Intensively researched, lovingly compiled, more accessible than ever, whatever your subject of interest - this is where you’ll find it.
Oflag VI-B, Warburg, Germany: On the night of 30 August 1942 - 'Zero Night' - 40 officers from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa staged the most audacious mass escape of the Second World War. It was the first 'Great Escape' - but instead of tunnelling, the escapers boldly went over the huge perimeter fences using wooden scaling contraptions. This was the notorious 'Warburg Wire Job', described by fellow prisoner and fighter ace Douglas Bader as 'the most brilliant escape conception of this war'. Months of meticulous planning and secret training hung in the balance during three minutes of mayhem as prisoners charged the camp's double perimeter fences. Telling this remarkable story in full for the first time, historian Mark Felton brilliantly evokes the suspense of the escape itself and the adventures of those who eluded the Germans, as well as the courage of the civilians who risked their lives to help them in enemy territory. Fantastically intimate and told with a novelist's eye for drama and detail, this is a rip-roaring adventure story, all the more thrilling for being true.
The first day of the battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, was the most devastating event of the First World War for the British army. In Zero Hour, 14 superlatively photographed panoramas (each one a four-page gatefold, opening to nearly 1 metre wide) show the Somme's major sites as they look today. Taken from the exact viewpoints of the front-line British troops as they began their advance towards the German trenches at 7.30 a.m., these hauntingly peaceful present-day views are annotated (in the handwritten military style of the time) to show the lethal German defensive positions at the moment of the attack.
11pm, Tuesday 4 August 1914: with the declaration of war London becomes one of the greatest killing machines in human history. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers pass through the capital on their way to the front; wounded men are brought back to be treated in London's hospitals; and millions of shells are produced in its factories. The war changes London life for ever. Women escape the drudgery of domestic service to work as munitionettes. Full employment puts money into the pockets of the London poor for the first time. Self-appointed moral guardians seize the chance to clamp down on drink, frivolous entertainment and licentious behaviour. As the war drags on, gloom often descends on the capital. And at night London is plunged into darkness for fear of German bombers and Zeppelins that continue to raid the city. Yet despite daily casualty lists, food shortages and enemy bombing, Londoners are determined to get on with their lives and flock to cinemas and theatres, dance halls and shebeens, firmly resolved not to let Germans or puritans spoil their enjoyment. Peopled with patriots and pacifists, clergymen and thieves, bluestockings and prostitutes, Jerry White's magnificent panorama reveals a struggling yet flourishing city.
Winner of the Costa Biography Award What makes a Stalin? Was he a Tsarist agent or Lenin's bandit? Was he to blame for his wife's death? When did the killing start? Based on revelatory research, here is the thrilling story of how a charismatic cobbler's son became a student priest, romantic poet, prolific lover, gangster mastermind and murderous revolutionary. Culminating in the 1917 revolution, Simon Sebag Montefiore's bestselling biography radically alters our understanding of the gifted politician and fanatical Marxist who shaped the Soviet empire in his own brutal image. This is the story of how Stalin became Stalin.
Capturing the same kind of excitement and action that a novel by Patrick O’Brien might, this book tells the stories of the young men, and boys really, who fought in the Napoleonic wars. Unbelievable that boys as young as 8 would be sent to war but here, with many first hand letters and accounts to back this up, is the story of these brave young sailors.
T. E. Lawrence was one of the most charismatic characters of the First World War; a young archaeologist who fought with the Arabs and wrote an epic and very personal account of their revolt against the Turks in Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Yet this was not the first book to carry that iconic title. In 1914 the man who would become Lawrence of Arabia burnt the first Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a manuscript in which he described his adventures in the Middle East during the five years before the war. Anthony Sattin uncovers the story Lawrence wanted to conceal: the truth of his birth, his tortuous relationship with a dominant mother, his deep affection for an Arab boy, the intimate details of the extraordinary journeys he took through the region with which his name is forever connected and the personal reasons that drove him from being a student to becoming an archaeologist and a spy. Young Lawrence is the first book to focus on the story of T. E. Lawrence in his twenties, before the war, during the period he looked back on as his golden years. Using first-hand sources, museum records and Foreign Office documents, Sattin sets these adventures against the background of corrosive conflicts in Libya and the Balkans. He shows the simmering defiance of Arabs, Armenians and Kurds under Turkish domination, while uncovering the story of an exceptional young man searching for happiness, love and his place in the world until war changed his life forever.
January 2012 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. The compelling, dynamic, unfussy history of the first 35 years of Henry VIII, a magnificent and ruthless monarch. Readable and very accessible this was a huge success it when it came out in hardback so it’s great it can be enjoyed by a much wider audience in paperback. It is also a great companion to Robert Hutchinson’s earlier book The Last Days of Henry VIII.
World War II might have officially ended in 1945 but the ongoing turmoil and retribution that Ian Buruma portrays is chilling. The violence of the aggressors, the violence too of the humiliated underdog, the rape and murder of German women particularly brutal as is the fact that after the war Jews returning home were often set on, even murdered after discovering that no-one was going to give back their homes and possessions. Besides all this violence and hatred there were the first signs of a better life to come as the foundations were laid for democratic institutions, better health and, with the birth of the United Nations, an attempt to put an end to warring nations. Like for Like Reading Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II, Keith Lowe The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War, Ben Shephard
Wounded traces the journey made by a casualty from the battlefield to a hospital in Britain. It is a story told through the testimony of those who cared for him - stretcher bearers and medical officers, surgeons and chaplains, orderlies and nurses - from the aid post in the trenches to the casualty clearing station and the ambulance train back to Blighty. We feel the calloused hands of the stretcher-bearers; we see the bloody dressings and bandages; we smell the nauseating gangrene and, at London's stations, the gas clinging to the uniforms of the men arriving home. There are the unspeakable injuries: the officer with a hole in his torso so big the doctor can see the sky beyond him; a man with no legs holding a hymnbook for a man with no arms. Together, the experiences in Wounded encapsulate what it was to fight, live and die for four long years at the Western Front. The first comprehensive account of medical care at the Western Front, Wounded is a homage to the courageous and determined men and women who saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
Norman Stone's gripping book tells the narrative of the Second World War in as brief a compass as possible, making a sometimes familiar story utterly fresh and arresting. As with his highly acclaimed World War One: A Short History, there is a compelling sense of a terrible story unfolding, of a sceptical and humorous intelligence at work, and a wish to convey to an audience who may well have no memory of the conflict just how high the stakes were.
With over sixty million casualties WW2 was the bloodiest conflict in history. In this incisive introduction, esteemed academic Christopher Catherwood covers all the key battles and campaigns, while also giving the larger story behind them, putting familiar events into the perspective of the war at large. He explores: * The huge impact of the preceding Sino-Japanese War on WW2 itself * The relative unimportance of the British conflict in Africa * The near moral-equivalence of the Red Army and the Nazis * The impact of the Hiroshima bombing Full of text-boxes revealing key details about British intelligence, weaponry, and the social milieu of the conflict, there is no better brief introduction to this landmark event.
With the opening of the archives in the East Laurence Rees has had access to material that sheds a whole new light on many events and decisions made in the Second World War. For anyone interested in this period in history this makes a fascinating and sometimes uncomfortable read as new information is unearthed. This is the perfect gift for anyone who devours works on this period in history, as this takes a whole new perspective and gives much more new information to the reader