WINNER OF THE ORWELL PRIZE 2016.
How did a country that liberated itself from seventy years of Soviet rule end up as one of the biggest threats to the West and, above all, to its own future? Why did the people who rejected Communist ideology come to accept state propaganda?
In this bold and important book, Arkady Ostrovsky takes the reader on an enthralling journey through Russia's tumultuous post-Soviet transformation and illuminates the key turning points that often took the world by sur..
The bestselling study of Jewish history
Exploding the myth that there was a forced Jewish exile in the first century at the hands of the Romans, Israeli historian Shlomo Sand argues that most modern Jews descend from converts, whose native lands were scattered across the Middle East and Eastern Europe. In the process, Sand dismantles the founding myth of the Jewish homeland.
This new edition, ten years after the book’s first publication in English, includes a new introduction that revisits the..
Ming and Beata share neither the same language nor cultural background, yet their stories are remarkably similar. Both are single mothers in their thirties and both came to Britain in search of a new life: Ming from China and Beata from Poland. Neither imagined that their journey would end in a British brothel. In this chilling expose, investigative journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai works undercover as a housekeeper in a brothel and unveils the terrible reality of the British sex trade. Workers are trap..
Iran often appears in the media as a hostile and difficult country. But beneath the headlines there is a fascinating story of a nation of great intellectual variety and depth, and enormous cultural importance. A nation whose impact has been tremendous, not only on its neighbours in the Middle East but on the world as a whole - and through ideas and creativity rather than by the sword.
From the time of the prophet Zoroaster, to the powerful ancient Persian Empires, to the revolution of 1979, t..
At the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union unexpectedly found itself in control of a huge swathe of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to a completely new political and moral system: communism. In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete.
Winner of the Wolfson History Prize, Christopher Clark's Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947 is a compelling account of a country that played a pivotal role in Europe's fortunes and fundamentally shaped our world. Prussia began as a medieval backwater, but transformed itself into a major European power and the force behind the creation of the German empire, until it was finally abolished by the Allies after the Second World War. With great flair and authority, Christopher Cl..
'Outstanding, illuminating, compelling ... a riveting read' Peter Frankopan, Sunday Times
Islamic civilization was once the envy of the world. From a succession of glittering, cosmopolitan capitals, Islamic empires lorded it over the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and swathes of the Indian subcontinent. For centuries the caliphate was both ascendant on the battlefield and triumphant in the battle of ideas, its cities unrivalled powerhouses of artistic grandeur, commercial power, spirit..
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE 2017
'An eye-opening, well-written and very timely book' Yuval Noah Harari
'The best sort of book for our disordered days: timely, urgent and illuminating' Pankaj Mishra
'It strikes a blow…for common humanity' Sunday Times
The Muslim world has often been accused of a failure to modernise and adapt. Yet in this sweeping narrative and provocative retelling of modern history, Christopher de Bellaigue charts the forgotten story of the Islami..
Islamic State stunned the world when it overran an area the size of Britain on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border in a matter of weeks and proclaimed the birth of a new Caliphate.
In this timely and important book, Abdel Bari Atwan draws on his unrivalled knowledge of the global jihadi movement and Middle Eastern geopolitics to reveal the origins and modus operandi of Islamic State. Based on extensive field research and exclusive interviews with IS insiders, Atwan outlines the group's leader..
The SUNDAY TIMES-bestselling biography of one of the world's greatest cities - Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul
Istanbul has always been a place where stories and histories collide and crackle, where the idea is as potent as the historical fact. From the Qu'ran to Shakespeare, this city with three names - Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul - resonates as an idea and a place, and overspills its boundaries - real and imagined. Standing as the gateway between the East and West, it has served..
Despite the 1989 global ivory trade ban, poaching and ivory smuggling have not abated. More than half of Tanzania's elephants have been killed for their ivory since 2007. A similarly alarming story can be told of the herds in northern Mozambique and across swathes of central Africa. But why the new upsurge? The popular narrative blames a meeting of two evils - criminal poaching and terrorism. But the answer is not that simple.Since ancient times, large-scale killing of elephants for their tusks ..
