On This Day in History
By Dan Snow
On which day was history's shortest war waged and won (in roughly 40 minutes)? How was Napoleon bested by a group of rabbits in 1807? Why did a dispute about beer in an Oxford pub lead to over 100 deaths and 470 years of penance? Why in 1752 did Britain go to bed on 2nd September and wake up on the 14th? How did a women's march in 1917 set off the Russian Revolution?On This Day in History brings to life a key event that happened on each day of the year.From the most important British battle that you've never heard of (20 May 685) to the first meeting of Lennon and McCartney (6 July 1957), and from why Julius Caesar should have been wary of the Ides of March (15 March 44BC) to the day Jeanne de Clisson became a pirate and single-handedly declared war on the King of France (2 August 1343), history is full of unlikely heroes and fascinating turning points.In this book Dan Snow shows us how each day offers a different and unexpected insight into our past. And story by gripping story, this year grows into a vivid, very human history of the world.
Under the Knife
By Arnold van de Laar
'This is history with a surgeon's touch: deft, incisive and sometimes excruciatingly bloody' The Sunday Times'Utterly eccentric and riveting' Mail on Sunday 'Eye-opening and, frequently, eye-watering . . . a book that invites readers to peer up the bottoms of kings, into the souls of rock stars and down the ear canals of astronauts' The Daily TelegraphHow did a decision made in the operating theatre spark hundreds of conspiracy theories about JFK? How did a backstage joke prove fatal to world-famous escape artist Harry Houdini? How did Queen Victoria change the course of surgical history?Through dark centuries of bloodletting and of amputations without anaesthetic to today's sterile, high-tech operating theatres, surgeon Arnold van de Laar uses his experience and expertise to tell an incisive history of the past, present and future of surgery.From the dark centuries of bloodletting and of amputations without anaesthetic to today's sterile, high-tech operating theatres, Under the Knife is both a rich cultural history, and a modern anatomy class for us all.
Britain by the Book
By Oliver Tearle
What caused Dickens to leap out of bed one night and walk 30 miles from London to Kent?How did a small town on the Welsh borders become the second-hand bookshop capital of the world?Why did a jellyfish persuade Evelyn Waugh to abandon his suicide attempt in North Wales? A multitude of curious questions are answered in Britain by the Book, a fascinating travelogue with a literary theme, taking in unusual writers' haunts and the surprising places that inspired some of our favourite fictional locations. We'll learn why Thomas Hardy was buried twice, how a librarian in Manchester invented the thesaurus as a means of coping with depression, and why Agatha Christie was investigated by MI5 during the Second World War. The map of Britain that emerges is one dotted with interesting literary stories and bookish curiosities.
The Golden Thread
By Kassia St Clair
** A RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK **'Fascinating . . . The history of the world through the eye of a needle . . . I recommend this book to anyone' THE SPECTATOR'A charming, absorbing and history that takes us on a journey from the silk roads to sportswear, from ruffs to spacesuits . . . I devoured this quietly feminist book' SUNDAY TIMES'Joyful and beautiful' NATURE'Will make you rethink your relationship with fabric' ELLE DECORATIONAll textiles begin with a twist. From colourful 30,000-year old threads found on the floor of a Georgian cave to what the linen wrappings of Tutankhamun's mummy actually meant; from the Silk Roads to the woollen sails that helped the Vikings reach America 700 years before Columbus; from the lace ruffs that infuriated the puritans to the Indian calicoes and chintzes that powered the Industrial Revolution, our continuing reinvention of cloth tells fascinating stories of human ingenuity. When we talk of lives hanging by a thread, being interwoven, or part of the social fabric, we are part of a tradition that stretches back many thousands of years. Fabric has allowed us to achieve extraordinary things and survive in unlikely places, and this book shows you how -- and why.With a cast that includes Chinese empresses, Richard the Lionheart and Bing Crosby, Kassia St Clair takes us on the run with escaped slaves, climbing the slopes of Everest and moonwalking with astronauts. Running like a bright line through history, The Golden Thread offers an unforgettable adventure through our past, present and future.
