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.
The British did not take to water like ducks, for centuries doing little but cling to coastal waters. The Romans and Vikings knocked spots of us as seamen, and the English upper classes saw seafaring as mercantile and beneath them. Britain’s success at sea began with Elizabeth I and the defeat of the Armada, thanks to superior gunnery and seamanship. Elizabeth employed practical seamen like Hawkins and Drake – and they repaid her trust. Howarth reconstructs the expansion of trade routes and the great 18th – century days of the line of battle ships. With Napoleon’s fall, the British were free to expand, and their prestige rose so high that sea warfare almost ceased as British ships patrolled the oceans. In the 20th century, the British navy was twice as big as any other. Full of anecdote, erudition and humour, this is a classic account.
The story of Christianity is one of colossal undertakings and spectacular successes as well as ferocious intolerance, greed and bloodshed. Bamber Gascoigne traces a clear path through a complicated history, exploring the motives, the passions, the fears and the achievements of the Christians. His approach is objective and he writes in a conversational style, focusing on moments of significant detail and a vast and varied cast of characters.
“Going round the world” is an idea that has excited people ever since it was realized that the earth was a sphere. The appeal has something to do with encompassing all the known environment and exploring the unknown, not only on the surface of the planet but within the spirit of the explorer. The story of circumnavigation is thus a long saga of human adventure, travel and discovery. Beginning with the fateful day in 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan was speared to death on Mactan and Juan de Elcano took up the challenge of bringing his surviving companions home, the story continues through four centuries crammed with astonishing exploits by men and women of many nations. Some of the names that feature are well-known, others less so.
Praise for Small’s earlier work on Nightingale: ‘Hugh Small, in a masterly piece of historical detective work, convincingly demonstrates what all previous historians and biographers have missed . . . This is a compelling psychological portrait of a very eminent (and complex) Victorian.’
James Le Fanu, Daily Telegraph
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) is best known as a reformer of hospital nursing during and after the Crimean War, but many feel that her nursing reputation has been overstated.
A Brief History of Florence Nightingale tells the story of the sanitary disaster in her wartime hospital and why the government covered it up against her wishes. After the war she worked to put the lessons of the tragedy to good use to reduce the very high mortality from epidemic disease in the civilian population at home. She did this by persuading Parliament in 1872 to pass laws which required landlords to improve sanitation in working-class homes, and to give local authorities rather than central government the power to enforce the laws. Life expectancy increased dramatically as a result, and it was this peacetime civilian public health reform rather than her wartime hospital nursing record that established Nightingale’s reputation in her lifetime.
After her death the wartime image became popular again as a means of recruiting hospital nurses and her other achievements were almost forgotten. Today, with nursing’s new emphasis on ‘primary’ care and prevention outside hospitals, Nightingale’s focus on public health achievements makes her an increasingly relevant figure.
When we think of France, we tend think of fine food and wine, the elegant boulevards of Paris or the chic beaches of St Tropez. Yet, as the largest country in Europe, France is home to extraordinary diversity.
The idea of ‘Frenchness’ emerged through 2,000 years of history and it is this riveting story, from the Roman conquest of Gaul to the present day, that Cecil Jenkins tells: of the forging of this great nation through its significant people and events and and its fascinating culture.
As he unfolds this narrative, Jenkins shows why the French began to see themselves as so different from the rest of Europe, but also why, today, the French face the same problems with regard to identity as so many other European nations.
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.
The history of Germany is intricately woven. Threaded in time through its struggles and triumphs with religion, industrialisation, enlightenment, politics, unification, and war.
In A Brief History of Germany, Jeremy Black questions how the Germany we know today came to be, chronicling the events that shaped its past, present and future in a fascinating new way.
From the fall of Rome in the 1500s to the enlightenment in the 1700s, from World War I and World War II to Germany post-unification, Black’s writing will unlock the places and people that formed Germany and enrich your visit with stories of its society and culture.
