'The two foes of human happiness are pain and boredom.' Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was one of the most influential philosophers of the 19th century because his humanistic, atheistic, if pessimistic views chimed with a new secularism that was emerging from a Western society dominated by religion. Despite his rather forbidding image (and a few outdated views), he is one of the most approachable German philosophers, and this is certainly evident in these two key works, The Wisdom of Life and Counsels and Maxims.
Paris in 1895: Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer, has just been convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil's Island, and stripped of his rank in front of a baying crowd of 20,000. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, the ambitious, intellectual, recently promoted head of the counterespionage agency that Dreyfus had passed secrets to the Germans. At first, Picquart firmly believes in Dreyfus' guilt. But it is not long after Dreyfus is delivered to his desolate prison that Picquart stumbles on information that leads him to suspect that there is still a spy at large in the French military.
"Top Notch Historical Fiction"
At the age of 48, Cicero - the greatest orator of his time - is in exile, separated from his wife and children, tormented by his sense of failure, his great power sacrificed on the altar of his principles. And yet, in the words of one of his most famous aphorisms, "While there is life, there is hope." By promising to support Caesar - his political enemy - he is granted return to Rome. There, he fights his way back to prominence....
"Rerecord with Simon Jones"
First published in 1900, when Thomas Mann was 25, Buddenbrooks is a minutely imagined chronicle of four generations of a North German mercantile family - a work so true to life that it scandalized the author’s former neighbours in his native Lübeck.
"Condemnation of Materialistic Decadence"
The Consolation of Philosophy is one of the key works in the rich tradition of Western philosophy, partly because of the circumstances in which it was written. Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (c480-c524) was of aristocratic Roman birth and became consul and then master of offices at Ravenna, one of the highest posts under the Ostrogothic Roman ruler Theodoric. But Boethius was unjustly charged with treason in 524, and this led to house arrest, then torture and execution.
"A Self-Help Bestseller since 524 AD"
Plan Aurora, hatched in a remote dacha in the forest outside Moscow and initiated with relentless brilliance and skill, is a plan within a plan that, in its spine-chilling ingenuity, breaches the ultra-secret Fourth Protocol and turns the fears that shaped it into a living nightmare. A crack Soviet agent, placed under cover in a quiet English country town, begins to assemble a jigsaw of devastation.
"As usual, Forsyth is Fantastic"
John Howard is determined to brighten up his old age by taking a fishing trip to France, but during his stay the Nazis invade. Howard must try to escape back to England with the two small children of some friends who are forced to stay behind in order to help the Allied war effort. As the conflict grows closer, the roads become impassable and Howard also comes across five more children who need his help. He ends up leading this motley group of youngsters through the French countryside, constantly beset by danger yet heroically protecting his charges.
"One of My All Time Favorires"
A New Year challenge goes horribly wrong for one noble knight of the Round Table. King Arthur loved Christmas and New Year - it was an excellent excuse for feasting, exchanging gifts and a time for general good fellowship among the knights at Camelot. And he wouldn't stop feasting until some marvellous adventure had befallen either him or one of his companions. One year, there was an adventure to top the lot. An enormous knight rides into the hall dressed in green. Everything is green. His hair and beard are green. Even his horse is green.
"A classic story well read"
One mild summer evening Lily and her husband are enjoying a meal while their baby daughter sleeps peacefully in her pram beneath a maple tree. But when Lily steps outside she is paralysed with terror. The child is bathed in blood. Inspector Sejer is called to the hospital to meet the family. Mercifully, the baby is unharmed, but her parents are deeply shaken, and Sejer spends the evening trying to comprehend why anyone would carry out such a sinister prank.
Western Ocean, 1942... From the bridge of HMS Gladiator, Lieutenant-Commander David Howard’s orders were chillingly clear. There could be no mercy. To the men who fought to protect the vital, threatened Merchant Navy convoys in the Western Approaches, the Battle of the Atlantic was a full-scale war. A relentless, savage war against an ever-present enemy and a violent sea - in an arena known only to its embittered survivors as the killing ground. HMS Gladiator was part of that war.
