The Republic of Venice was the first great economic and naval power of the modern Western world. After winning the struggle for ascendency against its bitter Genoese rivals in the late 13th century, the Republic enjoyed centuries of unprecedented glory and a trading empire which at its apogee reached as far afield as China, Syria and West Africa. This golden period was only to draw to the end with the slow decline of Venetian power in the 18th century and the Republic's eventual surrender to Napoleon.
The Spirit of Venice aims to define the character of the Republic during these illustrious years. Whilst investigating the vital events of the period, Paul Strathern pays particular attention to the lives of individuals who embodied the spirit of the Republic, or on occasions helped to even redefine it, be they Venetians, visitors or those who were helplessly bound up in the history of the Republic. This cast includes some of the most celebrated figures of European history - Petrarch, Marco Polo, Galileo, Titian, Vivaldi, Casanova - alongside less famous but equally extraordinary characters, such as Caterina, 'the Tragic Queen of Cyprus', and John Law, the Scots gambler who in the 18th century invented paper money and bankrupted France in the process.
Frequently, though, these emblems of the city found themselves at odds with the Venetian authorities. The oligarchy of wealthy merchant families who dominated the Republic prized stability above all else, and were notoriously suspicious of any 'cult of personality'. Was this very tension perhaps the engine for the Republic's unprecedented rise?
Rich with biographies of some of the most exalted characters to have ever lived, The Spirit of Venice constitutes a refreshing and authoritative new way into the history of the most evocative of city states.
'I've wanted to make a series in Spain for a long time. I love Spanish food, I've been going there since I was a young boy - but until quite recently I don't think people really took the food seriously. Thanks to a handful of really dedicated Spanish chefs and a growing enthusiasm for its rugged flavours, that has all begun to change. To me the underlying point of journeying to Spain would be to discover the 'duende' in the cooking. By that I mean a sense of soul, of authenticity. The word is normally used in flamenco but I think it could be equally applied to the art of Spanish cooking because to my mind, in really good food, there is a communication between the cook and diner that amounts to art.' Rick Stein
In his beautifully designed and illustrated cookbook to accompany a major BBC2, 4-part series, Rick has selected over 140 recipes that capture the authentic taste of Spain today.
Spain is a country that tantalises every sense with its colourful sights, evocative music, vibrant traditions and bold cookery. Spanish cooking has a rich history, with flavours reflecting a broad range of cultural influences. Rick samples his way through the specialties and hidden treats of each region, taking in the changing landscape from the mountainous northern regions through the Spanish plains to Mediterranean beaches.
With over 100 Spanish recipes and location photographs, this is an essential cookbook for food-lovers as well as a stunning culinary guide to a diverse country.
Forever in the shadow of the war which followed, 1913 is usually seen as little more than the antechamber to apocalypse. Our perspectives narrowed by hindsight, the world of that year is reduced to its most frivolous features - last summers in grand aristocratic residences, a flurry of extravagant social engagements - or its most destructive ones: the unresolved rivalries of the great European powers, the anxieties of a period of accelerated change, the social fear of revolution, the violence in the Balkans. Our images of the times are too often dominated by the faded pastels of upper-class indulgence or by the unmitigated blackness of a world rushing headlong into the abyss of an inevitable war.
1913: The World before the Great War proposes a strikingly different portrait, returning the world in that year to its contemporary freshness, its future still undecided, its outlook still open. Told through the stories of twenty-three cities - Europe's capitals at the height of their global reach, the emerging metropolises of America, the imperial cities of Asia and Africa, the boomtowns of Australia and the Americas - Charles Emmerson presents a panoramic view of a world crackling with possibilities, from St Petersburg to Shanghai and from Los Angeles to Jerusalem.
What emerges is a rich and complex world, more familiar than we expect, connected as never before, on the threshold of events which would change the course of global history.
