Monday, August 8, 2011

2011 Releases so far...(Part 3)

Professor Gary Sheffield, The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army

A radical reassessment of the most controversial general in British history

In 1918, after the armies he commanded had helped to win the First World War, Douglas Haig was feted as the saviour of his country. On his death in 1928 he was mourned as a national hero. But within ten years his reputation was in ruins, and it has never fully recovered.

In this scholarly yet accessible biography, Professor Gary Sheffield reassesses Haig’s reputation. Using extensive research into primary sources, he shows how Haig’s experiences on the Western Front not only made him a highly effective commander but helped him transform the shambolic amateur force of the Somme in 1916 to the victorious army of 1918. He also reveals how, after the war, Haig used his influence as a leader of ex-servicemen to help secure the peace.

This is a powerful rehabilitation of Haig’s reputation as a military commander which offers original insights into his achievements and his place in British history.

Available here:

Greg King, Wallis: The Uncommon Life of the Duchess of Windsor

The first unbiased account of the fascinating and outrageous life of Wallis Simpson, the commoner who bewitched the King of England …

It was the love story of the century. In December 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry ‘the woman I love’, Wallis Warfield Simpson. American and twice-divorced, Wallis was hardly the sort of woman the Royal Family would have chosen for their future Queen. Their ostracism of her, coupled with a thinly veiled animosity in the British press tainted her reputation for the rest of her life.

In his acclaimed biography Greg King sifts through the decades of rumour and accusation to reveal the woman behind the legend. Wild speculation about her past affairs, her domination of the Duke and her tragic, lonely end are answered. Using previously untapped sources, conducting hundreds of interviews with survivors and expertly marshalling a huge array of documentation, King presents a definitive and sympathetic portrait of the woman who was punished for falling in love.

Available here:

Andrew Vine, Last of the Summer Wine: The Story of the World’s Longest-Running Comedy Series


Although Last of the Summer Wine came to the end of its last-ever episode in 2010 after 37 years, repeats are shown regularly on both UK Gold and the Yesterday channel, with new DVD box sets also being released in 2011. The programme has fan clubs from the US to Australia. Andrew Vine’s history of this phenomenal sitcom, which has sold over 10,000 copies in hardback, shows how a quiet comedy about three aimlessly pottering old men that began when British Leyland were still making the Austin Allegro, turned into a programme watched at its peak by a third of the population. It then managed to survive and reinvent itself even in the age of the iPhone, by which time its stars were touching ninety. It made the small town of Holmfirth into a tourist attraction, and gave actors from Thora Hird to Frank Thornton an Indian summer for their careers.

‘[An] authoritative history of the show’ – Mail on Sunday

Available here:

Sinclair McKay, The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The WWII Codebreaking Centre and the Men and Women Who Worked There


During World War Two at a rambling Victorian house in the Buckinghamshire countryside, thousands of young people intercepted, decoded and translated enemy messages, whilst some of Britain’s most brilliant minds effectively invented modern computing. Their work was undertaken in total secrecy. This bestselling and critically acclaimed book mesmerisingly describes what life was like for the men and women of Bletchley Park, caught in unusual territory between the civilian and the military.

‘An eloquent tribute to a quite remarkable group of men and women’ Mail on Sunday

‘A truly breathtaking, eye-opening book’ Readers Digest

Available here: