By Antonia Fraser
Internationally bestselling historian Antonia Fraser's new book brilliantly evokes a key period of pre-Victorian political and social history - the passing of the Great Reform Bill of 1832.For our inconclusive times, there is an attractive resonance with 1832, with its 'rotten boroughs' of Old Sarum and the disappearing village of Dunwich, and its lines of most resistance to reform. This book is character-driven - on the one hand, the reforming heroes are the Whig aristocrats Lord Grey, Lord Althorp and Lord John Russell, and the Irish orator Daniel O'Connell. They included members of the richest and most landed Cabinet in history, yet they were determined to bring liberty, which whittled away their own power, to the country. The all-too-conservative opposition comprised Lord Londonderry, the Duke of Wellington, the intransigent Duchess of Kent and the consort of the Tory King William IV, Queen Adelaide.Finally, there were 'revolutionaries' and reformers, like William Cobbett, the author of RURAL RIDES.This is a book that features one eventful year, much of it violent. There were riots in Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham, and wider themes of Irish and 'negro emancipation' underscore the narrative. The time-span of the book is from Wellington's intractable declaration in November 1830 that 'The beginning of reform is the beginning of revolution', to 7th June 1832, the date of the extremely reluctant royal assent by William IV to the Great Reform Bill, under the double threat of the creation of 60 new peers in the House of Lords and the threat of revolution throughout the country. These events led to a total change in the way Britain was governed, a two-year revolution that Antonia Fraser brings to vivid dramatic life.
The Buccaneers of the Caribbean
By Jon Latimer
The True Story of Piracy on the Spanish Main.This is the incredible true story of piracy in the Caribbean, proof positive that fact is stranger than fiction. From the moment the English established their first tiny colonies in the New World, semi-legal pirates took on the might of the Spanish Empire. The lure of Spanish gold was so strong that French and Dutch privateers soon joined them. Sometimes licensed by governments, but often not, desperate gangs of cut-throats dominated the Caribbean throughout the seventeenth century. Led by ruthless captains, they wrested many of the key islands from Spanish control, then fought each other for the region's strategic bases. Most notoriously, the 'brethren of the coast' established the pirate port of Tortuga, the infamous city of crime. From Piet Heyn's capture of the entire Spanish treasure fleet in 1628, to Henry Morgan's sack of Panama, this was the Age of the Bucaneers. This epic story continued up to the destruction of the pirates' lair of Port Royal by an earthquake in 1692 -- recognised at the time as the judgement of God. . .International treaties at the end of the century brought this dramatic era to a close, by which time the division of the Caribbean among European powers was complete. And a legend had been born.
The Last Days of Henry VIII
By Robert Hutchinson
After 35 years in power, Henry VIII was a bloated, hideously obese, black-humoured old man, rarely seen in public. He had striven all his life to ensure the survival of his dynasty by siring legitimate sons, yet his only male heir was eight-year-old Prince Edward. It was increasingly obvious that when Henry died, real power in England would be exercised by a regent. The prospect of that prize spurred the rival court factions into deadly conflict.Robert Hutchinson spent several years in original archival research. He advances a genuinely new theory of Henry's medical history and the cause of his death; he has unearthed some fabulous eyewitness material and papers from death warrants, confessions and even love letters between Katherine Parr and the Lord High Admiral.