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Read all about history through the ages with Book People's hand-picked selection of historical non-fiction books. They explain about all the major world events.

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History Through the Ages

  • 1916: A Global History

    Keith Jeffery

    Product Code: NAGH
    Paperback
    Hand-picked favourites
    In this eye-opening book, Keith Jeffery looks at how the events of the First World War affected the rest of the world.

    Covering the 12 months of 1916, he picks out 12 key moments and reveals the impact they had on the rest of the world. As well as famous battles including Gallipoli and the Somme, the author also examines the Easter Rising, the Italian Front and the killing of Rasputin and explains how all of these related to the War.

    Thoroughly researched using a host of military, social and cultural sources, this book looks at just how much the war dramatically altered the state of so many nations.
    • £1.00
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  • The Library Book

    Susan Orlean

    Product Code: CBQOE
    Paperback
    A New York Times Book of the Year, 2018 A REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICK A dazzling love letter to a beloved institution - our libraries. After moving to Los Angeles, Susan Orlean became fascinated by a mysterious local crime that has gone unsolved since it was carried out on the morning of 29 April 1986: who set fire to the Los Angeles Public Library, ultimately destroying more than 400,000 books, and perhaps even more perplexing, why? With her characteristic humour, insight and compassion, Orlean uses this terrible event as a lens through which to tell the story of all libraries - their history, their meaning and their uncertain future as they adapt and redefine themselves in a digital world. Filled with heart, passion and extraordinary characters, The Library Book discusses the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives.
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  • Henry III (Penguin Monarchs)

    Stephen Church

    Product Code: BWLDX
    Paperback
    Henry III was a medieval king whose long reign continues to have a profound impact on us today. He was on the throne for 56 years and during this time England was transformed from being the private play-thing of a French speaking dynasty into a medieval state in which the king answered for his actions to an English parliament, which emerged during Henry's lifetime. Despite Henry's central importance for the birth of parliament and the development of a state recognisably modern in many of its institutions, it is Henry's most vociferous opponent, Simon de Montfort, who is in many ways more famous than the monarch himself. Henry is principally known today as the driving force behind the building of Westminster Abbey, but he deserves to be better understood for many reasons - as Stephen Church's sparkling account makes clear. Part of the Penguin Monarchs series: short, fresh, expert accounts of England's rulers in a highly collectible format
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  • All Hell Let Loose

    Sir Max Hastings

    Product Code: AEEHE
    Paperback
    A magisterial history of the greatest and most terrible event in history, from one of the finest historians of the Second World War. A book which shows the impact of war upon hundreds of millions of people around the world- soldiers, sailors and airmen; housewives, farm workers and children. Reflecting Max Hastings's thirty-five years of research on World War II, All Hell Let Loose describes the course of events, but focuses chiefly upon human experience, which varied immensely from campaign to campaign, continent to continent. The author emphasises the Russian front, where more than 90% of all German soldiers who perished met their fate. He argues that, while Hitler's army often fought its battles brilliantly well, the Nazis conducted their war effort with 'stunning incompetence'. He suggests that the Royal Navy and US Navy were their countries' outstanding fighting services, while the industrial contribution of the United States was much more important to allied victory than that of the US Army. The book ranges across a vast canvas, from the agony of Poland amid the September 1939 Nazi invasion, to the 1943 Bengal famine, in which at least a million people died under British rule- and British neglect. Among many vignettes, there are the RAF's legendary raid on the Ruhr dams, the horrors of Arctic convoys, desert tank combat, jungle clashes. Some of Hastings's insights and judgements will surprise students of the conflict, while there are vivid descriptions of the tragedies and triumphs of a host of ordinary people, in uniform and out of it. 'The cliche is profoundly true', he says. 'The world between 1939 and 1945 saw some human beings plumb the depths of baseness, while others scaled the heights of courage and nobility'. This is 'everyman's story', an attempt to answer the question: 'What was the Second World War like ?', and also an overview of the big picture. Max Hastings employs the technique which has made many of his previous books best-sellers, combining top-down analysis and bottom-up testimony to explore the meaning of this vast conflict both for its participants and for posterity.
    • £11.29
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  • In Search of Ancient North Africa

