From the end of the Second World War to the present day, the world has changed immeasurably. The art of spying has changed too, as spies have reacted to changing threats. Here you will find the fascinating stories of real-life spies, both famous and obscure, from either side of the Iron Curtain, along with previously secret details of War on Terror operations.
Detailed stories of individual spies are set in the context of the development of the major espionage agencies, interspersed with anecdotes of gadgets, trickery, honeytraps and assassinations worthy of any fictional spy.
A closing section examines the developing New Cold War, as Russia and the West confront each other once again.
‘Clements has a knack for writing suspenseful sure-footed conflict scenes: His recounting of the Korean invasion led by samurai and daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi reads like a thriller. If you’re looking for a samurai primer, Clements’ guide will keep you on the hook’ Japan Times, reviewed as part of an Essential Reading for Japanophiles series
From a leading expert in Japanese history, this is one of the first full histories of the art and culture of the Samurai warrior. The Samurai emerged as a warrior caste in Medieval Japan and would have a powerful influence on the history and culture of the country from the next 500 years. Clements also looks at the Samurai wars that tore Japan apart in the 17th and 18th centuries and how the caste was finally demolished in the advent of the mechanized world.
This accessible text covers the all of the major First World War battles, from Bloody April 1917, when the squadrons suffered enormous casualties, through Third Ypres and Passchendaele to the chaotic retreat from Ludendorff’s offensive. Drawing extensively from letters and diaries of the men who took part, Ralph Barker creates a bird’s eye view of the battleground from the menacing skies above France and brings fresh off the page the exhiliration of combat, the debility of the “shakes”, the grit of observers and gunners, the strain of low-level flying, the bonding of pilot and ground mechanic, and the awareness of tragedy as brave men gave their lives.
In this lively and very readable history of the Roman Empire from its establishment in 27 BC to the barbarian incursions and the fall of Rome in AD 476, Kershaw draws on a range of evidence, from Juvenal’s Satires to recent archaeological finds.
He examines extraordinary personalities such as Caligula and Nero and seismic events such as the conquest of Britain and the establishment of a ‘New Rome’ at Constantinople and the split into eastern and western empires.
Along the way we encounter gladiators and charioteers, senators and slaves, fascinating women, bizarre sexual practices and grotesque acts of brutality, often seen through eyes of some of the world’s greatest writers. He concludes with a brief look at how Rome lives on in the contemporary world, in politics, architecture, art and literature.
With the recent success of ‘Rome’ on BBC2, no one will look at the private lives of the Roman Emperors again in the same light.
Anthony Blond’s scandalous expose of the life of the Caesars is a must-read for all interested in what really went on in ancient Rome.
Julius Caesar is usually presented as a glorious general when in fact he was an arrogant charmer and a swank; Augustus was so conscious of his height that he put lifts in his sandals.
But they were nothing compared to Caligula, Claudius and Nero. This book is fascinating reading, eye-opening in its revelations and effortlessly entertaining.
Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning British monarch. A personally quiet, modest and dutiful person, she is far better-informed about the lives of her subjects than they often realize. She has known every Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and every American President since Eisenhower. Yet what of the woman behind the crown?
This book seeks to take a new look at this exhaustively-documented life and show how Queen Elizabeth became the person she is. Who, and what, have been the greatest influences upon her? What are her likes and dislikes? What are her hobbies? Who are her friends? What does she feel about the demands of duty and protocol? Is she really enjoying herself when she smiles during official events? How differently does she behave when out of the public eye? Examining the places in which she grew up or has lived, the training she received and her attitudes to significant events in national life, it presents a fresh view of one of recent history’s most important figures.
In recent years, Queen Elizabeth has become the longest-reigning monarch in our history and has cut back on commitments. Nevertheless she is still very active and has made some wise decisions about who takes over a number of her duties.
The history of the Normans began a long time before 1066. Originating from the ‘Norsemen’ they were one of the most successful warrior tribes of the Dark Ages that came to dominate Europe from the Baltic Sea to the island of Sicily and the borders of Eastern Europe. Beginning as Viking raiders in the eighth century, the Normans not only changed the landscape of Europe but were changed by their new conquests.
