A Life in Science
After the runaway success of A Brief History of Time (1988), Stephen Hawking (1942–2018) became a household name; but long before taking cosmology to the general public, he was famous within scientific circles for his work at the cutting edge of theoretical physics. In this portrait, written during Hawking’s lifetime, two of our finest science writers present the story of his personal life as well as his scientific achievement.
A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall
As the Second World War ended and the Soviets seized control of eastern Germany, Hanna, a teacher’s daughter, escaped to the West. Her parents and siblings remained in the East, and the family was separated. Forty years later, as the Berlin Wall was torn down, her daughter Nina, now a US intelligence officer, rediscovered her lost family. In this poignant memoir she tells their remarkable story against the backdrop of events that shaped the world.
Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England
How Our Ancestors Lived Two Centuries Ago
Drawing on contemporary sources including diaries, letters, newspapers and trial proceedings as well as Jane Austen's own correspondence and writings, Roy and Lesley Adkins have created a wide-ranging and richly detailed social history of English life in the early 19th century that offers new perspectives on the world of the great novelist. Covering everything from childbirth, education and work to the darker side of Georgian society, poverty and crime, the book provides an illuminating companion to Austen's novels.
A Personal History of South India
Coromandel is what Europeans once called south-east India. In this fusion of history and travelogue, the bestselling author of Ashoka explores the region south of the river Narmada, meeting historians, gurus and local people, to unlock the mysteries of its extraordinary past.
The King, The Campaign, The Battle
The overwhelming and unexpected English victory at Agincourt in 1415 was attributed by many to God, but, as Juliet Barker shows, it was the culmination of years of preparation by Henry V. Her book first covers the background of civil war in France and Henry's careful diplomacy; it then follows the campaign's progress from invasion, through the siege of Harfleur and the march to Calais, to Agincourt itself; and finally considers the battle's direct consequences and later legacy.
The King's Bed
Sex, Power and the Court of Charles II
Charles II was obsessed by women, and his conquests ranged across the classes, from the actress Nell Gwyn to the aristocrat Barbara Villiers. For the first time, this revealing book places the king’s compulsive philandering at the centre of an account of his reign. Taking us behind the scenes, it introduces a colourful cast of court favourites, politicians and a parade of mistresses fighting for influence over a king ruled – and ruined – by his passions.
The Man who was W.G.
Arguably the world’s first sporting superstar, WG Grace (1848–1915) took an unconventional approach to cricket and effectively invented the art of modern batting. Tomlinson re-examines the eccentric figure, who excelled in his sport despite personal misfortune, obesity and a fondness for drink, and is remembered for his humorous quotes, occasional gamesmanship and enduring passion for the game.
The Drowned and the Saved
In his final book, Primo Levi turned once again to his time in Auschwitz, and the lessons to be drawn from it. He reflects on the necessity of bearing witness to the truth, on survivor guilt, his feelings towards the Germans and the futility of hatred, and delivers a sobering reminder that, with would-be dictators waiting in the wings, the unimaginable could happen again.
The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic
Tom Holland’s lively account of the Roman Republic focuses on the events that led to the collapse of this increasingly dysfunctional political system during the 1st century BCE. The narrative brings to life the period’s most prominent figures, including Sulla, Pompey and Julius Caesar, whose illegal crossing of the Rubicon ‘helped to bring about the ruin of Rome’s ancient freedoms’.
The Marvellous Life of Learie Constantine
Born in rural Trinidad in 1901 Learie Constantine was a dynamic all-rounder who helped to define the exuberant, aggressive style of West Indian cricket in the 1930s and was one of the first black cricketers to play in the English leagues. This biography tells the story of his remarkable achievements which, in later life, saw him winning a landmark discrimination case in London, qualifying as a barrister and becoming a politician, statesman and peer.
