By Richard J. Evans
A bullet misses its target in Sarajevo, a would-be Austrian painter gets into the Viennese academy, Lord Halifax becomes British prime minister in 1940: seemingly minor twists of fate on which world-shaking events might have hinged.Alternative history has long been the stuff of parlour games, war-gaming and science fiction, but over the past few decades it has become a popular stomping ground for serious historians. Richard J. Evans now turns a critical, slightly jaundiced eye on the subject. Altered Pasts examines the intellectual fallout from historical counterfactuals. Most importantly, Evans takes counterfactual history seriously, looking at the insights, pitfalls and intellectual implications of changing one thread in the weave of history.
By William Philpott
The First World War was too big to be grasped by its participants. In the retelling of their war in the competing memories of leaders and commanders, and the anguished fiction of its combatants, any sense of order and purpose, effort and achievement, was missing. Drawing on the experience of front line soldiers, munitions workers, politicians and those managing the vast economy of industrialised warfare, Attrition explains for the first time why and how this new type of conflict born out of industrial society was fought as it was. It was the first mass war in which the resources of the fully-mobilised societies strained every sinew in a conflict over ideals - and the humblest and highest were all caught up in the national enterprise. In a stunning narrative, this brilliant and necessary reassessment of the whole war cuts behind the myth-making to reveal the determination, organization and ambition on all sides.
By Russell Shorto
Amsterdam is not just any city. Despite its relative size it has stood alongside its larger cousins - Paris, London, Berlin - and has influenced the modern world to a degree that few other cities have. Sweeping across the city's colourful thousand year history, Amsterdam will bring the place to life: its sights and smells; its politics and people. Concentrating on two significant periods - the late 1500s to the mid 1600s and then from the Second World War to the present, Russell Shorto's masterful biography looks at Amsterdam's central preoccupations. Just as fin-de-siecle Vienna was the birthplace of psychoanalysis, seventeenth century Amsterdam was the wellspring of liberalism, and today it is still a city that takes individual freedom very seriously. A wonderfully evocative book that takes Amsterdam's dramatic past and present and populates it with a whole host of colourful characters, Amsterdam is the definitive book on this great city.
By Lawrence James
For nine hundred years the British aristocracy has considered itself ideally qualified to rule others, make laws and guide the fortunes of the nation. Tracing the history of this remarkable supremacy, ARISTOCRATS is a story of wars, intrigue, chicanery and extremes of both selflessness and greed. James also illuminates how the aristocracy's infatuation with classical art has forged our heritage, how its love of sport has shaped our pastimes and values - and how its scandals have entertained the public. Impeccably researched, balanced and brilliantly entertaining, ARISTOCRATS is an enthralling history of power, influence and an extraordinary knack for survival.
By Juliet Barker
Agincourt took place on 25 October 1415 and was a turning-point not only in the Hundred Years War between England and France but also in the history of weaponry. Azincourt (as it is now) is in the Pas-de-Calais, and the French were famously defeated by an army led by Henry V. Henry V's stunning victory revived England's military prestige and greatly strengthened his territorial claims in France. The exhausted English army of about 9,000 men was engaged by 20,000 Frenchmen, but the limited space of battle favoured the more compact English forces. The undisciplined charges of the French combined with the exceptional skill of the English archers contributed to a pivotal moment in European warfare. Not more than 1,600 English soldiers died; the French probably lost more than 6,000 men.Juliet Barker's shimmeringly brilliant narrative commemorates and analyses a canonical battle in British history.
The Ascent Of Woman
By Melanie Phillips
The story of the fight to gain the vote for women is about much more than a peripheral if picturesque skirmish around the introduction of universal suffrage. It is an explosive story of social and sexual revolutionary upheaval, and one which has not yet ended. The movement for women's suffrage in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries prefigured to a startling extent the controversies which rage today around the role of women. Far from the stereotype of a uniform body of women chaining themselves to railings, the early feminist movement was riven by virulent arguments over women's role in society, the balance to be struck between self-fulfilment and their duties to family and children, and their relationship with men.Melanie Phillips' brilliant book tells the story of the fight for women's suffrage in a way which sets the high drama of those events in the context of the moral and intellectual ferment that characterised it.
An Army At Dawn
By Rick Atkinson
The liberation of Europe and the destruction of the Third Reich is a story of courage and enduring triumph, of calamity and miscalculation. In this first volume of the Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson shows why no modern reader can understand the ultimate victory of the Allied powers without a grasp of the great drama that unfolded in North Africa in 1942 and 1943.Beginning with the daring amphibious invasion in November 1942, An Army at Dawn follows the British and American armies as they fight the French in Morocco and Algeria, and then take on the Germans and Italians in Tunisia. Battle by battle, an inexperienced and sometimes poorly led army gradually becomes a superb fighting force. Central to the tale are the extraordinary but fallible commanders who come to dominate the battlefield: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, Montgomery and Rommel.
The Age Of Extremes
By Eric Hobsbawm
THE AGE OF EXTREMES is eminent historian Eric Hobsbawm's personal vision of the twentieth century. Remarkable in its scope, and breathtaking in its depth of knowledge, this immensely rewarding book reviews the uniquely destructive and creative nature of the troubled twentieth century and makes challenging predicitions for the future.
The Age Of Empire
By Eric Hobsbawm
The splendid finale to Eric Hobsbawm's study of the nineteenth century, THE AGE OF EMPIRE covers the area of Western Imperialism and examines the forces that swept the world to the outbreak of World War One- and shaped modern society.
The Age Of Capital
By Eric Hobsbawm
The first and best, major treatment of the crucial years 1848-1875, a penetrating analysis of the rise of capitalism throught the world.In the 1860s a new word entered the economic and political vocabulary of the world: 'capitalism'. The global triumph of capitalism is the major theme of history in the decades after 1848. It was the triumph of a society which believed that economic growth rests on competitive private enterprise, on success in buying everything in the cheapest market (including labour) and selling it in the dearest. An economy so based, and therefore nestling naturally on the sound foundations of a bourgoisie composed of those whom energy, merit and intelligence had raised to their position and kept there, would - it was believed - not only create a world of suitably distributed material plenty but of ever-growing enlightenment, reason and human opportunity, an advance of the sciences and the arts, in brief a world of continuous and accelerating material and moral progress.
The Age Of Revolution
By Eric Hobsbawm
Eric Hobsbawm traces with brilliant anlytical clarity the transformation brought about in evry sphere of European life by the Dual revolution - the 1789 French revolution and the Industrial Revolution that originated in Britain. This enthralling and original account highlights the significant sixty years when industrial capitalism established itself in Western Europe and when Europe established the domination over the rest of the world it was to hold for half a century.