In Search of Mythical Lands
Tales of the wonders of Braesil, off the west coast of Ireland, by sixth-century monks; the fabled continent of Atlantis, mapped by Athanasius Kircher in 1644; or Crocker Land, the ‘last great geographical enigma of the North’, supposedly sighted by Donald Baxter Macmillan in 1914 … For centuries seafarers have believed in islands that never existed. Dirk Liesemer tells the story of 30 such ‘phantoms’, along with maps based on those of cartographers from Angelino Dulcert (fl.1325) to Google Earth.
And the Voice of the Castrato
The counter-tenor Nicholas Clapton presents a biography of Alessandro Moreschi (1858–1922), the only castrato singer whose voice can still be heard on an early 20th-century recording. The study offers ‘a glimpse into the vocal world of the 18th-century castrato superstars’, but also delves into the strange and lonely life beyond Moreschi’s fame.
Makers of the Modern World: Ion IC Brătianu
Ionel Brătianu went to Paris convinced that Romania had made the right alliances and sacrifices to earn a place at Conference and territorial reward; but Romania’s 1918 Bucharest Treaty with the Central Powers was held against him and his quest to modernize his nation. Slightly off-mint.
Makers of the Modern World: Georges Clemenceau
David Robin Watson describes the political career of Georges Clemenceau and his negotiations with his allies and adversaries at the Peace Conference, during which, as Chairman, he made the dramatic presentation of the Versailles Treaty to the German delegation. Slightly off-mint.
Makers of the Modern World: Antonius Piip, Zigfrīds Meierovics and Augustinas Voldemaras
The Baltic States
The three Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) faced territorial threats from Germany, Russia and Poland in 1919, and their delegates played a crucial role in securing their independence during and after the Paris Conferences.
Makers of the Modern World: Eduard Beneš and Tomáš Masaryk
Tomáš Masaryk returned from exile to become first President of the Czechoslovak Republic in December 1918. If Masaryk was ‘the stallion of the Czechoslovak cause’, Eduard Beneš was its coolly logical and hard-working advocate, arguing for the nation’s right to independence.
Makers of the Modern World: Paul Hymans
During the War, German violation of Belgium’s neutrality made the country a symbol of the rights of small states. The Peace Conference was the diplomatic debut for both Belgium and its inexperienced and outspoken representative, fighting for a voice amid the Great Powers. Slightly off-mint.
Makers of the Modern World: Karl Renner
Jamie Bulloch’s study spans the whole career of Karl Renner, leader of the Austrian delegation to the Paris negotiations where, as heir to the defunct Habsburg Monarchy, the new Austrian Republic was obliged to pay for the damage wrought by the imperial regime.
The Buddha and Dr Führer
An Archaeological Scandal
When a casket was excavated near the India-Nepal border in 1898, archaeologist Dr Führer helped confirm that its inscription declared it to contain the Buddha’s ashes. This account of the discovery focuses on the ensuing scandal, in which a local British magistrate accused Führer of selling bogus relics from the site. Off-mint.
Banker, Traitor, Scapegoat, Spy?
The Troublesome Case of Sir Edgar Speyer, An Episode of the Great War
Public benefactor and friend of the powerful, Sir Edgar Speyer was the toast of Edwardian England. When war was declared in 1914, he was driven from the country because of his German origins. Newly released documents offer a fresh perspective on his downfall.
A Land Between Tradition and Modernity
Based on the journals that the author kept during his exploration of Anatolia, Istanbul and the Aegean coast, this travelogue blends Reichart’s own experiences with an overview of Turkey’s history, and reveals his profound fascination with its character and culture.
Sailing by Starlight
In Search of Treasure Island
Alex Capus traces Robert Louis Stevenson's last years, focusing on his seemingly inexplicable decision to settle on Samoa. He concludes that Stevenson had discovered a real-life ‘Treasure Island’ nearby – and that it was this discovery that inspired his most famous work. Literary Traveller series.
