Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri

The Blurb On The Back:

Straightened.  Stigmatised.  “Tamed”.  Celebrated.  Fetishised.  Forever misunderstood.

Black hair is never ‘just hair’.  It’s time we understood why.

Recent years have seen the conversation around black hair reach tipping point, yet detractors still proclaim “It’s only hair!” when it never is.  This book is about why black hair matters and how it can be viewed as a blueprint for decolonisation.  Emma Dabiri takes us from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, Black Power and into today’s Natural Hair Movement, the Cultural Appropriation Wars and beyond.

Touching on everything from women’s solidarity and friendship, to forgotten African scholars, to the dubious provenance of Kim Kardashian’s braids, Don’t Touch My Hair proves that far from being only hair, black hairstyling culture can be understood as an allegory for black oppression and, ultimately, liberation. 

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order DON’T TOUCH MY HAIR by Emma Dabiri from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Legacies: Black British Pioneers by Lania Narjee

The Blurb On The Back:

Discover amazing people who made their mark on the world!

From scientists to sports stars, artists to activists, read all about Black British people who set records, broke new ground, and lifted others up.  Find out what it means to create a legacy with these inspiring stories of incredible people and their hugely informative achievements.

LEGACIES – BLACK BRITISH PIONEERS was released in the United Kingdom on 4th August 2022.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order LEGACIES – BLACK BRITISH PIONEERS by Lania Narjee from Amazon UK, or Waterstone’s.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past And The Journey Home by Mark Mazower

The Blurb On The Back:

This is the remarkable story of a family, and the sacrifices and silences that marked a generation and their descendants.  Mark Mazower uncovers the history of his ancestors, who fate drove into the siege of Stalingrad, the Vilna ghetto, occupied Paris, and even into the ranks of the Wehrmacht.  His British father was the lucky one, the son of Russian Jewish emigrants who settled in London after escaping the civil war and revolution.  Max, the grandfather, had started out as a socialist and manned the barricades against tsarist troops, but never spoke of it.  His wife, Frouma, came from a family ravaged by the Great Terror yet somehow making its way in Soviet society.  

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order WHAT YOU DID NOT TELL: A RUSSIAN PAST AND THE JOURNEY HOME by Mark Mazower from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy Of White Male Power by Ijeoma Oluo

The Blurb On The Back:

Introducing:

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male Power

White men lead our ineffective government with almost guaranteed re-election.

They lead our corrupt and violent criminal justice system with little risk of facing justice themselves.

And they run our increasingly polarised and misinforming media, winning awards for perpetrating the idea that things run best when white men are in charge.

This is not a stroke of white male luck; this is how our white male supremacist systems have been designed to work.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order MEDIOCRE: THE DANGEROUS LEGACY OF WHITE MALE AMERICA by Ijeoma Oluo from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Lost Kingdom: A History Of Russian Nationalism From Ivan The Great To Vladimir Putin by Serhii Plokhy

The Blurb On The Back:

An astonishing wide-ranging history of Russian nationalism from a pre-eminent scholar of Eastern Europe.

In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and attempted to seize a portion of Ukraine.  While the world watched in outrage, this violation of national sovereignty was in fact only the latest iteration of a centuries-long effort to expand Russian boundaries and create a pan-Russian nation.  In Lost Kingdom, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy argues that we can only understand the merging of imperialism and nationalism in Russia today by delving into its history.  Spanning over two thousand years, from the end of the Mongol rule to the present day, Plokhy shows how leaders from Ivan the Terrible to Joseph Stalin to Vladimir Putin have exploited existing forms of identity, warfare and territorial expansion to achieve imperial supremacy.  A strikingly ambitious book, Lost Kingdom chronicles the long and belligerent history of Russia’s empire and nation-building quest.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order LOST KINGDOM: A HISTORY OF RUSSIAN NATIONALISM FROM IVAN THE GREAT TO VLADIMIR PUTIN by Serhii Plokhy from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Enemies And Neighbours: Arabs And Jews In Palestine And Israel, 1917 – 2017 by Ian Black

The Blurb On The Back:

On the centenary of Britain’s Balfour Declaration – promising a Jewish ‘national home’ in Palestine – comes a major new history of the Palestinians and Israelis.