In late eighteenth-century Britain a handful of men brought about the greatest transformation in human history. Inventors, industrialists and entrepreneurs ushered in the age of powered machinery and the factory, and thereby changed the whole of human society, bringing into being new methods of social and economic organisation, new social classes, and new political forces. The Industrial Revolution also dramatically altered humanity's relation to the natural world and embedded the belief that change, not stasis, is the necessary backdrop for human existence.
Iron, Steam and Money tells the thrilling story of those few decades, the moments of inspiration, the rivalries, skulduggery and death threats, and the tireless perseverance of the visionaries who made it all happen. Richard Arkwright, James Watt, Richard Trevithick and Josiah Wedgwood are among the giants whose achievements and tragedies fill these pages. In this authoritative study Roger Osborne also shows how and why the revolution happened, revealing pre-industrial Britain as a surprisingly affluent society, with wealth spread widely through the population, and with craft industries in every town, village and front parlour. The combination of disposable income, widespread demand for industrial goods, and a generation of time-served artisans created the unique conditions that propelled humanity into the modern world.
The industrial revolution was arguably the most important episode in modern human history; Iron, Steam and Money reminds us of its central role, while showing the extraordinary excitement of those tumultuous decades.
Tom Aikens is undoubtedly one of the UK's most talented chefs. His first restaurant, Tom Aikens, has received huge critical acclaim and was awarded a Michelin star a year after opening, sealing Tom's reputation as a culinary leading light. Tom also drummed up a further legion of fans with the opening of Tom's Kitchen - an informal all-day brasserie serving familiar and rustic dishes.
It is this simple, homely style of cooking that Tom focuses on in his new cookbook. With over 200 easy recipes there's something for every occasion, from fast fixes, such as Peppered Steaks with Crushed Roast Garlic or Spiced Mullet Soup with Paprika and Chorizo; to twists on classic comfort food such as Ham and Mustard Macaroni, Toasted Sourdough with Aubergine, Basil and Sheep's Cheese and Lamb Rump with Rosemary Polenta and Parmesan. There's also a chapter for weekend cooking - pies, slow-roasts and hearty fare - and one on how to get creative with your leftovers. Other highlights are Tom's irresistible desserts: Prune and Armagnac Brioche Pudding, Caramel Mousse and Golden Syrup Sponge.
The emphasis is on simplicity - recipes that can be prepared and cooked without any hassle or fuss, making cooking a pleasure rather than a chore. Beautifully illustrated with specially commissioned photography and a fresh, striking design, this is set to be a must-have cookery title.
Throughout his six decades in the public eye, Winston Churchill understood and wielded the power of words. In his speeches, books and newspaper and magazine articles, he expressed his feelings and laid out his vision for the future. His wartime writings and speeches in particular have fascinated generation after generation with their powerful narrative style and thoughtful reflection.
In this book Martin Gilbert has skilfully selected 200 extracts from Churchill's entire oeuvre of books, articles and speeches that reflect his life story, career and philosophy. They range from intimate memories of his childhood and schooldays to his contributions to more than 50 years of debates on social policy and on war and his efforts after 1945 to see the world a better place. In them we see how he used words for different purposes: to argue for moral and political causes, to advocate courses of action in the social, national and international spheres, and to tell the story of his own life, struggles, setbacks and achievements.
As Churchill's official biographer, Martin Gilbert is uniquely qualified to select from Churchill's own inimitable words not only those that describe the main adventures of his life and the crises of his career, but also those passages that express the essence of Churchill's thoughts and personality. Gilbert's informed and subtle choice of extracts, together with his illuminating introductory and explanatory text linking them together, create a fascinating and compelling biographical narrative of Churchill's life as recounted in the great man's own words. They provide an invaluable insight into Churchill's character and how he made his mark on Britain and the world stage.
London's suburbs may stretch for well over 600 square miles, but in historical accounts of the capital they tend to take something of a back seat. In Greater London, historian Nick Barratt places them firmly centre stage, tracing their journey from hamlets and villages far out in the open countryside to fully fledged urban enclaves, simultaneously demonstrating the crucial role they have played in the creation of today's metropolis.