The Prisoner of Kathmandu
Brian Hodgson in Nepal 1820–43
Posted to Kathmandu as a junior officer, Brian Hodgson found himself in a delicate position as relations between Britain and Nepal became hostile. This biography tells how he learned the Nepalese language, studied Buddhism and natural history, and helped to negotiate peace with the mountain kingdom.
A History of Travellers and Pilgrims
Since the 3rd century CE, the biblical Mount Sinai has been identified with the mountain peak above St Catherine’s Monastery at South Sinai in Egypt. Focusing on six periods of activity at the site, this history traces its evolution through the centuries, from the time of the earliest Christian anchorites to the arrival of intrepid tourists during the 19th century. Manginis also discusses Sinai’s natural environment, the mountain’s importance in Muslim tradition and the topographical investigations of western scholars.
In The Name Of The Father, the Daughter and the Holy Spirits
Remembering Roberto Rossellini
In 2006, as a tribute to her father, Isabella Rossellini made a film about him, recreating episodes of his life and imagining conversations with collaborators. This book includes a DVD of the film, the script and additional photographs and memorabilia from the family archive.
In Search of Ancient North Africa
A History in Six Lives
Informed by the author’s long experience of travel in North Africa, this ‘journey into a landscape of ruins’ is structured around the lives of six much-mythologized figures who represent the region’s rich classical culture: the refugee Queen Dido, the generals Hannibal and Masinissa, King Juba II, Septimus Severus and Augustine the intellectual careerist. Rogerson argues that the choices each made about cultural assimilation and resistance to Rome resemble those still faced by their modern descendants.
The Bible Hunter
The Quest for the Original New Testament
In 1859 Constantin Tischendorf brought to Europe the Codex Sinaiticus, the earliest known copy of the New Testament, previously kept at the remote Sinai monastery of St Catherine's. Gottschlich describes his own visit to Sinai, reflecting on his predecessor’s obsessions and the continuing controversy over the manuscript’s removal.
A Star of Life
A vicar’s daughter from Kent, Sybil Thorndike (1882–1976) became one of the most admired stage actresses of the 20th century. Drawing on hundreds of unpublished letters and interviews with colleagues, family and friends, this authorized biography records how she led the pioneering Old Vic company during the First World War while bringing up four children, her tireless commitment to feminism, socialism and pacifism, and her intense, often troubled relationship with her husband, Lewis Casson. Slightly off-mint.
Portrait of the Gulf Stream
In Praise of Currents
The prizewinning novelist Erik Orsenna grew up on an island off the coast of Brittany, giving thanks to the Atlantic current that brings warmth to the shores of Europe. In this remarkable book, he follows the Gulf Stream from Cape Hatteras to the legendary Norwegian Maelstrom, meeting scientists and scholars in an attempt to understand the phenomenon, its influence on culture and climate and whether global warming will stop its flow.
After firing a revolver in the street at the age of 12, Louis Armstrong was sent to the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys in New Orleans, where the harsh conditions were mitigated by the opportunity to play in the band. This succinct biography of the jazz legend describes how he came to dominate the new art form from the 1920s to the 1960s.
A Literary Expedition
In this book from the Armchair Traveller series, Gorner is our guide on ten literary rambles through London. He follows Heinrich Heine through Southwark; meets Blake and Trollope in Westminster and Virginia Woolf and Ottoline Morrel in Bloomsbury; he visits the Hampstead of Keats and Carlyle's Chelsea; and finishes on the outskirts, with Hanif Kureishi and The Buddha of Suburbia.
Sarajevo 1914–Versailles 1919: The War and Peace that Made the Modern World
Approaching the First World War from a global perspective, this collection of 28 essays seeks to explain how each of the participating countries that signed the first Versailles peace treaty on 28 June 1919 came to be there, or, in the case of Russia and China, why they were absent. Starting with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, chapters describe how the major states reacted to events in Sarajevo and how countries such as Greece, Portugal and Brazil entered the war.