In Enemies and Neighbours, Ian Black has written a gripping and timely account of the most polarising conflict of our age: the unresolved and unequal struggle between Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land.  Beginning in the final years of Ottoman rule, he sheds fresh light on critical developments from the Arab rebellion of the 1930s and the watersheds of the 1948 and 1967 wars up to the present day.  Drawing on a wide range of sources, from oral testimonies to Black’s own decades of reporting, Enemies and Neighbours illuminates a bitter conflict that shows no sign of ending – which is why it is essential that we understand it.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order ENEMIES AND NEIGHBOURS: ARABS AND JEWS IN PALESTINE AND ISRAEL, 1917 – 2017 by Ian Black from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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The Great Wall Through Time: A 2,700 Journey Along The World’s Greatest Wall illustrated by Du Fei

The Blurb On The Back:

Embark on a time-travelling adventure along The Great Wall of China, spanning 2,700 years and more than 21,000km (13,000 miles).  From the first defensive forts built in the 7th century BCE to modern-day tourist sites, discover the fascinating secrets of one of the world’s greatest landmarks and the people who helped build it.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book

You can order THE GREAT WALL THROUGH TIME illustrated by Du Fei from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Why Did Ancient Greeks Ride Elephants Into Battle? by Tim Cooke

The Blurb On The Back:

Why did ancient Greeks ride elephants into battle?

Discover history for yourself with this fun, quirky series that tackles the questions other books are afraid to ask!

– Why did the ancient Greeks exercise naked?

– How did an owl inspire a city-state?

– And just what was Pythagoras’ theory of … beans?

A QUESTION OF HISTORY: THE ANCIENT GREEKS answers all these questions and much more.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order WHY DID ANCIENT GREEKS RIDE ELEPHANTS INTO BATTLE? by Tim Cook from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Did Vikings Have Horns On Their Helmets? by Tim Cooke

The Blurb On The Back:

Did Vikings have horns on their helmets?

Discover history for yourself with this fun, quirky series that tackles the questions other books are afraid to ask!

– Were the Vikings the VAINEST people in Europe?

– Did the Vikings really start fires with wee?

– And what on earth was toga honk?

A QUESTION OF HISTORY: VIKINGS answers all these questions and much more.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order DID VIKINGS HAVE HORNS ON THEIR HELMETS? by Tim Cook from Amazon UK, or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Civil Rights Stories – Racial Equality by Anita Ganeri and Toby Newsome

The Blurb On The Back:

Civil Rights Stories

Racial Equality

Discover the powerful real-life stories of racial inequality from history and from around the world.  The colour of your skin shouldn’t mean that you are treated badly and with prejudice.  But discrimination by white people against Black, Asian and indigenous peoples, means that racism affects the happiness and safety of millions.  

Civil rights are the rights that all people should have, no matter who they are or where they live.  But not everyone enjoys equal rights.  Civil Rights Stories shines a light on some of the people, movements and moments in the struggle for equality – a struggle that continues to this day.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order CIVIL RIGHTS STORIES: RACIAL EQUALITY by Anita Ganeri and Toby Newsome from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Forgotten Bastards Of The Eastern Front by Serhii Plokhy

The Blurb On The Back:

In October 1943, with the outcome of the Second World War hanging in the balance, the Allies needed a new plan.  The Americans’ audacious suggestion to the Soviets was to open a second air front, with the US Air Force establishing bases in Soviet-controlled territory.  Despite Stalin’s obvious reservations about the presence of foreign troops in Russia, he was persuaded, and in early 1944 Operation Baseball and then Frantic were initiated as B-17 Flying Fortresses were flown from bases in Italy to the Poltava region in today’s Ukraine.

Award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy tells the gripping, little-known story of this encounter between American and Soviet soldiers and how their collaboration quickly fell apart, anticipating the transition from the Grand Alliance to the Cold War.  Soviet secret policemen watched over the Americans, shadowing their every move.  A catastrophic air raid by the Germans revealed the limitations of Soviet air defences.  As their initial enthusiasm turned into disappointment, the American soldiers started calling themselves the Forgotten Bastards of Ukraine.  Ultimately, no common purpose could overcome their cultural and political differences.

