We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

Search Results for:

Showing 1-12 of 2280 results

Persians

Persians


THE PERSIANS is a definitive new history of the Persian Empire, the world’s first superpower.

The Great Kings of Persia ruled over the largest Empire of antiquity, stretching from Libya to the Steppes of Asia, and from Ethiopia to Pakistan. At the heart of the Empire was the fabled palace-city of Persepolis where the Achaemenid monarchs held court in unparalleled grandeur. From here, Cyrus the Great, Darius, Xerxes, and their heirs passed laws, raised armies, and governed their multicultural Empire of enormous diversity.

The Achaemenids, however, were one of the great dysfunctional families of history. Brothers fought brothers for power, wives and concubines plotted to promote their sons to the throne, and eunuchs and courtiers vied for influence and prestige.

Our understanding of the Persian Empire has traditionally come from the histories of Greek writers such as Herodotus – and as such, over many centuries, our perspective has been skewed by ancient political and cultural agendas. Professor Llewellyn-Jones, however, calls upon original Achaemenid sources, including inscriptions, art, and recent archaeological discoveries in Iran, to create an authentic ‘Persian Version’ of this remarkable first great empire of antiquity – the Age of the Great Kings.
The Mercenary River

The Mercenary River

No city can survive without water, and lots of it. Today we take the stuff for granted: turn a tap and it gushes out. But it wasn’t always so. For centuries London, one of the largest and richest cities in the world, struggled to supply its citizens with reliable, clean water. The Mercenary River tells the story of that struggle from the middle ages to the present day.

Based on new research, it tells a tale of remarkable technological, scientific and organisational breakthroughs; but also a story of greed and complacency, high finance and low politics. Among the breakthroughs was the picturesque New River, neither new nor a river but a state of the art aqueduct completed in 1613 and still part of London’s water supply: the company that built it was one of the very first modern business corporations, and also one of the most profitable. London water companies were early adopters of steam power for their pumps. And the Chelsea Water Company was the first in the world to filter the water it supplied its customers: the same technique is still used to purify two-thirds of London’s drinking water. The book also chronicles our changing relationship with water and the way we use it. For much of London’s history water had to be rationed.

Amongst many stories, Nick Higham’s page-turning narrative uncovers the murky tale of how the most powerful steam engine in the world was first brought to London; the extraordinary story of how one Victorian London water company deliberately cut off 2,000 households, even though it knew they had no alternative source of supply; the details of a financial scandal which brought two of the water companies close to collapse in the 1870s; and finally asking whether today’s 21st century water companies are an improvement on their Victorian predecessors.
The Sea Is Never Still

The Sea Is Never Still

In 2016, John Henry Phillips found himself in France without a hotel room. He was volunteering with a charity that took D-Day veterans back to Normandy. Due to an administrative error he found himself without a room and reliant on the generosity of one of the veterans who had a spare bed. That veteran was Patrick Thomas, who had been nineteen years old at the time of the landings. It was an encounter that would change both their lives forever.

Patrick’s story of survival on D-Day transfixed John, and the resulting search for Patrick’s D-Day landing craft, LCH185, was to consume him. The Sea is Never Still is an emotional story of a devastating day in history, an unlikely friendship and the search for the final resting place of a wartime home and family lost over seventy-five years ago.
This is also John’s attempt to remember, at a time of rising nationalism and hate-mongering, the sacrifices of earlier generations. So many contemporary leaders claim to ‘remember’ what generations before us fought and died for, yet pursue policies that trade citizens’ lives for GDP and dismantle international relationships in the service of a disturbingly familiar nationalist agenda. Patrick’s experiences will resonate with readers as a reminder of a moment in history when people came together and, through countless acts of individual, everyday heroism, were victorious against a terrible threat. The Second World War is as much the story of millions of men and women in foxholes and pillboxes, in planes and at sea, as it is of world leaders and their strategies. Such individual stories are at risk of being lost in a way that the better-known, overarching narratives never will be. They are as deserving of being told, as chronicles of everyday courage, of small decisions and choices that sent one soldier to the bottom of the sea, and another safely back to England.
Three Epic Battles that Saved Democracy

Three Epic Battles that Saved Democracy

Praise for the author’s A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths: ‘Eminently sane, highly informative’
PAUL CARTLEDGE, BBC History magazine

In 2022 it will be 2,500 years since the final defeat of the invasion of Greece by the Persian King Xerxes. This astonishing clash between East and West still has resonances in modern history, and has left us with tales of heroic resistance in the face of seemingly hopeless odds. Kershaw makes use of recent archaeological and geological discoveries in this thrilling and timely retelling of the story, originally told by Herodotus, the Father of History.

