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.
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.
By Selina Todd
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER'There was nothing extraordinary about my childhood or background. And yet I looked in vain for any aspect of my family's story when I went to university to read history, and continued to search fruitlessly for it throughout the next decade. Eventually I realised I would have to write this history myself.' What was it really like to live through the twentieth century? In 1910 three-quarters of the population were working class, but their story has been ignored until now. Based on the first-person accounts of servants, factory workers, miners and housewives, award-winning historian Selina Todd reveals an unexpected Britain where cinema audiences shook their fists at footage of Winston Churchill, communities supported strikers, and where pools winners (like Viv Nicholson) refused to become respectable. Charting the rise of the working class, through two world wars to their fall in Thatcher's Britain and today, Todd tells their story for the first time, in their own words. Uncovering a huge hidden swathe of Britain's past, The People is the vivid history of a revolutionary century and the people who really made Britain great.
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.
Portrait of Orkney
By George Mackay Brown
Portrait of Orkney is a personal account of a people, their history and their way of life, and of a landscape that has shaped them, and been shaped by them.
Patrick Leigh Fermor
By Artemis Cooper
Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) was a war hero whose exploits in Crete are legendary, and above all he is widely acclaimed as the greatest travel writer of our times, notably for his books about his walk across pre-war Europe, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water; he was a self-educated polymath, a lover of Greece and the best company in the world.Artemis Cooper has drawn on years of interviews and conversations with Paddy and his cloest friends as well as having complete access to his archives. Her beautifully crafted biography portrays a man of extraordinary gifts - no one wore their learning so playfully, nor inspired such passionate friendship.
A Perfect Woman
By L. P. Hartley
Chartered accountant Harold Eastwood, conventionally minded, chances to meet Alec Goodrich on the train, travelling first-class with a third-class ticket. Alec is a best-selling novelist. He soon finds Harold's knowledge of income tax allowances useful and when Alec pays a visit to the accountant his wife, Isabel, who yearns for culture and literature, quickly takes up the fantasy to be his mistress. However, not she but Irma, the Austrian barmaid at the tavern, has caught Alec's wayward fancy . . .
Past the Shallows
By Favel Parrett
Shortlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award, PAST THE SHALLOWS is a powerful and hauntingly beautiful novel from an extraordinary new Australian writer who is compared with Cormac McCarthy and Tim Winton. 'If you read only one book this year, make sure it's this' Sunday Times'I loved Past the Shallows' Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow BirdsEveryone loves Harry. Except his father.Joe, Miles and Harry are growing up on the remote south coast of Tasmania. The brothers' lives are shaped by their father's moods - like the ocean he fishes, he is wild and unpredictable. He is a bitter man, with a devastating secret.Miles does his best to watch out for Harry, the youngest, but he can't be there all the time. Often alone, Harry finds joy in the small treasures he discovers, in shark eggs and cuttlefish bones. In a kelpie pup, a mug of hot chocolate, and a secret friendship with a mysterious neighbour.But sometimes small treasures, or a brother's love are not enough.
Pride and Prejudice (flipback edition)
Published for the first time in flipback - the new, portable, stylish format that's taken Europe by storm.'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.'So begins Jane Austen's perennially popular novel in which the prejudice of Elizabeth Bennett - surely one of literature's most engaging heroines - meets the pride of Mr Darcy as they pit their wits against each other in this classic tale of romantic misunderstanding. Published for the first time in flipback classics - so now you can always carry an Austen in your pocket.
Persuasion (flipback edition)
Published for the first time in flipback - the new, portable, stylish format that's taken Europe by storm.'She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older' Anne Elliot has all but given up on love. Eight years ago, she was persuaded by her ambitious family to break off her engagement to a penniless naval officer. But when Captain Wentworth returns from the war, Anne's old feelings are rekindled. He is now a wealthy man: can he forgive her? Told with wit and tenderness, Jane Austen's last novel is a moving story of love lost and found. Published for the first time in flipback classics - so now you can always carry an Austen in your pocket.
