Paris: The Secret History


Andrew Hussey - 2006
    Paris captures everyone's imaginations: It's a backdrop for Proust's fictional pederast, Robert Doisneau's photographic kiss, and Edith Piaf's serenaded soldier-lovers; a home as much to romance and love poems as to prostitution and opium dens. The many pieces of the city coexist, each one as real as the next. What's more, the conflicted identity of the city is visible everywhere—between cobblestones, in bars, on the métro.In this lively and lucid volume, Andrew Hussey brings to life the urchins and artists who've left their marks on the city, filling in the gaps of a history that affected the disenfranchised as much as the nobility. Paris: The Secret History ranges across centuries, movements, and cultural and political beliefs, from Napoleon's overcrowded cemeteries to Balzac's nocturnal flight from his debts. For Hussey, Paris is a city whose long and conflicted history continues to thrive and change. The book's is a picaresque journey through royal palaces, brothels, and sidewalk cafés, uncovering the rich, exotic, and often lurid history of the world's most beloved city.

Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870


Liza Picard - 2005
    This period of mid-Victorian London covers a huge span: Victoria's wedding and the place of the royals in popular esteem; how the very poor lived, the underworld, prostitution, crime, prisons and transportation; the public utilities - Bazalgette on sewers and road design, Chadwick on pollution and sanitation; private charities - Peabody, Burdett Coutts - and workhouses; new terraced housing and transport, trains, omnibuses and the Underground; furniture and decor; families and the position of women; the prosperous middle classes and their new shops, e.g. Peter Jones, Harrods; entertaining and servants, food and drink; unlimited liability and bankruptcy; the rich, the marriage market, taxes and anti-semitism; the Empire, recruitment and press-gangs. The period begins with the closing of the Fleet and Marshalsea prisons and ends with the first (steam-operated) Underground trains and the first Gilbert & Sullivan.

London: The Autobiography


Jon E. Lewis - 2008
    From Boudicca's savage raid on Roman London in 60AD to the bombing of 7/7, here is the 2000-year story of one of the world's greatest cities.

The British in India: A Social History of the Raj


David Gilmour - 2018
    David Gilmour captures the substance and texture of their work, home, and social lives, and illustrates how these transformed across the several centuries of British presence and rule in the subcontinent, from the East India Company's first trading station in 1615 to the twilight of the Raj and Partition and Independence in 1947. He takes us through remote hill stations, bustling coastal ports, opulent palaces, regimented cantonments, and dense jungles, revealing the country as seen through British eyes, and wittily reveling in all the particular concerns and contradictions that were a consequence of that limited perspective. The British in India is a breathtaking accomplishment, a vivid and balanced history written with brio, elegance, and erudition.

Turkey: A Short History


Norman Stone - 2011
    Stone deftly conducts the reader through this story, from the arrival of the Seljuks in Anatolia in the eleventh century to the modern republic applying for EU membership in the twenty-first. It is an historical account of epic proportions, featuring rapacious leaders such as Genghis Khan and Tamerlane through the glories of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent to Kemal Atatürk, the reforming genius and founder of modern Turkey. At its height, the Ottoman Empire was a superpower that brought Islam to the gates of Vienna. Stone examines the reasons for the empires long decline and shows how it gave birth to the modern Turkish republic, where east and west, religion and secularism, tradition and modernity still form vibrant elements of national identity. Norman Stone brilliantly draws out the larger themes of Turkeys history, resulting in a book that is a masterly exposition of the historians craft.

Florence: The Biography of a City


Christopher Hibbert - 1993
    Hibbert's gift is weaving political, social and art history into an elegantly readable and marvellously lively whole. The author's book on Florence will also be at once a history and a guide book and will be enhanced by splendid photographs and illustrations and line drawings which will describe all teh buildings and treasures of the city.

Paradise of Cities: Venice in the Nineteenth Century


John Julius Norwich - 2003
    Now, in his second book on the city once known as La Serenissima, Norwich advances the story in this elegant chronicle of a hundred years of Venice’s highs and lows, from its ignominious capture by Napoleon in 1797 to the dawn of the 20th century.An obligatory stop on the Grand Tour for any cultured Englishman (and, later, Americans), Venice limped into the 19th century–first under the yoke of France, then as an outpost of the Austrian Hapsburgs, stripped of riches yet indelibly the most ravishing city in Italy. Even when subsumed into a unified Italy in 1866, it remained a magnet for aesthetes of all stripes–subject or setting of books by Ruskin and James, a muse to poets and musicians, in its way the most gracious courtesan of all European cities. By refracting images of Venice through the visits of such extravagant (and sometimes debauched) artists as Lord Byron, Richard Wagner, and the inimitable Baron Corvo, Norwich conjures visions of paradise on a lagoon, as enduring as brick and as elusive as the tides.