The protagonists are, in Europe, the Greeks, led on land by militaristic, oligarchic Sparta, and on sea by the newly democratic Athens; in Asia, the mighty Persian Empire – powerful, rich, cultured, ethnically diverse, ruled by mighty kings, and encompassing modern Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Egypt.

When the rich, sophisticated, Greek communities of Ionia on the western coast of modern Turkey, rebel from their Persian overlord Darius I, Athens sends ships to help them. Darius crushes the Greeks in a huge sea battle near Miletus, and then invades Greece. Standing alone against the powerful Persian army, the soldiers of Athens’ newly democratic state – a system which they have invented – unexpectedly repel Darius’s forces at Marathon.

After their victory, the Athenians strike a rich vein of silver in their state-owned mining district, and decide to spend the windfall on building a fleet of state-of-the-art warships.

Persia wants revenge. The next king, Xerxes, assembles a vast multinational force, constructs a bridge of boats across the Hellespont, digs a canal through the Mount Athos peninsula, and bears down on Greece. Trusting in their ‘wooden walls’, the Athenians station their ships at Artemisium, where they and the weather prevent the Persians landing forces in the rear of the land forces under the Spartan King Leonidas at the nearby pass of Thermopylae. Xerxes’s assault is a disastrous failure, until a traitor shows him a mountain track that leads behind the Greeks. Leonidas dismisses the Greek troops, but remains in the pass with his 300 Spartan warriors where they are overwhelmed in an heroic last stand.

Athens is sacked by the Persians. Democracy is hanging by a thread. But the Athenians convince the Greek allies to fight on in the narrow waters by the island of Salamis (underwater archaeology has revealed the Greek base), where they can exploit local weather conditions to negate their numerical disadvantage. Despite the heroism of the Persian female commander Artemisia, the Persian fleet is destroyed.

Xerxes returns to Asia Minor, but still leaves some forces in Greece. In 479 BCE, the Spartans lead a combined Greek army out against the Persians. In a close-run battle near the town of Plataea, the discipline, fighting ability and weaponry of the Greeks prevail. The Persian threat to the Greek mainland is over.

Athens forms a successful anti-Persian coalition to drive the Persians from Greek territory, seek reparations, and create security in the future. But this ‘alliance’ is gradually converted into an Athenian Empire. The democracy becomes increasingly radical. In this context we see the astonishing flowering of fifth-century BCE Athenian culture – in architecture, drama and philosophy – but also a disastrous war, and defeat, at the hands of Sparta by the end of the century.

The book concludes by exploring the ideas that the decisive battles of Thermopylae and Salamis mark the beginnings of Western civilization itself and that Greece remains the bulwark of the West , representing the values of generous and unselfish peace, freedom and democracy in a neighbourhood ravaged by instability and war.
A Brief History of Germany

A Brief History of Germany

The history of Germany is intricately woven. Threaded in time through its struggles and triumphs with religion, industrialisation, enlightenment, politics, unification, and war.

In A Brief History of Germany, Jeremy Black questions how the Germany we know today came to be, chronicling the events that shaped its past, present and future in a fascinating new way.

From the fall of Rome in the 1500s to the enlightenment in the 1700s, from World War I and World War II to Germany post-unification, Black’s writing will unlock the places and people that formed Germany and enrich your visit with stories of its society and culture.

Concise yet explorative, A Brief History of Germany is an astonishing work from a renowned UK historian. Whether you are a long-term reader of Black’s expansive history work or are interested in learning more ahead of a short city break or longer trip, this intriguing look at the history of Germany is an essential read.


Women Remembered

Women Remembered

Do you think that Jesus only surrounded himself with men? Think again.

Inspired by their popular Channel 4 documentary Jesus’ Female Disciples, historians Helen Bond and Joan Taylor explore the way in which Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary, Martha and a whole host of other women – named and unnamed – have been remembered by posterity, noting how many were silenced, tamed or slurred by innuendo – though occasionally they get to slay dragons. Women Remembered looks at the representation of these women in art, and the way they have been remembered in inscriptions and archaeology. And of course they dig into the biblical texts, exposing misogyny and offering alternative and unexpected ways of appreciating these women as disciples, apostles, teachers, messengers and church-founders.

At a time when both the church and society more widely are still grappling with the full inclusion and equality of women, this is a must-read for anyone interested in the historical and cultural origins of Christianity.
Making History

Making History

MAKING HISTORY is an epic exploration of who writes about the past and how the biases of certain storytellers – whether Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare or Simon Schama – continue to influence our ideas about history (and about who we are) today.

In this authoritative and supremely entertaining book, Richard Cohen reveals how professional historians and other equally significant witnesses (such as the writers of the Bible, major novelists, dramatists, journalists and political propagandists) influence what become the accepted records of human experience. Is there, he asks, even such a thing as “objective” history? The depth of Cohen’s inquiry and the delight he takes in his subjects includes the practitioners of what he calls “Bad History,” those thieves of history who twist reality to glorify themselves and conceal their or their country’s behaviour.

