By Boris Johnson
Shakespeare is the true British icon - he is still the most performed, the most translated, the most venerated playwright in history, and a man whose reputation, if anything, is in the ascendant. No one has resolved so many truths about the human heart, or so brilliantly debated our psychological and political predicaments. No author has ever produced such astonishing female characters, perfected comic language so dazzlingly, or taught us as much about politics as William Shakespeare. Boris Johnson explains Shakespeare's genius in a simple and readable way; in a way that gets to grips with what is really going on, what the characters are up to, what the point of it all is; and in a way that sets the man simply and intelligibly in the context of his time. He explores not only the origin of Shakespeare's genius, but also the nature of his genius. If Shakespeare is the greatest ever, then of what exactly does his greatness consist?'What makes Shakespeare Shakespeare? That, as the man once said, is the question.'
The Secret Lore of London
With a foreword by Iain Sinclair. London is an ancient city, whose foundation dates back literally thousands of years into the legendary prehistory of these islands. Not surprisingly it has accumulated a large number of stories, both historic and mythical, during this period, many of which, though faithfully recorded at the time, have lain almost forgotten in dusty libraries throughout the city. The Secret Lore of London is a guide to the legends, including a discussion of their importance as part of the oral tradition of Britain, combining Prehistoric, Celtic, Arthurian, Roman, Saxon and Norman levels - each of which has contributed to the many-layered life of the city. The first part contains a unique selection of essays (some printed here for the first time) by experts in their fields, each of whom possesses a unique interest in the legends of these islands, and who have written widely on associated themes. The second part of the book will consist of a Gazetteer of the sites mentioned which are still in existence, together with various other sites of associated interest, compiled by the Editor, the contributors, and members of the London Earth Mysteries Group. This part will be fully updated and extended to include many more sites. The result is a wide ranging and wholly fascinating book, with wide sales application possible. A series of appendixes will include William Stukley's extraordinary document The Brill, which relates to the ancient prehistoric sites around the area of present day St. Pancras, and excerpts from some of the best known 19th and early 20th century works on Legendary London by Lewis Spence and Harold BayleyContributors to the book are: Nigel PennickJohn MatthewsCaroline WiseCaitlín MatthewsCarol Clancy R.J. StewartBernard Nesfield-CooksonGareth KnightRobert StephensonGeraldine BeskinChesca PotterWilliam StukeleyLewis SpenceHarold BayleyAlan V. InsoleRoss Nichols
Street of Eternal Happiness
By Rob Schmitz
'Enjoyable and illuminating . . . Rob Schmitz writes with great affection' GuardianShanghai: a global city in the midst of a renaissance, where dreamers arrive each day to partake in a mad torrent of capital, ideas and opportunity. Rob Schmitz is one of them. He immerses himself in his neighbourhood, forging relationships with ordinary people who see a brighter future in the city's sleek skyline. There's Zhao, whose path from factory floor to shopkeeper is sidetracked by her desperate measures to ensure a better future for her sons. Down the street lives Auntie Fu, a fervent capitalist forever trying to improve herself while keeping her sceptical husband at bay. Up a flight of stairs, CK sets up shop to attract young dreamers like himself, but learns he's searching for something more. As Schmitz becomes increasingly involved in their lives, he makes surprising discoveries which untangle the complexities of modern China: a mysterious box of letters that serve as a portal to a family's - and country's - dark past, and an abandoned neighbourhood where fates have been violently altered by unchecked power and greed. A tale of twenty-first-century China, Street of Eternal Happiness profiles China's distinct generations through multifaceted characters who illuminate an enlightening, humorous and, at times, heartrending journey along the winding road to the Chinese dream. Each story adds another layer of humanity to modern China, a tapestry also woven with Schmitz's insight as a foreign correspondent. The result is an intimate and surprising portrait that dispenses with the tired stereotypes of a country we think we know, immersing us instead in the vivid stories of the people who make up one of the world's most captivating cities.
