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A Brief Guide to The Sound of Music

A Brief Guide to The Sound of Music

Everyone has heard the songs from The Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The stage show was a roaring success in New York and London, and the much-loved feature film, directed by Hollywood veteran Robert Wise, continues to be a staple of television schedules 50 years after its release in 1965.

In this fascinating and wide-ranging book, Paul Simpson explores the incredible story of the Von Trapp family and their escape from the Third Reich in all its incarnations, from real-life adventure, to book, to stage, to award-winning film to cultural phenomenon. He discusses the stage show, the many differences that were incorporated into the fictionalisation of the tale, and how that story was brought to the screen. He also looks at the numerous other ways in which the Von Trapp’s story has been told, including the two West German movies from the 1950s and the extensive forty-part Japanese anime series from the 1990s, to explain why the story of the Von Trapp family has appealed to so many generations.

Praise for A Brief Guide to Stephen King:

‘The best book about King and his work I have ever read’ Books Monthly
A Brief Guide to Philosophical Classics

A Brief Guide to Philosophical Classics

Big ideas sometimes come from the strangest places.

In this wide ranging introduction, James M Russell takes the fear out of philosophy and selects seventy-six works – from Plato, Descartes and Wittgenstein to Philip K Dick and the Moomins as well as contemporary thinkers such as Peter Singer and John Rawls.

Dividing into accessible sections – history, contemplation, happiness, and -isms, Russell gives us the lives as well as the lessons of the great thinkers, including a digest of their key ideas.

A perfect antidote to the complex life.

The topics and books covered include:

Traditional Philosophy:
The Republic, Plato; The Confessions, St Augustine; The Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes; On Liberty, John Stuart Mill; Philisophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein; Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant.

Outsiders:
Fear and Trembling, Soren Kierkegaard; Beyond Good and Evil, Frederick Nietzsche; The Outsider, Albert Camus; Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley.

Contemplation as Philosophy:
The Prophet, Kahil Gibran; Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach; Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig; The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff.

The Continental Tradition:
The Prison Notebooks, Antonio Gramsci; The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault; Symbolic Exchange and Death, Jean Baudrillard.

How to Live Your Life:
The Art of War, Sun Tzu; Maxims, La Rouchefoucauld; Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Carl Jung; On Sexuality, Sigmund Freud; On Becoming a Person, Carl Rogers.

Political and Personal Issues:
Das Kapital, Karl Marx; Being and Nothingness, Jean Paul Sartre; Gaia, James Lovelock.

Modern Philosophy:
A Theory of Justice, John Rawls; Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Daniel Dennett; After the Terror, Ted Honderich.
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 History of Magna Carta, 2nd Edition

A Brief History of Magna Carta, 2nd Edition

2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, the influence of which is still felt today around the world. In 1215 the barons of England forced King John to sign a revolutionary document which would change the political landscape not only of thirteenth-century Britain, but of the modern world. Magna Carta was the forerunner of the constitution that limited the powers of the crown and its echoes can be found in the seventeenth-century Civil Wars, the struggles for American Independence, the work of Thomas Paine and in the bedrock constitutional legislation of just about every democratic country today.

As civil Liberties and the rule of law are increasingly brought into question throughout the world, leading medieval historian Geoffrey Hindley breathes vivid life into the story behind the signing of Magna Carta, and reveals the undiminished significance of this ancient document in today’s world.
A Brief History of Gangsters

A Brief History of Gangsters

The romanticised American gangster of the Prohibition era has proved an enduringly popular figure. Even today, names like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano still resonate. Robb explores the histories of key figures, from gangs in the Old West, through Prohibition and the Great Depression, to the likes of John Gotti and Frank Lucas in the 1970s and 1980s. He also looks at the gangster in popular culture, in hit TV series such as Boardwalk Empire.

Although the focus is strongly on the archetypal American gangster, Robb also examines gangsters around the world, including the infamous Kray twins in London, French crime kingpin Jacques Mesrine, the Mafia Dons of Sicily, and the rise of notorious Serbian and Albanian gangs. Infamous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly makes an appearance, as does Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, while other sections provide details of the Chinese Triads and the Yakuza in Japan.

Robb also explores the gangster in popular culture, especially in film and television. Recent hit TV series such as The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire and blockbuster movies like Public Enemies and Gangster Squad show that the gangster is here to stay.
A Brief History of Walt Disney

A Brief History of Walt Disney

Both a fascinating account of Walt Disney’s own significant artistic creations, from the iconic Mickey Mouse to the groundbreaking Snow White in 1937, and an insightful history of the hugely successful entertainment behemoth he created, from Dumbo to Pixar’s Toy Story, as well as the hugely popular theme parks. But Disney’s dark side is also explored: his disputed parentage; industrial disputes; his work for the FBI; and his anti-Communist and allegedly racist and antisemitic views.

