By Ruth Cowen
Alexis Soyer (1810-1858) was a working-class Frenchman from an unremarkable town north-west of Paris, but his exceptional cooking skills and ebullient personality turned him into Britain's first true celebrity chef. He was the first to publish a succession of best-selling cookbooks - one selling more than a quarter of a million copies, an extraordinary figure for the mid-nineteenth century. He was also the first to produce branded merchandise, including a remarkably ingenious stove that fitted in the pocket and bottled sauces decorated with his recognisable portrait. Ahead of his time, he nurtured a flamboyant public profile through a combination of brilliant self-publicity and shameless press manipulation.But his life's purpose both came into focus and found its dramatic climax when he renounced his sybaritic lifestyle and elected to travel, for no pay and in the face of real danger, across Europe first to Scutari and later to Balaclava, where thousands of British troops had died of disease and malnutrition during the first long, bitter winter of the Crimean war. One of the first to understand fully the rudiments of good nutrition and mass catering, Soyer had already introduced new principles of large-scale cookery to Ireland during the potato famine of 1847, and he extend his expertise to the British army with spectacular results. Long overlooked by historians, Ruth Cowen vividly recounts the life of a unique personality with a scholarly slice of Victorian history.
The Reading Cure
By Laura Freeman
Shortlisted for the Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year AwardAt the age of fourteen, Laura Freeman was diagnosed with anorexia. She had seized the one aspect of her life that she seemed able to control, and struck different foods from her diet one by one until she was starving. But even at her lowest point, the one appetite she never lost was her love of reading.As Laura battled her anorexia, she gradually re-discovered how to enjoy food - and life more broadly - through literature. Plum puddings and pottles of fruit in Dickens gave her courage to try new dishes; the wounded Robert Graves' appreciation of a pair of greengages changed the way she thought about plenty and choice; Virginia Woolf's painterly descriptions of bread, blackberries and biscuits were infinitely tempting. Book by book, meal by meal, Laura developed an appetite and discovered an entire library of reasons to live.The Reading Cure is a beautiful, inspiring account of hunger and happiness, about addiction, obsession and recovery, and about the way literature and food can restore appetite and renew hope.
By Alex Perry
Taking the Great Rift Valley - the geological fault that will eventually tear Africa in two - as his central metaphor, Alex Perry explores the split between a resurgent Africa and a world at odds with its rise. Africa has long been misunderstood - and abused - by outsiders. Perry travelled the continent for most of a decade, meeting with entrepreneurs and warlords, professors and cocaine smugglers, presidents and jihadis, among many others.Opening with a devastating investigation into a largely unreported war crime in Somalia in 2011, he finds Africa at a moment of furious self-assertion. This is a remade continent, defiantly rising from centuries of oppression to become an economic and political titan: where cash is becoming a thing of the past, where astronomers are unlocking the origin of life and where, twenty-five years after Live Aid, Ethiopia's first yuppies are traders on an electronic food exchange. Yet, as Africa finally wins the substance of its freedom, it must confront the three last false prophets of Islamists, dictators and aid workers, who would keep it in its bonds.
Rising Sun And Tumbling Bear
By Richard Connaughton
The definitive history of the Russo-Japanese warThe Russians were wrong-footed from the start, fighting in Manchuria at the end of a 5,000 mile single track railway; the Japanese were a week or so from their bases. The Russian command structure was hopelessly confused, their generals old and incompetent, the Tsar cautious and uncertain. The Russian naval defeat at Tsushima was as farcical as it was complete. The Japanese had defeated a big European power, and the lessons for the West were there for all to see, had they cared to do so. From this curious war, so unsafely ignored for the most part by the military minds of the day, Richard Connaughton has woven a fascinating narrative to appeal to readers at all levels.
The Road To Berlin
By John Erickson
A compelling account of the Red Army's epic struggle to drive the Germans out of Russia and back to Berlin.Beginning with the destruction of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad, THE ROAD TO BERLIN is the story of how the Red Army drove the Germans from its territory, and finally invaded the Reich. Using an enormous range of primary sources - Soviet, German and Eastern European - John Erickson describes fighting and hardship on a scale almost unimaginable in the West. He provides a detailed narrative of all the battles on all the fronts, and also of the Soviet system of war which achieved, under maximum stress, near impossible feats in the field and in the factories. The book also tells of the diplomatic moves and counter-moves, including the all-important conferences at Tehran and Yalta. Comprehensive, compelling, and immensely readable, it is an indispensable book for any student of the Second World War.
The Real Bravo Two Zero
By Michael Asher
The true story of the most famous SAS operation in history.'Bravo Two Zero' was the code-name of the famous SAS operation: a classic story of bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. BRAVO TWO ZERO by patrol commander 'Andy McNab' became an international bestseller, as did the book by 'Chris Ryan' (THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY). Both men became millionaires. Three members of the patrol were killed. One, veteran sergeant Vince Phillips, was blamed in both books for a succession of mistakes. As Michael Asher reveals, the stories in BRAVO TWO ZERO and THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY grew considerably in the telling. Their heroic tales of taking out tanks with their rocket launchers, mowing down hundreds of Iraqi soldiers, the silent stabbing of the occasional sentry, were never mentioned at their post-war debriefings... In an investigation literally in the footsteps of the patrol, Michael Asher tells the true story.
The Road Past Mandalay
By John Masters
The second part of the bestselling novelist's autobiography about his time in the Gurkhas during the second world warThis is the second part of John Masters' autobiography: how he fought with his Gurkha regiment during World War II until his promotion to command one of the Chindit columns behind enemy lines in Burma. Written by a bestselling novelist at the height of his powers, it is an exceptionally moving story that culminates in him having to personally shoot a number of wounded British soldiers who cannot be evacuated before their position is overrun by the Japanese. It is an uncomfortable reminder that Churchill's obsession with 'special forces' squandered thousands of Allied lives in operations that owed more to public relations than strategic calculation. This military and moral odyssey is one of the greatest of World War II frontline memoirs.