Drawing on newly opened KGB and FBI records, Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front offers a riveting bottom-up history of one of the Second World War’s most unlikely alliances.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book

You can order FORGOTTEN BASTARDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT by Serhii Plokhy from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Rag And Bone by Lisa Woollett 

The Blurb On The Back:

From relics of Georgian empire-building and slave-trading, through Victorian London’s barged-out refuse to 1980s fly-tipping and the pervasiveness of present-day plastics, Rag and Bone traces the story of our rubbish, and, through it, our history of consumption.

In a series of beachcombing and mudlarking walks – beginning in the Thames in central London, then out to the Kentish estuary and eventually the sea around Cornwall – Lisa Woollett also tells the story of her family, a number of whom made their living from London’s waste, and who made a similar journey downriver from the centre of the city to the sea.

A beautifully written but urgent mixture of social history, family memoir and nature writing, Rag and Bone is a book about what we can learn from what we’ve thrown away – and a call to think more about what we leave behind. 

You can order RAG AND BONE: A FAMILY HISTORY OF WHAT WE’VE THROWN AWAY by Lisa Woollett from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Everything World War II by National Geographic Kids

The Blurb On The Back:

Brave soldiers, important battles, life on the Home Front!  It’s time to learn everything about World War II.

Packed with facts, pictures and maps it’s ideal for homework, topic work, KS2 school projects and anyone who is simply curious about history. 

EVERYTHING WORLD WAR II was released in the United Kingdom on 22nd July 2021.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order Everything World War II: Facts And Photos From The Front Line To The Home Front by National Geographic Kids from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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The Hunt For Mount Everest by Craig Storti

The Blurb On The Back:

The height of Mount Everest was first measured in 1850, but the closest any westerner got to Everest during the next 71 years, until 1921, was 40 miles.  The Hunt For Mount Everest tells the story of the 71-year quest to find the world’s highest mountain.  It’s a tale of high drama, of larger-than-life-characters – George Everest, Francis Younghusband, George Mallory, Lord Curzon, Edward Whymper – and a first quiet heroes – Alexander Kelly’s, the 13th Dalia Lama, and Charles Bell.

A story that traverses the Alps, the Himalayas, Nepal and Tibet, the British Empire (especially British India and the Raj), the Anglo-Russian rivalry known as The Great Game, the disastrous First Afghan War, and the phenomenal Survey of India – it is far bigger than simply the tallest mountain in the world.  Encountering spies, war, political intrigues, and hundreds of mules, camels, bullocks, yaks, and two zebrules, Craig Storti uncovers the fascinating and still largely overlooked saga of all that led up to that moment in late June of 1921 when two English climbers, George Mallory and Guy Bullock, became the first westerners – and almost certainly the first human beings – to set foot on Mount Everest and thereby claimed the last remaining major prize in the history of exploration.

With 2021 bringing the 100th anniversary of that year, most Everest chronicles have dealt with the climbing history of the mountain, with all that happened after 1921.  The Hunt For Mount Everest is the seldom-told story of all that happened before. 

You can order THE HUNT FOR MOUNT EVEREST by Craig Storti from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Seven Lives From Mass Observation by James Hinton

The Blurb On The Back:

What was it like to live in Britain during the second half of the twentieth century? In a successor to his acclaimed Nine Wartime Lives: Mass Observation and the Making of the Modern Self, James Hinton uses autobiographical writing contributed to Mass Observation since 1981 to explore the social and cultural history of late-twentieth-century Britain. Prompted by thrice-yearly open-ended questionnaires, Mass Observation’s volunteers wrote about their political attitudes, religious beliefs, work, childhoods, education, friendships, marriages, sex lives, mid-life crises, ageing – the whole range of human emotion, feeling, attitudes, and experience. At the core of the book are seven ‘biographical essays’: intimate portraits of individual lives set in the context of the shift towards a more tolerant and permissive society from the 1960s, and the rise of Thatcherite neo-liberalism as the structures of Britain’s post-war settlement crumbles from the later 1970s.

The mass observers featured in the book, four women and three men, are drawn from across the social spectrum – wife of a small businessman, teacher, social worker, RAF wife, mechanic, lorry driver, banker: all active and forceful characters with strong opinions and lives crowded with struggle and drama. The honesty and frankness with which they wrote about themselves takes us below the surface of public life to the efforts of ‘ordinary’, but exceptionally articulate and self-reflective, people to make sense of their lives in rapidly changing times.

