By Taylor Downing
1983 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.
An Iron Wind
By Peter Fritzsche
'A profoundly significant exploration of how Europeans--both Germans and those under German occupation--struggled to make sense of the conflict.' - Richard Overy, Wall Street JournalIn An Iron Wind, historian Peter Fritzsche draws on first-person accounts to show how civilians in occupied Europe struggled to understand the terrifying chaos of World War II. As the Third Reich targeted Europe's Jews, confusion and mistrust reigned. Was collaboration or resistance the wisest response? And where was God? Piecing together the broken words of the war's witnesses and victims, Fritzsche offers a haunting picture of the most violent conflict in modern history.
Asking for a Friend
By Jessica Weisberg
A delightful history of the American obsession with advice and self-help, told through the lives and wisdom of three centuries of advice-givers -- from Poor Richard to Dr. Spock to Miss Manners.Americans, for all our talk of pulling themselves up by our bootstraps, obsessively seek advice on matters large and small. Perhaps precisely because we believe in bettering ourselves and our circumstances in life, we ask for guidance constantly. And this has been true since our nation's earliest days: from the colonial era on, there have always been people eager to step up and offer advice, some of it lousy, some of it thoughtful, but all of it read and debated by generations of Americans.Jessica Weisberg takes readers on a tour of the advice-givers who have made their name, and sometimes their fortune, by telling Americans what to do. You probably don't want to follow all the advice they proffered. Eating graham crackers will not make you a better person, and wearing blue to work won't guarantee a promotion. But for all that has changed in American life, it's a comfort to know that our hang-ups, fears, and hopes have not. We've always loved seeking advice -- so long as it's anonymous, and as long as it's clear that we're not asking for ourselves. We're just asking for a friend.
The Swamp Fox
By John Oller
In the darkest days of the American Revolution, Francis Marion and his band of militia freedom fighters kept hope alive for the patriot cause during the critical British "southern campaign." Employing insurgent guerrilla tactics that became commonplace in later centuries, Marion and his brigade inflicted enemy losses that were individually small but cumulatively a large drain on British resources and morale.Although many will remember the stirring adventures of the "Swamp Fox" from the Walt Disney television series of the late 1950s and the fictionalized Marion character played by Mel Gibson in the 2000 film The Patriot, the real Francis Marion bore little resemblance to either of those caricatures. But his exploits were no less heroic as he succeeded, against all odds, in repeatedly foiling the highly trained, better-equipped forces arrayed against him.In this action-packed biography we meet many colorful characters from the Revolution: Banastre Tarleton, the British cavalry officer who relentlessly pursued Marion over twenty-six miles of swamp, only to call off the chase and declare (per legend) that "the Devil himself could not catch this damned old fox," giving Marion his famous nickname; Thomas Sumter, the bold but rash patriot militia leader whom Marion detested; Lord Cornwallis, the imperious British commander who ordered the hanging of rebels and the destruction of their plantations; "Light-Horse Harry" Lee, the urbane young Continental cavalryman who helped Marion topple critical British outposts in South Carolina; but most of all Francis Marion himself, "the Washington of the South," a man of ruthless determination yet humane character, motivated by what his peers called "the purest patriotism."In The Swamp Fox, the first major biography of Marion in more than forty years, John Oller compiles striking evidence and brings together much recent learning to provide a fresh look both at Marion, the man, and how he helped save the American Revolution.
