By Victor Sebestyen
'A compelling and illuminating account of a great drama in the history of our times which showed once again that ordinary men and women really can change the world' Jonathan Dimbleby, MAIL ON SUNDAYFor more than 40 years after the Second World War the Iron Curtain divided Europe physically, with 300 km of walls and barbed wire fences; ideologically, between communism and capitalism; psychologically, between people imprisoned under totalitarian dictatorships and their neighbours enjoying democratic freedoms; and militarily, by two mighty, distrustful power blocs, still fighting the cold war. At the start of 1989, ten European nations were still Soviet vassal states. By the end of the year, one after another, they had thrown off communism, declared national independence, and embarked on the road to democracy. One of history's most brutal empires was on its knees. Poets who had been languishing in jails became vice presidents. When the Berlin Wall fell on a chilly November night it seemed as though the open wounds of the cruel twentieth century would at last begin to heal. The Year of Revolutions appeared as a beacon of hope for oppressed people elsewhere who dared to dream that they too could free themselves. In a dizzying few months of almost entirely peaceful revolutions the people's will triumphed over tyranny. An entire way of life was swept away. Now, twenty years on, Victor Sebestyen reassesses this decisive moment in modern history.
By Mike Dash
'A fascinating exploration of human greed and self-delusion and also a tribute to our ageless search for beauty' DEBORAH MOGGACH.In 1630s' Holland thousands of people, from the wealthiest merchants to the lowest street traders, were caught up in a frenzy of buying and selling. The object of the speculation was not oil or gold, but the tulip, a delicate and exotic bloom that had just arrived from the east. Over three years, rare tulip bulbs changed hands for sums that would have bought a house in Amsterdam: a single bulb could sell for more than £300,000 at today's prices. Fortunes were made overnight, but then lost when, within a year, the market collapsed.Mike Dash recreates this bizarre episode in European history, separating myth from reality. He traces the hysterical boom and devastating bust, bringing to life a colourful cast of characters, and beautifully evoking Holland's Golden Age.
By Hugh Bicheno
The lives and loves of the great condottieriFederigo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, was the archetypal 'Renaissance man': a brilliant soldier, scholar and ally of the pope, he spent much of the vast wealth on commissioning artists to decorate the city.Sigismondo Malatesta, lord of the neighbouring city of Rimini, was also a brilliant soldier and generous patron of the arts. He and Federigo were locked in an epic feud which saw them fight as mercenaries for and against just about every Italian ruler of note, so long as the other was on the opposite side.Together they epitomised the spirit of the condottieri - the contract army leaders who drove the explosion of new political, commercial and artistic ideas that has since become known as the Renaissance.
By Peter Hart, Nigel Steel
A major new history of the most infamous battle of the First World War, as described by the men who fought it.On 1 July 1916, Douglas Haig's army launched the 'Big Push' that was supposed finally to bring an end to the stalemate on the Western Front. What happened next was a human catastrophe: scrambling over the top into the face of the German machine guns and artillery fire, almost 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed that day alone, and twice as many wounded - the greatest loss in a single day ever sustained by the British Army. The battle did not stop there, however. It dragged on for another 4 months, leaving the battlefield strewn with literally hundreds of thousands of bodies. The Somme has remained a byword for the futility of war ever since. In this major new history, Peter Hart describes how the battle looked from the point of view of those who fought it. Using never-before-seen eyewitness testimonies, he shows us this epic conflict from all angles. We see what it was like to crawl across No Man's Land in the face of the German guns, what it was like for those who stayed behind in the trenches - the padres, the artillerymen, the doctors. We also see what the battle looked like from the air, as the RFC battled to keep control of the skies above the battlefield. All this is put in the context of the background to the battle, and Haig's overall strategy for the Western Front, making this the most comprehensive history of the battle since Lyn MacDonald's bestselling work over 20 years ago.
The War Walk
By Nigel Jones
A tourist guide, a history and a personal story of the Western Front 1914-18Nigel Jones's uncle was killed in action near Ypres in 1915, aged just eighteen, and his father served on Field Marshal Haig's staff: no wonder then, that he has always been fascinated by the First World War.THE WAR WALK describes his pilgrimage to the Western Front battlefields: it is a compelling blend of history, travel and personal anecdotes from some of the last surviving veterans of the First World War. He follows the old trench networks from the Belgian coast to the Swiss frontier, bringing each battlefield to life with vivid eyewitness testimony and investigating how the sites are preserved today for modern visitors.