Cohen investigates the published works and private utterances of our greatest historical thinkers to discover the agendas that informed their views of the world, and which in so many ways have informed ours. From the origins of history-writing, when such an idea seemed itself revolutionary, through to television and the digital age, MAKING HISTORY abounds in captivating figures brought to vivid life, from Thucydides and Tacitus to Voltaire and Gibbon, from Winston Churchill to Mary Beard. Rich in character, complex truths and surprising anecdotes, the result is a unique exploration of both the aims and craft of history-making. It will lead us to think anew about our past and ourselves.
Oceans of Grain

Oceans of Grain

A revelatory global history shows how cheap American grain toppled the world’s largest empires

To understand the rise and fall of empires, we must follow the paths traveled by grain-along rivers, between ports, and across seas. In Oceans of Grain, historian Scott Reynolds Nelson reveals how the struggle to dominate these routes transformed the balance of world power.

Early in the nineteenth century, imperial Russia fed much of Europe through the booming port of Odessa. But following the US Civil War, tons of American wheat began to flood across the Atlantic, and food prices plummeted. This cheap foreign grain spurred the rise of Germany and Italy, the decline of the Habsburgs and the Ottomans, and the European scramble for empire. It was a crucial factor in the outbreak of the First World War and the Russian Revolution.

A powerful new interpretation, Oceans of Grain shows that amid the great powers’ rivalries, there was no greater power than control of grain.
Code Over Country

Code Over Country

The Navy SEALs are, for most Americans, the ultimate heroes. Their 2011 killing of Osama Bin Laden was celebrated as a victory in the War on Terror. Former SEALs rake in thousands of dollars as leadership consultants for American corporations. And young men who want to join the military dream of serving in their elite ranks.

But as recent revelations, like the uproar around former SEAL Eddie Gallagher, have shown, the SEALs have lost their bearings. Gallagher was only the tip of the iceberg. In Code Over Country, investigative journalist Matthew A. Cole tells the story of the most celebrated SEAL unit, SEAL Team 6, revealing the dark, troubling pattern of war crimes and deep moral rot hidden behind the heroic narratives.

From their origins during World War II and their first test during the Vietnam War, the SEALs were trained to be specialized killers with short missions. But as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan turned into the endless War on Terror, their carefully-managed violence spiraled out of control.

Drawing on years of reporting, Cole follows SEAL Team 6’s history, the high-level decisions that unleashed their violence, and the coverups that prevented their crimes from coming to light. Code Over Country is a much-needed reckoning with the unchecked power of the military — and the harms enacted by and upon soldiers in our name.
A World Transformed

A World Transformed

A World Transformed explores how slavery thrived at the heart of the entire Western world for more than three centuries. Arguing that slavery can only be fully understood by stepping back from traditional national histories, this book collects the scattered accounts of the most recent scholarship into a comprehensive history of slavery and its shaping of the world we know. Celebrated historian James Walvin tells a global story that covers everything from the capitalist economy, labor, and the environment, to social culture and ideas of family, beauty and taste.

This book underscores just how thoroughly slavery is responsible for the making of the modern world. The enforced transportation and labour of millions of Africans became a massive social and economic force, catalysing the rapid development of multiple new and enormous trading systems with profound global consequences. The labour and products of enslaved people changed the consumption habits of millions – in India and Asia, Europe and Africa, in colonised and Indigenous American societies. Across time, slavery shaped many of the dominant features of Western taste: items and habits or rare and costly luxuries, some of which might seem, at first glance, utterly removed from the horrific reality of slavery. Why Slavery in the Americas Matters traces the global impacts of slavery over centuries, far beyond legal or historical endpoints, confirming that the world created by slave labour lives on today.
Ten Cities that Led the World

Ten Cities that Led the World

Great cities are complex, chaotic and colossal. These are cities that dominate the world stage and define eras; where ideas flourish, revolutions are born and history is made.

Through ten unique cities, from the founding of ancient capitals to buzzing modern megacities, Paul Strathern explores how urban centres lead civilisation forward, enjoying a moment of glory before passing on the baton.

We journey back to discover Babylonian mathematics, Athenian theatre and intellectual debate, and Roman construction that has lasted millennia. We see Constantinople evolve into Istanbul, revolutionary sparks fly in Enlightenment Paris, and the railways, canals and ships that built Imperial London. In Moscow men build spaceships while other men starve, New York’s skyscrapers rise up to a soundtrack of jazz, Mumbai becomes home to immense wealth and poverty, and Beijing’s economic transformation leads the way.

Each city has its own distinct personality, and Ten Cities that Led the World brings their rich and diverse histories to life, reminding us of the foundations we have built on and how our futures will be shaped.
Filter by +