By Max Arthur
Tough, highly adaptable and efficient, the Parachute Regiment has established itself as one of the finest fighting forces in the world. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of its founding, renowned historian Max Arthur has compiled this enthralling oral history of the modern Parachute Regiment.This unique chronicle is told through the voices of more than a hundred of the soldiers themselves, and of those involved closely with them. Whether in the Falklands, Kosovo, Iraq, Sierra Leone or Afghanistan, the Paras have maintained their reputation for being where the fighting is fiercest and where the odds of survival are often stacked heavily against them.The gripping, visceral first-person narrative makes The Paras stand apart from conventional regimental histories as one of the most remarkable accounts of conflict ever published.
By Tom Shore
This is one of the great untold stories of the twentieth century.It is a first-hand account of a mission by an SAS soldier sent behind the Iron Curtain by MI6 to find someone who didn't necessarily want to be found and how, on a follow-up mission, he found himself manoeuvring against a mysterious KGB officer - one Major Vladimir Putin and a murder plot by Kremlin hardliners. If the plot had succeeded, it would have given the Russians the excuse they were looking for to roll out the tanks across East Germany, the Berlin Wall would not have fallen - and the map of Europe would look very different today.It tells of roof top chases, the interrogation of terrorists to gain vital information, a beautiful, East German female (who he suspected of being a Stasi spy), betrayal by people he trusted, an escape through forests pursued by enemy agents and ending in a climactic gun battle at Colditz castle, formerly used by the Soviets as a psychiatric hospital to detain dissidents.In James Bond novels, it is MI6 operators who carry out this type of work, but in reality, when facing a committed foe in an isolated and deadly environment, the intelligence agencies call upon members of the British Special Forces. This is the first insider account of how UK operators working undercover, do what needs to be done in order to protect the UK's interests abroad - revealing their hidden hand in world events.
The Publishing Game
By Edward Stourton
Author, journalist and BBC presenter Ed Stourton delves into the Hodder & Stoughton archives to tell the human story of 150 years of publishing. From the day in June 1868 when Matthew Henry Hodder and Thomas Wilberforce Stoughton first founded the company, through numerous encounters with authors from John le Carre to Jodi Picoult, and several staff sports days - this will be an entertaining and enlightening read for any book lover.
The Private Lives of the Tudors
By Tracy Borman
'Borman approaches her topic with huge enthusiasm and a keen eye for entertaining...this is a very human story of a remarkable family, full of vignettes that sit long in the mind.' Dan Jones, The Sunday Times'Tracy Borman's eye for detail is impressive; the book is packed with fascinating courtly minutiae... this is a wonderful book.' The Times'Borman is an authoritative and engaging writer, good at prising out those humanising details that make the past alive to us.' The Observer'Fascinating, detailed account of the everyday reality of the royals... This is a book of rich scholarship.' Daily Mail'Tracy Borman's passion for the Tudor period shines forth from the pages of this fascinatingly detailed book, which vividly illuminates what went on behind the scenes at the Tudor court.' Alison Weir'I do not live in a corner. A thousand eyes see all I do.' Elizabeth IThe Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers. Even in their most private moments, they were accompanied by a servant specifically appointed for the task. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed. These attendants knew the truth behind the glamorous exterior. They saw the tears shed by Henry VII upon the death of his son Arthur. They knew the tragic secret behind 'Bloody' Mary's phantom pregnancies. And they saw the 'crooked carcass' beneath Elizabeth I's carefully applied makeup, gowns and accessories. It is the accounts of these eyewitnesses, as well as a rich array of other contemporary sources that historian Tracy Borman has examined more closely than ever before. With new insights and discoveries, and in the same way that she brilliantly illuminated the real Thomas Cromwell - The Private Life of the Tudors will reveal previously unexamined details about the characters we think we know so well.
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.
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.
