A Personal Memoir of the Man Who Created James Bond
The close and abiding friendship of Robert Harling and Ian Fleming was forged during the Second World War, when Harling was Fleming’s deputy in the commando unit dubbed ‘Fleming’s Secret Navy’. Described by Fiona MacCarthy in her foreword as ‘a master of obfuscation’, Harling fictionalized his own life and inspired characters – even elements of 007 – in Fleming’s fiction. This memoir of his friend provides an entertaining portrait of the creator of James Bond, but also a revealing self-portrait of Harling.
A Soldier's Story
In the Lebanese war of the late 1990s, a group of Israeli soldiers defended a remote hill. The hill was called ‘Pumpkin’; ‘flowers’ was a codename for casualties. This is the story of the young men posted there, told by one of their number in an unflinching description of modern warfare.
The Welfare of Nations
While every advanced democracy has some form of welfare state, absorbing a large proportion of its tax budget, their degrees of success vary. James Bartholomew has travelled the world from social-democratic Sweden to the United States, where 45 million people use food stamps, and argues that welfare dependency damages culture and character, and allows governments undue influence over our daily lives.
The Autobiography of Vince Hilaire
Vince Hilaire is seen as a cult figure within football, having played in the Football League era for managerial greats such as Terry Venables, Malcolm Allison and Howard Wilkinson. This personal account describes his encounters with eccentric players such as Mick Channon and Vinnie Jones, and his experiences of racism. Slightly off-mint.
From Zidane to Mbappé – A Football Journey
After a disastrous few years, Les Bleus’ triumph at the World Cup in 1998, the year Kylian Mbappé was born, transformed the footballing culture of France. Matt Spiro’s analysis of the team’s journey to another win two decades later casts light on what it is to be French and the concept of ‘footballing intelligence’.
Ladies Who Punch
Fifty Trailblazing Women Whose Stories You Should Know
The journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown offers concise biographies of fifty women whose actions have shaped our world – from Gertrude Bell, who played a pivotal role in establishing modern Iran, the 'forgotten' suffragette Sophia Singh and the engineer, and campaigner for equal pay Mary Lee to present-day influencers including Caroline Credo Perez, Carole Cadwalladr and Helena Kennedy.
An Intimate Memoir from Queen Mary to Meghan Markle
Edward VII described Kensington Palace as 'the aunt heap', and its story is as much to do with the people who lived and worked there as it is to do with bricks and mortar. Combining an analysis of archival sources with candid interviews with staff past and present, Tom Quinn traces the building’s history from 1689 when William and Mary chose it as their country retreat to its present incarnation as the London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
One Man's Odyssey Through the Lower Leagues of English Football
As a teenager, Ben Smith shared Arsenal training sessions with Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright, and looked set for a bright career, but spent his playing time with lower league teams such as Reading, Southend and Weymouth. This account alternates between his life in football, including his frustrations and low points, and his later experiences teaching and coaching.
The Dwarfs of Auschwitz
In the 1930s, the Ovitz family – seven of whom were dwarfs – enjoyed massive success as the Lilliput Troupe of singers and actors, but as the Nazi regime tightened its grip, they were plunged into the horrors of Auschwitz. Based on interviews with Perla Ovitz, the last living member of the troupe, and many other concentration camp survivors, this powerful book tells the inspirational story of this remarkable family and their indomitable will to survive.
Fighting Churchill, Appeasing Hitler
How a British Civil Servant Helped Cause the Second World War
The 1930s policy of appeasement has sometimes been defended as a necessary evil which allowed the military more time to expand its capacity. Phillips argues against this justification, describing in detail how Neville Chamberlain and his advisor Horace Wilson were determined to avoid ‘provoking’ Hitler, and suggesting that by manipulating the media and politicians into supporting appeasement they hampered preparations for the coming war.
The English Job
Understanding Iran – And Why it Distrusts Britain
With tensions high between Iran and the West, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw examines the history of Anglo-Iranian relations since Anthony Jenkinson’s visit in the 16th century. Iran’s hostility, he argues, is rooted in Britain’s former dominance of its oil, tobacco and banking industries, its role in the 1953 overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, and its support for the last Shah.
