The Spanish Armada
By Robert Hutchinson
A dramatic blow-by-blow account of the defeat of the Spanish Armada by the English fleet - a tale of derring-do and disaster on the high seas by one of our best narrative historians.After the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558, Protestant England was beset by the hostile Catholic powers of Europe - not least Spain. In October 1585 King Philip II of Spain declared his intention to destroy Protestant England and began preparing invasion plans, leading to an intense intelligence war between the two countries, culminating in the dramatic sea battles of 1588.Robert Hutchinson's tautly written book is the first to examine this battle for intelligence, and uses everything from contemporary eye-witness accounts to papers held by the national archives in Spain and the UK to recount the dramatic battle that raged up the English Channel. Contrary to popular theory, the Armada was not defeated by superior English forces - in fact, Elizabeth I's parsimony meant that her ships had no munitions left by the time the Armada had fought its way up to the south coast of England. In reality it was a combination of inclement weather and bad luck that landed the killer blow on the Spanish forces, and of the 125 Spanish ships that set sail against England, only 60 limped home - the rest sunk or wrecked with barely a shot fired.
The Stones of London
By Leo Hollis
The story of London, told through twelve of its most seminal buildings.In a sweeping narrative, from its mythic origins to the glittering towers of the contemporary financial capital, THE STONES OF LONDON tells the story of twelve London buildings in a kaleidoscopic and unexpected history of one of the world's most enigmatic cities.From the Roman forum to the Gherkin, Regent Street to the East End, the Houses of Parliament to Greenwich Palace, London's buildings are testament to the richness of its past. Behind the facades of these buildings lie the stories of the people, ideas and events that took place within them and that caused their creation. They all have very human stories, of the men and women who dreamed and lived their lives in London, leaving their imprint upon the fabric of the capital.
By John Lewis-Stempel
The extraordinary story of British junior officers in the First World War, who led their men out of the trenches and faced a life expectancy of six weeks.During the Great War, many boys went straight from the classroom to the most dangerous job in the world - that of junior officer on the Western Front. Although desperately aware of how many of their predecessors had fallen before them, nearly all stepped forward, unflinchingly, to do their duty. The average life expectancy of a subaltern in the trenches was a mere six weeks.In this remarkable book, John Lewis-Stempel focuses on the forgotten men who truly won Britain's victory in the First World War - the subalterns, lieutenants and captains of the Army, the leaders in the trenches, the first 'over the top', the last to retreat. Basing his narrative on a huge range of first-person accounts, including the poignant letters and diaries sent home or to their old schools, the author reveals what motivated these boy-men to act in such an extraordinary, heroic way. He describes their brief, brilliant lives in and out of the trenches, the tireless ways they cared for their men, and how they tried to behave with honour in a world where their values and codes were quite literally being shot to pieces.
By Gary Sheffield
On 1 July 1916, after a stupendous 7-day artillery preparation, the British Army finally launched its attack on the German line around the River Somme. Over the next four and half months they continued to attack, with little or no gain, and with horrendous losses to both sides. This book, written by the world's foremost expert in the subject, describes in chilling detail everything from the grand strategy to the experience of the men on the ground. Illustrated throughout, it is a stunning and absorbing depiction of the horror that was the Somme in 1916.