You can order SEVEN LIVES FROM MASS OBSERVATION by James Hinton from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK. I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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The Place For Me: Stories About The Windrush Generation by Black Cultural Archives

The Blurb On The Back:

”Home ain’t jus’ where you live.  Home is your heart an’ yer history.”

The Place For Me – twelve moving tales of sacrifice and bravery, inspired by first-hand accounts of the Windrush generation.  Each inspiring and authentic story helps to bring the real experience of Black British people into focus.

You can order THE PLACE FOR ME by the Black Cultural Archives from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Essaying The Past: How To Read, Write And Think About History by Jim Cullen

The Blurb On The Back:

Learn to craft the perfect historical research paper with this approachable and practical guide

Essaying The Past: How To Read, Write And Think About History, Fourth Edition continues the tradition of excellence established by the previous editions.  Equal parts research manual, study guide, and introduction to the study of history, this book teaches readers how to write excellent historical prose with approachable strategies and actionable tips.

Noted teacher and writer Jim Cullen has created an invaluable resource for novices and experts in the field of historical study, offering practical insights into determining how questions should be framed, developing strong introductions and topic sentences, choosing evidence, and effectively revising your work.

Essaying The Past includes seven appendices covering the major issues facing students today, including the pitfalls and temptations of plagiarism and the role of the internet.  It also contains an annotated case study outlining one student’s process of writing an essay and demonstrating the application of the concepts contained within the book.  Essaying The Past covers topics including:

– How to think and read about history and ask the right questions about what you’re reading

– The three components of crafting a compelling argument

– How to deal with counterarguments and counter-evidence

– How to properly construct a bibliography and insert footnotes

– How to assess the credibility of online resources

Perfect for students taking surveys or courses in methods or historiography.  Essaying The Past also belongs on the bookshelf with even a passing interest in studying, researching, consuming, or writing about history.  

You can buy ESSAYING THE PAST: HOW TO READ, WRITE AND THINK ABOUT HISTORY by Jim Cullen from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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The Barbizon: The New York Hotel That Set Women Free by Paulina Bren

The Blurb On The Back:

Welcome to The Barbizon.  New York’s premier women-only hotel. 

Built in 1927, New York’s Barbizon Hotel was first intended as a home for the ‘Modern Women’ seeking a career in the arts.  Over the years its 688 tiny pink ‘highly feminine boudoirs’ housed Sylvia Plath, who fictionalised her time there in The Bell Jar, Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly (notorious for sneaking in men), Joan Didion, Candice Bergen, Charlie’s Angel Jaclyn Smith, Cybil Shepherd, Elaine Stritch, Liza Minnelli, Mona Simpson and a whole host of other writers and actors on the cusp of their careers.  Mademoiselle boarded its summer interns there – perfectly turned out young women, who would never be spotted hatless – as did Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School its students – in their white-gloves and kitten heels – and the Ford Modelling Agency its young models.

Not everyone who passed through the Barbizon’s doors was destined for greatness – for some it was a story of dashed hopes and expectations – but from the Jazz Age New Women of the 1920s, to the Liberated Women of the 1960s, until 1981 when the first men checked in, The Barbizon was a place where women could stand up and be counted. 

You can buy THE BARBIZON: THE NEW YORK HOTEL THAT SET WOMEN FREE by Paulina Bren from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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The Organ Thieves by Chip Jones

The Blurb On The Back:

Virginia, 1968.  In the segregated American South, surgeons raced to do what many still thought was impossible: transplant a human heart.  After Bruce Tucker, a black man, was admitted to the state’s top hospital with a head injury, he never left the hospital alive: but his heart did, in the chest of a white man.

The decades of scandal and investigation which followed uncovered a long, gruesome history of human experimentation and racial inequality, of body-snatching and cover-ups stretching back to the nineteenth century and still resonating today.  The story is told here for the first tie in full by Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporter Chip Jones.

You can order The Organ Thieves by Chip Jones from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Russia by Dmitri Trenin

The Blurb On The Back:

Over the past century alone, Russia has lived through great achievements and deepest misery; mass heroism and mass crime; over-blown ambition and near-hopeless despair – always emerging with its sovereignty and its fiercely independent spirit intact.

