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Queens of Jerusalem

Queens of Jerusalem

In 1187 Saladin’s armies besieged the holy city of Jerusalem. He had previously annihilated Jerusalem’s army at the battle of Hattin, and behind the city’s high walls a last-ditch defence was being led by an unlikely trio – including Sibylla, Queen of Jerusalem. They could not resist Saladin, but, if they were lucky, they could negotiate terms that would save the lives of the city’s inhabitants.

Queen Sibylla was the last of a line of formidable female rulers in the Crusader States of Outremer. Yet for all the many books written about the Crusades, one aspect is conspicuously absent: the stories of women. Queens and princesses tend to be presented as passive transmitters of land and royal blood. In reality, women ruled, conducted diplomatic negotiations, made military decisions, forged alliances, rebelled, and undertook architectural projects. Sibylla’s grandmother Queen Melisende was the first queen to seize real political agency in Jerusalem and rule in her own right. She outmanoeuvred both her husband and son to seize real power in her kingdom, and was a force to be reckoned with in the politics of the medieval Middle East. The lives of her Armenian mother, her three sisters, and their daughters and granddaughters were no less intriguing.

The lives of this trailblazing dynasty of royal women, and the crusading Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, are the focus of Katherine Pangonis’s debut book. In QUEENS OF JERUSALEM she explores the role women played in the governing of the Middle East during periods of intense instability, and how they persevered to rule and seize greater power for themselves when the opportunity presented itself.
Just My Type

Just My Type

A delightfully inquisitive tour that explores the rich history and the subtle powers of fonts.

Fonts surround us every day, on street signs and buildings, on movie posters and books, and on just about every product that we buy. But where do fonts come from and why do we need so many? Who is behind the businesslike subtlety of Times New Roman, the cool detachment of Arial, or the maddening lightness of Comic Sans (and the movement to ban it)? Simon Garfield embarks on a mission to answer these questions and more, and reveal what may be the very best and worst fonts in the world.

Typefaces are now 560 years old, but we barely knew their names until about twenty years ago, when the pull-down font menus on our first computers made us all the gods of type. Beginning in the early days of Gutenberg and ending with the most adventurous digital fonts, Garfield unravels our age old obsession with the way our words look. Just My Type investigates a range of modern mysteries, including how Helvetica took over the world, what inspires the seemingly ubiquitous use of Trajan on bad movie posters, and what makes a font look presidential, male or female, American, British, German, or Jewish. From the typeface of Beatlemania to the graphic vision of the Obama campaign, fonts can signal a musical revolution or the rise of an American president. This book is a must-read for the design conscious that will forever change the way you look at the printed word.
Dog's Best Friend

Dog's Best Friend

‘DOG’S BEST FRIEND is as fascinating, funny and wise as we’ve come to expect from Simon Garfield. More than that, it’s a book that asks profound questions about what it means to be canine’ ANDY MILLER, author THE YEAR OF READING DANGEROUSLY

‘This is a book that will make your tail wag’ KATE HUMBLE

‘A fascinating, informative and highly entertaining expedition through the highways and byways of dogdom’ JOHN BRADSHAW, author of IN DEFENCE OF DOGS

‘Simon Garfield has written a book every owner will lap up with the same delight and enthusiasm their Fido would a discarded box of fried chicken. That is to say, with great pleasure’ KATE SPICER, author of LOST DOG

***

One of the first words we learn. Perhaps the best friend we’ll have. An animal so much part of our lives that we speak to it like a child and spend small fortunes on its wellbeing and wardrobe.

Dogs and humans: in the last 200 years no inter-species relationship has developed so fast nor come so far. Dogs accompany us in every walk of life, usually three times a day. How and why did this relationship begin? How has it changed over the centuries? And who’s getting the upper hand?

DOG’S BEST FRIEND investigates this unique bond by revisiting some of the most important milestones in our shared journey. It begins with the earliest visual evidence on ancient rock art, and ends at the laboratory that sequenced the first dog genome. En route we encounter the first Labradoodle in Australia, a misguidedly loyal Akita in Japan, an ill-fated Poodle trainer in the United States, and a hilariously disobedient Romanian rescue dog named Kratu at the Birmingham NEC. We will also meet Corgis and Dorgis at the Palace, the weightless mutniks of the Soviet space programme, a Dalmatian who impersonates Hitler, and an owner who claims his Border Collie can remember the names of more than a thousand soft toys.

If you own or once owned a dog, you will know that our relationship can be as rich, complicated and rewarding as the relationship we have with other humans, and the book reflects this diversity with the aid of trainers, breeders and psychologists. Above all, it explores the extraordinary ability of dogs to enhance so many aspects of our lives. DOG’S BEST FRIEND is as entertaining as it is informative, as eccentric as it is erudite, and all told with Simon Garfield’s irrepressible gift for witty and insightful storytelling.
The Last Assassin

The Last Assassin

‘A political thriller, and a human story that astonishes’ Hilary Mantel

Many men killed Julius Caesar. Only one man was determined to kill the killers. From the spring of 44 BC through one of the most dramatic and influential periods in history, Caesar’s adopted son, Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, exacted vengeance on the assassins of the Ides of March, not only on Brutus and Cassius, immortalised by Shakespeare, but all the others too, each with his own individual story.