Starting in the first century AD, he shows how the tiny settlements that grew up in the Thames Valley gradually developed, and how they were shaped by their proximity to the city. He describes the spread of the first suburbs beyond the city walls, and traces the ebb and flow of population as people moved in to find jobs or away to escape London's noise and bustle. He charts the transformation wrought by the coming of the railways, the fight to preserve Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest and other green spaces and the struggle to create a London-wide form of government. He gives an account of wartime destruction and peacetime reconstruction, and then brings the story to the present with a description of the very varied nature of today's suburbs and their inhabitants. In the process, he evokes Tudor Hackney and Georgian Hampton, explains why Victorian Battersea and Finchley were so different from one another, and follows Islington's fall from grace and subsequent recovery.
Magnificently illustrated throughout with contemporary engravings and photographs, this is the essential history for anyone who has ever lived in London.
By the end of the fifteenth century, Florence was well established as the home of the Renaissance. As generous patrons to the likes of Botticelli and Michelangelo, the ruling Medici embodied the progressive humanist spirit of the age, and in Lorenzo the Magnificent they possessed a diplomat capable of guarding the militarily weak city in a climate of constantly shifting allegiances between the major Italian powers.
However, in the form of Savonarola, an unprepossessing provincial monk, Lorenzo found his nemesis. Filled with Old Testament fury and prophecies of doom, Savonarola's sermons reverberated among a disenfranchised population, who preferred medieval Biblical certainties to the philosophical interrogations and intoxicating surface glitter of the Renaissance. Savonarola's aim was to establish a 'City of God' for his followers, a new kind of democratic state, the likes of which the world had never seen before.The battle which this provoked would be a fight to the death, a series of sensational events - invasions, trials by fire, the 'Bonfire of the Vanities', terrible executions and mysterious deaths - featuring a cast of the most important and charismatic Renaissance figures.
This famous struggle has often been portrayed as a simple clash of wills between a benign ruler and religious fanatic, between secular pluralism and repressive extremism. However, in an exhilaratingly rich and deeply researched story, Paul Strathern reveals the paradoxes, self-doubts and political compromises which made the battle for the soul of the Renaissance city one of the most complex and important moments in Western history.
Over the past 250 years of momentous change and dramatic upheaval, China has proved itself to be a Restless Empire.
Tracing China's course from the eighteenth-century Qing Dynasty to today's People's Republic, Restless Empire shows how the country's worldview has evolved. It explains how Chinese attitudes have been determined by both receptiveness and resistance to outside influence and presents the preoccupations that have set its foreign-relations agenda.
Within two decades China is likely to depose the United States as the world's largest economy. By then the country expects to have eradicated poverty among its population of more than one and a half billion, and established itself as the world's technological powerhouse. Meanwhile, some - especially its neighbours - are afraid that China will strengthen its military might in order to bend others to its will.
A new form of Chinese nationalism is rising. Many Chinese are angry about perceived past injustices and fear a loss of identity to commercial forces and foreign influences. So, will China's attraction to world society dwindle, or will China continue to engage? Will it attempt to recreate a Sino-centric international order in Eastern Asia, or pursue a more harmonious diplomatic route? And can it overcome its lack of democracy and transparency, or are these characteristics hard-wired into the Chinese system? Whatever the case, we ignore China's international history at our peril.
Restless Empire is a magisterial and indispensible history of the most important state in world affairs today.
In 1919, Nancy Astor became the first woman to take a seat in Parliament.
She was not what had been expected. Far from a virago who had suffered for the cause of female suffrage, she was already near the centre of the ruling society that had for so long resisted the political upheavals of the early twentieth century, having married into the family of one of the richest men in the world. She was not even British. She would prove to be a trailblazer and beacon for the generations of women who would follow her into Parliament.
