By Johnny Sherwood
In 1938 Johnny Sherwood was a young professional footballer on the brink of an England career, touring the world with the all-star British team the Islington Corinthians. By 1942 he was a soldier surrendering to the Japanese at the siege of Singapore. Taken prisoner he was sent to a POW camp deep in the heart of the Thai jungle, where he was starved, beaten, and forced to build the notorious 'railway of death' on the River Kwai. Johnny kept his and his men's spirits up with tales of his footballing past, even organising matches until he and the other prisoners became too weak to play. One day, he even encountered a brutal Japanese guard, and was shocked to recognise him as a Japanese footballer Johnny had played against. Many years after Johnny's death, his grandson Michael discovered an old manuscript hidden in the attic of his mother's house. It was Johnny's own account of his wartime experiences - the story too horrific to reveal in full to his loved ones. In the tradition of bestselling memoirs like The Railway Man, Lucky Johnny is an inspirational tale of survival against the odds.
The Last Battle
By Cornelius Ryan
The Battle for Berlin was the final struggle of World War II in the European theatre, the last offensive against Hitler's Third Reich, which devastated one of Europe's historic capitals and brought an end to the Nazi regime. It lasted more than two weeks across April -- May 1945, and was one of the bloodiest and most pivotal episodes of the war, one which would play a part in determining the shape of international politics for decades to come. THE LAST BATTLE is a story of brutal extremes, of stunning military triumph alongside the stark conditions that the civilians of Berlin experienced in the face of the Allied assault. It is history at its best, a masterful illumination of the effects of war on the lives of individuals, and one of the enduring works on World War II.
Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey
By The Countess Of Carnarvon
'An excellent depiction of English aristocratic life ... a compelling portrait' Publisher's Weekly* * * * * *The follow-up to the international bestseller Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, this book moves the story into the 1920s, and focuses on the remarkable American heiress who came to reign at Highclere Castle.Sometimes the facts are even more extraordinary than the fiction ... This book tells the story of Lady Catherine, a beautiful American girl who became the chatelaine of Highclere Castle, the setting for Julian Fellowes' award-winning drama Downton Abbey. Charming and charismatic, Catherine caught the eye of Lord Porchester (or 'Porchey', as he was known) when she was just 20 years old, and wearing a pale yellow dress at a ball. She had already turned down 14 proposals before she eventually married Porchey in 1922. But less than a year later Porchey's father died suddenly, and he became the 6th Earl of Carnarvon, inheriting a title and a Castle that changed both their lives forever. Catherine found herself suddenly in charge of a small army of household staff, and hosting lavish banquets and weekend house parties. Although the couple were very much in love, considerable challenges lay ahead for Catherine. They were immediately faced with the task of saving Highclere when debts threatened to destroy the estate. As the 1920s moved to a close, Catherine's adored brother died and she began to lose her husband to the distractions London had to offer. When the Second World War broke out, life at the Castle would never be the same again. Drawing on rich material from the private archives at Highclere, including beautiful period photographs, the current Countess of Carnarvon transports us back to the thrilling and alluring world of the 'real Downton Abbey' and its inhabitants.
Love and Treasure
By Ayelet Waldman
'AN AMBITIOUS, PERCEPTIVE NOVEL' GUARDIAN'A WONDERFULLY IMAGINATIVE WRITER' WASHINGTON POSTA fugitive train loaded with the plunder of a doomed people. A dazzling jewelled pendant in the form of a stylized peacock. And three men - an American infantry captain in World War II, an Israeli-born dealer in art stolen by the Nazis, and a pioneering psychiatrist in fin-de-siecle Budapest - who find their carefully-wrought lives turned upside-down by three fierce women, each locked in a struggle against her own history and the history of our times. And at the centre of Love and Treasure, nested like a photograph hidden in a locket, a mystery: where does the worth of a people and its treasures truly lie? What is the value of a gift, when giver and recipient have been lost - of a love offering when the beloved is no more?In an intricately constructed narrative that is by turns funny and tragic, thrilling and harrowing, with all the expertise and narrative drive that readers have come to expect from her work, Waldman traces the unlikely journey, from 1914 Budapest to post-war Salzburg to present-day New York, of the peacock pendant whose significance changes - token of friendship, love-offering, unlucky talisman - with the changes of fortune undergone by her characters as they find themselves caught up in the ebb and flow of modern European history.Spanning continents and a hundred years of turbulent history, encompassing war and revolution, the history of art, feminism and psychoanalysis, depicting the range of human feeling from the darkness of a shattered Europe to the ordinary heartbreaks of a contemporary New York woman, Love and Treasure marks the full maturity of a remarkable writer.
By Philip Mansel
Levant is a book of cities. It describes Smyrna, Alexandria and Beirut when they were windows on the world, escapes from nationality and tradition, centres of wealth, pleasure and freedom. Using unpublished family papers, Philip Mansel describes their colourful, contradictory history, from the beginning of the French alliance with the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century to their decline in the mid twentieth century. Smyrna was burnt; Alexandria Egyptianised; Beirut lacerated by civil war.
