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1938: Hitler's Gamble

1938: Hitler's Gamble

In this masterly new work, acclaimed historian Giles MacDonogh explores the moment when Hitler gambled everything. Until 1938, Hitler could be dismissed as a ruthless but efficient dictator, a problem to Germany alone; after 1938 he was clearly a threat to the entire world.

In that year The Third Reich came of age and the Führer showed his hand – bringing Germany into line with Nazi ideology and revealing long-held plans to take back those parts of Europe lost to ‘Greater Germany’ after the First World War. The sequence of events began in January with the purging of the army, and escalated with the merger with Austria – the Anschluss, and the first persecutions of Viennese Jewry.

In the following months Hitler moulded the nation to his will. Elections brought him a 99 per cent approval rating. MacDonogh gives a full account of the nationalist opposition that failed to topple Hitler in September 1938. By the end of the year the brutal reality of the Nazi regime was revealed by Joseph Goebbels in Kristallnacht, a nationwide assault on Germany’s native Jewish population.

MacDonogh’s access to many new sources gives insights into what life was like under the eye of the regime, revealing the role of the Anglican Church after the Anschluss, saving those Jews who were willing to convert, and also the Kendrick Affair – the still-secret details of the Austrian double agent who brought down the whole MI6 operation in Austria and Germany, just as the Chamberlain government began negotiations with Hitler at Munich. A remarkable and revealing account of Hitler’s opening moves to war.
A Good Place to Hide

A Good Place to Hide

During the occupation of France in WWII the villages around Le Chambon-sur-Lignon pulled off an astonishing and largely unknown feat. Risking everything, they underwent a long-running battle of nerves and daring to hide 5,000 men, women and children, 3,500 of them Jews, from the Nazis and their Vichy stooges. Despite the danger, a whole community rallied together, from the pacifist pastor who defied orders to the glamorous female agent with a wooden leg, from the 18-year-old master forger to the schoolgirl who ran suitcases stuffed with money for the Resistance.

Told using first-hand testimonies of many of the survivors and face-to-face interviews conducted by the author, A Good Place to Hide is the thrilling story of ordinary people who thwarted the Nazis and sheltered strangers in desperate need.
Abducting a General

Abducting a General

A daring behind-enemy-lines mission from the author of A Time of Gifts and The Broken Road, who was once described by the BBC as ‘a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene’. Although a story often told, this is the first time Patrick Leigh Fermor’s own account of the kidnapping of General Kriepe, has been published.

One of the greatest feats in Patrick Leigh Fermor’s remarkable life was the kidnapping of General Kreipe, the German commander in Crete, on 26 April 1944. He and Captain Billy Moss hatched a daring plan to abduct the general, while ensuring that no reprisals were taken against the Cretan population. Dressed as German military police, they stopped and took control of Kreipe’s car, drove through twenty-two German checkpoints, then succeeded in hiding from the German army before finally being picked up on a beach in the south of the island and transported to safety in Egypt on 14 May.

Abducting a General is Leigh Fermor’s own account of the kidnap, published for the first time. Written in his inimitable prose, and introduced by acclaimed Special Operations Executive historian Roderick Bailey, it is a glorious first-hand account of one of the great adventures of the Second World War. Also included in this book are Leigh Fermor’s intelligence reports, sent from caves deep within Crete yet still retaining his remarkable prose skills, which bring the immediacy of SOE operations vividly alive, as well as the peril which the SOE and Resistance were operating under; and a guide to the journey that Kreipe was taken on, as seen in the 1957 film Ill Met by Moonlight starring Dirk Bogarde, from the abandonment of his car to the embarkation site so that the modern visitor can relive this extraordinary event.
Achtung Panzer!

Achtung Panzer!

This is one of the most significant military books of the twentieth century. By an outstanding soldier of independent mind, it pushed forward the evolution of land warfare and was directly responsible for German armoured supremacy in the early years of the Second World War.

