By Leo McKinstry
'Superbly written and gripping' Daily ExpressThe thrilling true account of Hitler's first defeat.In the summer of 1940, the Nazi war machine was at its zenith. France, Denmark, Norway and the Low Countries were all under occupation after a series of lightning military campaigns. Only Britain stood in the way of the complete triumph of Nazi tyranny. But for the first time in the war, Hitler did not prevail. The traditional narrative of 1940 holds that Britain was only saved from German conquest by the pluck of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. The image of Dad's Army recruits training with broomsticks is a classic symbol of the nation's supposed desperation in the face of the threat from Operation Sealion, as the German plan for invasion was code-named. Yet as Leo McKinstry details, the British were far more ruthless and proficient than is usually recognised. The brilliance of the RAF was not an exception but part of a pattern of magnificent organisation. In almost every sphere of action, such as the destruction of the French naval fleet or the capture of German spies, Britain's approach reflected an uncompromising spirit of purpose and resolution. Using a wealth of primary materials from both British and German archives, Leo McKinstry provides a ground-breaking new assessment of the six fateful months in mid-1940, beginning with Winston Churchill's accession to power in May and culminating in Germany's abandonment of Operation Sealion.
By Kathleen Eisenhardt, Donald Sull
Life gets more complicated every day. Whether you're struggling with information overload, attempting to act effectively with limited resources or trying to change bad habits - all you need is Simple Rules. Donald Sull and Kathleen Eisenhardt have spent the last decade working with businesses around the world, and have developed a set of highly effective, tried-and-tested rules to help tackle complex problems, whatever they are. In Simple Rules they share them with you.So, how do we make the best decisions when deluged with data? How do we solve problems across global networks? And how do we pinpoint what exactly it is that is holding us back from success? Sull and Eisenhardt have distilled two careers-worth of research, experience and work into a much needed guide to achieving our most pressing personal and professional objectives, from overcoming insomnia to becoming a better manager or a smarter investor. Full of tips, illuminating case studies and clear advice, Simple Rules provides the tools you need.
Plants: From Roots to Riches
By Kathy Willis
Our peculiarly British obsession with gardens goes back a long way and Plants: From Roots to Riches takes us back to where it all began. Across 25 vivid episodes, Kathy Willis, Kew's charismatic Head of Science, shows us how the last 250 years transformed our relationship with plants. Behind the scenes at the Botanical Gardens all kinds of surprising things have been going on. As the British Empire painted the atlas red, explorers, adventurers and scientists brought the most interesting specimens and information back to London. From the discovery of Botany Bay to the horrors of the potato famine, from orchid hunters to quinine smugglers, from Darwin's experiments to the unexpected knowledge unlocked by the 1987 hurricane, understanding how plants work has changed our history and could safeguard our future. In the style of A History of the World in 100 Objects, each chapter tells a separate story, but, gathered together, a great picture unfolds, of our most remarkable science, botany. Plants: From Roots to Riches is a beautifully designed book, packed with 200 images in both colour and black and white from Kew's amazing archives, some never reproduced before. Kathy Willis and Carolyn Fry, the acclaimed popular-science writer, have also added all kinds of fascinating extra history, heroes and villains, memorable stories and interviews. Their book takes us on an exciting rollercoaster ride through our past and future and shows us how much plants really do matter.
King, Kaiser, Tsar
By Catrine Clay
During the last days of July 1914 telegrams flew between the King, the Kaiser and the Tsar. George V, Wilhelm II and Nicholas II, known in the family as Georgie, Willy and Nicky, were cousins. Between them they ruled over half the world. They had been friends since childhood. But by July 1914 the Trade Union of Kings was falling apart. Each was blaming the other for the impending disaster of the First World War. 'Have I gone mad ' Nicky asked his wife Alix in St Petersburg, showing her another telegram from Willy. 'What on earth does William mean pretending that it still depends on me whether war is averted or not!' Behind the friendliness of family gatherings lurked family quarrels, which were often played out in public. Drawing widely on previously unpublished documents, this is the extraordinary story of their overlapping lives, conducted in palaces of unimaginable opulence, surrounded by flattery and political intrigue. And through it runs the question: to what extent were the King, the Kaiser and the Tsar responsible for the outbreak of the war, and, as it turned out, for the end of autocratic monarchy
Paint Your Wife
By Lloyd Jones
The next morning Alma showed up with his tin case of pencils and his sketchbooks. She showed him through to the sitting room. She had an idea that a sitting was a formal occasion and in preparation had gone around the room straightening cushions and pulling off furnishing covers. She had dressed herself up in her Sunday best, a black skirt and red blouse. She had been toying with putting a flower in her hair.Long ago, when the men were away at the war, Alma began painting the women of the town. Alice, his favourite, returned his attentions, and when her husband George came home from the war, he set out to prove his love and reclaim his wife by moving a hill to improve the view for her - with a spade and wheelbarrow.Now, decades later, the townspeople, looking to escape various corners of despair, turn to Alma's drawing classes and, in doing so, learn to rediscover each other. For when you draw, the only thing that matters is what lies before you. Paint Your Wife is a colourful, sensual novel, brimming with rich stories and even richer characters.