Viva la Revolucion
On Latin America
Fidel Castro’s 1959 triumph in Cuba sparked Eric Hobsbawm’s interest in Latin America, ‘a continent apparently bubbling with the lava of social revolutions’. The 31 essays and articles collected here represent his sustained fascination with the area and its politics. They cover topics including revolutionaries (not least Che Guevara), the Chilean road to socialism, the region’s peasant movements and its agrarian structures.
The Old Man and the Knee
How to Be a Golden Oldie
‘I’d like to get one thing straight. I am not old. I know what old is, and I’m not it.’ This light-hearted guide to retirement discusses the amusing and exasperating points of ageing, from what to do with your spare time and coping with the changing attitudes and manners of younger generations to worrying about declining physical fitness and the perils of social media.
Key Scientists, Code-breakers and Propagandists of the Great War
World War One was the first modern, industrial conflict and the struggle for technological supremacy was not confined to the battlefield. This history reveals the war effort behind the lines, and profiles key figures, from the aircraft designer Frederick Handley Page to the newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook. It records the rapid advances spurred by the war in aviation, chemistry, and medicine, and the weapons of cryptology and propaganda.
Booker-nominated novelist Julian Rathbone portrays the violence of the 1857 Indian uprising through the eyes of characters on both sides, including Sophie Hardcastle, an army wife whose young son has disappeared in the chaos; her servant Lavanya; and naïve but gallant spy Bruce Farquhar.
The Mitford Girls
The Biography of an Extraordinary Family
The six daughters of the eccentric Lord Redesdale and his wife Sydney have inspired many books, but this group biography is widely considered to be the finest. It skilfully weaves together the dramatic, often outrageous lives of the sisters: the novelist Nancy; Diana, who married Oswald Mosley; Decca, the communist; the lesbian horsewoman Pamela; the socialite Deborah; and Unity, the doomed admirer of Adolf Hitler.
The People, the King & the Great Revolt of 1381
In 1381, England erupted in a violent popular uprising as unexpected as it was unprecedented. Juliet Barker's narrative history depicts a volatile society on the brink of profound change. Treating contemporary chronicles with scepticism, she draws on court proceedings and letters to give voice to the ordinary people from many walks of life who took part in the so-called Peasants' Revolt, illuminating their motives and demands, examining the ambiguous role of Richard II, and charting its long-term effects.
Fighting the First World War
In a radical re-evaluation of the First World War, Dr Philpott argues that the competing and emotionally charged accounts of the events of 1914–1918 have muddled perceptions of the war. Looking beyond the propaganda and myth-making, his clear narrative explains why and how the new type of combat came about; and he examines the attitudes and actions of political leaders and the willing responses of their peoples.
The Great Race
Described by The Times as 'an epic tale told concisely and confidently', this book recounts the European 'discovery' and initial exploration of Australia, then concentrates on the rivalry between Matthew Flinders of England and Nicolas Baudin of France in the quest to chart the coast of the Great South Land and compile the definitive map of the continent. Working from first-hand accounts including diaries, Hill celebrates the courage and determination that fuelled their danger-filled voyages.
Bess of Hardwick
First Lady of Chatsworth, 1527–1608
Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury (1527–1608) struck some as rapacious and social-climbing, but is nowadays seen as an astonishingly shrewd and accomplished woman who successfully managed four husbands and four monarchs in a particularly complex and dangerous era. Mary Lovell's biography charts every aspect of Bess's long life, including her time as minder of Mary, Queen of Scots for Elizabeth I and the building of Chatsworth, Hardwick and Oldcotes, which still stand as testimony of a remarkable Tudor figure.
The Wars of the Roses
England's First Civil War
Using the evidence of contemporary and near-contemporary chroniclers, military historian Trevor Royle presents a vivid history of the civil war that lasted from 1399 to 1485. He reveals the brutal realities of a country torn apart by conflict and rivalry, includes the roles of Scotland, Wales and Ireland within his account of the battle between York and Lancaster, and places the fighting in the context of a period of rich cultural progress.