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Discover the true stories of the people who run the world and those who have fought for it in our extensive range of political, military and historical biographies and autobiographies. Our biographies will make a fantastic present for those interested in history and other non-fiction!

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Political, Military & Historical Biographies

  • In My Life - Alan Johnson

    Alan Johnson

    Product Code: AJML
    Hardback
    (1)
    Hand-picked favourites
    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.
    • £1.00
    • RRP £16.99
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  • Some Sunny Day

    Product Code: SSDY
    Hardback
    Hand-picked favourites
    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.
    • £3.00
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  • Dadland

    Keggie Carew

    Product Code: CSCTC
    Hardback
    Hand-picked favourites
    Winner of the Costa Biography Award 2016, Keggie Carew's Dadland is a story of war and grief, jealousy and madness and mischief and fierce love.

    A poignant exploration of what becomes of us as we grow old, it is full of Keggie's memories of her rather unorthodox but charming father. As her father Tom begins to lose his memory, Keggie tries to unravel his story but finds out so many surprising secrets.

    She learns that Tom Carew was a maverick, a left-handed stutterer and a law unto himself. He was also part of an elite SEO unit who was parachuted behind enemy lines to raise guerilla resistance in France, Burma and during the Second World War - and that was just the beginning...

    Dadland takes in elements of peace and war and then follows a painful path into dementia. It's a heartbreaking, powerful and perfectly poignant true story about an extraordinary man.
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  • The Volunteer

    Jack Fairweather

    Product Code: CDBKU
    Paperback
    SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD 'Totally gripping'-- Simon Sebag Montefiore 'Pilecki is perhaps one of the greatest unsung heroes of the second world war ... this insightful book is likely to be the definitive version of this extraordinary life' -- Economist Would you sacrifice yourself to save thousands of others? In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interned at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich. His mission was to report on Nazi crimes and raise a secret army to stage an uprising. The name of the detention centre -- Auschwitz. It was only after arriving at the camp that he started to discover the Nazi's terrifying plans. Over the next two and half years, Witold forged an underground army that smuggled evidence of Nazi atrocities out of Auschwitz. His reports from the camp were to shape the Allies response to the Holocaust - yet his story was all but forgotten for decades. This is the first major account to draw on unpublished family papers, newly released archival documents and exclusive interviews with surviving resistance fighters to show how he brought the fight to the Nazis at the heart of their evil designs. The result is an enthralling story of resistance and heroism against the most horrific circumstances, and one man's attempt to change the course of history.
    • £7.19
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  • First Man In

    Ant Middleton

    Product Code: BUKIX
    Paperback
    Former Special Boat Service (SBS) sniper Ant Middleton tells his incredible life story in this exhilarating and jaw-dropping autobiography.

    He offers an insight into Special Forces training and how you're programmed to understand failure is not an option. He also talks about the lessons he's learned and the personal tragedies he's suffered along the way.
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  • Break Point

    Ollie Ollerton

    Product Code: CDBAX
    Paperback
    THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER OLLIE OLLERTON CO-HOSTS SAS: WHO DARES WINS ALONGSIDE ANT MIDDLETON, JASON FOX and MARK BILLINGHAM. THIS IS HIS INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY Where is your break point? Is it here? Facing the gruelling SAS selection process on one leg, with a busted ankle and the finish line nowhere in sight? Or here? Under heavy fire from armed kidnappers while protecting journalists en route to Baghdad. Or is it here? At the bottom of a bottle, with a family in pieces, unable to adapt to a civilian lifestyle, yearning for a warzone? Ex-Special Forces soldier and star of TV's SAS: Who Dares Wins, Ollie Ollerton has faced many break points in his life and now he tells us the vital lessons he has learnt. His incredible story features hardened criminals, high-speed car chases, counter-terrorism and humanitarian heroics - freeing children from a trafficking ring in Thailand. Ollie has faced break points in his personal life too, surviving a freak childhood attack, run-ins with the law as a teenager rebelling against a broken home, his self-destructive battles with alcohol and drug addiction, and his struggles with anxiety and depression. His final redemption as an entrepreneur and mental health charity ambassador has seen him overcome adversity to build a new and better life. 'Everyone has the capacity for incredible achievement, because it's only when it's crunch time, when you're down to your last bullet - when you're at break point - that you find out who you really are.'
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  • Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

