The Life of Irene Nemirovsky
The discovery and publication of Suite Francaise in 2004 created a sensation, and revived interest in its author, a celebrated novelist of the 1930s whose work had fallen into neglect since her death in Auschwitz. Drawing on interviews, untapped archives, and Nemirovsky's diaries, this authoritative biography tells a story as gripping and tragic as any of her novels, from her childhood in Kiev and emigration to France after the Revolution, to the heights of literary fame and her deportation by the Nazis.
Commandant of Auschwitz
The Autobiography of Rudolf Hoess
Rudolf Hoess was Commandant of Auschwitz from its construction in 1940 until late 1943, and supervised the murder of over three million Jews as part of the Nazis’ ‘final solution’. He was an expert in the administration of concentration camps and mass exterminations. Hoess wrote this autobiography in 1947 while in prison in Poland. He was tried, sentenced and hanged later that year. The autobiography and other documents are translated here by Constantine Fitzgibbon, with an introduction by Primo Levi.
From the Mill to Monte Carlo
The Working-Class Englishman who Beat the Monaco Casino and Changed Gambling Forever
Joseph Jagger had worked for many years in the textile trade in Bradford when he made an extraordinarily bold trip to Monte Carlo, armed with borrowed money, a team of accomplices and a scheme to win big on the roulette wheel. This account of his life and historic winning streak describes how he managed to break the bank and walk away with a fortune, worth the modern equivalent of £7.5 million.
Catherine of Aragon
An Intimate Life of Henry VIII's True Wife
Catherine of Aragon has been remembered as a tragic figure, the woman Henry VIII divorced for want of a male heir. Amy Licence takes issue with this portrayal: her study presents neither a victim nor a divorcée, but a highly educated Spanish princess and a great humanist queen who, in the early years of her marriage, was Henry's advisor and his warrior. A portrait of a 'complex, passionate, unbreakable woman', the biography also upholds Catherine's unwavering conviction that her 'divorce' was invalid.
Pope Pius XII
Architect for Peace
Pope Pius XII has been much criticized for his role during the Second World War, particularly his alleged appeasement of the Nazis and failure to intervene on behalf of Jews during the Holocaust. This reappraisal challenges that view. Drawing on letters and other documents from the Vatican archives, it reveals his work for peace, his support for prisoners of war, and his efforts to save Jewish lives in Italy. Slightly off-mint.
A Passionate Humility
Frederick Oakeley and the Oxford Movement
Described by Newman as ‘a man of elegant genius, of classical mind, of rare talent in literary composition’, Frederick Oakeley (1802–1880) was the principal figure in the second generation of the Oxford Movement, renowned for his love of well-performed liturgy and music – and his hymn, O Come all ye faithful. Among his achievements, this biography examines Oakeley’s pioneering experiment at Margaret Chapel in London, where he was the first to translate the Oxford Movement’s theology into liturgical practice.
Frances, Countess Lloyd George:
More Than a Mistress
Describing the 30-year relationship between British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and his mistress (and later wife) Frances Stevenson, here the author – the subject’s granddaughter – offers fresh insights into the complicated and often controversial relationship between the two, and shares extracts from their private papers and letters, and photographs from the family album. Slightly off-mint.
The Lost Pilots
The Spectacular Rise and Scandalous Fall of Aviation's Golden Couple
A pioneering flight from England to Australia in the 1920s earned Bill Lancaster and Jessie Miller international fame, but their lives unravelled a few years later when Lancaster was tried for murder. Their sensational story describes the financial and personal troubles that led to the death of Miller's lover and the desperate attempt by Lancaster to rebuild his reputation with a long-distance flight that resulted in disaster over the Sahara Desert.
A Higher Loyalty
Truth, Lies, and Leadership
The FBI Director James Comey was publicly fired by Donald Trump in May 2017. In this book he writes about his work, his role in the 2016 American presidential election and the surreal events that followed, and reflects on the leadership styles of three very different presidents.
The Disappearance of Émile Zola
Love, Literature and the Dreyfus Case
One evening in 1898, Émile Zola fled Paris with nothing more than the clothes he stood in. Michael Rosen retraces the novelist’s footsteps from the Gare du Nord to a south London suburb; investigates the case of Alfred Dreyfuss, the Jewish officer he defended against false charges of treason; chronicles Zola’s year in England; and unravels his delicate relations with the two women in his life. Slightly off-mint.
