In SPQR, world-renowned classicist Mary Beard narrates the unprecedented rise of a civilization that even 2,000 years later still shapes many of our most fundamental assumptions about power, citizenship, responsibility, political violence, empire, luxury, and beauty.
"Excellent Reexamination of the History of Rome"
In Foundation the chronicler of London and of its river, the Thames, takes us from the primeval forests of England's prehistory to the death of the first Tudor king, Henry VII, in 1509. He guides us from the building of Stonehenge to the founding of the two great glories of medieval England: common law and the cathedrals. He shows us glimpses of the country's most distant past - a Neolithic stirrup found in a grave, a Roman fort, a Saxon tomb, a medieval manor house.
The first Plantagenet king inherited a blood-soaked kingdom from the Normans and transformed it into an empire that stretched at its peak from Scotland to Jerusalem. In this epic history, Dan Jones vividly resurrects this fierce and seductive royal dynasty and its mythic world. We meet the captivating Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice queen and the most famous woman in Christendom; her son, Richard the Lionheart, who fought Saladin in the Third Crusade; and King John, a tyrant who was forced to sign Magna Carta, which formed the basis of our own Bill of Rights.
"Excellent Narrative History"
Author and historian Tom Holland returns to his roots in Roman history and the audience he cultivated with Rubicon - his masterful, witty, brilliantly researched popular history of the fall of the Roman republic - with Dynasty, a luridly fascinating history of the reign of the first five Roman emperors.
"Accessible, enjoyable history"
In AD 793 Norse warriors struck the English isle of Lindisfarne and laid waste to it. Wave after wave of Norse "sea wolves" followed in search of plunder, land, or a glorious death in battle. Much of the British Isles fell before their swords, and the continental capitals of Paris and Aachen were sacked in turn. Turning east, they swept down the uncharted rivers of central Europe, captured Kiev, and clashed with mighty Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
"A little dry but very interesting"
Spanning the years 1940 to 1965, Defender of the Realm, the third volume of William Manchester’s The Last Lion, picks up shortly after Winston Churchill became prime minister - when his tiny island nation stood alone against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. The Churchill portrayed by Manchester and Reid is a man of indomitable courage, lightning-fast intellect, and an irresistible will to action.
"A worthy final volume in a great biography"
A definitive, deeply moving narrative, Bonhoeffer is a story of moral courage in the face of the monstrous evil that was Nazism. After discovering the fire of true faith in a Harlem church, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany and became one of the first to speak out against Hitler. As a double agent, he joined the plot to assassinate the Führer and was hanged in Flossenbürg concentration camp at age thirty-nine. Since his death, Bonhoeffer has grown to be one of the most fascinating, complex figures of the twentieth century.
The European catastrophe, the long continuous period from 1914 to1949, was unprecedented in human history - an extraordinarily dramatic, often traumatic, and endlessly fascinating period of upheaval and transformation.
"History in detail is an antidote for arrogance"
A fresh look at the endlessly fascinating Tudors - the dramatic and overlooked story of Henry VII and his founding of the Tudor Dynasty - filled with spies, plots, counter-plots, and an uneasy royal succession to Henry VIII. Near the turn of the sixteenth century, England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy and civil war. Henry Tudor clambered to the top of the heap, a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England’s crown who managed to win the throne and stay on it for 24 years.
"Excellent portrayal of a man and his time"
This is the intimate story of 20 tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Simon Sebag Montefiore's gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence, and wild extravagance, with a global cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries, and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy and Pushkin.
Since its publication in 1960, William L. Shirer’s monumental study of Hitler’s German empire has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of the 20th century’s blackest hours. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich offers an unparalleled and thrillingly told examination of how Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the world. With millions of copies in print around the globe, it has attained the status of a vital and enduring classic.
"A Tale of Momumental Evil, Stupidity and Hatred"
The Man Without a Face is the chilling account of how a low-level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress, making his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.
