Margot at War
By Anne de Courcy
Margot Asquith was perhaps the most daring and unconventional Prime Minister's wife in British history. Known for her wit, style and habit of speaking her mind, she transformed 10 Downing Street into a glittering social and intellectual salon. Yet her last four years at Number 10 were a period of intense emotional and political turmoil in her private and public life. In 1912, when Anne de Courcy's book opens, rumblings of discontent and cries for social reform were encroaching on all sides - from suffragettes, striking workers and Irish nationalists. Against this background of a government beset with troubles, the Prime Minister fell desperately in love with his daughter's best friend, Venetia Stanley; to complicate matters, so did his Private Secretary. Margot's relationship with her husband was already bedevilled by her stepdaughter's jealous, almost incestuous adoration of her father. The outbreak of the First World War only heightened these swirling tensions within Downing Street. Drawing on unpublished material from personal papers and diaries, Anne de Courcy vividly recreates this extraordinary time when the Prime Minister's residence was run like an English country house, with socialising taking precedence over politics, love letters written in the cabinet room and gossip and state secrets exchanged over the bridge table. By 1916, when Asquith was forced out of office, everything had changed. For the country as a whole, for those in power, for a whole stratum of society, but especially for the Asquiths and their circle, it was the end of an era. Life inside Downing Street would never be the same again.
By John Hussey
John Churchill was born in 1650, the son of a defeated Cavalier captain, in a household which had been ravaged and rendered almost destitute by the English Civil War. Yet by the time of his death in 1722 he was among the richest men in the country, with a dukedom, a palace and a principality to call his own.His rise to power came through a combination of good luck, astute political manoeuvring, and a brilliance on the battlefield that made him easily the most successful general of his time. In this concise biography of the man and his military genius, John Hussey describes in detail the campaigns that made Marlborough famous: the 1704 campaign to save the Austrian empire, which culminated in the great victory of Blenheim, and the audacious invasion across Louis XIV's Ne Plus Ultra lines in 1711. These campaigns are put in the context of the times, to create a portrait of a man who is still celebrated as one of the world's greatest ever military commanders.
By H.F.M. Prescott
A highly-readable popular biography of 'Bloody Mary' - winner of the James Tait Black prize.Mary I is notorious for her persecution of Protestants and has been vilified by generations of partisan historians. H.F.M. Prescott brings a more humane and measured perspective to the life of this tormented woman. First published in 1940 under the title SPANISH TUDOR, Prescott's biography won the James Tait Black prize the following year. An extensively revised and updated edition was published in 1953 under the title MARY TUDOR.Prescott sums up her subject's life as follows: 'Perhaps no other reign in English history has seen such a great endeavour made, and so utterly defeated. All that Mary did was undone, all she intended utterly unfulfilled...mistaken often, almost always misguided in her public office, with much blindness, some rancour, some jealousy, some stupid cruelty to answer for, she had yet trodden, lifelong and manfully, the way that other sinners know.'
Man in the Shadows
By Efraim Halevy
A gripping inside look at the Middle East and the future of our world from the former director of Israel's Mossad.From Operation Desert Storm to the beginning of US incursions into Iraq, Efraim Halevy was Deputy Director and then Director of Israel's Mossad, arguably the most developed and, sometimes, ruthless intelligence service in the world. MAN IN THE SHADOWS is Halevy's memoir of that period from his vantage point inside the Mossad, as well as a look at what lies ahead for a world transformed by Islamic terrorism. Having served as the secret envoy to Prime Ministers Rabin, Shamir, Netanyahu, Barak and Sharon, Halevy was privy to, and collector of, some of the most sensitive information coming out of the region. Beginning with a prologue that describes a visit he made to Jordan in 1993, Halevy looks back to Desert Storm, an event he calls 'an epic of unfinished business' and brings the reader up to the present day through 9/11 and the WMD crisis in Iraq. Informed by his extraordinary access from the beginning of his Mossad career in 1961, he writes frankly of the Israeli PMs he worked under as well as most of the other major players in the region and around the world: Yasir Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Hafez Assad, Hosni Mubaraq, Crown Prince Abdullah, Mu'amar Qadaffi, Presidents Clinton and Bush, as well as former CIA director George Tenet and counter-intelligence chief James Angleton. Though Halevy looks to the past, he also looks to the future and talks bluntly about how the world might achieve peace in the region and elsewhere. Much of what he has to say will surprise and shock even those readers well versed in the complexities of the region.
By Jonathan Spence
A biography that penetrates Mao's rhetoric and infamous self-will to distil an intimate portrait of a man as withdrawn and mysterious as the emperors he disdained.From humble origins in the provinces, Mao Zedong rose to absolute power, unifying with an iron fist a vast country torn apart by years of weak leadership, foreign imperialism and war. In this sharply drawn account Jonathan Spence, award-winning historian and author of acclaimed books about the old and the new China, brings to life this modern day emperor and the tumultuous era that he did so much to shape. He presents Mao as a 'Lord of Misrule', who deliberately turned upside-down the traditional hierarchies of Chinese society. Spence captures Mao in all his paradoxical grandeur and sheds light on the radical transformation he unleashed that still reverberates in China today.