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History

A Clutch of Curious Characters

£4.95

A historic edition:

 

Meet Monsieur Benoit, who appeared suddenly in Paris with a scheme for telegraphing messages across the world (or, at least, across the room) by means of electricity and the telepathic power of snails, and actually raised the money to build this extraordinary machine.

 

His powers of persuasion clearly exceeded those of Colonel Baker, who seemed the personification of Victorian solidity until that embarrassing incident in the sealed railway compartment, where he failed to entice Miss Dickinson to join in his bit of fun, and afterwards had to try and explain his conduct to the High Court, with the whole nation hanging on his every word.

 

Here is a fascinating collection of some of history’s most extraordinary characters. Richard Glyn Jones has cast his net wide to gather these accounts of human oddity and eccentricity, and the standard of his writing is high, with Lytton Strachey, Derek Hudson, Christopher Sykes and Ronald Knox among the authors included. Hilariously funny, sometimes rather sad, but invariably interesting, this is a superbly diverting book. And, with a couple of tiny exceptions, it’s all true.

A Traveller’s History of Cyprus

£4.90

“A Traveller’s History of Cyprus” offers a complete and authoritative history of the island’s past and also touches on the sensitive present-day issues for both sides of the island. Although Cyprus is a relatively small island, its position in the East Mediterranean has always given it strategic importance beyond its size. Well-placed for travel from all over the globe with plenty of sunshine throughout the year, Cyprus has become a favored tourist destination. All visitors, whether to the Greek or Turkish side of the island, discover the immensely rich history, which has resulted in so many civilizations making their mark upon its soil. With a historical gazetteer, chronology of major events, index, bibliography and historical and contemporary maps, this book is an invaluable companion to students or visitors to the island.

A Traveller’s History of Greece

£4.90

In A Traveller’s History of Greece, the reader is provided with an authoritative general history of Greece from its earliest beginnings down to the present day. It covers in a clear and comprehensive manner the classical past, the conflict with Persia, the conquest by the Romans, the Byzantine era and the occupation by the Turks; the struggle for independence and the turbulence of recent years, right up to current events. This history will help the visitor make sense of modern Greece against the background of its diverse heritage. Illustrated with maps and line drawings, A Traveller’s History of Greece is an invaluable companion for your vacation.

A Traveller’s History of Portugal

£4.90
This is a definitive concise history of Portugal, from its earliest beginnings right up to the politics and life of the present day. It was not until the twelfth century that Portugal became a country in its own right, having been a Roman colony and then having suffered both Barbarian and Islamic invasions. The golden age of discoveries, the reign and foresight of Henry the Navigator, and great seamen such as Vasco da Gama led to the founding of Portugal’s empire and wealth. Troubled times followed: in 1755 Lisbon was virtually leveled by the ‘Great Earthquake,’ and the country had hardly recovered its former prosperity when it was overrun by Napoleon’s troops at the start of the Peninsular War, to be followed not long after by the Miguelite civil war. The middle decades of the nineteenth century saw the Port Wine trade flourishing, and further expansion into Africa. During the last quarter of the twentieth century, ever since the bloodless revolution of 1974 overthrew the rightwing dictatorship of Salazar, the country has regained its stability, and now takes its rightful place in the European Community. Illustrated with maps and line drawings, the book has a full Historical Gazetteer cross-referenced to the main text that concentrates on the historic sites in a country that has retained its individuality and thus its appeal to the individual traveler.

A Traveller’s History of Turkey

£4.90

Throughout the millennia Turkey formed the core of several Empires–Persia, Rome, Byzantium–before becoming the center of the Ottoman Empire. All these civilizations have left their marks on the landscape, architecture and art of Turkey–a place of fascinating overlapping cultures. Traveller’s History of Turkey offers a concise and readable account of the region from prehistory right up to the present day. It covers everything from the legendary Flood of Noah, the early civilization of Catal Huyuk seven thousand years before Christ, through the treasures of Troy, Alexander the Great, the Romans, Seljuks, Byzantines and the Golden Age of the Sultans, to the twentieth century’s great changes wrought by Kemal Ataturk and the strong position Turkey now holds in the world community.

Dostoyevsky: A Life of Contradiction

£14.99

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s life and literature are still potent today, nearly two hundred years after his birth. He is credited with writing some of the greatest novels of all time; a compatriot of Tolstoy and a contemporary of Dickens, his struggle for recognition was long and difficult. He suffered from severe epilepsy and an addiction to gambling, and in 1849 was only moments away from execution before he received a reprieve and was instead imprisoned in Siberia.