A Puppy Called Aero
By Liam Creed
Liam Creed seemed like a lost cause. He was excluded from school more times than he can remember, his outbursts got him into trouble, he faced a constant struggle with medication, and his family were driven to despair. All because he was born with an inability to sit still and concentrate: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Liam thought his life was destined for failure. Until, one life-changing day, he met a mischievous bundle of energy called Aero. Aero and Liam developed a special bond. As Liam struggled to train the mischievous dog, for once he didn't feel useless and afflicted. Against the odds, Liam made an inspirational breakthrough in his own condition and learned to believe in the future.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
By Dan Kieran
What is it about an engine roaring into life that makes grown men go weak at the knees? This is a book about machines and the men who love them. Some of these men are quite odd. Having always been a mechanaphobe himself, living in the slow lane, Dan Kieran is on a mission to discover the allure of machines and man's need for speed. Follow Dan as he climbs aboard a penny-farthing for a jaunt around west London, drives a steam train through the 'alps', joins the pit lane crew of Mitsubishi for the Britcar 24-hour race at Silverstone, discovers the link between Lawrence of Arabia and the 'wall of death', meets tank (yes, tank) collectors and the men behind 'digger ballet', learns to fly in the shadow of Douglas Bader and, along the way, wrestles with Aristotle, Jeremy Clarkson, Plato, Hunter S. Thompson and, mostly, himself.Join Dan as he makes a journey of discovery into another world, the happy and quirky world of the Great British potterer and machine enthusiast. Could he even be tempted to stay there?
By Giles Milton
On Saturday 9th September, 1922, the victorious Turkish cavalry rode into Smyrna, the richest and most cosmopolitan city in the Ottoman Empire. What happened over the next two weeks must rank as one of the most compelling human dramas of the twentieth century. Almost two million people were caught up in a disaster of truly epic proportions.PARADISE LOST is told with the narrative verve that has made Giles Milton a bestselling historian. It unfolds through the memories of the survivors, many of them interviewed for the first time, and the eyewitness accounts of those who found themselves caught up in one of the greatest catastrophes of the modern age.
Prisoner of Tehran
By Marina Nemat
Brought up as a Christian, Marina Nemat's peaceful childhood in Tehran was shattered when the Iranian Revolution of 1979 ushered in a new era of Islamic rule. After complaining to her teachers about her Maths lessons being replaced by Koran study, Marina was arrested late one evening. She was taken to the notorious prison, Evin, where interrogation and torture were part of the daily routine. Aged sixteen, she was sentenced to death. Her prison guard snatched her from the firing squad bullets but exacted a shocking price in return - marriage to him and conversion to Islam. Marina lived out her prison days as his secret bride, spending nights with him in a separate cell. Marina struggled to reconcile her hatred towards Ali and her feelings of physical repulsion with the fact that he had saved her life. When Ali was murdered by his enemies from Evin, and saved Marina's life for a second time, her feelings were complicated even further. At last she was able to return home, to her family and her past life, but silence surrounded her time as a political prisoner and the regime kept her under constant surveillance. Marina's world had been changed forever and she questions whether she will ever escape Iran and its regime or be free of her memories of Evin.
By George Ireland, George Ireland
When the German-Jewish Rothschild family founded a chain of banks in Frankfurt, London, Paris, Vienna and Naples, it made them the world's richest in the 19th century. Lionel, Anthony, Nathaniel and Mayer were the first British-born members of this incredible family; this is the story of their triumph over prejudice and bigotry to become the first Jews accepted into the upper echelons of English and European society. Numbering among their friends Gladstone, Disraeli, Browning, Tennyson and Dickens, they lived in a style surpassing that of even today's richest.Written with the co-operation of the family and unique access to previously unseen archives, this biography reveals the intimate lives, lifestyles and difficulties of this most fascinating of families whose name remains a byword for wealth.
People of the Book
By Zachary Karabell
We live in a world polarized by the ongoing conflict between Muslims, Christians and Jews, but - in an extraordinary narrative spanning fourteen centuries - Zachary Karabell argues that the relationship between Islam and the West has never been simply one of animosity and competition, but has also comprised long periods of cooperation and coexistence. Through a rich tapestry of stories and a compelling cast of characters, People of the Book uncovers known history, and forgotten history, as Karabell takes the reader on an extraordinary journey through the Arab and Ottoman empires, the Crusades and the Catholic Reconquista and into the modern era, as he examines the vibrant examples of discord and concord that have existed between these monotheistic faiths. By historical standards, today's fissure between Islam and the West is not exceptional, but because of weapons of mass destruction, that fissure has the potential to undo us more than ever before. This is reason enough to look back and remember that Christians, Jews and Muslims have lived constructively with one another. They have fought and taught each other, and they have learned from one another. Retrieving this forgotten history is a vital ingredient to a more stable, secure world.
