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The Adventure Of English

By Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg
REISSUED AS A SCEPTRE 30TH CLASSIC, with a new afterword by the author.English is the collective work of millions of people throughout the ages. It is democratic, ever-changing and ingenious in its assimilation of other cultures. English runs through the heart of world finance, medicine and the Internet, and it is understood by around two thousand million people across the world. Yet it was very nearly wiped out in its early years.In this book Melvyn Bragg shows us the remarkable story of the English language; from its beginnings as a minor guttural Germanic dialect to its position today as a truly established global language. THE ADVENTURE OF ENGLISH is not only an enthralling story of power, religion and trade, but also the story of people, and how their day-to-day lives shaped and continue to change the extraordinary language that is English.
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  • Ancient Egypt: All That Matters

    By Barry J Kemp
    Authors:
    Barry J Kemp
    For three thousand years a dominant force, Ancient Egypt is arguably the most successful and longest lasting human civilization yet. In this pacy guide, world renowned Egyptologist, Professor Barry Kemp, seeks to explain why Ancient Egypt was able to thrive with such stability for such a long time. The answers may be surprising - Kemp shows that human rights and career progression played an important role, as well as the traditional forces of slave labour and religion. Taking a thematic approach, Kemp examines ancient Egypt's geography, rulers, society, morality, family life, art and architecture, military, science, philosophy and religion. He then goes on to ask what happened to Ancient Egypt, and to point to its lasting influence today. Ancient Egypt: All That Matters is perfect for those who want to gain a sound grasp of the subject quickly, and those looking for a good entry-level book as a starting point for further study.
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    Abducting a General

    By Patrick Leigh Fermor
    Authors:
    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.
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    Agincourt

    By Ranulph Fiennes
    Authors:
    Ranulph Fiennes
    25 October 2015 was the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt - a hugely resonant event in English (and French) history. Sir Ranulph Fiennes casts new light on this epic event, revealing that three of his own ancestors fought in the battle for Henry V, and at least one for the French. This is a unique perspective on Agincourt from a trained and decorated soldier. Ran reveals the truth behind the myths and legends of the battle. He tells how after the battle Henry V entertained his senior commanders to dinner, where they were waited on by captured French knights. There is the story of Sir Piers Legge of Lyme Hall, who lay wounded in the mud while his mastiff dog fought off the French men-at-arms. Then there is the legend that the French intended to cut off the first and second right hand fingers of every captured archer, to prevent him from using his bow. The archers raised those two fingers to the advancing French as a gesture of defiance. In this gripping study Sir Ranulph Fiennes brings back to life these stories and more, including those of his own ancestors, in a celebration of a historical event integral to English identity.Fiennes, arguably our greatest explorer...has delved deep into history to tell the story of his family's epic journey. - The Times
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    After Hitler

    By Michael Jones
    Authors:
    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.
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  • Archaeology: All That Matters

    By John Manley
    Authors:
    John Manley
    - When did archaeology begin?- Who were the first antiquarians in early modern Europe?- How did archaeology free human history from biblical creationism?- How did archaeology become a pseudo-scientific discipline?- Who built the first museum? Leading expert Dr John Manley starts by dealing with the processes and techniques used by archaeologists, in the past and today. He then uses the results of famous archaeological studies both to illustrate the power of archaeology, and to show specifically what archaeology has taught us about Roman, Egyptian, ancient, and surprisingly recent, history. In an exciting final chapter, Manley wonders how archaeology may adapt over time, exploring how the archaeologists of the future may examine our own era.Ideal for students or for general reading, this book delivers a thorough and comprehensive introduction to archaeology. All That Matters about archaeology. All That Matters books are a fast way to get right to the heart of key issues.
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    The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood

    By Irving Finkel
    Authors:
    Irving Finkel
    In THE ARK BEFORE NOAH, British Museum expert Dr Irving Finkel reveals how decoding the symbols on a 4,000 year old piece of clay enable a radical new interpretation of the Noah's Ark myth. A world authority on the period, Dr Finkel's enthralling real-life detective story began with a most remarkable event at the British Museum - the arrival one day in 2008 of a single, modest-sized Babylonian cuneiform tablet - the palm-sized clay rectangles on which our ancestors created the first documents. It had been brought in by a member of the public and this particular tablet proved to be of quite extraordinary importance. Not only does it date from about 1850 BC, but it is a copy of the Babylonian Story of the Flood, a myth from ancient Mesopotamia revealing among other things, instructions for building a large boat to survive a flood. But Dr Finkel's pioneering work didn't stop there. Through another series of enthralling discoveries he has been able to decode the story of the Flood in ways which offer unanticipated revelations to readers of THE ARK BEFORE NOAH.
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    Alphabetical

    By Michael Rosen
    Authors:
    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 . . .
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  • Assassin's Reign

    By Michael Arnold
    Authors:
    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.
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    AK47: The Story of the People's Gun

    By Michael Hodges
    Authors:
    Michael Hodges
    In the sixty years since General Kalashnikov created the AK's distinctive silhouette, the gun has been at the centre of conflicts across the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. The weapon that made him a 'Hero of the Soviet Union' has also appeared on t-shirts and vodka bottles, featured in videos and song lyrics and been re-fashioned in crystal - a gift from Putin to George W. Bush. Power, politics and passion combine in the story of a weapon that has shaped the modern world. Using testimonies of people who have experienced the gun at first-hand - including a Sudanese child soldier, a Vietcong veteran and a Yorkshire teenager - Michael Hodges provides a compelling account of how the AK47 became an icon that ranks alongside Coca-Cola as one of the most recognisable brands in the world.
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    After the Reich

    By Giles Macdonogh
    Authors:
    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.
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    Alfred the Great

    By Justin Pollard
    Authors:
    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.
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    Ataturk

    By Andrew Mango
    Authors:
    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.
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    The Appalling Guests

    By Victoria Mather, Sue Macartney-Snape
    Authors:
    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.
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