History & Biography
There's plenty of nostalgia right now for the Australia of the past, but what was it really like?
In The Land Before Avocado, Richard Glover takes a journey to an almost unrecognisable Australia. It's a vivid portrait of a quite peculiar land: a place that is scary and weird, dangerous and incomprehensible, and, now and then, surprisingly appealing. It's the Australia of his childhood; the Australia of the late '60s and early '70s.
Let's break the news now: they didn't have avocado. It's a place of funny clothing and food that was appalling, but amusingly so. It is also the land of staggeringly awful attitudes – often enshrined in law – towards anybody who didn't fit in.
The Land Before Avocado will make you laugh and cry, feel angry and inspired. And leave you wondering how bizarre things were, not so long ago. Most of all, it will make you realise how far we've come – and how much further we can go.$29.99
For over 50 years between the 1760s and the early 19th century, the pioneers who sailed from Europe to explore the Pacific brought back glimpses of this new world in the form of oil paintings, watercolours and drawings – a sensational view of a part of the world few would ever see. Today these works represent a fascinating and inspiring perspective from the frontier of discovery.
It was Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society, who popularised the placement of professional artists on British ships of exploration. They captured striking and memorable images of everything they encountered: exotic landscapes, beautiful flora and fauna, as well as remarkable portraits of indigenous peoples. These earliest views of the Pacific, particularly Australia, were designed to promote the new world as enticing, to make it seem familiar, to encourage further exploration and, ultimately, British settlement.
Drawing on both private and public collections from around the world, this lavish book collects together oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, prints and other documents from those voyages, and presents a unique glimpse into an age where science and art became irrevocably entwined.$49.99
If you are passionate about steam locomotives, or know someone who is, then Steam is the perfect companion.
Tim Fischer takes you into the fascinating and grand story of steam transportation over ten vital decades of transformation in Australia’s history. This book is so much more than a history or a set of lists, it is about the great tapestry of transport weaved by the steam locomotive, and Tim details how the nation was galvanised with economic growth delivered by steam. He tracks key steam locomotives that traversed Australia during critical stages of our nation’s development and transported soldiers to fields of conflict as we fought in two world wars.
For a century, from 1850 to 1950, steam locomotive haulage dominated Australia’s various rail systems and, during that period, rail networks expanded from a few short routes in the big capital cities to huge networks reaching every corner of each state. The book also covers the great named express trains hauled by steam locomotives over the decades: Puffing Billy, Robert Gordon Menzies, The Ghan. Special features include information on Albury’s ‘break of gauge’ platform (where two state track systems met), the Amiens branch line (running through Pozieres and Passchendaele stations in Queensland), the ‘garnishee’ order against the Spirit of Progress, some important characters such as CY O’Connor and many, many more fascinating topics.$39.99$34.99
From heritage sites that preserve wonders of the ancient world, such as the Great Wall of China, to memorials that commemorate significant moments in the twentieth century, and from the Sterkfontein Caves, near Johannesburg in South Africa – the 'cradle of the human race' – to Checkpoint Charlie, the variety of historic sites featured in 1001 Historic Sites You Must See Before You Die is immense...
There are reviews and images of the seats of power, from Versailles to the White House; the world's major battlefields, from Gettysburg to the Somme; and significant monuments and places of worship, such as the Wailing Wall, the Chatmohar Mosque in Pakistan, and St. Peter's Basilica in Rome...
It is unlikely that one reader will get around to visiting all 1001 sites in person. However, after reading this book, they will know which are their personal must-see sites, which they absolutely must visit in their lifetime.$39.99
3-Minute JRR Tolkien celebrates the enduring influence of the world's most revered fantasy writer. It offers a readable, absorbing structure, dividing Tolkien's life and cultural contribution into 60 neat portions, every one digestible in a mere three minutes: 20 mini-sections each on Life, Work and Influence.
From a childhood inventing new languages in the sylvan landscape of the Severn valley, through a First World War that saw him witness the horrors of the Somme, to academic success founded on a passion for Old English tales, we trace Tolkien's life and look at the way in which it informs his creation of imaginary worlds.$24.99
In the West, the story of Ancient China is less familiar to us than that of Ancient Egypt or Rome, but it is no less absorbing, and its rollcall of achievements is easily as impressive.