"Interesting and entertaining"
The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history. A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another....
"I loved it ... and hated it ... simultaneously"
Andrew Roberts' Napoleon is the first one-volume biography to take advantage of the recent publication of Napoleon's thirty-three thousand letters, which radically transform our understanding of his character and motivation. At last we see him as he was: protean multitasker, decisive, surprisingly willing to forgive his enemies and his errant wife Josephine.
Against the background of an age that saw the rebirth of ancient and classical learning, Paul Strathern explores the intensely dramatic rise and fall of the Medici family in Florence as well as the Italian Renaissance, which they did so much to sponsor and encourage. Interwoven into the narrative are the lives of many of the great Renaissance artists with whom the Medici had dealings, including Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello as well as scientists like Galileo and Pico della Mirandola.
"An Intriguing Lens on the Renaissance"
At one time, Corrie ten Boom would have laughed at the idea that she had a story to tell. For the first 50 years of her life, nothing out of the ordinary ever happened to her. She was a spinster watchmaker living contentedly with her sister and their elderly father in the tiny house over their shop in Haarlem. Their uneventful days, as regulated as their own watches, revolved around their abiding love for one another. But with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, everything changed....
At the urging of his wife, Elizabeth, the Duke of York (known to the royal family as "Bertie") began to see speech therapist Lionel Logue in a desperate bid to cure his lifelong stammer. Little did the two men know that this unlikely friendship - between a future monarch and a commoner born in Australia - would ultimately save the House of Windsor from collapse.
"As enjoyable as the film, and then some."
The 15th century saw the longest and bloodiest series of civil wars in British history. The crown of England changed hands five times as two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty fought to the death for the right to rule. Now, celebrated historian Dan Jones describes how the longest reigning British royal family tore itself apart until it was finally replaced by the Tudors. Some of the greatest heroes and villains in history were thrown together in these turbulent times.
The Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers. Even in their most private moments, they were accompanied by a servant specifically appointed for the task. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed. These attendants knew the truth behind the glamorous exterior.
When the Swedish Academy awarded Svetlana Alexievich the Nobel Prize, it cited her for inventing "a new kind of literary genre", describing her work as "a history of emotions - a history of the soul". Alexievich's distinctive documentary style, combining extended individual monologues with a collage of voices, records the stories of ordinary women and men who are rarely given the opportunity to speak, whose experiences are often lost in the official histories of the nation.
Elizabeth was crowned at 25 after a tempestuous childhood as a bastard and an outcast, but it was only when she reached 50 and all hopes of a royal marriage were dashed that she began to wield real power in her own right. For 25 years she had struggled to assert her authority over advisers who pressed her to marry and settle the succession; now, she was determined not only to reign but also to rule.
The Battle of the Meuse-Argonne stands as the deadliest clash in American history: More than a million untested American soldiers went up against a better-trained and more experienced German army, costing more than 26,000 deaths and leaving nearly 100,000 wounded. Yet, in 47 days of intense combat, those Americans pushed back the enemy and forced the Germans to surrender, bringing the First World War to an end - a feat the British and the French had not achieved after more than three years of fighting.
Judenjagd, hunt for the Jews, was the German term for the organized searches for Jews who, having survived ghetto liquidations and deportations to death camps in Poland in 1942, attempted to hide "on the Aryan side." Jan Grabowski's penetrating microhistory tells the story of the Judenjagd in Dabrowa Tarnowska, a rural county in southeastern Poland, where the majority of the Jews in hiding perished as a consequence of betrayal by their Polish neighbors.
A masterful account of Napoleon's final years in exile, by Booker Prize-winning author Thomas Keneally. On the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic ocean, Napoleon spends his last years in exile. It is a hotbed of gossip and secret liaisons, where a blind eye is turned to relations between colonials and slaves. The disgraced emperor is subjected to vicious and petty treatment by his captors, but he forges an unexpected ally: a rebellious British girl, Betsy, who lives on the island with her family and becomes his unlikely friend.