 

In his writing he offended and delighted in equal measure, recounting his own experience of prison with dark humour and wit in The House of the Dead and never losing his fascination with real-life crime. His novels ranged from the gritty social realism of Crime and Punishment to the fantasy of The Double, as well as the world-renowned Brothers Karamazov. From revolutionary to reactionary, enemy of the state to tutor of the Tsar’s children, Dostoyevsky’s story is one of turbulent change and contradiction. This biography explores his life and work, recounting his personal struggles with deadlines, debt, marriage and memories, and revisiting and revitalising his outstanding contribution to literature and how his writing is reflected and translated in the media today.

Forbidden Lives

£12.99

Forbidden Lives is a fascinating collection of portraits and discussions that aims to populate LGBT gaps in the history of Wales, a much neglected part of Welsh heritage. In it Norena Shopland reviews the reasons for this neglect while outlining the activity behind the recent growth of the LGBT profile here. She also surveys LGBT people and their activity as far back as Giraldus Cambrensis’ Journey Through Wales in the twelfth century where he reports on ‘bearded women’ and other hermaphrodites. Other subjects include Edward II and Hugh DeSpenser, seventeenth century poet Katherine Philips, the Ladies of Llangollen, Henry Paget, artists Gwen John and Cedric Morris, and actor Cliff Gordon. Shopland also identifies the strong Welsh connections to the exploration of homosexuality and transgender during the twentieth century, highlighting the contributions of John Randell, AE Dyson and Griff Vaughan Williams, and MPs Desmond Donnelly and Leo Abse. They helped to transform social and legal attitudes towards LGBT people across the whole of Britain, particularly in the post-war period, which created the more accepting culture present today. There is still plenty of work to do, as chapters on the responses to Pride in Wales and the first gay play, We All Fall Down, clearly show. But the stories of the people portrayed in this book are less likely to be repeated: the LGBT community has moved from living forbidden lives to a place largely less forbidding. Norena Shopland helps us understand the struggle which achieved these changes.

Jew Suss: His Life and Afterlife

£6.00

Joseph Suss Oppenheimer (1698-1738), better known as Jew Suss, was a court Jew, who advised the Duke of Wurttemberg. Clever and handsome, even ostentatious, he fitted easily into court life, despite his humble origins. However, his unpopular economic policies made him enemies and when the Duke died suddenly Suss was arrested, convicted of ‘destestable abuses’ and exectued in Stuttgart in an iron cage. His spectacular rise and fall inspired a media outpouring in the eighteenth century and he has been much written about subsequently. In the twentieth century two films were made about him, one British in 1934, the other German in 1940. Goebbels took an active interest in the latter. After the war its director, Veit Harlan, was tried for Crimes against Humanity for having made the film. Despite his acquittal, the film’s association with the Holocaust remains controversial to this day.

The Artistic Ape

£16.90

Desmond Morris, bestselling author and internationally renowned anthropologist, offers a unique appeciation of art – from the most ancient artefact to contemporary event art. Featuring more than 350 illustrations of international art, plus 12 video clips, he combines his deep understanding of human behaviour and his love of art to create a narrative of the evolution of artistic endeavour over three million years.

The Chaplin Machine

£4.50

Could Buster Keaton have starred in Battleship Potemkin?


Did Trotsky plan to write the great Soviet comedy?


And why did Lenin love circus clowns?


The Chaplin Machine reveals the lighter side of the Communist avant-garde and, in particular, its unlikely passion for American slapstick.


Set against the backdrop of the great Russian revolutionary experiment, Owen Hatherley tells the tragic-comedic story of the cinema, art and architecture of the early 20th Century and spotlights the unlikely intersections of East and West

The Distance Between Us

£12.99

This is a son’s search for his father. A familiar theme, but one that, across the generations, can occasionally unearth something rather powerful. In The Distance Between Us that son is Renato Cisneros, a talented writer and a well-known journalist, and that father is the former Army General Luis Federico ‘El Gaucho’ Cisneros, one of the most important figures in the recent history of Peru.

 

Renato Cisneros digs into his own family history to understand and demystify the figure of ‘El Gaucho’: the controversial Secretary during the regime of Francisco Morales Bermúdez and, shortly after, the country’s Minister of War. In this book, the intimate perspective and the passage of time reveal the unknown truths about a man, a family and an entire country.