The Longest Winter
By Meredith Hooper
Scott's 'Northern Party' played an important role in his iconic last expedition, but how did they survive? Their tents were torn, their food was nearly finished and the ship had failed to pick them up as winter approached. Stranded and desperate, the six men dug out an ice cave with no room to stand upright. Circumstances forced them closer together and somehow they made it through the longest winter. Working from diaries, journals and letters written by expedition members, Meredith Hooper tells the intensely human story of Scott's other expedition.
By Tim Mackintosh-Smith
For Ibn Batuttah of Tangier, being medieval didn't mean sitting at home waiting for renaissances, enlightenments and easyJet. It meant travelling the known world to its limits. Seven centuries on, Tim Mackintosh-Smith's passionate pursuit of the fourteenth-century traveller takes him to landfalls in remote tropical islands, torrid Indian Ocean ports and dusty towns on the shores of the Saharan sand-sea. His zigzag itinerary across time and space leads from Zanzibar to the Alhambra (via the Maldives, Sri Lanka, China, Mauritania and Guinea) and to a climactic conclusion to his quest for the man he calls 'IB' - a man who out-travelled Marco Polo by a factor of three, who spent his days with saints and sultans and his nights with an intercontinental string of slave-concubines.Tim's journey is a search for survivals from IB's world - material, human, spiritual, edible - however, when your fellow traveller has a 700-year head start, familiar notions don't always work.
The Last Dance
By Denys Blakeway
'The year has, indeed, begun in gloom. The King ill, and Kipling dead . . .' so wrote the diarist Chips Channon in 1936 as George V lay on his deathbed at Buckingham Palace. The passing of two such pillars of the establishment sent tremors through the nation and heralded the ending of the old order. 1936 was to be an extraordinary year: at home social and constitutional crisis threatened, while in Europe, the dictators were on the march. It was the year of the abdication and civil war in Spain. The tectonic plates of history were shifting - Britain would never be the same again. The Last Dance is told using the accounts of those who lived through this turbulent period. Through extracts from diaries of shopkeepers, socialites, bishops, and volunteers in Spain, and the memoirs of the unemployed, housewives and hostesses, as well as the contemporary accounts of politicians, journalists and poets, Blakeway offers a compelling and vivid account of a turning point in our nation's story.
By Leo McKinstry
The Spitfire and the Lancaster were the two RAF weapons of victory in the Second World War, but the glamour of the fighter has tended to overshadow the performance of the heavy bomber. Yet without the Lancaster, Britain would never have been able to take the fight to the German homeland. Highlights the scale of the bomber's achievements, including the famous Dambusters attacks. With its vast bomb bay, ease of handling and surprising speed, the mighty Lancaster transformed the effectiveness of the Bomber Command. Whilst addressing the political controversy surrounding the bombing offensive against Germany, Leo McKinstry also weaves individual tales into this compelling narrative. Rich characters are brought to life, such as Roy Chadwick the designer, who taught himself engineering at night school and Sir Arthur Harris, the austere head of the Bomber Command. This is a rich saga, a story of triumph over disaster and the history of an iconic plane.
By Michael Jones, Michael Jones
By James Hamilton
From the time of Nelson's death at Trafalgar to the opening of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park nearly fifty years later, London spread like a disease across the fields of Middlesex and Surrey. Foul and dangerous though it was to inhabit, in these decades London developed a new confidence in the intellectual purpose and lucrative promise of art, technology and science. This book is about the men and women who, through their genius and courage, luck and misfortune, anger and charm, put London at the cutting edge of cultural change. Theirs were the minds that moved the city that shook the world. They worked in basements and drawing rooms, in studios and museums, in learned societies and in the squalor of the debtors' prison. Charles Babbage created his calculating machines; John Martin devised a new system of clean water supply for London; John Mayall and Antoine Claudet perfected the daguerreotype; Michael Faraday harnessed electricity. They argued and fought, loved and envied, searched and dreamed, to convert the laws of nature into the purposes of life. Although it took fifty years to achieve maturity and direction, in the early decades of the nineteenth century London set itself on course to become the financial, entrepreneurial and intellectual capital of the world.
The Last Oil Shock
By David Strahan
This may be the most important book you or anyone else will read in the next fifty years. Assuming humanity survives that long. Draining the lifeblood of industrial civilization, the terminal decline of oil and gas production will spark a crisis far more dangerous than international terrorism, and more urgent than climate change. World leaders know it, so why aren't they telling? The last oil shock is the secret behind the crises in Iraq and Iran, the reason your gas bill is going through the roof, the basis of a secret deal cooked up in Texas between George Bush and Tony Blair, the cause of an imminent and unprecedented economic collapse, and the reason you may soon be kissing your car keys and boarding pass goodbye. David Strahan explains how we reached this critical state, how the silence of governments, oil companies and environmentalists conspires to keep the public in the dark, what it means for energy policy, and what you can do to protect yourself and your family from the ravages of the last oil shock.
Lost Voices of The Royal Air Force
By Max Arthur
Max Arthur, bestselling author of FORGOTTEN VOICES: THE GREAT WAR, presents this moving collection of first-hand accounts of life in the Royal Air Force, from 1918 to the present day. LOST VOICES OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE records the role of the RAF in World War II, and, particularly, the Battle of Britain and the desert battles of North Africa, as well as in the Falklands and in the Gulf War. Through original interviews with air and ground crew, the spirit and comradeship, the stress, courage, isolation, vulnerability and the wonder of the wartime flying experience is vividly explored.