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Our books on social history explain all about different cultures and societies. They cover a variety of important historical eras.

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Social & Cultural History Books

Our books on social history explain all about different cultures and societies. They cover a variety of important historical eras.

  • Clearance
    AWLH

    A Woman Lived Here (Hardback)

    Allison Vale

    (1) Hand-picked favourites
    Only 111 of the 903 Blue Plaques that honour Londoners belong to women. This, despite thousands of truly remarkable women making significant and lasting impacts on every aspect of modern life...

    From politics and social reform to arts, medicine, science, technology and sport, this book celebrates those women whose achievements have largely went unnoticed and explains how their actions, ideas and inventions helped make the world a richer place to live in.

    Some of these women went about their lives and worked quietly with courage, conviction, skill and compassion, while others were fearless trailblazers who shattered the status quo of a 'man's world'.
    • £3.99
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  • WTLW

    Writers: Their Lives and Works (Hardback)

    DK

    Hand-picked favourites
    Bookworms and literature lovers will delve into this compendium full of over 100 biographies of the world's greatest writers including Jane Austen, William Shakespeare and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

    Each author, playwright and poet's profile is accompanied by a stunning portrait and a critical evaluation of their key ideas, themes and techniques.

    From the Middle Ages through to contemporary writers, this book offers a captivating insight into the lives, loves and influences of a number of extraordinary writers.
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  • Clearance
    ETCW

    Events that Changed the World (Paperback)

    Hand-picked favourites
    This book looks at how the world has changed since the beginning of the 20th century and how various major events have shaped the way we live. It has sections dedicated to humanity and liberty, culture and society, technology, medicine, science, space and the environment and politics and war.

    From the optimistic excitement at the start of the century when extraordinary scientific breakthroughs and new inventions were promising so much to the tumultuous and violent battles that followed, it's a whirlwind read through modern history.

    Covering culture, humanity, war, science and space among many other elements, this book covers everything from the sinking of the Titanic and the assassination of JFK to the release of the first personal computer. Other events include The Beatles releasing 'Please Please Me', the moon landing and the Chernobyl Disaster.
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  • STMH

    Speeches That Made History (Paperback)

    Hand-picked favourites
    This flexibound book contains a hand-picked selection of quotes, off-the-cuff remarks, retorts and announcements that have helped shape our history.

    From as early as 73 BC through to the modern day, these speeches from figures as diverse as Karl Marx, Gandhi and Barack Obama offer a wealth of opinions, statements and ideologies.

    From lengthy and impassioned pleas to the shorter soundbites that make our world go round today, these speeches are all thought-provoking and tackle subjects ranging from history and love to science, sports and war.
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  • CHLL

    Churchill (Hardback)

    Christopher Catherwood

    Hand-picked favourites
    Leading Winston Churchill scholar Dr. Christopher Catherwood reveals what the former prime minister - a man often declared the greatest statesman to have ever lived - was like as a man in this painstakingly researched biography. It's packed with photographs and artefacts from the former PM's life.

    Drawing on archive interviews, artworks and personal notes for some of Churchill's most famous and inspiring wartime speeches, this book explores his hidden history in detail. From being homesick while at boarding school to his successes and failures (he disastrous Gallipoli campaign and his blind spot over India), it reveals him to be a powerful, colourful and remarkable character.

    This is a must-read for anyone who is fascinated in political history and those who have gained an interest in the politician after seeing John Lithgow in The Crown or Gary Oldman's Oscar-winning performance in The Darkest Hour.
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  • MPSH

    Mapping Shakespeare (Hardback)

    Jeremy Black

    Hand-picked favourites
    This visual exploration of the time in which William Shakespeare lived is filled with jaw-dropping facts and observations. It considers what The Bard was like as a man and covers the cultural changes that took place during his lifetime - 1564-1616.

    From the time of the Tudors to Elizabeth I's reign and the first of the Stuart kings, this book reflects the political changes that were reflected in his works and explains how he worked through maps and illustrations to look at how powerful people viewed their positions in the world.