The last assassin left alive was one of the lesser-known, Cassius Parmensis, a poet and sailor who chose every side in the dying republic’s civil wars except the winning one, a playwright whose work was said to have been stolen and published by the man sent to kill him. Parmensis was in the back row of the plotters, many of them Caesar’s friends, who killed for reasons of the highest political philosophy and lowest personal pique. For fourteen years he was the most successful at evading his hunters but has been barely a historical foot note – until now.

THE LAST ASSASSIN dazzlingly charts an epic turn of history through the eyes of an unheralded man. It is a history of a hunt that an emperor wanted to hide, of torture and terror, politics and poetry, of ideas and their consequences, a gripping story of fear, revenge and survival.
The Good Germans

The Good Germans

After 1933, as the brutal terror regime took hold, most of the two-thirds of Germans who had never voted for the Nazis – some 40 million people – tried to keep their heads down and protect their families. They moved to the country, or pretended to support the regime to avoid being denounced by neighbours, and tried to work out what was really happening in the Reich, surrounded as they were by Nazi propaganda and fake news. They lived in fear. Might they lose their jobs? Their homes? Their freedom? What would we have done in their place?

Many ordinary Germans found the courage to resist, in the full knowledge that they could be sentenced to indefinite incarceration, torture or outright execution. Catrine Clay argues that it was a much greater number than was ever formally recorded: teachers, lawyers, factory and dock workers, housewives, shopkeepers, church members, trade unionists, army officers, aristocrats, Social Democrats, Socialists and Communists.

Catrine Clay’s ground-breaking book focuses on six very different characters: Irma, the young daughter of Ernst Thalmann, leader of the German Communists; Fritzi von der Schulenburg, a Prussian aristocrat; Rudolf Ditzen, the already famous author Hans Fallada, best known for his novel Alone in Berlin; Bernt Engelmann, a schoolboy living in the suburbs of Dusseldorf; Julius Leber, a charismatic leader of the Social Democrats in the Reichstag; and Fabian von Schlabrendorff, a law student in Berlin. The six are not seen in isolation but as part of their families: a brother and sister; a wife; a father with three children; an only son; the parents of a Communist pioneer daughter. Each experiences the momentous events of Nazi history as they unfold in their own small lives – Good Germans all.
King's Counsellor

King's Counsellor

The diaries of ‘Tommy’ Lascelles – as featured in the Netflix hit THE CROWN

‘Brilliantly entertaining and historically priceless’ Spectator

‘Fascinating … as much a contribution to royal legend as to the history of the war’ Daily Telegraph

As Assistant Private Secretary to four monarchs, ‘Tommy’ Lascelles had a ringside seat from which to observe the workings of the royal household and Downing Street during the first half of the 20th century.

These fascinating diaries begin with Edward VIII’s abdication and end with George VI’s death and his daughter Elizabeth’s Coronation. In between we see George VI at work and play, a portrait more intimate than any other previously published.

This compelling account also includes Princess Margaret’s relationship with Peter Townsend, and throws an intriguing new light on the way in which King George VI and Winston Churchill worked together during the Second World War.

Lascelles was a fine writer – like most of the best diaries his are a delight to read as well as being invaluable history.
The Crown in Crisis

The Crown in Crisis

In December 1936, Britain faced a constitutional crisis that was the gravest threat to the institution of the monarchy since the execution of Charles I. The ruling monarch, Edward VIII, wished to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson and crown her as his Queen. His actions scandalised the Establishment, who were desperate to avoid an international embarrassment at a time when war seemed imminent.

An influential coalition formed against him, including the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, his private secretary Alec Hardinge, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the editor of The Times. Edward seemed fated to give up Wallis and remain a reluctant ruler, or to abdicate his throne. Yet he had his own supporters, too, including Winston Churchill, the Machiavellian newspaper proprietor Lord Beaverbrook and his brilliant adviser Walter Monckton. They offered him the chance to remain on the throne and keep Wallis. But was the price they asked too high?

Using previously unpublished and rare archival material, and new interviews with those who knew Edward and Wallis, The Crown in Crisis is the conclusive exploration of how an unthinkable and unprecedented event tore the country apart. This seismic event has been written about before but never with the ticking-clock suspense and pace of the thriller that it undoubtedly was for all of its participants. Painstakingly researched, incisively written and entirely fresh in its approach, The Crown in Crisis brings the events of that time to thrilling life, and in the process will appeal to an entirely new audience.
The Channel