    Elena Favilli

    Product Code: AXDIA
    Hardback 7 years +
    (5)
    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 was shortlisted for 2018's British Book Award Children's Book of the Year.
    • £18.00
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  • The Spy and the Traitor

    Ben MacIntyre

    Product Code: BXIOU
    Paperback
    *Shortlisted for the 2018 Ballie Gifford Prize* 'THE BEST TRUE SPY STORY I HAVE EVER READ' JOHN LE CARRE A thrilling Cold War story about a KGB double agent, by one of Britain's greatest historians On a warm July evening in 1985, a middle-aged man stood on the pavement of a busy avenue in the heart of Moscow, holding a plastic carrier bag. In his grey suit and tie, he looked like any other Soviet citizen. The bag alone was mildly conspicuous, printed with the red logo of Safeway, the British supermarket. The man was a spy. A senior KGB officer, for more than a decade he had supplied his British spymasters with a stream of priceless secrets from deep within the Soviet intelligence machine. No spy had done more to damage the KGB. The Safeway bag was a signal: to activate his escape plan to be smuggled out of Soviet Russia. So began one of the boldest and most extraordinary episodes in the history of spying. Ben Macintyre reveals a tale of espionage, betrayal and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War forever...
    • £8.69
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  • Take Six Girls

    Laura Thompson

    Product Code: AUPWP
    Paperback
    The eldest was a razor-sharp novelist of upper-class manners; the second was loved by John Betjeman; the third was a fascist who married Oswald Mosley; the fourth idolized Hitler and shot herself in the head when Britain declared war on Germany; the fifth was a member of the American Communist Party; the sixth became Duchess of Devonshire. They were the Mitford sisters: Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica and Deborah. Born into country-house privilege in the early years of the 20th century, they became prominent as 'bright young things' in the high society of interwar London. Then, as the shadows crept over 1930s Europe, the stark - and very public - differences in their outlooks came to symbolize the political polarities of a dangerous decade. The intertwined stories of their stylish and scandalous lives - recounted in masterly fashion by Laura Thompson - hold up a revelatory mirror to upper-class English life before and after WWII.
    • £8.39
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  • Battle Scars

    Jason Fox

    Product Code: BXHRD
    Paperback
    Jason Fox, the star of Channel 4's SAS: Who Dares Win and The Real Narcos, reveals what really happens at (and after!) war with Battle Scars.

    All of the events depicted in this book took place during the last decade (Jason's time serving as an elite operator for the SBS) but the names and locations have been redacted to protect the security of all involved.

    He reveals all about the gunfights, daring escapes and hostage rescues and then evaluates the psychological devastation these experiences have contributed to. It's a powerful account of bravery and superhuman courage both on and away from a war zone.
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  • The Diary of a Young Girl

    Anne Frank

    Product Code: AELVP
    Paperback
    This is the 70th Anniversary Edition. In the summer of 1942, fleeing the horrors of the Nazi occupation, Anne Frank and her family were forced into hiding in the back of an Amsterdam warehouse. Aged thirteen when she went into the secret annexe, Anne kept a diary in which she confided her innermost thoughts and feelings, movingly revealing how the eight people living under these extraordinary conditions coped with the daily threat of discovery and death, being cut off from the outside world, petty misunderstandings and the unbearable strain of living like prisoners. An intimate record of tension and struggle, adolescence and confinement, anger and heartbreak, this is the definitive edition of the diary of Anne Frank.
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  • The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz

    Jeremy Dronfield

    Product Code: BZHTM
    Paperback
    Pre-order the inspiring true story of a father and son's fight to stay together and survive the Holocaust, for anyone captivated by The Choice and The Tattooist of Auschwitz. 'An emotionally devastating story of courage - and survival' i Paper 'Extraordinary' Observer _______ Where there is family, there is hope . . . Vienna, 1930s. The Kleinmann family live a simple, ordinary life. Gustav works as a furniture upholsterer while Tini keeps their modest apartment. Their greatest joy is their children: Fritz, Edith, Herta and Kurt. But after the Nazis annex Austria, the Kleinmanns' world rapidly shifts before their eyes. Neighbours turn on them, the business is seized, as the threat to the family becomes ever greater. Gustav and Fritz are among the first to be taken. Nazi police send the pair to Buchenwald in Germany, the beginning of an unimaginable ordeal. Over the months of suffering that follow, there is one constant that keeps them alive: the love between father and son. Then, they discover that Gustav will be transferred to Auschwitz, a certain death sentence, and Fritz is faced with a choice: let his father to die alone, or join him... Based on Gustav's secret diary and meticulous archival research, this book tells the Kleinemanns' story for the first time - a story of love and courage in the face of unparalleled horrors. The Boy Who Followed His Father Into Auschwitz is a reminder of the worst and the best of humanity, of the strength of family ties and the human spirit.
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  • Gentleman Jack

