A Cultural Guide
Ian Campbell Ross traces the history of Umbria from the Umbri people living there 1,000 years before Christ, to the present day, and offers an in-depth guide to the region’s cities and hill-towns, its ancient monuments and Renaissance art, and the glorious landscapes of ‘the green heart of Italy’.
How Britain Has Been Forged by the Wind
The menacing low-pressure system (dubbed Low Z by the meteorological community), gale-force winds and resulting storm surge of 31 January 1953 took 307 lives around the coast of Britain, inundating Canvey Island and its 10,000 inhabitants and sinking the Princess Victoria car ferry off Stranraer, along with 105 passengers. Beattie’s account draws on meteorology, literature and social history to describe how the wind, with its storms and prevailing breezes, has affected Britain’s landscapes and people.
Innercities Cultural Guides
Martin Garrett traces Oxford’s history from Anglo-Saxon ‘oxen-ford’ to the present, with chapters on its architecture, ‘town and gown’, and writers and religion; and goes beyond the city to surrounding places of interest including Blenheim Palace and White Horse Hill.
Into the Kazakh Steppe
John Castle's Mission to Khan Abulkhayir (1736)
John Castle, an artist and adventurer of mixed English and Prussian descent, was commissioned by the Russian Empire to join an expedition to secure the region north of what is now Kazakhstan. His diary, translated here for the first time, recounts his perilous journey and contains descriptions of the peoples, places and customs he encountered. Castle’s own drawings depict the Khan, his yurt, and life on the steppe.
The Fortune Hunter
A German Prince in Regency England
Happily married, but insolvent, Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785–1871) and his wife Lucie devised a plan to save their beloved estate: they would divorce and Pückler would go to England to marry an heiress. Based on the prince’s letters reporting his progress to Lucie, this book is a blow-by-blow account of Pückler’s courtships, but also a portrait of Regency England through the eyes of an intelligent, observant and, at one point, lovesick fortune hunter.
The Camisard Uprising
War and Religion in the Cévennes
A century of religious tolerance in France came to an end with the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. French Protestants, or Huguenots, were relentlessly persecuted, and many fled to England. In the remote Cévennes, however, villagers clung to their faith. This groundbreaking history charts the little-known conflict of 1702–4, when shepherds and farmers went into combat singing psalms, holding the armed might of the French state at bay for two years before their eventual defeat.
Celebrated as the ‘Pearl of the Mediterranean’ and reviled as ‘a nest of corsairs’, the Libyan capital is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the region. Blending personal experience, extensive research and accounts by residents and visitors, this lively, accessible book charts Tripoli’s 2,500-year history from the Phoenician traders to the anarchy that followed the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, revealing the rich and complex nature of this vibrant city.
The Revolutionary Life of Richard Doll
By the late 1940s, lung cancer had reached an unprecedented level in Britain; in 1950, the number of deaths (13,000) exceeded those from tuberculosis. That same year, a research paper by Richard Doll (1912–2005) concluded that smoking cigarettes was ‘a cause and an important cause’ of lung cancer. This biography describes Doll’s life and politics, his work in wartime, his immense contribution to epidemiology, and his long crusade against premature death and the tobacco industry.
The Scottish Highlands
A Cultural History
Beginning with the natural formation of the landscape and brief surveys of its flora and fauna, Beattie's cultural history traces the history of the Scottish Highlands as ‘characterized by a struggle against grinding poverty and savage political repression’ rather than the romantic glosses of Victorian ‘mythologizers’. He goes on to discuss the novels set in this ‘elemental landscape’, the poetry that the Highlands and its people have inspired, and the responses of visitors from Samuel Johnson to Paul Theroux.
Poet, priest, inspirational teacher and indefatigable traveller, Peter Levi (1932–2000) was one of the most romantic and complicated of 20th-century Oxford characters. Relating his poetic development to his intense emotional life, this biography charts his Catholic upbringing, his friendships with Cyril Connolly, Iris Murdoch, Patrick Leigh Fermor and Bruce Chatwin, his often contentious membership of the Jesuit order (which he left to marry Connolly’s widow), and his tenure as Professor of Poetry at Oxford.
Keeping the Barbarians at Bay
The Last Years of Kenneth Allsop, Green Pioneer
The writer and broadcaster Kenneth Allsop was one of Britain’s first television celebrities, but while he enjoyed the high life of fast cars and smart parties, he was also an accomplished naturalist and passionate conservationist. Drawing on his unpublished diaries and papers, this biography charts his last years, his struggles with constant pain after a form of tuberculosis, and his despair at the environmental challenges facing the world.
Beyond the Enchanted Forest: A Literary Anthology
In its many historical incarnations, Germany has long attracted literary visitors. The Romantics were drawn to its forests and mountains, Isherwood and Spender to the edgy glamour of the Weimar Republic, and the espionage novelists Len Deighton and John le Carré to its Cold War frontier. In addition to these, this anthology assembles evocative descriptions by more than 80 British and American writers, including Boswell, Mary Shelley, George Eliot, Mark Twain, Henry James, DH Lawrence and Virginia Woolf.
A Cultural and Literary History
Utterly destroyed by fire twice over, in 1842 and 1943, Hamburg has shaken off a reputation as a drab, businesslike port to become a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with a thriving cultural scene. This erudite, informative guidebook charts the city's traumatic history, describes its landmark buildings and varied districts, from the elegant Alster to the notorious Reeperbahn, and explores literary and artistic associations, including Heinrich Heine and the Beatles.
The Black Carib Wars
Freedom, Survival and the Making of the Garifuna
The Garifuna, who live along the Caribbean coast of Central America from Belize to Nicaragua, trace their origin to the union of Carib Indians and escaped slaves on the island of St Vincent. The product of extensive research in the region, this book charts their remarkable history of struggle against French and British colonists, celebrating their resilience and the survival of a culture and a language that pre-date the arrival of Columbus.
Athens is an enigma: its Acropolis was settled more than 7,000 years ago, but the city below is less than 200 years old. For much of the intervening period, it dropped off the map altogether. This cultural guide gives an in-depth insight into the city's identity, tracing its origins, development and social history, and providing a lively introduction to its art, architecture, music and film.
At the Kremlin Gates
A Historical Portrait of Moscow
Gerald R Skinner, who observed the August 1991 coup attempt in Moscow from his post in the Canadian Embassy, tells the story of the city's survival in the face of invasion and war, pestilence and fire. His 'portrait of the city over time' discusses Moscow's origins, its self-perception and the influences upon its development and character, from medieval citadel to the post-Soviet Union era and a 'New Moscow' still 'profoundly affected by its past'.