Powers of Two
By Joshua Wolf Shenk
All of us have experienced creative connection, and glimpsed its power. Yet, for centuries, the myth of the lone genius has obscured the critical story of the power of collaboration. In Powers of Two, Joshua Wolf Shenk argues that creative pairs are the exemplars for innovation. Drawing on years of research on great partnerships in history - from Lennon and McCartney to Marie and Pierre Curie, plus hundreds more in fields including literature, popular culture, art and business - Shenk identifies the common journey pairs take from the spark of initial connection, through the passage to a cognitive 'joint identity' to competition and the struggle for power. Using scientific and psychological insights, he uncovers new truths about epic duos - and sheds new light on the genesis of some of the greatest creative work in history. He reveals hidden partnerships among people known only for their individual work (like C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien), and even 'adversarial collaborations' among those who are out to beat each other. This revelatory and lyrical book will make us see creative exchange as the central terrain of our psyches.
A Nick Drake Companion
By Pete Paphides
This short book, taken from Remembered For A While, tells the stories and circumstances that surround every known recording in Nick Drake's canon (as well as a few unrecorded songs). The result is like a detailed, extended series of liner notes, something to read while sitting in your favourite chair, in your favourite room, listening to the imperishably beautiful music they describe. A Nick Drake companion.
Remembered for a While
By Nick Drake, Gabrielle Drake, Cally Callomon
'Probably the most ambitious, generous and thorough volume about a musician to see publication' Mouth MagazineThe authorised companion to the music of Nick Drake, compiled, composed and edited by Cally Callomon and Gabrielle Drake, with contributions from Nick's friends, critics, adherents, family and from Nick Drake himself.Remembered For A While is not a biography. It is, rather, an attempt to cast a few shards of light on Nick Drake the poet, the musician, the singer, the friend, son and brother, who was also more than all of these. We hope it will accompany all those in search of an elusive artist, whose haunting presence defies analysis.The book contains:* In-depth interviews with many of Nick's friends, most notably Paul Wheeler, Nick's close friend from Cambridge days, a singer-songwriter who, of all Nick's friends, perhaps best understood, from personal experience, Nick's journey through musical creation to despair and back again.* A selection of photos from all eras - some never seen before - with reproductions of documents such as the scrapbook Molly Drake kept of her son's press cuttings, and the original and rejected album covers.* Images of Nick's handwritten and typed lyrics, including the lyrics of some songs for which the music has never been found.* Newly commissioned pieces by Nick's friends Jeremy Harmer, Brian Wells, Robin Frederick and the poet Will Stone. Contributions also from the sleeve designer Michael Trevithick, Island Records's Ann Sullivan and the photographer and artist Nigel Waymouth.*Extracts from Nick's letters - part of an extensive correspondence that exists between Nick and his parents, which charts their relationship from the time he first went to boarding school until the time he came home, when his depression had settled upon him and he felt he had nowhere else to go. From this point, Nick's life was documented by his father, Rodney Drake, who kept a detailed diary, as he and his wife Molly struggled to understand their son's state of mind and how to help him. Passages from this poignant record are included.* A short musical guide to each song's key and tuning to accompany the lyrics, together with an explanatory interpretation of Nick's guitar performance, the result of several years close study by singer-songwriter Chris Healey.* A comprehensive guide to all of Nick's live performances. * And a lengthy essay by noted music critic Pete Paphides, which includes interviews with Nick's musical collaborators and friends - his producer Joe Boyd, his recording engineer John Wood and his orchestrator, the late Robert Kirby - as well as descriptions of the recording process of each album.