    Barnaby Rogerson

    Product Code: CBZJM
    Paperback
    For 40 years, Barnaby Rogerson has travelled across North Africa, making sense of the region's complex and fascinating history as both a writer and a guide. Throughout that time, there have always been a handful of stories he could not pin into neat, tidy narratives; stories that were not distinctly good or bad, tragic or pathetic, selfish or heroic, malicious or noble. This book, neither a work of history nor travel writing, is a journey into the ruins of a landscape to make sense of these stories through the lives of five men and one woman. A sacrificial refugee (Queen Dido), a prisoner-of-war who became a compliant tool of the Roman Empire (King Juba), an unpromising provincial who, as Emperor, brought the Empire to its dazzling apogee (Septimius Severus), an intellectual careerist who became a bishop and a saint (St Augustine), the greatest General the world has ever known (Hannibal), and the Berber Cavalry General who eventually defeated him (Masinissa). Though all six lives have been clouded with as much myth as fact, the destinies of these North African figures remain highly relevant today. Their descendants are faced with the same choices: Do you stay pure to your own culture and fight against the power of the West, or do you study and assimilate this other culture, and utilise its skills? Will it greet you as an ally only to own you as a slave? The chosen heroes of this book represent classical North Africa, and not the familiar drum roll of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Trajan, Hadrian, Constantine and Justinian. In between these life stories, we explore ruins which tell their own tales and see the multiple interconnections that bind the culture of this region with the wider world, particularly the spiritual traditions of the ancient Near East. With photographs by Don McCullin.
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  • Power & the People

    Alev Scott

    Product Code: CBRYJ
    Hardback
    DEMOCRACY WAS BORN IN ATHENS. FROM ITS FOUNDING MYTHS TO ITS GOLDEN AGE AND ITS CHAOTIC DOWNFALL, IT'S RICH WITH LESSONS FOR OUR OWN TIMES. Why did vital civic engagement and fair debate descend into populism and paralysis? Can we compare the demagogue Cleon to President Trump, the Athenian Empire to modern America, or the stubborn island of Melos to Brexit Britain? How did a second referendum save the Athenians from a bloodthirsty decision? Who were the last defenders of democracy in the changing, globalised world of the 4th Century BC, and how do we unconsciously echo them today? With verve and acuity, the heroics and the critics of Athenian democracy are brought to bear on today's politics, revealing in all its glories and its flaws the system that still survives to execute the power of the people.
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  • Station Jim

    Louis de Bernieres

    Product Code: CBRCD
    Hardback
    A heartwarming tale about a mischievous dog who works on the steam trains. Beautifully illustrated, it is the perfect gift. One day in autumn, in the days when all the trains were driven by steam, a railway guard found something abandoned on a train... Mr Ginger Leghorn is used to collecting up umbrellas and other lost property but he's never found an abandoned puppy on his train before. He has no intention of keeping it but his five children - Alfie, Arthur, Beryl, Sissy and Albert - have other ideas and Jim is soon a much-loved, but often disruptive, member of the family. Whether it's his feud with the cat, getting stuck in rabbit-holes, accidentally going to sea, accompanying the children to school or carol singing at Christmas, Jim has a knack of making himself the centre of attention. This little black and tan puppy with its small bright eyes and very waggy rump becomes something of a hero in his town, and even catches the eye of the King himself. Station Jim is a story for both children and adults and includes delightful pictures by celebrated illustrator Emma Chichester Clark.
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  • The Reinvention of Humanity

