The History of the Countryside
The Classic History of Britain's Landscape, Flora and Fauna
Involving climate, soil and landforms, flora and fauna, archaeology and historical sources, but with woodland and wood-pasture at its heart, Rackham’s classic 1986 study describes the ‘ordinary landscape of Britain’ created by the interaction of the natural world and human activity over millennia. The book deals particularly with the medieval period and the earlier, so-called ‘Dark Ages’, exploring the various features that make up the countryside, including woodland, fields, hedgerows, highways and moorland, ending with fens, rivers and the sea.
Travelling to Work
Diaries 1988–98, Volume 3
Michael Palin embarked on filming Around the World in 80 Days with some trepidation – it did not seem like a good time to step away from the career he had spent over two decades cultivating. Travelling to Work reveals his doubts and struggles as he worked on a novel, continued to act, and failed to resist the lure of filming Pole to Pole and Full Circle.
The Life and Music of Eric Clapton
Author of bestselling biographies of Lennon, McCartney and Jagger, Philip Norman describes how Eric Clapton became rock's premier virtuoso in the 1960s and 1970s and examines a turbulent private life that has included chronic substance abuse, a famous affair with George Harrison's wife and the freak death of his son at the age of four.
You Are Here
Nicholas Crane presents six different perspectives from which to understand our world, starting with the Earth as a planet, then narrowing in on how it has been shaped by water and human activity, from our evolution to our ability to create megacities and map our environment. A final chapter looks at the present ecological crisis and the role of geography in our response to it.
Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart
Written mainly in 2015–16, which Alice Walker describes as ‘a time of great sadness and feelings of loss and despair’, this volume comprises around 70 poems addressed to people around the world who have used their voice on behalf of the more vulnerable, starting with ‘The Long Road Home’, a poem for Muhammad Ali.
A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes
This exploration of the human body explains how layer upon layer of adaptation has resulted in a host of oddities, redundancies and shortcomings that illuminate our evolutionary history. Examples include our backwards retinas (photoreceptors face away from the light) and the fact that we must find nutrients and vitamins in our diets that other animals make for themselves.
The Anatomy of Manchester United
A History in Ten Matches
Picking out key fixtures, including the 1909 FA Cup Final, the last match of the Busby Babes before the Munich air crash in 1958, and the comeback against Juventus that kept them on course for the treble in 1999, this sporting history illuminates the evolution of one of the foremost clubs of the 20th century.
The Scoundrel Harry Larkyns
And his Pitiless Killing by the Photographer Eadweard Muybridge
In 1871 the pioneer cinematographer Eadweard Muybridge killed Harry Larkyns in cold blood for having an affair with his wife, but was sensationally acquitted of murder. After Rebecca Gowers discovered the victim was her distant cousin, she used personal and newspaper accounts, plus military and legal records to research and reconstruct Larkyns’ fascinating life, which took him from the Indian Mutiny through debauchery in Paris to a bohemian Californian existence.
Scenes and Apparitions
As Director of the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A, Sir Roy Strong was a leading figure in Britain’s cultural life. His second volume of diaries begins as he leaves the public stage to devote himself to writing and his love of gardening. With a rich and diverse cast of characters including Tony Blair, Judi Dench, Elton John, Laurence Olivier, Harold Pinter, Margaret Thatcher and the Queen, it casts a wryly humorous eye over the turn of the millennium.
Brother Protector King
The loyal brother of Edward IV, Richard was entrusted as Protector of Edward’s son and heir, but in 1483 he took the crown himself while his nephews, Edward V and Prince Richard, disappeared. It was widely rumoured that the king had murdered his brother’s sons. Avoiding the bias of Richard’s evil reputation, this narrative history of his life and reign returns to original sources and looks in depth at contemporary politics, Richard’s earlier years and northern affinity, and how he constructed his own power base.
Lady Longford's classic biography, which drew extensively on Victoria’s journals, is republished in an anniversary edition with a new introduction by Tristram Hunt. It gives a sympathetic, human account of the woman who wore a bonnet instead of a crown at her Golden Jubilee, exploring her public life and emotional challenges, including problems in her marriage to Prince Albert.