This new biography charts Nancy Astor's incredible story, from penury in the American South, to a lifestyle of the most immense riches, from the luxury of Edwardian England, through the 'Jazz Age', and on towards the Second World War: a world of great country estates, lavish town houses and the most sumptuous entertainments, peopled by the most famous and powerful names of the age. But hers was not only the life of power, glamour and easy charm: it was also defined by principles and bravery, by war and sacrifice, by love and bitter disputes.
With glorious, page-turning brio, Adrian Fort has brought to life this restless, controversial American dynamo, an unforgettable woman who left a deep and lasting imprint on the political life of our nation.
Japan 1945. In one of the defining moments of the twentieth century, more than 100,000 people were killed instantly by two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by US Air Force B29s. Hundreds of thousands more succumbed to their horrific injuries, or slowly perished of radiation-related sickness.
Hiroshima Nagasaki tells the story of the tragedy through the eyes of the survivors, from the twelve-year-olds forced to work in war factories to the wives and children who faced it alone. Through their harrowing personal testimonies, we are reminded that these were ordinary people, given no warning and no chance to escape the horror.
American leaders claimed that the bombings were 'our least abhorrent choice' and fell strictly on 'military targets'. Even today, most people believe they ended the Pacific War and saved millions of American and Japanese lives. Hiroshima Nagasaki challenges this deep-set perception, revealing that the atomic bombings were the final crippling blow to the Japanese in a stratgic air war waged primarily against civilians.
Christopher Duggan's new history of fascist Italy explores how the movement became embodied in the person of Benito Mussolini who occupied for many an almost divine status and gave millions of men and women a sense of pride and hope, offering the prospect of national regeneration after decades of disappointment.
A work of exceptional authority and originality, Fascist Voices makes use of rarely examined sources - letters and private diaries, newspaper reports and secret police files - to uncover how ordinary people experienced fascism on a daily basis and how its ideology influenced their beliefs, values, language and lifestyle.
Tracing fascism from its conception to its legacy, Christopher Duggan unpicks why the regime enjoyed so much support among the majority of the Italian population. He examines the extraordinary personal relationships that millions of Italians had with Mussolini, explores the religious dimensions of totalitarianism, and discusses why the 'cult of the Duce' still resonates in contemporary Italy.
Fascist Voices is a fresh and disturbing look at a country in thrall to a charismatic dictator.
Archibald Wavell was born a few years before Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and died shortly after the end of the Second World War (1883-1950). During that time the country in which he was born and brought up in changed beyond recognition, undergoing a fundamental revision in the attitudes, expectations, prejudices and hopes of the British people. His life epitomises that of a generation of famous men whose education and upbringing equipped them for a future that was to prove an illusion.
At seventeen, Archibald Wavell joined the army and as a young officer saw action in the Boer War and on the North West Frontier.In the Great War, he was often close to the greatest generals in the British Army; he fought in the trenches, was decorated for bravery and lost an eye. Between the wars his career included command of troops attempting to keep the peace in Palestine as revolt engulfed the country. His victorious campaigns early in the Second World War attracted a blaze of public admiration and renown; but he also tasted defeat and rejection, both in Africa and from 1941 as commander-in-chief of Allied forces in India, wilting before the Japanese onslaught in Burma and Singapore. In 1943 he was appointed Viceroy of India, where he took on the task of guiding that country's destiny as it crossed the brink of Empire into the turmoil of independence.
Simon Hopkinson loves food and he knows how to cook it. The Good Cook is the result of over 40 years' experience and is based on Simon's belief that a good cook loves eating as much as cooking.
How the ingredients you choose and the way you cook them will turn a good recipe into a great dish. That a cheap cut of meat cooked with care can taste as nice as a choice cut prepared by indifferent hands.
Structured around Simon's passion for good ingredients (Anchovy and Aubergine, Cheese and Wine, Smoked and Salted Fish, Ham, Bacon and A Little Pig) and written with Simon's trademark perfectionism and precision, this is a cookbook that you will cherish for life.
The Devonshires (eBook)
The story of the Devonshires is the story of Britain.
