John Higgs - Stranger Than We Can Imagine - Orion Publishing Group

Time remaining

  • -- days
  • -- hours
  • -- minutes
  • -- seconds
Other Formats
  • Paperback £9.99
    More information
    • ISBN:9781780226576
    • Publication date:11 Aug 2016
  • E-Book £P.O.R.
    More information
    • ISBN:9780297870906
    • Publication date:27 Aug 2015

Stranger Than We Can Imagine

Making Sense of the Twentieth Century

By John Higgs

  • Hardback
  • £20.00

An alternative exploration of history's most challenging century, from the author of THE KLF, 'a thing of endlessly fascinating, utterly demented genius' GUARDIAN

The twentieth century should make sense. It's the period of history that we know the most about, an epic geo-political narrative that runs through World War One, the great depression, World War Two, the American century and the fall of the Berlin Wall. But somehow that story doesn't quite lead into the world we find ourselves in now, this bewildering twenty-first century, adrift in a network of constant surveillance, unsustainable competition, tsunamis of trivia and extraordinary opportunity.

Time, then, for a new perspective. With John Higgs as our guide, we step off the main path and wander through some of the more curious backwaters of the twentieth century, exploring familiar and unfamiliar territory alike, finding fresh insight on our journey to the present day. We travel in the company of some of the most radical artists, scientists, geniuses and crazies of their age. They show us that great innovations such as relativity, cubism, quantum mechanics, postmodernism and chaos maths are not the incomprehensible, abstract horrors that we assume them to be, but signposts that bring us to the world we live in now.

John Higgs brings us an alternative history of the strangest of centuries. He shows us how the elegant, clockwork universe of the Victorians became increasingly woozy and uncertain; and how we discovered that our world is not just stranger than we imagine but, in the words of Sir Arthur Eddington, 'stranger than we can imagine'.

Biographical Notes

John Higgs is the author I HAVE AMERICA SURROUNDED: THE LIFE OF TIMOTHY LEARY, THE KLF: CHAOS, MAGIC AND THE BAND WHO BURNED A MILLION POUNDS and the novel THE BRANDY OF THE DAMNED. He lives in Brighton with his partner and their two children.
www.johnhiggs.com
@johnhiggs

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9780297870890
  • Publication date: 27 Aug 2015
  • Page count: 352
  • Imprint: W&N
It was formerly held that a comprehensive history of the last century would never be written, by virtue of the fact that we knew too much about that frenetic and eventful period. Now, with the era's ink barely dry, John Higgs demolishes this assumption with a breathtakingly lucid and coherent map of the tectonic shifts which drastically reshaped the human psyche, and the human world, within a hundred thrilling, terrifying years ... An illuminating work of massive insight, in STRANGER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE John Higgs informs us of exactly where we've been and, by extension, where we are. I cannot recommend this magnificent work too highly — Alan Moore, author of V FOR VENDETTA, WATCHMEN and LOST GIRLS
A beautiful, erudite, funny and enlightening tour of the widening boundaries of uncertainty revealed in the twentieth century, and who doesn't need a book that explains quantum behaviour with a boxing bout between Putin and a kangaroo? — Robin Ince
...a brilliantly stimulating tale. — Financial Times
... a challenging book that stimulates the reader to think radically. — Daily Mail
In Stranger Than We Can Imagine, [Higgs] broadens his intellectual reach to encompass modernism, situationism, chaos theory, indeterminacy and almost every other byway of that epoch. Higgs's plate-spinning act is a fine example of learning worn lightly. — Adam Roberts, New Scientist
John Higgs takes a journey through some of the 'curious backwaters' of the last century in the excellent, and consistently intriguing STRANGER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE. — CHOICE magazine
Hugely entertaining and thought-provoking — Scott Pack
To paraphrase Colonel Kurtz, reading John Higgs is like being shot with a diamond. Suddenly everything becomes terrifyingly clear — Andrew Male, Mojo
Higgs recounts...with wide-ranging erudition and a delightful deadpan humour; a particular joy is the explanation of quantum theory via an example of Vladimir Putin fighting a kangaroo. — Press Association
A great and truly enlightening read. — History Revealed
The best, most imaginative, most readable history book... No tired chronology of the Wars, Depression, or Vietnam here. No, instead you get a Bill Bryson-type rollercoaster ride of the ideas that made and broke the [twentieth] century. — Tea In The Cloister.com
Stranger Than We Can Imagine is a thought-provoking read. Its memorable anecdotes and signposts to further reading make it an enjoyable introductory text on twentieth century history, as well as an accessible guide to many of its more murky aspects. — History Matters.co.uk
W&N