    Charles King

    Product Code: CBRBY
    Hardback
    The Reinvention of Humanity tells the story of a small circle of renegade scientist-explorers who changed something profound: what it means to be normal. In the early twentieth century, these pioneering anthropologists, most of them women, made intrepid journeys that overturned our assumptions about race, sexuality, gender and the nature of human diversity. From the Arctic to the South Pacific, from Haiti to Japan, they immersed themselves in distant or isolated communities, where they observed and documented radically different approaches to love and child-rearing, family structure and the relationship between women and men. With this evidence they were able to challenge the era's scientific consensus - and deep-rooted Western belief - that intelligence, ability and character are determined by a person's race or sex, and show that the roles people play in society are shaped in fact according to the immense variety of human cultures. Theirs were boundary-breaking lives, filled with scandal, romance, rivalry and tragedy. Those of Margaret Mead and her essential partner Ruth Benedict resulted in fame and notoriety. Those of Native American activist Ella Deloria and the African-American writer and ethnographer Zora Neale Hurston ended in poverty and obscurity; here their achievements are brought fully into the light for the first time. All were outsiders, including the controversial founder of their field, the wild-haired professor, German immigrant and revolutionary thinker, Franz Boas. The Reinvention of Humanity takes us on their globe-spanning adventures and shows how, together, these courageous and unconventional people created the moral universe we inhabit today.
    • £20.00
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  • The Journey Matters

    Jonathan Glancey

    Product Code: CBQXD
    Hardback
    What was it really like to take the LNER's Art Deco Coronation streamliner from King's Cross to Edinburgh, to cross the Atlantic by the SS Normandie, to fly with Imperial Airways from Southampton to Singapore, to steam from Manhattan to Chicago on board the New York Central's 20th Century Limited or to dine and sleep aboard the Graf Zeppelin? In the course of The Journey Matters, Jonathan Glancey travels from the early 1930s to the turn of the century on some of what he considers to be the most truly glamorous and romantic trips he has ever dreamed of or made in real life. Each of the twenty journeys allows him to explore the history of routes taken, and the events - social and political - enveloping them. Each is the story of the machines that made these journeys possible, of those who shaped them and those, too, who travelled on them.
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  • As Others See Us

    Neil MacGregor

    Product Code: CBPIN
    Audio
    All ten episodes of BBC Radio 4's ambitious global series, presented by Neil MacGregor `Insightful, provocative, satisfying' Telegraph With the United Kingdom on the brink of potentially momentous change, historian and broadcaster Neil MacGregor embarks on a worldwide voyage to discover how Britain is perceived from abroad. Visiting Germany, Egypt, Nigeria, Canada, India, Singapore, the United States, Spain, Australia and Poland - all countries with significant historical links to the UK - he talks to leading opinion formers to find out how they, as individuals and members of their wider communities, see Britain. His interviewees reveal what they learnt about Britain at school, and how key events and cultural influences, as well as their own personal experiences, have shaped their impressions of the country now. Each has a defining image that symbolises the UK to them: from Shakespeare to Monty Python, the 1966 World Cup, the Suez Crisis, the Financial Times, `99' ice cream and The Crown. Throughout his travels, MacGregor uncovers tensions and frustrations, admiration and affection - along with an underlying sense of hope and a desire to retain close links with Britain as it prepares to reevaluate its relationship with Europe and the world.
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  • The Templemore Miracles

    John Reynolds

    Product Code: CBPAJ
    Paperback
    In the aftermath of the 1916 Rising, the guerrilla war that followed reached its peak in August 1920, in the garrison town of Templemore, when a series of extraordinary events occurred. Sixteen-year-old farm labourer Jimmy Walsh claimed that he was experiencing Marian apparitions, and that religious statues owned by him were moving and bleeding. Miraculous cures were claimed and the religious fervour which gripped Ireland led to an influx of thousands of pilgrims. The phenomenon of the `Templemore miracles' or `bleeding statues' lasted for several weeks and an informal ceasefire arose while the rebels, the police, military and civilian population struggled to comprehend the surreal situation. The IRA interrogated Walsh, concluding that the miracles and apparitions were not genuine and also decided that the flood of pilgrims must cease as it was having a detrimental effect on the conduct of the war. The IRA, with the direct involvement of Michael Collins, took action to deal with Walsh and to deter pilgrims from coming to Templemore. When the last pilgrims left, the conflict resumed in earnest with a greater level of ferocity and brutality than previously. Walsh left Ireland, never to return.
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  • Martyrs of Henry VIII