William Cavendish, the father of the first Earl, dissolved monasteries for Henry VIII. Bess, his second wife, was gaoler-companion to Mary Queen of Scots during her long imprisonment in England. Arbella Stuart, their granddaughter, was a heartbeat away from the throne of England and their grandson, Lord General of the North, fought to save the crown for Charles I. Fifty years later, the First Duke of Devonshire conspired to depose James II, and make William of Orange king. For the next two centuries the Devonshires were at the heart of fashionable society and the centre of political power. The Fourth Duke became prime minister and Georgiana, wife of the Fifth, scandalised even the Regency. Spencer Compton, the last of the great Devonshires, was three times offered the preimership, and three times refused it. Even the Devonshire servants made history. Joseph Paxton was their gardner and Thomas Hobbes was the family tutor.
With the help of previously unpublished material from the Chatsworth archives, The Devonshires reveals how the dynasty made and lost fortunes, fought and fornicated, built great houses, patronised the arts and pioneered the railways, made great scientific discoveries, and, in the end, came to terms with changing times. It is popular history at its very best.
Steaming to Victory (eBook)
In the seven decades since the darkest moments of the Second World War it seems every tenebrous corner of the conflict has been laid bare, prodded and examined from every perspective of military and social history.
But there is a story that has hitherto been largely overlooked. It is a tale of quiet heroism, a story of ordinary people who fought, with enormous self-sacrifice, not with tanks and guns, but with elbow grease and determination. It is the story of the British railways and, above all, the extraordinary men and women who kept them running from 1939 to 1945.
Churchill himself certainly did not underestimate their importance to the wartime story when, in 1943, he praised 'the unwavering courage and constant resourcefulness of railwaymen of all ranks in contributing so largely towards the final victory.'
And what a story it is.
The railway system during the Second World War was the lifeline of the nation, replacing vulnerable road transport and merchant shipping. The railways mobilised troops, transported munitions, evacuated children from cities and kept vital food supplies moving where other forms of transport failed. Railwaymen and women performed outstanding acts of heroism. Nearly 400 workers were killed at their posts and another 2,400 injured in the line of duty. Another 3,500 railwaymen and women died in action. The trains themselves played just as vital a role. The famous Flying Scotsman train delivered its passengers to safety after being pounded by German bombers and strafed with gunfire from the air. There were astonishing feats of engineering restoring tracks within hours and bridges and viaducts within days. Trains transported millions to and from work each day and sheltered them on underground platforms at night, a refuge from the bombs above. Without the railways, there would have been no Dunkirk evacuation and no D-Day.
Michael Williams, author of the celebrated book On the Slow Train, has written an important and timely book using original research and over a hundred new personal interviews.
This is their story.
British food has not traditionally been regarded as one of the world's great cuisines, and yet Stilton cheese, Scottish raspberries, Goosnargh duck and Welsh lamb are internationally renowned and celebrated. And then there are all those dishes and recipes that inspire passionate loyalty among the initiated: Whitby lemon buns and banoffi pie, for example; pan haggerty and Henderson's relish. All are as integral a part of the country's landscape as green fields, rolling hills and rocky coastline.
In Food Britannia, Andrew Webb travels the country to bring together a treasury of regional dishes, traditional recipes, outstanding ingredients and heroic local producers. He investigates the history of saffron farming in the UK, tastes the first whisky to be produced in Wales for one hundred years, and tracks down the New Forest's foremost expert on wild mushrooms. And along the way, he uncovers some historical surprises about our national cuisine. Did you know, for example, that the method for making clotted cream, that stalwart of the cream tea, was probably introduced from the Middle East? Or that our very own fish and chips may have started life as a Jewish-Portuguese dish? Or that Alfred Bird invented his famous custard powder because his wife couldn't eat eggs?
The result is a rich and kaleidoscopic survey of a remarkably vibrant food scene, steeped in history but full of fresh ideas for the future: proof, if proof were needed, that British food has come of age.