Pearl Harbor

Craig Nelson
Authors:
Craig Nelson
W&N

Popski's Private Army

Vladimir Peniakoff
Authors:
Vladimir Peniakoff

In October 1942, with the sanction of the army, Vladimir Peniakoff (nicknamed Popski) formed his own elite fighting force. By befriending and enlisting desert Arabs, he was able to penetrate deep into German territory without being detected - over the next year, 'Popski's Private Army' carried out a series of raids behind the German lines that were truly spectacular. A bestseller when it was first published in 1950, POPSKI'S PRIVATE ARMY is a classic account of the war in the desert, and later in Italy, as seen through the eyes of a maverick soldier, hailed as the Second World War's answer to T.E. Lawrence.

Orion

The Real Lolita

Sarah Weinman
Authors:
Sarah Weinman

Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita is one of the most beloved and notorious novels of all time. And yet, very few of its readers know that the subject of the novel was inspired by a real-life case: the 1948 abduction of eleven-year-old Sally Horner.Weaving together suspenseful crime narrative, cultural and social history, and literary investigation, The Real Lolita tells Sally Horner's full story for the very first time. Drawing upon extensive investigations, legal documents, public records and interviews with remaining relatives, Sarah Weinman uncovers how much Nabokov knew of the Sally Horner case and the efforts he took to disguise that knowledge during the process of writing and publishing Lolita.Sally Horner's story echoes the stories of countless girls and women who never had the chance to speak for themselves. By diving deeper in the publication history of Lolita and restoring Sally to her rightful place in the lore of the novel's creation, The Real Lolita casts a new light on the dark inspiration for a modern classic.Read by Cassandra Campbell(p) Orion Publishing Group 2018

W&N

Lenin the Dictator

Victor Sebestyen
Authors:
Victor Sebestyen

Shortlisted for the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical BiographyVictor Sebestyen's intimate biography is the first major work in English for nearly two decades on one of the most significant figures of the twentieth century. In Russia to this day Lenin inspires adulation. Everywhere, he continues to fascinate as a man who made history, and who created a new kind of state that would later be imitated by nearly half the countries in the world.Lenin believed that the 'the political is the personal', and while in no way ignoring his political life, Sebestyen focuses on Lenin the man - a man who loved nature almost as much as he loved making revolution, and whose closest ties and friendships were with women. The long-suppressed story of his ménage a trois with his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and his mistress and comrade, Inessa Armand, reveals a different character to the coldly one-dimensional figure of legend.Told through the prism of Lenin's key relationships, Sebestyen's lively biography casts a new light on the Russian Revolution, one of the great turning points of modern history.

W&N

Watling Street

John Higgs
Authors:
John Higgs

A journey along one of Britain's oldest roads, from Dover to Anglesey, in search of the hidden history that makes us who we are today.'A bravura piece of writing - Bill Bryson on acid' Tom HollandWinding its way from the White Cliffs of Dover to the Druid groves of Anglesey, the ancient road of Watling Street has gone by many different names. It is a road of witches and ghosts, of queens and highwaymen, of history and myth, of Bletchley Park codebreakers, Chaucer, Boudicca, Dickens and James Bond. But Watling Street is not just the story of a route across our island. It is an acutely observed exploration of Britain and who we are today, told with wit and an unerring eye for the curious and surprising.

W&N

Vita and Harold

Nigel Nicolson
Authors:
Nigel Nicolson

The classic story of the relationship between Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, and a unique portrait of the Bloomsbury Group.The marriage of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson was one of the most controversial relationships of the 20th century. This selection of letters, many of which have never been published, skilfully woven together by their son, Nigel Nicolson, gives dramatic new insight into their fascinating lives.Set within a framework of their son's highly personal memories, the story of this most extraordinary of marriages comes full circle - from the announcement of their engagement in 1912, through the storm days of Vita's well-known affairs with Violet Trefusis and Virginia Woolf, during the years of long separation as Harold's profession as a diplomat took him abroad, and culminating in the days leading up to Vita's death in 1952.

W&N

General Jack's Diary 1914-18

John Terraine
Authors:
John Terraine

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 Captain J. L. Jack was serving with the First Cameronians, one of the earliest British regiments to arrive in France. Almost every day while serving in France and Flanders, Jack kept a secret diary. This diary is unique. It presents the detail of a regular officer's life at war during virtually the whole of the First World War on the Western Front. Jack was witness not only to the horror and wretchedness of much that happened in the trenches but also to the bravery and spirit that kept the British soldiers in the line going through to the momentous battles of 1918 and final victory. Poignant and moving, as well as describing the reality of war on the Western Front, these diaries have been edited and linked with commentaries by the distinguished military historian John Terraine.

