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
Winner of the 2017 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize for nature writingThe natural history of the Western Front during the First World War'If it weren't for the birds, what a hell it would be.' During the Great War, soldiers lived inside the ground, closer to nature than many humans had lived for centuries. Animals provided comfort and interest to fill the blank hours in the trenches - bird-watching, for instance, was probably the single most popular hobby among officers. Soldiers went fishing in flooded shell holes, shot hares in no-man's land for the pot, and planted gardens in their trenches and billets. Nature was also sometimes a curse - rats, spiders and lice abounded, and disease could be biblical.But above all, nature healed, and, despite the bullets and blood, it inspired men to endure. Where Poppies Blow is the unique story of how nature gave the British soldiers of the Great War a reason to fight, and the will to go on.
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.
Eden To Armageddon
By Roger Ford
Turkey, the First World War and the making of the Middle East.The Great War in the Middle East began with the invasion of the Garden of Eden, and ended with a momentous victory on the site of the biblical Armageddon. Almost incredibly, the whole story of this epic war has never been told in a single volume until now. In this important new history Roger Ford describes a conflict in its entirety: the war in Mesopotamia, which would end with the creation of the countries of Iran and Iraq; the desperate struggle in the Caucasus, where the Turks had long-standing territorial ambitions; the doomed attacks on the Gallipoli Peninsula that would lead to ignominous defeat; and the final act in Palestine, where the Ottoman Empire finally crumbled. He ends with a detailed description of the messy aftermath of the war, and the new conflicts in a reshaped Middle East that would play such a huge part in shaping world affairs for many generations to come.
By Peter Hart
The story of the decimation of the Royal Flying Corps over Arras in 1917As the Allies embarked upon the Battle of Arras, they desperately needed accurate aerial reconnaissance photographs. But by this point the Royal Flying Club were flying obsolete planes. The new German Albatros scouts massively outclassed them in every respect: speed, armament, ability to withstand punishment and manoeuverability. Many of the RFC's pilots were straight out of flying school - as they took to the air they were sitting targets for the experienced German aces. Over the course of 'Bloody April' the RFC suffered casualties of over a third. The average life expectancy of a new subaltern on the front line dropped to just eleven days. And yet they carried on flying, day after day, in the knowledge that, in the eyes of their commanders at least, their own lives meant nothing compared to the photographs they brought back, which could save tens of thousands of soldiers on the ground. In this book Peter Hart tells the story of the air war over Arras, using the voices of the men who were actually there.