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'Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!' This declamation by president Ronald Reagan when visiting Berlin in 1987 is widely cited as the clarion call that brought the Cold War to an end. The West had won, so this version of events goes, because the West had stood firm. American and Western European resoluteness had brought an evil empire to its knees. Michael Meyer, in this extraordinarily compelling account of the revolutions that roiled Eastern Europe in 1989, begs to differ. Drawing together breathtakingly vivid, on-the-ground accounts of the rise of Solidarity in Poland, the stealth opening of the Hungarian border, the Velvet Revolution in Prague, and the collapse of the infamous wall in Berlin, Meyer shows that western intransigence was only one of the many factors that provoked such world-shaking change. More important, Meyer contends, were the stands taken by individuals in the thick of the struggle, leaders such as poet and playwright Vaclav Havel in Prague; Lech Walesa; the quiet and determined reform prime minister in Budapest, Miklos Nemeth; and the man who realized his empire was already lost and decided, with courage and intelligence, to let it go in peace, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. Michael Meyer captures these heady days in all their rich drama and unpredictability, providing a thrilling chronicle of perhaps the most important year of the 20th century.
At the outbreak of the Second World War Constance Miles was living with her husband in the pretty Surrey village of Shere. A prolific correspondent with a keen interest in current affairs, Constance kept a war journal from 1939 to 1943, recording in vivid detail what life was like for women on the Home Front. She writes of the impact of evacuees, of food shortages and the creative uses of what food there was, and the fears of the local populace, who wonder how they will cope. She tells of refugees from central Europe billeted in village houses and, later in the war, of the influx of American servicemen. She travels frequently to London, mourning the destruction of familiar landmarks and recording the devastation of the Blitz, but still finds time for tea in the Strand. A woman of strong convictions, Mrs Miles is not afraid to voice her opinion on public figures and her worries about the social upheavals she feels certain to follow the war. But most of all her journals record an overlooked aspect of the conflict: the impact on communities outside of major cities, who endured hardships we find hard to imagine today. It is a fascinating document that makes for compulsive reading.
'An illuminating work of massive insight' Alan Moore 'A sensational book. Heartily recommended' Rufus Hound It is the century about which we know too much, yet understand too little. With disorientating ideas such as relativity, cubism, the id, existentialism, chaos mathematics and postmodernism to contend with, the twentieth century, John Higgs argues, cannot fit easily into a traditional historical narrative. Time, then, for a new perspective. Higgs takes us on a refreshingly eclectic journey through the knotty history of the strangest of centuries. In the company of radical artists, scientists, geniuses and eccentrics, he shows us how the elegant, clockwork universe of the Victorians became increasingly woozy and uncertain; and how in the twentieth century we discovered that our world is not just stranger than we imagine, but 'stranger than we can imagine'.
Spies, bed-hopping, treachery and executions - this story of espionage in wartime Bordeaux is told for the first time. Game of Spies uncovers a lethal spy triangle at work during the Second World War. The story centres on three men - on British, one French and one German - and the duels they fought out in an atmosphere of collaboration, betrayal and assassination, in which comrades sold fellow comrades, Allied agents and downed pilots to the Germans, as casually as they would a bottle of wine. In this thrilling history of how ordinary, untrained people in occupied Europe faced the great questions of life, death and survival, Paddy Ashdown tells a fast-paced tale of SOE, betrayal and bloodshed in the city labelled `la plus belle collaboratrice' in the whole of France.