The Secret Lives of Colour
By Kassia St Clair
'A mind-expanding tour of the world without leaving your paintbox. Every colour has a story, and here are some of the most alluring, alarming, and thought-provoking. Very hard painting the hallway magnolia after this inspiring primer.' Simon GarfieldThe Secret Lives of Colour tells the unusual stories of the 75 most fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. In this book Kassia St Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colours and where they come from (whether Van Gogh's chrome yellow sunflowers or punk's fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilisation. Across fashion and politics, art and war, The Secret Lives of Colour tell the vivid story of our culture.
The Story of Egypt
By Joann Fletcher
The story of the world's greatest civilisation spans more than 4000 years of history that has shaped the world. It is full of spectacular sites and epic stories, an evolving society rich in heroes and villains, inventors and intellectuals, artisans and pioneers. Now Professor Joann Fletcher pulls together the complete Story of Egypt - charting the rise and fall of the ancient Egyptians while putting their whole world into a context that we can all relate to.Joann Fletcher uncovers some fascinating revelations, from Egypt's oldest art to the beginnings of mummification almost two thousand years earlier than previously believed. She also looks at the women who became pharaohs on at least 10 occasions, and the evidence that the Egyptians built the first Suez Canal, circumnavigated Africa and won victories at the original Olympic games. From Ramses II's penchant for dying his greying hair to how we know Montuhotep's wife bit her nails and the farmer Baki liked eating in bed, Joann Fletcher brings alive the history and people of ancient Egypt as nobody else can.
Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess
By Andrew Lownie
Winner of the St Ermin's Intelligence Book of the Year Award. 'One of the great biographies of 2015.' The TimesFully updated edition including recently released information. A Guardian Book of the Year. The Times Best Biography of the Year. Mail on Sunday Biography of the Year. Daily Mail Biography of Year. Spectator Book of the Year. BBC History Book of the Year. 'A remarkable and definitive portrait ' Frederick Forsyth'Andrew Lownie's biography of Guy Burgess, Stalin's Englishman ... shrewd, thorough, revelatory.' William Boyd'In the sad and funny Stalin's Englishman, [Lownie] manages to convey the charm as well as the turpitude.' Craig BrownGuy Burgess was the most important, complex and fascinating of 'The Cambridge Spies' - Maclean, Philby, Blunt - all brilliant young men recruited in the 1930s to betray their country to the Soviet Union. An engaging and charming companion to many, an unappealing, utterly ruthless manipulator to others, Burgess rose through academia, the BBC, the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6, gaining access to thousands of highly sensitive secret documents which he passed to his Russian handlers.In this first full biography, Andrew Lownie shows us how even Burgess's chaotic personal life of drunken philandering did nothing to stop his penetration and betrayal of the British Intelligence Service. Even when he was under suspicion, the fabled charm which had enabled many close personal relationships with influential Establishment figures (including Winston Churchill) prevented his exposure as a spy for many years.Through interviews with more than a hundred people who knew Burgess personally, many of whom have never spoken about him before, and the discovery of hitherto secret files, Stalin's Englishman brilliantly unravels the many lives of Guy Burgess in all their intriguing, chilling, colourful, tragi-comic wonder.