From Infamy to Greatness
Craig Nelson gives a vivid account of the Japanese surprise attack on the American naval and air forces on 7 December 1941. Blending archival research with the individual stories of sailors, soldiers, pilots, diplomats and leaders, he describes the situation in Japan and the US prior to the attack, the immediate result, and the unforeseen consequences that continue to linger.
The long and sometimes turbulent life of Sir Michael Tippett (1905–98) has been studied much less than his visionary music. This first full-length biography, which uses excerpts from his unpublished letters and from interviews with those who knew him, uncovers the sorrows behind the composer’s cheerful persona and the extent of his involvement in left-wing politics during the 1930s.
In Conversation With
A biography in the form of interviews, this book explores the life and music of the celebrated tenor Jonas Kaufmann. In extended conversations with Thomas Voigt, Kaufmann discusses his work in opera, and particularly his relationship to Verdi and Wagner, the sacrifices of success, and the performance of lieder, which he describes as ‘the ne plus ultra of singing’. Foreword by Plácido Domingo.
Close But No Cigar
A True Story of Prison Life in Castro's Cuba
In 2000 Stephen Purvis moved to Cuba, as the country was inching towards modernity, to develop hotels, factories and infrastructure projects. However, in 2012 State Security officials arrested him. In this memoir he describes his 15-month journey through the Kafkaesque justice system during which he was repeatedly interrogated about ‘espionage’, imprisoned without charge, and secretly tried, before abruptly being released.
A Journey Round Britain's Quizzes
Starting with quiz night in the Prince of Wales on Highgate Hill, Mark Mason sets off in search of the perfect quiz question. In venues as far-flung as a hotel bar in Edinburgh and a village pub in Suffolk, he meets the aficionados of the quiz world and a veritable deluge of facts, figures and trivia.
Blood and Fears
How America's Bomber Boys and Girls in England Won Their War
Drawing on letters, diaries and interviews, Kevin Wilson recreates the experiences of the men of the US 8th Air Force, and the Women’s Army who served alongside them, from their arrival in Britain in February 1944 to victory in May 1945. Their own words offer vivid glimpses of the camaraderie, relations with their British hosts, and the terror of daytime raids over Berlin.
History, Mystery and the Latest Discoveries
Discovered by chance by farmers in 1974, the mausoleum of the first emperor of China contained one of the wonders of the world: the Terracotta Army. Based on unique access to leading Chinese archaeologists, this book sets the clay warriors in the context of Chinese society 2,200 years ago, describes the latest discoveries at the vast and only partly excavated site, and hints at what may still be uncovered – including the imperial tomb itself.
A History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900
Andrew Roberts follows Britain’s relations with the United States and the Commonwealth over the last 120 years. He examines the Western Alliance’s response to the challenges of two world wars and the Cold War, arguing that the unity of the English-speaking peoples is a bastion of liberty, and warning that the ‘wasted breathing space’ between 1991 and 2011 left us ill-prepared to meet the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
Probably best-known to many as Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings, Ian McKellen had a long and illustrious career on stage and screen, and was an ardent campaigner for LGBT rights, before ever donning the wizard’s cloak. In this intimate and affectionate biography Garry O’Connor traces McKellen’s private and public lives, and his achievement as an actor, whether in repertory in Coventry or in Hollywood, never forsaking his ‘lifelong love affair’ with Shakespeare.
Silver, Sword and Stone
Marie Arana demonstrates how the presence of precious metals, violence and religious fervour have come to characterize Latin America. Tracing these themes over hundreds of years, she presents modern Latino lives which are symbolic of each one – a mine worker, a convicted criminal and a Jesuit priest – showing how they have been shaped by the history of the region.
The Maker of Modern France
A proud, indomitable, absolutist monarch, Francis I (1494–1547) ‘was the king that his country needed, if not the one it might have wished for’, and despite his achievements – in unifying and glorifying France and as the patron of art and architecture who recruited Leonardo da Vinci to his court and built Fontainebleau – Francis is remembered, if at all, for his failings. In this biography, Leonie Frieda offers a rigorous reassessment of the ‘Maker of Modern France’.