The Perfect Summer
By Juliet Nicolson
'As page-turning as a novel' Joanna TrollopeOne summer of nearly a hundred years ago saw one of the high sunlit meadows of English history. A new king was crowned; audiences swarmed to Covent Garden to see the Ballet Russes and Nijinskys gravity-defying leaps. The aristocracy was at play, bounding from house party to the next; the socialite Lady Michelham travelled with her nineteen yards of pearls. Rupert Brooke (a 23-year-old poet in love with love, Keats, marrons glaces and truth) swam in the river at Grantchester. But perfection was over-reaching itself. The rumble of thunder from the summer's storms presaged not only the bloody war years ahead: the country was brought to near standstill by industrial strikes, and unrest exposed the chasm between privileged and poor; as if the heat was torturing those imprisoned in society's straitjacket and stifled by the city smog. Children, seeking relief from the scorching sun, drowned in village ponds. What the protagonists could not have known is that they were playing out the backdrop to WWI; in a few years time the world, let alone England, would never be the same again. Through the eyes of a series of exceptional individuals; a debutante, a suffragette, a politician, a trade unionist, a butler and the Queen; Juliet Nicolson illuminates a turning point in history. With the gifts of a great storyteller she rekindles a vision of a time when the sun shone but its shadows fell on all.'Juliet Nicolson has taken this 'perfect summer' as the backdrop for an ambitious work of multiple biography, which sets the extravagance of the upper classes against the increasingly desperate lives of the poor' Observer'Evoke[s] the full vivid richness of how it smelt, looked, sounded, tasted and felt to be alive in England during the months of such a summer' Lady
By Adrian Gilbert
Just under 300,000 Allied servicemen from Britain, the Commonwealth and the United States were captured in Europe and North Africa between 1939 and 1945. Using a wealth of new sources, POW describes their experiences. Prisoners' day-to-day lives are vividly rendered: the workings of the prison-camp system; the ways in which prisoners maintained contact with the outside world through letters, parcels and the benign agency of the Red Cross; artistic and intellectual endeavours; as well as unacknowledged aspects of camp life such as the development of sexual relations - both heterosexual and homosexual. Everyday life is offset by high drama, as POW tells of the secret organisations who smuggled escape aids to the prisoners. In return they furnished their home nations with intelligence from occupied Europe. Although few men were actively engaged in escape attempts, many provided tacit support or were engaged in sabotage and other resistance activities. Adrian Gilbert foregrounds the forgotten voices of the prisoners themselves by threading eleven individual stories through the narrative. POW is a compelling window onto a crucial aspect of the Second World War.
Penguins Stopped Play
By Harry Thompson, Harry Thompson
'Completely brilliant' Ian HislopIt seemed a simple enough idea at the outset: to assemble a team of eleven men to play cricket on each of the seven continents of the globe. Except - hold on a minute - that's not a simple idea at all. And when you throw in incompetent airline officials, amorous Argentine Colonels' wives, cunning Bajan drug dealers, gay Australian waiters, overzealous American anti-terrorist police, idiot Welshmen dressed as Santa Claus, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and whole armies of pitch-invading Antarctic penguins, you quickly arrive at a whole lot more than you bargained for.Harry Thompson's hilarious book tells the story of one of those great idiotic enterprises that only an Englishman could have dreamed up, and only a bunch of Englishmen could possibly have wished to carry out.
By Jacqueline Winspear
London, 1930. Maisie Dobbs, the renowned psychologist and investigator, receives a most unusual request. She must prove that Sir Cecil Lawton's son Ralph really is dead.This is a case that will challenge Maisie in unexpected ways, for Ralph Lawton was an aviator shot down by enemy fire in 1917. To get to the bottom of the mystery, Maisie must travel to the former battlefields of northern France, where she served as a nurse in the Great War and where ghosts of her past still linger. As her investigation moves closer to the truth, Maisie soon uncovers the secrets and lies that some people would prefer remain buried.