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New Books May 2017

This May we launch a mega list of 35 new releases. Here is a selection of some of the books to hit the bookstores in May. We recommend The Sirdar and the Khalifa: Kitchener's Reconquest of Sudan 1896-98, which recounts the story of Kitchener's re-conquest of the Sudan and the avenging of the death of General Charles 'Chinese' Gordon. The Wandering Princess is the first major biography of Princess Hélène of France, Duchess of Aosta (1871-1951).

The Sirdar and the Khalifa
Kitchener's Reconquest of Sudan
1896-98

By Mark Simner

Perhaps one of the most dramatic events of the late Victorian period was the death of General Charles 'Chinese' Gordon at the hands of the Mahdi's fanatical warriors as they finally broke their way into the Sudanese city of Khartoum.

The story is well-known, recounted in numerous books and celebrated in the film Khartoum (1966) starring Charlton Heston.

However, what is perhaps less well-known is the subsequent - and far more successful - campaign fought by the British against the Mahdi's successor, the Khalifa, by General Kitchener, the Sirdar of the Egyptian Army, over a decade later. The Sirdar and the Khalifa examines Kitchener's belated campaign to reconquer the Sudan and avenge the death of General Gordon, a war that began in 1896 and ended less than two years later with the epic Battle of Omdurman.

The true story of the Omdurman campaign is a classic tale of British soldiers battling a fanatical Dervish enemy in the harsh terrain of the desert. It is also the campaign that made Kitchener a household name, one that would last to this very day.

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The Wandering Princess
Princess Hélène of France, Duchess of Aosta (1871-1951)

By Edward Hanson

Hélène was a strong-willed princess, raised in France but closely connected with the court of Queen Victoria. After the premature end to a romance with that monarch's grandson, she married in the royal family of Italy.

However, escaping from an unhappy marriage and the boredom of court life, Hélène began extended adventuresome trips into Africa where she became a big game hunter, explorer and travel writer.

Travels took her around the world, but her sense of royal duty brought her back to nurse aboard a hospital ship in Libyan waters, then to an important role as head of the Italian Red Cross nurses during the First World War while her husband headed Italy's Third Army: one son served in the Artillery while the other was in the Navy.

Afterwards, her strong Italian nationalism made her an ally to Gabriele d'Annunzio and Benito Mussolini, but the disastrous Second World War saw her grandchildren interned in Austria and her older son die as a British prisoner of war while she continued her charitable work in Naples.

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Women in Ancient Greece

By Paul Chrystal

Women in Ancient Greece is a much-needed analysis of how women behaved in Greek society, how they were regarded, and the restrictions imposed on their actions. Given that ancient Greece was very much a man's world, most books on ancient Greek society tend to focus on men; this book redresses the imbalance by shining the spotlight on that neglected other half.

Women had significant roles to play in Greek society and culture - this book illuminates those roles.

Women in Ancient Greece asks the controversial question: how far is the assumption that women were secluded and excluded just an illusion? It answers it by exploring the treatment of women in Greek myth and epic; their treatment by playwrights, poets and philosophers; and the actions of liberated women in Minoan Crete, Sparta and the Hellenistic era when some elite women were politically prominent.

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They Nearly Reached the Sky
West Ham United in Europe

By Brian Belton

From the earliest days of West Ham United, the club sought competition outside the British Isles. In the mid-1960s, the Hammers, led by England captain Bobby Moore, won their way into top class competition in Europe to become the first side made up entirely of English players to win a major international trophy: the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1965 at Wembley.

Although this was to be the zenith of the team's performance on the international stage, there were to be further exciting and intriguing campaigns and games. Great goals, magnificent victories and defeats fought to the finish.

However, this is more a story about places, people and times as West Ham went about breaking ground and hearts as the claret and blue adventurers rampaged across the continent.

The boys from London's East End were learning, teaching and developing a pedigree of football that was to be replicated, but without the pioneering magic the Irons engendered - a quality that could never be entirely reproduced. They nearly reached the sky while the rest followed.

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If the Kaiser Comes
Defence Against a German Invasion of Britain in the First World War

By Mike Osborne

On 20 November 1914, everything pointed to the likelihood of invasion by a German Army whisked across the North Sea on a fleet of transports.

The Royal Navy prepared to sail south from bases in Scotland; shallow-draught monitors were moored in the Wash; and troops stood by to repel the enemy on the beaches.

For thirty years prior to the First World War, writers, with a variety of motivations, had been forecasting such an invasion. Britain regarded the Army as an imperial police force and, despite the experience gained in military exercises involving simulated invasions, the Royal Navy was still expected to fulfil its traditional role of destroying enemy forces.

However, as the technology of warfare developed with the proliferation of ever more powerful warships, submarines, mines and torpedoes, and the added promise of aerial assault, it became obvious that these long-established notions of the Navy's invincibility might no longer be realistic.

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When the Navy Took to the Air
The Experimental Seaplane Stations of the Royal Naval Air Service

By Philip MacDougall

During the First World War, the Royal Navy was at the forefront of aviation developments, concerned not just with the use of aircraft and airships to defend the fleet, but securing the homeland against Zeppelins and air strikes.

Several airfields, seaplane and airship stations became crucial to the success of these experiments with Calshot, Eastchurch, Felixstowe and the Isle of Grain developing new aircraft and weapons as well as pioneering navigational systems, air-to-ground radio communication and deck-board ship landings while at Cardington, Kingsnorth and Pulhan, concentration was on the development of airships.

These stations saw the assembly of groups of experts who, in pushing the envelope to the extreme, sometimes sacrificed their own lives.

That little is known about this highly advanced aerial experimental work is a result of the Navy's air wing - the RNAS - having been subsumed into the RAF and the resulting emphasis on the aeroplane as a weapon of land warfare rather than its value for fighting the war at sea.

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Beyond Duty
The Reason Some Soldiers Commit Atrocities

By Walter S. Zapotoczny Jr.

Accounts of brutality fill the history of warfare. The behaviour of any human being is a complex phenomenon whether in war or peace. Historians have described in detail the actions of military groups that committed brutalities, but failed to deal with the factors that contributed to those actions. After examining the collective behaviour of six military groups, representing combat actions in different periods in history, unexpected similarities became clear: there are comparable factors, which allowed men to kill, women and children in cold blood and to commit acts of unspeakable brutality.

Five principle factors that had the greatest influence, either directly or indirectly, on the groups have been identified. Together, the factors supported each other and crystallised into a modus operandi that resulted in atrocities and bestial acts on civilians.

Beyond Duty: The Reason Some Soldiers Commit Atrocities is the first book to identify the factors that lead to the most horrific cruelty in history and to predict the actions of future groups given similar circumstances.

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* Online only. Ends 24 April 2018. Some exclusions may apply.

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