing Back series - selected by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, this series rediscovers and celebrates pioneering books depicting black Britain that remap the nation.

Britons Through Negro Spectacles

Britons Through Negro Spectacles

Author: ABC Merriman-Labor Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

'We shall therefore confine our walk to Central London where people meet on business during the day, and to West London where they meet for pleasure at night. If you will walk about the first City in the British Empire arm in arm with Merriman-Labor, you are sure to see Britons in merriment and at labour, by night and by day, in West and Central London.' In Britons Through Negro Spectacles Merriman-Labor takes us on a joyous, intoxicating tour of London at the turn of the 20th century. Slyly subverting the colonial gaze usually placed on Africa, he introduces us to the citizens, culture and customs of Britain with a mischievous glint in his eye. This incredible work of social commentary feels a century ahead of its time, and provides unique insights into the intersection between empire, race and community at this important moment in history. Selected by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, this series rediscovers and celebrates pioneering books depicting black Britain that remap the nation.

A Black Boy at Eton

A Black Boy at Eton

Author: Dillibe Onyeama Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

'The story [Onyeama] had to tell was so gripping and shocking, it wouldn't let me go . . . A remarkably well-written memoir.' Bernardine Evaristo, from the Introduction Dillibe was the second black boy to study at Eton - joining in 1965 - and the first to complete his education there. Written at just 21, this is a deeply personal, revelatory account of the racism he endured during his time as a student at the prestigious institution. He tells in vivid detail of his own background as the son of a Nigerian judge at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, of his arrival at the school, of the curriculum, of his reception by other boys (and masters), and of his punishments. He tells, too, of the cruel racial prejudice and his reactions to it, and of the alienation and stereotyping he faced at such a young age. A Black Boy at Eton is a searing, ground-breaking book displaying the deep psychological effects of colonialism and racism. A title in the Black Britain: Writing Back series - selected by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, this series rediscovers and celebrates pioneering books depicting black Britain that remap the nation.

No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy

No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy

Author: Mark Hodkinson Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Mark Hodkinson grew up among the terrace houses of Rochdale in a house with just one book. His dad kept it on top of a wardrobe with other items of great worth - wedding photographs and Mark's National Cycling Proficiency certificate. If Mark wanted to read it, he was warned not to crease the pages or slam shut the covers. Today, Mark is an author, journalist and publisher. He still lives in Rochdale, but is now snugly ensconced (or is that buried?) in a 'book cave' surrounded by 3,500 titles - at the last count. No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy is his story of growing up a working-class lad during the 1970s and 1980s. It's about schools (bad), music (good) and the people (some mad, a few sane), and pre-eminently and profoundly the books and authors (some bad, mostly good) that led the way, and shaped his life. It's also about a family who just didn't see the point of reading, and a troubled grandad who, in his own way, taught Mark the power of stories. In recounting his own life-long love affair with books, Mark also tells the story of how writing and reading has changed over the last five decades, starting with the wave of working-class writers in the 1950s and 60s, where he saw himself reflected in books for the first time.

Otherlands

Otherlands

Author: Thomas Halliday Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/02/2022

A dazzlingly original, lyrical and epic encounter with the Earth as it used to be 'As close to time travel as you are likely to get' Bill McKibben This is the past as we've never seen it before. Otherlands is an epic, exhilarating journey into deep time, showing us the Earth as it used to exist, and the worlds that were here before ours. Travelling back in time to the dawn of complex life, and across all seven continents, award-winning young palaeobiologist Thomas Halliday gives us a mesmerizing up close encounter with eras that are normally unimaginably distant. Halliday immerses us in a series of ancient landscapes, from the mammoth steppe in Ice Age Alaska to the lush rainforests of Eocene Antarctica, with its colonies of giant penguins, to Ediacaran Australia, where the moon is far brighter than ours today. We visit the birthplace of humanity; we hear the crashing of the highest waterfall the Earth has ever known; and we watch as life emerges again after the asteroid hits, and the age of the mammal dawns. These lost worlds seem fantastical and yet every description - whether the colour of a beetle's shell, the rhythm of pterosaurs in flight or the lingering smell of sulphur in the air - is grounded in the fossil record. Otherlands is a staggering imaginative feat: an emotional narrative that underscores the tenacity of life - yet also the fragility of seemingly permanent ecosystems, including our own. To read it is to see the last 500 million years not as an endless expanse of unfathomable time, but as a series of worlds, simultaneously fabulous and familiar.

The 50 Greatest Architects

The 50 Greatest Architects

Author: Ike Ijeh Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/01/2022

Underpinned by a desire to “awaken a greater appreciation of your built environment”, this elegant anthology from award-winning architect Ike Ijeh showcases the world’s fifty greatest architects, through time, and across the globe. Framed in a compelling relatable context (“Of all art forms, architecture is ultimately a human story, and the most rewarding aspect of unravelling that story and shedding light on those who have made it great is that we learn a little something about ourselves”), Ijeh provides us with engaging biographies of each architect, alongside showstopping photos and illustrated plans of their major creations. Featuring key figures from every major era and movement - among them Hemiunu, creator of the Great Gaza Pyramid, Brunelleschi, the founding father of Renaissance architecture, Sinan, who designed almost 400 buildings in Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Middle East at the peak of the Ottoman Empire, and exceptional present-day practitioners - the author offers insights into why their work may be deemed “great” to create a book that’s both enlightening and beautiful.