The only comprehensive, single-volume survey of magic available, this compelling book traces the history of magic, witchcraft, and superstitious practices such as popular spells or charms from antiquity to the present day. Focusing especially on Europe in the medieval and early modern eras, Michael Bailey also explores the ancient Near East, classical Greece and Rome, and the spread of magical systems, particularly modern witchcraft or Wicca, from Europe to the United States.
The Irish Revolution has long been mythologized in American culture but seldom understood. For too long the story of Irish independence and its aftermath has been told only within an Anglo-Irish context. Now, in the critically acclaimed Bitter Freedom, journalist Maurice Walsh, with "a novelist's eye for the illuminating detail of everyday lives in extremis" (Prospect), places revolutionary Ireland in the panorama of the global disorder born of the terrible slaughter of World War I and provides a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human face of the conflict.
The first written records for the history of France appear in the Iron Age. What is now France made up the bulk of the region known to the Romans as Gaul. Roman writers noted the presence of three main ethno-linguistic groups in the area: the Gauls, the Aquitani, and the Belgae. The Gauls, the largest and best attested group, were Celtic people speaking what is known as the Gaulish language.
Reflections on the Revolution in France may read like an exercise in political theory. But when it was first published in 1790, Edmund Burke was fighting a real political battle. Burke saw that the Enlightenment ideas that had inspired radical political change in France the year before were beginning to take root in England. He wanted to discredit these dangerous thoughts before they sparked a revolution in his own country.
The story of the extraordinary personal lives, motivations, tragedies, and heartaches, which drove The Rt Hon CS Rolls, Horace, Eustace, and Oswald Short, JTC Moore Brabazon, Frank McClean and Captain Murray Sueter together to seek the same goals, challenging society and world governments with their prophetic vision. They helped change the world forever, yet they have never been adequately recognized.
Norse mythology is a belief system that was created by the Scandinavians, Vikings, which was adopted by many other settlements in their area. It depicted the gods and goddesses as beings who were hard warriors and able to take on dragons and serpents and was overall a very warrior-oriented belief system.
In this, the second volume of the work, William Hazlitt takes us through the history of Napoleon's campaigns in Italy and Egypt. In the course of these campaigns, and in Napoleon's life in Paris between them, we can see a young, brilliant military leader starting to transform himself from a leader of armies into a leader of nations. His brilliant successes on the battlefield bring him to the adoring attention of the French people and the rather alarmed attention of the French government.
Exploring the successful Norman invasion of England in 1066, this concise and listenable book focuses especially on the often dramatic and enduring changes wrought by William the Conqueror and his followers. Hugh M. Thomas considers the conquest's wide-ranging impact by taking a fresh look at such traditional themes as the influence of battles and great men on history and by assessing how far the shift in ruling dynasty and noble elites affected broader aspects of English history.
Built in 1927, the German ocean liner Cap Arcona was the greatest ship since the Titanic. When the Nazis seized control, she was stripped down for use as a floating barracks and troop transport. Hitler's minister, Joseph Goebbels, later cast her as a "star" in the epic propaganda film about the sinking of the legendary Titanic. In the Third Reich's final desperate days, when SS Cap Arcona was mistakenly bombed by the British Air Force, concentration camp prisoners packed the ship.
From 1979 to 1989 a million Soviet troops engaged in a devastating war in Afghanistan that claimed 50,000 casualties - and the youth and humanity of many tens of thousands more. Creating controversy and outrage when it was first published in the USSR - it was called by reviewers there a "slanderous piece of fantasy" and part of a "hysterical chorus of malign attacks".
"Why a female narrator?"
Book 1 begins in the dim prehistory of Latium and describes the society that emerged there in the centuries leading up to the establishment of the first Roman king. This penetrating look at emerging Latin culture takes us into the strange world of their religion; their family structure; and their legal system, trade, alliances, and relationships with neighboring tribes and kingdoms. It brilliantly sets the stage for what is to come in the following volumes.
