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A Brief Guide To Agatha Christie

A Brief Guide To Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie’s 80 novels and short-story collections have sold over 2 billion copies in more than 45 languages, more than any other author. When Christie finally killed off her Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, the year before she herself died, that ‘detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep’ in Christie’s words, received a full-page obituary in the New York Times, the only fictional character ever to have done so. From her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, a Poirot mystery, to her last, Sleeping Murder, featuring Miss Marple, Crawford explores Christie’s life and fiction.

Cawthorne examines recurring characters, such as Captain Arthur Hastings, Poirot’s Dr Watson; Chief Inspector Japp, his Lestrade, as well as other flat-footed policemen that Poirot outsmarts on his travels; his efficient secretary, Miss Felicity Lemon; another employee, George; and Ariadne Oliver, a humorous caricature of Christie herself.

He looks at the writer’s own fascinating: her work as a nurse during the First World War; her strange disappearance after her first husband asked for a divorce; and her exotic expeditions with her second husband, the archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan.

He examines the author’s working life – her inspirations, methods and oeuvre – and provides biographies of her key characters, their attire, habits and methods, including Poirot’s relationships with women, particularly Countess Vera Rossakoff and Miss Amy Carnaby. In doing so, he sheds light on the genteel world of the country house and the Grand Tour between the wars.

He takes a look at the numerous adaptations of Christie’s stories for stage and screen, especially Poirot’s new life in the eponymous long-running and very successful TV series.
A Brief Guide To British Battlefields

A Brief Guide To British Battlefields

A very readable work of reference offering a survey in chronological order, from AD 84 to 1746, of the major battles which have taken place on British soil, from the Roman occupation to Culloden, the last battle fought on British soil. In this way, the book can be read as a continuous narrative, while each entry also stands alone as a self-contained guide.
The battles are grouped into relevant sections (such as the Wars of the Roses, the English Civil Wars and the Jacobite Rebellions), within broader historical periods. Each period is prefaced by a presentation of the nature of warfare and is enhanced by a feature article of specialist interest.

Every entry includes a narrative of events leading up to the battle, a vivid description of the battle itself and an assessment of the long and short-term, consequences. In addition, there is useful information for visits, including precise identification of the location, details of access to and features of each site.

The book is illustrated throughout with maps and a plate section.
A Brief Guide To OZ

A Brief Guide To OZ

What if Dorothy Gale wasn’t the only person who went to see the Wizard of Oz?

MGM’s landmark 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, did not mark the beginning of adventures in Oz. Both before and since, dozens of tales have been told of the Marvellous Land of Oz, and its inhabitants such as the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger and Jack Pumpkinhead.

In this fascinating and wide-ranging book, Paul Simpson looks back at the Famous Forty – the original novels by L. Frank Baum and his successors which entranced generations of children with their wonderful world of munchkins, princesses and wicked witches. He examines the many ways in which the stories have been retold in movies – from the silent era to Disney’s recent blockbuster Oz the Great and Powerful – and on television, featuring everyone from Tom & Jerry to trades union leaders. On stage, Oz has come to life in the many revivals of The Wizard of Oz musical and the worldwide reign of Elphaba in the smash hit Wicked.
Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the world’s best-loved film and the whole magical world of Oz with its vampires, muppets, dragons, living statues and so much more.
A Brief Guide To The Hunger Games

A Brief Guide To The Hunger Games

A comprehensive and compelling guide to Suzanne Collins’s bestselling young-adult, dystopian trilogy The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Already a publishing phenomenon to rival Harry Potter (over 50 million copies sold), the four blockbuster movies starring Jennifer Lawrence have grossed almost $3 billion dollars at the box office. Suzanne Collins has created a series of characters and situations that have struck a chord not only with the target audience of teenagers, but which have also drawn in adult readers: the series is second only to Harry Potter in NPR’s popular poll of the Top 100 Teen Novels.

