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A Brief History of the Martial Arts

A Brief History of the Martial Arts

‘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.
A Brief History of the Battle of Agincourt

A Brief History of the Battle of Agincourt

There can be few military victories so complete, or achieved against such heavy odds, as that won by Henry V on 25 October 1415 against Charles VI’s army at Agincourt. In the words of one contemporary French chronicler, it was the ‘most disgraceful event that had ever happened to the Kingdom of France’.

Christopher Hibbert’s wonderfully concise account draws on the unusual number of contemporary sources available to historians to describe in lucid detail not only what happened, but how it happened. His classic account of the crushing defeat of the French at Agincourt combines historical rigour with a vigorous and very readable narrative style.
A Brief History of the British Army

A Brief History of the British Army

The story of the British Army has many sides to it, being a tale of heroic successes and tragic failures, of dogged determination and drunken disorder. It involves many of the most vital preoccupations in the history of the island – the struggle against Continental domination by a single power, the battle for Empire – and a cast pf remarkable characters – Marlborough, Wellington and Montgomery among them.

Yet the British, relying on their navy, have always neglected their army; from the time of Alfred the Great to the reign of Charles II wars were fought with hired forces disbanded as soon as conflict ended. Even after the stuggles with Louis XIV impelled the formation of a reulgar army, impecunious governments neglected the armed forces except in times of national emergency.

In this wide-ranging account, Major Haswell sketches the medieval background before concentrating on the three hundred years of the regular army, leading up to its role in our own time. He presents an informed and probing picture of the organization of the army, the development of weaponry and strategy – and the everyday life of the British soldier through the centuries.

John Lewis-Stempel has brought Major Haswell’s classic work right up to date by expanding the section on the dissolution of empire to include a full account of Northern Ireland and the Falklands War. He has added a new chapter to cover the Gulf War, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq; also the increasing role of special forces and the amalgamation of regiments.
A Brief History Of Video Games

A Brief History Of Video Games

‘Stanton writes with terrific verve and precision . . . his understanding of the seductive pleasures of gaming takes us right to its heart.’
Maria Bustillos, Times Literary Supplement

‘The best overview book of the industry that I’ve read.’
Andrew Liptak, io9

From the first wood-panelled Pong machines in California to the masterpieces of engineering that now sit in countless homes all over the world, A Brief History of Video Games reveals the vibrant history and culture of interactive entertainment.

Above all, this is a book about the games – how the experience of playing has developed from simple, repetitive beginnings into a cornucopia of genres and styles, at once utterly immersive and socially engaging. With full-colour illustrations throughout, it shows how technological advances have transformed the first dots and dashes of bored engineers into sophisticated, responsive worlds that are endlessly captivating.

As thrilling and surprising as the games it describes, this is an indispensable read for anyone serious about the business of having fun.
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 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 the Knights Templar

A Brief History of the Knights Templar

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.
A Brief History of Mathematical Thought

A Brief History of Mathematical Thought

Mathematics is a product of human culture which has developed along with our attempts to comprehend the world around us. In A Brief History of Mathematical Thought, Luke Heaton explores how the language of mathematics has evolved over time, enabling new technologies and shaping the way people think. From stone-age rituals to algebra, calculus, and the concept of computation, Heaton shows the enormous influence of mathematics on science, philosophy and the broader human story.

The book traces the fascinating history of mathematical practice, focusing on the impact of key conceptual innovations. Its structure of thirteen chapters split between four sections is dictated by a combination of historical and thematic considerations.

In the first section, Heaton illuminates the fundamental concept of number. He begins with a speculative and rhetorical account of prehistoric rituals, before describing the practice of mathematics in Ancient Egypt, Babylon and Greece. He then examines the relationship between counting and the continuum of measurement, and explains how the rise of algebra has dramatically transformed our world. In the second section, he explores the origins of calculus and the conceptual shift that accompanied the birth of non-Euclidean geometries. In the third section, he examines the concept of the infinite and the fundamentals of formal logic. Finally, in section four, he considers the limits of formal proof, and the critical role of mathematics in our ongoing attempts to comprehend the world around us.

The story of mathematics is fascinating in its own right, but Heaton does more than simply outline a history of mathematical ideas. More importantly, he shows clearly how the history and philosophy of maths provides an invaluable perspective on human nature.
A Brief History of the Hundred Years War

A Brief History of the Hundred Years War

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.
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.
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.
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