In The Bath: Conquering the Channel in a Piece of Plumbing
by Tim FitzHigham
In The Bath: Conquering the Channel in a Piece of Plumbing is a celebration of the epic absurd, an attempt to explain just how out of hand things can become from a very simple starting point. The book follows the author's death-defying 200-mile journey in his antique Thomas Crapper bath - not just across the Channel, but around Kent - right up to the tremendous reception and huge media attention which awaited him under Tower Bridge. Tim met the Queen, and his bath now resides in the National Maritime Museum of Great Britain.
J Sheekey FISH
by Tim Hughes, Allan Jenkins, Photos by Howard Sooley
In the heart of London's Covent Garden, J Sheekey has been offering the finest fish, oysters, shellfish and other fruits de mer since the 1890s. Josef Sheekey was a market stall holder given permission by Lord Salisbury to serve fish and seafood in his 1896 property development in St Martin's Court, on the proviso that he supply meals to Salisbury's after-theatre dinner parties. Over a century later, the restaurant retains its late-Victorian charm and buzzes with fashionable folk and famous faces.
The menu takes in prime fish such as Dover and lemon sole, brill and salmon, with seasonal specials such as Esk sea trout with lovage and girolles, roast lobster with sweetbreads and salt baked bass. Old favourites include lobster thermidor and Sheekey's famous fish pie.
J Sheekey Fish immortalises recipes from this renowned kitchen. Sheekey Executive Chef Tim Hughes has teamed up with legendary cookery editor Allan Jenkins to create the cookery book event of 2012.
Lyttelton's Britain: A User's Guide to the British Isles as heard on BBC Radio's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue
by Iain Pattinson
The I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue team of Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor, in the company of their esteemed chairman Humphrey Lyttelton, have been recording their BBC radio show around the UK for longer than any of them can remember ... that's about a week - or twenty minutes in the case of Barry Cryer. At each venue Humph would present a short history of the location, written by Iain Pattinson, to the mutual delight of the audience, the team and their delightful scorer Samantha (who somehow always found time for a rewarding poke around the area's backstreets).
We are privileged to present, in gazetteer form, the very best of Humph's local histories form Radio 4's multi award-winning 'antidote to panel games'. As accurate as Wikipedia and as comprehensive as Reader's Digest, this unique guide tells you everything you never knew you wouldn't ever need to know about the background and inhabitants of Britain's most prominent towns and cities. The intelligent reader will waste no time in adding it to their collection.
It was from Bristol in 1497 that John Cabot set off to find a new route to the Spice Islands by sailing north-west. He instead discovered a strange, hostile world which he named 'Newfoundland', until the natives explained that they actually called it 'Swansea'.
It's well documented in official records that the city's original name was 'Snottingham' or 'home of Snotts', but when the Normans came, they couldn't pronounce the initial letter 'S', so decreed the town be called 'Nottingham'or the 'home of Notts'. It's easy to understand why this change was resisted so fiercely by the people of Scunthorpe.
A settlement is first recorded in Brighton as long as ago as 3000 BC, when Celtic Druids practised their ancient worship of oaks, mistletoe and virgins, and indeed, oaks and mistletoe are still plentiful in Brighton.
Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell
by Peter Caddick-Adams
The five-month Monte Cassino campaign in central Italy is one of the best-known European land battles of World War Two, alongside D-Day and Stalingrad. It has a particular resonance now, because Cassino, with its multitude of participating armies - most notably the American 5th Army under the controversial General Mark Clark - was perhaps the campaign of the Second World War that most closely anticipates the coalition operations of today, with its ever-shifting cast of players stuck in inhospitable, mountainous terrain, pursuing an objective set by unknowing politicians in distant capitals, where victory is difficult to define.
Monte Cassino was characterised by the destruction of its world famous Abbey: in retrospect, considered an unjustifiable act of cultural vandalism by the allies.The audit trail of decision-making to destroy an icon as well known then as the Eiffel Tower or Lincoln Memorial, is a chilling reminder that similar decisions are still being made in Iraq and Afghanistan and indeed Libya. To this day, reversing normal prejudice, German troops are welcome in the abbey, having rescued its treasures from allied destruction in February 1944.
Cassino was an unusual campaign for World War II in that its outcome was not reliant on sweeping movements or the use of tanks or aircraft - but by old-fashioned boots in the mud, whether capturing the town of Cassino after months of grinding urban warfare (a Stalingrad in miniature) or scrambling up the steep mountain to seize the heights and the religious complex on top of Monte Cassino.
Monte Cassino Abbey was painstakingly rebuilt after the war (its baroque chapel remains incomplete) and is now a World Heritage site. An hour south of Rome, it is visited each year by up to one million tourists and pilgrims from around the world.
Monty and Rommel: Parallel Lives
by Peter Caddick-Adams
Two men came to personify British and German generalship in the Second World War: Bernard Montgomery and Erwin Rommel. They fought a series of extraordinary duels across several theatres of war which established them as two of the greatest captains of their age. Our understanding of leadership in battle was altered for ever by their electrifying personal qualities. Ever since, historians have assessed their outstanding leadership, personalities and skill.
Born four years apart, their lives were remarkably similar. In this groundbreaking study, Peter Caddick-Adams explores Montgomery and Rommel's lives from their provincial upbringing, through to the trench fighting of the First World War, where both nearly died in 1914. Obsessed with fitness and training, the future field marshals emerged highly decorated and with a glowing war record. The pair taught in staff colleges, wrote infantry textbooks and fought each other as divisional commanders in 1940.
The careers of both began on the periphery of the military establishment and represent the first time military commanders proactively and systematically used (and were used by) the media as they came to prominence, first in North Africa, then in Normandy. Dynamic and forward-thinking, their lives also represent a study of pride, propaganda and nostalgia. Caddick-Adams tracks and compares their military talents and personalities in battle. Each brought something special to their commands. Rommel's breathtaking advance in May-June 1940 was nothing less than inspired. Montgomery is a gift for leadership gurus in the way he took over a demoralised Eighth Army in August 1942 and led it to victory just two months later.
This is the first comparative biography written of the two. It explores how each was 'made' by their war leaders, Churchill and Hitler, and how the thoughts of both permeate down to today's armies. Even though Rommel died in 1944, the rivalry between the two carried on after the war through their writings and other memoirs.
This compelling work is both scholarly and entertaining and marks the debut of a major new talent in historical biography.