The 1,000 Wisest Things Ever Said
Wisdom of the Nobel Prize Winners
Since they were first awarded in 1901, Nobel Prizes have honoured hundreds of people who ‘have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind’. This collection of quotations, from laureates including Winston Churchill, Toni Morrison and Max Planck, shares their astute, witty and poignant observations on such topics as truth and falsehood, marriage, democracy and technology.
Biteback Espionage Classics - 3 Books
Biteback Espionage Classics reprint vintage accounts of real-life covert intelligence operations and underground networks behind enemy lines, from the First and Second World Wars to the Cold War. The three titles included in this set are: The Unknown Courier (Read more...) MI9 (Read more...) Double Cross in Cairo (Read more...)
Exceeding My Brief
Memories of a Disobedient Civil Servant
In this frank memoir Barbara Hoskings (1926–2021) recalls a career that took her from writing for The Cornishman newspaper to becoming press secretary for Harold Wilson and Edward Heath, who she accompanied to Paris for the signing of the Treaty of Rome, and to Munich for the Olympic Games. She also remembers the elitism and sexism she encountered, and the changes in attitude that she witnessed during her long working life.
Who Killed Kitchener?
The Life and Death of Britain's Most Famous War Minister
The death of Lord Kitchener when the battleship carrying him on a secret mission to Russia struck a German mine stunned a nation at war, and gave rise to various conspiracy theories. Suspicion fell on the IRA, the Boers, and even the British government, who disliked him intensely. Drawing on recently declassified documents, this history separates truth from fiction to reveal what really happened that day in June 1916.
War and Peace
FDR's Final Odyssey D-Day to Yalta, 1943–1945
Concluding his trilogy assessing Roosevelt’s leadership in the Second World War, Hamilton focuses on the president’s role in the D-Day landings and his legacy. Using previously unpublished documents and interviews the book counters the narrative offered in Churchill’s memoirs. It reveals the extent of the president’s influence and argues that despite his failing health FDR played a pivotal role in creating the conditions necessary to build a peaceful, US-backed world order.
Under Every Leaf
How Britain Played the Greater Game from Afghanistan to Africa
This first study of the War Office Intelligence Division profiles the elite group of officers whose activities sustained the British Empire in its Victorian heyday. From an inconspicuous house in Queen Anne’s Gate, London, they created a global network of spies so extensive that it gave rise to the expression, ‘Anywhere a leaf moves, underneath you will find an Englishman.’
The Epic Story of the Men Who Kept the Endurance Expedition Alive
Shackleton's 1914–17 Antarctic expedition is best remembered for its legendary escape after his ship Endurance was crushed by ice. Less well known are the exploits of the 'Mount Hope Party', dispatched aboard the Aurora to lay food depots across the Great Ice Barrier, without which the planned crossing of the frozen continent would have been impossible. Drawing on the diaries of six expedition members, this book records their story of hardship, heroism and camaraderie – and their tragic fate.
Rebel With a Cause
The first woman to represent the Welsh valleys, Ann Clwyd spent 33 years in parliament, partly as a shadow minister before being sacked for not toeing the party line. This memoir recounts key events she witnessed first hand, from the miners’ strike to the EU referendum, and discusses causes she embraced, including the NHS and her involvement in Iraq, which led to Saddam labelling her an ‘enemy of the people’.
Power and Pragmatism
The Memoirs of Malcolm Rifkind
Malcolm Rifkind was one of Britain’s longest serving ministers, having held cabinet positions including Foreign Secretary for 18 years. He recalls his Jewish upbringing in Edinburgh, and a formative overland journey to India when he was 19, before describing a political career that involved negotiations with Mikhael Gorbachev, Britain’s intervention in the Bosnian war, and conflict with Margaret Thatcher over Scottish devolution.
