books monthly october 2017 nonfiction

Fifty stunning new  nonfiction books from Pen and Sword, Amberley, RPS and Abrams and Chronicle, plus a rant about caravans!

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Atlanta Bartlett & Dave Coote: Pale and Interesting

Published by RPS 11th July 2017

In Pale & Interesting, stylist Atlanta Bartlett and designer Dave Coote reveal their passion for decorating with a muted palette of subtle shades, resulting in a stylish yet comfortable home. Atlanta and Dave start by taking a look at the design philosophy behind the look, breaking it down into three simple mantras: Keep it Simple, Keep it Relaxed and Keep it Real. Next, in Putting It All Together, they map out all the key elements of the Pale & Interesting look: Shades of Pale; Texture & Form; Mixing it Up; Waste Not, Want Not and Collecting. Finally, in The Rooms, they take us on a tour throughout the home, revealing how easy and enjoyable it is to live with chalky pastels, earthy natural tones, understated neutrals and muted vintage shades. They also demonstrate how these soothing shades can provide the perfect (and surprisingly practical) backdrop to busy family life. Pale & Interesting shows how to tap into the look and draw on your own individual taste to create a fresh, light and airy home that’s a joy to live in, every single day.

Normally these super RPS books feature a variety of homes showing examples of styles, palettes and designs to help you transform your own home - in this book, Atlanta Bartlett and Dave Coote concentrate their efforts and comments on what may or may not be their own home. A different look at how choice of palette and its proper application can make all the difference. It's a joy to be able to revel in the sumptous photographs of room interiors, and RPS's contribution to the literature of home design is both legendary and inspirational. A fantastic treat for home owners searching for ideas.


Mark & Sally Bailey: Recycled Home

Published by RPS 10th October 2017


In this beautiful book, Mark and Sally Bailey of Baileys Home Store share their passion for rescued, repaired, reused and recycled pieces. The look they love is simple, stripped back and stylish, focusing on the integrity of the materials and surface quality – chipped paint revealing the layers beneath, combinations of rough textures with clean lines or old materials with sleek stainless steel or concrete. The book begins by taking a look at the many different Elements of the Baileys’ style including Textures, Storage, Walls & Floors, Lighting and Display. Following on, a section on Rooms shows how well the look can work throughout the home, including offices and children’s rooms. Discover the untapped potential of rescued or repaired objects with Recycled Home.


There's an hilarious programme on BBC1 in the afternoons in which Sarah Moore, a committed recycler, takes three useless objects and recycles them, something like making a pair of pyjamas from an old pallet board. In many cases, the people she commissions to do some of the work for her simply take the piss, especially the metal workers; and Jay Blades can't resist a stripe of pastel coloured paint on a sideboard top or a random chair leg. Like I say, it's hilarious. But this super book by Sally Bailey is testament to the fact that recycling is a good thing, and what she achieves is nothing short of brilliant. There are some distressed pieces, which often works quite well, and her attitude to recycling isn't a mile away from Sarah's, but the results are altogether more inspirational and acceptable. A beautifu book to look at in spare moments or when you seek inspiration...

Ros Byam Shaw: Perfect English Farmhouse

Published by RPS 10th October 2017

Farmhouse is a word that conjures an array of appealing associations: fresh eggs and baby lambs, chunky beams and flagged floors, cream teas and harvest suppers, a place of welcome and plenty. With their generous kitchens and meandering layout, the architectural informality of the farmhouse suits modern lifestyles. Through a series of case studies, Perfect English Farmhouse explores contemporary farmhouse style. The book is divided into chapters according to style: Organic, Traditional, Farm Fresh, No Frills and Funky, and at the end of each chapter a spread highlights the key elements of that particular decorative look. There is also a comprehensive listing of suppliers to help readers create their very own perfect farmhouse style.

I have been in some English farmhouses in the past - and they all left a lot to be desired in terms of cleanliness and tidiness. Ros Shaw's book proves that with a little tidying and a lot of cleaning, there's a style there that many people aspire to, and the book showcases quite a few remarkable examples. Sumptuous!


Liz Bauwens & Alexandra Campbell: Thrifty Chic - Interior Style On A Budget

Published by Cico Books 14th November 2017

Learn how to reuse, recycle, restyle, restore, and revamp your old furnishings to create a stylish and unique home, without spending a fortune! Whether you are on a tight budget, or simply want to give your existing home a new look, Thrifty Chic provides a treasure trove of ideas at your fingertips. Divided into 7 chapters, Thrifty Chic will take you through everything you need to know to jazz-up your home. Starting with “Elements of Design”, you will learn how to utilise fabric, paint, windows, frames, lighting and more, to make the most of your environment. Then, room by room, each chapter will show you how best to pull together mismatched items into cohesive schemes, how to upcycle furniture and how to introduce some clever ideas for storage. You will learn how to create certain styles in your home, from French-inspired antique chic, to the cosmopolitan eclectic and the steel-finished urban cutting-edge. You will even gain insider tips on what to look for at antique markets and in thrift stores, and how to care for and restore your bargain purchases. Packed full of irresistible designs, and with a final chapter detailing how to do the projects yourself, there will be no stopping you from creating your perfect habitat.

Anything that saves money whilst still achieving a desired look or feel when it comes to hard and soft furnishings isOK by me. Liz and Alexandra's attitude to recycling is identical to mine - you have to be certain you can achieve the look that you want before you tackle something that's maybe going to take centre stage in your home. The practical guides in the last chapter are second to none. A brilliant book!






Book of the Month - Stephen Browning: Norfolk Coast In The Great War

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd August 2017

Norfolk Coast in the Great War focuses on the trials and joys, the achievements and disappointments, the humour and the sadness of every-day life in a region living on the edge of the country at the heart of the Kings vast Empire. Everyone from the folk who went off to fight, to scouts and schoolchildren, had a role to play in this coastline that had, since the time of the Spanish Armada, been considered a likely place for an enemy invasion. There were days of great tension, even terror, such as on the day of the first bombardment of the coast by the German Navy, and the day of Zeppelin attacks and dog fights out to sea when the flimsy planes of a fledgling RAF took on the Red Baron and his comrades. This unique study is based largely on original archive material, much of it never before published in book form. It is accompanied by many rare and fascinating photographs that show the day-to-day life of the people who lived in the many settlements on the coast and just inland. In addition, this book also gives an itinerary for a walk along the 46 mile stretch of the coast from Hunstanton to Cromer, taking in many of the places discussed and giving views that are exactly the same as they were 100 years ago.

This brilliant seriescomes right to my door with a look at the North Norfolk coast before moving down the east coast to Yarmouth. An excellent narrative and some brilliant photos particularly of Sheringham, my home town, from the WW1 years, which I'd never seen before, make this a vital addition to the series.  


Martyn Johnson: What's Tha Up To This Time? More Memoirs of a Sheffield Bobby

Published by Pen and Sword 30th July 2017

Martyn Johnson was born at Darfield, Barnsley the son of a coal miner. Leaving school at the age of fifteen, his first job was as a blacksmith. His work changed dramatically four years later when he joined the Sheffield City Police Force where he served as a 'beat bobby' until 1969. A two year spell in CID followed but missing grassroots policing, he returned to the beat for a further seven years. Passionate about local history, Martyn is a well-known metal detector and has appeared on many BBC Radio Sheffield programmes talking about his hobby. A long time resident of Wentworth village, he also assisted and advised Catherine Bailey when she was researching her best selling book, Black Diamonds.


Sometimes the front line bobbies' accounts of what they had to deal with during the course of their duties is more interesting than what goes on in TV adaptations of police dramas.Martyn Johnson's second collection of memoirs is equally as entertaining as his first, and will delight anyone who reads it.