Horrific, horrendous, unspeakable, The Whitechapel Murderer, Jack the Ripper, stalked the streets of East London in 1888, slaughtering prostitutes and bewildering the police who were hunting him. They never succeeded in apprehending him, and to this day the mystery of his identity remains an enigma. But he did leave clues to his identity, and numerous theories have been entertained throughout the one hundred and twenty years since he held London's East End in his grip of terror. This book l..
The epic story of Jerusalem told through the lives of the men and women who created, ruled and inhabited it.
Jerusalem is the universal city, the capital of two peoples, the shrine of three faiths; it is the prize of empires, the site of Judgement Day and the battlefield of today's clash of civilizations. From King David to Barack Obama, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict, this is the epic history of 3,000 years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism a..
The works of the Jewish writer Flavius Josephus represent one of the most important records of Judaism and the Jews that survive from the ancient world. The Jewish Antiquities, his largest historical enterprise, is an account in twenty books of Jewish history from the creation to the outbreak of the Jewish revolt against Rome in AD 66. Here is all the drama of the Old Testament transformed into a historical narrative of Greco-Roman character; and more important, our only continuous account of Mi..
Joan of Arc s life and death mark a turning point in the destiny both of France and England and the history of their monarchies. It is a great shame, wrote Étienne Pasquier in the late sixteenth century, for no one ever came to the help of France so opportunely and with such success as that girl, and never was the memory of a woman so torn to shreds.
Biographers have crossed swords furiously about her inspiration, each according to the personal conviction of the writer. As Moya Longstaffe point..
The story of one of the most remarkable women of the medieval world, as you have never read it before
A French peasant girl who heard voices from God, Joan convinced the royal court of her divine calling and became a teenage warrior, leading an army to victory against the English. Eventually captured and put on trial, she was denounced as a heretic and burned at the stake at the age of just nineteen. Five hundred years later, she was recognised as a saint.
Here, Joan and her world are brou..
Oswald Whiteblade lived one of the most influential and colourful lives in early English history. Before his death in battle against the pagans of Mercia cut short his reign as king of Northumbria (634-42), he remodelled his northeastern English homeland as a Christian kingdom, founded the monastery of Lindisfarne, introduced a culture of learning which influenced all Europe, and became the most powerful ruler in Britain.
Max Adams's thrilling account rescues Oswald from Dark Age obscurity to..
On 25 June 1950 the invasion of South Korea by the Communist North launched one of the bloodiest conflicts of the last century. The seemingly limitless power of the Chinese-backed North was thrown against the ferocious firepower of the UN-backed South in a war that can be seen today as the stark prelude to Vietnam.
Max Hastings drew on first-hand accounts of those who fought on both sides to produce this vivid and incisive reassessment of the Korean War, bringing the military and human dimens..
*Listed as one of the Guardian's 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time*
'Some books simply exude excitement and self-confidence, as if the writer is on fire with ideas, or intoxicated with information. This is one of those titles...remains unsurpassed' Robert McCrum, The Guardian
'Brilliantly written and researched, The Last Days of Hitler remains the most vivid account of the final Wagnerian chapter of Hitler's tyranny' Max Hastings
In September 1945 the fate of Adolf Hitler ..
On Christmas Day 1991 Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union. By the next day the USSR was officially no more and the USA had emerged as the world's sole superpower. Award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy presents a page-turning account of the preceding five months of drama, filled with failed coups d'état and political intrigue.
Honing in on this previously disregarded but crucial period and using recently declassified documents and original interviews with key participan..
‘A timely and important book . . . he brings to it rare clarity and common sense. His book is a fast-paced account of the last sixteen months of the tsar’s life; brief, sharp, but laced with well-judged feeling for the dramas of the time.’ Catherine Merridale, Observer
In March 1917, Nicholas II, the last Tsar of All the Russias, abdicated and the dynasty that had ruled an empire for three hundred years was forced from power by revolution. In this masterful and forensic study, Robert Ser..
