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.
The Brief Life of Flowers
By Fiona Stafford
'A glowing account of the myths and meanings we impose on flowers . . . a book to reread and treasure' John Carey, Sunday Times'A captivating new book that explores our fascination with flowers . . . A delight' Daily MailCome rain or shine, flowers feature perennially in the landscape of human history. Their beauty has inspired some of the greatest works of art and literature, captivating creative minds from Ovid to O'Keeffe, Wordsworth to Van Gogh, Botticelli to Beatrix Potter. But flowers have also played a key part in forming the past, and may even shape our future. Some have served as symbols of monarchs, dynasties and nations - from the Wars of the Roses to the Order of the Thistle. And while the poppy is often associated with WWI, it was the elderflower that treated its wounded soldiers, joining a long line of healing flowers that have developed modern medicine, including lavender and foxgloves. From the personal to the political, flowers play a part in all aspects of life: the right rose, according to the Victorian language of flowers, might mend a broken heart, while sunflowers may just save our planet. This beautifully written collection is at once enchanting and intriguing, weaving together art, science, history and horticulture to offer a fresh perspective on the world around us. The Brief Life of Flowers reveals how even the most ordinary of flowers have extraordinary stories to tell.
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.
By Mick Herron
'It is time Mick Herron was recognised in his own right as the best thriller writer in Britain today' Sunday ExpressOld spooks carry the memory of tradecraft in their bones, and when Solomon Dortmund sees an envelope being passed from one pair of hands to another in a Marylebone cafe, he knows he's witnessed more than an innocent encounter. But in relaying his suspicions to John Bachelor, who babysits retired spies like Solly, he sets in train events which will alter lives. Bachelor himself, a hair's breadth away from sleeping in his car, is clawing his way back to stability; Hannah Weiss, the double agent whose recruitment was his only success, is starting to enjoy the secrets and lies her role demands; and Lech Wicinski, an Intelligence Service analyst, finds that a simple favour for an old acquaintance might derail his career. Meanwhile, Lady Di Taverner is trying to keep the Service on an even keel, and if that means throwing the odd crew member overboard, well: collateral damage is her speciality.A drop, in spook parlance, is the passing on of secret information.It's also what happens just before you hit the ground.
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.
By Luke Jennings
The basis for KILLING EVE, now a major BBC TV series, starring Sandra Oh SUNDAY TIMES Thriller of the MonthIn a hotel room in Venice, where she's just completed a routine assassination, Villanelle receives a late-night call. Eve Polastri has discovered that a senior MI5 officer is in the pay of the Twelve, and is about to debrief him. As Eve interrogates her subject, desperately trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, Villanelle moves in for the kill. The duel between the two women intensifies, as does their mutual obsession, and when the action moves from the high passes of the Tyrol to the heart of Russia, Eve finally begins to unwrap the enigma of her adversary's true identity.Codename Villanelle, the first of the Killing Eve series, is out now! Praise for Killing Eve TV series'A dazzling thriller . . . mightily entertaining' Guardian 'Entertaining, clever and darkly comic' New York Times
Born Lippy RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK
By Jo Brand
'Feisty and funny' Sunday ExpressSometimes it's hard to be a woman and sometimes it's time to be a hard woman . . . This is a book for all those times.Once upon a (very very) long time ago Jo Brand was what you might describe as 'a nice little girl'. Of course, that was before the values of cynicism, misogyny and the societal expectation that Jo would be thin, feminine and demure sent her off down Arsey Avenue. The plot thickened, when due to a complicated fusion of hormones, horrible family dynamics and a no-good boyfriend they hated, Jo ended up leaving home at 16. Now she's considerably further along life's inevitable bloody 'journey' - and she's fucked up enough times to feel confident she has no wisdom to offer anyone. But who cares? She's going to do it anyway...Born Lippy is a gathering of all the things Jo Brand wishes she'd known, all the things she's learnt, and all the things she hopes for the future. A century after women got the vote (albeit married women over the age of 28) it's time to take stock of exactly what it means to be female today. And if there's one thing women are entitled to, it's having a bloody good moan about things big and small - so here goes . . .HOW TO MANAGE A BULLY * YOUR FAMILY AND HOW TO SURVIVE IT * WHAT NO-ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT THE FEMALE BODY * BEING DIFFERENT * SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT SOCIABLE * HOW NOT TO FALL IN LOVE * FEMINISM: A RE-BRANDING * ADVENTURES IN YOUR HEAD * HAVING FUN * NOT HAVING FUN: WHAT TO DO WHEN IT ALL GOES WRONG * STAYING SANE * YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU WEAR * MODERN MANNERS* HOW TO DO WHAT YOU WANT: OR NOT DO WHAT OTHERS WANT * BEING HEALTHY * GETTING ON A BIT * THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES: MORE DEADLY THAN THE MALE?
