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.
By Fiona Mozley
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017WINNER OF A SOMERSET MAUGHAM AWARD'A quiet explosion of a book, exquisite and unforgettable' The Economist'A cleverly constructed rural Gothic fable . . . Elmet is a marvellous achievement' TLS'Pastoral idyll, political exposé, cosy family saga and horror tale, it reads like a traditional children's story that turns into a gangster film: Hansel and Gretel meets The Godfather' Sunday TimesDaniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned menacing and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them in the woods with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. Cathy was more like their father: fierce and full of simmering anger. Daniel was more like their mother: gentle and kind. Sometimes, their father disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home, he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn't true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.Brutal and beautiful in equal measure, Elmet is a compelling portrayal of a family living on the fringes of contemporary society, as well as a gripping exploration of the disturbing actions people are capable of when pushed to their limits.
The Empathy Instinct
By Peter Bazalgette
'If we hope to meet the moral test of our times, then I think we're going to have to talk more about the "empathy deficit". The ability to put ourselves in somebody else's shoes, to see the world through somebody else's eyes . . .' Barack ObamaEmpathy is the power of understanding others, imaginatively entering into their feelings. It is a fundamental human attribute, without which mutually co-operative societies cannot function. In a revolutionary development, we now know who has it, who lacks it and why. Via the MRI scanner we are mapping the human brain. This is a new frontier that reveals a host of beneficial ideas for childcare, teens challenged by the internet, the justice system, decent healthcare, tackling racism and resolving conflicts. In this wide-ranging and accessible book full of entertaining stories that are underlined by the latest scientific research, Peter Bazalgette also mounts a passionate defence of arts and popular culture as a means of bridging the empathy gap. As the world's population expands, consuming the planet's finite resources, as people haunted by poverty and war are on the move and as digital communications infinitely complicate our social interactions, we find our patience and our sympathy constantly challenged. Here is the antidote.Culminating in a passionate manifesto on empathy, The Empathy Instinct is what makes us human and what can make us better humans.
Elizabeth Jane Howard
By Artemis Cooper
Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923-2014) wrote brilliant novels about what love can do to people, but in her own life the lasting relationship she sought so ardently always eluded her. She grew up yearning to be an actress; but when that ambition was thwarted by marriage and the war, she turned to fiction. Her first novel, The Beautiful Visit, won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize - she went on to write fourteen more, of which the best-loved were the five volumes of The Cazalet Chronicle. Following her divorce from her first husband, the celebrated naturalist Peter Scott, Jane embarked on a string of high-profile affairs with Cecil Day-Lewis, Arthur Koestler and Laurie Lee, which turned her into a literary femme fatale. Yet the image of a sophisticated woman hid a romantic innocence which clouded her emotional judgement. She was nearing the end of a disastrous second marriage when she met Kingsley Amis, and for a few years they were a brilliant and glamorous couple - until that marriage too disintegrated. She settled in Suffolk where she wrote and entertained friends, but her turbulent love life was not over yet. In her early seventies Jane fell for a conman. His unmasking was the final disillusion, and inspired one of her most powerful novels, Falling.Artemis Cooper interviewed Jane several times in Suffolk. She also talked extensively to her family, friends and contemporaries, and had access to all her papers. Her biography explores a woman trying to make sense of her life through her writing, as well as illuminating the literary world in which she lived.
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.
Emma (flipback edition)
Published for the first time in flipback - the new, portable, stylish format that's taken Europe by storm.'I am not only not going to be married, at present, but have very little intention of ever marrying at all.'Beautiful, clever and rich, Emma Woodhouse thinks she knows best, particularly when it comes to love. A determined meddler in other people's affairs, she blithely ignores the wise counsel of her good friend Mr Knightley. But when it all goes wrong, can Emma learn from her mistakes and find true love herself before it's too late?Often described as Jane Austen's most perfect novel, Emma is published for the first time in flipback classics - so now you can always carry an Austen in your pocket.
The End of the Monsoon
By John Lathrop
Michael Smith, at the US embassy in Cambodia, has an urgent assignment: do what it takes to help a US oil company secure its contract with the Cambodian government before upcoming elections strengthen a Chinese competitor. His affair with Zainab, the British chargé's wife, complicates events. Unaware of Smith's role, Zainab pushes hard for reform, convincing her candidate to tie oil concessions to clean government, and Chinese concessions to the release of a dissident monk. The ruling party works for the monk's release, but insists that Zainab, a Buddhist herself, travels to the remote northern border for the handover. Smith considers a British diplomat's spouse to be a protected species in Cambodia. But does she really qualify?With tension, moral complexity and an authentic feel for modern Cambodia, The End of the Monsoon is a gripping story of love and the struggle for integrity.
