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Great Britain - History
London A to Z
London A to Z
Paperback      ISBN: 0500292477

First published in 1953, the year that saw thousands descend on London to watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, London A to Z is a lexicon of the city's curiosities, from the Achilles statue in Hyde Park "erected by the women of England to honor (if not to resemble) the Duke of Wellington," via greyhound racing, lost property offices, and umbrellas, to zebra crossings (relative newcomers to London in 1953). Adorned throughout with Edward Bawden's beautiful and distinctive illustrations, this charmingly idiosyncratic guide brings to life with a dry humor the London and Londoners of the day.

More than sixty years have passed since the volume was first published and while many sights are now lost to time, readers may be surprised to find how this vintage guide continues to capture London's quirks. A new introduction places the original publication in context, drawing the reader into 1950s London via a brief tour of the book's most curious, nostalgic, and whimsical entries.

Thunderstruck
Thunderstruck
Paperback      ISBN: 1400080673

A true story of love, murder, and the end of the world's "great hush."

In Thunderstruck, Erik Larson tells the interwoven stories of two men--Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication--whose lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time.

Set in Edwardian London and on the stormy coasts of Cornwall, Cape Cod, and Nova Scotia, Thunderstruck evokes the dynamism of those years when great shipping companies competed to build the biggest, fastest ocean liners; scientific advances dazzled the public with visions of a world transformed; and the rich outdid one another with ostentatious displays of wealth. Against this background, Marconi races against incredible odds and relentless skepticism to perfect his invention: the wireless, a prime catalyst for the emergence of the world we know today. Meanwhile, Crippen, "the kindest of men," nearly commits the perfect murder.

With his unparalleled narrative skills, Erik Larson guides us through a relentlessly suspenseful chase over the waters of the North Atlantic. Along the way, he tells of a sad and tragic love affair that was described on the front pages of newspapers around the world, a chief inspector who found himself strangely sympathetic to the killer and his lover, and a driven and compelling inventor who transformed the way we communicate.
The Shadow King: The Life and Death of Henry VI
The Shadow King
The Life and Death of Henry VI
Hardcover      ISBN: 1643131281

A thrilling new account of the tragic story and troubled times of Henry VI, who inherited the crowns of both England and France and lost both.

Firstborn son of a warrior father who defeated the French at Agincourt, Henry VI of the House of Lancaster inherited the crown not only of England but also of France, at a time when Plantagenet dominance over the Valois dynasty was at its glorious height.

And yet, by the time he died in the Tower of London in 1471, France was lost, his throne had been seized by his rival, Edward IV of the House of York, and his kingdom had descended into the violent chaos of the Wars of the Roses.

Henry VI is perhaps the most troubled of English monarchs, a pious, gentle, well-intentioned man who was plagued by bouts of mental illness. In The Shadow King, Lauren Johnson tells his remarkable and sometimes shocking story in a fast-paced and colorful narrative that captures both the poignancy of Henry's life and the tumultuous and bloody nature of the times in which he lived.
The Complete King Arthur: Many Faces, One Hero
The Complete King Arthur
Many Faces, One Hero
Paperback      ISBN: 1620555999

A comprehensive examination of the historical and mythological evidence for every major theory about King Arthur

- Explores the history of every Arthur candidate and the geographical arguments that have placed him in different locations

- Examines 1,800 years of evidence for Arthur's life and the famous series of 12 battles fought against the Saxons in the 6th century

- Reconstructs the history of the 6th century in Britain, when the first references to Arthur and the core events of his reign appear

Few legends have had the enduring influence of those surrounding King Arthur. Many believe the stories are based on historical truth. For others Arthur represents the archetype of the brilliant monarch reigning over a fairy-tale kingdom, offering his knights the opportunity to prove their mettle in battle and find gnostic illumination through initiation into sacred mysteries like that of the Grail.

Presenting the culmination of more than 40 years' research, John and Caitl n Matthews examine the historical and mythological evidence for every major theory about the existence of King Arthur. Drawing on modern techniques in archaeology and scholarship, they reconstruct the history of the 6th century in Britain, the period when the first unambiguous references to Arthur appear. They explore the history of every Arthur candidate, the geographical arguments that have placed him in different locations, and the evidence for his life and famous battles fought against the Saxons. Was the greatest British hero of all time not a king but a 2nd-century Roman officer active around Hadrian's Wall in Cumbria? A 5th-century soldier who operated in areas as far apart as Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, or Brittany? Or an entirely mythical fiction that provided a figure of light during a dark period of British history?

