For centuries in Europe, innocent men and women were murdered for the imaginary crime of witchcraft. This was a mass delusion and moral panic, driven by pious superstition and a deadly commitment to religious conformity. In Witch: A Tale of Terror, best-selling author Sam Harris introduces and reads from Charles Mackay's beloved book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
"Incredible....our species is so stupid!"
Since its publication in 1960, William L. Shirer’s monumental study of Hitler’s German empire has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of the 20th century’s blackest hours. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich offers an unparalleled and thrillingly told examination of how Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the world. With millions of copies in print around the globe, it has attained the status of a vital and enduring classic.
The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world's surface. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world's greatest empire? And how did they lose it all? This is the intimate story of 20 tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition.
In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police could become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their fellow citizens, there are thousands of captivating stories.
It's difficult to imagine a nation with a history more compelling for Americans than Russia. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, this was the nation against which we measured our own nation's values and power and with whom war, if it ever came, could spell unimaginable catastrophe for our planet.Yet many Americans have never had the opportunity to study Russia in depth, and to see how the forces of history came together to shape a future so different from the dreams of most ordinary Russian people, eager to see their nation embrace Western values of progress, human rights, and justice.
"History of Russia plays it safe"
These 36 lectures tell the remarkable story of a tumultuous thousand-year period in the history of England. Dominated by war, conquest, and the struggle to balance the stability brought by royal power with the rights of the governed, it was a period that put into place the foundation of much of the world we know today. As you journey through this largely chronological narrative you'll see key themes emerge, including the assimilation of successive waves of invaders, the tense relationship between kings and the nobility, and the constant battles over money and taxation.
Dynasty tells the story of Rome's first dynasty of emperors, from its establishment by Augustus Caesar in the last decades of the first century BC to its final, florid extinction less than a century later. The line of autocrats known to historians as the 'Julio-Claudians' remains to this day a byword for depravity. The brilliance of its allure and the blood-steeped shadows cast by its crimes still haunt the public imagination.
This famous essay/work now has an all-new translation for American readers and listeners, with introductions by both the translator and editor. They discuss the influence of the title for the past several decades and how it affects the world today.
A definitive, deeply moving narrative, Bonhoeffer is a story of moral courage in the face of the monstrous evil that was Nazism. After discovering the fire of true faith in a Harlem church, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany and became one of the first to speak out against Hitler. As a double agent, he joined the plot to assassinate the Führer and was hanged in Flossenbürg concentration camp at age thirty-nine. Since his death, Bonhoeffer has grown to be one of the most fascinating, complex figures of the twentieth century.
Though he was Greek, Plutarch wrote his Lives in the first century, a world dominated by the Roman Empire. Here he considers some of the major figures who had left their stamp on the history of Rome, including generals, rulers, philosophers, and politicians. These unabridged selections focus on Coriolanus, Pompey, Caesar, Cicero, Brutus, and Mark Antony.
Anne Frank, it has been said, gave a face and a name to the horror of the Holocaust. This is her story. It relates how Anne, her family, and their friends hid in secret rooms - "the Annex" - in an Amsterdam warehouse for 25 months. Anne, just 13 when the family moved in and only 15 when the Gestapo at last broke down the doors of her secret world, found hope where there was only fear and the first blush of love when outside and all around there washed a sea of hate.
Napoleon Bonaparte lived one of the most extraordinary of all human lives. In the space of just 20 years, from October 1795, when as a young artillery captain he cleared the streets of Paris of insurrectionists, to his final defeat at the (horribly mismanaged) battle of Waterloo in June 1815, Napoleon transformed France and Europe. After seizing power in a coup d'état, he ended the corruption and incompetence into which the revolution had descended.
"Well worth the listen"
By the acclaimed journalist and New York Times best-selling author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, this day-by-day eyewitness account of the momentous events leading up to World War II in Europe is the private, personal, utterly revealing journal of a great foreign correspondent.