The Downtown Pop Underground

£10.50

The 1960s to early ’70s was a pivotal time for American culture, and New York City was ground zero for seismic shifts in music, theater, art, and filmmaking. The Downtown Pop Underground takes a kaleidoscopic tour of Manhattan during this era and shows how deeply interconnected all the alternative worlds and personalities were that flourished in the basement theaters, dive bars, concert halls, and dingy tenements within one square mile of each other. Author Kembrew McLeod links the artists, writers, and performers who created change, and while some of them didn’t become everyday names, others, like Patti Smith, Andy Warhol, and Debbie Harry, did become icons. Ambitious in scope and scale, the book is fueled by the actual voices of many of the key characters who broke down the entrenched divisions between high and low, gay and straight, and art and commerce—and changed the cultural landscape of not just the city but the world.

The False Apocalypse

£9.99

This unique and disturbing work concerns the events of 1997, a tragic year in the history of post-communist Albania. After the world’s most isolated country emerged from Stalinist dictatorship and opened to capitalism, many people fell prey to fraudsters who invited them to invest in so-called ‘pyramid schemes’. At the start of 1997, these pyramids crumbled one after another causing wide-spread demonstrations and protests. The conflict became increasingly violent, leading to the collapse of the state and of the country’s institutions. Prisons were opened, crowds stormed arms depots, and the country was abandoned to anarchy and gang rule. Lubonja has chosen to tell this incredible story through a narrative technique that operates on two levels: a third-person narrator, who describes the large-scale events that made international headlines, and the narrative of Fatos Qorri, the author’s alter ego, who describes his own dramatic experiences in a personal diary. The book begins with the synopsis of a novel entitled “The Sugar Boat” that Fatos Qorri intends to write about the spread of a small pyramid scheme luring people to invest supposedly in a sugar business. However, as the major pyramids collapse, real events overtake anything he has imagined and Fatos Qorri finds himself in the midst of a real-life tragedy.

The Mile End Murder

£7.90

‘A fascinating book, by turns riveting and unsettling, and wonderfully rich in period detail.’ Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

 

In 1860, a 70 year old widow turned landlady named Mary Emsley was found dead in her own home, killed by a blow to the back of her head.

 

What followed was a murder case that gripped the nation, a veritable locked room mystery which baffled even legendary Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle.  With an abundance of suspects, from disgruntled step children concerned about their inheritance and a spurned admirer repeatedly rejected by the widow, to a trusted employee, former police officer and spy, the case led to a public trial dominated by surprise revelations and shock witnesses, before culminating with one of the final public executions at Newgate.

 

This is the case Conan Doyle couldn’t solve and, after confounding the best detectives for years, has finally be solved by author Sinclair McKay. Discover ‘whodunit’ as the real murderer is revealed for the first time exclusively in this captivating study of a murder case in the nineteenth century, a story never told before.

The Mirror of Venus

£9.00

Though images of women were ubiquitous in the Roman world, these were seldom intended to be taken simply at face value. The importance of marriage, motherhood and political stability was often conveyed to the Roman people through carefully constructed representations of the women of the ruling house. Mythological representations were used to present moral and political lessons to the women of Rome. Roman society was, on most levels, male dominated and women’s roles were sometimes subordinate to political and cultural needs and imperatives. Images of mortal women – empresses and other female members of the imperial family, elite women from around the empire and working women from Rome, Ostia, Pompeii and elsewhere – are analysed alongside images of goddesses and personifications and of complex mythological figures such as Amazons. This is the first general book to present a coherent, broad analysis of the numerous images of women in Roman art and to interpret their meaning and significance, all set against the broader geographical, chronological, political, religious and cultural context of the world of the Roman republic and empire and of Late Antiquity.

The Writer’s War

£7.00

‘When I come home and leave behind Dark things I would not call to mind …’ wrote Leslie Coulson, one of the many soldiers who tried to express his wartime experiences in writing: dreaming of an idyllic England in the face of the horror of the Western Front. Coulson was one of the hundreds of thousands who did not come home – but because of his poetry we glimpse something of his thoughts and experiences.

 

Today we can be grateful that so many of those who endured the First World War did write about it: giving us an unmatched view of an event which would otherwise be completely beyond our ability to imagine. The Writers’ War is a collection of excerpts from outstanding accounts of the First World War. It provides an essential insight to anyone interested in modern history or early twentieth-century literature. Extraordinary extracts bring the human experience of war brilliantly to life – from the terror of bombardment, or the camaraderie of military service, to the home front.

 

The writing reflects an enormous range of nationalities and personalities. It includes memorable poetry, fiction, and journalism. Some great names of modern English literature appear, such as Arthur Conan Doyle, D. H. Lawrence and Rudyard Kipling. In addition, there are superb accounts by foreign authors such as novelists Edith Wharton and Henri Barbusse, and flying ace Manfred von Richthofen. The Writers’ War gives an unparalleled insight into a world-changing event, and what it meant in human terms both to the writers and millions of others caught up in it.