When Germany invaded Poland, bombers devastated Warsaw - and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into the empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts.
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.
"Narrative possesses listener, it's that good"
From the New York Times best-selling author of Elizabeth the Queen comes the first major biography of Prince Charles in more than 20 years - perfect for fans of The Crown. Sally Bedell Smith returns once again to the British royal family to give us a new look at Prince Charles, the oldest heir to the throne in more than 300 years.
"An instant classic"
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.
This book is a meticulous reconstruction of a tragic episode in the history of the Nazi persecution of the Jews. The SS. St. Louis left Hamburg in May of 1939 with 937 Jewish refugees on board who thought they had bought visas to enter Cuba. Refused entry in Cuba and the United States the ship eventually had to turn around and return to Europe. The voyage to freedom was in the end nothing more than a roundabout journey to the concentration camps.
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"
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....
For centuries in Europe, innocent men and women were murdered for the imaginary crime of witchcraft. This was a mass delusion and moral panic, driven by pious superstition and a deadly commitment to religious conformity. In Witch: A Tale of Terror, best-selling author Sam Harris introduces and reads from Charles Mackay's beloved book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
"An uncomfortable reminder of the power of belief "
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"
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.
From a hunchbacked dwarf to a paranoid poet-assassin, a history of Victorian England as seen through the numerous assassination attempts on Queen Victoria while she ruled the British empire. During Queen Victoria’s 64 years on the British throne, no fewer than eight attempts were made on her life. Murphy follows each would-be assassin and the repercussions of their actions, illuminating daily life in Victorian England, the development of the monarchy under Queen Victoria, and the evolution of the attacks in light of changing social issues and technology.
"a great slice of history book"
To Rule the Waves tells the extraordinary story of how the British Royal Navy allowed one nation to rise to a level of power unprecedented in history. From the navy's beginnings under Henry VIII to the age of computer warfare and special ops, historian Arthur Herman tells the spellbinding tale of great battles at sea, heroic sailors, violent conflict, and personal tragedy - of the way one mighty institution forged a nation, an empire, and a new world.
"Better Than Expected. Don't Miss it!"
The Nazi regime preached an ideology of physical, mental, and moral purity. But as Norman Ohler reveals in this gripping new history, the Third Reich was saturated with drugs. On the eve of World War II, Germany was a pharmaceutical powerhouse, and companies such as Merck and Bayer cooked up cocaine, opiates, and, most of all, methamphetamines, to be consumed by everyone from factory workers to housewives to millions of German soldiers.
"Blitzed: a fascinating read"
At a time when men and women were prepared to kill - and be killed - for their faith, the Protestant Reformation tore the Western world apart. Acclaimed as the definitive account of these epochal events, Diarmaid MacCulloch's award-winning history brilliantly recreates the religious battles of priests, monarchs, scholars, and politicians - from the zealous Martin Luther and his 95 Theses to the polemical John Calvin to the radical Igantius Loyola, from the tortured Thomas Cranmer to the ambitious Philip II.
"Now I see why there is no sample ..."
Rejecting fragmented histories of nations in the making, this bold revision surveys the shared institutions that bridged difference and distance to bring stability and meaning to the far-flung empire. By supporting new schools, law courts, and railroads along with scientific and artistic advances, the Habsburg monarchs sought to anchor their authority in the cultures and economies of Central Europe. A rising standard of living throughout the empire deepened the legitimacy of Habsburg rule.
"This book is like drinking polyethylene glycol..."
On October 31, 1517, an unknown monk nailed a theological pamphlet to a church door in a small university town and set in motion a process that helped usher in the modern world. Within a few years, Luther's ideas had spread like wildfire. His attempts to reform Christianity by returning it to its biblical roots split the Western Church, divided Europe, and polarized people's beliefs.
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.
"Scholarly but gripping"
Richard J. Evans's gripping narrative ranges across a century of social and national conflicts, from the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 to the unification of both Germany and Italy, from the Russo-Turkish wars to the Balkan upheavals that brought this era of relative peace and growing prosperity to an end. The first single-volume history of the century, this comprehensive and sweeping account gives the listener a magnificently human picture of Europe in the age when it dominated the rest of the globe.
"Terrific comprehensive history"
Robert Tombs' momentous The English and Their History is both a startlingly fresh and a uniquely inclusive account of the people who have a claim to be the oldest nation in the world. The English first came into existence as an idea, before they had a common ruler and before the country they lived in even had a name. They have lasted as a recognizable entity ever since, and their defining national institutions can be traced back to the earliest years of their history.
"An Anglophile history of england"
Whether a visitor to, or a native of, the great and ancient metropolis of London, the listener will be drawn in by this book's strange and sometimes horrendous tales about this global melting pot of a city. It discusses in detail some of the demons, ghosts, and life-essence stealers who inhabit London's netherworld and call it their home. This book's tales of hauntings and terror deal exclusively with that hugely haunted area of London known as the West End which has the famous Piccadilly Circus at its centre.