In AD 793 Norse warriors struck the English isle of Lindisfarne and laid waste to it. Wave after wave of Norse "sea wolves" followed in search of plunder, land, or a glorious death in battle. Much of the British Isles fell before their swords, and the continental capitals of Paris and Aachen were sacked in turn. Turning east, they swept down the uncharted rivers of central Europe, captured Kiev, and clashed with mighty Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
Imagine you could travel back to the 14th century. What would you see? What would you smell? More to the point, where are you going to stay? And what are you going to eat? Ian Mortimer shows us that the past is not just something to be studied; it is also something to be lived. He sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking you to the Middle Ages. The result is the most astonishing social history book you are ever likely to read: evolutionary in its concept, informative and entertaining in its detail.
"A fascinating glimpse into human nature"
In almost every way that matters, historical Europe was the laboratory in which the world you now live in was conceived and tested. And you'll be living with the consequences for the rest of your life. These 48 lectures lead you through the doors of that laboratory and guide you through the development of Europe from the late Middle Ages through the eve of World War II.
Highlighting the key events, ideas, and individuals that have shaped modern Europe, this fresh and lively book provides a concise history of the continent from the Enlightenment to the present. Drawing on the enduring theme of revolution, David S. Mason explores the political, economic, and scientific causes and consequences of revolution; the development of human rights and democracy; and issues of European identity and integration.
Norse mythology is a belief system that was created by the Scandinavians, Vikings, which was adopted by many other settlements in their area. It depicted the gods and goddesses as beings who were hard warriors and able to take on dragons and serpents and was overall a very warrior-oriented belief system.
At 9.51pm on Tuesday, 13 February 1945, Dresden's air-raid sirens sounded as they had done many times in the previous five years - until then most always a false alarm. No searchlights probed the skies above the unprotected target city; the guns had mostly been moved East to counter the Russian advance. By the next morning, 796 RAF Lancasters and 311 USAAF Flying Fortresses had dropped more than 4,500 tons of high explosives and incendiary devices.
Homage to Catalonia is George Orwell’s account of his experiences fighting in the Spanish Civil War, and a portrait of disillusionment with his early politics. Orwell’s experiences include being shot in the neck by a sniper, and being forced into hiding as factions of the Left battled on the streets of Barcelona. Orwell entered Spain intending to gather an experience worth writing as well as to fight Fascism, and wrote Homage to Catalonia within months of his return.
"Ambition is like the balloonist. To some extent, the rise is nice and he does enjoy a splendid view and a vast landscape. But when he rises more, vertigo occurs, the air becomes thin and the risk of a big fall increases." With this parable, the Austrian Archduke Maximilian of Hapsburg inadvertently predicted the destiny to which he would bravely ride, despite the warnings and the sweet talkers. In any case, he followed his heart's mandate. And Charlotte, the princess, was "one of the most cultured and beautiful" in Europe.
The legends of vampires like Dracula have generated massive interest throughout time. Indeed, the story of a man (in some versions a very handsome, dashing man), who feeds on the blood of virgins in order to survive, and who walks the earth only at night, has been revived throughout the centuries in different forms. However, one famous tale that has been lost among the legends is the story of a female Dracula, an educated woman from a well-known family of 16th century Hungary....
Although Russia has long been considered part of Europe, it has always had a culture so distinct and a history so different that it is still foreign to Western Europe in many ways. Naturally, this sense of otherness has lent an aura of intrigue and mystique to Russia as people have struggled to understand it. Over the long course of Russian history, perhaps no aspect of the giant country has generated interest quite like Siberia, the easternmost part of Russia that lies in Asia.
Big Ben is one of the most recognizable symbols of Britain, and indeed one of the most famous structures in the world. A quintessential part of London, every movie set in London features an establishing shot of Big Ben, and many guidebooks of London have the clock tower as its cover photo. London and Big Ben are forever linked in the consciousness of the Western world.
What was the bloodiest war in American history? Most people with at least a little knowledge of history would quickly say that it was the Civil War (1861-65), and they would certainly be correct overall. However, when historians go farther back in time and include colonial wars and look at casualties per capita, the correct answer would be the much-lesser known conflict known as "King Philip's War" (1675-76).
Martin Luther was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Luther came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money, proposing an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences in his 95 Theses of 1517.