W&N

Sylvia, Queen Of The Headhunters

Philip Eade
Authors:
Philip Eade

The biography of the last Ranee of Sarawak, born into the aristocracy as Sylvia Brett in 1885 and destined to become 'Queen of the Headhunters'.'Jaw-dropping ... If you thought White Mischief the last word in English expatriate decadence, you haven't yet met Sylvia and the Brookes' The TimesSylvia Brooke was the consort of His Highness Sir Vyner Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak, the last in a bizarre dynasty of English despots who ruled their jungle kingdom on Borneo until 1946. The White Rajahs were long held up as model rulers, but the spectacularly eccentric behaviour of Ranee Sylvia - self-styled Queen of the Headhunters - changed everything. This is the compelling story of her part in their downfall.

W&N

Titans of History

Simon Sebag Montefiore
Authors:
Simon Sebag Montefiore

NEW EDITION - FEATURING UPDATED INTRODUCTION AND NEW CHAPTERS The giant characters of history - from Mozart to Michelangelo, Shakespeare to Einstein, Henry VIII to Hitler, Catherine the Great to Margaret Thatcher, Jesus Christ to Genghis Khan ­- lived lives of astonishing drama and adventure, debauchery and slaughter, but they also formed our world and will shape our future. In this eclectic and surprising collection of short and entertaining life stories, Simon Sebag Montefiore introduces his choice of kings, empresses, sultans and conquerors, as well as prophets, explorers, artists, actresses, courtesans and psychopaths. From the ancient times, via crusades and world wars, up to the 21st century, this accessible history introduces readers to the titans who changed the world: the characters we should all know, and the stories we should never forget.

W&N

The Boys: Triumph Over Adversity

Martin Gilbert
Authors:
Martin Gilbert

In August 1945, the first of 732 child survivors of the Holocaust reached Britain. First settled in the Lake District, they formed a tightly knit group of friends whose terrible shared experience is almost beyond imagining. This is their story, which begins in the lost communities of pre-World War II central Europe, moves through ghetto, concentration camp and death march, to liberation, survival, and finally, fifty years later, a deeply moving reunion. Martin Gilbert has brought together the recollections of this remarkable group of survivors. With magisterial narration, he tells their astonishing stories. The Boys bears witness to the human spirit, enduring the depths, and bearing hopefully the burden and challenge of survival.'Martin Gilbert is to be congratulated on producing a masterly and deeply moving tribute to those who had the courage and luck to survive' Literary Review

W&N

The Mesmerist

Wendy Moore
Authors:
Wendy Moore
W&N

Lenin the Dictator

Victor Sebestyen
Authors:
Victor Sebestyen

Victor Sebestyen's intimate biography is the first major work in English for nearly two decades on one of the most significant figures of the twentieth century. In Russia to this day Lenin inspires adulation. Everywhere, he continues to fascinate as a man who made history, and who created a new kind of state that would later be imitated by nearly half the countries in the world.Lenin believed that the 'the political is the personal', and while in no way ignoring his political life, Sebestyen's focus will be on Lenin the man - a man who loved nature almost as much as he loved making revolution, and whose closest ties and friendships were with women. The long-suppressed story of his ménage a trois with his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and his mistress and comrade, Inessa Armand, reveals a different character to the coldly one-dimensional figure of legend.Told through the prism of Lenin's key relationships, Sebestyen's lively biography casts a new light the Russian Revolution, one of the great turning points of modern history.

W&N

The Romanovs

Simon Sebag Montefiore
Authors:
Simon Sebag Montefiore

The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world's surface. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world's greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Montefiore's gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, and peopled by a cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets. Written with dazzling literary flair, drawing on new archival research, THE ROMANOVS is at once an enthralling chronicle of triumph and tragedy, love and death, a universal study of power, and an essential portrait of the empire that still defines Russia today.

W&N

Evelyn Waugh

Philip Eade
Authors:
Philip Eade

'Brisk, lively and wonderfully entertaining' John Banville'Excellent ... read this book' Literary Review'The best single-volume life of the author available' Irish TimesThe much mythologised author of Decline and Fall, A Handful of Dust and Brideshead Revisited was hailed by Graham Greene as 'the greatest novelist of my generation', yet reckoned by Hilaire Belloc to have been possessed by the devil. Evelyn Waugh's literary reputation has continued to rise since Greene's assessment in 1966. Fifty years after his death, Philip Eade draws on extensive unpublished sources to paint a fresh and compelling portrait of this endlessly fascinating man, telling the full story of his dramatic, colourful and frequently bizarre life.

