In December 1936, Britain faced a constitutional crisis that was the gravest threat to the institution of the monarchy since the execution of Charles I. The ruling monarch, Edward VIII, wished to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson and crown her as his Queen. His actions scandalised the establishment, who were desperate to avoid an international embarrassment at a time when war seemed imminent. That the King was rumoured to have Nazi sympathies only strengthened their determination that he should be forced off the throne, by any means necessary.
An influential coalition formed against him, including the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin; his private secretary Alec Hardinge; the Archbishop of Canterbury; and the editor of the Times. Betrayal and paranoia were everywhere, as MI5 bugged his telephone and his courtiers turned against him. Edward seemed fated to give up Wallis and remain a reluctant ruler, or to abdicate his throne. Yet he had his own supporters, too, including Winston Churchill, the Machiavellian newspaper proprietor Lord Beaverbrook and his brilliant adviser Walter Monckton. They offered him the chance to remain on the throne and keep Wallis. But was the price they asked too high? And what really lay behind the assassination attempt on Edward earlier that year?
Using previously unpublished and rare archival material, and new interviews with those who knew Edward and Wallis, THE CROWN IN CRISIS is the conclusive exploration of how an unthinkable and unprecedented event tore the country apart, as its monarch prized his personal happiness above all else. This seismic event has been written about before but never with the ticking-clock suspense and pace of the thriller that it undoubtedly was for all its participants. THE CROWN IN CRISIS by Alex Larman is the definitive book about the events of 1936.
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on 9 July 2020 in hardback at £20, eBook £10.99, audio £19.99
About the author:
Alexander Larman is a historian and journalist. He is the author of three previous acclaimed books of historical and literary biography. He writes for the Times, Observer and Telegraph, as well as The Spectator and The Critic. He lives in Oxford.
On 26 December 1898, Marie and Pierre Curie announced to the
world the existence a new element: ‘radium’. Outside the
scientific world, the response was muted at first – the Guardian
even misspelled the scientists’ names in a 1902 article on the
In the early 20th century, that all changed. As its applications
became known, the radium craze took off. It became a
desirable item – a present for a queen, a prize in a treasure
hunt, a glow-in-the-dark dance costume, a boon to the
housewife, and an ingredient in a startling host of consumer
products –a cure-all in everyday 20th-century life.
In Half Lives, Lucy Jane Santos tells this extraordinary story.
Radium formed the basis for films and novels. To be
described as being ‘like radium’ was a compliment to
someone’s enthusiasm and drive. We meet entrepreneurs
promoting cures for baldness and plugging beauty products
from face creams to hair removal products. We learn of
remedies ranging from the bizarre (such as the O-Radium
Hat-Pad to promote hair health) to the simply fraudulent
(Radol, which claimed to be a radium impregnated cancer cure). We uncover the glow-in-the-dark watch (the must-have for an officer the trenches of World War I). Radium was everywhere.
Finally, as the longer-term effects of radium became better known, the book tells of the downfall and discredit of the radium industry through the eyes of the people who bought, sold and eventually came to fear it.
Half Lives is the story of an element – but also the story of us as a society. How did we get from the enthusiastic usage of radium beauty treatments to the revulsion we feel at that prospect today? Why does Boots the Chemist no longer stock radium water siphons or belts filled with radium mud? With wit and empathy, Santos tells the story of the entrepreneurs and consumers in radium’s history who have until now been considered quacks, or fools, or both.
Praise for Half Lives: The Unlikely History of Radium
'Half Lives shines a light on the shocking history of the world's toxic love affair with a deadly substance, radium. Unnerving, fascinating, informative and truly frightening.'
Hallie Rubenhold, author of The Five
’In Half Lives, Lucy Santos transports us back to a time when consumers wondered whether mixing radium into chicken feed might result in eggs that could hard-boil themselves; when diners cheerfully drank radioactive cocktails that glowed in the dark; and when people used toothpaste containing lethal thorium oxide in the pursuit of healthy gums. Santos unpicks fact from fiction and exhibits a masterful grasp of a complex area of science history that is so often mistold. Half Lives is a delightfully disturbing book that reminds us all of the age-old Latin maxim, 'caveat emptor.'
Dr Lindsey Fitzharris, bestselling author of The Butchering Art
Publisher: Icon Books
RRP: £16.99 (Hardback)
Release: 2nd July 2020
Pre-order your copy here:
Size: 198 x 124mm
Extent: 464 pages
Illustrations: 31 illustrations
For over 500 years witches, male and female, practised magic for both harm and good in their communities.
Most witches worked locally, used by their neighbours to cure illness, create love, or gratify personal spite against another. Margaret Lindsay from Northumberland was prosecuted for making men impotent, John Stokes in London for curing fevers, Collas de la Rue on Guernsey for killing people by witchcraft, and Isobel Gowdie in Auldearn for a variety of offences including consorting with Satan and fairies.