Paul Knight: Liverpool Territorials In The Great War

Published by Pen and Sword 1st November 2016

The Territorial Force is the forgotten army of the First World War. Between the pre-war Regular Army, which attempted to stem the German advance in 1914, and the New Armies who took to the field with such disastrous consequences on the Somme in 1916, stood the Territorial Army. Liverpool's Territorials could be found on the Western Front before the famous Christmas truce of 1914, fighting in Gallipoli, and supporting the Canadians. Throughout 1916 and 1917, they succeeded and failed in some of the most brutal battles of the war. During the German 1918 Spring Offensive, Liverpool Territorials in the 55th (West Lancashire) Division halted the German advance, effectively ending Germany's final bid to win the war. Amazingly, the Territorials were never intended, trained or equipped for overseas service; their role was to defend the UK mainland against invasion. Yet men across Liverpool's diverse communities volunteered for the Territorials in their thousands, forming the core of two divisions during the war. Formed in 1908, but building on the Volunteer tradition of the 1850s, the Territorials remain in Liverpool to this day.Renamed the Army Reserve, they are still training and volunteering for operations. Offering a fresh, integrated perspective on the Territorial Army during the First World War, this is the remarkable story of the Liverpool Territorials.


The idea that joining the Territorial Army might bring you into such a conflict as the first world war is something that would terrify most people. At least if you join the regular army you know what you are signing up to. This account of the Liverpool Territorials and their aazing exploits during WW1 is not unique, except to the people of Liverpool and the failies whose sons left for war; but it does make an amazing story...


Glynis Cooper: City of Manchester In The Great War

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd August 2017

The war touched almost every aspect of life on the Home Front, and those who were left behind suffered terribly. This book meticulously explores the problems, hardships and grief faced by Manchesters people and takes a detailed look the unfortunate areas that were hit the hardest. Throughout Britain, industry declined and wages suffered; prices of food and fuel rose sharply; essential foodstuffs and coal were hoarded for the black market; soldiers families doubled up with others, which caused severe overcrowding; housing and sanitation improvements ceased; there were epidemics of measles, chicken pox, influenza and TB; German U-boats tried to prevent supplies reaching Britain; and Zeppelin airships attempted to destroy British trade and industry. Manchester City suffered greatly because of its cotton trade, its industrial output, and its proximity to Liverpool, but its citizens were determined not to let the Kaiser win. This book documents how they fought back by living in a twilight world of black outs so that enemy airships would miss their targets; how they accepted emergency rationing of food and coal, and restrictions; and how they worked tirelessly in the nearby cotton mills and munitions factories, and dug for victory on their allotments. Overall, the people of Manchester were united in their grief over the sad loss of life on the fronts. This grief broke across class barriers and saw debutantes and mill girls, alike, take comfort in each other. City of Manchester in the Great War tells the remarkable story of the spirit of a city whose citizens refused to give in, who strived to fight the odds that were stacked against them.


The latest in this fantastic series takes us through the streets of Manchester - for me, it is always the photographs that make these books so interesting, but of course the people of this fine city will revel in the detail contained in the brilliant narrative.

Tim Lynch: Wakefield In The Great War

Published by Pen and Sword 10th August 2017

The Great War saw thousands of Wakefield men enlist in the armed forces, serving in every arm of the services. Wakefield in the Great War tells the story of the men who fought and the families they left behind. This was total war. Volunteers worked tirelessly as nurses in local auxiliary hospitals, cared for Belgian refugees, sent food parcels to prisoners of war, fed soldiers during their long waits at railway stations and stitched sandbags to send to the Front. At nearby country estates, the 'Gorgeous Wrecks' practised manoeuvres at weekend camps. Wakefield's engineering firms set the model for war production from shells to backpacks. Children gathered chestnuts and moss to help the war effort and stood patiently for hours in long queues to feed their families. The prison became home to conscientious objectors and the target for running battles in the street outside so that men had to find ways of sneaking over the walls to get back into jail. Wakefield in the Great War is the untold story of a time that would change the city forever.


Tim Lynch's nostalgic look at Wakefield is a superb testament to the bravery and determination of the people of the town.


Martyn Bowman: Escaping Soldiers and Airmen Of World War 1

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd August 2017

This thrilling new volume from Martin Bowman focusses on British, Canadian, Australian and German soldiers and airmen who were captured during the First World War. Determined that they wouldn t spend the rest of the conflict incarcerated uselessly behind bars, they endeavoured to escape. These are their stories. All aspects of prison life are covered here, and the author examines the various escape tactics that were employed by British soldiers and airmen held in PoW camps all over Germany and Turkey. In order to provide a balanced account, the author has also uncovered stories of German navy and army escapees who attempted to flee from England. Each chapter is preceded by an account which explains the types of camps used in Britain and Germany, the numbers involved, the food, the camp money system for worker prisoners and a general appreciation of the conditions and chronology. First-hand accounts from the prisoners themselves are then woven into the picture, creating an authentic sense of the PoW experience. The emphasis of this unique book is placed on the human story of the main characters, the unparalleled action on the Western Front and the interaction and camaraderie experienced between soldiers and airmen held in prison camps in England, Germany and Turkey during the Second World War.


A magnificent and inspirational collection of stories of POWs, the kind of story you might have found in the Boys' Own Paper and similar story periodicals after the war. Amazing!


Derek Tait: The Great Houdini

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd August 2017

Between 1900 and 1920 Harry Houdini toured Great Britain, extensively visiting many of its major towns and cities. Whilst there, he escaped from jails, jumped from bridges into rivers whilst bound up in chains, performed amazing escapades, tricks and illusions, and delighted everyone who came to see him. Everywhere he performed, he issued challenges to local workers to either make a chest, box or other contraption from which he wouldn't be able to escape. He was always triumphant and his feats amazed his audiences. Many of his shows have long since been forgotten and many towns and cities have no knowledge that he once appeared there this compelling book seeks to remedy that. Houdini was, and remains, the best-known escapologist of all time. At the height of his career, he was the highest paid entertainer in the world. _**The Great Houdini: His British Tours**_ successfully pieces together Houdini's appearances using archive material, old newspaper clippings and extensive research. His friendship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is also documented, along with his involvement with sances and spiritualism. The book gives the most comprehensive account of his time within the UK and brings to life the excitement and thrills of many of his appearances. It contains many photos and adverts from his shows, some of which have not been seen since they were originally published over 100 years ago, and offers an insight into the life of one of the world's greatest entertainers.


I had no idea that Harry Houdini was touring Britain - my only frame of reference being the film starring Tony Curtis. This is a most fascinating account of the man and the people he met and influenced, together with accounts of his tour shows. Superb.


Kevin McCormack: Irish Railways in the 1950s and 1960s

Published by Pen and Sword 30th June 2017

In the 1950s and 1960s the railway system in Ireland became a magnet for enthusiasts from Great Britain who realised that, as on the mainland, a way of life was fast disappearing as diesel traction replaced steam and the size of the rail network across Ireland was shrinking. Much of the interest stemmed from the similarity with the railways in Great Britain. Also, the existence of several narrow gauge systems, two railway-owned tramways and some cross-border operators added to the fascination. This album covers those main line and narrow gauge railways in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland during the 1950s and 1960s, which were photographed in colour and the images used are believed never to have appeared in print before. Although most of the pictures depict individual locomotives or ones hauling trains, the opportunity has been taken to show some of the railway infrastructure of the period as well, since this is of particular interest to railway modellers. There has been a very active preservation movement in Ireland over the years, with many wonderful steam-hauled rail tours being operated that continue to this day, however this book will focus on the normal every day operations.


A stunning collection of full colour photographs, never before seen, of steam railways in Ireland during the 1950s and 1960s.


Emma Lingard: Grimsby Streets

Published by Pen and Sword 30th July 2017

Grimsby Streets is a journey through time, which examines the meaning of many of the towns names and their association with the Danish settlers, through to the Victorian era, and the men who helped develop the town and build its surrounding docks. Names of the great and good that were forgotten until now are explored, as well as some of the many famous people who were born there, and where they lived. The book also covers the many incidents, which occurred on Grimsby's streets, to give a colourful insight into the history of this once famous fishing port and some of the many wonderful buildings that stood in this proud port. Included throughout are a selection of old photographs, some of which have never been published before, which for many folk will give them a reminder of what this town used to be like before change and demolition in the 1960s.