By John Julius Norwich
'Sicily is the key to everything' Johann Wolfgang von Goethe The author of the classic book on Venice turns his sights to Sicily in this beautiful book full of maps and colour photographs.'I discovered Sicily almost by mistake . . .We drove as far as Naples, then put the car on the night ferry to Palermo. There was a degree of excitement in the early hours when we passed Stromboli, emitting a rich glow every half-minute or so like an ogre puffing on an immense cigar; and a few hours later, in the early morning sunshine, we sailed into the Conca d'Oro, the Golden Shell, in which the city lies. Apart from the beauty of the setting, I remember being instantly struck by a change in atmosphere. The Strait of Messina is only a couple of miles across and the island is politically part of Italy; yet somehow one feels that one has entered a different world . . . This book is, among other things, an attempt to analyse why this should be.' The stepping stone between Europe and Africa, the gateway between the East and the West, at once a stronghold, clearing-house and observation post, Sicily has been invaded and fought over by Phoenicians and Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans, Goths and Byzantines, Arabs and Normans, Germans, Spaniards and the French for thousands of years. It has belonged to them all - and yet has properly been part of none. John Julius Norwich was inspired to become a writer by his first visit in 1961 and this book is the result of a fascination that has lasted over half a century. In tracing its dark story, he attempts to explain the enigma that lies at the heart of the Mediterranean's largest island. This vivid short history covers everything from erupting volcanoes to the assassination of Byzantine emperors, from Nelson's affair with Emma Hamilton to Garibaldi and the rise of the Mafia. Taking in the key buildings and towns, and packed with fascinating stories and unforgettable characters, Sicily is the book he was born to write.
Scottish History: A Complete Introduction: Teach Yourself
By David Allan
Scottish History: A Complete Introduction is a comprehensive guide to the exciting story of this nation, from pre-history right through to the present day. With the question of Scottish independence once again on the agenda, this book will allow you to trace the events, both peaceful and bloody, that have brought the country to this point. Tracing events from the pre-history of the land and the coming of the Scots to the rise of the Scottish National Party, it provides an informative and accessible introduction to Scotland's history. Whether it is the Jacobite Rebellion, the advances of the Scottish Enlightenment or its role in WWI and WWII, this is the perfect place to start.AUTHOR INSIGHTSLots of instant help with common problems and quick tips for success, based on the author's many years of experience.TEST YOURSELFTests in the book and online to keep track of your progress.FIVE THINGS TO REMEMBERQuick refreshers to help you remember the key facts.TRY THISInnovative exercises illustrate what you've learnt and how to use it.
The Silent Day
By Max Arthur
On 6 June 1944 Britain woke up to a profound silence. Overnight, 160,000 Allied troops had vanished and an eerie emptiness settled over the country. The majority of those men would never return. This is the story of that extraordinary 24 hours.Using a wealth of first person testimonies, renowned historian Max Arthur recounts a remarkable new oral history of D-Day, beginning with the two years leading up to the silent day which saw the UK transformed by the arrival of thousands of American and Canadian troops. We also hear the views of the American troops, who quickly formed strong views of both the British military and civilian populations. Then, on that June morning, many Britain people woke up to discover that vast areas of the country, which had throbbed with life only the day before, were now empty and silent. Civilian workers found coffee pots still warm on the stove but not a soul to greet them. Many women - and children - felt bewildered and betrayed.Then, throughout that day and the days that followed, the whole population gathered around wireless sets, waiting for news. There are powerful testimonies from families of who lost loved ones on the beaches of Normandy, and dramatic personal accounts from young widows who had never had the chance to say goodbye.THE SILENT DAY is an original and evocative portrait of a key event in world history, and a poignant reminder of the human cost of D-Day.
Sorry! The English and Their Manners
By Henry Hitchings
Most of us know a bit about what passes for good manners - holding doors open, sending thank-you notes, no elbows on the table. We certainly know bad manners when we see them. But where has this patchwork of beliefs and behaviours come from? How did manners develop? How do they change? And why do they matter so much to us? In examining our manners, Henry Hitchings delves into the English character and investigates our notions of Englishness.Sorry! presents an amusing, illuminating and quirky audit of English manners. From basic table manners to appropriate sexual conduct, via hospitality, chivalry, faux pas and online etiquette, Hitchings traces the history of our country's customs and courtesies. Putting under the microscope some of our most astute observers of humanity, including Jane Austen and Samuel Pepys, he uses their lives and writings to pry open the often downright peculiar secrets of the English character. Hitchings' blend of history, anthropology and personal journey helps us understand our bizarre and contested cultural baggage - and ourselves.
