Behind the shock machine

Posted September 19, 2014 2:49 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

(Photo credit: Behind the shock machine: the untold story of the notorious Milgram psychology experiments by Gina Perry. Published by Scribe Publications.

In 1961, Stanley Milgram, a young psychologist and an assistant professor at Yale, recruited ordinary people through an advert in the local newspaper offering them $4.50 each to take part in an experiment on memory and learning.

None of the volunteers could have imagined that, once in the lab, they would be asked to sit behind a box known as a shock machine and ordered to give electric shocks to a man they’d just met.

At the conclusion of the experiment, the volunteers learned that the shock machine was a prop; the shocks were fake; the ‘victim’ was an actor; the screams were scripted; and the subject of the experiment was not memory at all.

What was really being tested was how far they, the true subjects of the experiment, would go in obeying orders from an authority figure.

When Milgram’s results were released, they created a worldwide sensation. He reported that people had repeatedly shocked a man they believed to be in pain, even dying, because they had been told to — linking his findings to Nazi behaviour during the Holocaust.

But some questioned Milgram’s unethical methods in fooling people. Milgram became both hero and villain, and his work seized the public imagination for more than half a century, inspiring books, plays, films, and art.

Gina Perry investigates this fascinating story. Interviewing participants and delving into Milgram’s unpublished papers, she uncovered an incredible story: Milgram’s results differed from what he reported, and his plans went further than anyone imagined.

This is the gripping, unforgettable tale of one man’s ambition and an experiment that defined a generation.

Further details of Behind the shock machine can be found on our catalogue.

The story of the World Cup :the essential companion to Brazil 2014

Posted July 4, 2014 12:59 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

(Photo credit: Faber & Faber)

The world’s leading football tournament has a dramatic and, at times, controversial history.

Brian Glanville was football correspondent for the Sunday Times for thirty-three years and then sports columnist for the People. In this revised edition of his book, first published as The Sunday Times history of the World Cup in 1973, he celebrates the great players and matches from the World Cup’s debut in Uruguay in 1930 to South Africa in 2010.

Each tournament is studied individually with a brief account of the background to that tournament, the contenders, the early games, and the final game. There is also a list of results for each tournament.

Glanville has strong feelings about the tournament and is open about his discontent. He clearly attacks those he feels have mismanaged the ‘beautiful game’. This makes the book feel more personal rather than just a list of statistics.

With this year’s tournament throwing up some interesting results and shock knockouts, now is the perfect time to discover, or reaquaint ourselves, with previous tournaments.

Further details of The story of the World Cup can be found on our catalogue.

70th Anniversary of D-Day

Posted June 6, 2014 9:36 am by Julie Corrigan | Permalink

As we mark the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings, what better time to draw your attention to “We remember D-Day : powerful and moving true stories from 6 June 1944″ compiled by Frank & Joan Shaw.

D-Day was the biggest amphibious assault in military history and over 150,000 Allied Troops landed in Normandy on D-Day alone. It was a momentous day. After nearly five years of war, the Allies launched the attack which would give them their first foot-hold in Nazi occupied Europe. Stories of the braveries and the horrors of this day continue to emerge and many of these personal experiences have been brought together in this moving book.

Dipping into the book there are fascinating accounts which bring this time vibrantly to life. Many are heart-breaking, such as the Corporal who tried to help a seriously wounded soldier who had been struck down in the water. As he turned to help, the snipers began to fire and he was forced to leave the boy behind. This moment has stayed with him forever. Other tales are more light-hearted such as that of a young woman, working in the YMCA in Portsmouth, who on the 5th of June made sandwiches all night for those waiting to begin the crossing to Normandy. In spite of knowing something “big” was about to happen she knew not to ask any questions.

Every single person who took part and experienced D-Day has a different tale to tell. Today may be the last great gathering and commemoration for those who experienced D-Day first-hand, yet I feel in part as a result of books like this, their voices and experiences will never be lost nor their bravery forgotten.

You can find further details of We remember D-Day on our Catalogue.

Love letters of the Great War

Posted February 14, 2014 5:54 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

In December 1914, the largest wooden structure in the world was erected within London’s Regent’s Park by the Post Office. This was the London Home Depot, where bags of mail for troops on the Western Front were sorted. The efficient delivery of letters and parcels to serving soldiers was given high priority.

Edited by Mandy Kirkby, Love letters of the Great War is a powerful collection of love letters shared between soldiers and their sweethearts during World War I.

From the private papers of Winston Churchill to the tender notes of an unknown Tommy in the trenches, this wonderful book brings together some of the most romantic correspondence ever written.

Some of the letters collected here are declarations of love and longing; others contain wrenching accounts of fear, jealousy and betrayal; many share sweet dreams of home. In amongst these moving letters are more light-hearted moments including those from soldiers thanking their loved ones for the sausage rolls or asking for Oxo cubes to be sent to them.

