By Peter Snow, Ann MacMillan
'Highly readable . . . an intimate and varied account of fascinating stories of people at war' History of WarWar Stories is a fascinating account of ordinary men and women swept up in the turbulence of war. These are the stories - many untold until now - of thirty-four individuals who have pushed the boundaries of love, bravery, suffering and terror beyond the imaginable. They span three centuries and five continents. There is the courage of Edward Seager who survived the Charge of the Light Brigade; the cunning of Krystyna Skarbek, quick-thinking spy and saboteur during the Second World War; the skullduggery of Benedict Arnold, who switched sides in the American War of Independence and the compassion of Magdalene de Lancey who tenderly nursed her dying husband at Waterloo. Told with vivid narrative flair and full of unexpected insights, War Stories moves effortlessly from tales of spies, escapes and innovation to uplifting acts of humanity, celebrating men and women whose wartime experiences are beyond compare.
The Women Who Shaped Politics
By Sophy Ridge
Sophy Ridge, presenter for Sky News, has uncovered the extraordinary stories of the women who have shaped British politics. Never has the role of women in the political world ever been more on the news agenda, and Sophy has interviewed current and former politicians including among others, Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson, Betty Boothroyd gain exclusive insight into the role women play in politics at the highest level. The book also includes Theresa May's first at-length interview about her journey to becoming Prime Minister. These interviews have revealed the shocking truth about the sexism that is rife among the House of Commons both in the past and today, with sometimes shocking, and sometimes amusing anecdotes revealing how women in Westminster have worked to counter the gender bias. Sophy provides gripping insight into historical and contemporary stories which will fascinate not just those interested in politics but those who want to know more about women's vital role in democracy. From royalty to writers and from class warriors to suffragettes, Sophy tells the story of those who put their lives on the line for equal rights, and those who were the first to set foot inside the chambers of power, bringing together stories that you may think you know, and stories that have recently been discovered to reveal the truth about what it is to be a woman in Westminster. This book is a celebration of the differing ways that women have shaped the political landscape. The book also, importantly, sheds light on the challenges faced by women in government today, telling us the ways that women working in politics battle the sexism that confront them on a daily basis.
War With Russia
By General Sir Richard Shirreff
A chilling political thriller that is dangerously close to becoming realityAccording to General Sir Richard Shirreff, recently retired Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe we are already at war with Russia. Putin is waging war by unconventional means, including sponsoring terrorist attacks in Ukraine and in the UK and also cyber warfare. This book shows how war with Russia could erupt into conventional warfare with the bloodiest and most appalling consequences if the necessary steps are not taken urgently. As Admiral James G Stavridis, US Navy, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, says 'You fail to read this book at your peril. Like any 'strongman', the Russian president's reputation for strength is everything. Lose momentum, fail to give the people what they want and he fails. Putin has already demonstrated that he has no intention of failing. He has already started a lethal dynamic which, unless checked right now, could see him invade the Baltic states. Russia's invasion and seizure of Georgia in 2008 was our 'Rhineland moment'. We ignored the warning signs - as we did back in the 1930s - and we made it 'business as usual'.Crimea in 2014 was the President's 'Sudetenland moment' and again he got away with it. Since 2014 Russia has invaded Ukraine. The Baltics could be next.Our political leaders assume that nuclear deterrence will save us. General Sir Richard Shirreff shows us why this will not wash.
By Michael Arnold
Warlord's Gold, the fifth novel 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' on a quest to recover lost treasure.Autumn,1643. As an increasingly bitter war rages across England, Captain Innocent Stryker leaves Oxford with orders to recover a lost treasure, vital to the success of the Royalist cause. But a seemingly simple mission to the remote Scilly Isles is soon jeopardised, for enemies lie in wait. A formidable Parliamentarian agent has been sent ahead of Stryker's force, intent on defeating Royalist plans. Feared by ally and enemy alike, he is a man whose determination is only matched by his hatred for Stryker.The quest for the gold takes Stryker across storm-ravaged seas, through enemy territory and finally to the Royalist stronghold of Basing House. And it is there that Stryker will face his most dangerous challenge yet.