This book is as fascinating as its title suggests, and it is to be hoped that other authors will put together similar books for themany other towns and cities of the UK.


Julian Maxwell Heath: Warfare In Neolithic Europe

Published by Pen and Sword 16th August 2017

The Neolithic ('New Stone Age') marks the time when the prehistoric communities of Europe turned their backs on the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that they had followed for many thousands of years, and instead, became farmers. The significance of this switch from a lifestyle that had been based on the hunting and gathering of wild food resources, to one that involved the growing of crops and raising livestock, cannot be underestimated. Although it was a complex process that varied from place to place, there can be little doubt that it was during the Neolithic that the foundations for the incredibly complex modern societies in which we live today were laid. However, we would be wrong to think that the first farming communities of Europe were in tune with nature and each other, as there is a considerable (and growing) body of archaeological data that is indicative of episodes of warfare between these communities. This evidence should not be taken as proof that warfare was endemic across Neolithic Europe, but it does strongly suggest that it was more common than some scholars have proposed. Furthermore, the words of the seventeenth-century English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, who famously described prehistoric life as 'nasty, brutish, and short', seem rather apt in light of some of the archaeological discoveries from the European Neolithic.


It comes as no surprise to me that the various groups of people who were alive during the neolithic period, were often at war with each other. It was ever thus... and Julian Maxwell Heath's account of their lives is utterly gripping.

Melvyn Jones: South Yorkshire Mining Villages

Published by Pen and Sword 30th July 2017

Over a period of more than 150 years between the late eighteenth century and the 1930s the South Yorkshire rural landscape was transformed by coal mining and the movement of coal. But it was not just the development of collieries, canals and railways that caused this transformation. The population of the coalfield grew at a phenomenal rate and the new mining population, many of them migrants from other parts of the country, had to be housed near to the collieries where they worked. Small residential colonies were built near the new collieries, existing rural villages expanded, new satellite villages were established and completely new mining communities were created, the later ones carefully planned and laid out in the form of geometrically designed estates. This copiously illustrated book explores the history of the physical and social development of these very varied mining communities, drawing on a wide variety of sources. It is the first book to cover this subject and includes topics such as the settlement that was specifically built for miners, the development in one village of a large Welsh-speaking colony, how Earl Fitzwilliam housed his colliers and their families and the views of well-known writers like Fred Kitchen, Roger Dataller and George Orwell on the colliery villages. The book will be of great interest not only to readers living in South Yorkshire but also to the descendants of South Yorkshire miners now living in other parts of the country and elsewhere.


A brilliantly-well written piece of social history, a vital addition to the body of literature regarding the mining industry before its decimation by the conservatives.


Michael Green: Axis Tanks of the Second World War

Published by Pen and Sword 7th August 2017

The German Army used tanks to devastating effect in their Blitzkrieg campaigns during the early years of the Second World War and in the intense defensive battles leading up to final defeat in 1945. It may be a surprise to many that the Japanese Army had more tanks than Nazi Germany in 1938; these included the Type 95 light tank and the Type 89 and 97 medium tanks. Co-belligerents in the Axis Alliance that built their own tanks included Italy, Romania and Hungary. The latter was responsible for the Toldi and Turan light tank series. As can be seen from the descriptions and images in this classic Images of War series work, the Axis powers had drawn on British and, in some cases, French design for their tanks in the period leading up to the Second World War: the Carden-Loyd tankette suspension was used in the Panzer 1 series and the light Italian and Japanese tanks. German engineering talent resulted in the original and ingenious designs of the Panzer II, III and IV series and, later in the War, the Panther Medium and Tiger heavy tanks. This latest work by author and expert Mike Green will fascinate and inform historians, engineers and war gamers.


The latest in Pen and Sword's magnificent Images of War series features the tanks deployed by the Axis countries during the second world war. Amazing photographs!


Stuart A Raymond: Tracing Your Church of England Ancestors

Published by Pen and Sword 10th August 2017

In his latest handbook on the records of the major Christian religions, Stuart Raymond focuses on the Church of England. He identifies the available sources, comments on their strengths and weaknesses and explains how to make the best use of them. The history of the Church of England is covered, from the Reformation in the mid-sixteenth century until the present day. Anyone who has a family connection with the Church of England or a special interest in the local history of the church will find his book to be a mine of practical information and an essential aid for their research. A sequence of short, accessible chapters gives an insight into the relevant records and demonstrates how much fascinating genealogical information can be gleaned from them. After providing a brief history of the Church of England, and a description of its organization, Stuart Raymond explores the wide range of records that researchers can consult. Among them are parish registers, bishops transcripts, marriage licences, churchwardens accounts, vestry minutes, church magazines, tithe records and the records of the ecclesiastical courts and Anglican charities and missions. A wealth of research material is available and this book is the perfect introduction to it.


There are some parish records available for research on the main genealogy sites, but it is a safe bet that most are still housed within the confines of the various CofE churches and their offices. Stuart Raymond's excellent books suggests various ways of getting at this vital information.


Gordon Thorburn: More Luck Of A Lancaster

Published by Pen and Sword 30th July 2017

From 11 June 1943 (the date of Lancaster Mark III EE136 WS/R's first op) to her last with 9 Squadron (on 19 October 1944), eighty-six Lancasters were assigned to Number 9\. Of these, fifty were lost to enemy action, another five crashed at home, three crashed in Russia on the first Tirpitz raid and four were transferred to other squadrons only to be lost by them, leaving just twenty-four still flying. As more came in, three of those twenty-four were transferred to a new squadron, the reforming No 189\. These were EE136 (93 operations), PB146 (36 ops), and LM745 (four ops). All three saw the war out, unlike so many others. During 189 Squadron's operational period featuring EE136 (1 November 1944 to 3 February 1945) thirty-four Lancasters came on the strength of which nine were lost in that time. Over the operational lifetime of Lancaster EE136, forty-two different skippers took her on her grand total of 109 trips. Altogether, 315 men flew on ops in this machine, many of them more than once - the most 'capped' captain, F/O Roy Lake, twenty-two times - and of those men, 101 were killed in other aircraft. Those are the statistics. But this is the story of the men behind the numbers.


This is an amazing account of a soecific Lancaster bomber and her crew. A larger than life story...


Peter Higginbotham: Children's Homes

Published by Pen and Sword 30th July 2017

What image does the word orphanage conjure up in your mind? A sunny scene of carefree children at play in the grounds of a large ivy-clad house? Or a forbidding grey edifice whose cowering inmates were ruled over with a rod of iron by a stern, starched matron? In Children's Homes, Peter Higginbotham explores the history of the institutions in Britain that were used as a substitute for children s natural homes. From the Tudor times to the present day, this fascinating book answers questions such as: Who founded and ran all these institutions? Who paid for them? Where have they all gone? And what was life like for their inmates? Illustrated throughout, Children's Homes provides an essential, previously overlooked, account of the history of these British institutions.


With yet more revelations every day of what went on in various of these terrible establishments during the 20th century, Peter Higginbotham's timely book sometimes makes for uncomfortable reading, but it remains a vital addition to the social history of Britain, warts and all.