In this book, leading Russia scholar Dmitri Trenin accompanies readers on Russia’s rollercoaster journey from revolution to post-war devastation, perestroika to Putin’s stabilisation of post-Communist Russia.  Explaining the causes and the meaning of the numerous twists and turns in contemporary Russian history, he offers a vivid insider’s view of a country through one of its most trying and often tragic periods.  Today, he cautions, Russia stands at a turning point – politically, economically, and socially – its situation strikingly reminiscent of the Russian Empire in its final years.  For the Russian Federation to avoid a similar demise, it must learn the lessons of its own history.

You can order Russia by Dmitri Trenin from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Pride: The Story Of The LGBTQ Equality Movement by Matthew Todd

The Blurb On The Back:

In June 1969, police raided New York gay bar The Stonewall Inn, and the LGBTQ equality movement was born.  Pride charts the events of that night in New York, the days and nights of rioting that followed, the ensuing organisation of the LGBTQ community – and the 50 years that followed in which activists and ordinary people have dedicated their lives to reversing the global position.

Pride documents the milestones in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality, from the victories of early activists to the passing of legislation barring discrimination, and the gradual acceptance of the LTBTQ community in politics, spot, culture and the media.  Rare images and documents cover the seminal moments, events and breakthroughs of the movement, while personal testimonies share the voices of key figures on a broad range of topics, including Maureen Duffy on the early days of the movement, Asifa Lahore on religion, Jake Shears on music, Will Young on mental health and Paris Lees on trans representation.  Pride is a unique celebration of LGBTQ cultures, an account of the ongoing challenges facing the community, and a testament to the equal rights that have been won for many as a result of the passion and determination of this mass movement.

You can order Pride: The Story Of The LGBTQ Equality Movement by Matthew Todd from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, The US And The Struggle For Global Power by Richard McGregor

The Blurb On The Back:

The dramatic story of the relationship between the world’s three largest economies, by one of the foremost experts on East Asia. 

For more than half a century, American power in the Pacific has successfully kept the peace.  But it has also cemented the toxic rivalry between China and Japan, consumed with endless history wars and entrenched political dynasties.  Now, the combination of these forces with Donald Trump’s unpredictable impulses and disdain for America’s old alliances threatens to upend the region.  If the United States helped lay the post-war foundations for modern Asia, Asia’s Reckoning will reveal how that structure is now crumbling.

With unrivalled access to US and Asian archives, as well as many of the major players in all three countries, Richard McGregor shows how the confrontational course on which China and Japan have increasingly set themselves is no simple spat between neighbours.  And the fallout would be a political and economic tsunami for all of us.  

You can order Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, The US And The Struggle For Global Power by Richard McGregor from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Chernobyl: History Of A Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy

The Blurb On The Back:

There is no blurb on the back, but there are the following quotes:

”A compelling history of the 1986 disaster and its aftermath … plunges the reader into the sweaty, nervous tension of the Chernobyl control room on that fateful night when human frailty and design flaws combined to such devastating effect.”

Daniel Beer, Guardian

“Extraordinary, vividly written, powerful storytelling … the first full-scale history of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, one of the defining moments in the Cold War, told minute by minute.”

Victor Sebastian, Sunday Times

“An insightful and important book, that often reads like a good thriller, and that exposes the danger of mixing powerful technology with irresponsible politics”

Yoval Noah Harari 

“Haunting … near-Tolstoyan.His voice is humane and inflected with nostalgia”

Roland Elliott Brown, Spectator

You can order Chernobyl: History Of A Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links. 

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Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800 – 1906 by David Cannadine

The Blurb On The Back:

To live in Victorian Britain was to experience an astonishing series of changes, of a kind for which there was simply no precedent in the human experience.  This was an exhilarating time, but also a horrifying one.

In his dazzling new book David Cannadine has created a bold, fascinating new interpretation of Victorian Britain.  This was a country which saw itself at the summit of the world.  And yet it was a society also convulsed by doubt, fear and introspection.  Repeatedly, politicians and writers felt themselves to be staring into the abyss and what is seen as an era of irritating self-belief was in practice obsessed by a sense of its own fragility, whether as a great power or as a moral force.  Victorious Century is an extraordinary enjoyable book – its author catches the relish, humour and theatrically of the age, but also the dilemmas of a kind with which we remain familiar today. 

You can order Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800 – 1906 by David Cannadine from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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