In the fifteenth century witches attacked a succession of English monarchs using enchanted images, and in the sixteenth they also sought ways to kill James VI of Scotland. In response a series of Acts of Parliament were passed which made much magic criminal and punished offenders severely, until a final Act in 1735 repealed them.
This impressive history shines a new light on witches, their magic, and the attempts to eradicate them throughout the British Isles, altering our picture of who witches were and why people employed them but also tried to suppress them.
P. G. Maxwell-Stuart is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of St Andrews. He lives in St Andrews.
Yet, the story doesn’t end with the closing ceremony at the 1936 Olympiad in Berlin. The Nazi desire to prove that they were the greatest sporting nation did not just apply to track and field. Golf became the next target. Soon after the notorious Berlin Games of 1936 a Golf tournament took place in the town of Baden-Baden. The führer himself personally sanctioned the event.
The story that unfolds to one of Golf’s lesser known events is one where the führer takes yet another knock in his attempts to put Nazi Germany on the sporting map. The Hitler Trophy by Alan Fraser brings the event to life in a wonderfully researched and compelling narrative that tells the story of how two plucky young Englishmen (Arnold Bentley and Tom Thirsk) took the title away from Germany, much to Hitler’s disgust.
However the book is so much more than giving the reader an account of the tournament that annoyed Hitler. It is also the search and battle to bring the Trophy back to its spiritual home. Appearing as Lot 169 at a Chester auction there was plenty of interest in the silver-gilt salver. Hesketh Golf Club were desperate to bring the Trophy back to the club where Arnold Bentley played. However, there was lots of interest including from Germany.
What the Hitler Trophy proves is that the game golf is so much more than just a game. In extraordinary circumstances the game can be a tussle on and off the course. It also emphasises the power of a trophy and the honour that comes with it.
Published by Floodlit Dreams
Aron Goldfarb was fifteen years old when he was ripped from his bed in Poland and forced to enter a Jewish work camp.
Watching helplessly as Nazis murdered his friends and family, he and his brother, Abe, made their courageous escape after hearing rumours of fellow prisoners being executed in gas chambers. With astonishing bravery and an unshakeable will to survive, the brothers hid together in underground holes on an estate controlled by the SS.
In this moving testament to the strength of human endurance and the power of relationships, co-written with acclaimed author Graham Diamond, Goldfarb tells his unbelievable true tale at long last.
Vivid, compelling and frequently harrowing, Maybe You Will Survive is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the human condition.
Eerily titled after the last words that his father ever said to him, Maybe You Will Survive tells the incredible true story of fifteen-year-old Polish Jew Aron Goldfarb and his survival of the Holocaust.
Aron’s story is a phenomenal one unlike any other. Not only was he able to successfully escape from his imprisonment in Pionki labour camp, but he and his brother then overcame unbelievable odds to survive the seven remaining winter months of the war hidden together in self-made, underground bunkers – directly under the noses of the SS officers who were hunting them. With astounding bravery, fierce determination and his father’s words as guidance, Aron not only survived but he flourished, going on to start a family and build a multimillion-dollar fashion empire in America.
Now available in paperback as well as eBook, this special 2020 edition commemorates 75 years since Aron’s liberation with exclusive, poignant reflections on his life and legacy from his sons, Morris and Ira Goldfarb.
Graham Diamond, the Co-writer of Maybe You Will Survive told Inside History that: "Working on the project with Aron Goldfarb was an experience I'll never forget. As we began I found myself facing this tough New York businessman, highly successful and highly regarded by colleagues and competitors alike. I both taped Aron and took copious notes, trying to keep this extraordinary person on track and not going onto many tangents. Maybe You Will Survive is his story. Sure, it encompasses that entire horrible history of Europe, but this was to be a personal experience shared, and I knew I needed to keep it strictly focused. Tears came to Aron's eyes as he spoke about his childhood, his father, his mother, his brothers, his town, his world. My job was to make it come alive. To make him and what he shared as real as possible. I believe I succeeded, and I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to bring it to life. The book's successes are his successes, and I was only the messenger. For me, Aron stills lives, and I believe that the readers of Maybe You Will Survive will feel very much the same."
Maybe You Will Survive is Published by Lume Book. To get your copy please click the link below.
Publisher: Pen & Sword
William Harrison Ainsworth (1805 – 1882) is probably the most successful 19th Century writer that most people haven’t heard of. Journalist, essayist, poet and, most of all, historical novelist, Ainsworth was a member of the early-Victorian publishing elite, and Charles Dickens’s only serious commercial rival until the late-1840s, his novels Rookwood and Jack Shepherd beginning a fashion for tales of Georgian highwaymen and establishing the legend of Dick Turpin firmly in the National Myth. He was in the Dickens’ circle before it was the Dickens’ circle and counted among his friends the literary lions of his age: men like Charles Lamb, J.G. Lockhart, Leigh Hunt, W.M. Thackeray and, of course, Dickens; the publishers Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley; and the artists Sir John Gilbert, George Cruikshank, and ‘Phiz’ (Hablot K. Browne). He also owned and edited Bentley’s Miscellany (whose editorship he assumed after Dickens), the New Monthly Magazine, and Ainsworth’s Magazine. In his heyday, Ainsworth commanded a massive audience until a moral panic – the so-called ‘Newgate Controversy’ – about the supposedly pernicious effects on working class youth of the criminal romances on which his reputation was built effectively destroyed his reputation as a serious literary novelist.
to be true stories.