Robb explores themes in The Hunger Games, and the influences and inspirations that lie behind the books, highlighting where Suzanne Collins has drawn on mythology and history, reshaping them to fit her universe. He examines the characters and situations created in the book and how these have impacted on the books’ largely teen readership. He also looks at reactions to the books from fans and critics, both acclaim and criticisms faced by the author.

Robb chronicles the adaptation of The Hunger Games from acclaimed, best-selling novel to blockbusting film. With a script by Suzanne Collins herself, the film has made stars of Jennifer Lawrence as Collins’ heroine Katniss Everdeen, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark and Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne.
A Brief Guide to C. S. Lewis

A Brief Guide to C. S. Lewis

November 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Clive Staples ‘Jack’ Lewis, when a memorial to him will be placed in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey. Although perhaps best known as the author of the seven Chronicles of Narnia, published between 1949 and 1954, Lewis also wrote The Pilgrim’s Regress, a trilogy of science-fiction novels incorporating Christian themes, and a large number of non-fiction books about his faith, accessible to Christians and non-believers alike. In a survey of the greatest British writers since 1945, the Times newspaper ranked Lewis eleventh, ahead of Salman Rushdie, Anthony Burgess and Ian Fleming.

A Brief Guide to C. S. Lewis explores Lewis’s life, from his reconversion to Christianity under the influence of his friend J. R. R. Tolkien, which had such a profound influence on his writing – both fiction and non-fiction – to his marriage to American writer Joy Davidman Gresham and his battle with cancer. He died on 22 November 1963, a day before the first-ever episode of Dr Who, a TV series with many links to his Narnia stories was shown.

Although this Brief Guide ranges well beyond the world of Narnia to explore other aspects of Lewis’s life and his other writings, it does not do so – unusually among books on Lewis – from the point of view of Christian scholarship, thereby assuming much knowledge of theology on the part of readers. That Lewis wrote about the problems of praying is significant; the specific texts he discusses and dissects are likely to be of less significance to most readers.

The guide provides synopses of Lewis’s fiction, an overview of his other writings, a biography and a look at all the many different versions of his stories that have appeared. In doing so it draws on recent interviews by the author with some of the many talented people who have worked on these adaptations.
A Brief Guide to Celtic Myths and Legends

A Brief Guide to Celtic Myths and Legends

A very readable guide which fills the gap between academic analysis and less critical retellings of the myths and legends.

Marytn Whittock provides an accessible overview while also assessing the current state of research regarding the origins and significance of the myths. Since all records of the myths first occur in the early medieval period, the focus is on the survival of pre-Christian mythology and the interactions of the early Christian writers with these myths.

A wide-ranging and enthralling introduction to Celtic mythology, from the Irish gods before gods, the Fomorians, to the children of Llyr, the sea deity; from the hunter-warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill, whose exploits are chronicled in the Fenian Cycle, to Cú Chulainn, the Hound of Ulster; and from the Welsh heroes of the Mabinogion to Arthur, King of Britain, though the mythical, Welsh version who predates the medieval legends.
A Brief Guide to Charles Darwin

A Brief Guide to Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin has become one of the most important men in history. The quiet, unsure polymath who avoided confrontation, ensconced in his family home at Down House in Kent, was also a revolutionary who developed his idea of Natural Selection in isolation. Cyril Aydon’s short biography is considered one of the best introductions to the life and ideas of Darwin.

With Darwin’s legacy still in contention and the forthcoming anniversary of the publication of The Origins Species, Aydon’s book is a perfect guide to the ideas as well as the man who was recently voted one of the greatest Britons of all time, and certainly one of the most influential thinkers ever.
A Brief Guide to Classical Civilization

A Brief Guide to Classical Civilization

A general introduction to the classical world from its origins to the fall of the Roman Empire.

The book focuses on questions of how we know about Classical civilization from archaeology and history; deals with the Mycenaean era and the world of Myth and Epic in Homer’s Iliad & Odyssey; gives an outline of Greek history in the 5th & 4th Centuries BC; looks at Greek social life and the alternative model of Sparta, and considers the achievements of the Greeks in their art and architecture, tragedy and comedy.