When Paris Went Dark
By Ronald Rosbottom
In May and June 1940 almost four million people fled Paris and its suburbs in anticipation of a German invasion. On June 14, the German Army tentatively entered the silent and eerily empty French capital. Without one shot being fired in its defence, the Occupation of Paris had begun. When Paris Went Dark tells the extraordinary story of Germany's capture and Occupation of Paris, Hitler's relationship with the City of Light, and its citizens' attempts at living in an environment that was almost untouched by war, but which had become uncanny overnight. Beginning with the Phoney War and Hitler's first visit to the city, acclaimed literary historian and critic Ronald Rosbottom takes us through the German Army's almost unopposed seizure of Paris, its bureaucratic re-organization of that city, with the aid of collaborationist Frenchmen, and the daily adjustments Parisians had to make to this new oppressive presence. Using memoirs, interviews and published eye-witness accounts, Rosbottom expertly weaves a narrative of daily life for both the Occupier and the Occupied. He shows its effects on the Parisian celebrity circles of Pablo Picasso, Simone de Beauvoir, Colette, Jean Cocteau, and Jean-Paul Sartre, and on the ordinary citizens of its twenty arrondissements. But Paris is the protagonist of this story, and Rosbottom provides us with a template for seeing the City of Light as more than a place of pleasure and beauty.
When Britain Burned the White House
By Peter Snow
As heard on BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week.Shortlisted for the Paddy Power Political History Book of the Year Award 2014.In August 1814 the United States' army is defeated in battle by an invading force just outside Washington DC. The US president and his wife have just enough time to pack their belongings and escape from the White House before the enemy enters. The invaders tuck into the dinner they find still sitting on the dining-room table and then set fire to the place. 9/11 was not the first time the heartland of the United States was struck a devastating blow by outsiders. Two centuries earlier, Britain - now America's close friend, then its bitterest enemy - set Washington ablaze before turning its sights to Baltimore. In his compelling narrative style, Peter Snow recounts the fast-changing fortunes of both sides of this extraordinary confrontation, the outcome of which inspired the writing of the 'Star-Spangled Banner', America's national anthem. Using a wealth of material including eyewitness accounts, he also describes the colourful personalities on both sides of these spectacular events: Britain's fiery Admiral Cockburn, the cautious but immensely popular army commander Robert Ross, and sharp-eyed diarists James Scott and George Gleig. On the American side: beleaguered President James Madison, whose young nation is fighting the world's foremost military power, his wife Dolley, a model of courage and determination, military heroes such as Joshua Barney and Sam Smith, and flawed incompetents like Army Chief William Winder and War Secretary John Armstrong. When Britain Burned the White House highlights this unparalleled moment in American history, its far-reaching consequences for both sides and Britain's and America's decision never again to fight each other.
What Should We Tell Our Daughters?
By Melissa Benn
We have reached a tricky crossroads in modern women's lives and our collective daughters are bearing the brunt of some intolerable pressures. Although feminism has made great strides forward since our mothers' and grandmothers' day, many of the key issues - equality of pay, equality in the home, representation at senior level in the private, public and political sectors - remain to be tackled. Casual sexism in the media and in everyday life is still rife and our daughters face a host of new difficulties as they are bombarded by images of unrealistically skinny airbrushed supermodels, celebrity role-models who depend on their looks and partners for status, and by competitive social media. The likes of Natasha Walter and Katie Roiphe deal with feminism from an adult point of view, but our daughters need to be prepared for stresses that are coming into play now as early as pre-school. This is a manifesto for every mother who has ever had to comfort a daughter who doesn't feel 'pretty', for every young woman who out-performs her male peers professionally and wonders why she is still not taken seriously, and for anyone interested in the world we are making for the next generation.
By Giles Milton
The Aïchele family were decent, cultured, peace-loving Germans trying their hardest not to get swept up in the madness of Hitler's Third Reich. But by the time war came, for civilians on all sides, there was nowhere left to hide.The conflict took Wolfram, the family's gentle, 18-year-old son, to the Russian Front and the Normandy beaches. It also engulfed the town of his childhood, obliterating its inhabitants in a devastating firestorm.Wolfram is a powerful story of human survival. It is testimony to the fact that even in the darkest times there remains a spark of humanity that can never be totally extinguished.