Established in June 1940, the Long Range Desert Group was the inspiration of scientist and soldier Major Ralph Bagnold, a contemporary of T.E Lawrence who, in the inter-war years, explored the North African desert in a Model T Ford automobile. Mortimer takes us from the founding of the LRDG, through their treacherous journey across the Egyptian Sand Sea and beyond, offering a hitherto unseen glimpse into the heart of this most courageous organisation, whose unique and valiant contributions to the war effort can now finally be recognized and appreciated. Praise for Gavin Mortimer: "With unparalleled access to SBS's archive, Mortimer draws on private papers to produce the definitive account of the SBS's extraordinary exploits in WWII." Sunday Telegraph "The SBS is finally being recognised thanks to a remarkable new book. Author Gavin Mortimer spent more than a decade interviewing veterans, scrutinising SBS archives and poring over recently declassified documents to write The SBS in World War 2." Daily Mirror "This gripping first-hand account of the raid is one of many previously unpublished resources that Mortimer's book draws on." The Times "Mortimer deserves full credit for assembling a mountain of material and presenting it with lucidity and balance" Philip Ziegler, Daily Mail
The best single-volume analysis of Burma, its checkered history, and its attempts to reform Burma is one of the largest countries in Southeast Asia and was once one of its richest. Under successive military regimes, however, the country eventually ended up as one of the poorest countries in Asia, a byword for repression and ethnic violence. Richard Cockett spent years in the region as a correspondent for The Economist and witnessed firsthand the vicious sectarian politics of the Burmese government, and later, also, its surprising attempts at political and social reform. Cockett's enlightening history, from the colonial era on, explains how Burma descended into decades of civil war and authoritarian government. Taking advantage of the opening up of the country since 2011, Cockett has interviewed hundreds of former political prisoners, guerilla fighters, ministers, monks, and others to give a vivid account of life under one of the most brutal regimes in the world. In many cases, this is the first time that they have been able to tell their stories to the outside world. Cockett also explains why the regime has started to reform, and why these reforms will not go as far as many people had hoped. This is the most rounded survey to date of this volatile Asian nation.
'It is as if I have been waiting for someone to ask me these questions for almost the whole of my life' From 1945, more than four million British servicemen were demobbed and sent home after the most destructive war in history. Damaged by fighting, imprisonment or simply separation from their loved ones, these men returned to a Britain that had changed in their absence. In Stranger in the House, Julie Summers tells the women's story, interviewing over a hundred women who were on the receiving end of demobilisation: the mothers, wives, sisters, who had to deal with an injured, emotionally-damaged relative; those who assumed their fiances had died only to find them reappearing after they had married another; women who had illegitimate children following a wartime affair as well as those whose steadfast optimism was rewarded with a delightful reunion. Many of the tales are moving, some are desperately sad, others are full of humour but all provide a fascinating account of how war altered ordinary women's lives forever.
A vivid account of the largest act of civil disobedience in US history, in Richard Nixon's Washington They surged into Washington by the tens of thousands in the spring of 1971. Fiery radicals, flower children, and militant vets gathered for the most audacious act in a years-long movement to end America's war in Vietnam: a blockade of the nation's capital. And the White House, headed by an increasingly paranoid Richard Nixon, was determined to stop it. Washington journalist Lawrence Roberts, drawing on dozens of interviews, unexplored archives, and newfound White House transcripts, recreates these largely forgotten events through the eyes of dueling characters. Woven into the story too are now-familiar names including John Kerry, Jane Fonda, and Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers. It began with a bombing inside the U.S. Capitol -- a still-unsolved case to which Roberts brings new information. To prevent the Mayday Tribe's guerrilla-style traffic blockade, the government mustered the military. Riot squads swept through the city, arresting more than 12,000 people. As a young female public defender led a thrilling legal battle to free the detainees, Nixon and his men took their first steps down the road to the Watergate scandal and the implosion of the presidency. Mayday 1971 is the ultimately inspiring story of a season when our democracy faced grave danger, and survived.
