Latest from the H for History blog

Four classic American novels by Herman Wouk back in print in the UK

Posted on: 05/12/2013 with tags: backlist, classic, Herman Wouk, Humphrey Bogart, Majorie Morningstar, Pulitzer Prize, reissue, The Caine Mutiny

It is indeed a surprise to learn that Herman Wouk, the prize-winning American author, is still alive. But, at ninety-eight years young, Herman Wouk is not only still alive, he’s still writing. Herman Wouk, born in 1915, grew up in the Bronx in New York City, and attended Columbia University. Over the course of his long career, Wouk has published novels, plays, poetry and screen-plays (for the stage adaptations of his books). He has also kept a personal journal for most of his life; there are cur…

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Whipping Yarns – by Rory Clements

Posted on: 28/11/2013 with tags: author blog, crime and punishment, historical crime, John Shakespeare series, Rory Clements, Shakespeare, Tudor London, whipping

Punishment by whipping has been a common disciplinary measure throughout human history. In the sixteenth century, the setting for Rory Clements’ John Shakespeare series of historical crime novels, the infamous Whipping Act (1530) was passed, which directed vagrants (on the rise after the dissolution of the monasteries) to be carried to some market town or other place ‘and there tied to the end of a cart naked and beaten with whips throughout such market town till the body shall be bl…

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Julie Walker on female pirates in the 18th century

Posted on: 28/11/2013 with tags: 18th century, Anne Bonny, Bahamas, Calico Jack, Caribbean, English History, female pirates, Golden Age of Piracy, Jack Rackham, Mary Read, New Providence, pirates, role of women, seafaring, women in history

On the anniversary of the trial of notorious pirate Calico Jack (November, 1720) – famous for having two women as part of his crew – writer Julie Walker looks back at some of the women who dared to pass as men …  While the role of women was strictly regimented in the 18th century, not all took this to heart. The 18th century press gang is a familiar concept, with the British Navy taking men by force into the service where brutality, terrible conditions and even worse pay were par for the…

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The Kennedy Legend

Posted on: 22/11/2013 with tags: assassination, author blog, conspiracy theories, JFK, JFK50, Rebecca Mascull, rewrite history, The Visitors, The West Wing

by debut historical novelist Rebecca Mascull. In the mid-1980s, I was a teenager and prone to obsessions. I had a thing for true stories. I loved to watch TV docudramas and read biographies of famous people. I remember the TV movie Escape from Sobibor, which sparked a life-long fascination with WWII and particularly the Holocaust.                    I wrote a novel about it, before I wrote THE VISITORS. I saw it on TV, then bought the book – this wasn’t so easy in those days, long before the int…

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What if Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon had produced a surviving male heir?

Posted on: 21/11/2013 with tags: alternate history, anne boleyn, Art Under Attack, author blog, British History, Catholicism, debut novel, dissolution of the monasteries, henry viii, historical fiction, Iconoclasm, katherine of aragon, Margery Polley, Martin Luther, Mary Tudor, medieval england, plague land, Protestantism, puritans, Reformation, religion, religious history, rewrite history, s d sykes, Tate Britain, the tudors

by historical novelist S. D. Sykes A fragment of smashed glass. The defaced image of the Virgin. A decapitated effigy of the Christ child. All glimpses into an alternate history – the history of England, had a son of Catherine of Aragon survived to become King. Last week I visited the ‘Art under Attack’ exhibition currently at the Tate Britain – a look into the history of British iconoclasm. The part of the show which interested me most concerned the attacks on the art of the church – by the chu…

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YELLOW WOOD by Lavie Tidhar

Posted on: 21/11/2013 with tags: alternate history, assassination, conspiracy theories, historical fiction, Hodderscape, JFK50, Lavie Tidhar, rewrite history, The Violent Century, Yellow Wood

Literature must serve a purpose, and alternate history can work as an act of defamiliarisation – allowing us to look at our present, our lives – through the distorted mirror of what didn’t happen. But it also strikes me that writing stories of alternate histories can be an exercise in futility. Alternate histories are too often used as an excuse for elaborate ‘world-building’, the construction of a fictional landscape for its own purpose. It’s like reading the manual for a car you don’t own and…

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Harry Turtledove’s Three Alternative World War Twos

Posted on: 20/11/2013 with tags: alternate history, conspiracy theories, editor blog, Harry Turtledove, JFK50, world war II

A blog written by one of our editors. Harry Turtledove is widely recognized as the king of alternative history, or, as a Chicago newspaper once memorably put it, ‘the wizard of If’. He loves nothing better than to re-fight wars, his knowledge of warfare is vast and his range is enormous, covering every continent and every era from the Byzantine empire to modern times. He has (so far) re-fought World War II no less than three times … In the Worldwar sequence, beginning with In the Balance,…

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How the city of Dallas is reacting to DALLAS: 1963

Posted on: 19/11/2013 with tags: 11.22.63, America, American history, anniversary, assassination, author blog, author tour, conspiracy theory, Dallas, history, JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald, rewrite history, Stephen King

by Steven L. Davis As my co-author, Bill Minutaglio, and I travel across America discussing our new book, Dallas 1963, we are asked the inevitable questions by many readers: How has Dallas changed since the Kennedy assassination? And what do people there today think of our book? Dallas’s central role in Kennedy’s death has become obscured in recent decades, thanks to all the dust kicked up by conspiracy theorists. For every claim that JFK was killed by Lyndon Johnson, Fidel Castro, the Mafia, ro…

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Mons Kallentoft on Sweden’s own ‘JFK moment’

Posted on: 19/11/2013 with tags: 11.22.63, assassination, author blog, Autumn Killing, book giveaway, competition, conspiracy theories, historical fiction, history, JFK, Malin Fors, Midwinter Sacrifice, Mons Kallentoft, Olof Palme, prizes, rewrite history, Savage Spring, Stephen King, Summertime Death, translated crime, translated fiction

As we posted yesterday, this week on the blog it’s all about John F. Kennedy, the events of 22nd November 1963, and rewriting history. Here, Swedish crime-writing phenomenon Mons Kallentoft tells us about Sweden’s own JFK moment, and how it led to an explosion of internationally-bestselling crime fiction. When Olof Palme was gunned down on a street in central Stockholm in 1986, just a few hundred meters from where I sit writing this now, there were only two television channels in Sweden. B…

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Rewriting History

Posted on: 18/11/2013 with tags: 11.22.63, alternate history, anniversaries, assassination, author blog, book giveaway, competition, conspiracy theories, historical fiction, history, JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald, prizes, rewrite history, Stephen King

This Friday, 22nd November, will be the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Over the past couple of weeks, the British press has been full of articles about the event itself, the aftermath, the various conspiracies surrounding it, and, of course, how different the world might be had Kennedy survived. Last year, Hodder & Stoughton published Stephen King’s 11.22.63, in which the author imagines what it would be like to prevent JFK’s assassination. We thought we…

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