    John Matusiak

    Product Code: CBOUG
    Hardback
    When Henry VIII passed through Canterbury in 1532, a young woman in her mid-twenties named Elizabeth Barton, widely revered as a visionary and prophetess, burst into his presence and warned him that he was `so abominable in the sight of God that he was not worthy to tread on hallowed ground'. Two years later, the self-same `Holy Maid of Kent' would suffer a grisly fate at Tyburn and trigger a wave of bloody repression that consumed not only Sir Thomas More, but two other less widely-known individuals, whose exceptional sacrifices were, arguably, even more compelling. One was a combative cleric as renowned for his integrity as his intellect, prepared to sacrifice both life and country in defence of Queen Catherine of Aragon and the old religion; the other a courtier-turned-ascetic, plucked from the shelter of the cloister by a religious and political revolution, in which he had little stake beyond the dictates of his own conscience. For these three unique individuals of widely contrasting backgrounds, temperaments and motives, drawn together at a critical watershed in English history by a common cause and destiny, the path to Tyburn was a long and painful one, paved with fear, hardships, vilification and intrigue.
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  • The Quaker and the Gamecock

    Andrew Waters

    Product Code: CBJCU
    Hardback
    As the newly appointed commander of the Southern Continental Army in December 1780, Nathanael Greene quickly realized victory would not only require defeating the British Army, but also subduing the region's brutal civil war. 'The division among the people is much greater than I imagined, and the Whigs and the Tories persecute each other, with little less than savage fury,' wrote Greene. Part of Greene's challenge involved managing South Carolina's determined but unreliable Patriot militia, led by Thomas Sumter, the famed 'Gamecock'. Though Sumter would go on to a long political career, it was as a defiant partisan that he first earned the respect of his fellow backcountry settlers, a command that would compete with Greene for status and stature in the Revolutionary War's 'Southern Campaign'. Despite these challenges, Greene was undaunted. Born to a devout Quaker family, and influenced by the faith's tenets, Greene instinctively understood the war's Southern theater involved complex political, personal, and socioeconomic challenges, not just military ones. Though never a master of the battlefield, Greene's mindful leadership style established his historic legacy. The Quaker and the Gamecock tells the story of these two wildly divergent leaders against the backdrop of the American Revolution's last gasp, the effort to extricate a British occupation force from the wild and lawless South Carolina frontier. For Greene, the campaign meant a last chance to prove his capabilities as a general, not just a talented administrator. For Sumter, it was a quest of personal revenge that showcased his innate understanding of the backcountry character. Both men needed the other to defeat the British, yet their forceful personalities, divergent leadership styles, and opposing objectives would clash again and again, a fascinating story of the United States' bloody birth that still influences our political culture.
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  • Armies of Celtic Europe 700 BC to AD 106

    Gabriele Esposito

    Product Code: CBIJR
    Hardback
    Although comprised of many distinct tribes and groupings, the Celts shared a distinctive culture that dominated much of Europe for centuries. They enjoyed a formidable reputation as fierce and brave warriors, skilled horsemen and fine metalworkers. In 390 BC an alliance of Celtic tribes defeated a Roman army at the River Allia and went on to sack Rome and thenceforth the Romans lived under their threat. In the early third century BC a Celtic army swept into Macedonia and Greece, won a major victory at Thermopylai and ransacked the sacred sanctuary at Delphi. Such was their warlike prowess that, when not fighting their own wars, they were sought after as mercenaries by many armies, serving as far afield as southern Egypt. When the Romans invaded Gaul (France and Belgium) and the British Isles, Celtic armies resisted them fiercely. Gabriele Esposito studies this fascinating warrior culture, their armies, strategy, tactics and equipment (they invented the horned saddle and chainmail, and British armies were the last in Europe to use chariots on the battlefield). Dozens of colour photographs of reenactors help bring these magnificent warriors back to life.
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  • Roller-Coaster

