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Till the Cows Come Home

‘A vital, thorough and accessible history that everyone who cares about the past or the future should read.’ Rosamund Young, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Cows
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The story of the relationship between humankind and cattle, from the Sunday Times bestselling author of Counting Sheep.

To tell the story of the relationship between humankind and cattle is to tell the story of civilisation itself. Since the beginning, cattle have tilled our soils, borne our burdens, fed and clothed us and been our loyal and uncomplaining servants in the work of taming the wilderness and wresting a living from the land.

There has never been a time when we have not depended on cattle. As human societies have migrated from the country to the city, the things they have needed from their cattle may have changed, but the fundamental human dependence remains.

Blending personal experience, recollection, interviews with farmers, butchers and cattle breeders and studding the narrative with little-known nuggets of technical detail, Philip Walling entertainingly reveals the central importance of cattle to all our lives.

Histories of the Unexpected: The Tudors

Histories of the Unexpected not only presents a new way of thinking about the past, but also reveals the world around us as never before.

Traditionally, the Tudors have been understood in a straightforward way but the period really comes alive if you take an unexpected approach to its history. Yes, Tudor monarchs, exploration and religion have a fascinating history… but so too does cannibalism, shrinking, bells, hats, mirrors, monsters, faces, letter-writing and accidents!

Each of these subjects is equally fascinating in its own right, and each sheds new light on the traditional subjects and themes that we think we know so well.

Fifty Years On

In 1969, an eruption of armed violence traumatized Northern Ireland and transformed a period of street protest over civil rights into decades of paramilitary warfare by republicans and loyalists.

In this evocative memoir, Malachi O’Doherty not only recounts his experiences of living through the Troubles, but also recalls a revolution in his lifetime. However, it wasn’t the bloody revolution that was shown on TV but rather the slow reshaping of the culture of Northern Ireland – a real revolution that was entirely overshadowed by the conflict.

Incorporating interviews with political, professional and paramilitary figures, O’Doherty draws a profile of an era that produced real social change, comparing and contrasting it with today, and asks how frail is the current peace as Brexit approaches, protest is back on the streets and violence is simmering in both republican and loyalist camps.

The Churchill Complex

‘Rich and rewarding’ Wall Street Journal

It is impossible to understand the last 75 years of British and American history without understanding the Anglo-American relationship, and specifically the bonds between presidents and prime ministers. FDR of course had Churchill; JFK famously had Macmillan, his consigliere during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Reagan found his ideological soul mate in Thatcher, and George W. Bush found his fellow believer, in religion and in war, in Tony Blair.

In a series of shrewd and absorbing character studies, Ian Buruma takes the reader on a journey through the special relationship via the fateful bonds between president and prime minister. It’s never been a relationship of equals: from Churchill’s desperate cajoling and conniving to keep FDR on side, British prime ministers have put much more stock in the relationship than their US counterparts did. For Britain, resigned to the loss of its once-great empire, its close kinship to the world’s greatest superpower would give it continued relevance, and serve as leverage to keep continental Europe in its place. As Buruma shows, this was almost always fool’s gold.

And now, as the links between the Brexit vote and the 2016 US election are coming into sharper focus, it is impossible to understand the populist uprising in either country without reference to Trump and Boris Johnson, though ironically, they are also the key, Buruma argues, to understanding the special relationship’s demise.

Attlee and Churchill

Chosen as a Book of the Year in the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail

‘A masterpiece’ Frederick Forsyth

‘Beautifully written… unlikely to be surpassed’ Simon Heffer

‘Superb’ Daily Mail, Book of the Week

‘Terrific’ Observer

Throughout history there have been many long-running rivalries between party leaders, but there has never been a connection like that between Clement Attlee and Winston Churchill, who were leaders of their respective parties for a total of thirty-five years. Brought together in the epoch-making circumstances of the Second World War, they forged a partnership that transcended party lines, before going on to face each other in two of Britain’s most important and influential general elections.

Based on extensive research and archival material, Attlee and Churchill provides a host of new insights into their remarkable relationship. From the bizarre coincidence that they shared a governess, to their explosive wartime clashes over domestic policy and reconstruction; and from Britain’s post-war nuclear weapons programme, which Attlee kept hidden from Churchill and his own Labour Party, to the private correspondence between the two men in later life, which demonstrates their friendliness despite all the political antagonism, Leo McKinstry tells the intertwined story of these two political titans as never before.

In a gripping narrative McKinstry not only provides a fresh perspective on two of the most compelling leaders of the mid-twentieth century but also brilliantly brings to life this vibrant, traumatic and inspiring era of modern British history.

The Year of Chaos

‘Frank and incisive – an insightful look at the most tumultuous period of the Troubles.’ Ian Cobain

‘This is the Belfast I grew up in. Malachi writes from first-hand experience and brings back memories that will always resonate with those who lived in those times.’ Eamonn Holmes

In the eleven months between August 1971 and July 1972, Northern Ireland experienced its worst year of violence. No future year of the Troubles experienced such death and destruction.

