Trenchard: Father of the Royal Air Force
By Russell Miller
Hugh 'Boom' Trenchard was embarrassed by being described as 'The Father of the Royal Air Force' - he thought others were more deserving. But the reality was that no man did more to establish the world's first independent air force and ensure its survival in the teeth of fierce opposition from both the Admiralty and the War Office. Born in Taunton in 1873, Trenchard struggled at school, not helped by the shame of his solicitor father's bankruptcy when he was sixteen. He failed entrance examinations to both the Royal Navy and the Army several times, eventually obtaining a commission through the 'back door' of the militia. After service in India, South Africa - where he was seriously wounded - and Nigeria, he found his destiny when he joined the fledgling Royal Flying Corps in 1912, where he was soon known as 'Boom' thanks to his stentorian voice. Quick to recognise the huge potential aircraft offered in future conflicts, he rose rapidly to command the RFC in France during the First World War despite handicaps that would have blighted conventional military careers: he was obstinate, tactless, inarticulate and chronically unable to remember names - yet he was able to inspire unflagging loyalty among all ranks. Despite his conspicuous distrust of politicians, he served as a successful Chief of the Air Staff for a decade after the war and then, at the personal request of the King, took over as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, which he reorganised and reformed. He never wavered in his belief that mastery of the air could only be achieved by relentless offensive action, or in his determined advocacy of strategic bombing. His most enduring legacy was the creation of the finest air force in the world, engendered with the spirit that won the Battle of Britain.
By Elaine Feinstein
Ted Hughes is one of the greatest English poets of this century, yet his life was dogged by tragedy and controversy. His marriage to the American poet Sylvia Plath marked his whole life and he never entirely recovered from her suicide in 1963, though he chose to remain silent on the subject for more than 30 years. Many people, including his friend Al Alvarez, have held Hughes's adultery responsible for Plath's death. Elaine Feinstein first met Hughes in 1969, and she was a good friend of his and his sister Olwyn's, both of whom guarded the Plath estate. She knows many of the European and America poets who so influenced Hughes - Seamus Heaney, Thom Gunn, Miroslav Holub, and knows the world in which both he and Plath moved.
By David Render, Stuart Tootal
A gripping account of the Second World War, from the perspective of a young tank commander.In 1944 the average life expectancy of a newly commissioned tank troop officer in Normandy was estimated as being less than two weeks. David Render was a nineteen-year-old second lieutenant fresh from Sandhurst when he was sent to France to join a veteran armoured unit that had already spent years fighting with the Desert Rats in North Africa. Joining the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry five days after the D-Day landings, the combat-hardened men he was sent to command did not expect him to last long. However, in the following weeks of ferocious fighting in Normandy, in which more than 90 per cent of his fellow tank commanders became casualties, his ability to emerge unscathed from countless combat engagements defied expectations and earned him his squadron's nickname of the 'Inevitable Mr Render'.In Tank Action David Render tells his remarkable story, spanning every major episode of the last year of the Second World War in Western Europe, from the invasion of Normandy to the fall of Germany. Ultimately it is a story of survival, comradeship and the ability to stand up and be counted as a leader in combat.
Testament of Youth
By Vera Brittain
This classic memoir of the First World War is now a major motion picture starring Alicia Vikander and Kit Harington. Includes an afterword by Kate Mosse OBE.In 1914 Vera Brittain was 20, and as war was declared she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life - and the life of her whole generation - had changed in a way that would have been unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era.TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain's account of how she survived those agonising years; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Vera Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time, and has lost none of its power to shock, move and enthral readers since its first publication in 1933.
Tales from a Midwife
By Jennifer Worth, Anne Reid, Stephanie Cole
This omnibus audio edition of CALL THE MIDWIFE, SHADOWS OF THE WORKHOUSE and FAREWELL TO THE EAST END chronicles Jennifer Worth's career as a midwife, from her arrival in the war-scarred Docklands as a wide-eyed trainee, to the demolition of the tenements.It provides a fascinating snapshot of social history, documenting the East End in the days when there was a real sense of community, when times were tough but there was plenty of good humour and neighbourly support to help the inhabitants through the harsh econonic climate.
There Will Be Rainbows: A Biography of Rufus Wainwright
By Kirk Lake
The first ever biography of one of the most fascinating singers to have appeared in the last 50 years."Rufus Wainwright is the greatest songwriter on the planet" - Elton JohnRufus Wainwright's work mixes innovation and tradition like no other contemporary pop performer. His private life, which, by choice or otherwise, he has lived in public, is equally incredible -- and in its own, sometimes peculiar, often exaggerated way, has encompassed all three of the clichéd tenets of the popular artist (sex, drugs and rock n roll).In seeking to explain how the artist works and where his place lies in a great tradition, Kirk Lake enters into the diverse worlds of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, opera, gay liberation, Canadian folk, neo-Conservatism, drug addiction and Hollywood musicals. He follows Wainwright's journey (from Van Dyke Parks, to rehab, to Carnegie Hall), and talks to those who have orbited close to Wainwright. Rufus Wainwright: A Biography is an intelligent, critical piece of music writing that befits the integrity and complexity of the artist's work while fully embracing the self-deprecating humour and flamboyance that embodies Rufus Wainwright, the person.