In April 1917, as Tsar Nicholas II's abdication sent shockwaves across war-torn Europe, the future leader of the Bolshevik revolution, Vladimir Lenin, was far away, exiled in Zurich. To lead the revolt, Lenin needed to return to Petrograd immediately. But to get there, he would have to cross Germany, which meant accepting help from the deadliest of Russia's adversaries and betraying his homeland.
The life of Princess May of Teck is one of the great Cinderella stories in history. From a family of impoverished nobility, she was chosen by Queen Victoria as the bride for her eldest grandson, the scandalous Duke of Clarence, heir to the throne, who died mysteriously before their marriage. Despite this setback, she became queen, mother of two kings, grandmother of the current queen, and a lasting symbol of the majesty of the British throne.
Laurence Rees has spent 25 years meeting the survivors and perpetrators of the Third Reich and the Holocaust. In this sweeping history, he combines this testimony with the latest academic research to investigate how history's greatest crime was possible. Rees argues that while hatred of the Jews was at the epicenter of Nazi thinking, we cannot fully understand the Holocaust without considering Nazi plans to kill millions of non-Jews as well.
Henry VIII ruled England from 1509 to 1547. As a young man, he was fond of sports and hunting and was said to be uncommonly handsome. Standing more than six feet tall, he loomed large in the lives and minds of his subjects as he navigated his country through the tricky diplomatic and military hazards of the 16th century.
England's first Queen Elizabeth gave her name to an age. Inheriting a bankrupt, famished, and powerless country, she healed its religious rifts, replenished its treasury, redefined diplomatic guile, defeated the Spanish Armada, and inspired a new flowering of English culture. Her father, Henry VIII, beheaded her mother, Anne Boleyn, and Elizabeth was declared a bastard. As Henry kept marrying and discarding wives, she had to be adroit and canny to avoid being snared in the schemes of courtiers plotting to win the crown.
In the 14th century, a ruthless killer stalked the streets of England, wiping out up to 60 percent of the terror-stricken nation's inhabitants. This invisible and unforgiving terminator continued to harass the population for hundreds of years, but nothing could compare to the savagery it would unleash three centuries later. This conscienceless menace was none other than the notorious bubonic plague, also known as the "Black Death".
For most people, the child's rhyme "London Bridge is falling down" conjures up visions of the tall, majestic, two-towered bridge spanning the River Thames near the Tower of London, with its high footpath providing one of the best views available of the city. The only problem is, this vision is wrong, for the London Bridge of modern times is neither tall nor majestic.
Like many Germans, Berlin schoolboy Erwin Bartmann fell under the spell of the Zeitgeist cultivated by the Nazis. Convinced he was growing up in the best country in the world, he dreamt of joining the Leibstandarte, Hitler's elite Waffen SS unit. Tall, blond, blue-eyed, and just 17-years-old, Erwin fulfilled his dream on Mayday 1941, when he gave up his apprenticeship at the Glaser bakery in Memeler Strasse and walked into the Lichterfelde barracks in Berlin as a raw, volunteer recruit.
What is fascism? By focusing on the concrete, what the fascists did rather than what they said, the esteemed historian Robert O. Paxton answers this question for the first time. From the first violent uniformed bands beating up "enemies of the state", through Mussolini's rise to power, to Germany's fascist radicalization in World War II, Paxton shows clearly why fascists came to power in some countries and not others.
The first five volumes from the landmark BBC radio series This Sceptred Isle. Christopher Lee's epic history tells the story of Britain from the Romans to the death of Victoria. This collection includes the original first five volumes.
Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace (1875-1932) was an English writer of 957 short stories and over 170 novels. He is widely recognized as one of the most prolific writers of his age.
'The Murder on Yarmouth Sands' is a true crime story. Towards the end of the Boer War, the body of a woman was discovered on Yarmouth Sands. She had been strangled by a mohair bootlace. There are only two clues to the crime...and the police set out to follow them up....
"Impossible to listen to"
The true crime story of Henri Désiré Landru, master of murder and the art of making love, captivated the whole of Europe for almost two years. Landru is known to have murdered at least a dozen women for their savings and their furniture. Moreover, the uncanny fascination which he held for his victims from the moment he fixed them with his strangely compelling eyes, has never been properly explained.
Written with an exciting combination of narrative flair and historical authority, this interpretation of the tragic life of Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, breaks new ground in our understanding of the very young woman who became queen at a time of unprecedented social and political tension and whose terrible errors in judgment quickly led her to the executioner's block.
Beginning with their introduction in the 11th century, and ending with their widespread abandonment in the 17th, Marc Morris explores many of the country's most famous castles, as well as some spectacular lesser-known examples. At times this is an epic tale, driven by characters like William the Conqueror, King John, and Edward I, full of sieges and conquest on an awesome scale.
John Julius Norwich - whom the Wall Street Journal called "the very model of a popular historian" - has crafted a big, bold tapestry of the early 16th century, when Europe and the Middle East were overshadowed by a quartet of legendary rulers, all born within a 10-year period. Against the vibrant background of the Renaissance, these four men laid the foundations for modern Europe and the Middle East, as they collectively impacted the culture, religion, and politics of their respective domains.