W&N

Hons and Rebels

Jessica Mitford
Authors:
Jessica Mitford

'Whenever I read the words "Peer's Daughter" in a headline,' Lady Redesdale once sadly remarked, 'I know it's going to be something about one of you children.' The Mitford family is one of the century's most enigmatic, made notorious by Nancy's novels, Diana's marriage to Sir Oswald Mosley, Unity's infatuation with Hitler, Debo's marriage to a duke and Jessica's passionate commitment to communism. Hons and Rebels is an enchanting and deeply absorbing memoir of an isolated and eccentric upbringing which conceals beneath its witty, light-hearted surface much wisdom and depth of feeling.

W&N

Margot at War

Anne de Courcy
Authors:
Anne de Courcy

Margot Asquith was perhaps the most daring and unconventional Prime Minister's wife in British history. Known for her wit, style and habit of speaking her mind, she transformed 10 Downing Street into a glittering social and intellectual salon. Yet her last four years at Number 10 were a period of intense emotional and political turmoil in her private and public life. In 1912, when Anne de Courcy's book opens, rumblings of discontent and cries for social reform were encroaching on all sides - from suffragettes, striking workers and Irish nationalists. Against this background of a government beset with troubles, the Prime Minister fell desperately in love with his daughter's best friend, Venetia Stanley; to complicate matters, so did his Private Secretary. Margot's relationship with her husband was already bedevilled by her stepdaughter's jealous, almost incestuous adoration of her father. The outbreak of the First World War only heightened these swirling tensions within Downing Street. Drawing on unpublished material from personal papers and diaries, Anne de Courcy vividly recreates this extraordinary time when the Prime Minister's residence was run like an English country house, with socialising taking precedence over politics, love letters written in the cabinet room and gossip and state secrets exchanged over the bridge table. By 1916, when Asquith was forced out of office, everything had changed. For the country as a whole, for those in power, for a whole stratum of society, but especially for the Asquiths and their circle, it was the end of an era. Life inside Downing Street would never be the same again.

W&N

Hubris

Alistair Horne
Authors:
Alistair Horne

W&N

Worktown

David Hall
Authors:
David Hall

The astonishing story of the project that launched Mass Observation In the late 1930s the Lancashire town of Bolton witnessed a ground-breaking social experiment. Over three years, a team of ninety observers recorded, in painstaking detail, the everyday lives of ordinary working people at work and play - in the pub, dance hall, factory and on holiday. Their aim was to create an 'anthropology of ourselves'. The first of its kind, it later grew into the Mass Observation movement that proved so crucial to our understanding of public opinion in future generations. The project attracted a cast of larger-than-life characters, not least its founders, the charismatic and unconventional anthropologist Tom Harrisson and the surrealist intellectuals Charles Madge and Humphrey Jennings. They were joined by a disparate band of men and women - students, artists, writers and photographers, unemployed workers and local volunteers - who worked tirelessly to turn the idle pleasure of people-watching into a science. Drawing on their vivid reports, photographs and first-hand sources, David Hall relates the extraordinary story of this eccentric, short-lived, but hugely influential project. Along the way, he creates a richly detailed, fascinating portrait of a lost chapter of British social history, and of the life of an industrial northern town before the world changed for ever.Published in partnership with the Mass Observation Archive at the University of Sussex, which holds the papers of the British social research organisation Mass Observation from 1937 to the early 1950s, as well as new material collected continuously since 1981 about everyday life in Britain.www.massobs.org.uk@MassObsArchive

Gollancz

The Whispering Swarm

Michael Moorcock
Authors:
Michael Moorcock

With his first full novel in almost ten years (not counting his Doctor Who book), Michael Moorcock - the most influential figure in modern fantasy and science fiction - returns to the city of his birth. London has always been a central character in Moorcock's work, from the high-literary fiction of MOTHER LONDON to the roof gardens of Jerry Cornelius.Now return to London just after the war, a city desperately trying to get back on its feet. And one young boy, Michael Moorcock, who is about to discover a world of magic and wonder. Between his first tentative approaches to adulthood - a job on Fleet Street, the first stirrings of his interest in writing - and a chance encounter with a mysterious Carmelite Friar, we see a version of Moorcock's life that is simultaneously a biography and a story. Mixing elements of his real life with his adventures in a parallel London peopled with highwaywomen, musketeers and magicians, this is Moorcock at his dazzling, mercurial best.

W&N

A Million Years in a Day

Greg Jenner
Authors:
Greg Jenner