    Ian Kershaw

    Product Code: BZMKP
    Paperback
    After the overwhelming horrors of the first half of the 20th century, described by Ian Kershaw in his previous book as having gone 'to Hell and back', the years from 1950 to 2017 brought peace and relative prosperity to most of Europe. Enormous economic improvements transformed the continent. The catastrophic era of the world wars receded into an ever more distant past, though its long shadow continued to shape mentalities. Europe was now a divided continent, living under the nuclear threat in a period intermittently fraught with anxiety. Europeans experienced a 'roller-coaster ride', both in the sense that they were flung through a series of events which threatened disaster, but also in that they were no longer in charge of their own destinies: for much of the period the USA and USSR effectively reduced Europeans to helpless figures whose fates were dictated to them depending on the vagaries of the Cold War. There were, by most definitions, striking successes - the Soviet bloc melted away, dictatorships vanished and Germany was successfully reunited. But accelerating globalization brought new fragilities. The impact of interlocking crises after 2008 was the clearest warning to Europeans that there was no guarantee of peace and stability. In this remarkable book, Ian Kershaw has created a grand panorama of the world we live in and where it came from. Drawing on examples from all across Europe, Roller-Coaster will make us all rethink Europe and what it means to be European.
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  • North West Railways in the 1970s and 1980s

    John Carlson

    Product Code: BYZTD
    Paperback
    John Carlson takes a new look at the north-western rail scene. Focusing mainly on the years 1975 to 1985, this collection of around 180 colour and black-and white-images, almost all previously unpublished, takes a look the regions railways in the 1970s and 1980s. Captured here are images that encapsulate intercity expresses at speed and rest, show freight being shunted and hauled in yards and on main lines, and portray the enthusiasts and passengers that photograph and ride them. Although focusing on the region's major railway centres, such as Carlisle, Preston and Manchester, branch lines and out of the way vantage points have not been neglected.
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  • Histories of the Unexpected: The Tudors

    Dr Sam Willis (Author)

    Product Code: BYIEL
    Hardback
    At Histories of the Unexpected, we believe that everything has a history - even the most unexpected of subjects - and that everything links together in unexpected ways. We believe that the history of the itch, the history of crawling, the history of clouds, or of lightning or of zombies or zebras or holes or perfume or rubbish or mustard - all have fascinating histories of their own. In this book we take this approach into the Tudor world. You will find out here how the history of shrinking is all to do with the Spanish Armada; how the history of orangesis all to do with Tudor spies; how the history of monsters is all to do with those famous Tudor queens Mary I and Elizabeth I. Histories of the Unexpected not only presents a new way of thinking about the past, but also reveals the everyday world around us as never before.
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  • Histories of the Unexpected: The Romans

    Dr Sam Willis (Author)

    Product Code: BYHXD
    Hardback
    At Histories of the Unexpected, we believe that everything has a history - even the most unexpected of subjects - and that everything links together in unexpected ways. We believe that the history of the itch, the history of crawling, the history of clouds, or of lightning or of zombies or zebras or holes or perfume or rubbish or mustard - all have fascinating histories of their own. Histories of the Unexpected not only presents a new way of thinking about the past, but also reveals the everyday world around us as never before.
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  • Histories of the Unexpected: The Vikings

    Dr Sam Willis (Author)

    Product Code: BYHXC
    Hardback
    At Histories of the Unexpected, we believe that everything has a history - even the most unexpected of subjects - and that everything links together in unexpected ways. We believe that the history of the itch, the history of crawling, the history of clouds, or of lightning or of zombies or zebras or holes or perfume or rubbish or mustard - all have fascinating histories of their own. Histories of the Unexpected not only presents a new way of thinking about the past, but also reveals the everyday world around us as never before.
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  • A Guide to the Beaches and Battlefields of Normandy

