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Modernity Britain: Book One: Opening...
(Hardback)
David Kynaston
 
I've enjoyed all David Kynaston's forays into the recent past, and this is no exception. It's not just a history of the politics of the Macmillan era, but a social history full of detail and colour, anecdotes and revealing vignettes, of a time when Britain was changing rapidly, when Prime Minister Harold Macmillan told the assembled members of his Conservative party, 'Most of our people have never had it so good.'

Peter Robinson - 14/08/2013
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Future Perfect: The Case for Progress...
(Paperback)
Steven Johnson
 
Besides mapping the ways our connected society will be both different and better, 'Future Perfect' makes a timely and aspirational case that progress is still possible.

Biz Stone - 16/06/2014
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An English Affair: Sex, Class and...
(Paperback)
Richard Davenport-Hines
 
The Profumo affair fascinated just about every adolescent boy in the UK back in the early 60s, and I doubt that many of us forget the risqué photographs of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies that were splashed all over the place. This is a thorough and comprehensive look at the affair from all sides, and a fascinating view of the times. It makes for compelling reading.

Peter Robinson - 14/08/2013
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A World on Fire: An Epic History of...
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Amanda Foreman
 
A hefty book about Anglo-American diplomacy during the American civil war. It sounds daunting, but is a brilliant piece of exposition and story-telling.

Bernard Cornwell - 26/09/2013
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Tuscany: A History
(Paperback)
Alistair Moffat
Alistair Moffat writes beautifully on history and topography. Here he leads us through that moist entrancing of Italian regions, Tuscany.

Alexander McCall Smith - 28/07/2011
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A People's History of London
(Paperback)
John Rees; Lindsey German
 
Does what it says on the tin: a look at the history of the people of London. It’s wonderful to recall the radical past of such staid tourist spots as St Paul’s Cathedral and Trafalgar Square. Levellers and lollards, rioters and rebels, dockers and match girls…. An irrepressible book about an irrepressible community.

Zadie Smith - 10/08/2012
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The Loss of El Dorado: A Colonial...
(Paperback)
V. S. Naipaul
Somewhere in the rich if rarely explored space betweenfiction, history, and travel-writing sits Naipaul’s consistently surprising account of Trinidad’s past.

Maya Jasanoff - 29/05/2012
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Wellington
(Paperback)
Elizabeth Longford
 
Still the best biography of the great man, written with admiration, sympathy and an eye for the telling detail.

Bernard Cornwell - 26/09/2013
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The Dead Yard: Tales of Modern Jamaica
(Paperback)
Ian Thomson
 
This is a good book to read this year, in the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence. If you’re Jamaican it’s a tough read, but an important one. It captures the creative brilliance of the island as well as the painful legacy of European and American involvement in our Caribbean destinies.

Zadie Smith - 10/08/2012
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Agincourt: The King, the Campaign, ...
(Paperback)
Juliet Barker
 
As the 600th anniversary of Agincourt gets nearer this is the book that best describes that amazing and ghastly clash. Juliet Barker distills her scholarly research into a book that's hard to put down.

Bernard Cornwell - 26/09/2013
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Landscape and Memory
(Paperback)
Simon Schama
Erudite, exuberant, eclectic, excessive, often, and endearing: Schama at his best.

Maya Jasanoff - 29/05/2012
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Richard I
(Paperback)
John Gillingham
 
John Gillingham is a scholar, addicted to understanding Richard the Lionheart. He is also readable and intuitive in his judgments of England’s emblematic king. A must for anyone interested in the Lionheart.

Justin Cartwright - 03/09/2013
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All Hell Let Loose: The World at War...
(Paperback)
Max Hastings
 
This is about as clear an account as you'll get of the Second World War. You get the big picture, the generals, politicians, strategies, battles, but you also get the scale of human suffering, the courage and the cruelty, the stories of ordinary men and women caught up in something beyond their comprehension.

Peter Robinson - 14/08/2013
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Going Solo
(Paperback)
Roald Dahl
As with Easton Ellis, I could have put any number of Dahl’s novels on this list – The Witches, Matilda, Danny The Champion Of The World – but this second part of his autobiography (which started with Boy) is utterly joyous. It’s as fantastic and funny and weird and thrilling as any of his fiction, taking in lions, snakes, fighters planes, deserts, and a cast of characters as eccentric as he’s ever had to play with. It’s completely delightful.

Will Hill - 15/03/2012
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Herculaneum: Past and Future
(Hardback)
Andrew Wallace-Hadrill
I have to choose some Roman books, and of all those glorious tomes on the eruption of Vesuvius, this big new coffee-table volume really shines. It’s the product of Andrew’s years as the Director of the British School at Rome and his involvement in the Herculaneum Conservation Project, so as well as being beautiful and informative, it makes us think about what we want from this key archaeological site and how its conservation should be managed.

Lindsey Davis - 20/03/2012
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Wedlock: How Georgian Britain's Worst...
(Paperback)
Wendy Moore
Also recommended in reference by David Mitchell

David Mitchell - 11/03/2011
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