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The history of the Second World War is usually told through its decisive battles and campaigns. But behind the front lines, behind even the command centres of Allied generals and military planners, a different level of strategic thinking was going on. Throughout the war the 'Big Three' -- Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin -- met in various permutations and locations to thrash out ways to defeat Nazi Germany -- and, just as importantly, to decide the way Europe would look after the war. This was the political rather than military struggle: a battle of wills and diplomacy between three men with vastly differing backgrounds, characters -- and agendas. Focusing on the riveting interplay between these three extraordinary personalities, Jonathan Fenby re-creates the major Allied conferences including Casablanca, Potsdam and Yalta to show exactly who bullied whom, who was really in control, and how the key decisions were taken. With his customary flair for narrative, character and telling detail, Fenby's account reveals what really went on in those smoke-filled rooms and shows how "jaw-jaw" as well as "war-war" led to Hitler's defeat and the shape of the post-war world.
With a narrative as briskly paced and vividly detailed as an international thriller, this definitive biography of Chiang Kai-shek masterfully maps the tumultuous political career of Nationalist China's generalissimo as it reevaluates his brave but unfulfilled life. Chiang Kai-shek was one of the most influential world figures of the twentieth century. The leader of the Kuomintang, the Nationalist movement in China, by 1928 he had established himself as head of the government in Nanking. But while he managed to survive the political storms of the 1930s, Chiang's power was continually being undermined by the Japanese on one side and the Chinese Communists on the other. Drawing extensively on original Chinese sources and accounts by contemporaneous journalists, acclaimed author Jonathan Fenby explores little-known international connections in Chiang's story as he unfolds a story as fascinating in its conspiratorial intrigues as it is remarkable for its psychological insights. This is the definitive biography of the man who, despite his best intentions, helped create modern-day China.
A history of China during the first half of the twentieth century.
What the new Hong Kong is like.
From 221 BC - when Shi Huangdi, First Emperor and founding father of Chinese imperial history, unified a large part of the Han Chinese homeland - until 1911, when imperial China collapsed in revolutionary chaos, China was ruled by a succession of powerful imperial dynasties. The Dragon Throne tells their rich, complex and often turbulent story, from the inception of the Qin dynasty to the fall of the Manchu in the early 20th century. China's imperial dynasties display a recurring pattern of birth, growth, prosperity and collapse due to external pressures. A number of powerful emperors left a particularly strong imprint on this troubled history, whether as conquerors, consolidators, tyrants, reformers or reactionaries. At the heart of The Dragon Throne are vivid profiles of Shi Huangdi, the emperor who began the construction of the Great Wall; Han Wudi, the Han emperor who developed China as a centralized Confucian state; Kublai Khan, the first emperor of the Mongol Yuan dynasty, and Hongwu, the founder of the Ming dynasty.
A renowned journalist shows us France as never before seen, and the view will chill and electrify anyone who loves -- or loves to hate -- the country that not only defined culture but gave us the word itself. The traditional leader in the arts, letters, cuisine, and fashion, France embodies universally admired ideals of political expression and personal freedom. But France's heritage, combined with its glorious history, has also created delusions of grandeur -- the Gaullist conviction that France will always be an "exception". France today is in crisis. High unemployment, an archaic economic system, a self-selecting governing class unable to handle serious problems, and a debilitating nostalgia for things past are dragging it closer to the brink at the very moment of European unification. Urgent, convincing, and unsparing, this eye-opening look at the world's most complex, seductive, and sometimes infuriating country will give even the most knowledgeable Francophile plenty to think about.
