At the beginning of the twentieth century, the South Pole was the most coveted prize in the fiercely nationalistic modern age of exploration. In the brilliant dual biography, the award-winning writer Roland Huntford re-examines every detail of the great race to the South Pole between Britain's Robert Scott and Norway's Roald Amundsen. Scott, who dies along with four of his men only eleven miles from his next cache of supplies, became Britain's beloved failure, while Amundsen, who not only beat Scott to the Pole but returned alive, was largely forgotten. This account of their race is a gripping, highly readable history that captures the driving ambitions of the era and the complex, often deeply flawed men who were charged with carrying them out. THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH is the first of Huntford's masterly trilogy of polar biographies. It is also the only work on the subject in the English language based on the original Norwegian sources, to which Huntford returned to revise and update this edition.
When war broke out in Europe in 1914, it surprised a European population enjoying the most beautiful summer in memory. For nearly a century since, historians have debated the causes of the war. Some have cited the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; others have concluded it was unavoidable.In Europe's Last Summer, David Fromkin provides a different answer: hostilities were commenced deliberately. In a riveting re-creation of the run-up to war, Fromkin shows how German generals, seeing war as inevitable, manipulated events to precipitate a conflict waged on their own terms. Moving deftly between diplomats, generals, and rulers across Europe, he makes the complex diplomatic negotiations accessible and immediate. Examining the actions of individuals amid larger historical forces, this is a gripping historical narrative and a dramatic reassessment of a key moment in the twentieth-century.
Poisoner, besotted mother, despot, necromancer, engineer of a massacre: the stain on the name of Catherine de Medici is centuries old. In this critically hailed biography, Leonie Frieda reclaims the story of this unjustly maligned queen of France to reveal a skilled ruler battling against extraordinary political and personal odds.
Orphaned in infancy, imprisoned in childhood, heiress to an ancient name and vast fortune, Catherine de Medici was brought up in Florence, a city dominated by her ruling family. At age fourteen, the Italian-born young woman became a French princess in a magnificent alliance arranged by her uncle the pope to Henry, son of King Francis I of France. She suffered cruelly as her new husband became bewitched by the superbly elegant Diane de Poitiers. Henry's influential and lifelong mistress wisely sent her lover to sleep with Catherine, and after an agonizingly childless decade when she saw popular resentment build against her, she conceived the first of ten children. Slowly Catherine made the court her own: she transformed the cultural life of France, importing much of what we now think of as typically French -- cuisine, art, music, fashion -- from Italy, cradle of the Renaissance.
In a freak jousting accident in 1559, a wooden splinter fatally pierced Henry's eye. Hitherto sidelined, Catherine found herself suddenly thrust into the maelstrom of French power politics, for which she soon discovered she had inherited a natural gift.
A contemporary and sometime ally of Elizabeth I of England, Catherine learned to become both a superb strategist and ruthless conspirator. During the rise of Protestantism, her attempts at religious tolerance were constantly foiled, and France was riven by endemic civil wars. Although history has always laid the blame for the infamous St. Bartholomew's Day massacre by a Catholic mob of thousands of French Protestants at Catherine's door, Leonie Frieda presents a powerful case for Catherine's defense.
This courageous queen's fatal flaw was a blind devotion to her sickly and corrupt children, three of whom would become kings of France. Despite their weaknesses, Catherine's indomitable fight to protect the throne and their birthright ensured the survival of the French monarchy for a further two hundred years after her death, until it was swept away by the French Revolution.
Leonie Frieda has returned to original sources and reread the thousands of letters left by Catherine, and she has reinvested this protean figure with humanity. The first biography of Catherine in decades, it reveals her to be one of the most influential women ever to wear a crown.
In the wake of Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign of 1812, the French emperor's imperious grip on Europe began to weaken, raising the question of how the continent was to be reconstructed after his defeat. While the Treaty of Paris that followed Napoleon's exile in 1814 put an end to a quarter century of revolution and war in Europe, it left the future of the continent hanging in the balance.
Eager to negotiate a workable and lasting peace, the major powers--Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia--along with a host of lesser nations, began a series of committee sessions in Vienna: an eight-month-long carnival that combined political negotiations with balls, dinners, artistic performances, hunts, tournaments, picnics, and other sundry forms of entertainment for the thousands of aristocrats who had gathered in the Austrian capital. Although the Congress of Vienna resulted in an unprecedented level of stability in Europe, the price of peace would be high. Many of the crucial questions were decided on the battlefield or in squalid roadside cottages amid the vagaries of war. And the proceedings in Vienna itself were not as decorous as is usually represented.