War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World
Looking afresh at the Pax Romana, and whether or not the Romans did preside over a peaceful, prosperous and stable empire, Adrian Goldsworthy sets his discussion within the context of Roman conquest and an understanding of how the empire functioned. From the violent conquests of the Republic to the fall of empire, Goldsworthy examines how subject populations experienced life in the Roman provinces under rulers who were ‘good at waging war and skilled in the politics of dominating others’.
A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived
The Stories in Our Genes
Since the first complete human genome was sequenced in 2003, our understanding of who we are and where we come from has grown exponentially. In this introduction to human genetics, Adam Rutherford draws on recent discoveries – including the identification of Richard III’s remains – to show how the genomes of every one of us record the history of our species: war, famine, disease, migration and lineage.
The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45
First published in 1946 Wladyslaw Szpilman’s account of his survival in the Warsaw Ghetto inspired the Oscar-winning film The Pianist. Reprinted here with diary extracts by the German officer who saved him, it offers a picture of the claustrophobia and terror of ghetto life.
An Island Under Siege 1940–1943
In March and April 1942 more bombs fell on Malta than on Britain during the first year of the Blitz. Rommel was determined to take the island, from which the Allies could attack Axis supply lines to North Africa. This book tells the story through eyewitness accounts: the fighter pilots, anti-aircraft gunners and submariners, and the late cabaret dancer-turned RAF plotter Christina Ratcliffe.
Memoirs and Reflections
Born in Moscow in 1971, Evgeny Kissin made his concert debut at the age of ten and is now internationally renowned for his interpretation of the classical and Romantic piano repertoire. In this collection of reminiscences he answers some of the questions that he is most often asked – about his childhood, his early teachers and his encounters with the world’s great musicians – and muses on topics including fame, inspiration and his favourite composers. Slightly off-mint.
The tragic life of Queen Marie Antoinette of France (1755–93) has fascinated and divided historians ever since her execution. Was her thoughtless interference in affairs of state the catalyst that provoked the French Revolution, or was she an innocent victim of the dangerous world of late 18th-century power politics? Antonia Fraser's detailed biography explores these contradictory assessments and offers the fullest portrait yet of the much-maligned ‘Austrian woman’, the doomed queen consort of Louis XVI.
Mapping the Mind
The latest techniques for imaging the brain have enabled scientists to see some of the biological mechanisms that create our thoughts, memories, feelings and perceptions. This book describes these first insights into the secrets of the brain, with illustrations based on scans which have helped to explain a range of phenomena, from dyslexia and obsessive behaviour to schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease, and reveal how our culture has been shaped by the ebb and flow of our neurotransmitters.
Hometown Tales: Wales
Taking the meaning of home as their theme, each of the titles in the Hometown Tales series features two stories, one by an established author and one by an emerging voice. Using their local knowledge, the writers champion regional diversity, with a narrative set in a place they are most familiar with. In Last Seen Leaving award-winning writer Tyler Keevil recounts the days following the disappearance of a man from a mid-Wales town and the impact on those who knew him. For Welsh-born writer Eluned Gramich it is the language protests in 1970s Carmarthenshire and the resulting tensions in a small community that inspired her contribution to this volume, The Lion and the Star.
Hometown Tales: Highlands and Hebrides
Taking the meaning of home as their theme, each of the titles in the Hometown Tales series features two stories, one by an established author and one by an emerging voice. Using their local knowledge, the writers champion regional diversity, with a narrative set in a place they are most familiar with. In his memoir, The Boy in the Bubble, Colin MacIntyre recalls a childhood on the Isle of Mull in the 1980s, before he founded a successful career in music. It is paired here with A9, the modern tale of a young gay woman torn between her familiar world of Inverness and the opportunity to start a new life in Canada.
Hometown Tales: Birmingham
Taking the meaning of home as their theme, each of the titles in the Hometown Tales series features two stories, one by an established author and one by an emerging voice. Using their local knowledge, the writers champion regional diversity, with a narrative set in a place they are most familiar with. This volume opens with Silver in the Quarter, a coming-of-age story in which a boy is caught up in the 1974 pub bombings. In the second contribution, In the Ape’s Shadow, comedian Stewart Lee, born in Solihull in 1968, explores the post-punk music scene that encouraged him to take to the stage.