    Katy Derbyshire

    Product Code: BUMQW
    Paperback
    The extraordinary life of history's first modern lesbian who inspired the television series Gentleman Jack Anne Lister's journals were so shocking that the first person to crack their secret code hid them behind a fake panel in his ancestral home. Anne Lister was a Regency landowner, an intrepid world traveller ... and an unabashed lover of other women. In this bold new biography, prizewinning author Angela Steidele uses the diaries to create a portrait of Anne Lister as we've never seen her before: a woman in some ways very much of her time and in others far ahead of it. Anne Lister recorded everything from the most intimate details of her numerous liaisons through to her plans to make her fortune by exploiting the coal seams under her family estate in Halifax and her reaction to the Peterloo massacre. She conducted a love life of labyrinthine complexity, all while searching for a girlfriend who could provide her with both financial security and true love. Anne Lister's rich and unconventional life is now the subject of the major BBC TV drama series Gentleman Jack.
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  • William I (Penguin Monarchs)

    Marc Morris

    Product Code: BPZUO
    Paperback
    Part of the Penguin Monarchs series: short, fresh, expert accounts of England's rulers - now in paperback On Christmas Day 1066, William, duke of Normandy was crowned in Westminster, the first Norman king of England. It was a disaster: soldiers outside, thinking shouts of acclamation were treachery, torched the surrounding buildings. To later chroniclers, it was an omen of the catastrophes to come. During the reign of William the Conqueror, England experienced greater and more seismic change than at any point before or since. Marc Morris's concise and gripping biography sifts through the sources of the time to give a fresh view of the man who changed England more than any other, as old ruling elites were swept away, enemies at home and abroad (including those in his closest family) were crushed, swathes of the country were devastated and the map of the nation itself was redrawn, giving greater power than ever to the king. When, towards the end of his reign, William undertook a great survey of his new lands, his subjects compared it to the last judgement of God, the Domesday Book. England had been transformed forever.
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  • William III & Mary II (Penguin Monarchs)

    Jonathan Keates

    Product Code: BPZUN
    Paperback
    The acclaimed Penguin Monarchs series: short, fresh, expert accounts of England's rulers - now in paperback William III (1689-1702) & Mary II (1689-94) (Britain's only ever 'joint monarchs') changed the course of the entire country's history, coming to power through a coup (which involved Mary betraying her own father), reestablishing parliament on a new footing and, through commiting Britain to fighting France, initiating an immensely long period of warfare and colonial expansion. Jonathan Keates' wonderful book makes both monarchs vivid, the cold, shrewd 'Dutch' William and the shortlived Mary, whose life and death inspired Purcell to write some of his greatest music.
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  • Henry II (Penguin Monarchs)

    Richard Barber

    Product Code: BPYZT
    Paperback
    The acclaimed Penguin Monarchs series: short, fresh, expert accounts of England's rulers - now in paperback Henry II (1154-89) through a series of astonishing dynastic coups became the ruler of an enormous European empire. One of the most dynamic, restless and clever men ever to rule England, he was brought down both by his catastrophic relationship with his archbishop Thomas Becket and his debilitating arguments with his sons, most importantly the future Richard I and King John. His empire may have ultimately collapsed, but in Richard Barber's vivid and sympathetic account the reader can see why Henry II left such a compelling impression on his contemporaries. Richard Barber has written for Penguin The Penguin Guide to Medieval Europe, The Holy Grail and Edward III and the Triumph of England. He is a major figure in medieval studies, both as a writer and as a publisher.
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  • I am Malala