By Charles Allen
This text retells the story of a brotherhood of young men who together laid claim to one of the most notorious frontiers in the world: India's north-west frontier, which in the late 1990s forms the volatile boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Known collectively as Henry Lawrence's Young Men, each had distinguished himself in the East India Company's wars in the Punjab in the 1840s before going out to carve out names for themselves as politicals on the frontier. Drawing extensively on the men's diaries, journals and letters, Charles Allen weaves the individual stories of these Soldier Sahibs together with the tale of how they came together to save British India, ending climatically on Delhi Ridge in 1857.
Secret War Heroes
By Marcus Binney
Founded by Churchill, Special Operations Executive (SOE) was the forerunner of the SAS, and during WWII they sent many hundreds of specially-trained agents deep undercover in Nazi-occupied Europe. Here Marcus Binney explores the extraordinary stories and daring exploits of some of the male agents who made up these little-known war heroes, and who helped change the course of the twentieth century with their bravery and sacrifice.The author has undertaken ground-breaking research in previously classified Foreign Office files in order to write this book.
Stalin's Russia: Teach Yourself Ebook
By David Evans
Understand Stalin's Russia is a compelling introduction to a man and a nation long enveloped in mystery. It covers all aspects of this fascinating history, from the shadows of Tsarism and the legacy of Lenin, to the implications of Stalin's rule - including the horrific effects of the five-year plans, and the heroic but costly triumph in the Great Patriotic War.
By Diccon Bewes
A FINANCIAL TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAROne country, four languages, 26 cantons, and 7.5 million people (but only 80% of them Swiss): there's nowhere else in Europe like it. Switzerland may be almost 400 km from the nearest drop of seawater, but it is an island at the centre of Europe. Welcome to the landlocked island. Swiss Watching is a fascinating journey around Europe's most individual and misunderstood country. From seeking Heidi and finding the best chocolate to reliving a bloody past and exploring an uncertain future, Diccon Bewes proves that there's more to Switzerland than banks and skis, francs and cheese. This book dispels the myths and unravels the true meaning of Swissness. In a land of cultural contradictions, this is a picture of the real and normally unseen Switzerland, a place where the breathtaking scenery shaped a nation not just a tour itinerary, and where tradition is as important as innovation. It's also the story of its people, who have more power than their politicians, but can't speak to one another in the same language and who own more guns per head than the people of Iraq. As for those national clichés, well, not all the cheese has holes, cuckoo clocks aren't Swiss and the trains don't always run exactly on time.
SAS Operation Storm
By Roger Cole, Richard Belfield
SAS OPERATION STORM is the inside story - told by those who took part - of the greatest secret war in SAS history. The tipping point, Mirbat, South Oman, 19 July 1972 is one of the least-known yet most crucial battles of modern times. If the SAS had been defeated at Mirbat, the Russian and Chinese plan for a communist foothold in the Middle East would have succeeded, with catastrophic consequences for the oil-hungry West. SAS OPERATION STORM is a page-turning account of courage and resilience. Mirbat was a battle fought and won by nine SAS soldiers and a similar number of brave local people - some as young as ten years old - outnumbered by at least twenty-five to one. Roger Cole, one of the SAS soldiers who took part, and writer Richard Belfield have interviewed every SAS survivor who fought in the battle from the beginning to the end - the first time every single one of them has revealed their experience.SAS OPERATION STORM is a classic story of bravery against impossible odds, minute by minute, bullet by bullet.
By Robert Kershaw
Seventy years ago the army's elite air assault force, the Parachute Regiment was formed, tough and well-trained, designed to fight hazardous operations behind enemy lines, with little or no backup. These are the 'Sky Men'. Dropping into the middle of enemy territory, these British, American, German and Russian soldiers engage in gruelling combat in the most dangerous conflict zones around the world. Robert Kershaw, an ex-Parachute Regiment officer, reveals the history of these airborne forces, and their role during the most dramatic battles of the twentieth century. He finds out what makes them tick, what drives a 'Sky Man' to take these extraordinary risks, and what marks these sky warriors out from ordinary soldiers. Based on exclusive interviews with soldiers from around the world, as well as letters and diaries, Sky Men is full of vivid personalities and nail-biting action.