The company Disney built is today stronger than ever, encompassing not only the ongoing legacy of Disney animation, but also acting as the guardian of other well-loved creative endeavours, such as Pixar, The Muppets, Marvel Comics and now Star Wars.

Sections include ‘Before Mickey: The Road to the Mouse House’, covering from 1901 to 1945 – the creation of Mickey Mouse, the creation of the world’s first full-length animated feature film, the Golden Age of animation and Disney’s help for the American war effort, despite labour disputes; ‘Disney Studios: The Disney Genius’ – difficult times, theme parks and television, live-action movies, including Mary Poppins; ‘Animation’s Second Coming’, from the Lady and the Tramp to The Sword in the Stone, and Walt Disney’s death; ‘After Walt: The Disney Legacy’ – family attempts to keep the studio afloat, decline and the loss of lustre in the 1970s and 1980s; ‘Disney Resurgent’ – a triumphant rebirth under new management with Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The Lion King and other blockbuster hits; ‘From Eisner to Iger’ – the corporate battle for the soul of Disney; ‘Disney Goes Digital’ – from Pixar to Star Wars, via Marvel Comics and The Muppets, Disney buyy up other studios, themselves often enough inspired by the original.
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 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 History of the First World War

A Brief History of the First World War

Even 100 years on from the First World War it haunts us still. No other conflict has revealed so dramatically the senselessness of war, and none has shaped the modern world to the same extent, from its impact on the Russian Revolution and the rise of Hitler to the final break-up of the British Empire and the supremacy of America. These compelling eyewitness accounts – over 180 of them – of the War to End All Wars cover every facet of the war, from the Flanders trenches to the staffrooms of the Imperial German Army, from T. E. Lawrence (‘Lawrence of Arabia’) in the desert to German figher ace the Red Baron in the air, and from English Land Girls to German U-boat crews in the North Atlantic. There are contributions from all combatant nations, including the UK, USA, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Australia, Russia, Serbia, and India and the book includes a detailed timeline and maps.
A Brief History of Superheroes

A Brief History of Superheroes

A fascinating written exploration of the superhero phenomenon, from its beginnings in the depths of Great Depression to the blockbuster movies of today.

For over 90 years, superheroes have been interrogated, deconstructed, and reinvented. In this wide-ranging study, Robb looks at the diverse characters, their creators, and the ways in which their creations have been reinvented for successive generations. Inevitably, the focus is on the United States, but the context is international, including an examination of characters developed in India and Japan in reaction to the traditional American hero.

Sections examine: the birth of the superhero, including Superman, in 1938; the DC family (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and The Justice Society/League of America), from the 1940s to the 1960s; the superheroes enlistment in the war effort in the 1940s and 50s; their neutering by the Comics Code; the challenge to DC from the Marvel family (The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The X-Men), from the 1960s to the 1980s; the superhero as complex anti-hero; superheroes deconstructed in the 1980s (The Watchmen and Frank Miller’s Batman), and their politicization; independent comic book creators and new publishers in the 1980s and 90s; superheroes in retreat, and their rebirth at the movies in blockbusters from Batman to Spider-Man and The Avengers.
A Brief History of British Kings & Queens

A Brief History of British Kings & Queens

Here is the whole of recorded British royal history, from the legendary King Alfred the Great onwards, including the monarchies of England, Scotland, Wales and the United Kingdom for over a thousand years. Fascinating portraits are expertly woven into a history of division and eventual union of the British Isles – even royals we think most familiar are revealed in a new and sometimes surprising light.

This revised and shortened edition of The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens includes biographies of the royals of recorded British history, plus an overview of the semi-legendary figures of pre-history and the Dark Ages – an accessible source for students and general readers.
A Brief Guide to Stephen King

A Brief Guide to Stephen King

2014 marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Stephen King’s first novel Carrie in April 1974. Rescued from the rubbish by his wife Tabitha, the novel launched the Maine schoolteacher on a prolific and extraordinarily successful career. His name has become synonymous with horror and suspense through over fifty works, including The Dark Tower, a retelling of Byron’s Childe Harold to the Dark Tower Came.

Simpson traces the writer’s life from his difficult childhood – his father went out to the shops and never came back – through his initial books under the pseudonym Richard Bachman to the success of Carrie, Salem’s Lot and The Shining in the 1970s, and beyond. He examines how King’s writing was affected by the accident that nearly killed him in 1999 and how his battles with alcohol and addiction to medication have been reflected in his stories. The guide will also take a look at the very many adaptation’s of King’s work in movies, on television and radio, and in comic books.
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