The King and the Catholics
The Fight for Rights 1829
In 1780 the anti-Papist Gordon riots left 1,000 dead and London in flames; half a century later Parliament passed the Catholic Emancipation Act. This narrative history charts the struggles that brought about that conclusion. It profiles the key players, including George III, a staunch opponent of emancipation; the political rivals Wellington and Peel; and the Irish campaigner Daniel O’Connell; and examines the conflict between the right to practise one’s religion and allegiance to the state.
Splendours and Miseries
The flamboyant director of the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A has been at the heart of Britain’s high society for half a century. Amusing and often acerbic, his diaries chronicle two decades of parties, meetings and tussles over funding, with a cast of characters including Margaret Thatcher, the Royal Family, David Hockney, Mick Jagger and Rudolph Nureyev. This new edition includes entries omitted when the diaries were first published.
Hometown Tales: Yorkshire
Taking the meaning of home as their theme, each of the titles in the Hometown Tales series features two stories, one by an established author and one by an emerging voice. Using their local knowledge, the writers champion regional diversity, with a narrative set in a place they are most familiar with.In her poignant memoir The Yorkshire Years Cathy Rentzenbrink returns to the scene of her brother’s fatal accident in Snaith, the subject of her bestselling memoir, The Last Act of Love. The second memoir in this collection, The Island upon the Moor, recalls a carefree childhood in Holme-upon-Spalding-Moor in the late 1980s and 1990s, before the writer suffered deep bouts of depression.
Once the all-conquering bad boy of tennis, John McEnroe is increasingly better known for his insightful commentaries and opinions on the game. In this memoir he reflects on his playing years but also on his life since, developing new careers in broadcasting and art dealing, and bringing up a large family. Still competing in senior tournaments and recently coach to Milos Raonic, he also has plenty to say on the state of modern tennis.
Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters - 2 Books
Letters written as editor of the school magazine, love letters, begging letters, letters to literary editors, fellow poets and friends: the collected letters of Dylan Thomas trace his life from the age of 16 to shortly before his death in New York in 1953, at the age of 39. Outspoken, and often indiscreet, they form the poet’s own narrative, telling of his love of Caitlin, his opinions on poets and poetry, and a life famously marred by drink and debt. Second edition. The two titles included in this set are: Dylan Thomas The Collected Letters Volume I: 1931–1939 (Read more...)Dylan Thomas The Collected Letters Volumes II: 1939–1953 (Read more...)
Making a Noise
Getting it Right, Getting it Wrong in Life, Broadcasting and the Arts
This candid memoir by Czech-born journalist and arts administrator John Tusa recollects the wrangles with BBC senior management over the creation of Newsnight in 1979 (he was a presenter). It also reveals how as managing director of the World Service (1986–93) he saw off unwanted political influence over its remit. And musing on his stint as head of the Barbican (1995–2007), he demonstrates how his passion for the arts turned the centre’s fortunes around.
First published in 1951, this literary classic is TH White’s diary of his attempt to train a wild goshawk. As an animal lover he had dreamed of mastering falconry, but he had no experience. The memoir records a psychologically complex battle of wills, in which White tried and failed to tame a free spirit, mirroring his own struggle to fit in to a confusing world. Foreword by Helen Macdonald, author of the award-winning H is for Hawk.
The Vanity Fair Diaries
During the 1980s, Tina Brown spent eight years in New York as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. Her diaries tell the inside story of rivalries, scoops and groundbreaking covers – from the Reagan kiss to a naked, pregnant Demi Moore – that helped the magazine sell millions.
This freezer guide for today’s cooks includes 120 recipes – each with its own recommendations for freezing and thawing – that can be prepared, frozen and reheated without losing flavour. As well as food charts and advice on storage and freezer maintenance, there are suggestions for ‘flat freezing’ sauces and cutting meat into strips, which enables foods to be cooked without prior defrosting for quick meals.
What I Learnt
What My Listeners Say – and Why We Should Take Notice
Jeremy Vine succeeded Jimmy Young as presenter of Radio 2's phone-in show in 2003 and since then has taken over 25,000 calls – including the joyous, the furious and the occasional joker. As well as his radio show, Vine is a familiar face on television, and his book describes working on everything from general election coverage to Strictly Come Dancing, but his emphasis is on his listeners ‘and all the surprises they spring’. Slightly off-mint.