Nigel Blundell: Images of War - Adolf Hitler

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd August 2017

One of the most intriguing mysteries about the rise of history s most despised dictator is just how utterly ordinary he once seemed. A chubby child, a mummy s boy, a failed artist, a face in the crowd the early images of Adolf Hitler give no hint of the demonic spirit that consumed him. Only later in his tortured life came the metamorphosis, and the mask fell away to reveal the manic monster lurking beneath. The aim of this book is to trace this dramatic process in photographs some iconic, some rare and intimate covering the life of a man whose destructive legacy still touches us today. The images, many from the author s own historic collection, demonstrate the mesmerising power that Hitler wielded not only over the German public but also statesmen, industrialists and global media. For the captions to many of the original photographs are reverential in their descriptions of Herr Hitler the German Chancellor , the person Time magazine chose as its 1938 Man of the Year . The fascination with the cataclysmic events he caused involving 61 countries, three-quarters of the world s population and more than 50 million dead remains as strong as ever today. The mystery of how one man could exert so much power that he was able to plunge the whole world into war remains unanswered. But the subtly changing images of Adolf Hitler, portrayed in this book from pampered baby to bar-room rabble-rouser to ranting megalomaniac, provide a graphic insight into the mind of a monster and the instigator of history s bloodiest conflict.


Another new Images of War title, this time images of the most hated man in history, Adolf Hitler. Some of the pictures are mesmerising... one can junderstand the German people being taken in by him.


Andrew Rawson: The Passchendaele Campaign 1917

Published by Pen and Sword 1st August 2017

This is an account of the British Expeditionary Force s battles in the summer and autumn of 1917. It begins with the Allied plan to free up the Flanders coast, to limit German naval and submarine attacks on British shipping. The opening offensive began with the detonation of nineteen mines on 7 June and ended with the capture of the Messines Ridge. The main offensive started with success on 31 July but was soon bogged down due to the August rains. Three huge attacks between 20 September and 4 October had the Germans reeling, but again the weather intervened and the campaign concluded with futile attacks across the muddy slopes of the Passchendaele Ridge. Each large battle and minor action is given equal treatment, giving a detailed insight into the most talked about side of the campaign, the British side. There are details on the planning of each offensive and the changing tactics used by both sides. There is discussion about how the infantry, the artillery, the cavalry, the engineers and Royal Flying Corps worked together. Over sixty new maps chart the day-by-day progress of each battle and action. Together the narrative and maps provide an insight into the British Army s experience during this important campaign. The men who made a difference are mentioned; those who led the advances, those who stopped the counter-attacks and those who were awarded the Victoria Cross. Discover the Passchendaele campaign and learn how the British Army s brave soldiers fought and died fighting for their objectives.


It is hard to believe that three years have almost passed since we began to remember in more detail than ever, thanks to the ever-growing library of amazing books from publishers like Pen and Sword, what happened during those fateful five years at the beginning of the 20th century. Now it's the turn of Passchendaele.I featured two books two months ago, now Pen and Sword have produced what is probably the definitive accountof this conflict...


Tim Heath: Hitler's Girls

Published by Pen and Sword 16th Augusth 2017

Hitler's Girls is not just another Hitler Youth history book. Concentrating purely on the role of German girls in Hitler s Third Reich, we learn of their home lives, schooling, exploitation and eventual militarisation from first-hand accounts of women who were indoctrinated into the Jung Madel and Bund Deutcscher Madel as young girls. From the prosperous beginnings of 1933 to the cataclysmic defeat of 1945, this insightful book examines in detail their specific roles as defined by the Nazi state. Few historical literary works have gone as deep to find the truth, the conscience and the regret, and in this sense Hitler's Girls is a unique work unlike any other so far published. Written in an attempt to provide a definitive voice for this unheard generation of German females, it will leave the reader to decide for themselves whether or not the girls were the obedient accessories to genocide, and it will lead many readers to question many aspects of what they have previously thought about the role of girls and young women in Hitler s Third Reich. This is their story.


An essential account of the women who served Hitler during his years of power. Stunning photographs but a chilling narrative, in view of what they were required to do.


Dr Philip Rance: The Struggle for the Dardanelles

Published by Pen and Sword 30th May 2016

This is a detailed eye-witness account of the Dardanelles/Gallipoli campaign from the perspective of the Turks, through the eyes of Major Erich Prigge an adjutant to Marshal Liman von Sanders, the German commander-in-chief of the Ottoman forces in the Dardanelles. The focus is overwhelmingly on combat but includes related matters such as reconnaissance and logistics. Packed with specific information and technical detail as well as action, it should be of great interest to historians and enthusiasts. Prigge actually wrote two accounts of the campaign. The first, published in January 1916 while the fighting continued, revealed so much information that the Ottoman government asked the German authorities to suppress it. The other, published later that year, included coverage of the British evacuation. Although Prigge had removed many of the sensitive details of unit names, casualties etc, he had substantially rewritten and augmented many passages with lively descriptive material. Philip Rance here presents the first English translations of both versions, which together form one of the most complete and valuable accounts of this campaign available from the Turkish perspective.


I have very little knowledge of the Dardanelles campaign, or even where it happened - this book has transformed my knowledge of this part of WW1...


Peter Jacobs: Bomber Command Airfields of Yorkshire

Published by Pen and Sword 6th July 2017

As part of the Aviation Heritage Trail series, the accomplished military author and former RAF Officer Peter Jacobs takes us to the county of Yorkshire and to its many bomber airfields of the Second World War. From the opening day of hostilities, RAF Bomber Command took the offensive to Nazi Germany and played a leading role in the liberation of Europe. Yorkshire s airfields played a key part throughout, initially as home to the Whitley squadrons of No 4 Group and then to the four-engine Halifax heavy bombers; indeed, Bomber Command s first night operation of the war was flown from one of the county s many bomber airfields. Then, as the bombing offensive gathered pace, Yorkshire welcomed the new all-Canadian No 6 (RCAF) Group, after which all of Bomber Command s major efforts during the hardest years of 1943/44 against the Ruhr, Hamburg and Berlin involved the Yorkshire-based squadrons. Most of Yorkshire s wartime bomber airfields have long gone, but many have managed to retain the flying link with their wartime past.For example, the former RAF airfields of Finningley and Middleton St George, and the factory airfield of Yeadon, are now the sites of international airports, while Breighton, Burn, Full Sutton, Pocklington and Rufforth are still used for light aircraft flying or gliding and Elvington is home to the magnificent Yorkshire Air Museum. From airfields such as these came countless acts of personal courage and self-sacrifice, with two men being awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain s highest award for gallantry. Stories of both men are included, as are tales of other personalities who brought these airfields to life. The stories of thirty-three airfields are told in total, with a brief history of each accompanied by details of how to find them and what remains of them today. Whatever your interest, be it aviation history or more local, the county of Yorkshire has rightly taken its place in the history of Bomber Command.


I have seen similar books about airfields in East Anglia, now it's the turn of the county of Yorkshire to receive this special treatment. An amazing book.


Roy Ingleton: Kent Murder and Mayhem

Published by Pen and Sword 19th July 2017

Kent Murder and Mayhem takes the reader on a sinister journey through centuries of local crime and conspiracy, meeting villains of all sorts along the way. Cut-throats and poisoners, murderous lovers, desperate wives and husbands, violent thieves, boy killers, infanticides - almost every type of murder is represented here. Roy Ingleton's fascinating book recalls many grisly events and sad or unsavoury characters whose conduct throws a revealing light on their lives and the society of their day. Among the many instances of violence, wickedness and deceit the author recalls are a 14-year-old boy who killed, a mother who did away with her son, a husband who killed his wife and four children, the poisoning of an old lady, the murder of two wives by drowning, and the case of the last man to be hanged in public at Maidstone. These cases are compelling reading for anyone who is interested in the dark side of human nature.


In this amazing piece of social history, Roy Ingleton concentrates on the darker deeds that occurred in the county of Kent. A most fascinating read...


Michael Reynolds: Sons of the Reich

Published by Pen and Sword17th July 2017

The history of II SS Panzer Corps is a short and violent one. This meticulously researched book documents the actions of the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions from activation until October 1944, and the 2nd and 9th SS Divisions from December 1944 until the end of the war. This period encompasses the Battle of Normandy, the escape from the Falaise Pocket, the Market Garden episode and Hitler's last great offensive in the West, the Battle of the Bulge. Sons of the Reich also dismantles the myth that the Waffen SS were a volunteer force of brainwashed thugs and fanatics, in fact II SS Panzer Division were ordinary conscripts, whose tenacity (most noteably at Arnhem in September 1944) was admired by friend and foe alike.