The Heavens Might Crack
By Jason Sokol
Martin Luther King Jr today is an uncontroversial figure, and we tend to see him as a saint whose legacy is entirely uncomplicated. But in 1968, King was a polarizing figure, and his assassination was met with uncomfortably mixed reactions. At the time of his death, King was scorned by many white Americans, worshiped by a segment of African Americans and liberal whites, deemed irrelevant by the younger generation of African Americans, and beloved overseas. He was a hero to many. But to some, he was part of an old guard that was no longer relevant, and to others he was nothing more than a troublemaker and a threat to the Southern way of life. In The Heavens Might Crack, historian Jason Sokol traces the diverse range of reactions to King's death, exploring how Americans - as well as others across the globe--experienced King's assassination, in the days, weeks, and months afterward. He looks at everything from rioting in inner cities to turbulence in Germany, from celebrations in many parts of the South to the growing gun control movement. Across all these responses, we see one clear trend: with King gone and the cities exploding, it felt like a gear in the machinery of the universe had shifted. Just a few years prior, with the enactment of landmark civil rights laws, interracial harmony appeared conceivable; peaceful progress toward civil rights even seemed probable. In an instant, such optimism had vanished. For many, King's death extinguished that final flicker of hope for a multiracial America. With that hope gone, King's assassination would have an indelible impact on American sentiments about race, and the civil rights landscape.The Heavens Might Crack is a deeply empathetic portrait of country grappling with the death of a complicated man. By highlighting how this moment was perceived across the nation, Sokol reveals the enduring consequences King's assassination had for the shape of his own legacy, the course of the Civil Rights Movement, and race relations in America.
By Lian Xi
The staggering story of the most influential Chinese political dissident of the Mao era, a devout Christian who was imprisoned, tortured, and executed by the regimeBlood Letters tells the astonishing tale of Lin Zhao, a Chinese poet and journalist arrested by the regime in 1960 and executed eight years later, at the height of the Cultural Revolution. Alone among the victims of Mao's dictatorship, she maintained a stubborn and open opposition during the years she was imprisoned. She rooted her dissent in her Christian faith--and expressed it in long, prophetic writings done in her own blood, and at times on her clothes and on cloth torn from her bedsheets.Miraculously, Lin Zhao's prison writings survived, though they have only recently come to light. Drawing on these works and others from the years before her arrest, as well as interviews with friends, family, and classmates, Lian Xi paints an indelible portrait of courage and faith in the face of unrelenting evil.
By Royce Kurmelovs
Reporting from the backrooms and corridors of Parliament House in Canberra to the streets of post-industrial Burnie in Tasmania, the struggling rural communities of Gippsland and the Queensland heartland, Royce Kurmelovs captures with perceptive, real-time analysis the rise of Australian populism.The people and places he profiles tell the story of those independent political figures who have tried to take power from the outside and those who feel abandoned by both the left and right of politics. Overshadowing it all is the controversial figure of Pauline Hanson, a woman who came back from oblivion to become a powerbroker just as the country breathlessly watched the election of Donald Trump and wondered whether the same could happen here. ROGUE NATION is essential reading for anyone who wants to know what is happening to politics in this country, and what the future might hold.
The Battered Body Beneath the Flagstones, and Other Victorian Scandals
By Michelle Morgan
A 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.
Burke and Wills
By Peter FitzSimons
'They have left here today!' he calls to the others. When King puts his hand down above the ashes of the fire, it is to find it still hot. There is even a tiny flame flickering from the end of one log. They must have left just hours ago.'MELBOURNE, 20 AUGUST 1860. In an ambitious quest to be the first Europeans to cross the harsh Australian continent, the Victorian Exploring Expedition sets off, farewelled by 15,000 cheering well-wishers. Led by Robert O'Hara Burke, a brave man totally lacking in the bush skills necessary for his task; surveyor and meteorologist William Wills; and 17 others, the expedition took 20 tons of equipment carried on six wagons, 23 horses and 26camels.Almost immediately plagued by disputes and sackings, the expeditioners battled the extremes of the Australian landscape and weather: its deserts, the boggy mangrove swamps of the Gulf, the searing heat and flooding rains. Food ran short and, unable to live off the land, the men nevertheless mostly spurned the offers of help from the local Indigenous people.In desperation, leaving the rest of the party at the expedition's depot on Coopers Creek, Burke, Wills and John King made a dash for the Gulf in December 1860. Bad luck and bad management would see them miss by just hours a rendezvous back at Coopers Creek, leaving them stranded in the wilderness with practically no supplies. Only King survived to tell the tale.Yet, despite their tragic fates, the names of Burke and Wills have become synonymous with perseverance and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. They live on in Australia's history - and their story remains immediate and compelling.
