The Story of a Sacred Landscape
Written by one of the UK’s leading archaeologists, this study of Britain’s most famous prehistoric monument draws on the latest research to explain its origins, development and eventual abandonment. Illustrated with colour photographs, historic images, maps and plans, it sets Stonehenge in the context of late Neolithic and Bronze Age society, discussing its astronomical alignment and its position within the wider ritual landscape – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – that includes Avebury, Silbury Hill and the West Kennet Long Barrow.
The Final Chapter
When nine skeletons were exhumed near Ekaterinburg, Siberia in July 1991 it prompted an investigation into whether they were the remains of Nicholas II and his family, executed by Bolsheviks 73 years earlier. This investigative history, framed by a narrative of the Romanov’s last days, records the scientific processes that were undertaken by experts from Russia, America and the UK in order to establish the identities of the remains.
Nicholas and Alexandra
The Last Tsar and His Family
Robert K Massie’s account of the Russian Empire’s final days sympathetically unfolds the tragedy of the Romanovs. Drawing on diaries, letters and memoirs, it tells the story of the Tsar’s political naïveté and his son’s haemophilia, which allowed the charismatic Rasputin to secure a position of influence with the Empress. First published in 1967, the book now includes an introduction in which the Pulitzer-winning author looks back at its genesis and reception during the Cold War.
The Composition and Afterlife of Handel's Masterpiece
Composed in a three-week burst of creativity, Handel’s sacred oratorio Messiah took an audacious, unprecedented form. Keates explains how the composer and his librettist, Charles Jennens, devised its narrative and musical structure and how the oratorio relates to the cultural and spiritual contexts of Georgian England. He also describes its mixed reception at the first Dublin and London performances and the process by which it became established as one of the best-loved works in the choral repertoire.
The Lost City of the Monkey God
Since the days of the conquistadors, rumours have circulated about a deserted city deep in the Honduran interior. Local people said it was cursed; a journalist who reached it in 1940 committed suicide on his return. In 2012 Doug Preston joined a team of scientists set on travelling to it; his account describes how – despite torrential rain, deadly snakes and a terrifying disease – they found a great metropolis beneath the rainforest, and explains the cause of its sudden abandonment.
The First Great Romantic Symphony
When it was first performed in 1805, Beethoven’s Third Symphony (the ‘Eroica’) baffled audiences with a size, complexity and expressiveness that broke the Viennese Classical mould and would change the course of Western music by making symphonies the vehicle for composers’ greatest thoughts. This guide to the work analyses its innovations and explores its biographical and political background, including Beethoven’s increasing deafness and his shifting opinions of Napoleon, to whom the ‘Eroica’ was once dedicated.
The Road Not Taken
Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam
Edward Lansdale was a CIA agent who has been compared to Graham Greene’s ‘Quiet American’. He refused to participate in the overthrow of South Vietnam’s Diem government, a key turning point in the escalating conflict, and continued to argue for a less aggressive approach with more focus on winning hearts and minds. This biography explores his life and the impact that the different approach he advocated might have had.
The Life and Death of Sherlock Holmes
When Arthur Conan Doyle wrote A Study In Scarlet in 1887 he couldn’t have known how enduringly famous Sherlock Holmes would become. Mattias Bostrom sets out to tell the story of the men and women who created an icon, bringing a scholar’s eye to the tale of the detective’s genesis, the stories’ initial wave of popularity and Holmes’s transformation into a screen role that is still being reinvented today.
A History of the City
The historian and columnist for The National in Scotland, Michael Fry offers a new perspective on the history and culture of Glasgow as ‘a unique species of urban civilization’. His book takes in the whole span of the city’s history, from the sixth century to the present day, but is structured thematically, in chapters exploring Glasgow’s trade and industry, religion, the lives and politics of its ‘patricians’ and ‘plebeians’, and its distinctive styles of language, literature and art.
The Dandy at Dusk
Taste and Melancholy in the Twentieth Century
Dispelling the notion that dandyism can be defined as an extravagance of dress, and seeing it more as an art form, this social history explores its relationship to modernity and issues of identity. Through profiles of six 20th-century dandies, including the Duke of Windsor, Quentin Crisp and the film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Philip Mann shows how their dedication to style is linked intrinsically to their aesthetic values and attitudes.
Two Brothers, a Nation in Crisis, a World at War
Using the archives of Belvoir Castle, the family seat, this dual biography explores the contrasting lives of Charles Manners and his younger sibling Robert. While Charles became a Whig politician before inheriting a dukedom from his grandfather, Robert rose through the ranks of the Navy to become post-captain of the Resolution and died fighting the Spanish in the Battle of the Saintes in the Caribbean in 1782.
Eye of the Beholder
Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing
In the creative hothouse of 17th-century Holland, art and science came together through the new optical technology. This double biography follows the careers of the natural philosopher Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, who peered into a lens to discover microscopic life, and the painter Johannes Vermeer who, just a few houses away in Delft, was using a camera obscura to create detailed original works.
The Story of a Sacred Landscape
It has long been recognized that Stonehenge was a religious site, but recent intensive research has helped us understand much more about its place within the ancient ritual landscape of Salisbury Plain. In this book one of Britain’s most distinguished archaeologists traces the centuries-long process of construction, explaining how the enigmatic stone circle relates to a wider complex of monuments and what this reveals about the social and ideological system of our prehistoric ancestors during a period of significant change.
The Most Dangerous Book
The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses
Although considered a literary masterpiece now, Ulysses was widely banned as obscene for more than a decade. This account of the disputes surrounding the book is based on years of research in unpublished archival material. It traces in detail the long, painful process by which Joyce and his supporters fought to publish the novel on both sides of the Atlantic – and thereby changed the law’s definition of literature.