The Husband Hunters
Social Climbing in London and New York
Between 1874, when Jennie Jerome married Randolph Churchill, and 1914, 100 American heiresses married British peers. Drawing on letters, diaries and memoirs, Anne de Courcy explores the motives of these ‘Dollar Princesses’, their ambitious mothers, and the titled husbands they sought, setting the craving of ‘new money’ for social status against the needs of a landed aristocracy impoverished by agricultural depression.
Commandant of Auschwitz
The Autobiography of Rudolf Hoess
Rudolf Hoess was Commandant of Auschwitz from its construction in 1940 until late 1943, and supervised the murder of over three million Jews as part of the Nazis’ ‘final solution’. He was an expert in the administration of concentration camps and mass exterminations. Hoess wrote this autobiography in 1947 while in prison in Poland. He was tried, sentenced and hanged later that year. The autobiography and other documents are translated here by Constantine Fitzgibbon, with an introduction by Primo Levi.
Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters
Volume II: 1939–1953
The letters in this second volume cover the years of fame, the exhilaration and pain of Thomas’s tempestuous marriage to Caitlin Macnamara, his drinking and his hell-raising. They record the creation of Under Milk Wood, and the slide into alcoholism that claimed his life during a poetry-reading tour in New York.
Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters
Volume I: 1931–1939
Spanning Thomas’s Welsh childhood, his early career and marriage, this volume charts his growing confidence as a poet as he experiments with ideas, submits work for publication, and corresponds with prominent figures in the literary world, including TS Eliot, Stephen Spender and Edith Sitwell.
Waiting for the Albino Dunnock
How Birds Can Change Your Life
Despite having written many books about the countryside, including the bestselling Country Wisdom, Rosamond Richardson only started birdwatching in her sixties. This lyrical blend of science, mythology, philosophy and poetic excerpts conveys her growing engagement with the beauty of birds, and the joy and serenity brought by 'ornitheology'. The result is a precisely observed exploration of the importance of nature to one’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
No Room for Small Dreams
Courage, Imagination, and the Making of Modern Israel
One of the founders of modern Israel, Shimon Peres served his country as prime minister, president and foreign minister. He is best remembered, however, for his unswerving commitment to peace. In this final book, completed shortly before his death in 2016, he reflects on 70 years in politics, the turning points in Israeli history, the qualities required for leadership, and the hard choices that face his nation in the quest for peace.
The Society Doctor Who Held Victorian London Spellbound
Physician John Elliotson and his friend Thomas Wakley, founding editor of The Lancet, were well-known medical pioneers in Victorian London. Yet when Elliotson championed the new ‘science’ of mesmerism, which purported to dull surgical pain, their friendship – and Elliotson’s credibility – were severely tested. Against a backdrop of Victorian lecture theatres and hospital wards, the two distinguished men publicly clashed over a technique which, for all its successes and failures, is still little understood.
‘Thomas Gainsborough lived as if electricity shot through his sinews and crackled at his finger ends.’ A gentle, empathetic family man, he also had a volatile streak that could lead him to slash his paintings, and a loose way of talking that shocked society. This biography reveals how an easygoing Suffolk lad was propelled to the highest echelons of Georgian Bath and London by his unique natural talent, and explores the contradictions of this complex and charismatic painter.
Call the Midwife
A True Story of the East End in the 1950s
The book that sparked the award-winning TV series details Jennifer Worth’s experiences as a young midwife based in a convent amid the chaos of post-war London Docklands. Her true-life stories show how tough conditions were in the East End, especially for women, who often lived in slum accommodation – grateful if they had a cold-water tap – with ten or more children to look after.
Lines in the Sand
Selected by the late AA Gill himself, these recent pieces show one of the finest journalists of our time at his most perceptive, brilliant and funny. He tackles life-drawing, designs his own tweed, spends a day at Donald Trump’s university, and contemplates his cancer diagnosis. Above all, he addresses that most urgent of contemporary issues, the refugee crisis, reporting from Lampedusa, Lebanon and Calais with anger and compassion.
