Political, Military & Historical Biographies

  • QNVC
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    Popular BBC presenter and acclaimed historian Lucy Worsley examines how Queen Victoria grew from dancing princess to one of Britain's greatest monarchs in this eye-opening biography.

    Lucy looks at 24 significant days from Victoria's life including her birth and her coronation to reveal what she was like as a person and how her actions left a mark on history.

    Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria's birth, this biography celebrates Queen Victoria's extraordinary personal life.
  • ALMH
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    In this tale of courage and determination, David Guss looks back over the Second World War exploits of PoW Lt Alastair Cram.

    Cram was taken prisoner in North Africa in November 1941 but ended up living in 10 different camps and three Gestapo prisons. However, Cram was a serial escapee - and found his way to freedom no fewer than 21 times.

    Cram met David Stirling, the legendary founder of the SAS in Gavi (known as the 'Italian Colditz') and together they laid the groundwork for the 'Cistern Tunnel' escape - one of the most audacious and also little-known escape attempts of the entire War.
  • AJML
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    Former home secretary Alan Johnson celebrates his love of music in this marvellously entertaining memoir.

    He recalls first hearing Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly's True Love on the radio as a child in the 1950s and how this led to a lifelong passion. He fondly remembers humming Elvis Costello's Watching the Detectives while working as a postman and celebrates his love of artists ranging from Lonnie Donegan and The Beatles to David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen.

    A great read for music lovers and those who are interested in politics, this book lets you discover more about Alan Johnson the man while also transporting you back to a world of jukeboxes full of unashamedly romantic love songs and heartbreaking ballads.
  • AWLH
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    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'.
  • AGTJ
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    Robert Hutton tells the incredible story of Eric Roberts, the MI5 agent codenamed Jack King who helped flush out the Nazi sympathisers on British soil as part of Operation Fifth Column in June, 1940.

    Recruited into the world of espionage by Maxwell Knight, Roberts had the ability to make people trust him with their darkest secrets and received so many secrets from Nazi sympathisers who believed him to be a Gestapo officer...

    Drawing on newly declassified documents and private family archives, this book reveals just how close Britain was to succumbing to fascism during the Second World War - and how the actions of brave and brilliant people like Robert Hutton managed to avoid this.
  • SSDY
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    At 94 years old, Madge Lambert is one of the few remaining women to have served as a nurse during the Burma Campaign between 1944 and 1945. It was while working here that she met her husband, Captain Basil Lambert. The couple have a love of dance that saw them appear on a Strictly Come Dancing Remembrance Day special.

    Based on first-hand research and meetings with Madge, Robert Blair's biography celebrates their romance, explaining how they met in the most desperate of times. Joining the troopship when she was just 20 years old and not long qualified, she was based in Chittachong on the Indian border, close to a fierce battle between the Allied forces and the Japanese.

    Madge spent long and exhausting hours nursing badly injured soldiers and eventually met Basil. This is a heart-warming and poignant account of how their burgeoning romance survived the final few months of war - and has thrived ever since.
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    Smoky was a four-pound Yorkshire terrier with a big heart. One of the heroes of the Second World War, she was found in mysterious circumstances and adopted by Corporal William 'Bill' Wynne, a member of the US Air Force.

    This book, written by acclaimed historian and war reporter Damien Lewis and based on the recollections of 93-year-old Wynne himself, tells the heart-warming and inspirational story of Smoky's life. He looks over all the air and sea rescue missions she embarked on and the awards she won. He also talks about how she used to parachute using a special rig!

    This book looks over Smoky's most heroic exploit - running a cable through a 70-foot pipe that enabled phone lines to reach a nearby occupied airbase in Luton. Smoky's efforts saved so many lives.
  • CHLL
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    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.
  • SMIM
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    Historian Nicholas Shakespeare reveals how Winston Churchill almost didn't become prime minister following the fall of Neville Chamberlain's government in May, 1940...

    Showing how easily events could have gone in a different direction, this biography explains how Churchill was to blame for a disastrous battle in Norway before then going on to rise to the most powerful post in the country just weeks later.

    Based on fascinating new research that delves deep into the backgrounds of all the key players in the government during World War II, this book offers a new perspective on Churchill's election and leadership (as well as the personal issues that appeared) while also covering the dramatic action that took place on the battlefield in Norway.
  • CNTY
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    Six women who have lived the last hundred years of British history reveal how their lives have changed since the suffragettes won the right for women (over 30 and who met certain property qualifications) to vote in 1918.

    Hailing from locations spread across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Helena, Olive, Edna, Joyce, Ann and Phyllis - The Century Girls - explain what they saw, how they were treated, who they loved, what they did and where they are now. They look back at times as housewives and working and describe the surroundings they grew up in.

