‘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.
*THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER*
FROM THE AUTHOR OF EAST WEST STREET
As Governor of Galicia, SS Brigadeführer Otto Freiherr von Wächter presided over an authority on whose territory hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed, including the family of the author’s grandfather. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for ‘mass murder’. Hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the Poles and the British, as well as groups of Jews, Wächter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps, assisted by his wife Charlotte, before making his way to Rome where he was helped by a Vatican bishop. He remained there for three months. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the ‘ratline’ he died unexpectedly, in July 1949, a few days after spending a weekend with an ‘old comrade’.
In The Ratline Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a senior Nazi and fugitive, and of his wife. Drawing on a remarkable archive of family letters and diaries, he unveils a fascinating insight into life before and during the war, on the run, in Rome, and into the Cold War. Eventually the door is unlocked to a mystery that haunts Wächter’s youngest son, who continues to believe his father was a good man – what happened to Otto Wächter, and how did he die?
‘A gripping adventure, an astounding journey of discovery and a terrifying and timely portrait of evil in all its complexity, banality, self-justification and madness. A stunning achievement’ STEPHEN FRY
‘Hypnotic, shocking and unputdownable’ JOHN LE CARRÉ
‘Breathtaking, gripping, and ultimately, shattering. Philippe Sands has done the unimaginable: look a butcher in the eye and tell his story without flinching’ ELIF SHAFAK
‘A triumph of research and brilliant storytelling’ ANTONY BEEVOR
Longlisted for the 2020 William Hill Sports Book of the Year
‘A gripping history’ THE ECONOMIST
‘The World Beneath Their Feet contains plenty of rollicking stories’ THE TIMES
‘Gripping’ THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘So far as adventure stories go, this book is tops.’ Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump
‘[Ellsworth] recasts the era as a great Himalayan race…[and] it works brilliantly…his account of the 1953 ascent of Everest…feels unusually fresh’ THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘Like if Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air met Lauren Hillenbrand’s Unbroken … an inviting and engrossing read’ SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
One of the most compelling international dramas of the 20th century and an unforgettable saga of survival, technological innovation, and breathtaking human physical achievement-all set against the backdrop of a world headed toward war.
While tension steadily rose between European powers in the 1930s, a different kind of battle was raging across the Himalayas. Contingents from Great Britain, Nazi Germany, and the United States had set up rival camps at the base of the mountains, all hoping to become recognized as the fastest, strongest, and bravest climbers in the world.
Carried on across nearly the entire sweep of the Himalayas, this contest involved not only the greatest mountain climbers of the era, but statesmen and millionaires, world-class athletes and bona fide eccentrics, scientists and generals, obscure villagers and national heroes.
Centered in the 1930s, with one brief, shining postwar coda, the contest was a struggle between hidebound traditionalists and unknown innovators, one that featured new techniques and equipment, unbelievable courage and physical achievement, and unparalleled valor. And death. One Himalayan peak alone, Nanga Parbat in Kashmir, claimed twenty-five lives in less than three years.
Climbing the Himalayas was the Greatest Generation’s moonshot–one shrouded in the onset of war, interrupted by it, and then fully accomplished. A gritty, fascinating history that promises to enrapture fans of Hampton Side, Jon Krakauer, and Laura Hillenbrand, The World Beneath Their Feet brings this forgotten story back to life.
World War II sent the youth of the world across the globe in odd alliances against each other. Never before had a conflict been fought simultaneously in so many diverse landscapes on premises that often seemed unrelated. Never before had a conflict been fought in so many different ways – from rocket attacks on London to jungle fighting in Burma to armor strikes in Libya. It was only in time that these battles coalesced into one war.
In The Second World Wars, esteemed military historian Victor Davis Hanson examines how and why this happened, focusing in detail on how the war was fought in the air, at sea, and on land-and thus where, when, and why the Allies won. Throughout, Hanson also situates World War II squarely within the history of war in the West over the past 2,500 years. In profound ways, World War II was unique: the most lethal event in human history, with 50 million dead, the vast majority of them civilians. But, as Hanson demonstrates, the war’s origins were not entirely novel; it was reformulations of ancient ideas of racial and cultural superiority that fueled the global bloodbath.