But in all the correspondence – whether from British, American, French, German, Russian, Australian and Canadian troops in the height of battle, or from the heartbroken wives and sweethearts left behind – there lies a truly human portrait of love and war.

Soldiers downplay physical hardship, pain, danger and self-doubt; wives and sweethearts downplay loneliness, poverty or the difficulties of coping alone with home and children.

Each of the letters, many of which have never before been published, is introduced by a brief piece about the authors, some of whom were parted for ever by the tragedy of war; others reunited.

A century on from the start of the First World War, these letters offer an intimate glimpse into the hearts of men and women separated by conflict, and show how love can transcend even the bleakest and most devastating of realities.

Further details of Love letters of the Great War can be found on our catalogue.

Tutankhamen’s curse

Posted January 31, 2014 3:39 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

(Photo credit: Profile Books)

On 4 November 1922, after years of archaeological detective work, labourers employed by Lord Carnarvon and his archaeological partner Howard Carter discovered a flight of steps leading down to the lost tomb of the 18th Dynasty Egyptian king Tutankhamen.

The opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb was a definitive moment in archaeology: the first time an Egyptian king had been discovered surrounded by his grave goods. Modern science is helping to unravel the stories behind Tutankhamen’s extraordinary array of grave goods, analysing everything from loincloths found within the tomb to the king’s mummified body.

Tutankhamen’s story has everything that makes ancient Egypt so captivating to the modern imagination: golden treasure, a determined explorer, a mummified king, sudden death and a curse.

Joyce Tyldesley’s fascinating book approaches Egyptology’s most famous find with fresh eyes, reconstructing Tutankhamen’s family, his reign and his after-death mythology. The book is divided into two seperate but complementary sections. The first deals with the evidence of Tutankhamen’s life and death. The second considers the development of the post-discovery Tutankhamen. Even ninety years after the discovery of his tomb, exhibitions displaying real and replica Tutankhamen artefacts are as popular as they ever were.

Tyldesley writes with great humour and enthusiasm and her passion for the subject spills out onto every page. It is an informative and entertaining read for anyone interested in Egyptian history. Further details of Tutankhamen’s curse can be found on our catalogue.


Posted December 6, 2013 3:44 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

At 11.30am on 29th May 1953, two men stood on top of the highest point on earth, the summit of Mount Everest, on the frontier between Nepal and Tibet, at 29,029 feet (8,848 metres).

It was the first time that human beings had climbed so high, and they carried with them the hopes of an expedition organised by Britain’s Royal Geographical Society and Alpine Club.

Ironically, neither man was British. Edmund Hillary was a 33-year-old climber from New Zealand; Tenzing Norgay, a 39-year-old experienced Sherpa mountaineer from Nepal.

Their success was the culmination of several British attempts to scale the mountain. Nine expeditions were sent to Everest between 1921 and 1953.

The first British attempt begun on its north side, from Tibet, in 1921. After this unsuccessful attempt, further attempts were made in 1922, 1924 and then throughout the 1930s.

In the 1950s, in a changed political landscape, mountaineers had turned their attention to the south side, from Nepal, and finally were rewarded with success.

The successful 1953 British expedition was 400-strong and led by John Hunt. The group included 362 porters and 20 Sherpa high-altitude porters. They carried 10,000 pounds (4,535 kilograms) of stores and equipment to Base Camp.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest, Ammonite Press, in association with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), presents a lavish photographic record of this historic event.

Comprising of approximately 400 breathtakingly beautiful and unique photographs, hand-picked by RGS-IBG’s own Collections staff, along with descriptive captions, this stunning book transports the reader from base camp to the snow-clad slopes and ridges of Mount Everest, and to the peak itself.

Further details of Everest can be found on our catalogue.

House of Cash

Posted 3:42 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

(Photo credit: Insight Editions)

House of Cash is an unprecedented look at the life and inspirations of the Man in Black, by none other than his son, John Carter Cash.

Gathering together previously unpublished photographs, lyrics, art, notes, and recollections from the Cash family archives, John Carter paints a portrait of his father’s rich inner life, exploring his creative spirit, his inspiring persistence, and the values he imparted to his son and family.

A record of a deep and ongoing conversation between father and son about what matters in life, House of Cash explores Johnny Cash’s drive to live deliberately as he worked to determine his values, share them with those close to him, and reaffirm them on a daily basis.

This intimate exploration of the personality and legacy of Johnny Cash, is a unique portrait of a deeply spiritual, creative, and passionate soul whose music sprang from the way he lived.

The book includes facsimiles of documents by Johnny Cash including:

  • a handmade Valentine’s Day card from Johnny to June
  • a letter from Johnny Cash to his father-in-law Pop Carter, expressing the strong bond he felt with the Carter family
  • a collection of Cash family recipes
  • a sketchbook featuring some of Johnny’s artwork, including a self-portrait
  • a New Year’s Eve letter from Johnny to himself, looking back at 1968 – the year he married June Carter and recorded At Folsom Prison
  • a selection of candid photographs which show the lighter side of the Man in Black

This isn’t an autobiography of Cash. It is a son writing about his family and his father-who also happens to be a singer/songwriter of some of the best country and gospel music of the Twentieth Century.

