Category: HIS027000

Wilde’s Last Stand

‘A shocking tale of heroes and villains.’ Sir Ian McKellen

In 1918, the Imperialist newspaper made a startling claim. The German Secret Service had the names of 47,000 members of the British establishment who were sexual deviants and Britain was losing the war because Germany was blackmailing them. In the sensational libel trial that followed, the main target was Maud Allan, the Salome dancer with high society connections and a dark secret. Meanwhile, Oscar Wilde’s closest friends were drawn into the affair in a bitter battle for his reputation. It was the greatest scandal of the early twentieth century.

This is a story of judges and prejudice, of aesthetes and admirals, of MPs and dancing girls, of sex and conspiracy; ingredients for a modern tabloid, yet in a decade that still seems a Victorian legacy. Philip Hoare has produced a revolutionary new portrait of British society, as nineteenth century morality and Edwardian opulence met the modern age.

Wilde’s Last Stand tells of transvestites in the trenches, of drug clubs in London, and of the man who sought to be Britain’s first fascist leader. Both revealing and chilling, this is a vital story about the birth of a troubled century.

Philip Hoare is an acclaimed author whose works include biographies of Stephen Tennant and Noël Coward, Spike Island and England’s Lost Eden. His book, Leviathan: or, The Whale won the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction.

‘Documented with dazzling brilliance.’ The Sunday Times

‘A valuable addition to the alternative history of our century.’ Peter Parker, Observer

‘A thrashing good read.’ Independent on Sunday

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.

The Last Full Measure

Behind every soldiers death lies a story, a tale not just of the cold mathematics of the battlefield but of an individual human being who gave his life. What psychological and cultural pressures brought him to his fate? What lies and truths convinced him to march towards his death? Covering warfare from prehistory through the present day, The Last Full Measure tells these soldiers stories, ultimately capturing the experience of war as few books ever have.

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