Late in the tenth century, the Norse Vikings embarked on a voyage of no return. Leaving Iceland first for Greenland, from there they sailed onwards to North America, setting foot on its shores five hundred years before Columbus's first journeys of discovery. But by about AD 1500 their settlements were abandoned and the Norse Greenlanders and their explorations of the New World receded into the realms of myth. What happened between these momentous events? How did the Vikings really live - and die..
The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller 2014
New York Times top ten bestseller 2014
Amazon.com's Top Ten History Books of the Year 2014
New York Times Book of the Year 2014
The Arab Revolt against the Turks in World War One was, in the words of T.E. Lawrence, 'a sideshow of a sideshow'. Amidst the slaughter in European trenches, the Western combatants paid scant attention to the Middle Eastern theatre. As a result, the conflict was shaped to a remarkable degree by a small handful of adventurers and..
'A fresh, powerful portrait of Lenin' Anne Applebaum, author of Red Famine
'Richly readable ... An enthralling but appalling story' Francis Wheen, author of Karl Marx
The cold, one-dimensional figure of Lenin the political fanatic is only a partial truth. Drawing on extensive material that has only recently become available, Sebestyen's gripping biography casts an intriguing new light on the character behind the politics.
In reality, Lenin was a man who loved nature as much as he loved ..
For readers of Suite Francaise and But You Did Not Come Back, Les Parisiennes recounts the true stories of Parisian women during and after the Second World War.
WINNER OF THE FRANCO-BRITISH SOCIETY BOOK PRIZE 2016
June, 1940. German troops enter Paris and hoist the swastika over the Arc de Triomphe. The dark days of Occupation begin. How would you have survived? By collaborating with the Nazis, or risking the lives of you and your loved ones to resist?
The women of Paris faced this dile..
An eloquent call to draw on the lessons of the past to address current threats to international order The ancient Greeks hard-wired a tragic sensibility into their culture. By looking disaster squarely in the face, by understanding just how badly things could spiral out of control, they sought to create a communal sense of responsibility and courage-to spur citizens and their leaders to take the difficult actions necessary to avert such a fate. Today, after more than seventy years of great-power..
'Superbly researched and enormously entertaining... One of the outstanding books of the year' The Times
An epic story of empire-building and bloody conflict, this ground-breaking biography of one of history’s most venerated military and religious heroes opens a window on the Islamic and Christian worlds’ complex relationship.
WINNER OF THE SLIGHTLY FOXED BEST FIRST BIOGRAPHY PRIZE
When Saladin recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187, returning the Holy City to Islamic rule, he sent sh..
From acclaimed historians Frances and Joseph Gies comes the reissue of this definitive classic on medieval castles, which was a source for George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series
“Castles are crumbly and romantic. They still hint at an age more colorful and gallant than our own, but are often debunked by boring people who like to run on about drafts and grumble that the latrines did not work. Joseph and Frances Gies offer a book that helps set the record straight—and keeps the romance too.”..
"Some particular books I found useful for A Game of Thrones and its sequels deserve mention... Life in a Medieval Castle and Life in a Medieval City, both by Joseph and Frances Gies." —George R.R. Martin, author of the series A Song of Ice and FireMedieval history comes alive in Frances and Joseph Gies’s Life in a Medieval City, used as a research resource by George R. R. Martin in creating the world of Game of Thrones.Reissued for the first time in decades, Life in a Medieval City is the classi..
The reissue of Joseph and Frances Gies s classic bestseller on life in medieval villages.This new reissue of Life in a Medieval Village, by respected historians Joseph and Frances Gies, paints a lively, convincing portrait of rural people at work and at play in the Middle Ages. Focusing on the village of Elton, in the English East Midlands, the Gieses detail the agricultural advances that made communal living possible, explain what domestic life was like for serf and lord alike, and describe the..
To risk my life had to mean something. Otherwise what was it all for?'
Gulwali Passarlay was sent away from Afghanistan at the age of twelve, after his father was killed in a gun battle with the US Army. Smuggled into Iran, Gulwali began a twelvemonth odyssey across Europe, spending time in prisons, suffering hunger, making a terrifying journey across the Mediterranean in a tiny boat, and enduring a desolate month in the camp at Calais. Somehow he survived, and made it to Britain, no longer a..
