By Wendy Moore
Medicine, in the early 1800s, was a brutal business. Operations were performed without anaesthesia while conventional treatment relied on leeches, cupping and toxic potions. The most surgeons could offer by way of pain relief was a large swig of brandy. Onto this scene came John Elliotson, the dazzling new hope of the medical world. Charismatic and ambitious, Elliotson was determined to transform medicine from a hodge-podge of archaic remedies into a practice informed by the latest science. In this aim he was backed by Thomas Wakley, founder of the new magazine, the Lancet, and a campaigner against corruption and malpractice.Then, in the summer of 1837, a French visitor - the self-styled Baron Jules Denis Dupotet - arrived in London to promote an exotic new idea: mesmerism. The mesmerism mania would take the nation by storm but would ultimately split the two friends, and the medical world, asunder - throwing into focus fundamental questions about the fine line between medicine and quackery, between science and superstition.
Where Poppies Blow
By John Lewis-Stempel
The natural history of the Western Front during the First World War by the author of MEADOWLAND, winner of the 2015 Wainwright PrizeWhere Poppies Blow is the unique story of the British soldiers of the Great War and their relationship with the animals and plants around them. This connection was of profound importance, because it goes a long way to explaining why they fought, and how they found the will to go on.At the most basic level, animals and birds provided interest to fill the blank hours in the trenches and billets - bird-watching, for instance, was probably the single most popular hobby among officers. But perhaps more importantly, the ability of nature to endure, despite the bullets and blood, gave men a psychological, spiritual, even religious uplift.Animals and plants were also reminders of home. Aside from bird-watching, soldiers went fishing in village ponds and in flooded shell holes (for eels), they went bird nesting, they hunted foxes with hounds, they shot pheasants for the pot, and they planted flower gardens in the trenches and vegetable gardens in their billets.It is in this elemental relationship between man and nature that some of the highest, noblest aspirations of humanity in times of war can be found.
By Alistair Horne
Alistair Horne has been a close observer of war and history for more than fifty years. In this wise and masterly work, he revisits six battles that changed the course of the twentieth century and reveals the one trait that links them all: hubris. From the Battle of Tsushima in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 to Hitler's 1941 bid to capture Moscow, and from the disastrous American advance in Korea to the French surrender at Dien Bien Phu, Horne shows how each of these battles was won or lost due to excessive hubris on one side or the other.A dramatic, colourful and stylishly written history, HUBRIS is an essential reflection on war from a master of his field.
By Adrian Goldsworthy
The Pax Romana is famous for having provided a remarkable period of peace and stability, rarely seen before or since. Yet the Romans were first and foremost conquerors, imperialists who took by force a vast empire stretching from the Euphrates in the east to the Atlantic coast in the west. Their peace meant Roman victory and was brought about by strength and dominance rather than co-existence with neighbours. The Romans were aggressive and ruthless, and during the creation of their empire millions died or were enslaved.But the Pax Romana was real, not merely the boast of emperors, and some of the regions in the Empire have never again lived for so many generations free from major wars. So what exactly was the Pax Romana and what did it mean for the people who found themselves brought under Roman rule?Acclaimed historian Adrian Goldsworthy tells the story of the creation of the Empire, revealing how and why the Romans came to control so much of the world and asking whether the favourable image of the Roman peace is a true one. He chronicles the many rebellions by the conquered, and describes why these broke out and why most failed. At the same time, he explains that hostility was only one reaction to the arrival of Rome, and from the start there was alliance, collaboration and even enthusiasm for joining the invaders, all of which increased as resistance movements faded away.A ground-breaking and comprehensive history of the Roman Peace, Pax Romana takes the reader on a journey from the bloody conquests of an aggressive Republic through the age of Caesar and Augustus to the golden age of peace and prosperity under diligent emperors like Marcus Aurelius, offering a balanced and nuanced reappraisal of life in the Roman Empire.