‘Books such as this are essential: they remind modern readers of events that should never be forgotten’ – Caroline Moorehead
On March 25, 1942, nearly a thousand young, unmarried Jewish women boarded a train in Poprad, Slovakia. Filled with a sense of adventure and national pride, they left their parents’ homes wearing their best clothes and confidently waving good-bye. Believing they were going to work in a factory for a few months, they were eager to report for government service. Instead, the young women-many of them teenagers-were sent to Auschwitz. Their government paid 500 Reichsmarks (about £160) apiece for the Nazis to take them as slave labour. Of those 999 innocent deportees, only a few would survive.
The facts of the first official Jewish transport to Auschwitz are little known, yet profoundly relevant today. These were not resistance fighters or prisoners of war. There were no men among them. Sent to almost certain death, the young women were powerless and insignificant not only because they were Jewish-but also because they were female. Now, acclaimed author Heather Dune Macadam reveals their poignant stories, drawing on extensive interviews with survivors, and consulting with historians, witnesses, and relatives of those first deportees to create an important addition to Holocaust literature and women’s history.
What makes a good missionary makes a good American spy, or so thought Office of Special Services (OSS) founder “Wild” Bill Donovan when he recruited religious activists into the first ranks of American espionage. Called upon to serve Uncle Sam, Donovan’s recruits saw the war as a means of expanding their godly mission, believing an American victory would guarantee the safety of their fellow missionaries and their coreligionists abroad.
Drawing on never-before-seen archival materials, acclaimed historian Matthew Sutton shows how religious activists proved to be true believers in Franklin Roosevelt’s crusade for global freedom of religion. Sutton focuses on William Eddy, a warrior for Protestantism who was fluent in Arabic; Stewart Herman, a young Lutheran minister rounded up by the Nazis while pastoring in Berlin; Stephen B. L. Penrose, Jr., who left his directorship over missionary schools in the Middle East to join the military rank and file; and John Birch, a fundamentalist missionary in China. Donovan chose these men because they already had the requisite skills for good intelligence analysis, espionage, and covert operations, skills that allowed them to seamlessly blend into different environments. Working for eternal rewards rather than temporal spoils, they proved willing to sacrifice and even to die for their country during the conflict, becoming some of the United States’ most loyal secret soldiers.
Acutely aware of how their actions conflicted with their spiritual calling, these spies nevertheless ran covert operations in the centers of global religious power, including Mecca, the Vatican, and Palestine. In the end, they played an outsized role in leading the US to victory in WWII: Eddy laid the groundwork for the Allied invasion of North Africa, while Birch led guerilla attacks against the Japanese and, eventually, Chinese Communists. After the war, some of them — those who survived — helped launch the Central Intelligence Agency, so that their nation, and American Christianity, could maintain a strong presence throughout the rest of the world.
Surprising and absorbing at every turn, Double Crossedis an untold story of World War II spycraft and a profound account of the compromises and doubts that war forces on those who wage it.
Guy Mayfield was the Station Chaplain at RAF Duxford during the Battle of Britain. His diary is a moving account of the war fought by the young pilots during that summer of 1940, providing a unique and intimate insight into one of the most pivotal moments in British history.
Frequently speaking to pilots who knew they may not survive the next 24 hours, Mayfield’s diary provides a vivid account of the fears and hopes of the young men who risked their lives daily for the defence of Britain. Interspersed with photographs of the men and contextual narrative by IWM historian Carl Warner, this book brings a compelling and direct new perspective to this historic battle.
(P)2019 Headline Publishing Group Ltd
More than 170,000 British prisoners of war (POWs) were taken by German and Italian forces during the Second World War. Conditions were tough. Rations were meagre. The days dragged and there was a constant battle against boredom. The men, but not officers, had to work, often at heavy labour.
Guests of the Third Reich will provide an overview of what daily life was like for prisoners, from staging theatre productions to keep morale up to working allotments and planning audacious escape attempts.
Utilising IWM’s collections of letters, diaries, memoirs and sound interviews, this gripping, poignant narrative conveys the story of those in captivity in Germany during the Second World War in a personal and engaging way.
