Tag Archives: Britain

Obtaining a waistcoat in exchange for a trouser button.

The Europeans and Americans residing in the town of Zanzibar are either Government officials, independent merchants, or agents for a few great mercantile houses in Europe and America… Henry Morton Stanley

Heligoland : the true story of German Bight and the island that Britain betrayed  George Drower  Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire : Sutton Pub., 2002  Hardcover. 1st ed. xvi, 334 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps, ports. ; 23 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [301]-317) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Heligoland is the astounding story of a mysterious British colony in the North Sea that the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, swapped for Zanzibar in 1890. After years of having a UK-style flag, postage stamps, taxation system and currency, Heligolanders were soon experiencing the crushing of their culture, and were forced into learning German.

The unscrupulous transference of the island to Germany, in defiance of the islanders’ wishes, sparked a public controversy; the explorer Stanley famously commented that Britain had obtained a waistcoat in exchange for a trouser button. The sacrifice of the enigmatic Heligoland became a strategic blunder during the two World Wars, when the island was made into a fortress by the Germans.

After the Second World War there was a plot to cover up the mistake when Britain planned to destroy Heligoland with an A-bomb strength explosion. Implicated in the epic scandal are many key personalities; among them Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm, Arthur Balfour, and The Riddle of the Sands author Erskine Childers.

Heligoland goes beyond an amazing story of intrigue, high adventure and national ambition. It highlights Britain’s relations with continental Europe; the conduct of the British Empire; even the shape and identity of the British Isles. Using techniques of biography, popular history and narrative, this book unravels for the first time the true story of the island Britain gave away.

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We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in Gods good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old… Winston Churchill

We have illustrated this post with some of the notables from the Gestapo arrest list for England.

The last ditch : Britain’s secret resistance and the Nazi invasion plan  David Lampe ; introduction by Gary Sheffield Hardcover. 219 p. : ill., maps ; 23 cm.  Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Novelists, playwrights, and theorists have often toyed with the question, what would have happened if the Germans had occupied Britain in 1940? Based on years of persistent detective work, Last Ditch investigates the German plans and the countermeasures undertaken through the specially formed British Resistance Organization. The very existence of this Resistance movement remained a secret for more than two decades until the silence was finally broken by Lampe.

Few would have escaped oppression. There was to be mass deportation, wholesale appropriations of the country’s agricultural, mineral, and industrial produce, and widespread arrests, as revealed in the notorious Gestapo Arrest List – reprinted in full.

Although they never went into action, the Resistance was ready and waiting: the last ditch of Britain’s defense. So successful was their organization that they became the model for the Resistance and underground movements that were to arise all over occupied Europe. In telling their story, Lampe relates one of the best-kept secrets of WWII and offers insight into what might have been.

Comments Off on We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in Gods good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old… Winston Churchill

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If anyone were to ask me why I have spent my life studying prehistory, I would only say that I have remained under the spell of a subject which seeks to discover how we became human beings endowed with minds and souls before we had learned to write… Grahame Clark

While two of the pictures accompanying this entry are of the archeologist and prehistorian who is its subject the middle one is of one of the imaginary creatures he studied. His own words quoted in the title reveal his view of man as an evolved creature and so many of the illustrations from works of prehistory have the style of 1930’s Conan comic books with whom they share not only an uncanny resemblance but a good deal of intellectual depth. While we may be able to determine some things about prehistory – there was a city here, they used these tools, it was destroyed by an earthquake – anything not supported by concrete physical evidence is conjecture and should be treated as such.

Grahame Clark : an intellectual life of an archaeologist  Brian Fagan  Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 2001  Hardcover. 1st ed and printing. xix, 304 p. : ill., maps ; 23 cm.  Includes bibliographical references (p. 267-290) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

The British archaeologist Grahame Clark was a prominent figure in European and world archaeology for more than half of the twentieth century, but, at the same time, one whose reputation has been outshone by other, more visible luminaries. His works were never aimed at a wide general public, nor did he become a television or radio personality. Clark was, above all, a scholar, whose contributions to world archaeology were enormous. He was also convinced that the study of prehistory was important for all humanity and spent his career saying so. For this, he was awarded the prestigious Erasmus Prize in 1990, an award only rarely given to archaeologists.

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This intellectual biography describes Clark’s remarkable career and assesses his contributions to archaeology. Clark became interested in archaeology while at school, studied the subject at Cambridge University, and completed a doctorate on the Mesolithic cultures of Britain in 1931. He followed this study with a survey, The Mesolithic Settlement of Northern Europe(1936), which established him as an international authority on the period. His work is absolutely in the category of Dr. Pickering’s Spoken Sanskrit.

At the same time, he became interested in the interplay between changing ancient environment and ancient human societies. In a series of excavations and papers, he developed environmental archaeology and the notion of ecological systems as a foundation of scientific, multidisciplinary archaeology, culminating in his excavations in 1949 and his Prehistoric Europe: The Economic Basis (1952). Clark became Disney Professor of Public Archaeology at Cambridge in 1952 and influenced an entire generation of undergraduates to become archaeologists in all parts of the world. He was also the author of the first book on a global human prehistory, World Prehistory (1961).

Comments Off on If anyone were to ask me why I have spent my life studying prehistory, I would only say that I have remained under the spell of a subject which seeks to discover how we became human beings endowed with minds and souls before we had learned to write… Grahame Clark

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God has given such brave soldiers to this Crown that, if they do not frighten our neighbours, at least they prevent us from being frightened by them… Elizabeth I

To end all wars: a story of loyalty and rebellion, 1914-1918 Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011 Adam Hochschild World War, 1914-1918 Great Britain Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xx, 448 p., [16] p. of plates: maps; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [411]-426) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG


In this  new work Adam Hochschild follows a group of characters connected by blood ties, close friendships or personal enmities and shows how the war exposed the divisions between them.

They include the brother and sister whose views on the war could not have been more diametrically opposed – he a career soldier, she a committed pacifist; the politician whose job was to send young men who refused conscription to prison, yet whose godson was one of those young men and the suffragette sisters, one of whom passionately supported the war and one of whom was equally passionately opposed to it.

 Through these divided families, Hochschild paints a vivid picture of Britain poised between the optimism of the Victorian era and the era of Auschwitz and the Gulag – a divided country, fractured by the seismic upheaval of the Great War and its aftermath.

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The prophet and the quack are alike admired for a generation, and admired for the wrong reasons… G. K. Chesterton

In Churchill’s shadow: confronting the past in modern Britain New York: Oxford University Press, 2003 David Cannadine Great Britain Politics and government 20th century Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xiii, 385 p.; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 316-369) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG


In Churchill’s Shadow, Cannadine looks at the contradictions of Britain’s twentieth-century hero and of its twentieth-century history in an intriguing way in which perceptions of a glorious past have continued to haunt the British present, often crushing efforts to shake them off. The book centers on Churchill whose influence spanned the two thirds of the century.


Though perceived as the savior of modern Britain, Churchill was a creature of the Victorian age. Though he proclaimed he had not become Prime Minister to “preside over the liquidation of the British Empire,” in effect he did just that. Though he has gone down in history for his defiant orations during  World War II, Cannadine shows that for most of his career Churchill’s love of bombast was his own worst enemy and like most demagogues he invariably substituted style for substance.


Cannadine turns an equivocal gaze on the institutions and individuals that embodied the image of Britain in this period: Gilbert & Sullivan, Ian Fleming, Noel Coward, the National Trust, and the Palace of Westminster itself, the home and symbol of Britain’s parliamentary government. This volume offers a wry, sympathetic, yet penetrating look at how national identity evolved in the era of the waning of an empire.

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