In the spring of 1812, the British army under Sir Arthur Wellesley, Earl of Wellington, has driven the French from Portugal. With Napoleon obsessed by the invasion of Russia, Wellington turns toward Spain. The way is barred by two fortresses, Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz. When Ciudad Rodrigo collapses after a short siege, Wellington prepares to break the fortress of Badajoz, the most formidable stronghold in Europe and commanded by the seasoned warrior, Baron Armand Philippon.
As the third son of the legendary Tsar Alexis, Peter the Great was never supposed to rule. But when his older brother died, the 10-year-old boy was proclaimed tsar by a cheering multitude outside the walls of the Kremlin. His destiny seemed assured-until a bloody rebellion erupted, forcing him to watch as his family was impaled and torn limb from limb by a mob of furious soldiers. From that day forward, Peter was determined to tear down the Old Muscovy and usher in a new Russia.
"Blitzkrieg", or "lightning war", describes the Third Reich's invasion strategy during its 1940 conquest of France not only due to the speed of the Wehrmacht advance but also its devastating effect on its ill-prepared adversaries. Mired in the paralyzing muck of plodding staff college military doctrine and demoralized as a nation by their appalling losses during World War I, the French succumbed in a few weeks to German skill and vigor.
In the wake of World War II, the European continent was devastated, and the conflict left the Soviet Union and the United States as uncontested superpowers. This ushered in over 45 years of the Cold War, and a political alignment of Western democracies against the Communist Soviet bloc that produced conflicts pitting allies on each sides fighting, even as the American and Soviet militaries never engaged each other.
The vast expanses of southern Russia and the Ukraine provided the Eastern Front arena where the armies of Third Reich dictator Adolf Hitler and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin wrestled lethally for supremacy in 1943. Endless rolling plains - ideal "tank country" - vast forests, sprawling cities, and enormous tracts of agricultural land formed the environment over which millions of men and thousands of the era's most formidable military vehicles fought for their respective overlords and ideologies.
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon were a religious organization as part of the Roman Catholic Church. During their 200-year existence, the Knights Templar (as they are popularly known) developed from a primarily military and monastic purpose to become the wealthiest and one of the most powerful Church orders.
During the late 1930s the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin and the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler reached a secret alliance, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. By the terms of this agreement, the two dictators divided up Eastern Europe between them, and for a time Stalin even sought Axis membership. Though the alliance forged between the fascist and communist states could not survive their diametrically opposed views, they cooperated long enough to conquer Poland together in 1939.
August 22, 1485, Bosworth, Leicestershire. By noon the King of England, Richard III, will be dead and his naked body will be on route to Leicester. This is the story of Richard's final 24 hours, told in a compelling minute-by-minute countdown, which ends with this final heroic battle charge and his death on the field at Bosworth.
Hilaire Belloc is one of the most important writers of the 20th century. At turns reviled or revered, depending on the audience, he was a razor sharp social commenter and a master of both poetry and prose who continues to captivate readers. In Old Thunder, Joseph Pearce examines Belloc's enduring impact on British intellectual life.
World War Two, in particular the Holocaust, was responsible for bringing to light some of the most horrifying and unbelievable individuals, none more so than Irma Grese, a female SS guard. Irma was initially stationed at Auschwitz and became one of the most ferocious and formidable women of her time, many would say of all time! This is an account of Irma's life, based on information provided by the people who knew her best.
Joan of Arc is one of the most compelling people in history. Joan, a young illiterate peasant girl, was not in any way remarkable during her early childhood. Nothing in her early life would suggest she would be anything else but a medieval peasant girl, living the average medieval life for her class.
Cloak and dagger espionage, assassination, dangerous adventure, and strange deceptions such as the Operation Mincemeat plan wherein the corpse of a Welsh pauper fitted with a uniform and false papers deceived the Nazi hierarchy about the location of the Western Allies' first landing in Europe, all constitute as real a part of World War II's kaleidoscopically varied history as battles and clear-cut policies.
The history of Russia is anticipated to be a commonly comprehensible and plainly structured outline of Russia's history since 1283, after the rise of Moscow. Russia was at its best in the 13th century when Moscow became a center for cultural activities. The Russian Tsardom was now a huge empire which spread from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the west to the Pacific Ocean.