Internationally bestselling author Adam Zamoyski draws on a wide range of original sources, which include not only official documents, private letters, diaries, and firsthand accounts, but also the reports of police spies and informers, to reveal the steamy atmosphere of greed and lust in which the new Europe was forged. Meticulously researched, masterfully told, and featuring a cast of some of the most influential and powerful figures in history, including Tsar Alexander, Metternich, Talleyrand, and the Duke of Wellington, Rites of Peace tells the story of these extraordinary events and their profound historical consequences.
Written by one of the world's foremost historians of human migration, Peoples and Empires is the story of the great European empires--the Roman, the Spanish, the French, the British--and their colonies, and the back-and-forth between "us" and "them," culture and nature, civilization and barbarism, the center and the periphery. It's the history of how conquerors justified conquest, and how colonists and the colonized changed each other beyond all recognition.
By the acclaimed journalist and bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, this day-by-day, eyewitness account of the momentous events leading up to World War II in Europe is now available in a new paperback edition.
CBS radio broadcaster William L. Shirer was virtually unknown in 1940 when he decided there might be a book in the diary he had kept in Europe during the 1930s--specifically those sections dealing with the collapse of the European democracies and the rise of Nazi Germany.
Berlin Diary first appeared in 1941, and the timing was perfect. The energy, the passion, the electricity in it were palpable. The book was an instant success, and it became the frame of reference against which thoughtful Americans judged the rush of events in Europe. It exactly matched journalist to event: the right reporter at the right place at the right time. It stood, and still stands, as so few books have ever done--a pure act of journalistic witness.
Forrest Gump and Shrouds of Glory established best-selling author Winston Groom as an electrifying writer and narrative historian. Now, in A Storm in Flanders, the Pulitzer Prize nominee visits the bloody four-year-long Battle of Ypres, a pivotal engagement that would forever change the way the world fought -- and thought about -- war. Groom describes how the quaint medieval Belgian town of Flanders -- following the dreams and schemes of the stubborn "butchers and blunderers" who commanded from afar -- became the most dreaded place on earth, a "gigantic corpse factory" where hundreds of thousands of men died for gains that were measured in yards. In 1914, Germany launched an invasion of France through neutral Belgium -- and brought the wrath of the world upon herself. In accessible prose, Groom presents Ypres as the centerpiece of World War I, with all of its horrors, heroism, and terrifying new tactics and technologies. Ypres is where some of history's most hideous weapons were unleashed and refined: poison gas, tanks, mines, air strikes, and the unspeakable misery of trench warfare. The battle's unprecedented horrors inspired some of the most compelling and enduring artistry of the war: from Remarque's classic novel All Quiet on the Western Front to the haunting poem that came to symbolize war, "In Flanders Fields, " composed in the heat of battle by John McCrae, a grieving Canadian surgeon. Ypres was also the battleground of young soldier Adolf Hitler, whose experiences in Flanders, Groom argues, set him on his fateful path. Groom's story comes alive with the heart-wrenching journal entries of the men who fought on the grisly front lines, and is illustrated with breathtakingphotographs published here for the first time. A gripping drama of politics, strategy, and human heart -- of the struggle for survival and victory against all odds -- A Storm in Flanders is a powerful work of military history.
In Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, his fourth volume to explore "the hinges of history," Thomas Cahill escorts the reader on another entertaining--and historically unassailable--journey through the landmarks of art and bloodshed that defined Greek culture nearly three millennia ago.In the city-states of Athens and Sparta and throughout the Greek islands, honors could be won in making love and war, and lives were rife with contradictions. By developing the alphabet, the Greeks empowered the reader, demystified experience, and opened the way for civil discussion and experimentation--yet they kept slaves. The glorious verses of the Iliad recount a conflict in which rage and outrage spur men to action and suggest that their "bellicose society of gleaming metals and rattling weapons" is not so very distant from more recent campaigns of "shock and awe." And, centuries before Zorba, Greece was a land where music, dance, and freely flowing wine were essential to the high life. Granting equal time to the sacred and the profane, Cahill rivets our attention to the legacies of an ancient and enduring worldview.