There Are No Dead Here
By Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno
There Are No Dead Here is the untold story of three brave Colombians who stood up to the paramilitary groups that, starting in the mid-1990s, decimated the country in the name of counterinsurgency and drug profits. With the complicity of much of Colombia's military and political establishment and in a climate of widespread fear and denial, the paramilitaries massacred, raped, and tortured thousands, and seized the land of millions of peasants forced to flee their homes. The United States, more interested in the appearance of success in its own War on Drugs, largely ignored them. Few dared to confront them.Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews and five years on the ground in Colombia, Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno takes readers from the sweltering Medellín streets where criminal investigators constantly looked over their shoulders for assassins on motorcycles, through the countryside where paramilitaries wiped out entire towns in gruesome massacres, and into the corridors of the presidential palace in Colombia's capital, Bogota. Throughout, she tells the interconnected stories of three very different Colombians bound by their commitment to the truth. The first is the gregarious Jesús María Valle, whose prophetic warnings about the military's complicity with the paramilitaries got him killed in 1998. A decade later, Valle's friend, the shy prosecutor Ivan Velasquez, became an unlikely hero when his groundbreaking investigations landed a third of the country's congress in prison for conspiring with paramilitaries, and put him in the crosshairs of Colombia's then wildly popular president, US protégé Álvaro Uribe. When Uribe's smear campaign against Velasquez threatened to bury the truth, the scrawny investigative journalist Ricardo Calderón exposed the lies, revealing that the paramilitaries' reach extended all the way into the presidency.Thanks to the efforts of Valle, Velasquez, and Calderón, Colombians now know the truth about the brutality and corruption that swept like a lethal virus through the country's society and political system. And slowly, the country is breaking free from the paramilitaries' grip.
The Home That Was Our Country
By Alia Malek
At the Arab Spring's hopeful start, Alia Malek returned to Damascus to reclaim her grandmother's apartment, which had been lost to her family since Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970. Its loss was central to her parent's decision to make their lives in America. In chronicling the people who lived in the Tahaan building, past and present, Alia portrays the Syrians-the Muslims, Christians, Jews, Armenians, and Kurds-who worked, loved, and suffered in close quarters, mirroring the political shifts in their country. Restoring her family's home as the country comes apart, she learns how to speak the coded language of oppression that exists in a dictatorship, while privately confronting her own fears about Syria's future.The Home That Was Our Country is a deeply researched, personal journey that shines a delicate but piercing light on Syrian history, society, and politics. Teeming with insights, the narrative weaves acute political analysis with a century of intimate family history, ultimately delivering an unforgettable portrait of the Syria that is being erased.
Separate and Unequal
By Steven M. Gillon
The definitive history of the Kerner Commission, whose report on urban unrest reshaped American debates about race and inequalityIn Separate and Unequal, historian Steven M. Gillon offers a revelatory new history of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders-popularly known as the Kerner Commission. Convened by President Lyndon Johnson after riots in Newark and Detroit left dozens dead and thousands injured, the commission issued a report in 1968 that attributed the unrest to "white racism" and called for aggressive new programs to end racism and poverty. "Our nation is moving toward two societies," they warned, "one black, and one white-separate and unequal."Johnson refused to accept the Kerner Report, and as his political coalition unraveled, its proposals when nowhere. For the right, the report became a symbol of liberal excess, and for the left, one of opportunities lost. Separate and Unequal is essential for anyone seeking to understand the roots of our vexed racial debates today.
The Field of Blood
By Nicholas Morton
In 1119, the people of the Near East came together in an epic clash of horses, swords, sand, and blood that would decide the fate of the city of the Aleppo-and the eastern Crusader states. Fought between tribal Turkish warriors on steppe ponies, Arab foot soldiers, Armenian bowmen, and European knights, the battlefield was the amphitheatre into which the people of Eurasia poured their full gladiatorial might. Carrying a piece of the true cross before them, the Frankish army advanced, anticipating a victory that would secure their dominance over the entire region. But the famed Frankish cavalry charge failed them, and the well-arranged battlefield dissolved into a melee. Surrounded by enemy forces, the crusaders suffered a colossal defeat. With their advance in Northern Syria stalled, the momentum of the crusader conquest began to evaporate, and would never be recovered.