The Fairy Tellers

The Fairy Tellers

Author: Nicholas Jubber Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/01/2022

Fascinating and utterly bewitching, if you love fairy tales, in fact stories of any kind, then this is the book for you. Nicholas Jubber examines the history of the fairy tellers, those who started the fairy tales that have twisted and reformed and are still alive today. I have to say that this book is so ‘right up my street’ that it’s parked on double yellows, thrown its doors open and invited everyone to gather round and listen, so of course we declare it a LoveReading Star Book. The book itself is completely engaging, from the choice of cover to the accompanying map, and chart detailing the legacies of the story tellers, through to the explanations and decisions taken over the content. Nicholas Jubber has with great love and attention chosen a core selection of tellers, highlighting the oral culture that dwells in their past: “Their collective life stories trace the development of the fairy tale from oral community tales to the mass production lines of the modern children’s literature industry”. Nicholas Jubber himself is a teller and with vibrant, vivid eloquence explains the background to our much beloved tales. I recognised iconic and less well known writers and stories, travelled to far flung places and through time, and ended up thinking about fairy tales in a completely different way. The author advises that: “These are precious stories, beautiful stories, carved out of terrible suffering in some cases, and in others moulded from moments of ecstatic joy”. So, don’t begin expecting a happily ever after, like the traditional stories this comes with bite, but there is also joy waiting to be discovered. I highly recommend stepping into The Fairy Tellers and spending quality time within the pages as it’s an absolute beast of a beautiful read.

Star Books
1922 Scenes from a Turbulent Year

1922 Scenes from a Turbulent Year

Author: Nick Rennison Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/11/2021

Nick Rennison has quite the résumé as man of letters. Variously a writer, editor and bookseller, he has reviewed for the Sunday Times, The Daily Mail and BBC History Magazine, penned half a dozen anthologies of short stories, written two crime novels and three non-fiction titles and otherwise exercised his particular interest in the Victorian era. With his latest work he delves into more recent history and takes us on a month by month tour of the events that defined this tumultuous year, bookended by the notorious ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle scandal in January and ending with the lesser known, but no less scandalous, Thompson and Bywaters murder and adultery trail. There’s plenty in here of the notable headline happenings; US prohibition, the founding of the BBC, the publications of The Waste Land and Ulysses, Ghandis’ arrest, Tutankhamun’s discovery, the creation of the Soviet Union and much, much more to make this a rich and informative read. But what really sets this apart from being a mere almanack of facts is Rennison’s ability to create colour and tone within each scene so that the whole reads as a gripping account of a world in a state of vibrant flux . In this fascinating, illustrative  - and at times cautionary  - small volume he has created a wonderful jigsaw puzzle where each piece, each small scene, builds to become a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, and in so doing Rennison provides a timely reminder that our present is future’s history and we will be lauded, or judged, accordingly. 

The Ruin of All Witches

The Ruin of All Witches

Author: Malcolm Gaskill Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/11/2021

Oh my, The Ruin of All Witches is absolutely fascinating! Detailing the witch-hunting that took place in a frontier town in Massachusetts during 1651, this is a darkly enthralling read. The author describes it as a historical reconstruction rather than a novel. Written using historical documentation including court records, sermons, letters, diaries, deeds, and wills, this dual sense of story and history ensures a deeper awareness. It begins almost as a fairytale would, the style of writing placed me in time and location. I was able to look around and soak up the atmosphere. I felt a connection to the place and people, could reach a level of appreciation for thoughts and feelings. Examining small details, looking behind fears, beyond survival, makes this an accessible and thought-provoking read. The maps help plant the location, the Sources and Methods detailed at the back confirm the thought process behind this book. Malcolm Gaskill is a leading expert in the history of witchcraft and his knowledge and research shows. The Ruin of All Witches is a vivid, captivating and intriguing walk into the past and I’ve chosen it as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.

Star Books
The Lyrics

The Lyrics

Author: Paul McCartney, Paul Muldoon Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/11/2021

A self-portrait in 154 songs, by our greatest living songwriter 'More often than I can count, I've been asked if I would write an autobiography, but the time has never been right. The one thing I've always managed to do, whether at home or on the road, is to write new songs. I know that some people, when they get to a certain age, like to go to a diary to recall day-to-day events from the past, but I have no such notebooks. What I do have are my songs, hundreds of them, which I've learned serve much the same purpose. And these songs span my entire life.' In this extraordinary book, with unparalleled candour, Paul McCartney recounts his life and art through the prism of 154 songs from all stages of his career - from his earliest boyhood compositions through the legendary decade of The Beatles, to Wings and his solo albums to the present. Arranged alphabetically to provide a kaleidoscopic rather than chronological account, it establishes definitive texts of the songs' lyrics for the first time and describes the circumstances in which they were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what he thinks of them now. Presented with this is a treasure trove of material from McCartney's personal archive - drafts, letters, photographs - never seen before, which make this also a unique visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time. We learn intimately about the man, the creative process, the working out of melodies, the moments of inspiration. The voice and personality of Paul McCartney sings off every page. There has never been a book about a great musician like it. Each volume is 480 pp, not available separately

Fall

Fall

Author: John Preston Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/10/2021

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE 2021 A dramatic, gripping account of the rise and fall of the notorious business tycoon Robert Maxwell from the acclaimed author of A Very English Scandal Robert Maxwell was a very British success. Born an Orthodox Jew, he escaped the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, fought in the Second World War, and was decorated for his heroism with the Military Cross. He went on to become a Labour MP and an astonishingly successful businessman, owning a number of newspapers and publishing companies. But after his dead body was discovered floating in waters around his superyacht, his empire fell apart as long-hidden debts and unscrupulous dealings came to light. Within a few days, Maxwell was being reviled as the embodiment of greed and corruption. What went so wrong? How did a man who had once laid such store on the importance of ethics and good behaviour become reduced to a bloated, amoral wreck? In this gripping book, John Preston delivers the definitive account of Maxwell's extraordinary rise and scandalous fall. 'I have a shelf full of books about frauds, but this one is by far the most enjoyable' Craig Brown, author of Ma'am Darling