Waiting For Hitler
By Midge Gillies
The perfect follow-up for readers of Dunkirk, Hidden Britain, Finest Hour and other gripping, personal accounts of life during the Second World War.In late summer 1940, Hitler told his army to prepare to invade England. The nation waited, breathless with tension, for the Nazi threat to become real.Acclaimed author Midge Gillies gathers together the personal accounts of those who still remember this time, with written sources from contemporary press reports, to diaries and letters, to illustrate and recreate the fear, suspense and even excitement of living in England in the shadow of the Nazis. A pair of sisters, determined that life should go on as normally as possible, carry on swimming and playing tennis - only to find themselves under suspicion of being sympathisers because of their seemingly carefree attitude. A group of former poachers and gamekeepers huddle in a woodland hideout, newly trained and prepared to blow up bridges and slit German throats. Citizens hide their most treasured possessions from the Nazis in biscuit tins, or bury them in graveyards.Over the weekend of September 7th, the code word for high alert flashed round the country, and with tensions at their height many assumed it to mean that the Nazis had already landed. Sunday September 8th was declared a National Day of Prayer - and seemed to many to be the beginning of the end.This is a compelling and evocative account of what it was like, for that short period in 1940, to be waiting for Hitler.
By Malcolm Gaskill, Malcolm Gaskill
By the spring of 1645, civil war had exacted a terrible toll upon England. Disease was rife, apocalyptic omens appeared in the skies, and idolators detected in every shire. In a remote corner of Essex, two obscure gentlemen began interrogating women suspected of witchcraft, triggering the most brutal witch-hunt in English history.Witchfinders is a spellbinding study of how Matthew Hopkins, 'the Witchfinder General', and John Stearne extended their campaign across East Anglia, driven by godly zeal. Exploiting the anxiety and lawlessness of the times, and cheered on by ordinary folk, they extracted confessions of satanic pacts resulting in scores of executions.
By Giles Milton
This is the forgotten story of the million white Europeans, snatched from their homes and taken in chains to the great slave markets of North Africa to be sold to the highest bidder. Ignored by their own governments, and forced to endure the harshest of conditions, very few lived to tell the tale.Using the firsthand testimony of a Cornish cabin boy named Thomas Pellow, Giles Milton vividly reconstructs a disturbing, little known chapter of history. Pellow was bought by the tyrannical sultan of Morocco who was constructing an imperial pleasure palace of enormous scale and grandeur, built entirely by Christian slave labour. As his personal slave, he would witness first-hand the barbaric splendour of the imperial court, as well as experience the daily terror of a cruel regime.Gripping, immaculately researched, and brilliantly realised, WHITE GOLD reveals an explosive chapter of popular history, told with all the pace and verve of one of our finest historians.
Watching the English
By Kate Fox
In WATCHING THE ENGLISH anthropologist Kate Fox takes a revealing look at the quirks, habits and foibles of the English people. She puts the English national character under her anthropological microscope, and finds a strange and fascinating culture, governed by complex sets of unspoken rules and byzantine codes of behaviour.The rules of weather-speak. The ironic-gnome rule. The reflex apology rule. The paranoid-pantomime rule. Class indicators and class anxiety tests. The money-talk taboo and many more . . .Through a mixture of anthropological analysis and her own unorthodox experiments (using herself as a reluctant guinea-pig), Kate Fox discovers what these unwritten behaviour codes tell us about Englishness.
Whisper of the Blade
By Erik Durschmied
Revolution brings tragedy, terror and heroism. Using historical texts and eye witness accounts as well as his own interviews, Erik Durschmied shares his unique understanding of revolutionary events that have shaped the course of history. His curiosity and amazement are reflected in the pages as is his irreverence for the conventional recitation of history. Progressing from the 18th to the 20th century, Durschmied provides a remarkable snapshot of the French Revolution; the Red October rising in Russia; Operation Walküre in Germany; Che Guevara's exploits; the rise and fall of Emperor Hirohito in Japan and the fall of the Shah of Iran in these powerful stories.
The Weather Factor
By Erik Durschmied
Despite major improvements in collecting information and forecasting the weather, the 'factor of the unpredictable' is as real today, as it was in days when Noah was forced to set sail on the ark. Floods have drowned millions, droughts and famines have wiped out entire populations, frost has brought a sudden halt to invincible armies, and storms have sunk unsinkable armadas. When man comes to face nature's elements, it is not so much human incompetence as the uncertainty of the weather that leads on to disaster.