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A Brief History of Spain

By Jeremy Black
Authors:
Jeremy Black
Despite being relatively brief, this very readable history covers environmental, political, social, economic, cultural and artistic elements, and is very open to regional variations and to the extent that the history of the peninsula and of its political groupings was far from inevitable. Its tone is accessible, supported by boxes providing supplemental information, and is perfect for travellers to Spain.
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  • A Brief History of Khubilai Khan

    By Jonathan Clements
    Authors:
    Jonathan Clements
    His grandfather was the bloodthirsty Mongol leader Genghis Khan, his mother a Christian princess. Groomed from childhood for a position of authority, Khubilai snatched the position of Great Khan, becoming the overlord of a Mongol federation that stretched from the Balkans to the Korean coast. His armies conquered the Asian kingdom of Dali and brought down the last defenders of imperial China.Khubilai Khan presided over a glorious Asian renaissance, attracting emissaries from all across the continent, and opening his civil service to 'men with coloured eyes' - administrators from the far west. His reign began the glorious Yuan dynasty that ruled over China for only ninety years, but had a profound impact on Asian history, from international trade to cultural revolution. Jonathan Clements's insightful biography into the life and times of one of China's greatest leaders is a fascinating introduction to an important era, uncovering the man behind Marco Polo's mythic portrait.
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    The Beastly Battles Of Old England

    By Nigel Cawthorne
    Authors:
    Nigel Cawthorne
    Throughout history the English have been a warlike lot. Often we fight among ourselves - there have been a good few civil wars - and when we were not slaughtering each other, we practiced on our neighbours, the Scots, the Irish, the French . . . When that got too easy, we set off around the world to find other people to fight. This was usually done with a hubris that invited some ludicrous pratfall. In THE BEASTLY BATTLES OF OLD ENGLAND, Nigel Cawthorne takes us on a darkly humorous journey through some of our ill-advised military actions. From the war over a severed ear to a general seeking out his rival's mistresses to even the score, it is a miscellany of insufferable arrogance, reckless gallantry, stunning stupidity, massive misjudgements and general beastliness.
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  • A Brief History of the Private Life of Elizabeth II, Updated Edition

    By Michael Paterson
    Authors:
    Michael Paterson
    Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning British monarch. A personally quiet, modest and dutiful person, she is far better-informed about the lives of her subjects than they often realize. She has known every Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and every American President since Eisenhower. Yet what of the woman behind the crown?This book seeks to take a new look at this exhaustively-documented life and show how Queen Elizabeth became the person she is. Who, and what, have been the greatest influences upon her? What are her likes and dislikes? What are her hobbies? Who are her friends? What does she feel about the demands of duty and protocol? Is she really enjoying herself when she smiles during official events? How differently does she behave when out of the public eye? Examining the places in which she grew up or has lived, the training she received and her attitudes to significant events in national life, it presents a fresh view of one of recent history's most important figures.In recent years, Queen Elizabeth has become the longest-reigning monarch in our history and has cut back on commitments. Nevertheless she is still very active and has made some wise decisions about who takes over a number of her duties.
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    A Brief History of Italy

    By Jeremy Black
    Authors:
    Jeremy Black
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    The Battered Body Beneath the Flagstones, and Other Victorian Scandals

    By Michelle Morgan
    Authors:
    Michelle Morgan
    'Ghoulishly entertaining' Jacqueline Banerjee, Times Literary SupplementA grisly book dedicated to the crimes, perversions and outrages of Victorian England, covering high-profile offences - such as the murder of actor William Terriss, whose stabbing at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre in 1897 filled the front pages for many weeks - as well as lesser-known transgressions that scandalised the Victorian era.The tales include murders and violent crimes, but also feature scandals that merely amused the Victorians. These include the story of a teenage man who married an actress, only to be shipped off to Australia by his disgusted parents; and the Italian ice-cream man who only meant to buy his sweetheart a hat but ended up proposing marriage instead. When he broke it off, his fiancée's father sued him and the story was dubbed the 'Amusing Aberdeen Breach of Promise Case'. Also present is the gruesome story of the murder of Patrick O Connor who was shot in the head and buried under the kitchen flagstones by his lover Maria Manning and her husband, Frederick. The couple's subsequent trial caused a sensation and even author Charles Dickens attended the grisly public hanging.Drawing on a range of sources from university records and Old Bailey transcripts to national and regional newspaper archives, Michelle Morgan's research sheds new light on well-known stories as well as unearthing previously unknown incidents.
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  • A Brief History of Atlantis