    Malala Yousafzai

    Product Code: APGRB
    Paperback
    *Winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize* In 2009 Malala Yousafzai began writing a blog on BBC Urdu about life in the Swat Valley as the Taliban gained control, at times banning girls from attending school. When her identity was discovered, Malala began to appear in both Pakistani and international media, advocating the freedom to pursue education for all. In October 2011, gunmen boarded Malala's school bus and shot her in the face, a bullet passing through her head and into her shoulder. Remarkably, Malala survived the shooting. At a very young age, Malala Yousafzai has become a worldwide symbol of courage and hope. Her shooting has sparked a wave of solidarity across Pakistan, not to mention globally, for the right to education, freedom from terror and female emancipation.
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  • The Churchill Factor

    Boris Johnson

    Product Code: AOIER
    Paperback
    'The must-read biography of the year.' Evening Standard 'He writes with gusto...the result is a book that is never boring, genuinely clever ...this book sizzles.' The Times 'The point of the Churchill Factor is that one man can make all the difference.' On the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of Winston Churchill's death, and written in conjunction with the Churchill Estate, Boris Johnson explores what makes up the 'Churchill Factor' - the singular brilliance of one of the most important leaders of the twentieth century. Taking on the myths and misconceptions along with the outsized reality, he portrays - with characteristic wit and passion - a man of multiple contradictions, contagious bravery, breath-taking eloquence, matchless strategizing, and deep humanity. Fearless on the battlefield, Churchill had to be ordered by the King to stay out of action on D-Day; he embraced large-scale strategic bombing, yet hated the destruction of war and scorned politicians who had not experienced its horrors. He was a celebrated journalist, a great orator and won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was famous for his ability to combine wining and dining with many late nights of crucial wartime decision-making. His open-mindedness made him a pioneer in health care, education, and social welfare, though he remained incorrigibly politically incorrect. Most of all, as Boris Johnson says, 'Churchill is the resounding human rebuttal to all who think history is the story of vast and impersonal economic forces'. The Churchill Factor is a book to be enjoyed not only by anyone interested in history: it is essential reading for anyone who wants to know what makes a great leader.
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  • Mary Queen of Scots

    Angela Royston

    Product Code: CDBEP
    Paperback
    Mary Queen of Scots is perhaps the most romantic and tragic figure in British history. Was her tragic life a product of bad luck, bad advice, or ambition? Destined to marry the Dauphin of France and reign as his queen, his early death changed Mary's life. As claimant then in France, England and Scotland, there are many mysteries and unanswered questions in the tragedies that befell her. This fascinating book looks at Mary Queen of Scot's life and death. Angela Royston examines Mary's early life as the Infant Queen before her childhood in France, moving onto her time in Scotland and her scandalous marriage to Lord Darnley, and Mary's imprisonment and execution after being charged with treason. A must for any student of history or visitor to England, this revised edition of a Pitkin classic is filled with colour photographs and reproductions of historical artworks and artefacts to illuminate the life of Mary Queen of Scots.
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  • The Skripal Files

    Mark Urban

    Product Code: BZPJC
    Paperback
    'A scrupulous piece of reporting, necessary, timely and very sobering' John Le Carre A Sunday Times Best Book of 2018 Agent. Prisoner. Target. Who is Sergei Skripal? 4 March 2018, Salisbury, England. A man and his daughter are found slumped on a bench, poisoned by the deadly nerve agent Novichok. He was a Russian national that became a MI6 spy. Russia are publicly accused of carrying out the attack by the British government, sparking a diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West. Then two innocent people find a discarded perfume bottle used in the attack and one of them, Dawn Sturgess, tragically dies. It is now a murder investigation. How exactly did we get here? Based on interviews with Sergei before his poisoning, Mark Urban explains the most shocking espionage incident in a decade. Describing precisely how an otherwise loyal Russian intelligence officer was turned into an agent by MI6, how Skripal was betrayed so that he found himself in a Siberian prison, and why, years later, was he was targeted for assassination.
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  • Richard I (Penguin Monarchs)

