‘The past is a foreign country’ – a phrase that has never been more apt. Yet in his latest book, Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe, the historian Norman Davies shows the extent to which our present concerns and desires distort our view of the past. In a work which spans the fifth to the twentieth centuries, Davies tells the story of the kingdoms, duchies, empires and republics which once littered Europe but which have now disappeared. From the medieval juggernaut Alt Clud to Rusyn, the republic that existed for one day, the book questions the selectivity of our historical memory and asks whether, in the future, our own United Kingdom will be nothing more than a dim memory.Norman Davies
Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe is published by Allen Lane.
War brings out the best and worst of humanity: it inspires people to great feats of courage, but also leads to great cruelty and chilling brutality. In The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War, Swedish historian Peter Englund tries to capture the tragedy, absurdity, beauty and monotony of war. Drawing on diaries and letters, Englund tells the stories of twenty ordinary people from both sides of the conflict. From the muddy trenches of the Western Front to the tropics of Africa and the harsh winters of the Baltic, the book explores the role and reaction of the individual in one of the defining events of the twentieth century.Peter Englund
The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War is published by Profile Books.
What makes London great? In his new book, Johnson’s Life of London: The People Who Made the City That Made the World, London Mayor Boris Johnson charts the rise of one of the world’s great cities through the lives of its people. From the literary genius of Geoffrey Chaucer to the scientific inventions of Robert Hooke, the business acumen of Dick Whittington and Lionel Rothschild to the artistic skill of J M W Turner and Keith Richards, Johnson explores the vibrancy of the city of London.Johnson's Life of London
Johnson’s Life of London: The People Who Made the City That Made the World is published by Harper Press.
What is the difference between historical fact and fiction? In the modern world of movie blockbusters and narrative-driven history, are the boundaries between truth and invention becoming blurred? The author and historian Alison Weir has experimented with both genres and insists the two must remain distinct. In her book on Mary Boleyn: ‘The Great and Infamous Whore’, Weir explores the facts of her sullied reputation and attempts to peel away the layers of myth surrounding one of the most enigmatic figures of Tudor times.Alison Weir
Mary Boleyn: ‘The Great and Infamous Whore’ is published by Jonathan Cape. Alison will also be taking part in Novel approaches: from academic history to historical fiction at the Institute of Historical Research on Friday 18 November.
Start The Week sets the cultural agenda for the week ahead, with high-profile guests discussing the…