    By Stephen P. Kershaw
    Authors:
    Stephen P. Kershaw
    The Atlantis story remains one of the most haunting and enigmatic tales from antiquity, and one that still resonates very deeply with the modern imagination. But where did Atlantis come from, what was it like, and where did it go to?Atlantis was first introduced by the Greek philosopher Plato in two dialogues the Timaios and Kritias, written in the fourth century BC. As he philosophises about the origins of life, the Universe and humanity, the great thinker puts forward a stunning description of Atlantis, an island paradise with an ideal society. But the Atlanteans degenerate and become imperialist aggressors: they fight against antediluvian Athens, which heroically repels their mighty forces, before a cataclysmic natural disaster destroys the warring states. His tale of a great empire that sank beneath the waves has sparked thousands of years of debate over whether Atlantis really existed. But did Plato mean his tale as history, or just as a parable to help illustrate his philosophy?The book is broken down into two main sections plus a coda - firstly the translations/commentaries which will have the discussions of the specifics of the actual texts; secondly a look at the reception of the myth from then to now; thirdly a brief round-off bringing it all together.
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  • A Brief History of France, Revised and Updated

    By Cecil Jenkins
    Authors:
    Cecil Jenkins
    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.
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  • A Brief History of the Martial Arts

    By Jonathan Clements
    Authors:
    Jonathan Clements
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  • A Brief History of the British Army

    By John Lewis-Stempel, Jock Haswell
    Authors:
    John Lewis-Stempel, Jock Haswell
    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.
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  • A Brief History of the Amazons

    By Lyn Webster Wilde
    Authors:
    Lyn Webster Wilde
    'Golden-shielded, silver-sworded, man-loving, male-child slaughtering Amazons,' is how the fifth-century Greek historian Hellanicus described the Amazons, and they have fascinated humanity ever since. Did they really exist? For centuries, scholars consigned them to the world of myth, but Lyn Webster Wilde journeyed into the homeland of the Amazons and uncovered astonishing evidence of their historic reality.North of the Black Sea she found archaeological excavations of graves of Iron Age women buried with arrows, swords and armour. In the hidden world of the Hittites, near the Amazons' ancient capital of Thermiscyra in Anatolia, she unearthed traces of powerful priestesses, women-only religious cults, and an armed, bisexual goddess - all possible sources for the ferocious women.Combining scholarly penetration with a sense of adventure, Webster Wilde has produced a coherent and absorbing book that challenges preconceived notions, still disturbingly widespread, of what men and women can do.
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  • A Brief History of the Battle of Agincourt

    By Christopher Hibbert
    Authors:
    Christopher Hibbert
    There can be few military victories so complete, or achieved against such heavy odds, as that won by Henry V on 25 October 1415 against Charles VI's army at Agincourt. In the words of one contemporary French chronicler, it was the 'most disgraceful event that had ever happened to the Kingdom of France'.Christopher Hibbert's wonderfully concise account draws on the unusual number of contemporary sources available to historians to describe in lucid detail not only what happened, but how it happened. His classic account of the crushing defeat of the French at Agincourt combines historical rigour with a vigorous and very readable narrative style.
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  • A Brief Guide To British Battlefields