The People's Flag and the Union Jack
An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party
The Labour Party has always found notions of nationalism problematic in a political landscape where traditional values and patriotism have typically been associated with conservatism. This study reviews Labour's relationship with Britishness, from the early pre-war party to the Corbyn era and beyond, in the light of contemporary attitudes to the United Kingdom, Brexit and increasing support for Scottish independence.
Escape and Evasion
Small, dedicated, under-staffed and under-resourced, MI9 supported resistance groups in Nazi-occupied Europe and helped Allied prisoners of war to escape. First published in 1979, this account tells how the organization smuggled money, clothes, maps and equipment past the Germans, and brought out coded letters containing vital intelligence about enemy plans.
Not Quite a Gentleman
The press baron Max Beaverbrook (1879–1964) was a dominant figure in 20th-century British life. This biography explores his Scots-Presbyterian upbringing in Canada and the financial dealings that made him a millionaire by the time he emigrated to the UK aged 31, before going on to record his political career, his ownership of the Daily Express, and his friendship with Winston Churchill.
Leo Varadkar – A Very Modern Taoiseach
In this first full-length biography, family, friends and colleagues offer behind-the-scenes insights into how the doctor son of Indian immigrants, having come out as gay, survived party infighting to become leader of Fine Gael and prime minister of Ireland. It explores the role of Frances Fitzgerald in shaping his career, and the police whistleblower scandal that almost derailed it.
The Last Gunfight
The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral – And How it Changed the American West
This detailed history of the famous shoot-out sets out to build the most accurate picture possible of the people behind the many fictionalized versions of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and their altercations with the Clantons and the McLaurys. The author sets this against the context of the growth and decline of the west, particularly Tombstone and the Mexican border.
Call to Order
The Conservative MP for Buckingham since 1996, John Bercow was elected as Speaker of the Commons in June 2009; in October 2019 he stepped down, having weathered a government plot to oust him and challenged Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament. Sebastian Whale’s biography examines Bercow’s political progress in detail, mapping his course from the ultra-conservative Monday Club to the liberal left, and from ardent Eurosceptic to Remainer.
A Scottish Political Journey
Jimmy Reid was a hugely influential figure in Scottish politics – his funeral in 2010 was attended by Gordon Brown and Alex Salmond – yet this is the first biography of him. It follows his tough Clydeside upbringing, his work as a shipbuilders’ union leader, and his political journey from communism through the Labour Party (which he left in protest at the Iraq War) to support for the SNP and Scottish independence.
Exceeding My Brief
Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Servant
In this frank memoir Barbara Hosking (1926–2021) recalls a career that took her from writing for The Cornishman newspaper to becoming press secretary for Harold Wilson and Edward Heath, who she accompanied to Paris for the signing of the Treaty of Rome, and to Munich for the Olympic Games. She also remembers the elitism and sexism she encountered, and the changes in attitude that she witnessed during her long working life.
Double Cross in Cairo
The True Story of the Spy Who Turned the Tide of War in the Middle East
Codenamed ‘Cheese’ by MI6, Roberto Levi, an Italian Jew by birth, was one of the most successful double agents of the Second World War. Drawing on recently declassified files, this book reveals how, while pretending to spy for the Germans, he fed them false information about Allied troop deployments and strategy, misleading the Afrika Korps and saving Malta from German occupation.
Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader in 2015 surprised, delighted and troubled many in the party. This biography seeks the roots of his ideas in his life and career. It describes his childhood in rural Shropshire, his marriages, and his 40 years as a rebellious backbencher, before covering his leadership campaign and unexpectedly strong showing in the 2017 election.
Behind Diplomatic Lines
Relations With Ministers
As Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1986 to 1991, Patrick Wright was well positioned to observe the inner workings of the British government during a tumultuous period in world affairs. His diaries offer a day-to-day account of the aftermath of the Falklands War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, strained relations with the EU, the first Gulf War and the fall of Margaret Thatcher.