30-Second Ancient China unlocks the secrets of China's Bronze Age glories and offers summaries of everything from the lost cities of the Zhou kings and the elaborate oracle-bone rituals that were practiced at their courts to the exquisite bronze vessels that gave the age its name, and the birth of Confucianism.
Add topics dealing with everyday life in Ancient China, and succinct biographies of some powerful figures – from Wu Ding, king of the Shang, to Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, the first ever treatise on military strategy – and this book becomes the perfect introduction to one of the great ancient civilizations.
The 50 most significant aspects, no matter how complex, are explained in 300 words and one image, all digestible in just 30 seconds.$31.99$16.99
30-Second Ancient Greece offers an engrossing tour of the Hellenic world, appealingly served up in easily absorbed nuggets.
Ancient Greek civilization laid the foundations for so many aspects of modern western life, from architecture to philosophy. But can you recite the Classical orders with confidence (are you sure what an order actually is?), and would you be able to define the key contributions of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle?$19.99$9.99
30-Second Biology tackles the vital science of life, dissecting the 50 most thought-provoking theories of our ecosystem and ourselves.
At a time when discoveries in DNA allow us to feel more connected than ever to the natural world, this is the fastest route to an understanding of the tree of life. Whether you're dipping into the gene pool, unlocking cells or conversing on biodiversity, this is all the knowledge you need to bring life to the dinner-party debate.$19.99$9.99
Spend 30 seconds a day in the company of a colossus from the world of science, and you will soon have his whole story – both his scientific attainments and his extraordinary life – in your head.
Einstein was not only an unparalleled scientific genius, but also a human rights campaigner, a political activist and the iconic archetype of the mad professor. Is it any wonder that he continues to fascinate scientists and non-scientists alike? 30-Second Einstein will show you why.$19.99$9.99
Evolution is the unifying force in modern biology, bringing together such diverse fields as microbiology, genetics and palaeontology. It provides a powerfully persuasive explanation for the staggering diversity of life on Earth but remains a source of controversy and throws up several bones of contention.How life has evolved has taxed the very best of brains, from Da Vinci to Darwin and, in our own time, Richard Dawkins...
30-Second Evolution unlocks the laboratory of life, dissecting it into the 50 most significant topics that provide the missing links to understand the natural world's four-billion-year ancestry and the process of natural selection in which species either adapt in myriad ways – mutation, ingenuity and intelligence – to meet the challenges of a changing environment, or die.$19.99$9.99
If you are tired of London, are you really tired of life? 30-Second London agrees with Dr. Johnson's famous statement, taking the history of one of the most diverse cities on Earth and looking at the forces that shaped it, from the first traces of a Neanderthal settlement on the banks of the River Thames to today's vast and varied metropolis.
Along the way, you will discover underground London, secret London, suburban London and much more, on a revealing whistle-stop city tour.$19.99
30-Second Twentieth Century presents a unique approach to modern history. It condenses 100 years of innovation and art, politics and conflict, triumph and disaster, into 50 graphic snapshots that offer an instant appreciation of the way the world revolves and evolves. It invites the reader to consider which events define a period of history and why.
From the Red Army to Black Monday, from Woodstock to the World Wide Web, this is the fastest way to travel through time.$19.99$9.99
Jane Austen loved to put on her satin slippers with shoe-roses, her white gloves and muslin gown, and go off for an evening of fun at the Basingstoke assemblies. The Bennet girls share their creator's delight and go off joyfully to dance, and of course to meet future husbands.
Drawing on contemporary accounts and illustrations, and a close reading of the novels as well as Austen's correspondence, Susannah Fullerton takes the reader through all the stages of a Regency Ball as Jane Austen and her characters would have known it.
Her subjects learn their steps, dress in readiness, find transport to convey them to a ball, choose between public and private balls, worry over a shortage of men, prefer a cotillion to a quadrille, talk and flirt with their partners, sustain themselves with supper, fall in love, and then go home to talk it all over at the end.$32.99
In Amazing Rare Things, Sir David Attenborough explores the history of natural history. With expert curators from the Royal Library, he examines the contributions of four great artists and one pre-eminent collector to this era of extraordinary scientific advances.
Beautifully illustrated with a selection of exquisite drawings and watercolours by Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Marshal, Maria Sibylla Merian and Mark Catesby; and with works collected by Cassiano dal Pozzo, this book examines the engagement between art and nature, from Renaissance Italy to the New World of the Americas. This unique and fascinating book shines a light on the role of artists in our exploration of the natural world.$39.99
This beautiful volume of soundscape compositions, images and words from Philip Samartzis is an invitation to share in a remarkable journey of enquiry.