Gibraltar: The History of a Fortress


Ernle Bradford - 1971
     In ancient times, it was known as one of the Pillars of Hercules, and a glance at its formidable mass suggests that it may well have been created by the gods. Sought after by every nation with territorial ambitions in Europe, Asia, and Africa, Gibraltar was possessed by the Arabs, the Spanish, and ultimately the British, who captured it in the early 1700s and held onto it in a siege of more than three years late in the eighteenth century. The fact that that was one of more than a dozen sieges exemplifies Gibraltar’s quintessential value as a prize and the desperation of governments to fly their flag above its forbidding ramparts. Bradford uses his matchless skill and knowledge to take the reader through the history of this great and unique fortress. From its geological creation to its two-thousand-year influence on politics and war, he crafts the compelling tale of how these few square miles played a major part in history. Ernle Bradford's books have been widely praised. 'A gripping story' - The Economist. Ernle Bradford (1922-1986) was an historian who wrote books on naval battles and historical figures. Among his subjects were Lord Nelson, the Mary Rose, Christopher Columbus, Julius Caesar and Hannibal. He also documented his own voyages on the Mediterranean Sea.

A Short History of London: The Creation of a World Capital


Simon Jenkins - 2019
    This changeful place became a medieval maze of alleys and courtyards, later to be chequered with grand estates of Georgian splendour. It swelled with industry and became the centre of the largest empire in history. And having risen from the rubble of the Blitz, it is now one of the greatest cities in the world.From the prehistoric occupants of the Thames Valley to the preoccupied commuters of today, Simon Jenkins brings together the key events, individuals and trends in London's history to create a matchless portrait of the capital. He masterfully explains the battles that determined how London was conceived and built - and especially the perennial conflict between money and power.Based in part on his experiences of and involvement in the events that shaped the post-war city, and with his trademark colour and authority, Jenkins shows above all how London has taken shape over more than two thousand years. Fascinating for locals and visitors alike, this is narrative history at its finest, from the most ardent protector of our heritage.

London Lore: The Legends and Traditions of the World's Most Vibrant City


Steve Roud - 2008
    In the process, it shows how the story of Dick Whittington and his cat has connections with the ancient Middle East, explains why lions rather than ravens at the Tower of London were once felt to be inextricably bound up with the city’s fate, and pinpoints precisely where the story of Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, was first recorded. Exploring everything from local superstitions, to ghost stories, to annual customs, this is an enchanting guide to the ancient legends and deep-rooted beliefs that can be found the length and breadth of the city.

Prague in Black and Gold: Scenes from the Life of a European City


Peter Demetz - 1997
    In Prague in Black and Gold, Peter Demetz strips away sentimentalities and distortions and shows how Czechs, Germans, Italians, and Jews have lived and worked together for over a thousand years. .

Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910


Jeffrey H. Jackson - 2010
    Torrential rainfall saturated the soil, and faulty engineering created conditions that soon drowned Parisian streets, homes, businesses, and museums, thrusting the City of Light into a battle with the elements. Given the Parisians' history of deep-seated social, religious, and political strife, many worried that they wouldn't be able to collaborate to confront the crisis. Yet while the sewers, Métro, and electricity failed around them, Parisians of all backgrounds rallied to save the city and one another. Improvising techniques to keep Paris functioning and braving the dangers of collapsing infrastructure and looters, leaders and residents alike answered the call to action.In breathtaking detail, Jeffrey Jackson captures here for the first time the epic story of the great flood. As the waters rise, so does the tension, but ultimately, the Parisians' love of their city leads them to triumph over nature against all odds.

Women of the Raj


Margaret MacMillan - 1988
    British men and women left their homes and traveled to this mysterious, beautiful country–where they attempted to replicate their own society. In this fascinating portrait, Margaret MacMillan examines the hidden lives of the women who supported their husbands’ conquests–and in turn supported the Raj, often behind the scenes and out of the history books. Enduring heartbreaking separations from their families, these women had no choice but to adapt to their strange new home, where they were treated with incredible deference by the natives but found little that was familiar. The women of the Raj learned to cope with the harsh Indian climate and ward off endemic diseases; they were forced to make their own entertainment–through games, balls, and theatrics–and quickly learned to abide by the deeply ingrained Anglo-Indian love of hierarchy.Weaving interviews, letters, and memoirs with a stunning selection of illustrations, MacMillan presents a vivid cultural and social history of the daughters, sisters, mothers, and wives of the men at the center of a daring imperialist experiment–and reveals India in all its richness and vitality.“A marvellous book . . . [Women of the Raj] successfully [re-creates] a vanished world that continues to hold a fascination long after the sun has set on the British empire.”–The Globe and Mail “MacMillan has that essential quality of the historian, a narrative gift.”–The Daily Telegraph “MacMillan is a superb writer who can bring history to life.”–The Philadelphia Inquirer“Well researched and thoroughly enjoyable.”–Evening Standard

Anglo Saxon Britain


Grant Allen - 1884
    You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.

Paris: The Biography of a City


Colin Jones - 2004
    In this definitive and illuminating history, Colin Jones walks us through the city that was a plague-infested charnel house during the Middle Ages, the bloody epicenter of the French Revolution, the muse of nineteenth-century Impressionist painters, and much more. Jones’s masterful narrative is enhanced by numerous photographs and feature boxes—on the Bastille or Josephine Baker, for instance—that complete a colorful and comprehensive portrait of a place that has endured Vikings, Black Death, and the Nazis to emerge as the heart of a resurgent Europe. This is a thrilling companion for history buffs and backpack, or armchair, travelers alike.