King John: England, Magna Carta and the Making of a Tyrant by Stephen Church
UK Release Date: March 12, 2015
US Release Date: April 7, 2015
No English king has suffered a worse press than King John: but how to disentangle legend and reality?
The youngest of the five sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, the empire builders of the Angevin dynasty, John had small hope of securing any significant inheritance. Then, in 1199, on the death of his older brother Richard, John took possession of the vast Angevin lands in England and on the continent. But by his death in 1216, he had lost almost all that he inherited, and had come perilously close to losing his English kingdom, too.
Drawing on thousands of contemporary sources, Stephen Church tells John's story - from boyhood and the succession crises of his early adulthood, to accession, rebellion and civil war. In doing so, he reveals exactly why John's reign went so disastrously wrong and how John's failure led to the great cornerstone of Britain's constitution: Magna Carta. Vivid and authoritative, this is history at its visceral best.
The King's Bed: Sex, Power and the Court of Charles II by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh
UK Release Date: January 8, 2015
US Release Date: TBA
To refer to the private life of Charles II is to abuse the adjective. His personal life was anything but private. His amorous liaisons were largely conducted in royal palaces surrounded by friends, courtiers and literally hundreds of servants and soldiers. Gossip radiated throughout the kingdom.
Charles spent most of his wealth and his intellect on gaining and keeping the company of women, from the lowest sections of society such as the actress Nell Gwyn to the aristocratic Louise de Kérouaille. Some of Charles' women played their part in the affairs of state, colouring the way the nation was run.
Don Jordan and Michael Walsh take us inside Charles' palace, where we will meet court favourites, amusing confidants, advisors jockeying for political power, mistresses past and present as well as key figures in his inner circle such as his 'pimpmasters' and his personal pox doctor.
The astonishing private life of Charles II reveals much about the man he was and why he lived and ruled as he did. The King's Bed tells the compelling story of a king ruled by his passion.
Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Stalina by Rosemary Sullivan
UK Release Date: March 30, 2015
US Release Date: March 31, 2015
Born in the early years of the Soviet Union, Svetlana Stalin spent her youth inside the walls of the Kremlin. Communist Party privilege protected her from the mass starvation and purges that haunted Russia, but she did not escape tragedy – the loss of everyone she loved, including her mother, two brothers, aunts and uncles, and a lover twice her age, deliberately exiled to Siberia by her father.
As she gradually learned about the extent of her father’s brutality after his death, Svetlana could no longer keep quiet and in 1967 shocked the world by defecting to the United States – leaving her two children behind. But although she was never a part of her father’s regime, she could not escape his legacy. Her life in America was fractured; she moved frequently, married disastrously, shunned other Russian exiles, and ultimately died in poverty in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
With access to KGB, CIA, and Soviet government archives, as well as the close cooperation of Svetlana’s daughter, Rosemary Sullivan pieces together Svetlana’s incredible life in a masterful account of unprecedented intimacy. Epic in scope, it’s a revolutionary biography of a woman doomed to be a political prisoner of her father’s name. Sullivan explores a complicated character in her broader context without ever losing sight of her powerfully human story, in the process opening a closed, brutal world that continues to fascinate us.
The Anatomist, the Barber-Surgeon, and the King: How the Accidental Death of Henry II of France Changed the World by Seymour I. Schwartz
Release Date: April 14, 2015
This unique study examines a critical juncture in the history of the Renaissance brought about by a freak accident. Combining both a history of sixteenth-century medicine and European politics, the author describes the far-reaching effects of the death of King Henry II of France (1519-1559). Grievously wounded by an accidental blow to the head suffered during a mock jousting competition, the king lingered for weeks before expiring. Even the ministrations of Europe’s two most renowned physicians—Andreas Vesalius and Ambroise Paré—could not prevent his demise. As the author shows, the death of Henry II created a power vacuum, and the subsequent chain of events had significant effects on the balance of power in Europe.
A noted surgeon, the author also provides many insights into the state of medicine in this era—a time when the practice of surgery and knowledge of human anatomy were being transformed. Readers learn how Vesalius’s ingenious studies of anatomy advanced the understanding of human body functions. And Paré’s experience with battlefield wounds led to more humane and effective treatments of the injured.
This colorful, lively narrative combines engrossing details about politics, history, and medicine during an important period at the end of the Renaissance.
Bad Days in History: A Gleefully Grim Chronicle of Misfortune, Mayhem, and Misery for Every Day of the Year by Michael Farquhar
Release Date: April 21, 2015
National Geographic and author Michael Farquhar uncover an instance of bad luck, epic misfortune, and unadulterated mayhem tied to every day of the year. From Caligula's blood-soaked end to hotelier Steve Wynn's unfortunate run-in with a priceless Picasso, these 365 tales of misery include lost fortunes (like the would-be Apple investor who pulled out in 1977 and missed out on a $30 billion-dollar windfall), romance gone wrong (like the 16th-century Shah who experimented with an early form of Viagra with empire-changing results), and truly bizarre moments (like the Great Molasses Flood of 1919).
Think you’re having a bad day? Trust us, it gets worse.