By Ben Wilson
HEYDAY brings to life one of the most extraordinary periods in modern history. Over the course of the 1850s, the world was reshaped by technology, trade, mass migration and war. The global economy expanded fivefold, millions of families emigrated to the ends of the earth to carve out new lives, technology revolutionised communications, while steamships and railways cut across vast continents and oceans, shrinking the world and creating the first global age.It was a decade of breathtaking transformation, with striking parallels for our own times. The 1850s saw the laying of the first undersea cable in 1851, the rush for gold from California to Australia, while fleets of pirate vessels docked in Hong Kong harbour, eager to take advantage of booming trade. The West's insatiable hunger for land, natural resources and new markets encouraged free trade, bold exploration and colonisation as never before. In a fast-paced, kaleidoscopic narrative, the acclaimed historian Ben Wilson recreates this time of explosive energy and dizzying change, a rollercoaster ride of booms and bust, focusing on the lives of the men and women reshaping its frontiers. At the centre stands Great Britain. The country was the peak of its power as it attempted to determine the destinies of hundreds of millions of people.A dazzling history of a tumultuous decade, HEYDAY reclaims an often overlooked decade that was fundamental not only in in the making of Britain but of the modern world.
By Martin van Creveld
Martin van Creveld's Moshe Dayan tells the story of one man and of one people, to whom he was a figurehead - a symbol of their patriotism and their determination to survive. Born in a kibbutz in 1915, Dayan joined the Hagana when he was just fourteen, thus starting early a military career that saw him serve in every war fought in the Middle East from the War of Israeli Independence in 1948 to the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Twice he led his country's forces into smashing victories. Having planned and executed the one and directed the other, with his one eye he towers over them like Nelson over the Battle of Trafalgar.Skilled in battle, skilled in diplomacy, like many powerful public figures, Moshe Dayan's private life was far from mundane. The book quotes from little-known sources, including an account written by one of his mistresses, that reveal much about his character and his life away from the battlefield. This is an honest portrayal of both the private and the public figure, which seeks to understand a man whose contribution to the state of Israel in its developing years was immeasurable.
A Tuscan Childhood
By Kinta Beevor
'Wonderful ... I fell immediately into her world' Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan SunKinta Beevor was five years old when she fell in love with her parents' castle facing the Carrara mountains. She and her brother ran barefoot, exploring an enchanted world. They searched for wild mushrooms in the hills with Fiore the stonemason, and learned how to tickle trout. The freedom and beauty of life at the castle attracted poets, writers and painters, including D.H. Lawrence and Rex Whistler. The other side to Kinta's childhood was very different, for it was spent with her formidable great aunt, Janet Ross, in a grand villa outside Florence. But soon the old way of life and Kinta's idyllic world were threatened by war.Nostalgic, yet unsentimental and funny, A TUSCAN CHILDHOOD is a book which transports the reader to bohemian, aristocratic Italy and the sound of bells from a distant campanile.
No Empty Chairs
By Ian Mackersey
The 1914-18 conflict narrated through the voices of the men whose combat was in the air.The empty chairs belonged, all too briefly, to the doomed young First World War airmen who failed to return from the terrifying daily aerial combats above the trenches of the Western Front. The edict of their commander-in-chief was the missing aviators were to be immediately replaced. Before the new faces could arrive, the departed men's vacant seats at the squadron dinner table were sometimes poignantly occupied by their caps and boots, placed there in a sad ritual by their surviving colleagues as they drank to their memory.Life for most of the pilots of the Royal Flying Corps was appallingly short. If they graduated alive and unmaimed from the flying training that killed more than half of them before they reached the front line, only a few would for very long survive the daily battles they fought over the ravaged moonscape of no-man's-land. Their average life expectancy at the height of the war was measured only in weeks. Parachutes that began to save their German enemies were denied them.Fear of incarceration, and the daily spectacle of watching close colleagues die in burning aircraft, took a devastating toll on the nerves of the world's first fighter pilots. Many became mentally ill. As they waited for death, or with luck the survivable wound that would send them back to 'Blighty', they poured their emotions into their diaries and streams of letters to their loved ones at home.Drawing on these remarkable testimonies and pilots' memoirs, Ian Mackersey has brilliantly reconstructed the First Great Air War through the lives of its participants. As they waited to die, the men shared their loneliness, their fears, triumphs - and squadron gossip - with the families who lived in daily dread of the knock on the door that would bring the War Office telegram in its fateful green envelope.
