The Making of the Modern Christmas
What do we mean by a 'traditional' Christmas? Were old Christmases that much better than modern celebrations? This book traces the history of Christmas from pagan mid-winter festivals to its establishment as a Christian feast in the 4th century, through Puritan disapproval and the Victorian revival and refurbishment of old customs to the present day. En route we find The Times in 1912 already lamenting the separation of 'the secular from the sacred part of Christmas'.
An Adventure History of Paris
Paris is one of the most alluring cities in the world; however well we know it, it never ceases to surprise. Reading this book, which retells its history through the lives of its inhabitants from Balzac to Baudelaire, Sartre to Sarkozy, is like stumbling upon a tiny restaurant frequented by eccentric locals. Robb is both a scholar and an adventurer, and from 250 years of urban history, he weaves a dazzling tapestry of fact and fantasy, memory and myth. Slightly off-mint.
The Age of Elizabeth II
Rocked by Suez and scandal, galvanized by Wilson's 'white heat of technology', tuned into the Beatles and polarized by Thatcher, the reign of Elizabeth II has seen Britain transformed from post-war austerity to the digital age. AN Wilson's ambitious social and cultural history combines broad narrative sweep with telling detail to portray an era in which imperial certainties crumbled before the complex realities of modern multi-cultural society.
A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps
From the world's first postage stamp, the 1840 Penny Black, to the First Class stamp 2012, Chris West's selection of 36 stamps – 'some beautiful, some quirky, some baffling, some stained with blood' – are the inspiration for his idiosyncratic and entertaining history of Britain. Among his collection are the 1881 Penny Lilac (33 billion printed); the first decimal set (1971); and a single foreign stamp telling a story of reparations and hyperinflation: a 1923 German 200 mark stamp, overprinted 2 million.
A Rage for Order
The Middle East in Turmoil, From Tahrir Square to Isis
This compelling book tells the dramatic story of the Arab Spring and its troubled aftermath through the lives of ordinary people, showing how the bright hopes of 2011 descended into civil war, autocracy and fanaticism. A Libyan rebel must decide whether to kill his brother’s murderer; a jihadi discovers that life in the Islamic State is far from paradise; and two young Syrian women’s friendship turns to enmity as their sects go to war.