In 1942, Bill Manbo and his family were forced from their Hollywood home into the Japanese American internment camp at Heart Mountain in Wyoming. While there, Manbo documented both the bleakness and beauty of his surroundings, using Kodachrome film, a technology then just seven years old, to capture community celebrations and to record his family's struggle to maintain a normal life under the harsh conditions of racial imprisonment. Colors of Confinement showcases sixty-five stunning images from this extremely rare collection of color photographs, presented along with three interpretive essays by leading scholars and a reflective, personal essay by a former Heart Mountain internee. The subjects of these haunting photos are the routine fare of an amateur photographer: parades, cultural events, people at play, Manbo's son. But the images are set against the backdrop of the barbed-wire enclosure surrounding the Heart Mountain Relocation Center and the dramatic expanse of Wyoming sky and landscape. The accompanying essays illuminate these scenes as they trace a tumultuous history unfolding just beyond the camera's lens, giving readers insight into Japanese American cultural life and the stark realities of life in the camps.
Winner of the US National Book Critics Circle Award
The prize was great -- not just land, but the riches it held, in the form of diamonds and gold. What became a country called South Africa was, until 1910, a vast and untamed land where great fortunes could be made (and lost); where great battles were fought (and lost); and where great men had their reputations forged, or dashed, or sometimes both. Martin Meredith's follow-up to his magisterial The State of Africais an equally epic new history of the making of South Africa. Covering the extraordinarily eventful four decades leading up to the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910, it covers some of the most iconic tales of imperial history. The Zulus at Rorke's Drift; the Jameson Raid; the diamond and gold rushes at Kimberley and Witwatersrand; the Boer wars; the titanic struggle between the arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes and his Boer rival, Paul Kruger -- DIAMONDS, GOLD AND WARbrings all of these and more together in a stunningly coherent and compelling narrative. History, somehow, just isn't as colourful any more.
'An unforgettable love story set in perilous times' Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz
The greatest love blossoms in the darkest hour.
In the heart of Nazi-occupied Europe, two people meet fleetingly in a chance encounter. One is an underground resistance fighter; the other a prisoner of war. A crumpled note passes between these two strangers and sets them on a course that will change their lives forever.
The Note Through the Wire is the stunning true story of Josefine Lobnik, a resistance heroine, and Bruce Murray, an imprisoned soldier, as they discover love in the midst of a brutal war. Woven through their story of great bravery, daring escapes, betrayal, torture and retaliation is their remarkable love that survived against all odds.
'How much I learned from this brave man... The ultimate Holocaust
testimony.' HEATHER MORRIS, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and
**THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER** 25th Anniversary Edition. Foreword by Tom Hanks. The book that inspired Steven Spielberg's acclaimed TV series, produced by Tom Hanks and starring Damian Lewis. In Band of Brothers, Stephen E. Ambrose pays tribute to the men of Easy Company, a crack rifle company in the US Army. From their rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to the dangerous parachute landings on D-Day and their triumphant capture of Hitler's `Eagle's Nest' in Berchtesgaden. Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company. Repeatedly send on the toughest missions, these brave men fought, went hungry, froze and died in the service of their country. Celebrating the 25th anniversary since the original publication, this reissue contains a new foreword from Tom Hanks who was an executive producer on the award-winning HBO series. A tale of heroic adventures and soul-shattering confrontations, Band of Brothers brings back to life, as only Stephen E. Ambrose can, the profound ties of brotherhood forged in the barracks and on the battlefields. `History boldly told and elegantly written . . . Gripping' Wall Street Journal `Ambrose proves once again he is a masterful historian . . . spellbinding' People
The incredible story of the radar wars - Britain's most secret battle In the winter of 1941 an alien-seeming object was captured in a death-defying dash by an RAF reconnaissance pilot flying a lone unarmed Spitfire across the French coast. Balanced upon the cliffs near Le Havre was what appeared to be a giant convex dish, directed across the Channel at the war-torn British coastline. With Britain's cities being pounded by fearsome bombing raids, teams of experts studied the photograph worriedly. Might the dish constitute a highly-secret form of radar - one that had the capacity to tip the balance of the war decisively in the enemy's favour? If so, Nazi Germany would have leapfrogged British technology many-fold. A top-secret mission was devised to steal what had become known as the 'Wurzburg Dish,' after Enigma intercepts of coded German messages. Appropriately christened Operation Biting, this was to be the first-ever Allied raid using airborne forces. Commanded by legendary Major John 'Johnny' Frost, he demanded blind loyalty from his band of piratical raiders. 'A wild crew ... they looked horrible,' he admitted. Each and every rehearsal had proved disastrous; it was a suicide mission in all but name. On the French coast agents of the Special Operations Executive - Churchill's shadowy ministry for ungentlemanly warfare - risked all to map the target's defences. At the eleventh hour, two unwelcome additions joined Frosts's crew. One, was a shadowy German cloaked in mystery; the other a British radar specialist who could not be allowed to fall into enemy hands. Relying on files declassified for the purposes of writing this book, eyewitness testimony,and working with the families of key figures involved, Lewis reveals an untold epic of daring, ruthless rule-breaking and ferocity, coupled with bravery and ingenuity beyond measure. The results of Operation Biting would resonate throughout the war and beyond,changing the course of twentieth-century history.