Publisher: Pen & Sword
It is a sobering thought that until the closing years of the twentieth century, Britain’s courts were technically able to impose the death penalty for a number of offences; both civil and military. Although the last judicial hangings took place in 1964, the death penalty, in theory at least, remained for a number of offences. During the twentieth century, 865 people were executed in Britain, and of those only 3 were ever posthumously pardoned. This book details each and every one of those executions, and in many cases highlights the crimes that brought these men and women to the gallows.
The book also details the various forms of capital punishment used throughout British
history. During past centuries people were burned at the stake, had the skin flayed from
their bodies, been beheaded, garrotted, hung, drawn and quartered, stoned, disemboweled, buried alive and all under the guidance of a vengeful law, or at least what passed for law at any given period. This book spares no detail in chronicling these events and the author has painstakingly collected together every available piece of evidence to provide as clear a picture as possible of a time when the law operated on the principle of an eye for an eye.
The author, Gary M. Dobbs, is a true-crime historian and has spent many hours researching the cases featured within these pages to bring the reader a definitive history of judicial punishment during the twentieth century, and this carefully researched, well-illustrated and enthralling text will appeal to anyone interested in the darker side of history.
Welsh author Gary M. Dobbs first saw print as a fiction writer. Using the pen name Jack
Martin he is responsible for a string of best-selling western novels as well as the hugely
popular crime series, Granny Smith. The latter published under his own name.
A Date with the Hangman, is his fourth major non-fiction work following the successful
Cardiff and the Valleys in the Great War, Cardiff and the Valleys at War 1939 – 45 and Dark Valleys, all of which were also published by Pen and Sword.
Publication: January 2020
King Richard III remains one of the most controversial figures in British history. Matthew Lewis’s new biography aims to become a definitive account by exploring what is known of his childhood and the impacts it had on his personality and view of the world. He would be cast into insecurity and exile only to become a royal prince before his tenth birthday.
As Richard spends his teenage years under the watchful gaze of his older brother, Edward IV, he is eventually placed in the household of their cousin, the Earl of Warwick, remembered as the Kingmaker; but as the relationship between a king and his most influential magnate breaks down, Richard is compelled to make a choice when the House of York fractures. After another period in exile, Richard returns to become the most powerful nobleman in England. The work he involves himself in during the years that follow demonstrates a drive and commitment but also a dangerous naïveté.
When crisis hits in 1483, it is to Richard that his older brother turns on his death bed. The events of 1483 remain contentious and hotly debated, but by understanding the Richard who began that year, it will become clearer what drove some of his actions and decisions. Returning to primary sources and considering the evidence available, this new life undoes the myths and presents a real man living in tumultuous times.
Matthew Lewis is an author and historian with particular interest in the medieval period. His books include a history of the Wars of the Roses, a biography of Richard, 3rd Duke of York, and two novels of historical fiction telling the life of King Richard III and the aftermath of the Battle of Bosworth. He also writes a history blog, sharing thoughts and
snippets. He can be found on Twitter @MattLewisAuthor.
Publication: March 2020
Ronald Koorm explores the complex relationship between Bletchley Park and its support codebreaking outstations, the background to the Enigma encoding machine, and how Eastcote became the largest codebreaking outstation during the war. He analyses the development of improvements on Alan Turing’s Bombe machine, the contribution of the WRNS (Wrens) in operating the machines, and some of the social history showing how those Wrens from varying social backgrounds displayed outstanding teamwork under immense pressure at the codebreaking sites.
Post-war, Eastcote became GCHQ prior to moving to Cheltenham, and there were multiple uses of the site, including Cold War counter-intelligence operations. The author explores the link between Alan Turing and others in terms of the quest for Artificial Intelligence, and how talented individuals during the war helped shape the future. Backing Bletchley includes previously unpublished diagrams, charts and illustrations of the story of the outstations, which shed further light on the extraordinary historic events that occurred at them.
Ronald Koorm ran his own surveying and design consultancy for many years. He has lectured in various subjects including codebreaking and outstations during the Second World War. His research over recent years has been on Eastcote, codebreaking and the development to GCHQ. His diary for talks on the subject for 2020‒21 is almost full. He is an active member of the Access Association, He has written articles for RICS and for other journals and blogs for bodies such as the Construction Industry Council.