Almost a companion volume to the aforementioned "Hitler's Girls" (above).



The History of Insults

Published by Dog 'n' Bone 10th October 2017

History lessons have never been so hilarious thanks to this collection of insults through the ages – the targets of your barrage of vintage invective won't know what's hit them. Ever wanted to “air the lungs (1)” like a cowboy or dreamed of channeling the wit of Shakespeare to deliver that killer put-down to an Elizabethan fustilarian (2)? Are you too much of a Medieval scobberlotcher (3) to realise this ambition? Well, you’re in luck because The History of Insults has some of the finest put-downs of all time – starting with the Ancient Romans and Greeks and working through the centuries to the Jazz Age. This means you can dish out the best burns to bacon-fed bell swaggers (4) to your heart’s content. As they used to say in 19th-century London, “It’s more than enough to make a stuffed bird laugh!”

(1) Swear; (2) Scoundrel; (3) Lazy person; (4) Fat, loudmouth bullies


This book is by way of an introduction to the business of insults - I think a more comprehensive volume in the form of an encyclopedia is now called for, but this is an excellent start to the subject. Many of the examples will have you in stitches!


Neil Storey: The Tommy Of The First World War

Published by Amberley 21st August 2017

‘Tommy Atkins’ has been the nickname given to soldiers of the British Army since the eighteenth century. The origin of the name is shrouded in mystery, but it has stuck. By 1914, the Tommy had changed dramatically since the days of Queen Victoria’s redcoats. Edwardian army reforms had improved recruitment and training and had re-organised the regular forces and reserves.

When the First World War broke out, the system went smoothly into action and the BEF was carried across the Channel to France. But the British Army was relatively small and the First World War required a rapid expansion of the ranks. Lord Kitchener’s call for men raised the so-called New Army, half a million strong, but more were needed and conscription came into force. Many of those who volunteered together were also trained together and fought side by side in battle. In the fire of machine guns and amid the shell-fire, large numbers of men from city parishes, towns and villages fell together. Neil Storey takes us through the recruitment, equipment, training and experiences of these soldiers in the First World War: the Tommies, ‘the poor bloody infantry’.

This book is part of the Britain’s Heritage series, which provides definitive introductions to the riches of Britain’s past, and is the perfect way to get acquainted with the Tommy of the First World War.


Neil Storey is an author who is local to me, and quite by coincidence I find his books fascinating, well-written and illustrated, and look forward to reading them. His latest book about the British Tommy, is no disappointment, and provides essential and very readable information about this iconic fighting man.

Stephen Ede-Borrett: The Army of James II, 1685-1688

Published by Helion 15th August 2017

Between James' accession in February 1685 and flight in December 1688 the British Armies increased four fold (the English, Scots and Irish Armies were still separate institutions and were to remain so until the early 18th Century, in the case of the Scots, and the early 19th Century in the case of the Irish); from a small force of little more than ceremonial and policing use to a fully-fledged Army with all of its necessary supporting arms and services. Respected historian Correlli Barnett wrote: "It might well be said that if the British royal standing army was in fact founded at one given time, it was between 1685 and 1688, and that James II was the army's creator." James himself said his Army had "…the reputation of being the best paid, the best equipped and the most sightly troops of any in Europe." At the time there were political complaints about illegality of a "new standing Army" with a "new Cromwellian military dictatorship" (and on a point of law a standing army was still illegal), in 1689 the new King, William III, kept James' Army in being and within a few years it was to become the Army which led the victories at Blenheim and elsewhere of the Great Duke of Marlborough, who had himself been a General in James' Army. It has been said that amongst William's reasons for accepting the British Crowns was a fear that the British Army would serve in alliance with Louis XIV against him. Despite this, James' part in the creation of the British Army is often deliberately overlooked or ignored. The political aspects of James' reign, and thus of the Army, are well covered in numerous works but this book looks at the creation of the enlarged Armies of England, Scotland and Ireland - their uniforms and flags, organization and weapons, their drill and their strength, their pay and their Staff. Researched primarily from contemporary documents and manuscripts, including those in the rarely accessed Royal Library at Royal Archives at Windsor, it will go a long way to restoring these years, and the last Stuart King, to their true importance in the creation of the British Army.


As someone who always believed that Cromwell's New Model Army was the foundation of the modern British fighting force, this book comes as something of a revelation!


Rodney Ashwood:Duty Nobly Done

Published by Helion 15th July 2017

While the main emphasis of the Great War was on the Western Front of France and Belgium, the British Army also took part in what was a lesser known conflict, but one of equal intensity and drama. This was at Gallipoli, on the shores of Turkey, between April 1915 and January 1916. By December 1914, the war on the Western Front had ground to a halt in a stalemate of trench warfare, and Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, proposed a strategy to take Turkey, a German ally, out of the war. This could force Germany to fight on two fronts and could free up the Dardanelles waterway at Gallipoli. While the concept was sound, its execution was not, as it was hastily planned, and inadequately resourced.

Each location is described in a fascinating narrative that unearths the queens’ lives in documents and artefacts, as well as providing practical visitor information based on the authors’ first-hand knowledge of each site. Accompanied by an extensive range of images including timelines, maps, photographs and sketches, this book brings us closer than ever to the women behind the legends, providing a personal and illuminating journey in the footsteps of the six wives of Henry VIII.While the main emphasis of the Great War was on the Western Front of France and Belgium, the British Army also took part in what was a lesser known conflict, but one of equal intensity and drama. This was at Gallipoli, on the shores of Turkey, between April 1915 and January 1916. By December 1914, the war on the Western Front had ground to a halt in a stalemate of trench warfare, and Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, proposed a strategy to take Turkey, a German ally, out of the war. This could force Germany to fight on two fronts and could free up the Dardanelles waterway at Gallipoli. While the concept was sound, its execution was not, as it was hastily planned, and inadequately resourced.

The 2nd Battalion the South Wales Borderers was present throughout the whole campaign and was the only Welsh battalion to take part in the amphibious assault on 25 April 1915. Other historians give little credence to the success of the battalion on that day and this book sets out to redress the balance. The 4th Battalion landed at Gallipoli a few months later, to take part in the second main offensive, at Suvla Bay, in August 1915. This campaign took part amidst the most appalling conditions, such as the unrelenting heat of a mediterranean summer, a lack of water, poor food, inadequate equipment and without proper sanitation. Sickness and disease were rife, and at the height of the war there were up to 5,000 cases of dysentery a week.

Both battalions of this famous Welsh regiment endured the privations of the campaign with great stoicism, courage and dignity and were amongst the last soldiers to leave the peninsula during the final evacuation in January 1916. By a clever weave of official records and personal anecdotes, most of which have never been published before, the reader is taken on a journey of highs and lows, depicting the reality of life on active service.

Meticulously researched and written, this is a personal account of the South Wales Borderers during the Gallipoli campaign which adds an important social dimension to the traditional style of books already written on one of the most dramatic campaigns in British military history. Some of the best, toughest and most generous soldiers in the British army come from Wales. This book serves as a tribute to those magnificent soldiers.


It is true that for most people, any account of the first world war is dominated by the western front. Rodney Ashwood's book sets the record firmly straight.