The Kremlin and the Art of Political Assassination
Amy Knight, an expert on the KGB, describes today’s Russia as ‘a truly criminal regime’. She first traces the long Kremlin tradition of covert violence and the development of the country’s post-war security services. In the remainder of the book she investigates the background to several recent killings – including the Litvinenko poisoning and the 2015 shooting of outspoken Putin critic Boris Nemtsov – and examines the evidence for Russian involvement in the Boston Marathon bombings. (Previously sold in Postscript as Orders to Kill).
Fighters and Quitters
Great Political Resignations
Fighters and Quitters charts the scandals, controversies and errors that have obliterated many a political career, from the Profumo affair to the casualties of Brexit. It recounts the faked death of John Stonehouse in the 1970s, Edwina Currie’s undoing by the egg industry, Robin Cook’s resignation over the Iraq War, and the many comebacks of Peter Mandelson.
The Rises and Falls of Whitaker Wright, the World's Most Shameless Swindler
Whitaker Wright was a Victorian conman who made and lost a fortune by selling stock in companies that ultimately failed to deliver. This account of his exploits reveals the heights of his successes, with excesses including an underwater smoking room and a steam yacht where he entertained aristocrats, and his dramatic downfalls. Having fled from America to England, and then back again, he was finally convicted of financial fraud and committed suicide in the dock.
Punch and Judy Politics
An Insiders' Guide to Prime Minister's Questions
First formalized into a regular event in 1961, ‘PMQs’ dominates the lives of senior British politicians and is a source of fascination abroad. This book’s authors prepared Ed Miliband for combat each week; here they revisit the high and low points and survey the history and evolution of the format, with reflections from participants including Vince Cable, Tony Blair and David Cameron. An afterword brings the story up to 2018.
Orders to Kill
The Putin Regime and Political Murder
Amy Knight, an expert on the KGB, describes today’s Russia as ‘a truly criminal regime’. She first traces the long Kremlin tradition of covert violence and the development of the country’s post-war security services. In the remainder of the book she investigates the background to several recent killings – including the Litvinenko poisoning and the 2015 shooting of outspoken Putin critic Boris Nemtsov – and examines the evidence for Russian involvement in the Boston Marathon bombings.
No Tradesmen and No Women
The Origins of the British Civil Service
Drawing on extensive research and 40 years’ experience as a civil servant, Michael Coolican describes how the machinery of government has developed since the time of Thomas Cromwell. His forthright account assesses the successes and failures of Whitehall departments in implementing government policy, and explains how Victorian reforms created an elitist culture of nepotism. He argues that the resulting poor leadership, distrust of modern management practices and preference for generalists over experts affect the service to this day.
The Lockerbie Bombing
The Search for Justice
In 2009 Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, was released from prison. Written by the Justice Secretary who freed him, this account of the Lockerbie investigation describes the collection of evidence and the diplomatic intrigue that led to a Scottish court being convened in the Netherlands. MacAskill then explains his controversial decision and offers a reconstruction of the course of events leading up to the attack.
Emily Wilding Davison
The Martyr Suffragette
Emily Davison’s death beneath the king’s horse at the 1913 Derby has overshadowed the life that led up to it. Drawing on her own words and those of people who knew her, this biography records the formative experiences of this intelligent, resourceful and determined woman: an education thwarted by lack of money, work as a governess, and involvement in campaigns about the injustices faced by women that resulted in her imprisonment and force-feeding.
In a long career working for the BBC, ITN and Sky News, award-winning journalist Jeremy Thompson travelled the world to report on events including the Tiananmen Square massacre and the release of Nelson Mandela. His autobiography offers a glimpse behind the scenes in the newsroom and shares both poignant and amusing moments during assignments, from the Miners’ Strike to the election of Donald Trump.
Architects of Death
The Family who Engineered the Holocaust
JA Topf and Sons began as an unremarkable provincial engineering company, but under the direction of Ludwig and Ernst Wolfgang Topf, it began to manufacture cremation ovens for Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Drawing on interviews and thousands of archive documents, this investigation reveals how the brothers and their colleagues, driven not by ideology but by personal ambition, facilitated the murder of millions, and tells the story of a descendant who sought to expose and atone for his family’s crimes.