The turbulent Tudor age never fails to capture the imagination. But what was it actually like to be a woman during this period? This was a time when death in infancy or during childbirth was rife; when marriage was usually a legal contract, not a matter for love, and the education of women was minimal at best. Yet the Tudor century was also dominated by powerful and characterful women in a way that no era had been before.
Elizabeth Norton explores the seven ages of the Tudor woman, from child..
'An entertaining and insightful human story of obsession about books.' Daily Telegraph
'A lively tale of historical innovation, the thrill of the bibliophile's hunt, greed and betrayal.' New York Times
The never-before-told story of one extremely rare copy of the Gutenberg Bible, and its impact on the lives of the fanatical few who were lucky enough to own it.
For rare book collectors, an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible - there are only forty-six in existence - is the undisputed gem of ..
This is an enchanting and fascinating insight into Japanese landscape, culture, history and future. Originally written in Japanese, this passionate, vividly personal book draws on the author's experiences in Japan over thirty years. Alex Kerr brings to life the ritualized world of Kabuki, retraces his initiation into Tokyo's boardrooms during the heady Bubble Years, and tells the story of the hidden valley that became his home.
But the book is not just a love letter. Haunted throughout by nos..
'Brisk and thoughtful, this book could hardly be more timely' Dominic Sandbrook, BBC History Magazine, Books of the Year
An astonishingly wide-ranging history of Russian nationalism chronicling Russia's yearning for Empire and how it has affected its politics for centuries
In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and attempted to seize a portion of Ukraine. While the world watched in outrage, this violation of national sovereignty was in fact only the latest iteration of a centuries-long effort to e..
‘Funny, wise, learned and compulsive’ - GQ
Bill Bryson turns away from travelling the highways and byways of middle America, so hilariously depicted in his bestselling The Lost Continent, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid and Notes from a Big Country, for a fast, exhilarating ride along the Route 66 of American language and popular culture.
In Made in America, Bryson tells the story of how American arose out of the English language, and along the way, de-mythologizes his native lan..
This ambitious volume, worldwide in scope and ranging from antiquity to the present, examines the human encounter with Unreason in all its manifestations, the challenges it poses to society and our responses to it. In twelve chapters organized chronologically from the Bible to Freud, from exorcism to mesmerism, from Bedlam to Victorian asylums, from the theory of humours to modern pharmacology, Andrew Scull writes compellingly about madness, its meanings, its consequences and our attempts to und..
Magic takes many forms. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting that the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods' bridge to earth. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality - science. Packed with inspiring explanations of space, time and evolution, laced with humour and clever thought experiments, The M..
A wave of internal conquest, settlement and economic growth took place in Europe during the High Middle Ages, which transformed it from a world of small separate communities into a network of powerful kingdoms with distinctive cultures. In this vivid and provocative book Robert Bartlett vividly shows how Europe was itself a product of colonization, as much as it was later a colonizer, and what this did to shape the continent and the world today...
In The Making of Modern Britain, Andrew Marr paints a fascinating portrait of life in Britain during the first half of the twentieth century as the country recovered from the grand wreckage of the British Empire.
Between the death of Queen Victoria and the end of the Second World War, the nation was shaken by war and peace. The two wars were the worst we had ever known and the episodes of peace among the most turbulent and surprising. As the political forum moved from Edwardian smoking rooms ..
Winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2011
Between 1958 and 1962, 45 million Chinese people were worked, starved or beaten to death. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up with and overtake the Western world in less than fifteen years. It lead to one of the greatest catastrophes the world has ever known.
Dikotter's extraordinary research within Chinese archives brings together for the first time what happened in the corri..
‘A landmark work giving a global panorama of Mao's ideology filled with historic events and enlivened by striking characters’ Jonathan Fenby, author of The Penguin History of China
Since the 1980s, China seems to have abandoned the utopian turmoil of Mao’s revolution in favour of authoritarian capitalism. But Mao and his ideas remain central to the People’s Republic. With disagreements between China and the West on the rise, the need to understand the political legacy of Mao is urgent and growi..