Dear Mr Murray
By David McClay
The publishing house of John Murray was founded in Fleet Street in 1768 and remained a family firm over seven generations. Published to coincide with this 'remarkable achievement' and in the anniversary year, Dear Mr Murray is a collection of some of the best letters from the hundreds of thousands held in the John Murray Archive. They reveal not only the story of some of the most interesting and influential books in history but also the remarkable friendships - as well as occasional animosities - between author and publisher, as well as readers, editors, printers and illustrators.Despite the incredible number of letters that were retained by the Murray family, some failed to arrive, others were delayed and some barely survived, but longevity added to the reputation and fame of John Murray and a correspondent in Canada who addressed his letter merely to 'John Murray, The World-wide famous Book & Publishing House, London, England' as early as 1932 could be confident that his letter would arrive.Intended to entertain and inspire, and spanning more than two hundred years, Dear Mr Murray is full of literary history and curiosities: from Charles Darwin's response to the negative reviews of On the Origin of Species to Adrian Conan Doyle challenging Harold Nicolson to a duel for insulting his father in the press; from David Livingstone's displeasure at the proposed drawing of a lion to represent his near-death encounter in Missionary Travels to William Makepeace Thackeray apologising for his drunken behaviour; from Byron berating John Murray for being fooled by his girlfriend's forgery of his signature to the poet James Hogg so desperate for money that he claims he won't be able to afford a Christmas goose; and from Jane Austen expressing concern about printing delays to Patrick Leigh Fermor beseeching Jock Murray not to visit him until he'd completed A Time of Gifts. Complemented by illustrations and reproductions of letters and envelopes, this is the perfect gift for book lovers everywhere.
Brief Answers to the Big Questions
By Stephen Hawking
This Book Will Blow Your Mind
What's the nature of reality? Does the universe ever end? What is time and does it even exist? These are the biggest imagination-stretching, brain-staggering questions in the universe - and here are their fascinating answers.From quantum weirdness to freaky cosmology (like white holes - which spew out matter instead of sucking it in), This Book Will Blow Your Mind takes you on an epic journey to the furthest extremes of science, to the things you never thought possible. This book will explain: Why is part of the universe missing (and how scientists finally found it)How time might also flow backwardsHow human head transplants might be possible (in the very near future)Whether the universe is a hologramAnd why we are all zombiesFilled with counterintuitive stories and factoids you can't wait to share, as well as lots of did-you-knows and plenty of how-did-we-ever-not-knows, this new book from the bestselling New Scientist series will blow your mind - and then put it back together again. You don't need a spaceship to travel to the extremes of science. You just need this book.
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.
Forged in Crisis
By Nancy Koehn
'A close analysis of five gritty leaders whose extraordinary passion and perseverance changed history . . . a gripping read on a timeless and timely topic!'Angela Duckworth, bestselling author of GritTen years in the writing, Forged in Crisis, by renowned Harvard Business School historian and Davos and Aspen Institute speaker Nancy Koehn, presents five remarkable life journeys-those of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton; President Abraham Lincoln; legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass; Nazi-resisting clergyman Dietrich Bonhoeffer; and environmental crusader Rachel Carson. What do such disparate figures have in common? Why do their stories speak to us so powerfully today?Koehn begins each of the book's five sections by showing her protagonist on the precipice of a great crisis: Shackleton marooned on an Antarctic ice floe with no hope of rescue; Lincoln on the verge of the collapse of the Union; Douglass threatened with a return to enslavement; Bonhoeffer agonizing on what a man of faith should do when faced with absolute evil; Carson racing against the clock-and the cancer ravaging her-in a bid to save the planet. Koehn then reaches back to each person's early years to show the individual blooming into the force he or she would ultimately become. Through their confronting of obstacles, we begin to glean an essential truth: leaders are not born but made, and the power to lead resides in each of us.In a time when the highest offices in the land are occupied by the inexperienced and untested, the great question pressing on all of us is: What set of skills is required to lead in crisis, and can history give us answers? Whether it's read as a repository of great insight or as exceptionally rendered human drama, the riveting Forged in Crisis stands out as a towering achievement.
By John Simpson
MP Patrick Macready has been found dead in his flat. The coroner rules it an accident, a sex game gone wrong. Jon Swift is from the old stock of journos - cynical, cantankerous and overweight - and something about his friend's death doesn't seem right. Then days after Macready's flat is apparently burgled, Swift discovers that his friend had been researching a string of Russian government figures who had met similarly 'accidental' fates. When the police refuse to investigate further, Swift gets in touch with his contacts in Moscow, determined to find out if his hunch is correct. Following the lead, he is soon drawn into a violent underworld, where whispers of conspiracies, assassinations and double-agents start blurring the line between friend and foe.But the truth will come at a price, and it may cost him everything.