The history of the Freemasons has often been shrouded in mystery and suspicion.
Since 1717, with the establishment of the Grand Lodge in London, the Freemasons have been a power within the nation, withstanding public disapproval and attacks, from the Catholic Church among others.
Throughout the last three hundred years, the Freemasons have been influential in some of the most important turning points in world history.
Jasper Ridley explores the role of the society in both the American and French Revolutions and whether Mozart’s The Magic Flute was an exposé of secret rituals. He reveals that Pushkin, Winston Churchill, Booker T. Washington, Clark Gable, Walter Scott, members of the royal family and at least sixteen US Presidents have all been Freemasons.
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.
Religion, politics and fear: how England was transformed by the Tudors.
The English Reformation was a unique turning point in English history. Derek Wilson retells the story of how the Tudor monarchs transformed English religion and why it still matters today. Recent scholarly research has undermined the traditional view of the Reformation as an event that occurred solely amongst the elite. Wilson now shows that, although the transformation was political and had a huge impact on English identity, on England’s relationships with its European neighbours and on the foundations of its empire, it was essentially a revolution from the ground up. By 1600, in just eighty years, England had become a radically different nation in which family, work and politics, as well as religion, were dramatically altered.
Praise for Derek Wilson:
‘Stimulating and authoritative.’ John Guy.
‘Masterly. [Wilson] has a deep understanding of . . . characters, reaching out across the centuries.’ Sunday Times.
Miller provides a clear and comprehensible narrative, a coherent and accurate synthesis, intended as a guide for students and the general reader to an extremely complex period in British history. His aim is to help readers avoid getting lost in a maze of detail and rather to maintain a grasp of the big picture.
Although the English Civil War is usually seen, in England at least, as a conflict between two sides, it involved the Scots, the Irish and the army and the people of England, especially London. At some points, events occurred and perspectives changed with such disorienting rapidity that even those who lived through these events were confused as to where they stood in relation to one another.
As the 1640s wore on, events unfolded in ways which the participants had not expected and in many cases did not want. Hindsight might suggest that everything led logically to the trial and execution of the king, but these were in fact highly improbable outcomes.
Since the 1980s, a ‘three kingdoms’ approach has become almost compulsory, but Miller’s focus is unashamedly on England. Events in Scotland and Ireland are covered only insofar as they had an impact on events in England.
Although China’s great empire lasted for longer than any other, no country has suffered so great an imbalance between the fame of its art and obscurity of its history. The names of the great dynasties are familiar, yet who can actually locate a T’ang horse or a Ming vase in its social or cultural context?
By focusing on the key colourful characters of the eight major dynasties, Bamber Gascoigne brings to life 3500 years of Chinese civilization. His bird’s-eye view starts on the borders of myth. It moves swiftly on to the greatest achievements of language and thought, the cultural treasures and imperial palaces, wars won and lands lost to the Mongols, finally to arrive at the 1912 Revolution, which contained within it the seeds of Communism that ensured the overthrow of the last emperor. Via this portrait of an empire and its peoples he has opened the door to a world for too long inaccessible to the West.
A history of the cult of the ancient Druids, exploring who they really were and what role they played in the Celtic world. The author’s interpretation of the facts is based on both archaeological and etymological findings. Peter Berresford Ellis sifts through evidence and, with reference to the latest archaeological findings and the use of etymology, shows that the Druids have been subject to a swaythe of propaganda and myth-making through the centuries.
Why did the medieval Church bless William of Normandy’s invasion of Christian England in 1066 and authorise cultural genocide in Provence? How could a Christian army sack Christian Constantinople in 1204? Why did thousands of ordinary men and women, led by knights and ladies, kings and queens, embark on campaigns of fanatical conquest in the world of Islam? The word ‘Crusade’ came later, but the concept of a ‘war for the faith’ is an ancient one.