    Author Jeremy Black also explores the locations of Shakespeare's plays and examines the reasons why he chose to set them in these locations.
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  • BGYUB

    The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (Paperback)

    Anne Lister

    These remarkable diaries are a piece of lost lesbian history. Anne Lister defied the role of womanhood seen in the novels of Jane Austen: she was bold, fiercely independent, a landowner, industrialist, traveller - and lesbian. She kept extensive diaries, written partly in code, of her life and loves. The diaries have been edited by Helena Whitbread, who spent years decoding and transcribing them. '[Anne Lister's] sense of self, and self-awareness, is what makes her modern to us. She was a woman exercising conscious choice. She controlled her cash and her body. At a time when women had to marry, or be looked after by a male relative, and when all their property on marriage passed to their husband, Anne Lister not only dodged the traps of being female, she set up a liaison with another woman that enhanced her own wealth and left both of them free to live as they wished ...The diaries gave me courage' Jeanette Winterson 'Engaging, revealing, at times simply astonishing: Anne Lister's diaries are an indispensable read for anyone interested in the history of gender, sexuality, and the intimate lives of women' Sarah Waters
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  • BTXIO

    Chernobyl (Paperback)

    Serhii Plokhy

    Award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy's Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy is the winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2018. It's a must-read for anyone with an interest in modern history and those who have been compelled - and shocked - by the stunning Sky Atlantic TV series Chernobyl starring Jared Harris.

    On 26 April 1986 at 1.23am, a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine exploded. While the authorities scrambled to understand what was occurring, workers, engineers, firefighters and those living in the area were abandoned to their fate - and the blast put the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation.

    This book draws on recently opened archives to recreate events in all their drama, providing a moment-by-moment account of the heroes, perpetrators and victims of the Cold War tragedy.
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  • AXDIA 7 years +

    Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (Hardback)

    Elena Favilli

    (4)
    What if a princess didn't marry went on to become an astronaut? And what if the queen was the one really in charge of the kingdom?

    Illustrated by 60 female artists from every corner of the globe, this essential book introduces children to 100 remarkable women including Ada Lovelace to Malala, Elizabeth I to Serena Williams.

    A truly empowering, moving and inspirational read.

    This title has been shortlisted for 2018's British Book Award Children's Book of the Year.
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  • AWXZZ

    Hidden Figures (Paperback)

    Margot Lee Shetterly

    #1 New York Times Bestseller NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE Oscar Nominated For Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay Set amid the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA's African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America's space program. Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as 'Human Computers', calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts, these 'colored computers' used pencil and paper to write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Moving from World War II through NASA's golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women's rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of mankind's greatest adventure with the intimate stories of five courageous women whose work forever changed the world.
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  • AAVTW 7 years +

    Victorian Servants, a Very Peculiar History (Hardback)

    Fiona MacDonald

    It's not all longing looks across the dining room from that high-class gentleman! Life as a Victorian servant was tough, tough, tough! Discover the bizarre and oh-so-strict rules one had to keep to when serving the dignitaries in "Victorian Servants: A Very Peculiar History". Rise up through the ranks from washerwoman to housemaid to ladies' maid and beyond, but mind you don't keep any 'followers', as boyfriends are immoral and are strictly not allowed! While you wait on hand and foot from 5.30 am to 11 pm you won't even have time to rest your own. The chamber pots are certainly not to be sniffed at, and remember if the bell rings once, you are wanted. It's hard work but it's better than the alternative: begging, returning home penniless or heading to the workhouse. You'll discover stories of suffering and household tips galore in "Victorian Servants: A Very Peculiar History"!
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  • BYBCN

    Wally Funk's Race for Space (Paperback)

    Sue Nelson

    As seen in the major Netflix documentary `Mercury 13' In 1961, Wally Funk was among the Mercury 13, the first group of American pilots to pass the `Woman in Space' programme. Wally sailed through a series of rigorous physical and mental tests, with one of her scores beating all the male Mercury 7 astronauts', including John Glenn's, the first American in orbit. But just one week before the final phase of training, the programme was abruptly cancelled. A combination of politics and prejudice meant that none of the women ever flew into space. Undeterred, Wally went on to become America's first female aviation safety inspector, though her dream of being an astronaut never dimmed. In this offbeat odyssey, journalist and fellow space enthusiast Sue Nelson joins Wally, now approaching her eightieth birthday, as she races to make her own giant leap before it's too late. Covering their travels across the United States and Europe - taking in NASA's mission control in Houston, the European Space Agency's HQ in Paris and Spaceport America in New Mexico, where Wally's ride into space awaits - this is a uniquely intimate and entertaining portrait of a true aviation trailblazer.
    • £7.19
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  • BTHEY