Philipps Bauduin: D-Day, What We Haven't Told You

Published by Heimdal 30th June 2017

The Normandy Landings of 6 June 1944 were a major and decisive episode of the Second World War and have been, for more than sixty years, the object of countless books, films, investigations, reports and television series. However, is it known that D-Day was preceded by, on 27 April 1944, a tragic rehearsal that resulted in over nine-hundred deaths and which remained a secret for decades ? Is it known that the beautiful Lily Sergueiev, an artist and great traveller, was considered by the Allies as their best disinformation agent....and by the Germans as their most efficient agent in Great Britain ? Or is it known that, Lionel Crabb, the Royal Navy's star frogman, was the inspiration for Ian Fleming's character, James Bond ? Is it known that the Germans' favourite song Lili Marlene, was also very popular with the allied soldiers ? These are some of the surprising revelations contained in this book which is both original and informative, based on over half a century of research undertaken by Philippe Bauduin and which casts a new light on D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. Fascinated by new technology that he discovered during the summer of 1944, a time when he was still a teenager, Philippe Bauduin went on to undertake a scientific career which notably led him to set up the GANIL in Caen (Large Heavy Ion National Accelerator). He is the author of seventeen books and numerous articles on various aspects of the Landings.
Jean-Charles Stasi has worked as a journalist since 1985 and is the author of twenty books, most of which deal with the Second World War. He was awarded the Prix Grand Temoin 2007 and the Grand Prix de la Legion d'Honneur 2008 for his book L'Epopee du Normandie-Niemen, co-written with Roland de la Poype.


A brilliant series of revelations about the D-Day landings...


Boris Sokolov: Malinovskii

Published by Helion 15th August 2017

The prolific writer Boris Sokolov - author of biographies of Georgii Zhukov and others - returns with a new book on Rodion Yakovlevich Malinovskii (1898-1967): a Marshal of the Soviet Union and former Defence Minister, who like so many of those who made their name during the Great Patriotic War, joined the Tsarist Army at the outbreak of the First World War. Unlike the others, however, his service took him to France as a member of the Russian Legion - a move designed to show Russia's support for its French ally in the struggle against the Germans on the Western Front. Despite the Bolshevik coup and Soviet Russia's withdrawal from the war, Malinovskii elected to remain in France and serve with the French Army until the Armistice - after which he made his way back to Russia, where he joined the Red Army in the waning days of the Civil War. The young Malinovskii chose to remain in the army and rose steadily through its ranks. He was later sent to Spain as a Military Advisor to the Spanish Republic during that country's Civil War. This fortuitous posting not only allowed Malinovskii to gain valuable combat experience, but also kept him out of the country at a time when Stalin's military purge was gutting the Armed Forces. However, it is Malinovskii's service during the Great Patriotic War that constitutes the heart of this book. Sokolov traces his subject's rise from corps to army commander, and finally to the command of various fronts. During 1943-1944 the forces under Malinovskii's command played a major role in expelling the Germans from the Donets Basin, Southern Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Following the defeat of Germany, Malinovskii was assigned to command the Main Front in the brief war against Japan and remained as Commander-in-Chief of Soviet forces in the Far East for several years. He was summoned back to Moscow as Deputy Defence Minister and later took an active part in the removal of his boss, Georgii Zhukov, whom he replaced in 1957. It was under his decade-long tenure that the Soviet Armed Forces made the transition to a truly modern force - and changed the country's status from that of a regional power to superpower.


A fine account of the life of Rodion Malincskii, the man who helped transform Russia into a superpower...


Earth + Space 100 Photographs

Published by Abrams & Chronicle 12th September 2017

This box of postcards allows you to send the wonders of the cosmos to friends and family. One hundred different images from the archives of NASA feature astonishing imagery of the Earth from above, the phenomena of our solar system, and the celestial bodies of deep space all paired with informative captions. This stunning and luxurious package will delight fans of science, astronomy, and the wonders of space, elevating correspondence with interstellar splendor.



Nasa photographs of the universe in which we have the privilege to live - this is the stuff of dreams and aspirations, of inspiration and awe. Thismagnificent collection of postcards is literally out of this world.



Marc Hagan-Guiney: Star Wars Kirigami

Published by Abrams & Chronicle 1st September 2017

Named as one of the 10 best Star Wars: The Last Jedi products for Force Friday II by The Independent

Celebrated paper artist and designer Marc Hagan-Guirey has applied his genius to the Star Wars galaxy in this book of 15 unique kirigami (cut-and-fold) ships featured in the saga s films. Ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert, each beautifully detailed model features step-by-step instructions and a template printed on cardstock all that's needed are a utility knife, a cutting mat, and a ruler. Clear tips and guidance through the tricky stages help readers craft their own X-wing, Imperial Star Destroyer, Millennium Falcon, and a dozen more ships and vehicles, each accom¬panied by colorful and inspiring photographs of the final model on display (or ready for a jump to Hyperspace).


For dedicated Star Wars fans, and for fans of making models out of cardboard - this amazing book will keep you occupied for hours.


Lisa Immordino Vreeland: Love, Cecil

Published by Abrams 17th October 2017

In Love, Cecil, Lisa Immordino Vreeland offers an evocative portrait of this talented whirlwind whose creative work was tied to his intense social life. Using photography, drawings, letters, and scrapbooks by Beaton and his contemporaries, along with excerpts from his sparkling diaries and other writings, Immordino Vreeland brings his spirit to life in a way that no previous book has been able to do. Immordino Vreeland organises her book around the circles of Beaton's daily life: the people who inspired and influenced him, his colourful friends, his fellow photographers, his Hollywood conquests, his English roots, and others. This cavalcade offers a shimmering vision of high style, but it also captures often-troubled souls struggling to create the open, tolerant, creative worlds of art and culture that we have inherited today.


There is one single word that adequately describes the life of Cecil Beaton, and that, as far as I am concerned, is "decadent". I had no idea, no inkling of the early life of the man, had never ever given it any thought. Why anyone would want to celebrate such a lifestyle in terms of a coffee table book is beyond me. Not a book I would want to keep on my coffee table...


David Hirsch & Dan Van Haften: The Ultimate Guide To The Declaration of Independence

Published by Savas Beatie 31st August 2017

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the logical force of the Declaration facilitated the survival of a nation. The Ultimate Guide to the Declaration of Independence explains the document more thoroughly than any book previously published. With the aid of colorized step-by-step diagrams, the authors deconstruct Jefferson's masterpiece into the six elements of a proposition to demonstrate how the scientific method is basic to its structure.

David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften, the critically acclaimed authors of Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason, are the first to discover and demonstrate Jefferson's use of the six elements of a proposition. Hirsch and Van Haften diagram and explain how six-element structure helped Jefferson organize and compose the Declaration. The result is a much deeper and richer understanding and appreciation of the Declaration that was not previously possible. This concise full-color examination of one of our nation's most treasured and important documents is perfect for all ages and especially for those interested in history, the use of language, and logic.


Not sure why people have to dissect certain pieces of writing in this way - similar in many ways to the search to prove that Shakespeare didn't, in fact, write his own plays. Trying to find something in the words of one of the most inspirational speeches in history seems to me to be fruitless and pointless. Of course I am interested in the circumstances in which Jefferson came to write this speech, but that's as far as it goes for me.


Jeffrey Hunt: Meade & Lee After Gettysburg - Vol. 1 - From Falling Waves to Culpeper Courthouse

Published by Savas Beatie 31st July 2017

The period of the Civil War in Virginia sandwiched between the traditional ending date of the Gettysburg Campaign and the arrival of U. S. Grant is routinely overlooked. The operations conducted during that period have been overshadowed by the bloodshed in Pennsylvania, the large-scale Confederate victory at Chickamauga in September, and the disastrous Southern defeat at Chattanooga two months later. Author Jeffrey Wm Hunt, in his new Meade and Lee After Gettysburg: Vol. 1: From Falling Waters to Culpeper Courthouse, July 14 to October 1, 1863, helps rectify this glaring oversight. In what promises to be the first of four volumes on this important period, Hunt demonstrates that this period was full of high drama as Lee and Meade sought to repair the damage done to their armies at Gettysburg, cope with an epidemic of desertions and home front disenchantment, and a host of logistical and strategic dilemmas. The Gettysburg Campaign, argues Hunt, did not end until late July, and included the fighting at Shepherdstown and Manassas Gap. Meade and Lee After Gettysburg also details how Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis and their senior commanders coped with the strategic dilemmas they faced once the battle lines had been reestablished along the Rappahannock River, and how each side sought an opening to resume the offensive, the efforts triggering a series of bloody clashes at Brandy Station, Culpeper Courthouse, and Jack's Shop. Hunt's work is based upon years of archival research and scores of firsthand accounts, newspapers, diaries, letter collections, and a firm understanding of the terrain of northern Virginia. Together with its photos, maps, and invaluable footnotes, Meade and Lee After Gettysburg offers a significant contribution to the Civil War literature.