    This is a personal account of how women gradually began to build independent lives for themselves in post-Great War Britain and what their day-to-day lives were like and how they changed throughout the following decades.
  • MPSH
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    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.
  • WHKG
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    As the man in charge at the time the nation entered the Civil War, Charles I's reign is one of the most dramatic in history. However, Charles as a man was an elusive individual. He is often regarded as weak and his wife, Henrietta Maria, as spoilt but Leanda de Lisle's thoroughly researched biography reveals him to be principled and brave but also blinkered.

    Charles I is revealed to be a complex man who pays the price for bringing radical change; Henrietta Maria a warrior queen and political player as impressive as any Tudor. This book also focuses on the cousins who befriended and betrayed the royal couple - the peacocking Henry Holland, whose brother engineered the king's fall and the 'last Boleyn girl' Lucy Carlisle.

    This is an almost unbelievable story that ties in everything from populist politicians and religious war to a new media and reshaping of the nation where women vied with men for power.
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    Dare Not Linger is a fascinating, thought-provoking and poignant biography of Nelson Mandela's time as president of South Africa. It draws on Mandela's writings during this time and has been completed by Mandla Langa and features a prologue from Mandela's widow, Graca Machel.

    In 1994, Mandela became the first president of democratic South Africa and in his five years in office, he managed to transform a nation that had been divided by centuries of colonialism and apartheid into a fully functioning democracy where everyone was considered equal.

    Mandela kept many detailed notes during his time in charge and this fascinating book reveals how he and his team changed SA for the better. It shows all of the challenges he had to overcome in his quest to achieve his dream of a liberated South Africa.
  • Elizabeth's Rival - Hardback - 9781782437499 - Nicola Tallis
    ELRV
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    Nicola Tallis unveils the story of Lettice Knollys, one of the most prominent women of the Elizabethan era.

    Cousin to Elizabeth I (and also quite likely to be an illegitimate granddaughter of Henry VIII), Lettice had a life full of both dizzying highs and dreadful lows. She was a darling of the court who became embroiled in a love triangle with Robert Dudley and Elizabeth I.

    She was plagued by scandals of both affairs and murder and eventually lost a husband and son to the executioner's axe. Based on meticulous research, this book looks at the impact Lettice had on the period and her role in some of its defining events.
  • TCKG
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    Charles Spencer's thrilling sequel to Killer of the King tells an old story with new eyes as it recalls the manhunt for Charles II that followed the rebellion that spurred his father's beheading in 1649.

    A true story packed with action and adventure, Spencer has thoroughly researched the events and uses Samuel Pepys account to reveal what happened.

    He explains how Charles relied on a variety of hiding places to hide Catholics from lethal persecution while on the run from Oliver Cromwell's armies and how in the 1650s, they returned the favour by saving his life...
  • QCAW
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    Queens of the Conquest is the first in a series of books that finds popular historical author Alison Weir telling the story of England's medieval queens.

    Beginning with Matilda of Flanders, who supported William the Conquerer in his invasion of England in 1066 and ending with Empress Maud's turbulent reign, this book reveals the five Norman queens to be hugely influential figures in history. It also reveals how their lives were interconnected...

    Packed with tragedy, drama and moments of comedy, this book touches on subjects ranging from love to murder and war to betrayal. It's a fascinating page-turner that reveals all about the lives of England's queens after the Norman Conquest.
  • FTEH
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    A companion to the brilliant Channel 4 series of the same name, The Freedom Trails: Escaping Hitler tells the incredible story of some of the brave individuals who managed to escape Nazi Germany.

    Over 5,000 British, Commonwealth and American servicemen made the journey over the Pyrenees, the Slovenian mountains and the Italian alps and many died en route. However, the brave men and women of the resistance still managed to defy the odds and keep the routes open.

    Among those you'll read about are Blondie Haslar, the leader of the Cockleshell Heroes, US airman Chuck Yaeger (whose story was retold in The Right Stuff) and Andree de Jongh, a young woman who risked her life to smuggle men through occupied France and survived being sent to two concentration camps.

    Based on in-depth research and interviews with survivors as well as his own experiences walking the trails, broadcaster and former Royal Marine Monty Halls book is dramatic and gripping from first page to last.
  • RCHD
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    Written by historian Chris Skidmore, Richard III reveals how the last Plantagenet king was one of the most significant figures from medieval times and how his actions and behaviour underlined the true nature of power during this era.