The Composition and Afterlife of Handel's Masterpiece
As he tells the story of Messiah’s genesis, Keates explains how Handel and his librettist fashioned a new kind of sacred oratorio. He then traces the work’s reception, from the mixed reactions at early performances to its current status as a well-loved classic.
The Earth Gazers
In 1948, Fred Hoyle predicted that a photograph of the Earth, taken from space, would let loose ‘a new idea as powerful as any in history’: taken by the Apollo astronauts between 1968 and 1971, images such as ‘Earthrise’ and ‘The Blue Marble’ were to prove him right. After tracing the course of human efforts first to fly, then to travel in space, Christopher Potter reflects on the impact of seeing our planet from afar.
Britain in 1846
Focusing on one critical year, this study identifies the developments that paved the way for the prosperity of Victorian Britain. It demonstrates how, amid widespread poverty and disease, industry flourished and railways spread across the land, bringing millions from the countryside to the cities, while Robert Peel’s abolition of the Corn Laws split the Tory party and ushered in an era of free trade.
A Star is Born
The Moment an Actress Becomes an Icon
Vivien Leigh's performance in Gone with the Wind or Anita Ekberg's in La Dolce Vita were pivotal moments in cinema, when a relatively unknown actress was transformed into a major international star. With full-page portraits and brief biographies, this film history identifies the breakthrough moments of 75 leading actresses from Greta Garbo in Mata Hariand Grace Kelly in High Noon to Jane Fonda in Klute and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
A Year in the Life of Plantagenet England
The year 1215 is remembered for King John’s reluctant granting of Magna Carta, but the famous meeting at Runnymede is just one episode in the year’s story of political, constitutional and religious upheaval. The author of The Hollow Crown here combines a narrative of high politics and civil war with the evidence for everyday life to show how these transformative months were experienced by people at different levels of English society.
The Throwaway Children
When Rosie and Rita’s father fails to return from the Second World War, ‘Uncle Jimmy’ moves in. Soon their mother, pregnant with his child, is persuaded to give up her little girls, not realizing it will be for good. Cast into a local orphanage, nine-year-old Rosie vows to look after her five-year-old sister, but will she be able to fulfil her promise once the pair find themselves shipped off to Australia? Off-mint.
Peace and War:
Britain in 1914
This discerning cultural history presents a portrait of a nation on the eve of war. While it details the social and political issues of the day, including the Ulster crisis, suffragettes, labour disputes and the anxiety of approaching war, it also highlights the nascent modernism of contemporary artists and poets, including Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis, who anticipated the end of the Edwardian era and the ‘cosy certainties’ that belied the social conflicts of a troubled Britain.
The Lives and Times of Four Captains of England
The four England captains discussed in this history of post-war English football are Billy Wright, Bobby Moore, Gary Lineker and David Beckham. Each a world famous and long-serving skipper, they represent their times: from the hard-working Wright and the glamorous Moore, embodiment of the social mobility of the 1960s, to Lineker, the savvy exploiter of the new media age, and Beckham, the global celebrity.
The Lives and Times of Four Captains of England
The four England captains discussed in this history of post-war English football are Billy Wright, Bobby Moore, Gary Lineker and David Beckham. Each a world famous and long-serving skipper, they represent their times: from the hard-working Wright and the glamorous Moore, embodiment of the social mobility of the 1960s, to Lineker, the savvy exploiter of the new media age, and Beckham, the global celebrity. Slightly off-mint.
Ten Entrepreneurs Who Built Britain
Britain’s wealth and power was built, in reality, by its adventurers and entrepreneurs. Beginning with the Tudor merchants who created the first companies, this history follows the rise of British business through the careers of men such as Thomas Pitt, the saviour of the East India Company, the financier Nathan Rothschild, and William Lever, the philanthropist and creator of Britain’s first multinational, explaining how their endeavours reached beyond their own country to help create the modern commercial world.
Death Descends On Saturn Villa
While Sidney Grice, a Personal Detective in 1880s London, is away, his goddaughter March Middleton accepts an invitation from a long-lost uncle to visit Saturn Villa and then – apparently – murders him. Grice must return to Gower Street, rescue March and unravel the baffling mystery.
Catherine the Great
Portrait of a Woman
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Peter the Great, Robert Massie returns with a biography of Russia's greatest and most controversial empress, Catherine the Great (1729–1796). Massie describes how an obscure German princess travelled to Russia at the age of 14, and overcame the machinations of the feudal aristocracy, her scheming mother and her bullying husband to become the most powerful woman in the world. Off-mint.
The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
John Wilmot’s life was short in years but long on scandal. Best remembered as the author of some of the most explicit verse in the English language, he had, by the time he died of syphilis at 33, ‘swived more whores more ways than Sodom’s walls’. This comprehensive biography reveals another Rochester: a devoted if inconstant husband and father, a courageous naval officer, and a poet of deep intellectual curiosity.
A History in Ten Matches
From the flowering of Ferguson's Manchester United in the early 1990s to the last-gasp championship won by their now astronomically well-funded rivals, Manchester City, in 2012, this book charts the rise of the Premier League through ten milestone matches. Slightly off-mint.
A Story of Courage and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland
By the beginning of October 1939, when cosmopolitan Warsaw fell to German occupation, a young Zionist leader, Issac Zuckerman, had already been mobilizing the youngsters in the youth group that he led. Isaac's Army tells how the Jewish Resistance Force held out until the war's end, and compellingly recreates a desperate time in Polish history, marked by the perseverance and heroism of those who battled to drive the Nazis from their city.