    By David Clark
    Authors:
    David Clark
    A very readable work of reference offering a survey in chronological order, from AD 84 to 1746, of the major battles which have taken place on British soil, from the Roman occupation to Culloden, the last battle fought on British soil. In this way, the book can be read as a continuous narrative, while each entry also stands alone as a self-contained guide. The battles are grouped into relevant sections (such as the Wars of the Roses, the English Civil Wars and the Jacobite Rebellions), within broader historical periods. Each period is prefaced by a presentation of the nature of warfare and is enhanced by a feature article of specialist interest. Every entry includes a narrative of events leading up to the battle, a vivid description of the battle itself and an assessment of the long and short-term, consequences. In addition, there is useful information for visits, including precise identification of the location, details of access to and features of each site. The book is illustrated throughout with maps and a plate section.
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  • A Brief History of Magna Carta, 2nd Edition

    By Geoffrey Hindley
    Authors:
    Geoffrey Hindley
    2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, the influence of which is still felt today around the world. In 1215 the barons of England forced King John to sign a revolutionary document which would change the political landscape not only of thirteenth-century Britain, but of the modern world. Magna Carta was the forerunner of the constitution that limited the powers of the crown and its echoes can be found in the seventeenth-century Civil Wars, the struggles for American Independence, the work of Thomas Paine and in the bedrock constitutional legislation of just about every democratic country today. As civil Liberties and the rule of law are increasingly brought into question throughout the world, leading medieval historian Geoffrey Hindley breathes vivid life into the story behind the signing of Magna Carta, and reveals the undiminished significance of this ancient document in today's world.
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  • A Brief History of the First World War

    By Jon E. Lewis
    Authors:
    Jon E. Lewis
    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.
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  • A Brief History of the House of Windsor

    By Michael Paterson
    Authors:
    Michael Paterson
    The British monarchy may be over a thousand years old, but the House of Windsor dates only from 1917, when, in the middle of the First World War that was to see the demise of the major thrones of continental Europe, it rebranded itself from the distinctly Germanic Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the homely and familiar Windsor. By redefining its loyalties to identify with its people and country rather than the princes, kings and emperors of Europe to whom it was related by birth and marriage, it set the monarchy on the path of adaptation, making itself relevant and allowing it to survive. Since then, the fine line trodden by the House of Windsor between ancient and modern, grandeur and thrift, splendour and informality, remoteness and accessibility, and influence and neutrality has left it more secure and its appeal more universal today than ever.
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  • A Brief History of the Roman Empire

    By Stephen P. Kershaw
    Authors:
    Stephen P. Kershaw
    In this lively and very readable history of the Roman Empire from its establishment in 27 BC to the barbarian incursions and the fall of Rome in AD 476, Kershaw draws on a range of evidence, from Juvenal's Satires to recent archaeological finds. He examines extraordinary personalities such as Caligula and Nero and seismic events such as the conquest of Britain and the establishment of a 'New Rome' at Constantinople and the split into eastern and western empires. Along the way we encounter gladiators and charioteers, senators and slaves, fascinating women, bizarre sexual practices and grotesque acts of brutality, often seen through eyes of some of the world's greatest writers. He concludes with a brief look at how Rome lives on in the contemporary world, in politics, architecture, art and literature.
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  • A Brief History of the Spy

    By Paul Simpson
    Authors:
    Paul Simpson
    From the end of the Second World War to the present day, the world has changed immeasurably. The art of spying has changed too, as spies have reacted to changing threats. Here you will find the fascinating stories of real-life spies, both famous and obscure, from either side of the Iron Curtain, along with previously secret details of War on Terror operations.Detailed stories of individual spies are set in the context of the development of the major espionage agencies, interspersed with anecdotes of gadgets, trickery, honeytraps and assassinations worthy of any fictional spy.A closing section examines the developing New Cold War, as Russia and the West confront each other once again.
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  • A Brief Guide to J. R. R. Tolkien

    By Nigel Cawthorne
    Authors:
    Nigel Cawthorne
    A very readable overview of Tolkien and his work, incorporating a brief biography, an examination of the books and a look at the process of filming his work, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings saga. It explores how Tolkien's background as a medievalist and linguist informed the languages of Middle-earth, the influence of his Catholicism and Tolkien's legacy in fantasy.A timely book to coincide with the first of Peter Jackson's two keenly awaited Hobbit films.
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  • A Brief History of the English Reformation

    By Derek Wilson
    Authors:
    Derek Wilson
    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.
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