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  • 12/1/2004

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

Alfred Lansing

In the summer of 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton set off aboard theEndurance bound for theSouth Atlantic. The goal of his expedition was to cross the Antarctic overland, but more than a year later, and still half a continent away from the intended base, theEndurance was trapped in ice and eventually was crushed. For five months Shackleton and his crew survived on drifting ice packs in one of the most savage regions of the world before they were finally able to set sail again in one of the ship's lifeboats. Alfred Lansing'sEndurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage is a white-knuckle account of this astounding odyssey.

Through the diaries of team members and interviews with survivors,Lansing reconstructs the months of terror and hardship theEndurance crew suffered. In October of 1915, there "were no helicopters, no Weasels, no Sno-Cats, no suitable planes. Thus their plight was naked and terrifying in its simplicity. If they were to get out--they had to get themselves out." How Shackleton did indeed get them out without the loss of a single life is at the heart ofLansing's magnificent true-life adventure tale.

Long Walk to Freedom

 The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela Tag: The International Bestseller

Nelson Mandela

The famously taciturn South African president reveals much of himself inLong Walk to Freedom. A good deal of this autobiography was written secretly while Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years onRobbenIsland by South Africa's apartheid regime. Among the book's interesting revelations is Mandela's ambivalence toward his lifetime of devotion to public works. It cost him two marriages and kept him distant from a family life he might otherwise have cherished.Long Walk to Freedom also discloses a strong and generous spirit that refused to be broken under the most trying circumstances--a spirit in which just about everybody can find something to admire.

Introducing RousseauDave Robinson
Oscar Zarate

“I am like no one else in the whole world…” With these defiant words, Jean-Jacques Rousseau begins hisConfessions, an autobiography of incomparable psychological insight.

Musician, poet, novelist and botanist, but above all, Rousseau was a philosopher who always denied being one. What is the value of civilization? Rousseau first posed this question. His answer – civilization corrupts natural goodness and increases inequality between humans – shocked his Enlightenment contemporaries and still challenges us today.

Did Rousseau inspire the French Revolution? Can we trace Romanticism, psychoanalysis and Existentialism back to him?Introducing Rousseau presents a maverick thinker whose ideas revolutionized our understanding of childhood, education, government, language and much else. It charts Rousseau’s turbulent life of lost innocence, persecution and paranoia. Dave Robinison’s clear and concise account of Rousseau’s ideas is engagingly dramatized by Oscar Zarate’s illustrations.

The Lives and Times of the Great ComposersMichael Steen

‘Here are riches. The author has had the bright idea of illuminating the work of history’s great composers, by painting in, in vivid, entertaining detail, the crowded social background to their lives. He displays encyclopaedic learning, lightly worn, voracious curiosity and a keen eye for the significant and the surprising, lighting up the past and bringing it to life. The result is a glorious plum-pudding of a book, crammed full of titbits of interest to music-lovers and music-students alike, to be consulted, with pleasure and profit, over and over again.’
Sir Jeremy Isaacs, formerly General Director, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

‘There’s something for everyone in this book, whether interested amateur or enquiring student. Michael Steen is a good storyteller, and wears his learning lightly. The times in which these composers lived and worked are brought vividly to life, because of the range of social and historical detail from which the author weaves his tales.’
Dame Janet Ritterman, Director,Royal College of Music

A grand and panoramic biographical history of the giants of classical music,The Lives and Times of the Great Composers is a new, unique and lovingly constructed modern reference – and a beguiling read which you will treasure for years.

Interlinked yet self-contained, each chapter distils clearly and often entertainingly the life of one or more composers, set against the social, political, musical and cultural background of the time. Read the story of Bach, the respectable burgher much of whose vast output was composed amidst petty turf disputes in Lutheran Leipzig; or the ugly, argumentative Beethoven in French-occupied Vienna, obsessed by his laundry; or Mozart, the over-exploited infant prodigy whose untimely death was shrouded in rumour; or the ghastly deaths of Donizetti and Smetana. Read about Verdi, who composed against the background of the Italian Risorgimento; or about the family life of the Wagners; and Brahms, who rose from the slums ofHamburg to become a devotee of beer and coffee infin-de-siecle Vienna, a cultural capital bent on destroying Mahler.

Michael Steen paints a vivid portrait of the tumultuous times in which these brilliant, yet flawed, artists laboured. We are taken on a tour of 350 years of European history. From Handel’s London and the speculative financial frenzy of the ‘South Sea bubble’; to the courts of petty German princelings and the ornate and sleazy Dresden; to the astonishingly creative Vienna of Beethoven and Schubert; to opera in 19th-century Paris and Bizet in the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune; to the Majorca of Chopin, to the Russia of Tchaikovsky and the Siege of Leningrad, just one of the many horrors which Shostakovich had to survive. We encounter, too, painters such as Renoir and Manet, literary figures like Zola, Proust and Dostoyevsky and religious leaders such as Pope Pius IX and Cardinal Newman –Great Composers paints in broad brush strokes the culture of a continent far wider than music.

Lively, accessible and beautifully presented with over 50 plates and many more black and white pictures, maps and family trees, Great Composers is a pleasure to read, a unique reference and an enticing biography of these giants of European music and the societies in which they lived.

Michael Steen was born inDublin, studied at the Royal College of Music, was organ scholar at Oriel College Oxford and is currently chairman of the Royal College of Music Society.

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