This completely revised and fully updated edition of the book Bill Bryson called "superb" presents a sharply insightful, authoritative portrait of France today as it struggles to live up to its vision of itself amid storm clouds that won't go away.France on the Brink was chosen as a New York Times book of the year and hailed by the Wall Street Journal as "a comprehensive and entertaining diagnosis of what ails French society" when the first edition was published at the turn of the century. Since then, the crisis enveloping France has only worsened, and this second edition, completely revamped to cover the developments of the past fifteen years, offers a fresh assessment of where the nation stands. New chapters chart political developments under Presidents Chirac, Sarkozy, and Hollande; the rise of the hard right National Front; and the unrelenting economic woes that have led to unprecedented levels of disillusion and fragmentation. The country's social evolution is covered comprehensively, with description and analysis of urban and rural life, regional divisions, tensions over immigration and the fading of the symbols that denoted France's greatness.High unemployment, an archaic economic system, a self-selecting governing class unable to handle serious problems, and a debilitating clash between individualism and the powerful state machine that was built on a foundation reaching back to the Revolution of 1789 continue to plague the nation, making it less able than ever to fulfill its role as a world leader. The economic crisis and the European Union's ongoing fiscal instability, as well as a parade of scandals at the top, have left it weaker than ever halfway into the second decade of the new century.Jonathan Fenby has covered France for fifty years. In this new edition, he offers a loving though candid and unvarnished picture of the nation, contrasting its glorious past with current realities. He explores not only the problems and the challenges but also the opportunities that lie ahead if only its political class can finally face reality-and carry the people along with them. Filled with contemporary and historical anecdotes, France on the Brink depicts the many contradictory aspects of the world's most complex, seductive, and sometimes infuriating country, and will give even the most knowledgeable Francophile plenty to think about.
No leader of modern times was more unique and more uniquely national than Charles de Gaulle. As founder and first President of the Fifth Republic, General de Gaulle saw himself 'carrying France on my shoulders'. When he first emerged on to the world stage in 1940, his insistence that he spoke for his nation might well have appeared impossibly arrogant for a recently promoted junior general who had never been elected to anything. But he personified many of the traits of his country which fascinate the rest of the world - its pride in itself, its intransigence, its historical and cultural heritage and its quasi-religious belief in the state. Le Genéral, as he became known from 1940 on, appeared as if carved from a single monumental block, but was, in fact, extremely complex, a man with deep personal feelings and recurrent mood swings, devoted to his family and often seeking reassurance from those around him. Though insisting on discipline and loyalty from others, he was a great rebel. A grand visionary with a vast geo-political grasp and elephantine memory, he was also a supreme tactician with a taste for secrecy and the ability to out-flank opponents. This is a magisterial, sweeping biography of one of the great leaders of the twentieth century and of the country with which he so identified himself. Written with terrific verve and narrative skill, and yet rigorous and detailed, it brings alive as never before the private man as well as the public leader through exhaustive research and astute analysis.
No leader of modern times was more uniquely patriotic than Charles de Gaulle. As founder and first president of the Fifth Republic, General de Gaulle saw himself as "carrying France on [his] shoulders." In his twenties, he fought for France in the trenches and at the epic battle of Verdun. In the 1930s, he waged a lonely battle to enable France to better resist Hitler's Germany. Thereafter, he twice rescued the nation from defeat and decline by extraordinary displays of leadership, political acumen, daring, and bluff, heading off civil war and leaving a heritage adopted by his successors of right and left. Le Général, as he became known from 1940 on, appeared as if he was carved from a single monumental block, but was in fact extremely complex, a man with deep personal feelings and recurrent mood swings, devoted to his family and often seeking reassurance from those around him. This is a magisterial, sweeping biography of one of the great leaders of the twentieth century and of the country with which he so identified himself. Written with terrific verve, narrative skill, and rigorous detail, the first major work on de Gaulle in fifteen years brings alive as never before the private man as well as the public leader through exhaustive research and analysis.
Chiang Kai-shek was the man who lost China to the Communists. As leader of the nationalist movement, the Kuomintang, Chiang established himself as head of the government in Nanking in 1928. Yet although he laid claim to power throughout the 1930s and was the only Chinese figure of sufficient stature to attend a conference with Churchill and Roosevelt during the Second World War, his desire for unity was always thwarted by threats on two fronts. Between them, the Japanese and the Communists succeeded in undermining Chiang's power-plays, and after Hiroshima it was Mao Zedong who ended up victorious.Brilliantly re-creating pre-Communist China in all its colour, danger and complexity, Jonathan Fenby's magisterial survey of this brave but unfulfilled life is destined to become the definitive account in the English language.