In The Last of the Doughboys, Richard Rubin introduced listeners to a forgotten generation of Americans: the men and women who fought and won the First World War. Interviewing the war's last survivors face-to-face, he knew well the importance of being present if you want to get the real story. But he soon came to realize that to get the whole story, he had to go Over There, too.
"Tour the French countryside of the Great War"
When people think of the British Royal family, and more specifically where they live, the first image that often pops into mind is that of stately Buckingham Palace, with its changing of the guard and the occasional royal coach leaving or entering. Others may think of the royal country estate of Windsor Castle, a favorite of both Britain's longest-reigning and second longest-reigning monarchs.
On 6 July 1868, when told of the birth of her seventh granddaughter, Queen Victoria remarked that the news was "a very uninteresting thing for it seems to me to go on like the rabbits in Windsor Park". Her apathy was understandable - this was her 14th grandchild, and, though she had given birth to nine children, she had never been fond of babies, viewing them as "frog-like and rather disgusting...particularly when undressed".
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.
"The 2nd Half of the Medieval World"
This magnificent biography of Henry VIII is set against the cultural, social and political background of his court - the most spectacular court ever seen in England - and the splendour of his many sumptuous palaces. An entertaining narrative packed with colourful description and a wealth of anecdotal evidence, but also a comprehensive analytical study of the development of both monarch and court during a crucial period in English history.
Here at last is a history of England that is designed to entertain as well as inform and that will delight the armchair traveler, the tourist, or just about anyone interested in history. No people have engendered quite so much acclaim or earned so much censure as the English: extolled as the Athenians of modern times, yet hammered for their self-satisfaction and hypocrisy. But their history has been a spectacular one.
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.
This is the secret and suspenseful account of how OSS spymaster Allen Dulles led a network of Germans conspiring to assassinate Hitler and negotiate surrender to bring about the end of World War II before the Soviet's advance. Agent 110 is Allen Dulles, a newly minted spy from an eminent family. Dulles met with and facilitated the plots of Germans who were trying to destroy the country's leadership.
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.
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.
The most profound characteristic of Western Europe in the Middle Ages was its cultural and religious unity, a unity secured by a common alignment with the Pope in Rome and a common language - Latin - for worship and scholarship. The Reformation shattered that unity, and the consequences are still with us today.
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"
The appearance of a hastily constructed barbed wire entanglement through the heart of Berlin during the night of 12-13 August 1961 was both dramatic and unexpected. Within days, it had started to metamorphose into a structure that would come to symbolise the brutal insanity of the Cold War: the Berlin Wall. A city of almost four million was cut ruthlessly in two, unleashing a potentially catastrophic East-West crisis and plunging the entire world for the first time into the fear of imminent missile-borne apocalypse.
"Makes a dark chapter "enjoyable""
In 1528, a mission set out from Spain to colonize Florida. But the expedition went horribly wrong: Delayed by a hurricane, knocked off course by a colossal error of navigation, and ultimately doomed by a disastrous decision to separate the men from their ships, the mission quickly became a desperate journey of survival. Of the 300 men who had embarked on the journey, only four survived - three Spaniards and an African slave.
"Superb telling of a foundational New World story"
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.
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.
"Long, but what a story!"
A journalist writing in the first flush of revolutionary enthusiasm, John Reed gives a gripping record of the events in Petrograd in November 1917, when Lenin and the Bolsheviks finally seized power. Containing verbatim reports both of speeches by leaders and the chance comments of bystanders, set against an idealized backcloth of the proletariat, soldiers, sailors, and peasants uniting to throw off oppression, Reed's account is the product of passionate involvement and remains a classic of reporting.
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"
On October 14, 1943, 600 Jews imprisoned in Sobibor, a secret Nazi death camp in eastern Poland, revolted. They killed a dozen SS officers and guards, trampled the barbed wire fences, and raced across an open field filled with anti-tank mines. Against all odds, more than three hundred made it safely into the woods. Fifty of those men and women managed to survive the rest of the war. In this edition of Escape from Sobibor, fully updated in 2012, Richard Rashke tells their stories
"Great book about an awful period in Jewish history"
In 1474, a 23-year-old woman ascended the throne of Castile, the largest and strongest kingdom in Spain. Ahead of her lay the considerable challenge not only of being a young female ruler in an overwhelmingly male-dominated world but also of reforming a major European kingdom that was riddled with crime, corruption, and violent political factionism. Her pivotal reign was long and transformative, uniting Spain and setting the stage for its golden era of global dominance.
When we think of France we often evoke images of fine food and wine, the elegant boulevards of Paris, the chic beaches of St Tropez. Yet, as the largest country in Europe, it is a place of huge diversity. The idea of 'Frenchness' emerged from over 2,000 years of history and it is a riveting story from Roman conquest to the present day.