"Very finely rendered"
In The Golden Egg, as the first leaves of autumn begin to fall, Vice Questore Patta asks Brunetti to look into a minor violation committed by the mayor’s future daughter-in-law. Brunetti has no interest in helping his boss amass political favors, but he has little choice but to comply. Then Brunetti’s wife, Paola, comes to him with a request of her own. The mentally handicapped man who worked at their dry cleaners has just died of a sleeping pill overdose, and Paola loathes the idea that he lived and died without anyone noticing him, or helping him.
"A British Brunetti"
When human rights lawyer Philippe Sands received an invitation to deliver a lecture in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, he began to uncover a series of extraordinary historical coincidences. It set him on a quest that would take him halfway around the world in an exploration of the origins of international law and the pursuit of his own secret family history, beginning and ending with the last day of the Nuremberg Trials.
"Important lessons for today"
One of the most celebrated thrillers ever written, The Day of the Jackal is the electrifying story of an anonymous Englishman who in, the spring of 1963, was hired by Colonel Marc Rodin, Operations Chief of the O. A. S., to assassinate General de Gaulle.
"The Best Political Thriller of All Times"
When war breaks out in Europe in 1939, a young unknown writer journeys from his home in neutral Ireland to conflict-ridden Paris and is drawn into the maelstrom. With him we experience the hardships yet stubborn vibrancy at the heart of Europe during the Nazis' rise to power, his friendships with James Joyce and other luminaries, his quietly passionate devotion to the Frenchwoman who will become his lifelong companion, his secret work for the French Resistance and narrow escapes from the Gestapo....
Five long years have passed since the annihilation of three Roman legions in the wilds of Germania. Varus, the general who led the ill-fated army, is long dead, and the bones of his 15,000 legionaries moulder in the forests. But not all the Romans were slain in the ambush. Centurion Tullus, a seasoned veteran, survived, and now he lives for revenge upon the tribal chieftain Arminius, who masterminded the ambush. Tullus will stop at nothing to kill his bitterest enemy or to recover his legion's lost Eagle.
For over a century, the New Hope Island vanishing has tantalized the world. How did 150 people disappear from a lonely Hebridean island, leaving no trace and no clues? Media magnate Alexander McIntyre decides to solve the mystery, and gathers a team of experts to mount an expedition to the island. He hopes running the story as a rolling exclusive will revive the fortunes of his flagship news-stand title. He hopes to find conclusive answers to questions that have teased a curious world for decades. And he wants his own secret theory triumphantly vindicated.
"Solid atmospheric horror"
Alistair Urquhart was a soldier in the Gordon Highlanders captured by the Japanese in Singapore. He not only survived working on the notorious Bridge on the River Kwai , but he was subsequently taken on one of the Japanese ‘hellships’ which was torpedoed. Nearly everyone else on board died and Urquhart spent 5 days alone on a raft in the South China Sea before being rescued by a whaling ship. He was taken to Japan and then forced to work in a mine near Nagasaki.
In this Booker Prize-winning work, Barry Unsworth follows the failing fortunes of William Kemp, a merchant pinning his last chance to a slave ship; his son, who needs a fortune because he is in love with an upper-class woman; and his nephew, who sails on the ship as its doctor because he has lost all he has loved. The voyage meets its demise when disease spreads among the slaves and the captain's drastic response provokes a mutiny.
"Wise, Perceptive, Heart-breaking"
They lied to protect their country. He told the truth to save it. A gripping historical thriller from the bestselling author of Fatherland. January 1895. On a freezing morning in the heart of Paris, an army officer, Georges Picquart, witnesses a convicted spy, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, being publicly humiliated in front of twenty thousand spectators baying ‘Death to the Jew!’ The officer is rewarded with promotion: Picquart is made the French army’s youngest colonel and put in command of ‘the Statistical Section’ - the shadowy intelligence unit that tracked down Dreyfus.