The 100 Words That Make The English
By Tony Thorne
Englishness is an ancient and powerful concept, but no one seems sure exactly what it means in the twenty-first century. In exploring our national identity, Tony Thorne has compiled a fascinating compendium of the hundred words and phrases that have become the cornerstones of modern English, and have been used - sometimes deliberately, but often inadvertently - to stake out our common ground, to define what makes us essentially English, and thus different from those beastly foreigners who lurk just off our shores.
By David Andress
In 1789 the world stood at the threshold of the modern age. While the French Revolution and the election of George Washington seemed to herald a new global order, Britain stood shocked at the new world unfolding before her. Two documents were drafted which would change the very meanings of citizens and statehood: the US Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. The age of royal despotism had ended.But beneath this veneer of progress, darker forces were at work: the French Revolution spiralled out of control, American slavery expanded and the armed forces of the British Empire were unleashed in India. From 'mad' King George III to J.J. Rousseau and Thomas Paine, from Pitt the Younger to Robespierre, David Andress illuminates a world on the brink through the men who held its future in their hands.
1848: Year Of Revolution
By Mike Rapport
In 1848, Europe was engulfed in a firestorm of revolution. The streets of cities from Paris to Bucharest and from Berlin to Palermo were barricaded and flooded by armed insurgents proclaiming political liberties and national freedom. The conservative order which had held sway since the fall of Napoleon in 1815 crumbled beneath the revolutionary assault. This book narrates the breathtaking events which overtook Europe in 1848, tracing brilliantly their course from the exhilaration of the liberal triumph, through the fear of social chaos to the final despair of defeat and disillusionment. The failures of 1848 would scar European history with the contradictions of authoritarianism and revolution until deep into the twentieth century.
By Gore Vidal
With the centennial year of the United States as the target of this historical novel, Gore Vidal again mounts a glorious expedition into that grimy and intricate activity called politics. And this is politics as it ought to be: gossip, corruption, money, dinner parties, more corruption, and all the tacky panoply of power. Into the rarefied atmosphere of a world where money has begun to talk very loudly ? usually through the mouths of people called Astor ? step Charles Schuyler and his daughter Emma. Charlie is the unacknowledged bastard son of Aaron Burr; Emma is rather beautiful; and both think it is prudent to return from penury in Europe and secure a fortuitous marriage for Emma. But America is no longer a young republic; it's a fledgling international superpower with its attendant seedy administration, dubious election campaigns, snobbery, 'popped corn', 'speaking tubes' and 'perpendicular railways' (lifts). It's a world that will welcome into its social and political bosom these two attractive exotics with the right names. And it's a world whose every political peccadillo, social slip-up and irresistible intrigue is recorded in this, the journal of Charlie Schuyler.
By Tom Segev
1967 did not mark the beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it was a year that changed the course of history. When Egypt's President Nasser closed the straits of Tiran to Israeli navigation, it triggered a conflict between Israel and the armies of Jordan, Syria and Egypt. Within six days the Israelis had occupied territories three times wider than their own, populated by over a million Palestinian Arabs.Israel suddenly became something of a colonial empire, more Goliath than David. The war granted political legitimacy to Menachem Begin's right-wing Herut party, and Arab terrorism paved the way for Israel's secret service to become a major factor in the country's power structure.1967 will not be a military history, nor will it focus mainly on political developments. The year 1967 dramatically altered the lives of millions of individuals and this book will focus on the personal stories from both sides of the conflict.
By Taylor Downing
'A carefully researched and hugely readable account of the build-up to war, the momentum inexorably growing as he assembles each part of the jigsaw. Indeed, his narrative is so persuasive that by the time you are about two- thirds through, it takes some effort to remind yourself that the Third World War never happened' Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times1983 was a supremely dangerous year - even more dangerous than 1962, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the US, President Reagan massively increased defence spending, described the Soviet Union as an 'evil empire' and announced his 'Star Wars' programme, calling for a shield in space to defend the US from incoming missiles.Yuri Andropov, the paranoid Soviet leader, saw all this as signs of American aggression and convinced himself that the US really meant to attack the Soviet Union. He put the KGB on alert to look for signs of an imminent nuclear attack. When a Soviet fighter jet shot down Korean Air Lines flight KAL 007 after straying off course over a sensitive Soviet military area, President Reagan described it as a 'terrorist act' and 'a crime against humanity'. The temperature was rising fast.Then at the height of the tension, NATO began a war game called Able Archer 83. In this exercise, NATO requested permission to use the codes to launch nuclear weapons. The nervous Soviets convinced themselves this was no exercise but the real thing.This is an extraordinary and largely unknown Cold War story of spies and double agents, of missiles being readied, of intelligence failures, misunderstandings and the panic of world leaders. With access to hundreds of extraordinary new documents just released in the US, Taylor Downing is able to tell for the first time the gripping but true story of how near the world came to the brink of nuclear war in 1983. 1983: The World at the Brink is a real-life thriller.
The 2½ Pillars Of Wisdom
By Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith, best-selling author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, has turned his hand to humour. The delightful result is a creation of comic genius. For in the unnaturally tall form of Professor Doctor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, we are invited to meet a memorable character whose sublime insouciance is a blend of the cultivated pomposity of Frasier Crane and of Inspecteur Clouseau's hapless gaucherie.Von Igelfeld inhabits the rarefied world of the Institute of Romance Philology at Regensburg, a world he shares with his equally tall and equally ridiculous colleagues, Professors Florianus Prinzel and Detlev Amadeus Unterholzer. Their unlikely adventures are described in three deliciously funny instalments: Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances.