The Unknown Courier
The True Story of Operation Mincemeat
First published in 1953, this book describes how the body of a fictitious Major Martin washed up on the Spanish coast in 1943, carrying plans for an Allied invasion of Italy. It tells how the plans were fabricated to divert the Germans from the real landings, and investigates the identity of the corpse.
The Stories Behind the Headlines at the World's Most Famous Newspaper
As the chief reporter and news editor for the News of the World, Neville Thurlbeck was one of Fleet Street's most prominent journalists for over 20 years. In this memoir he recalls the most sensational scoops and scandals, including the Jeffrey Archer perjury case, the David Beckham and Rebecca Loos affair, and a variety of stories involving politicians, celebrities, serial killers and even MI5.
A Life From Print to Panorama
Tom Mangold is known to millions as the long-serving broadcaster of the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme Panorama. In this frank and often funny memoir, he describes his National Service in Germany, where he excelled at selling misappropriated cigarette tokens, and his years in the cut-throat world of Fleet Street tabloid journalism. He reflects on scoops and scandals, chaotic interviews with presidents, and reporting from the world’s deadliest conflict zones.
At the Heart of Power From Heath to Blair
Described as ‘one of the two or three men who actually run the country’, Robin Butler served variously as private secretary to, and cabinet secretary under, five prime ministers. This biography presents Butler as both traditionalist and innovator in a civil service undergoing profound change.
The Best Prime Minister We Never Had?
The Conservative politician Richard Austen ‘Rab’ Butler (1902–82) held three of the great offices of state and came close, on three occasions, to becoming Prime Minister. This biography examines his upbringing, education and political career and draws on his own papers and the testimony of his contemporaries to explore why, despite his formidable intellect and distinguished record as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the premiership ultimately eluded him.
An Unsuccessful Prime Minister? Reappraising John Major
This collection of essays takes a balanced look at the successes and failures of John Major’s government, and re-evaluates its legacy. Contributions from politicians including Charles Clarke, Paddy Ashdown and John Redwood and commentators such as Peter Oborne and Christian Wolmar reflect on the government’s fragile majority, battles over Europe and the Maastricht treaty, the Exchange Rate Mechanism debacle, the first Gulf War, and the Northern Ireland peace process.
Born in the Welsh valleys, Joan Ruddock went on to lead the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament before becoming an MP and the first Minister for Women in the Blair government. In this memoir, she recalls the hard lives of her parents, which fuelled her passion for social justice, her career as campaigner and politician, the euphoria she felt after the 1997 election, and the frustration and disillusionment that followed.
Fighting with Allies
America and Britain in Peace and War
In this 2016 edition of his 1996 study, the former British Ambassador to Washington explores the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the United States since 1940. Drawing on his own experience as well as official documents, diaries and memoirs, Robin Renwick examines the perspectives of each side during moments of crisis, including the Second World War, Suez, the Falklands, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. With Britain’s role in the world about to be transformed by Brexit, the book assesses the prospects for Anglo-American co-operation.
The Man Who Broke Enigmas
Brilliant classical scholar Alfred Dillwyn Knox was recruited by the Admiralty as a codebreaker in 1915 and by the outbreak of the Second World War was a leading cryptographer for the Government Code and Cypher School, breaking the Abwehr Enigma at Bletchley Park in 1941. This biography of the eccentric genius is written by one of 'Dilly's girls' - his codebreaking assistants at Bletchley - and describes his life and work, including detailed explanations of his decryption methods.
Baggage of Empire
Reporting Politics and Industry in the Shadow of Imperial Decline
The former BBC industrial editor Martin Adeney blends memoir and history as he surveys the ruins of great industries and the rise of Thatcherism to reveal how the long decline of the British Empire has shaped the nation.
Trotsky's Favourite Spy
The Life of George Alexander Hill
As part of a team of British agents charged with keeping Russia engaged in the First World War in 1917, George Hill (1893–1970) worked undercover with Trotsky. In the Second World War he became the link between Churchill’s Special Operations Executive and Stalin’s secret service, the NKVD. Drawing on the memoir by Hill’s daughter, Una Kroll, Peter Day’s book explores the shadowy world of early 20th-century espionage through the career of this multilingual merchant adventurer, soldier, diplomat and spy.