Published in 1937, the result of 15 years of careful study since his days on the German General Staff in the First World War, Achtung Panzer! argues how vital the proper use of tanks and supporting armoured vehicles would be in the conduct of a future war. When that war came, just two years later, he proved it, leading his Panzers with distinction in the Polish, French and Russian campaigns. Panzer warfare had come of age, exactly as he had forecast.This first English translation of Heinz Guderian’s classic book – used as a textbook by Panzer officers in the war – has an introduction and extensive background notes by the modern English historian Paul Harris.
Army Girls

Army Girls

Army Girls is the intimate story of the final few women who served in World War II and are still alive to tell their tale. They were female soldiers in a war Britain wanted to fight without conscripting women. It was a vain hope, by December 1941 for the first time in British history women were called up and a generation of girls came of age in khaki, serving king and country. Barbara trained to drive army-style in giant trucks and Grace swapped her servant’s pinafore for battledress and a steel hat, Martha turned down officer status for action on a gun-site and Olivia won the Croix de Guerre in France.

Commemorating the 80th anniversary of conscription for women, Army Girls captures remarkable stories from the last surviving veterans who served in Britain’s female army and brings to life a pivotal moment in British history. Precious memories and letters are entwined in a rich narrative that travels back in time and sheds new light on being young, female and at war.

Uniquely this moving Second World War memoir is embedded in the present day. Written in the midst of a global pandemic, the parallels and paradoxes between two very different national crises are explored in a book that honours the women who fought on in extreme youth and now once more in great old age.
Arnhem

Arnhem

This is the vivid account of how a brilliant plan turned into an epic tragedy.

This book tells the true story of the Battle of Arnhem which was fought in September 1944.

Nine thousand men of the First British Airborne Division were parachuted into the peaceful countryside that surrounded Arnhem. Their objective was to capture and hold the bridge over the Rhine ahead of the advancing British Second Army. Nine days later, after some of the fiercest street-fighting of the war, 2000 paratroopers managed to escape to safety.

‘Finely recorded…truly the battle of Arnhem has been fortunate in its historian’ Sunday Times
Battle of Britain

Battle of Britain

Battle of Britain is a riveting chronicle of the epic struggle between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe. It is the story of Britain’s fight for national survival, from the shock defeat and evacuation from Dunkirk in May/June 1940 to fighter Command’s assertion of superiority over the Luftwaffe in mid-September. Battle of Britain takes the reader through that summer day by day, revealing the ongoing battle’s impact on flyers and civilians alike. By enhancing his narrative with eye-witness accounts, diary extracts and pilot profiles, Bishop brings the often horrific reality of air combat vividly to life. In Battle of Britain Patrick Bishop has written the definitive account of one of the pivotal moments in twentieth-century British history, and a nation’s ‘finest hour’.
Battle of Britain

Battle of Britain

‘A useful contribution to an overcrowded field of history by giving deserved attention to the ordinary men and unsung machines that aren’t usually included in the dramatic narrative.‘ – The Times

‘A great read and a real eye-opener to anyone who thinks the Battle of Britain is only about Brits and Germans and Messerschmitts and Spitfires. The value in this account is also the way the back stories of many previously unheralded pilots come to life.’ – General Sir David Richards, former Chief of the Defence Staff

***

In Battle of Britain: The pilots and planes that made history, Ed Gorman and Simon Pearson paint a vivid picture of the men and their machines as the battle for air superiority over Britain is played out across the skies of Europe, from the west of Ireland to the German capital.

We experience the battle chronologically through the remarkable stories of eighteen airmen from across the world. Some will be new to many readers: the New Zealander who “borrowed” a seaplane from the Royal Navy to set up a freelance air-sea rescue service that saved the lives of dozens of British and German pilots; the Swiss baron who claimed to have destroyed six British fighters in a day; the vainglorious commander whose RAF squadron was wiped out trying to disrupt Nazi invasion plans; and the German bomber pilot who fought the first battle involving foreign troops on British soil since Culloden – before repairing to a pub for a pint with soldiers who had taken him prisoner.