The Ship that Hunted Itself
When two ocean liners, one British the other Argentine, were pressed into military service at the outbreak of the First World War, each was disguised as the other vessel. When they met by chance in the South Atlantic – to the utter surprise of both captains – a tremendous battle ensued. Erstwhile war correspondent Colin Simpson draws on the ships’ logs, survivors’ accounts and official archives to tell the tale. Bears old cover price.
The Making of the British Landscape
From the Ice Age to the Present
‘To care about a place, you must know its story’, writes the geographer and cartographic expert Nicholas Crane. He goes on to narrate Britain’s story, tracing the landscape as it has been shaped by climate and human occupation from the glaciers and tundra of 10,000 BCE, to the 21st century and the ‘interland’ between the industrial and sustainable eras.
Growing up in a humble shack in America’s poorest state, Elvis Presley dreamed that success would free him from poverty. So how did he become dependent on bank loans even after achieving huge worldwide fame, and why did he despise his own movies and songs, even fearing that he would be forgotten after his death? This biography focuses on identifying the origins of the contradictions and frailties that lay behind Elvis’s charming, confident onstage persona.
The Man Who Gave His Name to America
European cartographers of the early 16th century struggled to find names for the growing number of newly discovered lands, and they used an obscure traveller from Florence, Amerigo Vespucci, for the new continent in the far west. In this first ever serious biography of the man, Fernandez-Armesto reveals that far from being a straightforward hero-explorer, Vespucci was in fact a one-time pimp, small-time jewel trader, and generally shady inhabitant of the Florentine underworld, who was, however, adept at self-invention and promotion.
The Wartime Battle for Britain's Health
At the beginning of the Second World War experts feared that rationing, a shortage of medical resources, the spread of disease via evacuation and air-raid shelters, and the psychological impact of bombardment would wreck the nation's health. This account tells how, through a combination of planning and improvization, medical staff, scientists, Boy Scouts and tea ladies ensured that Britain ended the war in better health than ever before, and paved the way for the NHS and the welfare state.
The Life of Viscount Trenchard, Father of the Royal Air Force
Hugh Trenchard (1872–1956) had an unpromising start in life, failing the Army and Navy entrance exams, but found his métier when he joined the fledgling Royal Flying Corps in 1912. Nicknamed 'Boom' for his stentorian voice, he was obstinate and tactless, yet inspired unflagging loyalty in his men. As this fascinating biography makes clear, it was these very qualities that enabled him to create the Royal Air Force in the face of entrenched opposition from the older services.
Joanna Lumley is not only a star of stage and screen but a national treasure. Luckily her magpie instincts have preserved a hoard of memorabilia that make this illustrated memoir a visual feast, with photos from her Indian childhood to the present. There are souvenirs of her early modelling career, her celebrated roles in The New Avengers, The Pink Panther and Absolutely Fabulous and, of course, the causes about which she feels passionate. Slightly off-mint.
Margot at War
Love and Betrayal in Downing Street 1912–1916
Margot Asquith was perhaps the most daring and unconventional Prime Minister's wife in British history. Stylish, witty and outspoken, she transformed 10 Downing Street into a glittering social and intellectual salon. Drawing on unpublished material from personal papers and diaries, this book recreates the emotional and political turmoil of the period when Herbert Asquith's government was beset by unrest from suffragettes, strikers and Irish nationalists, and the world was spiralling towards war.
Anna of All the Russias
The Life of Anna Akhmatova
Honoured within the male-dominated Russian literary world, Anna Akhmatova's poetic voice was sufficiently influential for Stalin to hold her husband and son hostage for years to ensure her silence. Elaine Feinstein gives an illuminating account of the poet’s often troubled life, drawing on Akhmatova's letters, journals and poetry and on interviews with surviving relatives and friends. Off-mint.
A Journey Round Britain by Postcode
Although assigned to major towns by the 1930s, postcodes were not in general use until towards the end of the 20th century. This humorous diary of a tour of Britain visits all 124 modern UK postcodes, making anecdotal observations about each area and identifying historical, geographical or cultural trivia, such as the fact that Strontian in PH (although not in Perth) is the only place in Britain to have a chemical element named after it.