Drawing on new archival research, Robert Service's gripping new investigation of the final years of the Cold War - the first to give equal attention to the internal deliberations from both sides of the Iron Curtain - opens a window onto the dramatic years that would irrevocably alter the world's geopolitical landscape and the men at their fore.
"Reagan's full court press ended the Cold War"
When Jessa Crispin was 30, she burned her settled Chicago life to the ground and took off for Berlin with a pair of suitcases and no plan beyond leaving. Half a decade later, she's still on the road, in search not so much of a home as of understanding, a way of being in the world that demands neither constant struggle nor complete surrender.
Beginning in the heady days just after the First Crusade, this volume - the third in the series that began with The History of the Ancient World and The History of the Medieval World - chronicles the contradictions of a world in transition. Impressively researched and brilliantly told, The History of the Renaissance World offers not just the names, dates, and facts but the memorable characters who illuminate the years between 1100 and 1453 - years that marked a sea change in mankind's perception of the world.
John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough (1644-1722), was one of the greatest military commanders and statesmen in the history of England. Victorious in the Battles of Blenheim (1704) and Ramillies (1706) and countless other campaigns, Marlborough, whose political intrigues were almost as legendary as his military skill, never fought a battle he didn't win. Marlborough also bequeathed the world another great British military strategist and diplomat, his descendant, Winston S. Churchill.
Hailed as the most compelling biography of the German dictator yet written, Ian Kershaw's Hitler brings us closer than ever before to the heart of its subject's immense darkness. From his illegitimate birth in a small Austrian village to his fiery death in a bunker under the Reich chancellery in Berlin, Adolf Hitler left a murky trail, strewn with contradictory tales and overgrown with self-created myths. One truth prevails: the sheer scale of the evils that he unleashed on the world has made him a demonic figure without equal in the 20th century.
In The Red Flag, Oxford professor David Priestland tells the epic story of a movement that has taken root in dozens of countries across 200 years, from its birth after the French Revolution to its ideological maturity in 19th-century Germany to its rise to dominance (and subsequent fall) in the 20th century.
"Time well spent for history buffs"
In Exorcising Hitler, Frederick Taylor tells the story of Germany's year zero and what came after. Despite almost total destruction, a combination of conservatism, enterprise and pragmatism in relation to former Nazis enabled the economic miracle of the 1950s. And we see how it was only when the '60s generation (the children of the Nazi era) began to question their parents with increasing violence that Germany began to awake from its sleep cure.
"Into a conquered nation"
Notes on one of the most infamous and bloody battles of World War II - from the German perspective. As the Allied armies swept toward the Reich in late 1944, the German high command embarked on an ambitious plan to gain the initiative on the western front and deal a crippling blow to the Allied war effort. As early as August 1944, when the Germans were being crushed in the east and hammered in Normandy, Hitler was talking of an offensive aimed at destroying as many American and British divisions as possible in a massive surprise assault.
For seven decades, our understanding of World War II has been shaped by a standard narrative built on conventional wisdom, propaganda, the dramatic but narrow experiences of soldiers on the ground, and an early generation of historians. For his new history, James Holland has spent over 12 years unearthing new research, recording original testimony, and visiting battlefields and archives that have never before been so accessible.
"Good Book painfully read"
The Golden Age of the Spanish Empire would establish five centuries of Western supremacy across the globe and usher in an era of transatlantic exploration that eventually gave rise to the modern world. It was a time of discovery and adventure, of great political and social change - it was a time when Spain learned to rule the world.
"Colorful book but poor performer"
This is the story of a close, loving family splintered by the violent ideologies of Europe between the wars. Jessica was a Communist; Debo became the Duchess of Devonshire; Nancy was one of the best-selling novelists of her day; the ethereally beautiful Diana was the most hated woman in England; and Unity Valkyrie, born in Swastika, Alaska, would become obsessed with Adolf Hitler.