44 Scotland Street
By Alexander McCall Smith
The bestselling author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series brings his trademark warmth and wisdom to his novel chronicling the lives of the residents of 44 Scotland Street that's 'as charming as the bohemian street in which it's set' (Scottish Daily Record)The story revolves around the comings and goings at No. 44 Scotland Street, a fictitious building in a real street in Edinburgh. Immediately recognisable are the Edinburgh chartered surveyor, stalwart of the Conservative Association, who dreams of membership of Scotland's most exclusive golf club. We have the pushy Stockbridge mother, and her prodigiously talented five-year-old son, who is making good progress with the saxophone and with his Italian. Then there is Domenica Macdonald who is that type of Edinburgh lady who sees herself as a citizen of a broader intellectual world.In McCall Smith's hands such characters retain charm and novelty, simultaneously arousing both mirth and empathy. 44 Scotland Street is vintage McCall Smith, tackling issues of trust and honesty, snobbery and hypocrisy, love and loss, but all with great lightness of touch. Clever, elegant and funny, this is a novel that provides huge entertainment but which is underpinned by the moral dilemmas of everyday life and the characters' struggles to resolve them.Contains an exclusive extract from The Department of Sensitive Crimes, the first novel in the new Detective Varg series by Alexander McCall Smith
By Bill Drummond
At the age of 45, Bill Drummond is less concerned with setting the record straight as making sure it revolves at the correct speed. Whether he's recording 'Justified and Ancient' with Tammy Wynette; contemplating the dull lunacy of the Turner prize; resisting the urge to paint landscapes; or glorying in the crapness of rock comebacks; he is consistently amusing and thought-provoking, and draws us into his world with the seductive enthusiasm of a born storyteller. An artist with a singular approach to his work, Bill Drummond has paused to take stock of his life and a career that now spans over twenty-five eventful years. Famously enjoying international success with The KLF and inviting national controversy for burning a million quid with The K Foundation, these days Drummond spends much of his time writing profusely. He avoids and confronts issues, infuriates and inspires those around him, muses and confuses, creates and destroys. He has maintained a penchant for reckless schemes - all this while drinking endless pots of tea.
50 Years On
By Roy Hattersley
In FIFTY YEARS ON, Roy Hattersley explores and explains the events which have shaped modern Britain. Combining acute analysis of domestic politics with a brilliant eye for the bigger picture, his 'prejudiced history' takes the reader from the high hopes of 1945 to the cynicism of end-of century Britain. Roy Hattersley focuses his attention on two particular features of post-war Britain: the perpetuation of an education system which fails to meet the needs of the whole country, and our stubborn refusal to accept that the United Kingdom is a medium-sized European nation which can only increase its power and prosperity by real integration within the European union. FIFTY YEARS ON is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the forces that have shaped us.
According To Queeney
By Beryl Bainbridge
'A stellar literary event ... written with panache and an enviable economy ... the biggest risk of her literary life' Margaret AtwoodAccording to Queeney is a masterly evocation of the last years of Dr Johnson, arguably Britain's greatest Man of Letters. The time is the 1770s and 1780s and Johnson, having completed his life's major work (he compiled the first ever Dictionary of the English Language) is running an increasingly chaotic life. Torn between his strict morality and his undeclared passion for Mrs Thrale, the wife of an old friend, According to Queeney reveals one of Britain's most wonderful characters in all his wit and glory. Above all, though, this is a story of love and friendship and brilliantly narrated by Queeney, Mrs Thrale's daughter, looking back over her life.
By Harry Pearson
This is a book about men and war. Not real conflict but war as it has filtered down to generations of boys and men through toys, comics, games and movies. Harry Pearson belongs to the great battalion of British men who grew up playing with toy soldiers - refighting World War II - and then stopped growing up. Inspired by the photos of the gallant pilot uncles that decorated the wall above his father's model-making table, by Sergeant Hurricane, Action Man and Escape from Colditz, dressed in Clarks' commando shoes and with the Airfix Army in support, he battled in the fields and on the beaches, in his head and on the sitting-room floor and across his bedroom ceiling. And thirty years later he still is.ACHTUNG SCHWEINEHUND! is a celebration of those glory days, a boy's own story of the urge to play, to conquer - and to adopt very bad German accents, shouting 'Donner und Blitzen' at every opportunity. This is a tale of obsession, glue and plastic kits. It is the story of one boy's imaginary war and where it led him.
Across The Blood-Red Skies
By Robert Radcliffe
Spring 1917. The average survival time of a First World War reconnaissance pilot is eighteen hours. After weeks in the thick of it, George Duckwell, reluctant novice-hero of the Royal Flying Corps, is living on borrowed time, watching in horror as a succession of comrades are shot down, burned, maimed and killed, while somehow he survives.Struggling to make sense of the conflict, George forms an awkward friendship with William 'Mac' MacBride, an enigmatic Canadian ace, waging his own private war against the legendary Red Baron, Manfred von Richtofen. But when Mac falls for George's sweetheart - front-line nurse Emily - the fragile bond that keeps the two men alive comes under threat on the eve of the most lethal conflict the modern world has known.