Examining other literary figures from the 5th century such as Vortigern and Ambrosius, the authors also break down the plots of all the major Arthurian romances, including those by Chretien de Troyes, Sir Thomas Malory, and Robert de Boron, to reveal the historical events they are based on. Piecing together the many fragments that constitute the image of Arthur, both the man and the myth, the authors show how each face of Arthur has something to offer and how his modern popularity proves the enduring power of the hero-myth, truly earning Arthur the title he first received in the 15th century: The Once and Future King.
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain
The Road to Little Dribbling
Adventures of an American in Britain
Paperback      ISBN: 0804172714

In 1995, Iowa native Bill Bryson took a motoring trip around Britain to explore that green and pleasant land. The uproarious book that resulted, Notes from a Small Island, is one of the most acute portrayals of the United Kingdom ever written. Two decades later, Bryson--now a British citizen--set out again to rediscover his adopted country. In these pages, he follows a straight line through the island--from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath--and shows us every pub, stone village, and human foible along the way.

Whether he is dodging cow attacks in Torcross, getting lost in the H&M on Kensington High Street, or--more seriously--contemplating the future of the nation's natural wonders in the face of aggressive development, Bryson guides us through the old and the new with vivid detail and laugh-out-loud humor. Irreverent, endearing, and always hilarious, The Road to Little Dribbling is filled with Bill Bryson's deep knowledge and love of his chosen home.
Summer of Blood: England's First Revolution
Summer of Blood
England's First Revolution
Paperback      ISBN: 0143111752
From the New York Times bestselling author of Crusaders and a top authority on the historical events that inspired Game of Thrones, a vivid, blood-soaked account of one of the most famous rebellions in history--the first mass uprising by the people of England against their feudal masters.

In the summer of 1381, ravaged by poverty and oppressed by taxes, the people of England rose up and demanded that their voices be heard. A ragtag army, led by the mysteri­ous Wat Tyler and the visionary preacher John Ball, rose up against the fourteen-year-old Richard II and his most powerful lords and knights, who risked their property and their lives in a desperate battle to save the English crown. Dan Jones brings this incendiary moment to life and captures both the idealism and brutality of that fate­ful summer, when a brave group of men and women dared to challenge their overlords, demand that they be treated equally, and fight for freedom.
Discovering Subterranean London
Discovering Subterranean London
Paperback      ISBN: 074780740x

Beneath the streets and towering buildings of London, there is a realm of shadow and secrets. This little book is the first concise guide to the hidden world of underground London. Informative, authoritative and richly illustrated, this volume takes you on a subterranean tour of the many remarkable constructions that few even knew existed. Some of these installations deep below ground were once highly secret, such as the government bunkers, civilian refuges, protected broadcasting studios and emergency control centers for public utilities. Other facilities described perform more mundane functions, including the mothballed Mail Rail (the Post Office Railway), telephone and power cable subways, electricity substations and sewage outfall tunnels. Together, they form a city of tunnels and passages that wind through the gloom beneath the feet of London.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
Paperback      ISBN: 0770435629

The real-life inspiration and setting for the Emmy Award-winning Downton Abbey, Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.

Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war. Much like her Masterpiece Classic counterpart, Lady Cora Crawley, Lady Almina was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild, who married his daughter off at a young age, her dowry serving as the crucial link in the effort to preserve the Earl of Carnarvon's ancestral home. Throwing open the doors of Highclere Castle to tend to the wounded of World War I, Lady Almina distinguished herself as a brave and remarkable woman.

This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.

Peasants and Landlords in Later Medieval England
Peasants and Landlords in Later Medieval England
Paperback      ISBN: 0750922559

For much of the Middle Ages the life of the rural peasant was one of restrictions, poverty, ogrous landlords, great discontent and unrest. In the later period, 14th century onwards, landlords began to lease much of their land, serfdom declined and peasants enjoyed a greater freedom of movement and employment, leading to the disruption of settlement patterns and population relocation. This book contains a selection of quite detailed studies, for example the Great Revolt of 1381 and its social and economic background, sheep and the wool industry in the Cotswolds, the Estates of the Bishops of Worcester c.1395-1436. These studies combine in elucidating the more general picture of relations between landlords/landowners and peasants in this period.

Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England
Behind Closed Doors
At Home in Georgian England
Paperback      ISBN: 0300168969

In this brilliant new work, Amanda Vickery unlocks the homes of Georgian England to examine the lives of the people who lived there. Writing with her customary wit and verve, she introduces us to men and women from all walks of life: gentlewoman Anne Dormer in her stately Oxfordshire mansion, bachelor clerk and future novelist Anthony Trollope in his dreary London lodgings, genteel spinsters keeping up appearances in two rooms with yellow wallpaper, servants with only a locking box to call their own.

Vickery makes ingenious use of upholsterer's ledgers, burglary trials, and other unusual sources to reveal the roles of house and home in economic survival, social success, and political representation during the long eighteenth century. Through the spread of formal visiting, the proliferation of affordable ornamental furnishings, the commercial celebration of feminine artistry at home, and the currency of the language of taste, even modest homes turned into arenas of social campaign and exhibition.