'A lovely debut from a gifted young author. Violet Moller brings to life the ways in which knowledge reached us from antiquity to the present day in a book that is as delightful as it is readable.' Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk RoadsIn The Map of Knowledge Violet Moller traces the journey taken by the ideas of three of the greatest scientists of antiquity – Euclid, Galen and Ptolemy – through seven cities and over a thousand years. In it, we follow them from sixth-century Alexandria to nin..
From bestselling historians Frances and Joseph Gies, authors of the classic "Medieval Life" series, comes this compelling, lucid, and highly readable account of the family unit as it evolved throughout the Medieval period--reissued for the first time in decades."Some particular books that I found useful for Game of Thrones and its sequels deserve mention. Life in a Medieval Castle and Life in a Medieval City, both by Joseph and Frances Gies." --George R. R. Martin, author of Game of ThronesThrou..
On the night of 10 February 1567, an explosion devastated the Edinburgh residence of Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. The noise was heard as far away as Holyrood Palace, where Queen Mary was attending a wedding masque. Those arriving at the scene of devastation found, in the garden, the naked corpses of Darnley and his valet. Neither had died in the explosion, but both bodies bore marks of strangulation. It was clear that they had been murdered and the house d..
The Medici are famous as the rulers of Florence at the high point of the Renaissance. Their power derived from the family bank, and this book tells the fascinating, frequently bloody story of the family and the dramatic development and collapse of their bank (from Cosimo who took it over in 1419 to his grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent who presided over its precipitous decline). The Medici faced two apparently insuperable problems: how did a banker deal with the fact that the Church regarded inte..
A dazzling history of the modest family which rose to become one of the most powerful in Europe, The Medici is a remarkably modern story of power, money and ambition. Against the background of an age which saw the rebirth of ancient and classical learning - of humanism which penetrated and explored the arts and sciences and the 'dark' knowledge of alchemy, astrology, and numerology - Paul Strathern explores the intensely dramatic rise and fall of the Medici family in Florence, as well as the Ita..
WINNER OF THE WOLFSON HISTORY PRIZE AND THE DUFF COOPER PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION
'Endlessly fascinating and enjoyable' Neil MacGregor
'A marvellous book' David Attenborough
'Full of delights' Tom Stoppard
An extraordinary exploration of the medieval world - the most beguiling history book of the year
This is a book about why medieval manuscripts matter. Coming face to face with an important illuminated manuscript in the original is like meeting a very famous person. We may all pretend th..
The authors trace the emergence of Ataturk and Reza Shah through the constitutional revolutions in Iran and the Ottoman Empire, which led to the introduction of European social models, the establishment of dictatorship and of secularist reforms. This produced in both Turkey and Iran highly authoritarian, nationalist, and quasi-westernised states, where the personality cult of the leader defined the politics of each country...
Situated in an area roughly corresponding to present-day Iraq, Mesopotamia is one of the great, ancient civilizations, though it is still relatively unknown. Yet, over 7,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, the very first cities were created. This is the first book to reveal how life was lived in ten Mesopotamian cities: from Eridu, the Mesopotamian Eden, to that potent symbol of decadence, Babylon - the first true metropolis: multicultural, multi-ethnic, the last centre of a dying civilization...
In 1958, after 14 years of military occupation, Khrushchev withdrew the USSR's troops from Romania as part of a political move intended to encourage the withdrawal of Western military forces from Europe. In analyzing this crucial historical episode, Sergiu Verona's study illustrates the dynamics of Soviet military presence in Romania and provides a framework for understanding Soviet security policy, then and now, as well as the interaction between Soviet military objectives and diplomacy. Drawin..
AN INDEPENDENT BEST BOOKS ON RELIGION 2014 PICK
Few things provoke controversy in the modern world like the religion brought by Prophet Muhammad. Modern media are replete with alarm over jihad, underage marriage and the threat of amputation or stoning under Shariah law. Sometimes rumor, sometimes based on fact and often misunderstood, the tenets of Islamic law and dogma were not set in the religion's founding moments. They were developed, like in other world religions, over centuries by the c..