With the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, the next two centuries for France would be tumultuous. Bestselling historian and political commentator Jonathan Fenby provides an expert and riveting journey through this period as he recounts and analyses the extraordinary sequence of events of this period from the end of the First Revolution through two others, a return of Empire, three catastrophic wars with Germany, periods of stability and hope interspersed with years of uncertainty and high tensions. As her cross-Channel neighbour Great Britain would equally suffer, France was to undergo the wrenching loss of colonies in the post-Second World War as the new modern world we know today took shape. Her attempts to become the leader of the European union is a constant struggle, as was her lack of support for America in the two Gulf Wars of the past twenty years. Alongside this came huge social changes and cultural landmarks but also fundamental questioning of what this nation, which considers itself exceptional, really stood - and stands - for. That saga and those questions permeate the France of today, now with an implacable enemy to face in the form of Islamic extremism which so bloodily announced itself this year in Paris. Fenby will detail every event, every struggle and every outcome across this expanse of 200 years. It will prove to be the definitive guide to understanding France.
No country on earth has suffered a more bitter history in modern times than China. In the second half of the nineteenth century, it was viewed as doomed to extinction. Its imperial rulers, heading an anachronistic regime, were brought low by enormous revolts, shifting social power patterns, republican revolutionaries, Western incursions to "split the Chinese melon" and a disastrous defeat by Japan. The presence of predatory foreigners has often been blamed for China's troubles, but the much greater cause came from within China itself. In the early twentieth century, the empire was succeeded by warlordism on a massive scale, internal divisions, incompetent rule, savage fighting between the government and the Communists, and a fourteen-year invasion from Japan. Four years of civil war after 1945 led to the Maoist era, with its purges and repression; the disastrous Great Leap Forward; a famine that killed tens of millions; and the Cultural Revolution. Yet from this long trauma, China has emerged amazingly in the last three decades as an economic powerhouse set to play a major global political role, its future posing one of the great questions for the twenty-first century as it grapples with enormous internal challenges. Understanding how that transformation came about and what China constitutes today means understanding its epic journey since 1850 and recognizing how the past influences the present. Jonathan Fenby tells this turbulent story with brilliance and insight, spanning a unique historical panorama, with an extraordinary cast of characters and a succession of huge events. As Confucius said, To see the future, one must grasp the past.
A fortnight after the evacuation at Dunkirk some 150,000 British troops were still stuck in France. As the German advance thundered west these Allied soldiers and airmen were faced with a mad dash to the coast in the hope that a troop-ship awaited them there. One such vessel was the 'Lancastria', a 16,000-ton liner pressed into service and now anchored off the port of St-Nazaire. On 17 June 1940, ready to head for home, the ship was bombed by the Luftwaffe. As she sank, between 3,500 and 4,000 of those on board lost their lives. Re-creating this extraordinary episode with great narrative flair, Jonathan Fenby shows us not just the human stories behind the disaster but the cover-up that followed -- as Churchill ordered a blanket ban on news stories for the sake of the country's morale. Gripping and moving, LANCASTRIA tells one of the great forgotten stories of the Second World War.
'It is dangerous to identify any country as unique, but China has an excellent claim to that status . . . ' With the world's second-largest (and fastest-expanding) economy, a population of more than 1. 3 billion, a place at the core of the G20, $2. 4 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves, trade surplus, nuclear weapons and modernizing military forces, a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and an ability to dispense cash without conditions to poor countries in return for the raw materials it gobbles up, China is an increasingly significant global force moving forward with shocking velocity. But the last major nation under Communist rule also has a history of catastrophe and tragedy, tyranny and repression, abject poverty, unfair business practice and inherent corruption under a nebulous system of leadership with a questionable track record for human rights. It may be unlikely that China will collapse like the great exercise in smoke and mirrors depicted by some, but its internal complexity and contradictions may also prevent it from ruling the world. Either way, the binary approach so often applied to China - wherein it is either good or bad, set to reach the stars or implode in chaos - neglects to address the component parts of this vast and intricate nation. In this compelling and lucid account based on years of research and first-hand experience, rooted in on-the-ground reporting, interviews, observations, analysis of data and a viewpoint that sees the country from the inside out, Jonathan Fenby links together the myriad features of today's China. By seeing the nation as a whole and bringing together every part of its story, he delivers a unique and coherent picture of its essence and evolution and contemplates its future - both alone and connected to the world around it. £20
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