The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews
During the 1920s and 1930s, Frank Foley worked as Chief Passport Control Officer for the British Embassy in Berlin, a cover for his role as MI6 Head of Station there. As the Nazi administration increased its stranglehold over the country, Foley used his position to issue visas to countless Jews, allowing them to escape to Britain ‘legally’. This biography also recounts many of the escapes that Foley enabled.
Memoirs of Naval Secret Service
In the years before the First World War, British journalist Hector Bywater used his role as naval correspondent for the New York Herald to bluff his way into dockyards and naval installations across Germany. He would memorize important details then report his findings back to MI6 in London. First published in 1931, these remarkable memoirs recount Bywater’s years as an active secret service agent for the Royal Navy.
The Mantle of Command
FDR At War 1941–1942
This opening volume of Hamilton’s trilogy, which asserts that Roosevelt’s role during the Second World War has been underestimated, ranges from his meeting with Churchill in Placentia Bay on 9 August 1941 to the landing of US troops in North Africa in late 1942. During this period the president rejected calls to delegate decisions to military leaders, overcame an attempted ‘mutiny’, and demonstrated his talent for strategic thinking by devising a global plan to defeat Hitler.
Lady Constance Lytton
Aristocrat, Suffragette, Martyr
Raised amid the grandeur of Knebworth House, Lady Constance Lytton was an unlikely radical. Drawing on unpublished family papers, this biography tells her story for the first time: how, witnessing the trial of Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, she became convinced that women must win the right to vote; and how, in jail, she discovered that her status afforded her preferential treatment, and on release disguised herself to discover the horrors that other suffragettes were forced to endure.
Double Cross in Cairo
The True Story of the Spy Who Turned the Tide of War in the Middle East
With a talent for invention and a taste for adventure, Italian Jew Renato Levi operated as a double agent in the Middle East and North Africa during the Second World War. This book uncovers the story of the remarkable spy, which has only come to light in recent years, and his CHEESE network, an entirely fictitious ring of intelligence sources providing misdirection that helped to defeat Rommel in North Africa and diverted German defences from the D-Day landing sites.
An Intimate Portrait of a Musical Legend
Dusty Springfield (1939–1999) was one of the most celebrated stars of the 1960s, whose ‘blue-eyed soul’ was popular both here and in America. This biography discusses her musical development and lasting legacy, but also delves beyond Dusty’s cheerful image to explore a more conflicted person. In the words of her lover, Dusty ‘wanted to be straight and she wanted to be a good Catholic and she wanted to be black’.
Finding the Plot
100 Graves to Visit Before You Die
From the splendour of Nelson's tomb in the crypt of St Paul's to the more commonplace gravestone of Eleanor Rigby in Liverpool, this guide selects the most interesting resting places to visit in Britain, telling the stories of the lives and deaths of the memorialized. Arranged geographically, the selection ranges from the much-visited shrine to Marc Bolan in Barnes to the Leicester car park where Richard III's remains were found.
Not in Front of the Corgis
Secrets of Life Behind the Royal Curtains
What are the Windsors like in private? Are they just like us, or a breed apart? Nobody knows the royal family like their staff, who are intimately acquainted with their every quirk and eccentricity, but they are famously tight-lipped. However, through the memories of retired retainers, this book offers a humorous and affectionate glimpse of some endearing royal foibles – and reveals what the corgis eat for dinner.
The Secret Agent's Bedside Reader
A Compendium of Spy Writing
An intelligence officer has to be able to tell a good story, so it is hardly surprising that many authors and journalists have joined their ranks, while operatives such as John le Carre have become successful writers. This anthology, compiled by a former intelligence officer and journalist, assembles extracts from espionage fiction by the likes of Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham, alongside instructions for spies and reports from Guy Burgess, Kim Philby and Sidney Reilly.