    Thomas Asbridge

    Product Code: BWLYN
    Paperback
    Richard I's reign is both controversial and seemingly contradictory. One of England's most famous medieval monarchs and a potent symbol of national identity, he barely spent six months on English soil during a ten-year reign and spoke French as his first language. Contemporaries dubbed him the 'Lionheart', reflecting a carefully cultivated reputation for bravery, prowess and knightly virtue, but this supposed paragon of chivalry butchered close to 3,000 prisoners in cold blood on a single day. And, though revered as Christian Europe's greatest crusader, his grand campaign to the Holy Land failed to recover the city of Jerusalem from Islam. Seeking to reconcile this conflicting evidence, Thomas Asbridge's incisive reappraisal of Richard I's career questions whether the Lionheart really did neglect his kingdom, considers why he devoted himself to the cause of holy war and asks how the memory of his life came to be interwoven with myth. Richard emerges as a formidable warrior-king, possessed of martial genius and a cultured intellect, yet burdened by the legacy of his dysfunctional dynasty and obsessed with the pursuit of honour and renown.
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  • George I (Penguin Monarchs)

    Tim Blanning

    Product Code: BWLEA
    Paperback
    George I was not the most charismatic of the Hanoverian monarchs to have reigned in England but he was probably the most important. He was certainly the luckiest. Born the youngest son of a landless German duke, he was taken by repeated strokes of good fortune to become, first the ruler of a major state in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and then the sovereign of three kingdoms (England, Ireland and Scotland). In these new dominions he presided over the transition from the political turmoil of the seventeenth century to the calm stability of the next. Fifty-four years old when he arrived in London in 1714, he was a battle-hardened veteran who had fought with distinction against the Turks in the East and the French in the West. Now in charge of a major European power, he put his long experience and deep knowledge of international affairs to good use in promoting the interests of both Hanover and Great Britain. When he died, his legacy was order and prosperity at home and power and prestige abroad. Disagreeable he may have been, especially in his brutal treatment of his family, but he was also tough, determined and effective. Tim Blanning's incisive short biography gives full attention to George's career as a German prince and shows how it both helped and hindered his new role as the first Hanoverian King of England.
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  • Edward II (Penguin Monarchs)

    Christopher Given-Wilson

    Product Code: BWLYD
    Paperback
    The reign of Edward II (1307-27) was a serious of total disasters, making him unsuccessful to an extent almost without equal. At some level Edward simply did not inspire trust or respect. He failed to be kingly, preferring ditching and cart-racing to jousting and falconry. He relied on favourites and seemed to alienate even the most natural supporters of the throne. His reign was convulsed by rebellion and attempts to reform the king's behaviour. In an attempt to throw off the spectre of his regal, soldierly father, Edward I, he invaded Scotland and suffered catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn. After twenty ruinous years, betrayed and abandoned by most of his nobles and by his wife and her lover, Edward was imprisoned in Berkeley Castle where he was murdered. Christopher Given-Wilson's remarkable book gives a glimpse into the abyss: the terrors of kingship - where royal authority is based around strict succession by the eldest son, what happens when that eldest son is incapable of doing the job?
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  • Elizabeth I (Penguin Monarchs)

    Helen Castor

    Product Code: BWLDV
    Paperback
    Part of the Penguin Monarchs series: short, fresh, expert accounts of England's rulers in a collectible format In the popular imagination, as in her portraits, Elizabeth I is the image of monarchical power. The Virgin Queen ruled over a Golden Age: the Spanish Armada was defeated; English explorers reached the ends of the earth; a new Church of England rose from the ashes of past conflict; the English Renaissance bloomed in the genius of Shakespeare, Spenser and Sidney. But the image is also armour. In this illuminating account of Elizabeth's reign, Helen Castor shows how England's iconic queen was shaped by profound and enduring insecurity-an insecurity which was both a matter of practical political reality and personal psychology. From her precarious upbringing at the whim of a brutal, capricious father and her perilous accession after his death, to the religious division that marred her state and the failure to marry that threatened her line, Elizabeth lived under constant threat. But, facing down her enemies with a compellingly inscrutable public persona, the last and greatest of the Tudor monarchs would become a timeless, fearless queen.

Become acquainted with the most well-known and important individuals in the world in our range of political, military and historical biographies and autobiographies. Whether you want to know about life behind closed doors at Downing Street or how it feels to run into battle, you’ll find the best biographies and autobiographies in our range.

Fascinating life stories

From kings and queen to prime ministers, military leaders and beyond, our range is filled to the brim with fascinating and eye-opening accounts and memoirs of the lives of the nation’s most widely recognised individuals.

Unearth tales of the past

These biographies and autobiographies cover some of the most interesting stories and events from the past. If you’re a history buff you’ll love exploring these fascinating reads.

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