(P)2019 Headline Publishing Group Ltd
1941. Before Montgomery’s victory at El Alamein and the American entry into the war, Britain and her Empire stood alone and on the brink of defeat. As Hitler launched Barbarossa, a triple threat emerged from the Middle East – nationalists in Iraq sought an alliance with Germany, the Vichy regime in Syria was ready to welcome Nazi troops and Iran’s neutrality threatened supply and communication channels to the Empire and the ailing Soviet Union.
Further, control of the Middle East meant control of oil, the essential lubricant of modern warfare. For the British war effort, the cost of defeat in the region was unthinkable.
Churchill was wrong when he famously pronounced ‘Before El Alamein Britain never had a victory; after El Alamein she never suffered a defeat’. In First Victory, the acclaimed historian Robert Lyman tells a
gripping narrative of a series of vital victories that heralded the real turning point in Britain’s fortunes. Until now, these extraordinary events have been relegated to the footnotes of history, overshadowed by the fearsome advance of the German war machine in Europe and North Africa.
Shedding new light on the inner workings of Churchill’s war cabinet and its relationship with the overstretched outposts of the Empire, Lyman reveals the fraught negotiations, rapid manoeuvring of meagre troops, and the additional improvisation and good luck that enabled British forces to construct a series of unlikely victories which effectively secured Britain’s future in the war.
‘A revelatory and wholly fascinating work of history. Superbly researched and written with gripping fluency, this lost secret of World War II espionage finally has its expert chronicler.’ – WILLIAM BOYD
‘Gripping and intoxicating, it unfolds like the best screenplay.’– NICHOLAS SHAKESPEARE
‘This is excellent, surprising and timely. Henry is a proper talent.’ – DAN SNOW
‘This is a fascinating and gripping book, and deserves to be a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic.’ – JOHN O’FARRELL
‘In Hemming’s sure hands, America’s uncertain progress towards direct engagement in the second world war becomes riveting history.’ – SPECTATOR
‘A galloping story that Henry Hemming tells with clarity and aplomb.’ – NEW STATESMAN
The gripping story of a propaganda campaign like no other: the covert British operation to manipulate American public opinion and bring the US into the Second World War.
When William Stephenson – “our man in New York” – arrived in the United States towards the end of June 1940 with instructions from the head of MI6 to ‘organise’ American public opinion, Britain was on the verge of defeat. Surveys showed that just 14% of the US population wanted to go to war against Nazi Germany. But soon that began to change…
Those campaigning against America’s entry into the war, such as legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh, talked of a British-led plot to drag the US into the conflict. They feared that the British were somehow flooding the American media with ‘fake news’, infiltrating pressure groups, rigging opinion polls and meddling in US politics.
These claims were shocking and wild: they were also true.
That truth is revealed here for the first time by bestselling author Henry Hemming, using hitherto private and classified documents, including the diaries of his own grandparents, who were briefly part of Stephenson’s extraordinary influence campaign that was later described in the Washington Post as ‘arguably the most effective in history’. Stephenson – who saved the life of Hemming’s father – was a flawed maverick, full of contradictions, but one whose work changed the course of the war, and whose story can now be told in full.
Scientists have always kept secrets. But rarely in history have scientific secrets been as vital as they were during World War II. In the midst of planning the Manhattan Project, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services created a secret offshoot – the Alsos Mission – meant to gather intelligence on and sabotage if necessary, scientific research by the Axis powers. What resulted was a plot worthy of the finest thriller, full of spies, sabotage, and murder. At its heart was the ‘Lightning A’ team, a group of intrepid soldiers, scientists, and spies – and even a famed baseball player – who were given almost free rein to get themselves embedded within the German scientific community to stop the most terrifying threat of the war: Hitler acquiring an atomic bomb of his very own.
While the Manhattan Project and other feats of scientific genius continue to inspire us today, few people know about the international intrigue and double-dealing that accompanied those breakthroughs. Bastard Brigade recounts this forgotten history, fusing a non-fiction spy thriller with some of the most incredible scientific ventures of all time.