As a military force they became unstoppable. As Conquerors, they established their own kingdom in Normandy from where they set out on a number of devastating campaigns, where they also introduced innovations in politics, architecture and culture. In A Brief History of the Normans leading French historian, Francois Neveux, gives an accessible and authoritative introduction.
Western civilization began in the Middle East: Judaism and Christianity, as well as Islam, were born there. For over a millennium, the Islamic empires were ahead of the West in learning, technology and medicine, and were militarily far more powerful. It took another three hundred centuries for the West to catch up, and overtake, the Middle East.
Why does it seem different now? Why does Osama bin Laden see 1918, with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, as the year everything changed? These issues are explained in historical detail here, in a way that deliberately seeks to go behind the rhetoric to the roots of present conflicts. A Brief History of the Middle East is essential reading for an intelligent reader wanting to understand what one of the world’s key regions is all about.
Fully updated with a new section on the Iraq Invasion of 2003, the question of Iran and the full context of the Isreali/Palestine conflict.
‘If I had to pick a single general martial arts history book in English, I would recommend A Brief History of the Martial Arts by Dr Jonathan Clements’
RICHARD BEITLICH, Martial History Team blog
From Shaolin warrior monks to the movies of Bruce Lee, a new history of the evolution of East Asian styles of unarmed combat, from Kung Fu to Ninjutsu
Folk tales of the Shaolin Temple depict warrior monks with superhuman abilities. Today, dozens of East Asian fighting styles trace their roots back to the Buddhist brawlers of Shaolin, although any quest for the true story soon wanders into a labyrinth of forgeries, secret texts and modern retellings.
This new study approaches the martial arts from their origins in military exercises and callisthenics. It examines a rich folklore from old wuxia tales of crime-fighting heroes to modern kung fu movies. Centre stage is given to the stories that martial artists tell themselves about themselves, with accounts (both factual and fictional) of famous practitioners including China’s Yim Wing-chun, Wong Fei-hong, and Ip Man, as well as Japanese counterparts such as Kano Jigoro, Itosu Anko and So Doshin.
The history of martial arts encompasses secret societies and religious rebels, with intimate glimpses of the histories of China, Korea and Japan, their conflicts and transformations. The book also charts the migration of martial arts to the United States and beyond. Special attention is paid to the turmoil of the twentieth century, the cross-cultural influence of Japanese colonies in Asia, and the post-war rise of martial arts in sport and entertainment – including the legacy of Bruce Lee, the dilemma of the ninja and the global audience for martial arts in fiction.
Much has been written about the Knights Templar in recent years. A leading specialist in the history of this legendary medieval order now writes a full account of the Knights of the Order of the Temple of Solomon, to give them their full title, bringing the latest findings to a general audience. Putting many of the myths finally to rest, Nicholson recounts a new history of these storm troopers of the papacy, founded during the crusades but who got so rich and influential that they challenged the power of kings.
For over a hundred years England repeatedly invaded France on the pretext that her kings had a right to the French throne. France was a large, unwieldy kingdom, England was small and poor, but for the most part she dominated the war, sacking towns and castles and winning battles – including such glorious victories as Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt, but then the English run of success began to fail, and in four short years she lost Normandy and finally her last stronghold in Guyenne. The protagonists of the Hundred Year War are among the most colourful in European history: for the English, Edward III, the Black Prince and Henry V, later immortalized by Shakespeare; for the French, the splendid but inept John II, who died a prisoner in London, Charles V, who very nearly overcame England and the enigmatic Charles VII, who did at last drive the English out.
The British monarchy may be over a thousand years old, but the House of Windsor dates only from 1917, when, in the middle of the First World War that was to see the demise of the major thrones of continental Europe, it rebranded itself from the distinctly Germanic Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the homely and familiar Windsor.
By redefining its loyalties to identify with its people and country rather than the princes, kings and emperors of Europe to whom it was related by birth and marriage, it set the monarchy on the path of adaptation, making itself relevant and allowing it to survive.
Since then, the fine line trodden by the House of Windsor between ancient and modern, grandeur and thrift, splendour and informality, remoteness and accessibility, and influence and neutrality has left it more secure and its appeal more universal today than ever.