    Queen Victoria's Matchmaking (Paperback)

    Deborah Cadbury

    A captivating exploration of the role in which Queen Victoria exerted most international power and influence: her role as matchmaking grandmother. In the late nineteenth century, Queen Victoria had over thirty surviving grandchildren. To maintain power in Europe, she hoped to manoeuvre them into dynastic marriages with royalty across the world. Yet her grandchildren often had plans of their own, fuelled by strong wills and romantic hearts. Her matchmaking plans were further complicated by tumultuous international upheavals; revolution was in the air and after her death, her most carefully laid plans fell to ruin. Queen Victoria's Matchmaking travels through the glittering palaces of Russia and Europe, weaving in scandals, political machinations and family tensions, to enthralling effect. It is at once an intimate portrait of the royal family and an examination of the conflict caused by the power, love and duty that shaped the marriages that Queen Victoria arranged. At the heart of it all is Queen Victoria herself: doting grandmother one moment, determined manipulator the next.
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  • BMSII

    Inglorious Empire (Paperback)

    Shashi Tharoor

    The Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller on India's experience of British colonialism, by the internationally-acclaimed author and diplomat Shashi Tharoor'Tharoor's impassioned polemic slices straight to the heart of the darkness that drives all empires ... laying bare the grim, and high, cost of the British Empire for its former subjects. An essential read' Financial TimesIn the eighteenth century, India's share of the world economy was as large as Europe's. By 1947, after two centuries of British rule, it had decreased six-fold. The Empire blew rebels from cannon, massacred unarmed protesters, entrenched institutionalised racism, and caused millions to die from starvation.British imperialism justified itself as enlightened despotism for the benefit of the governed, but Shashi Tharoor takes demolishes this position, demonstrating how every supposed imperial 'gift' - from the railways to the rule of law - was designed in Britain's interests alone. He goes on to show how Britain's Industrial Revolution was founded on India's deindustrialisation, and the destruction of its textile industry.In this bold and incisive reassessment of colonialism, Tharoor exposes to devastating effect the inglorious reality of Britain's stained Indian legacy.
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  • BMMHX

    Dining with the Victorians (Paperback)

    Emma Kay

    From traditional seaside holiday treats like candy floss, ice cream and fish 'n' chips, to the British fascination for baking, the Victorian era has shaped British culinary heritage. Victoria's austere attitude after an age of Regency indulgence generated enormous cultural change. Excess and gluttony were replaced with morally upright values, and Victoria's large family became the centre of the cultural imagination, with the power to begin new traditions. If Queen Victoria's family sat down to turkey on Christmas day, so did the rest of the nation. Food was a significant part of the Victorians' lives, whether they had too much of it or not enough. The destitute were fed gruel in the workhouses - the words of Dickens's Oliver are forever imprinted on our minds: `Please, sir, I want some more.' The burgeoning street traders spilling over from the previous century devolved into a whole new culture of `mudlarks', trotter boilers and food slop traders, to name but a few. Wealthy Victorians gorged with the newly emerging trend for breakfast, lunch and tea. Public dining became de rigeur, and the outdoor `pique-nique', introduced a new way of eating. Victorians also struggled against many of these trends, with the belief that denial of food was a moral good. This was the era of educating and training in food management, combined with the old world of superstition and tradition, that changed British society forever.
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  • BMJRJ

    Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Paperback)

    Reni Eddo-Lodge

    Reni Eddo-Lodge's Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race is a vital and contemporary award-winner that sparked discussions all over the world.