A minor affair in the aftremath of the American civil war is put firmly under the spotlight and subjected to some minute scrutiny.


Kim Leggett: City Farmhouse Style

Published by Abrams 12th September 2017


Come along on the hunt to coveted country sources and the best secret antiquing spots, and learn how to create country farmhouse style in your city dwelling. Author Kim Leggett is the creator of City Farmhouse, an interior design business, country fair event, and store. She is also a legendary picker and favourite designer to celebrity clients (and country style mavens) including Meg Ryan, Tommy Hilfiger, Sheryl Crow, and Kerry Underwood. In City Farmhouse Style, Kim offers great style advice, breaking down the design vocabulary that makes for fresh country style (no matter the setting). The popularity of farmhouse style has designers, homeowners, and fans in search of inspiration to create this look in all its rural glory. City Farmhouse Style is the first design book of its kind to focus entirely on transforming urban interiors with unfussy, warm, country style decor.


There is little doubt that home styles in the country are far more attractive than most of those employed in cities - this beautiful book helps you to transform your city-style home with theaid of some stunning photographs and a brilliant text. Sumptuous.


Boris Starling: Haynes Explains Pets

Published by Haynes 4th September 2017


Written by bestselling author Boris Starling, Pets is one of the new titles for 2017 in the Haynes Explains series. A light-hearted and entertaining take on the classic workshop manual, it contains everything you'd expect to see including exploded views, flow charts, fault diagnosis and the odd wiring diagram. It takes the reader through all areas of pet ownership, giving all the hints and tips needed to make their life and your's run smoothly..


A new series of miniature Haynes manuals written firmly with tongue in cheek to rival the recent series of adult Ladybird books. The sense of humour in these books is Pythonesque, and the addition of stock diagrams from established car manuals is nothing short of inspired. This title looks at pets, and if you are prepared to set aside the humour for a time, there are some snippets of information about pets that are particularly incisive. Brilliant!


Boris Starling: Haynes Explains Pets

Published by Haynes 4th September 2017


Written by bestselling author Boris Starling, Christmas is one of the new titles for 2017 in the Haynes Explains series. A light-hearted and entertaining take on the classic workshop manual, it contains everything you'd expect to see including exploded views, flow charts, fault diagnosis and the odd wiring diagram. It takes the reader through all areas of Christmas, giving all the hints and tips needed to make the entire festive period run smoothly..


Second mini Haynes Manual has author Boris Starling take the mickey out of Christmas. No real pointers here as to how to make Christmas more enjoyable and less stressful, but it's a joy to read what he has to say about this time of festivity and fun. Superb!


Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie 100 Postcards

Published by Abrams 3rd October 2017


Ralph McQuarrie is the most iconic artist in the history of Star Wars. He worked hand-in-hand with George Lucas to help establish the saga's visual aesthetic, its inimitable look and feel. Carefully selected from the definitive volume, Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie, these postcards are a celebration of Star Wars as a masterpiece of design and world-building. The deluxe keepsake package also functions as a display frame: the box features a die-cut window, so fans can rotate their favorite production design paintings into view.


It is difficult to see how a serious Star Wars collector can afford to be without this collection of amazing widescreen postcards depicting scenes from the movies by acclaimed nd legenday artist Ralph McQuarrie. Stupendous.


Didier Ghez: They Drew As They Pleased Volume 3

Published by Chronicle Books 10th October 2017


Walt Disney always envisioned the studios that bear his name remaining relevant by consistently taking creative risks and doing the unexpected. Heading into the 1940s, he crafted an entirely new division of the studio called the Character Model Department, which focused solely on the details of character development. This latest volume from famed Disney historian Didier Ghez profiles six remarkable artists from that department, sharing uncommon and never-before-seen images of their influential work behind the scenes. With vivid descriptions and passages from the artists' journals, this visually rich collection offers a rare view of the Disney artists whose work gave rise to many classic Disney characters, and who ultimately rewrote the future of character creation in animation.


Volume three of this superb series sees six more of Disney's greatest illustrators' and their work showcased. If you haven't yet discovered this series, now is the time.


Rob Higgins and Will Farmer: Arts and Crafts Tiles - From Morris to Voysey

Published by Amberley 15th September 2017


The Arts and Crafts Movement was a reaction to the brutality of working life and the sterility of industrial design in Victorian Britain. Although Arts and Crafts was initially a mediaeval revival, the movement was always about the artist craftsman and the appropriate use of materials, rather than any single design tradition.

The movement was inspired and led by William Morris, whose company was founded in 1861 and produced a full range of interior furnishings, including tiles. These were designed by Morris himself, and also by leading artists and architects of the day such as Edward Burne Jones and Philip Webb. The term Arts and Crafts was formalised in the late 1880s, and many designers, artists and craftsmen joined Morris in this new movement, and leading designers including Walter Crane and C. F. A. Voysey produced distinctive and now highly collectable ceramic tiles that were used to decorate the bathrooms and the fireplaces of the wealthy and discerning.

This book, with its companion on the work of William de Morgan, is the first complete introduction to British Arts and Crafts tiles from 1860 to 1920.


I hear the term "arts and crafts" applied to architecture quite often in Escape To The Country on BBC1 in the afternoons, and occasionally applied to interiors, most usually kitchens on the same programme. The desire to learn more about the arts and crafts movement extends beyond knowing who the prime movers were and into the practical - the Victorians, of course, did not confine their use of tiles to kitchen splashbacka, but used them also to decorate and enhance fireplaces, hearths, hallways etc., etc., and this brilliant little book celebrates all aspects of arts and crafts tiling with brilliant illustrative examples and a narrative that is both informative and entertaining. A brilliant little book in Amberley's social history series that goes above and beyond!


Andrew Jenkinson: The Story of Eccles Caravans

Published by Amberley 15th September 2017


This unique book about Eccles caravans is a tribute to a great and successful British caravan and motorhome manufacturing brand. Eccles was the pioneer of the caravan and motorhome of today. This book describes how the company became a major force and the biggest producer of caravans in the world during the 1930s. Drawing on his unique knowledge of the caravan and motorhome industry and an archive of material dating from 1919, Andrew Jenkinson takes us from the early development of the Eccles caravan and motorhome by the Riley family, through the war years when their skills were devoted to military equipment, and into the 1950s, when competition in the caravan and motorhome market began to grow. Not only did the company design and build innovative vehicles, they also marketed them successfully to the public. Purchased by Sprite caravans in 1960, Eccles continued to be a byword for sophisticated design and innovation, making it a market leader by the 1970s. With its sale to the Swift Group in 1994, Eccles once again demonstrated its genius not only for survival but also for innovation in construction methods and interior design on a sound base of British caravan heritage.


Where I live, on the North Norfolk coast, some bright spark in the council saw fit to grant permission for mile after mile of caravan parks to be established, sometimes ending just a few metres from the cliff edge. Every year from May to October there are touring caravans by the hundred parked on cliffs that should otherwise provide a natural and unspoiled coast for residents and tourists alike. I have no objection to caravans per se, but for the past eleven years I have been cursing those councillors who thought it would be a good idea to allow developers to stick them within a few paces of the cliff walk. Caravans and motorhomes should be a good half mile at least away from the coastl, in my opinion, and the councillors, if still alive, should be prosecuted for dereliction of duty. That particular council ranks amongst the very worst in the country, and typefies everything that is wrong about conservatives and liberal democrats: indecision, wrong decision, stubbornness etc., and most of the time just plain stupid, as in the case of the 1950s/1960s caravan park planning decision. Rant over. There are plenty of Eccles caravans still on the road, and plenty to be seen in these unsightly and dreadful blights on our particular stretch of coastline. This super book tells you everything you need to know about them and their history.