The Great Divide
By Peter Watson
How the division of the Americas from the rest of the world affected human history.In 15,000 B.C. early humankind, who had evolved in Africa tens of thousands of years before and spread out to populate the Earth, arrived in Siberia, during the Ice Age. Because so much water was locked up at that time in the great ice sheets, several miles thick, the levels of the world's oceans were much lower than they are today, and early humans were able to walk across the Bering Strait, then a land bridge, without getting their feet wet and enter the Americas. Then, the Ice Age came to an end, the Bering Strait refilled with water and humans in the Americas were cut off from humans elsewhere in the world. This division - with two great populations on Earth, each oblivious of the other - continued until Christopher Columbus 'discovered' America just before 1500 A.D. This is the fascinating subject of THE GREAT DIVIDE, which compares and contrasts the development of humankind in the 'Old World' and the 'New' between 15,000 B.C. and 1500 A.D. This unprecedented comparison of early peoples means that, when these factors are taken together, they offer a uniquely revealing insight into what it means to be human.THE GREAT DIVIDE offers a masterly and totally original synthesis of archaeology, anthropology, geology, meteorology, cosmology and mythology, to give a new shape - and a new understanding - to human history.
In Search Of Zarathustra
By Paul Kriwaczek
A quest to find the most influential religious teacher in the ancient world: Zarathustra.IN SEARCH OF ZARATHUSTRA is a quest to trace the influence of the prophet the Greeks called Zoroaster and considered the greatest religious legislator of the ancient world. Long before the first Hebrew temple, the birth of Christ or the mission of Muhammad, Zarathustra had taught of a single universal god, of the battle between Good and Evil, of the Devil, Heaven and Hell, and of an eventual end to the world. Over several decades, Paul Kriwaczek, an award-winning television producer, has cast his eye across Europe and Central Asia, from Hadrian's Wall to the Oxus river, from the Pyrenees to the Hindu Kush. Passing via Nietzsche's interpretation of Zarathustra for a post-religious age, the Cathars of 13th-century France, the Bulgars of 9th-century Balkans, and the prophet Mani's revision of Zarathustra's message in the later Persian empire, Paul Kriwaczek then explores the religion of Mithras - before going back past Alexander the Great's destruction of the Persian Empire, and the era of the great Persian kings Cyrus and Darius in the 6th century BC, to the beginning of the first pre-Christian millennium.
By Eric Hobsbawm
A collection of essays which represent a lifetime's writing,lectures & thoughts on revolutionary modern political developments throughout Europe.
By Eric Hobsbawm
The theory and practice of history and its relevance to the modern world, by Britains greatest radical historian.
By Eric Hobsbawm
A fascinating collection of essays concerning working men and women.These 26 essays range over the history of working men and women between the late 18th century and the present day. They include Hobsbawm's pioneering studies in labour history and social protest - the formation of the British working class, labour custom and traditions, the political radicalism of 19th century shoemakers, male and female images in revolutionary movements, the machine-breakers, revolution and sex, peasants and politics, the rules of violence, the common-sense of Tom Paine. There are more recent reflections: on the May Day holiday; the Vietnam War; socialism and the avantgarde; Mario Puzo, the Mafia and the Sicilian bandit Salvatore Guiliano; and the cultural consequences of Christopher Columbus. There are tributes to some of jazz's legendary figures - Count Basie, Sidney Bechet and Dike Ellington - anf the tragic blues-singer Billie Holiday.