Twelve Babies on a Bike
By Dot May Dunn
A young midwife's account of her training in the Midlands in the 1950s. A SUNDAY TIMES bestseller.It's 1957, and in a shattered post-war world, life goes on. Dot, a pupil midwife, negotiates the streets on her trusty old bicycle - come rain or shine - to help women in need.Living and working under the supervision of the strict Mrs O'Reilly, she must complete her training with twelve deliveries: there's Mrs Wardle who lives in a seedy slum; the eighth Clarke baby, born in an unusual place; the superstitious Wests, desperate for a boy; baby Murphy who is received with laughter; and brothel-worker Mrs Maloney.Amid lectures, textbooks and university dances, Dot must saddle up at any time of the day and night to attend deliveries. But just when she thinks she's got the measure of the job, fate deals her an unexpected hand...
Thommo Speaks Out
By Ashley Mallett
'I just run in and go whang.'This is how Jeff Thomson, the fastest bowler of all times, explains his technique. Thommo was feared by batsmen all around the world. Sri Lankan Sunil Wettimuny recalls facing one of Thommo's balls: 'Never before or since that day did I know fear on the cricket field.'Mike Brearley, the Middlesex captain who led England during the World Series Cricket incursion, said of Thommo: 'Broken marriages, conflicts of loyalty, the problems of everyday life fall away as one faces up to Thomson.'Greg Chappell, Thommo's former captain, put it this way, 'I don't care if Thommo hasn't a clue where they are going, he'll frighten these blokes out. They'll be so desperate to get to the other end they'll run themselves out.'This is Jeff Thomson's story, from the cricket fields of his Sydney schoolboy days to the international matches and beyond, as told to Ashley Mallet by Thommo, his former team mates and his opponents.Thommo's legendary partnership with Dennis Lillee, a combination known as Lillian Thomson, was one of the most lethal in the history of cricket. As the caption to Paul Rigby's famous cartoon said:'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust - if Thommo don't get ya, Lillee must . . .'
Time to Say Hello
By Katherine Jenkins
The UK's biggest-selling classical artist reveals how her angelic voice has shot her to superstardom...Katherine Jenkins is an international singing superstar who has redefined a music genre: she has brought classical music to the masses and inspired young and old with her incredible voice, her glamorous looks and, above all, her love for music, her country and her fans.Born in Neath, South Wales, Katherine won national acclaim as the BBC Welsh Choirgirl of the year and soon after a place at the Royal Academy of Music. Auditioning for a terrifying panel of industry experts at Universal Music she came away with the largest recording deal in classical music history. And so began Katherine's meteoric rise to stardom.TIME TO SAY HELLO is Katherine's incredible story. Packed with laughter, adventure, heartbreak and music, it is the tale of a dream coming true and one that will keep you gripped to the last note ¿
By Agnes Catherine Poirier
Why France and Britain are so different, and why they do things in opposite ways.A brilliant and vigorous observer of both French and British societies, which she knows intimately, 32-year-old Agnes Catherine Poirier has spent the last ten years explaining the peculiarities of France to the British and of Britain to the French. Not an easy job.Having studied both in Paris and London, writing in both languages for the French and British press, Agnes Catherine Poirier plays with national stereotypes, which are both stupid and dangerous, with dexterity and savoir faire. She goes beneath the surface to explain why France and Britain keep arguing and competing endlessly, why they are so different and why they do things in almost opposite ways.Covering the worlds of art, politics, action, food, institutions, sex, history, media, society and philosophy, she tells us as much about us as why France is a nation apart.Revenge for tabloid attacks on France or for British expats' invasions of Brittany and the Dordogne? You decide. But this will entertain and educate all readers about their own country and whether its 'entente' with La Belle France is 'cordiale' or not.You may disagree with her but you may never see yourself in the same way again.
Tales From The Boot Camps
By Steve Claridge, Ian Ridley
The biography of Steve Claridge, as much a story of a Midlands cult hero as a vivid portrait of life in the lower divisions of English football.Away from the glamour and wall-to-wall coverage of the Premiership lies the reality, for the majority of fans and players, of British football. From Claridge's early days with non-league Weymouth, to the Premiership with Leicester, and back to First-Division Portsmouth, TALES FROM THE BOOT CAMPS spans the lows of irregular salary payments and training sessions on dog-fouled carparks at Aldershot, and the highs of the last-minute win in a First Division play-off at Wembley, and on to the Premiership. Controversial, itinerant, but popular wherever he has played, Claridge also talks frankly about his addiction to gambling. Part biography, part autobiography, it is full of insight and dry wit, a unique portrait of British football.