    This refreshing and thought-provoking book looks at everything from eradicated black history to the links between class and race.
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  • BAYAF

    Twelve Years a Slave (Paperback)

    Solomon Northup

    The shocking first-hand account of one man's remarkable fight for freedom; now an award-winning motion picture. 'Why had I not died in my young years - before God had given me children to love and live for? What unhappiness and suffering and sorrow it would have prevented. I sighed for liberty; but the bondsman's chain was round me, and could not be shaken off.' 1841: Solomon Northup is a successful violinist when he is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Taken from his family in New York State - with no hope of ever seeing them again - and forced to work on the cotton plantations in the Deep South, he spends the next twelve years in captivity until his eventual escape in 1853. First published in 1853, this extraordinary true story proved to be a powerful voice in the debate over slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. It is a true-life testament of one man's courage and conviction in the face of unfathomable injustice and brutality: its influence on the course of American history cannot be overstated.
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  • AYEBZ

    The Descent of Man (Paperback)

    Grayson Perry

    'A breeze of a read, makes you see our male-manufactured world a little differently' Matt Haig 'GRAYSON PERRY FOR KING AND QUEEN OF ENGLAND. Imagine how BRILLIANT our country would look if he was' Caitlin Moran Grayson Perry has been thinking about masculinity - what it is, how it operates, why little boys are thought to be made of slugs and snails - since he was a boy. Now, in this funny and necessary book, he turns round to look at men with a clear eye and ask, what sort of men would make the world a better place, for everyone? What would happen if we rethought the old, macho, outdated version of manhood, and embraced a different idea of what makes a man? Apart from giving up the coronary-inducing stress of always being 'right' and the vast new wardrobe options, the real benefit might be that a newly fitted masculinity will allow men to have better relationships - and that's happiness, right? Grayson Perry admits he's not immune from the stereotypes himself - as the psychoanalysts say, 'if you spot it, you've got it' - and his thoughts on everything from power to physical appearance, from emotions to a brand new Manifesto for Men, are shot through with honesty, tenderness and the belief that, for everyone to benefit, upgrading masculinity has to be something men decide to do themselves. They have nothing to lose but their hang-ups.
    • £8.39
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  • AXLUK

    Homo Deus (Paperback)

    Yuval Noah Harari

    Yubal Noah Harari's Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow looks at the concepts and ideas that will shaped the 21st century - including AI. It asks where we go from today's digital world and how we can stop ourselves from destroying this fragile planet.
    • £8.79
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  • AWDCZ

    Bread, Wine, Chocolate (Paperback)

    Simran Sethi

    Award-winning journalist Simran Sethi explores the history and cultural importance of our most beloved tastes, paying homage to the ingredients that give us daily pleasure, while providing a thoughtful wake-up call to the homogenization that is threatening the diversity of our food supply. Food is one of the greatest pleasures of human life. Our response to sweet, salty, bitter, or sour is deeply personal, combining our individual biological characteristics, personal preferences, and emotional connections. Bread, Wine, Chocolate illuminates not only what it means to recognize the importance of the foods we love, but also what it means to lose them. Award-winning journalist Simran Sethi reveals how the foods we enjoy are endangered by genetic erosion-a slow and steady loss of diversity in what we grow and eat. In America today, food often looks and tastes the same, whether at a San Francisco farmers market or at a Midwestern potluck. Shockingly, 95% of the world's calories now come from only thirty species. Though supermarkets seem to be stocked with endless options, the differences between products are superficial, primarily in flavor and brand. Sethi draws on interviews with scientists, farmers, chefs, vintners, beer brewers, coffee roasters and others with firsthand knowledge of our food to reveal the multiple and interconnected reasons for this loss, and its consequences for our health, traditions, and culture. She travels to Ethiopian coffee forests, British yeast culture labs, and Ecuadoran cocoa plantations collecting fascinating stories that will inspire readers to eat more consciously and purposefully, better understand familiar and new foods, and learn what it takes to save the tastes that connect us with the world around us.
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  • AFSQZ

    Down and Out in Paris and London (Paperback)