The Channel

A bulwark against invasion, a conduit for exchange and a challenge to be conquered, the English Channel has always been many things to many people. Today it’s the busiest shipping lane in the world and hosts more than 30 million passenger crossings every year but this sliver of choppy brine, just 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, represents much more than a conductor of goods and people.
Criss-crossing the Channel – not to mention regularly throwing himself into it for a bracing swim – Charlie Connelly collects its stories and brings them vividly to life, from tailing Oscar Wilde’s shadow through the dark streets of Dieppe to unearthing Britain’s first beauty pageant at the end of Folkestone pier (it was won by a bloke called Wally). We learn that Louis Bleriot was actually a terrible pilot, the tragic fate of the first successful Channel swimmer, and that if a man with a buttered head and pigs’ bladders attached to his trousers hadn’t fought off an attack by dogfish we might never have had a Channel Tunnel.
Here is a cast of extraordinary characters – geniuses, cheats, dreamers, charlatans, visionaries, eccentrics and at least one pair of naked, cuddling balloonists – whose stories are all united by the English Channel to ensure the sea that makes us an island will never be the same again.
The Ratline

The Ratline

*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
Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots And Revolutionaries 1776-1871

Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots And Revolutionaries 1776-1871

From America’s fight for independence to the Paris Commune – an exotic collection of fanatics, adventurers, poets and thinkers are brought vividly to life.

Holy Madness probes into the psyche that was responsible for so many of the founding events of our modern world, and into the instincts that inspired its most generous and most murderous impulses. It explains how the Enlightenment dislodged Christianity from its central position in the life of European societies and how man’s quest for ecstasy and transcendence flooded into areas such as the arts, spawning the Romantic movement.

This dramatic journey which begins in America in 1776 and goes right up to the last agony of the Paris Commune in 1871, takes in the French revolution, the Irish rebellion, the Polish risings, the war of Greek liberation, the Russian insurrection, the Hungarian struggles for freedom, the liberation of South America, and the Italian Risorgimento.

‘An ambitious and in many ways brilliant book’ Hilary Mantel
Dead Famous

Dead Famous

During these extraordinary times Greg Jenner is able to sign you a personalised bookplate for your hardback. Please email info@gregjenner.com with the name you would like the book dedicated to and the postal address.

‘Fizzes with clever vignettes and juicy tidbits… [a] joyous romp of a book.’ Guardian

‘A magical mystery tour through the history of celebrity – eye opening, provocative, triumphant.’ Kate Williams, bestselling author and historian

‘A fascinating, rollicking book in search of why, where and how fame strikes. Sit back and enjoy the ride.’ Peter Frankopan


Celebrity, with its neon glow and selfie pout, strikes us as hypermodern. But the famous and infamous have been thrilling, titillating, and outraging us for much longer than we might realise. Whether it was the scandalous Lord Byron, whose poetry sent female fans into an erotic frenzy; or the cheetah-owning, coffin-sleeping, one-legged French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who launched a violent feud with her former best friend; or Edmund Kean, the dazzling Shakespearean actor whose monstrous ego and terrible alcoholism saw him nearly murdered by his own audience – the list of stars whose careers burned bright before the Age of Television is extensive and thrillingly varied.

Celebrities could be heroes or villains; warriors or murderers; brilliant talents, or fraudsters with a flair for fibbing; trendsetters, wilful provocateurs, or tragic victims marketed as freaks of nature. Some craved fame while others had it forced upon them. A few found fame as small children, some had to wait decades to get their break. But uniting them all is the shared origin point: since the early 1700s, celebrity has been one of the most emphatic driving forces in popular culture; it is a lurid cousin to Ancient Greek ideas of glorious and notorious reputation, and its emergence helped to shape public attitudes to ethics, national identity, religious faith, wealth, sexuality, and gender roles.

In this ambitious history, that spans the Bronze Age to the coming of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Greg Jenner assembles a vibrant cast of over 125 actors, singers, dancers, sportspeople, freaks, demigods, ruffians, and more, in search of celebrity’s historical roots. He reveals why celebrity burst into life in the early eighteenth century, how it differs to ancient ideas of fame, the techniques through which it was acquired, how it was maintained, the effect it had on public tastes, and the psychological burden stardom could place on those in the glaring limelight. DEAD FAMOUS is a surprising, funny, and fascinating exploration of both a bygone age and how we came to inhabit our modern, fame obsessed society.
Through German Eyes

Through German Eyes

The key battle of the First World War from the German point of view

The Battle of the Somme has an enduring legacy, the image established by Alan Clark of ‘lions led by donkeys’: brave British soldiers sent to their deaths by incompetent generals. However, from the German point of view the battle was a disaster. Their own casualties were horrendous. The Germans did not hold the (modern) view that the British Army was useless. As Christopher Duffy reveals, they had great respect for the British forces and German reports shed a fascinating light on the volunteer army recruited by General Kitchener.

The German view of the British Army has never been made public until now. Their typically diligent reports have lain undisturbed in obscure archives until unearthed by Christopher Duffy. The picture that emerges is a far cry from ‘Blackadder’: the Germans developed an increasing respect for the professionalism of the British Army. And the fact that every British soldier taken prisoner still believed Britain would win the war gave German intelligence teams their first indication that their Empire would go down to defeat.
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