Cuckoo : Cheating by Nature / Nick Davies

Posted February 20, 2015 4:09 pm by Julie Corrigan | Permalink

Over the centuries, the call of the Cuckoo has been celebrated as one of the first signs of Spring. Many will look forward to hearing it in the month ahead. Yet, the arrival of the Cuckoo also provokes mixed feelings. For a number of birds, the Cuckoo is the enemy who tricks them into raising its own young. Tiny Willow Warblers struggle to find enough food to feed the Cuckoo young which towers over them. The Cuckoo never raises its own chick. Just how do they manage to trick these birds into carrying out the parenting for them? In this thrilling work by the naturalist and scientist Nick Davies, we learn the methods used by the Cuckoo to deceive its hosts and cheat by nature, year after year.

Davies has studied the Cuckoo and its breeding habits for thirty years and, as such, is ideally placed to explain their behaviour to us. We are also given an insight into the methods used by birds such as the Warblers, who have adapted to defend themselves against Cuckoo trickery. Yet, in turn, we learn just how the Cuckoo adult and chick are keeping one step ahead of the hosts to ensure that they can continue their practices.

Davies does not ignore the steep decline in the Cuckoo population and explains the impact that this has had on their usual hosts. This work takes us on a journey of real drama and is a fascinating insight into the lives of some of our favourite birds. Enhanced by photographs and beautiful field drawings by James McCallum, this is one book you will certainly not want to miss this Spring!

You can find further details of Cuckoo : Cheating by Nature on our catalogue.

Reading the World : Confessions of a Literary Explorer / Ann Morgan

Posted February 13, 2015 5:07 pm by Julie Corrigan | Permalink

In 2012, Ann Morgan set out to read a book from every country in the world, focusing mainly on contemporary novels. On setting herself this challenge, she faced a number of obstacles including a lack of English translations, issues over censorship and discovering that some countries had very few published works. Through the generosity of many book-lovers and having many adventures on the way, she succeeded in reading works from all 196 independent countries in the world (plus an extra one!)

In this work, the author explains her decision to undertake this journey, how she succeeded, and how her thinking on literature changed on the way. She weaves the many tales she read over the year throughout this exploration of world-wide storytelling. The result is a fascinating examination of why storytelling matters, how reading can challenge long-held assumptions and how our changing world is altering our reading habits.

You can find further details of Reading the World : Confessions of a Literary Explorer on our catalogue.

A Broken World : Letters, Diaries and Memories of the Great War / edited by Sebastian Faulks with Ruth Hope

Posted January 23, 2015 3:45 pm by Julie Corrigan | Permalink

Much has been written about the First World War and yet, such was the scale of the conflict that still, a century later, unique stories and experiences continue to be discovered. Published to mark the Centenary of the outbreak of War, this latest anthology provides us with a diverse selection of letters, diaries and memoirs by writers from a variety of countries. Many of these writers have not been published before and have been selected to allow us new insights into this conflict. There is a greater concentration on the impact of the War and its side-effects, rather than the fighting itself, although the experience of the trenches and battle is not ignored.

Some of the most moving excerpts, for me, are in the final section of the anthology and relate to the absences felt at the end of the War. The responses of families to the Imperial War Museum’s request in 1917 for photos of Officers and, subsequently, all members of the Armed Forces, who had been lost, are difficult to read. Mrs S. E. Chessum goes from having eight children sitting around the kitchen table to just her alone. She also writes movingly about sending seeds to the Front, so that another soldier may be cheered by the sight of flowers growing.

In another excerpt, during the two-minute silence of the Armistice, a war widow thinks of selling her husband’s medals to buy shoes for her daughter. One writer, Arthur Mee, describes the “Thankful Villages” from which all of the men who went to fight returned. R. E. Roller creates a unique gift for his uncle of framed railway tickets obtained in Ypres Station whilst it was under bombardment.

Over the next few years, it is expected that there will be a great deal more published about the First World War. It will be analysed and discussed in great depth. It is, perhaps, the more personal stories however, that give us the greatest understanding of just what happened over those four years of “The War to End all Wars” and the impact felt by those who lived through it and had to live on after.

You can find further details of A Broken World : Letters, Diaries and Memories of the Great War on our catalogue.

Cheer up your January blues – sing a song!

Posted January 15, 2015 12:22 pm by Julie Corrigan | Permalink

Needing a cheer up post-Christmas? Perhaps a sing-a-long book will help! “Hook Line & Singer : 125 songs to Sing Out Loud” by Cerys Matthews landed on my desk this week and just flicking through it brought a smile to my face.

Old favourites such as “You Are My Sunshine” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” brought back childhood memories but this book does more than this! There are, of course, nursery rhymes and lullabies but there are also tunes from around the world in multiple languages. The lyrics and musical arrangements are printed clearly and simply. The real highlight though, is the history of the songs and personal stories of the author relating to them. Each song has been carefully selected and has real meaning for her.

There is something lovely about the fact that people have been singing, dancing to and generally enjoying these songs for many generations. Recent surveys have shown that one in four parents do not remember whole nursery rhymes. Hopefully, books like this will help to revive the tradition of singing with your family and keep these songs alive.

You can find further details of Hook, line & singer on our catalogue.

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.