Turning to Rome, it engages with Roman history, the Roman Epic tradition, the fascinating features of Roman social life, analyses Roman satire, explores the urban environment in Pompeii and Herculaneum, and concludes with the End of Rome.
A Brief Guide to Cloud Computing

A Brief Guide to Cloud Computing

An accessible and comprehensive guide to the future of computing.

Cloud Computing is the next computing revolution and will have as much impact on your life as the introduction of the PC. Using websites including Facebook, Flickr and Gmail, many people already store some information out in the Internet cloud. However, within a few years most computing applications will be accessed online with the web at the heart of everything we do.

In this valuable guide, expert Christopher Barnatt explains how computing will rapidly become more reliable, less complex, and more environmentally friendly. He explores online software and hardware, and how it will alter our office work and personal lives. Individuals and companies are going to be released from the constraints of desktop computing and expensive corporate data centres. New services like augmented reality will also become available.

Including coverage of Google Docs, Zoho, Microsoft Azure, Amazon EC2 and other key developments, this book is your essential guide to the cloud computing revolution.
A Brief Guide to Ghost Hunting

A Brief Guide to Ghost Hunting

There has been an upsurge in books, television programmes, films and websites exploring the reality or otherwise of the spirit world. Not since the founding of The Ghost Club in 1862 and the Society for Psychical Research in 1882 has ghost hunting been so popular. Television and the internet, in particular, have fueled this new level of interest, creating a modern media phenomenon that spans the globe. But while the demand for information is high, good information remains scarce.

A Brief Guide to Ghost Hunting leads us through the process of ghost hunting, from initially weighing the first report, to choosing equipment, and investigating and identifying the phenomena, with an analysis of the best places to go looking, methods of contacting the spirit world, how to explain paranormal activity and, crucially, how to survive the encounter.

However, it is also a book about ghost hunting itself, drawing on 130 years of research in the cavernous archives of the Society for Psychical Research and even older history to find the earliest ghost stories. A Ghost Hunting Survey makes use of interviews with those billing themselves as ghost hunters to find out their views, motivations and experiences.

New and original research makes use of statistics to map the nebulous world of apparitions while a Preliminary Survey of Hauntings offers an analysis of 923 reported phenomena from 263 locations across the UK.

This is, as far as possible, an objective presentation of ghosts and ghost hunting. It is no wonder that mainstream science largely refuses to deal with the subject: it is too complicated. Without trying to convince you of any viewpoint, this book is intended to help you understand more.
A Brief Guide to Islam

A Brief Guide to Islam

Exploring the beliefs, history and politics of the ordinary people of Muslim countries, Grieve cuts through the complexities as he examines all aspects of Islam. He also addresses the big issues: can Islam support true democracy? Is true democracy what the West really wants for Muslim countries or are we merely seeking a cover of legitimacy for a policy of ‘might is right’?

Paul Grieve is an unbeliever – he is not a born-again Muslim, a proselytizer or a frustrated desert romantic. His aim is to inform. The result is an accessible but never simplistic guide that challenges
stereotypical views, from women and banking to war and Malcolm X.

Complete with advice for visitors to Muslim countries, and with carefully chosen primary sources, maps and illustrations, this is the ideal summary for the reader looking for an unbiased overview of the religious and political world issues that have become part of our everyday lives.
A Brief Guide to J. R. R. Tolkien

A Brief Guide to J. R. R. Tolkien

A very readable overview of Tolkien and his work, incorporating a brief biography, an examination of the books and a look at the process of filming his work, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings saga. It explores how Tolkien’s background as a medievalist and linguist informed the languages of Middle-earth, the influence of his Catholicism and Tolkien’s legacy in fantasy.

A timely book to coincide with the first of Peter Jackson’s two keenly awaited Hobbit films.
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