`Taubman delivers a political and biographical tour de force, something approaching a definitive work' Simon Sebag-Montefiore, The Financial Times `Outstanding, superbly gripping and surely definitive' Daily Telegraph 'Taubman has produced an utterly convincing picture of the contradictory Khrushchev, from his peasant origins and meteoric rise, through purges, politburo plotting, brave de-Stalinisation and the erratic, blustering, bull-in-a-china-shop style that eventually alienated his colleagues and took the world to the brink of Armageddon over Cuba' SUNDAY TIMES `Unlikely to be surpassed any time soon either in richness or complexity . . . [A] monumental biography' New York Times William Taubman's brilliant biography of one of the key figures of the Soviet Union is a study in contrasts -- how the boy from a peasant background rose to the heights of power; how a single-minded, ambitious political player survived twenty years under Stalin; how he opened up to the West after Stalin's death and yet brought the world close to oblivion in the Cuban Missile Crisis. What emerges is a fascinating picture of a man constantly torn between benevolence and malevolence -- a man who made himself cultured and yet who could never really escape his image as a bullying country bumpkin (most famously demonstrated by his interruption of Macmillan's speech to the UN in 1960 by banging his shoe on the table -- the urbane Macmillan responded, 'Mr President, perhaps we could have a translation, I could not quite follow'). William Taubman has previously edited collections of Nikita Khrushchev's speeches and reminiscences and is completely immersed in this subject -- his biography is likely to remain the standard work for years to come.
In the first two volumes of his bestselling Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson recounted how the American-led coalition fought through North Africa and Italy to the threshold of victory. Now he tells the most dramatic story of all - the titanic battle for Western Europe. D-Day marked the commencement of the European war's final campaign, and Atkinson's riveting account of that bold gamble sets the pace for the masterly narrative that follows. The brutal fight in Normandy, the liberation of Paris, the disaster that was Market Garden, the horrific Battle of the Bulge, and finally the thrust to the heart of the Third Reich - all these historic events and more come alive with a wealth of new material and a mesmerizing cast of characters. With the stirring final volume of this monumental trilogy, Rick Atkinson's remarkable accomplishment is manifest. He has produced the definitive chronicle of the war that unshackled a continent and preserved freedom in the West.