Concise yet explorative, A Brief History of Germany is an astonishing work from a renowned UK historian. Whether you are a long-term reader of Black’s expansive history work or are interested in learning more ahead of a short city break or longer trip, this intriguing look at the history of Germany is an essential read.
Globalization is fast becoming the most over-used and least-understood word in the world. For Tony Blair it is ‘inevitable and irresistible’. To deny it, says Nelson Mandela, is ‘like saying I do not recognize winter’. The accelerating political, economic, cultural and environmental interconnections that it describes are powerful and controversial. But where did globalization come from – and where is it going next?
By identifying successive waves of globalization – from 15th-century explorations to the European trading empires of the 19th century; from the construction of the Great Wall of China to the fall of the Berlin Wall — Alex MacGillivray tells the incredible story of how a mysterious flat earth became a global village.
Covering globalization from all angles (the rise of the multinational corporation, the birth of the football World Cup, how most film stars know a friend of a friend of Kevin Bacon), MacGillivray opens the lid on the complex economics behind the controversies and gives equal play to technology and culture, politics and war.
From Babylon and Bollywood to Seattle and satellite navigation, the book is rich in detail, wide-ranging in scope and even-handed in its assessment of the benefits and dangers of globaliztion. It is the brief history of an incredible shrinking planet.
Henry VIII changed the course of English life more completely than any monarch since the Conquest. In the portraits of Holbein, Henry Tudor stands proud as one of the most powerful figures in renaissance Europe. But is the portrait just a bluff?
In his brilliant new history of the life of Henry VIII, Derek Wilson explores the myths behind the image of the Tudor Lion. He was the monarch that delivered the Reformation to England yet Luther called him ‘A fool, a liar and a damnable rotten worm’. As a young man he gained a reputation as an intellectual and fair prince yet he ruled the nation like a tyrant. He treated his subjects as cruelly as he treated his wives.
Based on a wealth of new material and a lifetime’s knowledge of the subject Derek Wilson exposes a new portrait of a much misunderstood King.
PRAISE FOR DEREK WILSON’S PREVIOUS WORKS:
The Uncrowned Kings of England:
‘Stimulating and authorative’ – John Guy
‘Masterly. [Wilson] has a deep understanding of . . . characters, reaching out accross the centuries’ – Sunday Times
Hans Holbein: Portrait of an Unknown Man:
‘Fascinating’ Sarah Bradford, Daily Telegraph
‘Highly readable . . . The most accurate and vivid portrayal to date’ Alison Weir
The true stories behind some of the most shocking assassinations in recent history.
We live in a new age of political assassination; within our lifetimes all the senior members of the UN Security Council have used it as an extension of political policy in all corners of the globe. In every case, the orders came from the very top.
Today, while leading governments use covert ops, drones and lazer guided missiles, the terrorist methods of car bombs and suicide bombers make the game even more dangerous. In his compelling history of hit men, assassinations and the men who command them, Richard Bellfield recalls the major hits in history from Julius Caesar to twenty of the most shocking assassinations in recent history.
He also reveals: how the assassination of President Sadat of Egypt launched Al Qaeda. How President Kennedy ordered the death of President Diem of Vietnam. And with excerpts from CIA and Al Qaeda manuals he shows how they have changed the course of history. He also uncovers the hidden world of killers and cover ups.
From the beginning of the eighteenth century to the high water mark of the Victorian era, the world was transformed by a technological revolution the like of which had never been seen before. Inventors, businessmen, scientists, explorers all had their part to play in the story of the Industrial Revolution and in this Brief History Thomas Crump brings their story to life, and shows why it is a chapter in English history that can not be ignored.
Previous praise for Thomas Crump’s A Brief History of Science:
‘A serious and fully furnished history of science, from which anyone interested in the development of ideas . . . will greatly profit.’ A. C. Grayling, Financial Times
‘Provides an enduring sense of the extraordinary ingenuity that defines our relationship with nature.’ Guardian
‘An excellent account . . Crump writes with authority.’ TLS