This book is not so much about Cash the artist, but really about Cash the man and father. The perspective that John Carter Cash brings to this reflective look at his father is heart-warming, yet both interesting and informative. But it’s the many photos, both colour and black & white, that really gives insight into Cash and his life.

You can find further details of House of Cash on our catalogue.

Herge: the man who created Tintin

Posted August 8, 2013 2:54 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

(Herge: The Man Who Created Tintin by Pierre Assouline and Charles Ruas (2011), cover image. Photo credit by permission of Oxford University Press, Inc. )

One of the most beloved characters to appear in comic books, Tintin won an enormous international following. Translated into dozens of languages, Tintin’s adventures have sold millions of copies.

Yet, despite Tintin’s enduring popularity, most readers know almost nothing about his gifted creator, Georges Remi, better known as Hergé.

Following on from the release of Steven Spielberg’s film The Adventures of Tintin, this is the first full biography of Hergé available for an English-speaking audience, offering a captivating portrait of a man who revolutionised the art of comics.

Granted unprecedented access to thousands of the cartoonist’s unpublished letters, Pierre Assouline gets behind the genial public mask to take full measure of Hergé’s life and art and the fascinating ways in which the two intertwine.

Neither sugar-coating nor sensationalizing his subject, he weighs such controversial issues as Hergé’s support for Belgian imperialism in the Congo and his alleged collaboration with the Nazis.

He also analyses the underpinnings of Tintin, how the conception of the character as an asexual adventurer reflected Hergé’s love for the Boy Scouts as well as his Catholic mentor’s anti-Soviet ideology, and relates the comic strip to Hergé’s own place within the Belgian middle class.

For all his huge success, achieved with almost no formal training, Hergé would say unassumingly of his art, “I was just happy drawing little guys, that’s all.”

A profound influence on a generation of artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, the elusive figure of Hergé comes to life in this illuminating biography. This fascinating book is a deeply nuanced account that unveils the man and his career as never before.

You can find further details of Herge: the man who created Tintin on our catalogue.

The world of Agatha Christie

Posted July 18, 2013 2:58 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

In 1921, a publishing phenomenon began with the publication of The Mysterious Affair at Styles, a sophisticated murder mystery with a protagonist by the name of Hercule Poirot.

It was the first of more than 60 crime novels by Agatha Christie, and heralded the career of an author who has been unsurpassed by any crime novelist and went on to outsell even Shakespeare.

To many, the terribly English world created by Agatha Christie is part of the myth of a more civilized era – a land of quiet reserve, stiff upper lips, cricket on the village green, gossipy old ladies and tea at the vicarage, but with the added ingredient of murder most foul.

Her most famous mysteries include such titles as Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile and And then there were none and her ingenious construction of whodunits carried forward the genre of crime fiction, laying the foundation for the Golden Age of the detective novel.

Agatha Christie’s works remain a literary phenomenon and many of her mysteries have been immortalized through various television and cinema adaptations.

Christie herself was a discreet, private and ladylike person, avoiding publicity and disliking celebrity. Yet her life was far from dull: she travelled widely, to Germany, France, Cairo, and the Pyrenees amongst many other places, and in 1626 she hit the headlines when she disappeared for eleven days, creating a mystery around her life as intriguing as any plot she had ever written.

The world of Agatha Christie looks at this and other factors that have shaped her life, providing a colourful and informative life at the world’s greatest crime writer.

You can find further details of The world of Agatha Christie on our catalogue.

The real Jane Austen

Posted July 4, 2013 3:29 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

Many of us are familiar with Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma. And we may think that we know much about the author of these novels, Jane Austen.

But who was the real Jane Austen?

Overturning the traditional portrait of the author as conventional and genteel, Paula Byrne’s biography reveals the real woman behind the books.

In this new biography, entitled The real Jane Austen: a life in small things, Byrne explores the forces that shaped the life of Britain’s most beloved novelist: her father’s religious faith, her mother’s aristocratic pedigree, her eldest brother’s adoption, her other brothers’ naval and military experiences, her relatives in the East and West Indies, her cousin who lived through the trauma of the French Revolution, the family’s amateur theatricals, the female novelists she admired, her residence in Bath, her love of the seaside, her travels around England and her long struggle to become a published author.

Byrne uses a highly innovative technique whereby each chapter begins from an object that conjures up a key moment or theme in Austen’s life and work—a silhouette, a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a laptop writing box, a royalty cheque, a bathing machine, and many more.

The woman who emerges in this biography is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of ‘dear Aunt Jane’ would allow.

The book looks also at the biographical influences over her work, as well as her boundless energy, wit, irony and gift for savage social commentary.

Published to coincide with the bicentenary of Pride and Prejudice, this lively and scholarly biography brings Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.

You can find further details of The real Jane Austen on our catalogue.