Indianapolis is the thrilling true story of the greatest naval disaster in United States history - the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis during World War II - and the fight for survival and redemption that followed. Four days after delivering the components of the world's first atomic bomb to the island of Tinian, the Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, with nearly 900 men lost. Those who survived endured starvation, dehydration and shark attacks as they waited to be rescued. From a crew of 1,196 men, only 317 survived - the biggest single loss of life at sea to be suffered by the United States navy. When the remaining crew were finally rescued, the ship's captain, Charles B. McVay III, was wrongly court-martialled for negligence over the sinking. Decades after these events, the survivors of the Indianapolis, as well as the Japanese submarine commander who sank it, joined together to finally exonerate McVay. Extraordinary courage, terrible tragedy and the fight for justice: in Indianapolis, the true story is revealed. 'Extraordinary...serious naval history and a detective story, told with passion.' The Times 'Vividly detailed...compelling yet comprehensive.' Los Angeles Times 'Simply outstanding.' Booklist (starred review) 'Gripping... This yarn has it all.' USA Today
The Sturmgeschutz, or StuG, as it is more popularly known, while conceived as self-propelled, infantry support artillery, in time, formed the backbone of Germany's anti-tank operations during WWII. With more than 135 war-era photos, this volume chronicles the design, development, and deployment of the first six (of nine variants) of this famed and feared weapon. The material is arranged in seven chapters, each focusing on a specific production model, or Ausfuhrung, of the Sturmgeschutz. This volume covers the Ausf.A through F/8 variants used during the early WWII years. Comprehensive tables reveal the details of performance, as well as technical specifications of each variant. A concise, easy-to-read text, and detailed photo captions expose the secrets of this iconic vehicle. Part of the Legends of Warfare series.
Guardian Book of the Day New Statesman Book of the Year History Today Book of the Year Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year BBC History Magazine Book of the Year 'Bustles impressively with detail and anecdote' -Sunday Times 'Consistently fascinating' -The Spectator 'Beautifully written and deeply researched' -The Observer 'Barr draws on a rich and varied trove of sources to knit a sequence of dramatic episodes into an elegant whole. Great events march through these pages' -Wall Street JournalUpon victory in 1945, Britain still dominated the Middle East. She directly ruled Palestine and Aden, was the kingmaker in Iran, the power behind the thrones of Egypt, Iraq and Jordan, and protected the sultan of Oman and the Gulf sheikhs. But her motives for wanting to dominate this crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa were changing. Where 'imperial security' - control of the route to India - had once been paramount, now oil was an increasingly important factor. So, too, was prestige. Ironically, the very end of empire made control of the Middle East precious in itself: on it hung Britain's claim to be a great power. Unable to withstand Arab and Jewish nationalism, within a generation the British were gone. But that is not the full story. What ultimately sped Britain on her way was the uncompromising attitude of the United States, which was determined to displace the British in the Middle East. The British did not give in gracefully to this onslaught. Using newly declassified records and long-forgotten memoirs, including the diaries of a key British spy, James Barr tears up the conventional interpretation of this era in the Middle East, vividly portraying the tensions between London and Washington, and shedding an uncompromising light on the murkier activities of a generation of American and British diehards in the region, from the battle of El Alamein in 1942 to Britain's abandonment of Aden in 1967. Reminding us that the Middle East has always served as the arena for great power conflict, this is the tale of an internecine struggle in which Britain would discover that her most formidable rival was the ally she had assumed would be her closest friend. Reviews for A Line In The Sand:- 'Masterful' -The Spectator 'With superb research and telling quotations, Barr has skewered the whole shabby story' -The Times 'Lively and entertaining. He has scoured the diplomatic archives of the two powers and has come up with a rich haul that brings his narrative to life' -Financial Times
`An exemplary work of investigative journalism that is also a wonderfully colourful book of history and travel' Observer, Book of the Year `A piece of postmodern historiography of quite extraordinary sophistication and ingenuity... [written with] exceptional delicacy and restraint' TLS The fabled city of Timbuktu has captured the Western imagination for centuries. The search for this `African El Dorado' cost the lives of many explorers but Timbuktu is rich beyond its legends. Home to many thousands of ancient manuscripts on poetry, history, religion, law, pharmacology and astronomy, the city has been a centre of learning since medieval times. When jihadists invaded Mali in 2012 threatening destruction to Timbuktu's libraries, a remarkable thing happened. A team of librarians and archivists joined forces to spirit the precious manuscripts into hiding. Based on new research and first-hand reporting, Charlie English expertly tells this story set in one of the world's most fascinating places, and the myths from which it has become inseparable.
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