By Nigel Steel, Peter Hart
Dramatic, illustrated account of the biggest naval battle of the First World War.On 31 May, 1916, the great battle fleets of Britain and Germany met off Jutland in the North Sea. It was a climactic encounter, the culmination of a fantastically expensive naval race between the two countries, and expectations on both sides were high. For the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet, there was the chance to win another Trafalgar. For the German High Seas Fleet, there was the opportunity to break the British blockade and so change the course of the war. But Jutland was a confused and controversial encounter. Tactically, it was a draw; strategically, it was a British victory.Naval historians have pored over the minutiae of Jutland ever since. Yet they have largely ignored what the battle was actually like for its thousands of participants. Full of drama and pathos, of chaos and courage, JUTLAND, 1916 describes the sea battle in the dreadnought era from the point of view of those who were there.
Nothing For Tears
By Lali Horstmann
The true story of one family's struggle in the chaos of Germany's defeat in 1945Towards the end of the Second World War, Lali Horstmann and her husband Freddy, a retired diplomat and art collector, were living at Kerzendorf, an elegant eighteenth-century house with a small park, avenues, statues and a garden, fifteen miles east of Berlin. The house was destroyed one night by allied bombers and the Horstmanns moved into the agent's little house in the park.It was to this small house that the Russian Secret Police came one spring night in1946 and took Freddy away with them into the dark. Two and a half years later Lali learned, almost by chance, that Freddy had died of starvation in a Russian concentration camp only a few miles from their home.Lali Horstmann's account of the last months of the war under the desperate and demoralised Nazis, and the terrifying arrival of the Russians, is both eloquent and heartbreaking.
By Mark Mazower
A dazzling short history of the Balkans from the Romans to the present, which provides vital historical and cultural background to contemporary Balkan politics.At the end of the twentieth century people spoke as if the Balkans had plagued Europe for ever. But two hundred years earlier, the Balkans did not exist. It was not the Balkans but the 'Rumeli' that the Ottomans ruled, the formerly Roman lands they had conquered from Byzantium, together with their Christian inhabitants. In this original account of the region Mark Mazower dispels current Western clichés and replaces stereotypes with a vivid account of how mountains, empires and religions have shaped its inhabitants' lives. As a bridge between Europe and Asia it has been exposed to a constant incursion of nomadic peoples across the centuries.Mazower's narrative ranges broadly both in time and in space, treating the former Turkish domains in Europe as part of a common if complex historical inheritance.
By Richard Fletcher
A clear, intelligently-written guide to a crucial period of Spanish historyWritten in the same tradition as John Julius Norwich's engrossing accounts of Venice and Byzantium, Richard Fletcher's Moorish Spain entertains even as it enlightens. He tells the story of a vital period in Spanish history which transformed the culture and society, not only of Spain, but of the rest of Europe as well. Moorish influence transformed the architecture, art, literature and learning and Fletcher combines this analysis with a crisp account of the wars, politics and sociological changes of the time.
The Meaning Of Hitler
By Sebastian Haffner
A remarkable historical and psychological study of the enigma of Adolf Hitler and his impact on the twentieth century - by the bestselling author of DEFYING HITLER.Sebastian Haffner examines Hitler's lifespan, his performance, his successes, errors, intellectual misconceptions, crimes and, last but not least, his great betrayal of his nation, the Western world and human civilisation.'What makes Haffner's book different is that it is not one more biography but an analysis - a most penetrating analysis - of what Hitler was up to in his astonishing career' A.L. Rowse'Mr Haffner...has exposed better, and more briefly, than anyone else the clockwork of that infernal machine' Gordon Brook-Shepherd, Sunday Telegraph
Plotting Hitler's Death
By Joachim Fest
The definitive and fascinating account of the many German plots to kill Hitler.PLOTTING HITLER'S DEATH brings the full story of German resistance against the Nazis to a popular audience. Time and again, small numbers of Germans, civilian and military, noble and ignoble, schemed to topple the Fuhrer, and on several occasions they came within minutes - or inches - of succeeding. Fest recounts the famous 1944 attempt and the lesser known 1938 attempt to topple Hitler. He also recounts the numerous isolated individuals and conspirators that plotted against the dictator. As powerful and compelling as any thriller, this vivid and absorbing account explores why they tried, why they found so little support either in Germany or outside it, and why they failed.