Jeffrey James: Edward IV Glorious Son of York

Published by Amberley 15th September 2017


Few English monarchs had to fight harder for the right to rule than King Edward IV – Shakespeare’s glorious son of York. Cast in the Plantagenet mould, over six feet tall, he was a naturally charismatic leader. Edward had the knack of seizing the initiative and winning battles and is free from the unflattering characterisations that plagued his brother, Richard III, having been portrayed as a good-looking and formidable military tactician. Described sometimes as reckless and profligate, all sources remark on his personal bravery. In the eleven years between 1460 and 1471 he fought five major battles in the Wars of the Roses. Three of them – Towton, Barnet and Tewkesbury – rank among the most decisive of the medieval period.

This book covers Edward’s family background, the Yorkist takeover and the drift to war. It charts the tensions created by the controversial Woodville marriage and Edward’s deposition by the Earl of Warwick and subsequent exile. The return of the king brought with it more battles and Edward’s decisive campaigns against Warwick and Margaret of Anjou. Finally, Edward’s sudden death heralded the demise of the House of York and the eventual triumph of the Tudors.

This is the history of Edward IV’s struggle to gain –and regain – the crown during a period of sustained dynastic turmoil.


There is always something to be found in a book that a television programme or drama series leaves out or glosses over. Much as I enjoyed the serialisation of Philippa Gregory's Cousins War series, I discovered much more about Edward IV in this superb book by Jeffrey James.


Sarah Rutherford: Landscape Gardens

Published by Amberley 15th September 2017


The Landscape Garden: the quiet but startling national revolution that overthrew the parterres, avenues and canals of formal European-style gardens littering Britain in the eighteenth century. Thousands of landscape gardens were created for the wealthy, often looking so natural that we hardly recognise them as the hand of man.

Steered by brilliant designers and visionary owners, the fashion for landscape gardens took hold across the country. Using water, grass and trees, designers softened lines and created seemingly natural planted park landscapes. Landscape gardens were on a huge scale, and all the work was done by hand. By the 1750s this had developed into the landscape park and garden epitomised by ‘Capability’ Brown, the most famous of the eighteenth-century garden designers. In this book by garden historian Sarah Rutherford, discover Britain’s greatest contribution to the visual arts worldwide.

This book is part of the Britain’s Heritage series, which provides definitive introductions to the riches of Britain’s past, and is the perfect way to get acquainted with landscape gardens in all their variety.


Having visited many historic houses during the course of my 71 years (so far!), I have always paid particular attention to the gardens and grounds in which these amazing architectural triumphs stand. This marvellous book provides a brilliant history of how landscape gardening first came into being in the UK, with fine examples and fascinating lives of the men who achieved such staggering results. Sometimes it seems that the manpower required to remodel the land on such a scale must have rivalled the manpower needed to build the pyramids or Stonehenge! Superb photos and a stunning narrative.


Andy Blackwell: Kitchen Upgrade Manual

Published by Haynes 13th July 2017


The kitchen is generally regarded as the most important room in the home and is usually the first room house buyers look at. It is also where people spend the most time, evolving from just being somewhere to cook into the place where families meet, work and entertain. Installation accounts for about 20% of the cost of an average kitchen and in an attempt to keep costs down, 10% of all kitchens are fitted by the customers themselves. Written in a clear, engaging style, with colour step-by-step photos throughout, the Kitchen Upgrade Manual focuses on the accessible styles of kitchens you find in a DIY store. It is aimed at the DIY enthusiast, showing them ideas and planning considerations, but focussing on the actual work involved.


This is probably the most comprehensive book on kitchen design and build that has ever been written. Every last aspect of the kitchen is covered, from flooring to cabinet making and worktop joining. Beautifully illustrated and with as full a muster of tools and equipment required, this is an essential manual for anyone contemplating a kitchen makeover or even starting from scratch. As someone who has struggled with fitting laminate flooring around boiler pipes, I can assure you that this magnificent book has all the answers!


Boris Starling: Haynes Explains The British

Published by Haynes 2nd October 2017


Written by bestselling author Boris Starling, The British is one of the new titles for 2017 in the Haynes Explains series. A light-hearted and entertaining take on the classic workshop manual, it contains everything you'd expect to see including exploded views, flow charts, fault diagnosis and the odd wiring diagram. It takes the reader through all areas of British life, giving the reader all the hints and tips needed to make life in Blighty run smoothly.


The brilliance of Boris Starling continues with this affectionate and hilarious look at the British people. The exploded diagrams of engine parts and engineering is nothing short of inspired!


Boris Starling: Haynes Explains The Home

Published by Haynes 2nd October 2017


Written by bestselling author Boris Starling, The British is one of the new titles for 2017 in the Haynes Explains series. A light-hearted and entertaining take on the classic workshop manual, it contains everything you'd expect to see including exploded views, flow charts, fault diagnosis and the odd wiring diagram. It takes the reader through all areas of British life, giving the reader all the hints and tips needed to make life in Blighty run smoothly.


The fourth of Mr Starling's books this month looks at the British home - this is a really funny series and the books will make splendid Christmas gifts in my opinion. The familiar format of the Haynes manual to cover these subjects is inspired.


Martyn Beardsley: Waterloo Voices 1815 - The Battle At First Hand

Published by Amberley 15th September 2017


The Battle of Waterloo, fought over the course of a day on a muddy field in Belgium, brought an end to two decades of war in Europe. It had been a draining conflict, both financially and in terms of human life, and had threatened the very sovereignty of numerous nations. Here, at the crisis point, Bonaparte and Wellington faced each other at last and fought for control of the continent.

The tale of the battle that ended the Napoleonic Wars has been told many times, but most often in terms of the political and military situation, debates over strategies, tactics and the broader global arena. In this book, the story is told by those who were present, in their own words. The accounts come from letters, diaries and published accounts, sometimes recounted many years later, the eyewitness testimonies of officers and ordinary soldiers, friend and foe. This gripping collection of first-hand experiences lets us feel the deafening roar of cannon, hear the anguished cries of the wounded and marvel at the heroism on both sides, at the very heart of a battle that was to prove one of the major turning points in European history.


Martyn Beardsley's new book about the battle of Waterloo is amazing, because it relies on first-hand accounts of the people who were actually there, actually fought in the battle and brought their memories back home to Britain with tuem. There is so much brilliant material in this magnificent book that anyone with a passing interest in Victorian military history should avail themselves of a copy. Fantastic!


Peter Draper: Restoring a Dunkirk Little Ship Caronia

Published by Amberley 15th September 2017


The Caronia was built in 1927 on the beach at Tolcarne, Newlyn, Cornwall by Henry, Theodore & Sidney Peake. Her hull was laid in the traditional form of a St Ives Gig and she proudly wore SS70, the registration mark of a St Ives fishing vessel. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Caronia was in Le Havre, requiring a hurried return to these home shores. She returned to Newhaven where she was commandeered by the navy and, in the company of many hundreds of other Little Ships, she steamed to the beaches of Dunkirk and into the pages of history.

Peter Draper acquired Caronia in 2002 and spent more than a decade restoring her to seaworthy condition, carrying out almost all of the restoration work alongside his son. Lavishly illustrated throughout with a fascinating array of photographs, Draper details the story of this restoration and explains how one of the historic Dunkirk Little Ships has returned to its former glory.


When I was a young teenager we used to holiday regularly for a fortnight in Ramsgate, and always took a trip on a boat that had been used in the rescue of troops from Dunkirk. I always listened, fascinated, as the skipper told us the story of the boat. This book fascinates in the same way - something as amazing as the little boat rescue missions can never fail to inspire and entertain. The restoration of the Caronia is a brilliant story, well told, and a tribute to the dedication of the men who restored her.


The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.