By Justin Pollard
Some of our most intriguing history is missing. Perhaps there has been a conspiracy, a cover-up? Or maybe some stories have been lost, forgotten or were just too embarrassing to talk about at the time? But now they are back, revealed in all their glory: secret passages, events, societies, loves, identities and even dark secrets of the grave. After much sleuthing, Justin Pollard takes us into undisclosed historical waters to discover why the city of Burlington isn't on the map; how 'Agent Pickle' saved the lost treasure of Bonnie Prince Charlie; what Sir Thomas Overbury knew in 1613 that got him murdered with a poisoned enema and how Virginia Woolf sweet-talked her way aboard HMS Dreadnought dressed as Abyssinian Prince.Secret Britain also reveals the tragic love story behind the Rolls Royce mascot; how agent Garbo managed to get an MBE and an Iron Cross; the sinister properties of the Hand of Glory; the lost smuggling ship Peggy; the Mystery Runner of Nos Galan; the extraordinary history of the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan; London's only Nazi war memorial and the secrets of the WWII Monopoly board.
Searching For Schindler
By Thomas Keneally
The extraordinary tale of Oskar Schindler, the Aryan who saved hundreds of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland, is now legendary, but as Tom Keneally reveals in this absorbing memoir, luck and the dogged persistence of one of 'Schindler's Jews' were vital in bringing it to the world's attention through his Booker Prize-winning novel, SCHINDLER'S ARK and the subsequent film, SCHINDLER'S LIST.Entertaining, inspiring and filled with anecdotes about the many people involved, from the survivors Keneally interviewed to Steven Spielberg and Liam Neeson, Searching for Schindler gives a revealing insight into a writer's mind and the creation of a modern classic. It also traces what happened in the decades after the war to Schindler, his wife, and the people they rescued - including Leopold Pfefferberg, who made it his mission to repay his priceless debt to Schindler. Above all, it sheds renewed light on a fascinatingly flawed man, and an instance of exceptional humanity amid the greatest inhumanity mankind has known.
The Secret Life of Words
By Henry Hitchings
Communication is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from? Have you ever thought about which words in English have been borrowed from Arabic, French or Dutch? Try admiral, landscape and marmalade just for starters. The Secret Life of Words is a wide-ranging account not only of the history of English, but also of how words witness history, reflect social change and remind us of our turbulent past. Henry Hitchings delves into our promiscuous language and reveals how and why it has absorbed words from more than 350 other languages many originating from the most unlikely of places, such as shampoo from Hindi and kiosk from Turkish.From the Norman Conquest to the present day, Hitchings narrates the story of English as an archive of our human experience and uncovers the secrets behind everyday words. This is a celebration of our language; after reading it, you will never again take the words we use for granted.
The Slave Ship
By Marcus Rediker
The slave ship was the instrument of history's greatest forced migration and a key to the origins and growth of global capitalism, yet much of its history remains unknown. Marcus Rediker uncovers the extraordinary human drama that played out on this world-changing vessel. Drawing on thirty years of maritime research, he demonstrates the truth of W.E.B DuBois's observation: the slave trade was the most magnificent drama in the last thousand years of human history. The Slave Ship focuses on the so-called golden age of the slave trade, the period of 1700-1808, when more than six million people were transported out of Africa, most of them on British and American ships, across the Atlantic, to slave on New World plantations. Marcus Rediker tells poignant tales of life, death and terror as he captures the shipboard drama of brutal discipline and fierce resistance. He reconstructs the lives of individuals, such as John Newton, James Field Stanfield and Olaudah Equiano, and the collective experience of captains, sailors and slaves. Mindful of the haunting legacies of race, class and slavery, Marcus Rediker offers a vivid and unforgettable portrait of the ghost ship of our modern consciousness.