Antarctica is a paradox of the sublime and prosaic: with its vast expanses of ice, snow and mountains – and traces of human habitation, from weathered huts to abandoned machinery. Samartzis travelled south with the Australian Antarctic Division on several occasions and his recordings of the unique sounds of Antarctica have been used to create soundscape compositions which are meticulously realised on two CDs of the music included in this book.$59.99
This alluring read includes 40 locations that are rife with disaster, chaos, paranormal activity and death.
The locations gathered here include the dangerous Strait of Messina, home of the mythical sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis; the coal town of Jharia, where the ground burns constantly with fire; Kasanka National Park in Zambia, where 8 million migrating bats darken the skies; the Nevada Triangle in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where hundreds of aircraft have disappeared; and Aokigahara Forest near Mount Fuji in Japan, the world's second most popular suicide location following the Golden Gate Bridge.$44.99
A journey into the world's lost cities, remote corners and extraordinary environments, Atlas of Improbable Places shows the modern world from surprising new vantage points that will inspire urban explorers and armchair travellers alike to consider a new way of understanding the world we live in.
From deserted cities and strange settlements to remote islands and underground labyrinths, Travis Elborough uncovers our planet's most unique, intriguing and often unknown places and explores unusual and perplexing locations. Spanning centuries and reaching all around the globe, each entry provides key information, wittily observed, and accompanied by beautiful illustrations that evoke both the habitat and our relationship to it.$39.99
Since 1907, surf lifesavers have been making the beach a safer place, helping us to enjoy the surf, and playing an integral part in creating Australian beach life.
Decade by decade, photo essays capture the events, the personalities of these ordinary people doing extraordinary jobs voluntarily, and the innovations that have made Australian surf lifesaving the vibrant movement it is today. Pull-out panorama.$14.95$4.99
Alaistair Bonnet presents the stories of 43 extraordinary places, all of which will challenge the very concept of place.
The ever more unruly maps of human and physical geography can seem overwhelming. Perhaps that’s why little places, the small secrets, the hidden surprises, have become so important. Alastair sets out on a journey across the world in search of a diverse range of modern utopias, from the Dubai Shopping Mall to the caliphate of the Islamic State, from the Findhorn eco-community in Scotland to Cybertopias such as Second Life.$29.99
This is a deeply profound and moving novel of the importance of creativity and the power of connection, told through the story of the commissioning of a gorgeously decorated medieval manuscript, a Book of Hours.
London, 1321: In a small shop in Paternoster Row, three people are drawn together around the creation of a magnificent book, an illuminated manuscript of prayers, a book of hours. Even though the commission seems to answer the aspirations of each one of them, their own desires and ambitions threaten its completion.
As each struggles to see the book come into being, it will change everything they have understood about their place in the world. In many ways, this is a story about power – it is also a novel about the place of women in the roiling and turbulent world of the early fourteenth century; what power they have, how they wield it, and just how temporary and conditional it is.
Rich, deep, sensuous and full of life, Book of Colours is also, most movingly, a profoundly beautiful story about creativity and connection, and our instinctive need to understand our world and communicate with others through the pages of a book.$32.99
The Celtic Myths introduces the world of the Celts, their gods and goddesses, heroes, monsters and villains.
As well as vividly exploring the tales, the author brings her expertise in the archaeology of the Iron Age and particularly shamanism to bear on the mythical worlds she describes, with evidence as diverse as the Gundestrup Cauldron and the famous bog bodies. Starting with a discussion of how myths are transmitted and by whom, the author continues with an account of the Irish and Welsh myths and their key actors and motifs, before moving on to consider themes such as heroes, animals, women, environment and the Otherworld.
In her finale, the author asks how the myths survived the Christianization of Europe and looks at the influence of monastic chroniclers on the tales, which they preserved and adapted.$24.99
Australian Shirley Shackleton was launched into an unexpected life as a human rights activist when her journalist husband Greg was killed in East Timor in 1975.
Her story is filled with a profound sense of purpose, enduring love for her late husband, and a fierce determination to seek truth and justice not only regarding the events leading up to the murders of the journalists who came to be known as Balibo Five, but for the cause of democracy and freedom in East Timor.$34.95$9.99