English for the Natives
By Harry Ritchie
'My first English lesson was grammar with the terrifying Mrs Petrie. She spent the entire time marching up and down the classroom, thwacking various items of school furniture with a ruler while she banged on about the ING part of the verb. I sat there, vibrating with fear, desperately trying to figure out what on earth she could mean. Irregular Negative Gerund? Intransitive Nominative Genitive? It was only years later, when I was teaching English to foreign students, that I realised that English grammar wasn't obscure and wilfully difficult but a fascinating subject which I was already brilliant at - and this book will prove that you are too.'Forget the little you think you know about English grammar and start afresh with this highly entertaining and accessible guide. English for the Natives outlines the rules and structures of our language as they are taught to foreign students - and have never before been explained to us. Harry Ritchie also examines the grammar of dialects as well as standard English and shows how non-standard forms are just as valid. With examples from a wide variety of sources, from Ali G to John Betjeman, Margaret Thatcher to Match of the Day, this essential book reveals some surprising truths about our language and teaches you all the things you didn't know you knew about grammar.
By Giles Milton
'It reads like fiction, but it is, astonishingly, history' The TimesIn 1917, an eccentric band of British spies is smuggled into newly-Soviet Russia. Their goal? To defeat Lenin's plan to destroy British India and bring down the democracies of the West. These extraordinary spies, led by Mansfield Cumming, proved brilliantly successful. They found a wholly new way to deal with enemies, one that relied on espionage and dirty tricks rather than warfare. They were the unsung founders of today's modern, highly professional secret services. They were also the inspiration for fictional heroes to follow, from James Bond to Jason Bourne.
The Manner of Men
By Stuart Tootal
In June 1944, an elite unit of British paratroopers was sent on a daring and highly risky behind-the-lines mission, which was deemed vital to the success of D-Day. Dropping ahead of the main Allied invasion, 9 PARA were tasked with destroying an impregnable German gun battery. If they failed, thousands of British troops landing on the beaches were expected to die. But their mission was flawed and started to go wrong from the moment they jumped from their aircraft above Normandy. Only twenty per cent of the unit made it to the objective and half of them were killed or wounded during the attack. Undermanned and lacking equipment and ammunition, the survivors then held a critical part of the invasion beachhead. For six bloody days, they defended the Breville Ridge against vastly superior German forces and bore the brunt of Rommel's attempt to turn the left flank of the Allied invasion.The Manner of Men is an epic account of courage beyond the limits of human endurance, where paratroopers prevailed despite intelligence failures and higher command blunders, in what has been described as one of the most remarkable feat of arms of the British Army and the Parachute Regiment during the Second World War.
By Michael Rosen
From minding your Ps and Qs to wondering why X should mark the spot, Alphabetical is a book for everyone who loves words and language. Whether it's how letters are arranged on keyboards or Viking runes, textspeak or zip codes, this book will change the way you think about letters for ever. How on Earth did we fix upon our twenty-six letters, what do they really mean, and how did we come to write them down in the first place? Michael Rosen takes you on an unforgettable adventure through the history of the alphabet in twenty-six vivid chapters, fizzing with personal anecdotes and fascinating facts. Starting with the mysterious Phoenicians and how sounds first came to be written down, he races on to show how nonsense poems work, pins down the strange story of OK, traces our seven lost letters and tackles the tyranny of spelling, among many, many other things. His heroes of the alphabet range from Edward Lear to Phyllis Pearsall (the inventor of the A-Z), and from the two scribes of Beowulf to rappers. Each chapter takes on a different subject - codes, umlauts or the writing of dictionaries. Rosen's enthusiasm for letters positively leaps off the page, whether it's the story of his life told through the typewriters he's owned or a chapter on jokes written in a string of gags and word games. So if you ever wondered why Hawaiian only has a thirteen-letter alphabet or how exactly to write down the sound of a wild raspberry, read on . . .
Cairo in the War
By Artemis Cooper
For troops in the desert, Cairo meant fleshpots or brass hats. For well-connected officers, it meant polo at the Gezira Club and drinks at Shepheard's. For the irregular warriors, Cairo was a city to throw legendary parties before the next mission behind enemy lines. For countless refugees, it was a stopping place in the long struggle home. The political scene was dominated by the British Ambassador Sir Miles Lampson. In February 1942 he surrounded the Abdin Palace with tanks and attempted to depose King Farouk. Five months later it looked as if the British would be thrown out of Egypt for good. Rommel's forces were only sixty miles from Alexandria - but the Germans were pushed back and Cairo life went on. Meanwhile, in the Egyptian Army, a handful of young officers were thinking dangerous thoughts.