By Jack Hight
Salah ad-Din, or Saladin as he is known to the Franks, was a Kurd, the son of a despised people, and yet he became Sultan of Egypt and Syria. He united the peoples of Allah, recaptured Jerusalem, and drove the Crusaders to the very edge of the sea. He battled, and in the end tamed King Richard the Lionheart, who well deserved his savage name. He was a great man, the greatest man that I ever knew, but when I first met him, he was only a skinny child... - The Chronicle of Yahya al-DimashqBut alongside the legend of Saladin there is another story. When the Crusader army is routed beneath the walls of Damascus in 1148, a young Saxon named John is captured and enslaved. He is bought by Yusuf, a slight, bookish boy, for the price of a pair of sandals.And so begins the story of two enemies brought together by fate and of a friendship that will change the face of the Holy Land. Timid Yusuf will grow up to become the warrior Saladin, nicknamed 'the Eagle'; John will first teach his young master the art of war, before returning west to serve first the King of Jerusalem and then King Richard himself.From spectacular set-piece battles to the political manoeuvrings of the corrupt Crusader court, from the brutality of single combat to the sophistication of Islamic life, this is the first in a remarkable trilogy that will chart the story of the greatest leader the Middle East has ever known.
Eating for Britain
By Simon Majumdar
'Who are these people? Look at what they eat.'Simon Majumdar travels the country to find out what British food - from Arbroath Smokies to Welsh rarebit to chicken tikka masala - reveals about British identity. Exploring the history of British food, he celebrates the wealth of fare on offer today, and meets the people all over the country - the farmers, the fishermen, the brewers, bakers and cheese makers - who have given the British reason to love their food again.Join Simon as he becomes a judge at the Great British Pie Competition (where, to his sorrow, he ends up judging vegetarian pies), as he learns to make Balti with a true Brummie, hunts for grouse, and sees seaside rock being made in Blackpool. EATING FOR BRITAIN is an impassioned and hilarious journey into the meaning of eating British.
The English Marriage
By Maureen Waller
The story of the English marriage is unique and eccentric. Long after the rest of Europe and neighbouring Scotland had reformed their marriage laws, England clung to the chaotic and contradictory laws of the medieval Church, making it all too easy to enter into a marriage but virtually impossible to end an unhappy one.If England was a 'paradise for wives' it could only have been through the feistiness of the women. Married women were placed in the same legal category as lunatics. While Englishmen prided themselves on their devotion to liberty, their wives were no freer than slaves. It was a husband's jealously guarded right to beat his wife, as long as the stick was no bigger than his thumb. Only after 1882 could a married woman even retain her own property. But then marriage was all about property in a society which was both mercenary and violent, where a girl was virtually sold into marriage and a price was put on a wife's chastity. With a cast of hundreds, from loyal and devoted wives in troubled times to those who featured in notorious trials for adultery, from abusive husbands whose excesses were only gradually curbed by the law to the modern phenomenon of the toxic wife, acclaimed historian Maureen Waller draws on intimate letters, diaries, court documents and advice books to trace the evolution of the English marriage. It is social history at its most revealing, astonishing and entertaining.
Eat My Globe
By Simon Majumdar
Simon is obsessed with food. He is able to remember every meal he has ever eaten and comes from a family of food lovers whose relationships are all based around food. In the midst of a mid-life crisis, Simon Majumdar decided to pack in his 9 to 5 day job and embark on a trip of a lifetime: to go everywhere and eat everything. Part travelogue, part memoir EAT MY GLOBE is a culinary tour of the world that Simon has always dreamed of making. From Philly Cheese steak in the US to mouldy shark in Iceland, he crosses the globe in search of variety and the ultimate taste experience. He also meets a fascinating array of peope, whose foodie passion impresses even Simon. Both witty and inspirational, EAT MY GLOBE is an eye-opening look at the world through food.
By Claudia Schreiber
Emma lives alone in a big farmhouse with her animals for company: she talks to her chickens, cuddles up to her pigs in the sty and caresses her cows. But she also must make a living from her livestock, selling meat and making sausages. For Emma, it's all part of a natural process, and she does her best to give the pigs a short and sweet death, having developed her very own way of killing her pigs most tenderly.For all her happiness on the farm, there are two things in Emma's life she desperately wants: money to save her farm, which is deeply in debt, and a man. One night, she is woken by a crash. In her field, she finds a wrecked Ferrari. and in it, an unconscious man - with an enormous amount of cash.It looks like Emma's prayers have been answered - but have they? Will the mysterious Max adapt to rural life, or will his past come back to haunt them?
Empires of the Indus
By Alice Albinia
10th anniversary edition with new PrefaceOne of the largest rivers in the world, the Indus rises in the Tibetan mountains, flows west across northern India and south through Pakistan. For millennia it has been worshipped as a god; for centuries used as a tool of imperial expansion; today it is the cement of Pakistans fractious union. Five thousand years ago, a string of sophisticated cities grew and traded on its banks. In the ruins of these elaborate metropolises, Sanskrit-speaking nomads explored the river, extolling its virtues in Indias most ancient text, the Rig-Veda. During the past two thousand years a series of invaders - Alexander the Great, Afghan Sultans, the British Raj - made conquering the Indus valley their quixotic mission. For the people of the river, meanwhile, the Indus valley became a nodal point on the Silk Road, a centre of Sufi pilgrimage and the birthplace of Sikhism. Empires of the Indus follows the river upstream and back in time, taking the reader on a voyage through two thousand miles of geography and more than five millennia of history redolent with contemporary importance.