    Richard III is one of the most famous and controversial monarchs of all time. A loyal and dedicated nobleman, his personality was forged by experiences in exile and in combat. He was ambitious and successful and stunned the nation when he seized the throne and disinherited his nephews following the death of his brother, Edward IV.

    His two-year reign would end up being tumultuous and terrifying, culminating in his death on the battlefield at Bosworth. This extensively researched biography highlights Richard III as his contemporaries knew him...
  • TOAH
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    On 8 November, 1923, Adolf Hitler stormed into a beer hall in Munich, fired his pistol in the air and declared the start of a revolution.

    Seventeen hours later and he was on the run from the police, with his career seemingly in tatters. All that remained of his bold move was a trail of destruction... Written by historian David King, this is the true story of the monumental criminal proceeding that followed as Hitler and nine other suspects were charged with high treason.

    While reporters from all over the world came to witness the trial, things clicked into place for Hitler and he ended up hailing the fiasco of the beer hall putsch as a victory for the fledgling Nazi Party. This trial thrust Hitler into the limelight and provided him and set him on his journey to power.

    Using trial transcripts, police files and a host of sources, including 500 documents recently discovered from the Landsberg Prison record office, King's The Trial of Adolf Hitler explains how this failure of the justice system changed the world forever.
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    Tying in with the second series of ITV's hit drama series, Victoria, this book provides an in-depth look at the passionate and complicated relationship the Queen embarked on with Prince Albert.

    Both Victoria and Albert were both strong-willed and although they were brought together by an arranged marriage, this did not dampen the spark between them. They were first cousins but could not have had more different personalities - she was impulsive and emotional while he was cautious and logical. They were a very successful couple and this book looks at the differences between their public persona and their private lives.

    Based on the couple's letters and diaries, this book provides a tantalising glimpse into the life of the couple . It's full of rich historical detail and gives insight into this incredible relationship.

    There are also character profiles, interviews with actors and an overview of the production, costumes and props of the show.
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    Judith Flanders, an acclaimed social historian, looks over the history of Christmas in this cracking book. She reveals how the holiday has always mainly been about food, drink, revelry and presents.

    Among the jaw-dropping facts you'll learn are the reasons why people kiss under mistletoe, how Rudolph came to pull Santa's sleigh and how Coca Cola influenced the aesthetic.

    Perfect for anyone who loves all things Christmassy, this book also reveals when Christmas wrapping paper was first introduced (it's later than you think!) and that Hogmanay actually originates from France!
  • WEWR
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    Mixing heart-stopping action with powerful and poignant insights into the reality of war, MP Johnny Mercer reveals all about his journey from young commando to a captain with one of the most pressurised and skilled jobs in the army.

    Having served in the army for 12 years, Joint Fires Controller Johnny was tasked with the job of bringing down artillery and air strikes in close proximity to his own troops on his third tour of Afghanistan. He was based in an area riddled with Taliban leaders and faced danger with every patrol. He was determined to protect his men, but then one morning everything changed...

    In his autobiography, Johnny looks back on his commando training and transports you right into the heat, blood and chaos of battle. With brutal and unflinching honesty, he describes what it feels like to risk your life every day and the painful process of watching friends die. He also recalls the way he took the fight back to the enemy with a relentless efficiency that cost him personally.

    When he arrived back in the UK, Johnny was shocked by the lack of care available for veterans and their families and vowed to run for Parliament in the hope that he could make a difference.
  • COXJ
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    Jo Cox was a daughter, mother, wife, sister, MP, humanitarian and activist who believed in the power of community and cared for so many others - especially those less fortunate than her.

    Her murder in 2016 shook the nation and in the aftermath of her death, her husband Brendan urged the general public to remember what she stood for during her life rather than the way she died.

    This poignant memoir looks back at all the good things Jo did during her life and the successful campaigns she ran. Brendan also looks to the future and explains the ways in which he plans to honour her legacy by continuing to push for a more inclusive and positive society.

    The publication of this book coincides with the launch of greatgettogether.org, an event that finds communities coming together to celebrate all the things they have in common.
  • KHWD
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    Katherine Howard was Henry VIII's Fifth Queen and this biography provides an in-depth look at her life right up until her beheading in 1542 for crimes of adultery and treason - one of the biggest scandals of the Tudor era.

    Having first come to court as a young girl of 14 years old, Katherine's fate was sealed from an early age. This book looks beyond the traditional story of her sexual exploits before she married the king and instead reveals a life blighted by child abuse, family ambition, religious conflict and political and sexual intrigue.

    Revealing Katherine as a bright and intelligent woman who tried to be a good wife to Henry, the book reveals how she was really no more than a child in a man's world - and the tragic victim of those who held positions of authority over her.