The Secret Lives of Colour
By Kassia St Clair
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER'A mind-expanding tour of the world without leaving your paintbox. Every colour has a story, and here are some of the most alluring, alarming, and thought-provoking. Very hard painting the hallway magnolia after this inspiring primer.' Simon GarfieldThe Secret Lives of Colour tells the unusual stories of the 75 most fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. In this book Kassia St Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colours and where they come from (whether Van Gogh's chrome yellow sunflowers or punk's fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilisation. Across fashion and politics, art and war, The Secret Lives of Colour tell the vivid story of our culture.
The Escape Artists
By Neal Bascomb
Summer, 1918: twenty-nine officers crawled into a 16 inch high, 55 metre tunnel dug only with spoons. This was the culmination of 9 months gruelling toil in oxygen-starved darkness. Of the twenty-nine escapees, just ten would make their way back to Britain.When captured Royal Flying Corps pilots Captain David Gray, Captain Caspar Kennard and 2nd Lieutenant Cecil Blain had arrived at Holzminden - or 'Hellminden' as its occupants called it - the Germans' highest-security prison complex had seemed impregnable. 'The Black Hole' was ruled by the iron fist of Camp Commandant Carl Niemayer, under whose brutal temper prisoners were known to be shot and beaten to death. Not least the breakout artists.After five unsuccessful attempts from different camps in one year, the obsessive Captain Gray was personally determined to orchestrate the building of a tunnel directly under the feet of their one hundred armed guards. With an improvised oxygen piping system, stolen disguises and astonishing courage, this handful of the Kaiser's 2.3 million prisoners would succeed in making their way to neutral Holland and eventually back to Britain - for a private audience at Windsor Palace. The most unlikely escape of the Great War, their derring-do became military legend and the inspiration for the subsequent great escapes of the Second World War.
Rise and Kill First
By Ronen Bergman
'A gripping investigation of Israel's assassination policy' Sunday Times'Remarkable' Observer'Riveting' Daily Mail'Compelling' John le CarréShortlisted for the Airey Neave Memorial Book PrizeThe Talmud says: "If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first." This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel's DNA. From the very beginning of its statehood in 1948, protecting the nation from harm has been the responsibility of its intelligence community and armed services, and there is one weapon in their vast arsenal that they have relied upon to thwart the most serious threats: Targeted assassinations have been used countless times, on enemies large and small, sometimes in response to attacks against the Israeli people and sometimes preemptively. In this page-turning, eye-opening book, journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman - praised by David Remnick as "arguably [Israel's] best investigative reporter" - offers a riveting inside account of the targeted killing programs: their successes, their failures, and the moral and political price exacted on the men and women who approved and carried out the missions. Built from interviews with Israeli Prime Ministers as well as high-level figures in Mossad, and the country's military and intelligence services - Rise and Kill First includes never-before-reported, behind-the-curtain accounts of key operations, and based on hundreds of on-the-record interviews and thousands of previously unseen files. Bergman traces, from statehood to the present, the gripping events and thorny ethical questions underlying Israel's targeted killing campaign, which has shaped the Israeli nation, the Middle East, and the entire world.
By Peter Snow, Ann MacMillan
'Highly readable . . . an intimate and varied account of fascinating stories of people at war' History of WarWar Stories is a fascinating account of ordinary men and women swept up in the turbulence of war. These are the stories - many untold until now - of thirty-four individuals who have pushed the boundaries of love, bravery, suffering and terror beyond the imaginable. They span three centuries and five continents. There is the courage of Edward Seager who survived the Charge of the Light Brigade; the cunning of Krystyna Skarbek, quick-thinking spy and saboteur during the Second World War; the skullduggery of Benedict Arnold, who switched sides in the American War of Independence and the compassion of Magdalene de Lancey who tenderly nursed her dying husband at Waterloo. Told with vivid narrative flair and full of unexpected insights, War Stories moves effortlessly from tales of spies, escapes and innovation to uplifting acts of humanity, celebrating men and women whose wartime experiences are beyond compare.