The Prince, the Princess and the Perfect Murder
By Andrew Rose
The royal family's darkest secret and the establishment cover-up. Half a century before Dodi and Diana, another Prince of Wales would be involved in a deadly love triangle with a fabulously wealthy Egyptian "prince." Prince Edward was the future King of England, a destiny he would famously forsake over his love for Wallis Simpson. But two decades prior he was involved in another love affair that threatened to jeopardize the royal family. The story took place in maisons de rendezvous, luxurious chateaux in the French countryside providing hospitality for the British upper classes, the richest food, the finest wines and the most beautiful women, the violent and dangerous Paris demi-monde - where many of the women came from - and the Savoy hotel in London, where a murder was committed. This major royal scandal, superbly covered up by the Royal family, the government and the judiciary has remained secret ever since.This is the story of a passionate and deadly love affair set against the dramatic backdrop of the Great War. Edward was enthralled by the 'crazy physical attraction' of Marguerite Alibert, queen of the Paris demi-monde. When he broke off their hidden relationship, Edward thought that he was free of Marguerite. He was wrong. After the war, as a violent thunderstorm raged outside the luxurious Savoy Hotel in London Marguerite fired three shots from a semi-automatic pistol. Her husband, and Egyptian multimillionaire and playboy, was shot dead at point blank range. Marguerite stood trial for murder at the Old Bailey. As Prince Charming and poster boy of the British Empire, Edward now risked exposure as a degenerate wastrel, partying behind the lines while thousands were blown away on the Western Front.Andrew Rose, using his long experience as a barrister and judge, has uncovered a royal scandal carefully airbrushed from history. Edward never quite escaped from Marguerite who had taught the arts of love to a once and future King.The Prince, the Princess and the Perfect Murder is the product of several years' research, accessing unpublished documents held in the Royal Archives and private collections in England and France.
Peter Pan's First XI
By Kevin Telfer
The creator of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie, was a hugely enthusiastic cricketer of very little talent. That didn't stop him from leading perhaps the most extraordinary amateur cricket team ever to have taken the field. Some of the twentieth century's most famous writers including A. A. Milne, P. G. Wodehouse and Jerome K. Jerome, regularly turned out for Barrie's team between 1890 and 1913. This very Edwardian vision of village cricket was only brought to an end by the First World War. Those years of golden summers were recounted in Barrie's letters and journals, many revealed here for the first time. Cricket lovers will identify with Barrie's attempts to assemble a team of competent players. In PETER PAN'S FIRST XI, Kevin Telfer weaves together cricket, literature, history, humour and biography to create an entertaining account of this little-known band of cricketing Peter Pans - and the age in which they lived.
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.
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.
By Philip Short
Pol Pot was an idealistic, reclusive figure with great charisma and personal charm. He initiated a revolution whose radical egalitarianism exceeded any other in history. But in the process, Cambodia desended into madness and his name became a byword for oppression.In the three-and-a-half years of his rule, more than a million people, a fifth of Cambodia's population, were executed or died from hunger and disease. A supposedly gentle, carefree land of slumbering temples and smiling peasants became a concentration camp of the mind, a slave state in which absolute obedience was enforced on the 'killing fields'. Why did it happen? How did an idealistic dream of justice and prosperity mutate into one of humanity's worst nightmares? Philip Short, the biographer of Mao, has spent four years travelling the length of Cambodia, interviewing surviving leaders of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge movement and sifting through previously closed archives. Here, the former Khmer Rouge Head of State, Pol's brother-in-law and scores of lesser figures speak for the first time at length about their beliefs and motives.
Peacemakers Six Months that Changed The World
By Margaret MacMillan
Between January and July 1919, after the war to end all wars, men and women from all over the world converged on Paris for the Peace Conference. At its heart were the leaders of the three great powers - Woodrow Wilson, Lloyd George and Clemenceau. Kings, prime ministers and foreign ministers with their crowds of advisers rubbed shoulders with journalists and lobbyists for a hundred causes - from Armenian independence to women's rights. Everyone had business in Paris that year - T.E. Lawrence, Queen Marie of Romania, Maynard Keynes, Ho Chi Minh. There had never been anything like it before, and there never has been since. For six extraordinary months the city was effectively the centre of world government as the peacemakers wound up bankrupt empires and created new countries. They pushed Russia to the sidelines, alienated China and dismissed the Arabs, struggled with the problems of Kosovo, of the Kurds, and of a homeland for the Jews. The peacemakers, so it has been said, failed dismally; failed above all to prevent another war. Margaret MacMillan argues that they have unfairly been made scapegoats for the mistakes of those who came later. They tried to be evenhanded, but their goals - to make defeated countries pay without destroying them, to satisfy impossible nationalist dreams, to prevent the spread of Bolshevism and to establish a world order based on democracy and reason - could not be achieved by diplomacy. This book offers a prismatic view of the moment when much of the modern world was first sketched out.