Illustrated with contemporary photographs of the pilots and their aircraft, this is an enthralling and original account from both sides of a conflict that shaped the modern world, full of courage, endeavour and, above all, humanity.
Blitz Spirit

Blitz Spirit

‘Finally, a book that is proving very therapeutic in these difficult times… Full of doubt, fear, anger and rueful comedy, they give the lie to the idea that the Brits maintained a stiff upper lip, but it’s immensely consoling to know that our forebears sometimes thought that they were living through the end times but survived to enjoy better and brighter days.’ Jonathan Coe, The Times

‘With 34 million of us in Tier 3, these Mass Observation diaries have an added fascination: it’s impossible to read them without coming across parallels on almost every page, people’s characters revealing themselves under wartime restrictions just as they do under Covid ones.’ The Times

‘A great book – such a good read.’ Jeremy Vine

‘Brown’s book features an eclectic selection from the wartime years and is full of fascinating and sometimes surprising insights.’ Mail on Sunday

‘Moving and unexpectedly funny, it’s these words that may offer comfort.’ Woman’s Weekly

‘What extraordinary voices of Britain living through crisis! A brilliant testament to resilience.’ Anne Glenconner

‘A stirring and evocative account of life on the home front. Full of surprises that bring a fascinating perspective on the blitz spirit.’ – Deborah Cadbury, author of Chocolate Wars and Princes at War

***

Throughout the Second World War hundreds of people kept diaries of their private daily lives as part of a groundbreaking national experiment. They were warehousemen and WRENs, soldiers and farmhands, housewives and journalists, united only by a desire to record the history they were living through.

For decades their words have been held in the Mass-Observation Archive, a time capsule of ordinary voices that might otherwise have been forgotten. These voices tell the human story behind the iconic events of those six years, of the individuals grappling with a world turned upside down. From panic-buying and competitively digging for victory to extraordinary acts of bravery, Blitz Spirit is a remarkable collection of real wartime experiences that represent the best and worst of human nature in the face of adversity.

Resonant, darkly funny and deeply moving, this new collection will reveal what it was like to live through a crisis of unprecedented proportions. A cacophony of hope, cynicism and resilience, Blitz Spirit celebrates ordinary lives – however small – and shines a light on the people we were, and the people we are now.
Blood and Fears

Blood and Fears

How America’s bomber boys and girls in England won their war, and how their English allies responded to them.

In this comprehensive history, Kevin Wilson allows the young men of the US 8th Air Force based in Britain during the Second World War to tell their stories of blood and heroism in their own words. He also reveals the lives of the Women’s Army Corps and Red Cross girls who served in England with them. Drawing on first-hand accounts, Wilson brings to life the ebullient Americans’ interactions with their British counterparts, and unveils surprising stories of humanity and heartbreak.

Thanks to America’s bomber boys and girls, life in Britain would never be the same again.
Blood, Sweat and Arrogance

Blood, Sweat and Arrogance

Why the British forces fought so badly in World War II and who was to blame

Gordon Corrigan’s Mud, Blood and Poppycock overturned the myths that surround the First World War. Now he challenges our assumptions about the Second World War in this brilliant, caustic narrative that exposes just how close Britain came to losing. He reveals how Winston Churchill bears a heavy responsibility for the state of our forces in 1939, and how his interference in military operations caused a string of disasters. The reputations of some of our most famous generals are also overturned: above all, Montgomery, whose post-war stature owes more to his skill with a pen than talent for command. But this is not just a story of personalities.

Gordon Corrigan investigates how the British, who had the biggest and best army in the world in 1918, managed to forget everything they had learned in just twenty years. The British invented the tank, but in 1940 it was the Germans who showed the world how to use them. After we avoided defeat, but the slimmest of margins, it was a very long haul to defeat Hitler’s army, and one in which the Russians would ultimately bear the heaviest burden.
Bonzo's War

Bonzo's War

What was it like to be a dog or cat when the world was at war? When food was rationed and cities were bombed? Pets (on the whole) do not write memoirs, so to find the answer to that question, Clare Campbell went in search of voices of those people whose lives were entwined with animals.

She found stories – inspiring and harrowing – of animals under fire, of evacuated and homeless pets, of brave animals who provided comfort to humans while the bombs fell. Of pets unwittingly entangled in war, like the Dunkirk pets and the camp followers who switched sides to stay alive; and the 6,000 dogs recruited by the British Army – loaned for duty by their families – many never to return. Meanwhile with food in short supply, government officials launched a ruthless campaigns against pets…

Thoroughly researched and deeply moving, Bonzo’s War gives a fascinating account of, and platform for, the forgotten stories as yet unheard, of the creatures big and small caught up in a human conflict far beyond understanding.
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