The Sea Devil
The Adventures of Count Felix von Luckner, the Last Raider Under Sail
Slipping past a British blockade in 1916, disguised as a Norwegian merchant vessel, the last fighting sailing ship in the German Navy, Seeadler, set out on a voyage that resulted in the sinking of 14 Allied ships. This account of the adventures of the ship's aristocratic commander describes his remarkable seamanship and gentlemanly conduct (only one Allied life was lost as a result of his victories) as well as outlining his colourful background and post-war life.
The Incredible Story of the Most Audacious Gambler in History
The well connected and urbane Patrice des Moutis began putting his talent for mathematics to his advantage in the late 1950s, exploiting the French state-run Tiercé betting system so effectively that the rules were repeatedly changed to thwart him. This biography of the gambler reveals how dangerous underworld connections and allegations of illegal bookmaking and race fixing were increasingly catching up with him at the time of his apparent suicide in 1975.
The Grand Turk
Sultan Mehmet II – Conqueror of Constantinople, Master of an Empire and Lord of Two Seas
Aged just 21 when he conquered Constantinople in 1453, Mehmet II was known to Europe as a brutal tyrant, whose advancing Ottoman empire, reaching across Asia Minor to Hungary and Italy, led three Popes to call for Crusades. He was 'the present Terrour of the World', but as John Freely’s biography reveals, Mehmet’s court was filled with poets, astronomers, scholars and artists, and his military conquests brought Greco-Islamic science to the West at the dawn of the Renaissance. Slightly off-mint.
Train to Nowhere
One Women's War, Ambulance Driver, Reporter, Liberator
First published in 1948, this Second World War reportage relates the experiences of Anita Leslie, the daughter of a baronet and a distant cousin of Winston Churchill. Her account includes descriptions of working for the Mechanised Transport Corps, driving an ambulance for the Free French Forces, writing letters home from Hitler’s office in the Reich Chancellery, and marching in the Victory Parade in Berlin.
So High a Blood
The Life of Margaret, Countess of Lennox
The niece of Henry VIII and half-sister of James V of Scotland, Lady Margaret Douglas (1515–1578) held a uniquely influential position in the Tudor Court. As the Protestant Reformation gathered momentum and the royal line of succession remained in doubt, her main objective was to see her descendants rule a united, Catholic Britain. This biography draws on previously unexamined archival sources to tell her complex story.
Soldier, Poet, Lover, Friend
Widely recognized as the foremost authority on Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967), Jean Moorcroft Wilson presents a single-volume biography of the poet, building on and adding to her earlier studies. Sassoon himself said that most people thought he died in the First World War; Wilson’s work traces his entire life, before, during and after the war, showing how his writings gained in intensity, and how his literary, artistic and musical friendships illuminate a significant segment of 20th-century cultural life. Slightly off-mint.
A Biography of Tom Johnston
As Scottish Secretary in Churchill’s war cabinet, Tom Johnston helped lay the foundations of the NHS; later, he brought electricity to remote parts of Scotland. Tracing his ideals to his early career as a campaigning journalist, this biography celebrates his fighting spirit and lasting achievements.
Tales from the Tent
Jessie's Journey Continues
Having grown up in Scotland’s Traveller community in an old bus with her parents and seven sisters, Jess takes to the road in caravans, stopping at campsites and lay-bys in pursuit of work – berry picking, haystacking and fortune-telling. Alongside recollections of her family and her first loves and losses, she recounts campfire tales of ghosts, mythical beasts and supernatural encounters.
Master of the Great Game
Famous in his lifetime as an explorer and travel writer, Alexander Burnes (1805–1841) was also a spy, a major figure in the First Afghan War and the British Envoy in Kabul, where he was killed in the 1841 uprising. Craig Murray tells the story of Burnes’s life and his ‘fabulous adventures’ on the Northwest Frontier, setting his extraordinary career against a background of the ‘Byzantine jealousies and turf battles’ of British officials in 19th-century India. Slightly off-mint.
Minister of Money
Henry Duncan, Founder of the Savings Bank Movement
A parish minister in Dumfriesshire, the Reverend Henry Duncan (1774–1846) was also a poet, novelist, geologist and social reformer. This biography explores the ways in which he fused the at-times antagonistic traditions of Presbyterianism and the Scottish enlightenment in his greatest achievement: the founding of the world's first community savings bank. Designed to help the ‘industrious poor’ save for times of hardship, the idea would eventually lift many out of poverty.