Category: HIS015000

Vagabonds: Life on the Streets of Nineteenth-century London – by BBC New Generation Thinker 2022

Compelling, moving and unexpected portraits of London’s poor from a rising star British historian – the Dickensian city brought to real and vivid life.

Until now, our view of bustling late Georgian and Victorian London has been filtered through its great chroniclers, who did not themselves come from poverty – Dickens, Mayhew, Gustave Doré. Their visions were dazzling in their way, censorious, often theatrical. Now, for the first time, this innovative social history brilliantly – and radically – shows us the city’s most compelling period (1780–1870) at street level.

From beggars and thieves to musicians and missionaries, porters and hawkers to sex workers and street criers, Jensen unites a breadth of original research and first-hand accounts and testimonies to tell their stories in their own words. What emerges is a buzzing, cosmopolitan world of the working classes, diverse in gender, ethnicity, origin, ability and occupation – a world that challenges and fascinates us still.

The Butcher’s Daughter

‘Historical fiction at its finest.’ @MargaretAtwood

It is 1535 and Agnes Peppin, daughter of a West-country butcher, has been banished, leaving her family home in disgrace to live out the rest of her life cloistered behind the walls of Shaftesbury Abbey. 

While Agnes grapples with the complex rules and hierarchies of the sisterhood, King Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Head of the Church of England. Religious houses are being formally subjugated, monasteries dissolved, and the great Abbey is no exception to the purge. 

Cast out with her sisters, Agnes is at last free to be the master of her own fate. But freedom comes at a price as she descends into a world she knows little about, using her wits and testing her moral convictions against her need to survive – by any means necessary…

Queen of Spies

The only biography of Britain’s celebrated female spy – now fully updated with previously classified materials.

From being raised in a Tanzanian shack, to attaining MI6’s most senior operational rank, Daphne Park led a highly unusual life. Drawing on first-hand accounts of intelligence workers close to agent Park, Hayes reveals how she rose in a male-dominated world to become Britain’s Cold War spy master.

With intimate, nail-biting details Queen of Spies captures both the paranoia and on-the-ground realities of intelligence work from the Second World War to the Cold War, and the life of Britain’s celebrated female spy.

Churchill and Orwell

Today, as liberty and truth are increasingly challenged, the figures of Churchill and Orwell loom large. Exemplars of Britishness, they preserved individual freedom and democracy for the world through their far-sighted vision and inspired action, and cast a long shadow across our culture and politics. In Churchill & Orwell, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas E. Ricks masterfully argues that these extraordinary men are as important today as they ever were. Churchill and Orwell stood in political opposition to each other, but were both committed to the preservation of freedom. However, in the late 1930s they occupied a lonely position: democracy was much discredited, and authoritarian rulers, fascist and communist, were everywhere in the ascent. Unlike others, they had the wisdom to see that the most salient issue was human liberty – and that any government that denies its people basic rights is a totalitarian menace to be resisted. Churchill and Orwell proved their age’s necessary men, and this book reveals how they rose from a precarious position to triumph over the enemies of freedom. Churchill may have played the larger role in Hitler’s defeat, but Orwell’s reckoning with the threat of authoritarian rule in 1984 and Animal Farm defined the stakes of the Cold War and continues to inspire to this day. Their lives are an eloquent testament to the power of moral conviction, and to the courage it takes to stay true to it.

Empire of Guns

Winner of the Jerry Bentley Prize in World History (American Historical Association).

Award-winning historian Priya Satia presents a new history of the Industrial Revolution that positions war and the gun trade squarely at the heart of the rapid growth of technology and Britain’s imperial expansion. Satia’s thorough examination advances a radical new understanding of the historical roots of the violent partnership between the government, military and the economy. Sweeping in its scope and entirely original in its approach, Empire of Guns illuminates Britain’s emergence as a global superpower in a clear and novel light. 

Reviews of Empire of Guns:

‘A fascinating study of the centrality of militarism in 18th-century British life, and how imperial expansion and arms went hand in hand… This book is a triumph.’ Guardian

‘A fascinating and important glimpse into how violence fueled the industrial revolution, Priya Satia’s book stuns with deep scholarship and sparkling prose.’ Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies

‘Fascinating.’ New York Times

‘A strong narrative bolstered by excellent archival research… tremendous scholarship.’ Booklist

‘Boldly uncovers a history of modern violence and its central role in political, economic, and technological progress. As unsettling as it is bracing.’ Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger

‘A solid contribution to the history of technology and commerce, with broad implications for the present.’  Kirkus