"Great story, terrible reader"
From 1933 to 1945, the Gestapo was Nazi Germany's chief instrument of counter-espionage, political suppression, and terror. Jacques Delarue, a saboteur arrested by the Nazis in occupied France, chronicles how the land of Beethoven elevated sadism to a fine art. The Gestapo: A History of Horror draws upon Delarue's interviews with ex-Gestapo agents to deliver a multi-layered history of the force whose work included killing student resisters, establishing Aryan eugenic unions, and implementing the Final Solution.
"Once read never fogotten!!"
On August 10, 1632, five men in flowing black robes convened in a somber Roman palazzo to pass judgment on a deceptively simple proposition: that a continuous line is composed of distinct and infinitely tiny parts. With the stroke of a pen the Jesuit fathers banned the doctrine of infinitesimals, announcing that it could never be taught or even mentioned. The concept was deemed dangerous and subversive, a threat to the belief that the world was an orderly place, governed by a strict and unchanging set of rules.
"An intriguing and underappreciated bit of history"
When Money Dies is the classic history of what happens when a nations currency depreciates beyond recovery. In 1923, with its currency effectively worthless (the exchange rate in December of that year was one dollar to 4,200,000,000,000 marks), the German republic was all but reduced to a barter economy. Expensive cigars, artworks, and jewels were routinely exchanged for staples such as bread; a cinema ticket could be bought for a lump of coal; and a bottle of paraffin for a silk shirt....
"Useless details, missing the big points"
In 1683, an Ottoman army that stretched from horizon to horizon set out to seize the "Golden Apple", as Turks referred to Vienna. The ensuing siege pitted battle-hardened Janissaries wielding 17th-century grenades against Habsburg armies, widely feared for their savagery. The walls of Vienna bristled with guns as the besieging Ottoman host launched bombs, fired cannons, and showered the populace with arrows during the battle for Christianity's bulwark.
The Vikings maintain their grip on our imagination, but their image is too often distorted by medieval and modern myth. It is true that they pillaged, looted, and enslaved. But they also settled peacefully and developed a vast trading network. They traveled far from their homelands in swift and sturdy ships, not only to raid, but also to explore. Despite their fearsome reputation, the Vikings didn’t wear horned helmets, and even the infamous berserkers were far from invincible.
"Interesting history. Narrator could be better"
Hitler’s rise to power, Germany’s march to the abyss, as seen through the eyes of Americans—diplomats, military, expats, visiting authors, Olympic athletes—who watched horrified and up close. By tapping a rich vein of personal testimonies, Hitlerland offers a gripping narrative full of surprising twists—and a startlingly fresh perspective on this heavily dissected era.
Best-selling author Christopher Winn takes us on a captivating journey around London to discover the unknown tales of our capital's history. Travelling through the villages and districts that make up the world's most dynamic metropolis, I Never Knew That About London unearths the hidden gems of legends, firsts, inventions, adventures and birthplaces that shape the city's compelling and at times turbulent past.
In the tradition of John Richardson's Picasso, a commanding new biography of the Italian master's tumultuous life and mysterious death. For four hundred years Caravaggio's (1571-1610) staggering artistic achievements have thrilled viewers, yet his volatile personal trajectory - the murder of Ranuccio Tomasini, the doubt surrounding Caravaggio's sexuality, the chain of events that began with his imprisonment on Malta and ended with his premature death - has long confounded historians.
In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police could become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their fellow citizens, there are thousands of captivating stories.
On July 5, 1943, the greatest land battle in history began when Nazi and Red Army forces clashed near the town of Kursk, on the western border of the Soviet Union. Code named Operation Citadel, the German offensive would cut through the bulge in the eastern front that had been created following Germany's retreat at the battle of Stalingrad. But the Soviets, well informed about Germany's plans through their network of spies, had months to prepare.
"Little Known Complexity on Eastern Front"