    George Orwell

    George Orwell's vivid memoir of his time living among the desperately poor and destitute, "Down and Out in Paris and London" is a moving tour of the underworld of society from the author of "1984", published with an introduction by Dervla Murphy in "Penguin Modern Classics". 'You have talked so often of going to the dogs - and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them.' Written when Orwell was a struggling writer in his twenties, it documents his 'first contact with poverty'. Here, he painstakingly documents a world of unrelenting drudgery and squalor - sleeping in bug-infested hostels and doss houses of last resort, working as a dishwasher in Paris' vile 'Hotel X', surviving on scraps and cigarette butts, living alongside tramps, a star-gazing pavement artist and a starving Russian ex-army captain. Exposing a shocking, previously-hidden world to his readers, Orwell gave a human face to the statistics of poverty for the first time - and in doing so, found his voice as a writer. Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950), better known by his pen-name, George Orwell, was born in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. An author and journalist, Orwell was one of the most prominent and influential figures in twentieth-century literature. His unique political allegory "Animal Farm" was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with the dystopia of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" (1949), which brought him world-wide fame. All his novels and non-fiction, including "Burmese Days" (1934), "Down and Out in Paris and London" (1933), "The Road to Wigan Pier" (1937) and "Homage to Catalonia" (1938) are published in "Penguin Modern Classics". If you enjoyed "Down and Out in Paris and London", you might like "Homage to Catalonia", also available in "Penguin Modern Classics". "Orwell was the great moral force of his age". ("Spectator"). "The white-hot reaction of a sensitive, observant, compassionate young man to poverty". (Dervla Murphy).
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  • AADIQ

    Black Diamonds (Paperback)

    Catherine Bailey

    Wentworth is in Yorkshire and was surrounded by 70 collieries employing tens of thousands of men. It is the finest and largest Georgian house in Britain and belonged to the Fitzwilliam family. It is England's forgotten palace which belonged to Britain's richest aristocrats. "Black Diamonds" tells the story of its demise: family feuds, forbidden love, class war, and a tragic and violent death played their part. But coal, one of the most emotive issues in twentieth century British politics, lies at its heart. This is the extraordinary story of how the fabric of English society shifted beyond recognition in fifty turbulent years in the twentieth century.
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  • BYNQF

    The Rough-Stuff Fellowship Archive (Hardback)

    Mark Hudson

    Founded in 1955, the Rough-Stuff Fellowship is the world's oldest off-road cycling club. Its archive contains thousands of stunning images, hand-drawn maps and documents - an unexpected treasure trove of incredible value and beauty that is now being brought to a wider public by Isola Press. The photos are evocative of a bygone age and a bygone style - a time when you might set off on a bike ride wearing a shirt and tie or a bobble hat, and no ride was complete without a stop to brew up some tea and smoke a pipe. They are also a record of intrepid adventures. RSF riders explored the Lake District, the Cairngorms, the Alps and further afield, and their exploits were beautifully documented by amateur and professional photographers. In their own very British way, these men and women were pioneers, pedalling and carrying their bikes where angels feared to tread. Mountain bikes, gravel bikes, adventure bikes all owe them a debt. This book celebrates their style and their spirit. It is a stunning visual resource of cycling heritage that will inspire new adventures.
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  • BYHXY

    Promise Me You'll Shoot Yourself (Hardback)

    Florian Huber

    The German bestseller on the final days of Nazi Germany One of the last untold stories of the Third Reich is that of the extraordinary wave of suicides, carried out not just by much of the Nazi leadership, but by thousands of ordinary Germans, in the war's closing period. Some of these were provoked by straightforward terror in the face of advancing Soviet troops or by personal guilt, but many could not be explained in such relatively straightforward terms. Florian Huber's remarkable book, a bestseller in Germany, confronts this terrible phenomenon. Other countries have suffered defeat, but not responded in the same way. What drove whole families, who in many cases had already withstood years of deprivation, aerial bombing and deaths in battle, to do this? In a brilliantly written, thoughtful and original work, Huber sees the entire project of the Third Reich as a sequence of almost overwhelming emotions and scenes for many Germans. He describes some of the key events which shaped the period from the First World War to the end of the Second, showing how the sheer intensity, allure and ferocity of Hitler's regime swept along millions. Its sudden end was, for many of them, simply impossible to absorb.
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