‘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.
Who was Robin Hood? Throughout history the figures of the hooded man of Sherwood forest and his band of outlaws have transfixed readers and viewers; but where does the myth come from? The story appeared out of the legend of the Green man but found its location during the reign of Richard II, the Lionheart, who was away from England fighting in the crusades. In his absence his brother John lay waste to the country. But does this tell the full story? Was Robin a bandit prince ahead of a troop of brigands? Who was the Sherrif and was he in fact the legitimate law in the land fighting vigilantes?
Since Vietnam, both the way we fight and our reasons for going to war have become much more complex.
The importance of a conflict is determined not by its size or by the numbers of combatants involved but by its ripple effects and its influence upon future events. In a series of thrilling recreations of eight of the most significant encounters of the last three decades, military historian Richard Connaughton presents a fascinating insight into modern warfare, including interviews with some of the major figures.
The conflicts include Goose Green in the Falklands, the invasion of Grenada, Operation Desert Storm – the first Iraq War, Operations in Mogadishu as immortalized in the book and film Blackhawk Down, the Siege of Gorazde and Operation Barras in Sierra Leone, as well as more recent events at Fallujah, Iraq, and in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Richard Connaughton has interviewed most of the major figures involved in each of the conflicts and offers powerful insights into why battles either work or don’t. This book will tell you what warfare means in the contemporary world and how it can affect tomorrow.
The Victorian era has dominated the popular imagination like no other period, but these myths and stories also give a very distorted view of the 19th century.
The early Victorians were much stranger that we usually imagine, and their world would have felt very different from our own and it was only during the long reign of the Queen that a modern society emerged in unexpected ways.
Using character portraits, events, and key moments Paterson brings the real life of Victorian Britain alive – from the lifestyles of the aristocrats to the lowest ranks of the London slums. This includes the right way to use a fan, why morning visits were conducted in the afternoon, what the Victorian family ate and how they enjoyed their free time, as well as the Victorian legacy today – convenience food, coffee bars, window shopping, mass media, and celebrity culture.
Praise for Dicken’s London:
Out of the babble of voices, Michael Paterson has been able to extract the essence of London itself. Read this book and re-enter the labyrinth of a now-ancient city.’ Peter Ackroyd
Using wide-ranging evidence, Martyn Whittock shines a light on Britain in the Middle Ages, bringing it vividly to life in this fascinating new portrait that brings together the everyday and the extraordinary.
Thus we glimpse 11th-century rural society through a conversation between a ploughman and his master.
The life of Dick Whittington illuminates the rise of the urban elite. The stories of Roger ‘the Raker’ who drowned in his own sewage, a ‘merman’ imprisoned in Orford Castle and the sufferings of the Jews of Bristol reveal the extraordinary diversity of medieval society.
Through these characters and events – and using the latest discoveries and research – the dynamic and engaging panorama of medieval England is revealed.
Who was the real King Arthur? What do the historical documents tell us about the Knight of the Round Temple? It is just a chivalric fantasy?
The story of Arthur has been handed down to us by Medieval poets and legends – but what if he actually existed and was in fact a great king in the early years of Britain’s story. Mike Ashley visits the source material and uncovers unexpected new insights into the legend: there is clear evidence that the Arthurian legends arose from the exploits of not just one man, but at least three originating in Wales, Scotland and Brittany. The true historical Arthur really existed and is distantly related to the present royal family.
‘Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the street to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.’ Douglas Adams, Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
We human beings have trouble with infinity – yet infinity is a surprisingly human subject. Philosophers and mathematicians have gone mad contemplating its nature and complexity – yet it is a concept routinely used by schoolchildren. Exploring the infinite is a journey into paradox. Here is a quantity that turns arithmetic on its head, making it feasible that 1 = 0. Here is a concept that enables us to cram as many extra guests as we like into an already full hotel. Most bizarrely of all, it is quite easy to show that there must be something bigger than infinity – when it surely should be the biggest thing that could possibly be.
Brian Clegg takes us on a fascinating tour of that borderland between the extremely large and the ultimate that takes us from Archimedes, counting the grains of sand that would fill the universe, to the latest theories on the physical reality of the infinite. Full of unexpected delights, whether St Augustine contemplating the nature of creation, Newton and Leibniz battling over ownership of calculus, or Cantor struggling to publicise his vision of the transfinite, infinity’s fascination is in the way it brings together the everyday and the extraordinary, prosaic daily life and the esoteric.
Whether your interest in infinity is mathematical, philosophical, spiritual or just plain curious, this accessible book offers a stimulating and entertaining read.
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
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.
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.
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.
Starting AD 400 (around the time of their invasion of England) and running through to the 1100s (the ‘Aftermath’), historian Geoffrey Hindley shows the Anglo-Saxons as formative in the history not only of England but also of Europe.
The society inspired by the warrior world of the Old English poem Beowulf saw England become the world’s first nation state and Europe’s first country to conduct affairs in its own language, and Bede and Boniface of Wessex establish the dating convention we still use today. Including all the latest research, this is a fascinating assessment of a vital historical period.