By John Julius Norwich
I can still feel, as if it were yesterday, the excitement of my first Channel crossing (as a child of nearly 7) in September 1936; the regiment of porters, smelling asphyxiatingly of garlic in their blue-green blousons; the raucous sound all around me of spoken French; the immense fields of Normandy strangely devoid of hedges; then the Gare du Nord at twilight, the policemen with their képis and their little snow-white batons; and my first sight of the Eiffel Tower...This book is written in the belief that the average English-speaking man or woman has remarkably little knowledge of French history. We may know a bit about Napoleon or Joan of Arc or Louis XIV, but for most of us that's about it. In my own three schools we were taught only about the battles we won: Crécy and Poitiers, Agincourt and Waterloo. The rest was silence. So here is my attempt to fill in the blanks...John Julius Norwich (at 88) has finally written the book he always wanted to write, the extremely colourful story of the country he loves best. From frowning Roman generals and belligerent Gallic chieftains, to Charlemagne (hated by generations of French children taught that he invented schools) through Marie Antoinette and the storming of the Bastille to Vichy, the Resistance and beyond, FRANCE is packed with heroes and villains, adventures and battles, romance and revolution. Full of memorable stories and racy anecdotes, this is the perfect introduction to the country that has inspired the rest of the world to live, dress, eat -- and love better.
By Josh Ireland
'An epic tale of love, dishonour, bravery, cowardice, betrayal and high-treason. Beautifully written. A stunning debut' Damien LewisPlayboy. Fascist. Strongman. Thief.Traitors.John Amery is a drunk and a fanatic, an exiled playboy whose frail body is riven by contradictions. Harold Cole is a cynical, murderous conman who desperately wants to be seen as an officer and a gentleman. Eric Pleasants is an iron-willed former wrestler; he is also a pacifist, and will not be forced into fighting other men's battles. William Joyce can weave spells when he talks, but his true gifts are for rage and hate. By the end of the Second World War, they will all have betrayed their country. The Traitors is the story of how they came to do so. Drawing on declassified MI5 files, it is a book about chaotic lives in turbulent times; idealism twisted out of shape; of torn consciences and abandoned loyalties; and the tragic consequences that treachery brings in its wake.
By Caitlin Davies
'Davies's absorbing study serves up just enough sensationalism - and eccentricity - along with its serious inquiry' SUNDAY TIMES'[A] revealing account of the jail's 164-year history' DAILY TELEGRAPH, 5* review'Insightful and thought-provoking and makes for a ripping good read' JEREMY CORBYN'A much-needed and balanced history' OBSERVER'Davies explores how society has dealt with disobedient women - from suffragettes to refugees to women seeking abortions - for decades, and how they've failed to silence those who won't go down without a fight' STYLISTSociety has never known what to do with its rebellious women. Those who defied expectations about feminine behaviour have long been considered dangerous and unnatural, and ever since the Victorian era they have been removed from public view, locked up and often forgotten about. Many of these women ended up at HM Prison Holloway, the self-proclaimed 'terror to evil-doers' which, until its closure in 2016, was western Europe's largest women's prison. First built in 1852 as a House of Correction, Holloway's women have come from all corners of the UK - whether a patriot from Scotland, a suffragette from Huddersfield, or a spy from the Isle of Wight - and from all walks of life - socialites and prostitutes, sporting stars and nightclub queens, refugees and freedom fighters. They were imprisoned for treason and murder, for begging, performing abortions and stealing clothing coupons, for masquerading as men, running brothels and attempting suicide. In Bad Girls, Caitlin Davies tells their stories and shows how women have been treated in our justice system over more than a century, what crimes - real or imagined - they committed, who found them guilty and why. It is a story of victimization and resistance; of oppression and bravery. From the women who escaped the hangman's noose - and those who didn't - to those who escaped Holloway altogether, Bad Girls is a fascinating look at how disobedient and defiant women changed not only the prison service, but the course of history.