By Michael Jones
On 30 April 1945, Adolf Hitler committed suicide. The following day, his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels also killed himself and the crumbling Third Reich passed to Admiral Karl Dönitz. The Nazis' position seemed hopeless. Yet remarkably, the war in the rest of Europe went on for another ten days. After Hitler looks at these days as a narrative day-by-day countdown but also as a broader global history of a European war that had seen some of the most savage battles in history. Relations between the 'Big Three' - the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union - suddenly plunged to near breaking point. This book reveals that tumultuous story.After Hitler also looks at the wider canvas of the war and the terrible humanitarian catastrophe uncovered in Europe. It describes those who felt the joy of freedom, but also those who faced a highly uncertain future. As Red Army soldiers joined forces with their British and American allies, Stalin's East finally came face to face with Churchill's and Truman's West. After Hitler tells of their growing mistrust, but also of moments of remarkable goodwill and co-operation - the brief but poignant hope that these great nations could together fashion a new and safer future. This is a fascinating exploration of the brief but crucial period that shaped the emerging post-war world.
Abducting a General
By Patrick Leigh Fermor
A daring behind-enemy-lines mission from the author of A Time of Gifts and The Broken Road, who was once described by the BBC as 'a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene'. Although a story often told, this is the first time Patrick Leigh Fermor's own account of the kidnapping of General Kriepe, has been published.One of the greatest feats in Patrick Leigh Fermor's remarkable life was the kidnapping of General Kreipe, the German commander in Crete, on 26 April 1944. He and Captain Billy Moss hatched a daring plan to abduct the general, while ensuring that no reprisals were taken against the Cretan population. Dressed as German military police, they stopped and took control of Kreipe's car, drove through twenty-two German checkpoints, then succeeded in hiding from the German army before finally being picked up on a beach in the south of the island and transported to safety in Egypt on 14 May.Abducting a General is Leigh Fermor's own account of the kidnap, published for the first time. Written in his inimitable prose, and introduced by acclaimed Special Operations Executive historian Roderick Bailey, it is a glorious first-hand account of one of the great adventures of the Second World War. Also included in this book are Leigh Fermor's intelligence reports, sent from caves deep within Crete yet still retaining his remarkable prose skills, which bring the immediacy of SOE operations vividly alive, as well as the peril which the SOE and Resistance were operating under; and a guide to the journey that Kreipe was taken on, as seen in the 1957 film Ill Met by Moonlight starring Dirk Bogarde, from the abandonment of his car to the embarkation site so that the modern visitor can relive this extraordinary event.
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 . . .
By Michael Arnold
Assassin's Reign, the fourth in The Civil War Chronicles, Michael Arnold's acclaimed series of historical thrillers, sees battle-scarred hero Captain Stryker, 'the Sharpe of the Civil War', in the fight of his life.'Stands in comparison with the best of Cornwell' Yorkshire PostThe forces of King Charles are victorious; their Parliamentarian enemies in deep crisis. In the west, the crucial port city of Bristol has fallen, and Royalist eyes fall quickly upon neighbouring Gloucester. Its walls are weak, its garrison under strength, and its governor - Sir Edward Massie - suspected of harbouring sympathy for the King.Stryker and his men are with the army as it converges on Gloucester, still reeling from the loss of a close friend at the bloody Battle of Stratton. Ordered to infiltrate the rebel city on a mission to discover whether Massie will indeed surrender, Stryker reluctantly embarks upon his most desperate mission yet. But Gloucester's defenders are more resolute than any had imagined, and catastrophe soon befalls him. With his life seemingly forfeit, Stryker is spared by an unlikely saviour; Vincent Skaithlocke, his former commander. The mercenary has returned to England to fight for Parliament, and offers Stryker his protection. As old friends adjust to life fighting for opposing sides, Stryker begins to question his own loyalties . . . but a chance discovery makes him realise that all in Gloucester is not what it seems, for a hidden menace threatens his own life, and that of King Charles himself.
After the Reich
By Giles Macdonogh
In 1945 Germany was a nation in tatters. Swathes of its population were despairing, homeless, bombed-out and on the move. Refugees streamed towards the West and soldiers made their way home, often scarring the villages they passed through with parting shots of savagery.Politically the country was neutered, carved into zones of occupation. While Britain and America were loathe to repeat the crippling reparations demands of the First World War, Russia bayed for blood, stripping their own zone of everything from rail tracks to lavatory bowls.After the Reich is the first history to give the full picture of Germany's bitter journey to reconstruction. Giles Macdonogh expertly charts the varied experiences of all who found themselves in the German melting pot. His people-focused narrative unveils shocking truths about how people continued to treat each other, even outside the confines of war. It is a crucial lesson for our times.
Alfred the Great
By Justin Pollard
Alfred is the only English king ever to be called 'Great'. It was not a title given by political supporters, not the sycophantic gift of an official biographer, nor a self-styled title. It was the gift of history. Justin Pollard's enthralling, authoritative account befits Alfred - a soldier, a scholar and statesman like no other in English history. His rule spanned troubled times. His shores were under constant threat from Viking marauders and he faced turmoil at home. Soon after he began his rule a conspiracy erupted and he was hounded out of his kingdom into solitary exile in forests and fens. But his ambition was not felled by adversity. Alone in this damp, dangerous, half-world of bogs and quicksand Alfred looked within and found the motivation to create a new type of nation. Drawing on the latest historical, textual and archaeological research Justin Pollard radically reassesses the key moments in Alfred's life. He offers a new interpretation of what caused this most remarkable king to begin the formation of England and how it coloured the subsequent history of the Western World down to the present day.
By Andrew Mango
This biography of Atatürk aims to strip away the myth to show the complexities of the man beneath. Born plain Mustafa in Ottoman Salonica in 1881, he trained as an army officer but was virtually unknown until 1919, when he took the lead in thwarting the victorious Allies' plan to partition the Turkish core of the Ottoman Empire. He divided the Allies, defeated the last Sultan and secured the territory of the Turkish national state, becoming the first president of the new republic in 1923. He imposed coherence, order and mordernity and in the process, created his own legend and his own cult.
The Appalling Guests
By Victoria Mather, Sue Macartney-Snape
Michael Parkinson has described Victoria Mather and Sue Macartney-Snape as 'not so much observers, more collectors, pinning their victims like butterflies in a display cabinet. Their observations are made with the wit and humour necessary to survive the circles they move in.' True to form, The Appalling Guests offers the chance to delight in yet another array of social stereotypes, from supermodel Tweetie's baby shower (the editor of Vogue has bought a leather nappy bag with organic nappy rash unguents wrapped in silver cellophane and sequins) to the Chalfont St Oswald amateur dramatics society staging of Little Red Riding Hood with leading light Pam, who has written it, directed it, designed the costumes and given herself the leading role.You'll recognise them all -- the back seat driver, the beautiful boy at the gym, the merchant banker, the Archers addict and the competitive mother. And thanks to The Appalling Guests, you'll know how to avoid them.