Geoffrey Hindley instructively unravels the story of the Christian military expeditions that have perturbed European history, troubled Christian consciences and embittered Muslim attitudes towards the West. He offers a lively record of the Crusades, from the Middle East to the pagan Baltic, and fascinating portraits of the major personalities, from Godfrey of Bouillon, the first Latin ruler of Jerusalem, to Etienne, the visionary French peasant boy who inspired the tragic Children’s Crusade. Addressing questions rarely considered, Hindley sheds new light on pressing issues surrounding religious division and shows how the Crusades have helped to shape the modern world and relations between Christian and Muslim countries to this day.
In September 1854, the armies of Britain, France and Turkey invaded Russia. In the months that followed over half a million soldiers fell. They died from bullet wounds and shrapnel, cholera and disease, starvation and freezing. The Crimean War was a medieval conflict fought in a modern age. But what is rarely appreciated, and what this historical examination shows, is that this extraordinary and costly struggle was fought not only in the Crimea, but also along the Danube, in the Arctic Ocean, in the Baltic and Pacific. Few wars in history reveal greater confusion of purpose or have had richer unintended consequences. Much has been written about this most senseless of wars and this new history does not aim to cover old ground. Instead, it traces the war’s causes and sketches a vivid picture of the age which made it possible, up until the moment of the Allies’ departure for the Crimea. Woven together with developments in diplomacy, trade and nationalistic expression are descriptions of the Russian, Turkish and British armies and the principals of the drama – Napoleon III, Marshal St Arnaud, Lord Raglan, the great Russian engineer Todleban, Florence Nightingale, Nicholas I and his magnificently terrible Russian empire.
The Cold War was an undeclared war, fought silently and carefully between ideological opponents armed with the most fearsome weapons mankind has ever seen.
Hughes-Wilson takes a cool look at this war, from the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the USSR thereafter. He examines the suspicion and paranoia — on both sides — of the greatest stand-off in history. Written by one of Britain’s leading, popular, military historians, this book makes accessible for the first time one of the key periods to shape our world.
For centuries the Celts held sway in Europe. Even after their conquest by the Romans, their culture remained vigorous, ensuring that much of it endured to feed an endless fascination with Celtic history and myths, artwork and treasures. A foremost authority on the Celtic peoples and their culture, Peter Berresford Ellis presents an invigoration overview of their world. With his gift for making the scholarly accessible, he discusses the Celts’ mysterious origins and early history and investigates their rich and complex society. His use of recently uncovered firnds brings fascinating insights into Celtic kings and chieftains, architecture and arts, medicine and religions, myths and legends, making this esesntial reading for any search for Europe’s ancient past.
A concise history of the Caribbean’s long and fascinating history, from pre-contact civilisations to the present day
This is a concise history, intended for travellers, but of inestimable value to anyone looking for an overview of the Caribbean and its mainland coastal states, with a focus on the past few centuries.
The history of the Caribbean does not make much sense without factoring in the cities – Pensacola, New Orleans, Galveston – and the ambitions of the states on its continental shores, notably the United States.
This account is grounded in a look at the currents and channels of the sea, and its constraints, such as the Mosquito Coast, followed by the history of ‘pre-contact’ civilisations, focusing on the Maya and the Toltec Empire.
With the arrival of the Europeans, from the late fifteenth century to the early years of the seventeenth century, the story becomes one of exploration, conquest and settlement. Black charts the rise of slave economies and the Caribbean’s place in the Atlantic world, also the arrival of the English – Hawkins and Drake – to challenge the Spanish.
He examines the sugar and coffee slave economies of the English, French, Spanish and Dutch, also the successful rebellion in Haiti in the eighteenth century, and how the West Indies were further transformed by the Louisiana Purchase, the American conquest of Florida and the incorporation of Texas.
He discusses the impact of Bolivar’s rebellion in Spanish America, the end of slavery in the British Caribbean, and war between Mexico and America; also the defeat of the South by the Union, the American takeover of the Panama Canal project from France, and the Spanish-American War.
The first half of the twentieth century focuses on growing US power: intervention in Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic; Cuba as an American protectorate, and civil wars in Mexico.
The Cold War brought new tensions and conflict to the region, but the same period also saw the rise of the leisure industry. The last part of the book looks at the Caribbean today – political instability in Venezuela and Colombia, crime in Mexico, post-Castro Cuba – and the region’s future prospects.
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.