The ‘year of chaos’ began with the introduction of internment of IRA suspects without trial, which created huge disaffection in the Catholic communities and provoked an escalation of violence. This led to the British government taking full control of Northern Ireland and negotiating directly with the IRA leadership. Operation Motorman, the invasion of barricaded no-go areas in Belfast and Derry, then dampened down the violence a year later.

During this whole period, Malachi O’Doherty was a young reporter in Belfast, working in the city and returning home at night to a no-go area behind the barricades where the streets were patrolled by armed IRA men.

Drawing on interviews, personal recollections and archival research, O’Doherty takes readers on a journey through the events of that terrible year – from the devastation of Bloody Sunday and Bloody Friday to the talks between leaders that failed to break the deadlock – which, he argues, should serve as a stark reminder of how political and military miscalculation can lead a country to the brink of civil war.

False Prophets

‘Fascinating’ Guardian, ‘Book of the Day’

‘A truly masterly book… A tour de force that will be read for a very long time.’ Peter Hennessy

Selected by the New Statesman as an essential read for 2022

Britain shaped the modern Middle East through the lines that it drew in the sand after the First World War and through the League of Nations mandates over the fledgling states that followed. Less than forty years later, the Suez crisis dealt a fatal blow to Britain’s standing in the Middle East and is often represented as the final throes of British imperialism. However, as this insightful and compelling new book reveals, successive prime ministers have all sought to extend British influence in the Middle East and their actions have often led to a disastrous outcome.

While Anthony Eden and Tony Blair are the two most prominent examples of prime ministers whose reputations have been ruined by their interventions in the region, they were not alone in taking significant risks in deploying British forces to the Middle East. There was an unspoken assumption that Britain could help solve its problems, even if only for the reason that British imperialism had created the problems in the first place.

Drawing these threads together, Nigel Ashton explores the reasons why British leaders have been unable to resist returning to the mire of the Middle East, while highlighting the misconceptions about the region that have helped shape their interventions, and the legacy of history that has fuelled their pride and arrogance. Ultimately, he shows how their fears and insecurities made them into false prophets who conjured existential threats out of the sands of the Middle East.

The Irish Difference

‘The beauty of this book is in the telling: The Irish Difference lays out its themes and chronologies with impeccable clarity, and is full of fascinating detail… Exemplary.’ Irish Independent

For hundreds of years, the islands and their constituent tribes that make up the British Isles have lived next door to each other in a manner that, over time, suggested some movement towards political union. It was an uneven, stop-start business and it worked better in some places than in others. Still, England, Wales and Scotland have hung together through thick and thin, despite internal divisions of language, religion, law, culture and disposition that might have broken up a less resilient polity. And, for a long time, it seemed that something similar might have been said about the smaller island to the west: Ireland.

Ireland was always a more awkward fit in the London-centric mini-imperium but no one imagined that it might detach itself altogether, until the moment came for rupture, quite suddenly and dramatically, in the fall-out from World War I. So, what was it – is it – about Ireland that is so different? Different enough to sever historical ties of centuries with such sudden violence and unapologetic efficiency. Wherein lies the Irish difference, a difference sufficient to have caused a rupture of that nature?

In a wide-ranging and witty narrative, historian Fergal Tobin looks into Ireland’s past, taking in everything from religion and politics to sports and literature, and traces the roots of her journey towards independence.

The Platinum Queen

***Published in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, The Platinum Queen presents seven decades of world history through the words of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch: over 256 exquisitely designed pages, packed with 130 photos and featuring every single major speech given over the course of Her Majesty’s time on the throne, a foreword by Jennie Bond and historical context to each decade.***

For the first time, all 70 of the Queen’s Christmas speeches are published together in full, along with six additional feature speeches made at significant points in her life.

Organised by decade, each chapter opens with a narrative essay on the key events that follow, providing an important contextual backdrop to the speeches. From times of national and global turmoil – including wars, terror attacks and health crises – to times of joy – such as the new millennium and Olympics – The Platinum Queen is a testament to Elizabeth’s unwavering resolve, faith and dedication to her role.

On This Day in Politics

From the first meeting of an elected English parliament on 20 January 1265 to the abolition of the Slave Trade on 25 March 1807; from the Peterloo massacre of 16 August 1819 to Britain voting to leave the EU on 23 June 2016, there is a growing thirst for knowledge about the history of our constitutional settlement, our party system and how our parliamentary democracy has developed.

Writing as an observer of political history, but also someone with an opinion, acclaimed political journalist Iain Dale charts the main events of the last few hundred years, with one event per page, per day.

‘The indefatigable Iain Dale always cuts to the nub of politics.’ Adam Boulton