    David Evans

    Product Code: BWTYF
    Paperback
    A Guide to the Beaches and Battlefields of Normandy provides an accessible background to the momentous events of 6 June 1944 as well as a complete guide to each and every town, village, beach, battery and cemetery that figured in the battle. This comprehensive book contains a wealth of detail that charts the heroism, poignancy and tragedy of events that were to alter the course of history. With stories, poems and illustrations, David Evans pays a fitting tribute to those who gave their lives as the price of victory. Accompanied by photographs, maps and drawings, this guide is aimed primarily at the thousands of veterans, relatives and tourists who visit Normandy each year, but it will also be an endless source of enjoyment to those who wish to recall the details and monuments of the battle in the comfort of their own homes. David Evans is a lecturer in modern history and is a frequent visitor to the sites of Normandy battlefields.
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  • Exploitation, Resettlement, Mass Murder

    Alex J. Kay

    Product Code: BWRVJ
    Paperback
    Convinced before the onset of Operation "Barbarossa" in June 1941 of both the ease, with which the Red Army would be defeated and the likelihood that the Soviet Union would collapse, the Nazi regime envisaged a radical and far-reaching occupation policy which would result in the political, economic and racial reorganization of the occupied Soviet territories and bring about the deaths of 'x million people' through a conscious policy of starvation. This study traces the step-by-step development of high-level planning for the occupation policy in the Soviet territories over a twelve-month period and establishes the extent to which the various political and economic plans were compatible.
  • Space and Spatiality in Modern German-Jewish History

    Simone Lassig

    Product Code: BVIGS
    Hardback
    What makes a space Jewish? This wide-ranging volume revisits literal as well as metaphorical spaces in modern German history to examine the ways in which Jewishness has been attributed to them both within and outside of Jewish communities, and what the implications have been across different eras and social contexts. Working from an expansive concept of "the spatial," these contributions look not only at physical sites but at professional, political, institutional, and imaginative realms, as well as historical Jewish experiences of spacelessness. Together, they encompass spaces as varied as early modern print shops and Weimar cinema, always pointing to the complex intertwining of German and Jewish identity.
  • The Royal Art of Poison

    Eleanor Herman

    Product Code: BRIUU
    Hardback
    The story of poison is the story of power. For centuries, the royal families of Western Europe have feared the gut-roiling, vomit-inducing agony of a little something added to their food or wine by an enemy. To avoid poison, they depended on tasters, unicorn horns and antidotes tested on condemned prisoners. Servants licked the royal family's spoons, tried on their underpants and tested their chamber pots. Ironically, royals terrified of poison were unknowingly poisoning themselves daily with their cosmetics, medications and filthy living conditions. Women wore makeup made with mercury and lead. Men rubbed faeces on their bald spots. Physicians prescribed mercury enemas, arsenic skin cream, drinks of lead filings and potions of human fat and skull, fresh from the executioner. Gazing at gorgeous portraits of centuries past, we don't see what lies beneath the royal robes and the stench of unwashed bodies; the lice feasting on private parts; and worms nesting in the intestines. In The Royal Art of Poison, Eleanor Herman tells the true story of Europe's glittering palaces: one of medical bafflement, poisonous cosmetics, ever-present excrement, festering natural illness and, sometimes, murder.
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  • George IV (Penguin Monarchs)

    Stella Tillyard

    Product Code: BNXVY
    Hardback
    George IV spent most of his life waiting to become king, first a pleasure-loving and rebellious Prince of Wales during the sixty-year reign of his father, George III, and for ten years as Prince Regent, when his father went mad. 'The days are very long when you have nothing to do' he once wrote plaintively, but he did his best to fill them with pleasure - women, art, food, wine, fashion, architecture. He presided over the creation of the Regency style, which came to epitomise the era and was, with Charles I, the most artisitically literate of all our kings. Stella Tillyard has not written ajudgemental book, but a very human one, about this most colourful of all British kings.
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Take a tour of the past with our books on history through the ages. Starting from the first civilisations and moving through each era of history, every time period is covered in our fascinating history books.

From the earliest empires

In our ancient history books, you’ll find information all about the empires of the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and more.

To the madness of the Middle Ages

Explore how we got from the ancient times to modern day with our early history and medieval history books. Explore stories of royalty, wars and the knights in these exciting books.

And right up to today

In our modern history books you can read about the most significant historical events in recent years. From books about the world’s most recent wars to stories of royalty, you’ll find loads of interesting reads in our History Through the Ages category.

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