Author: Toby Thacker
Spartacus Website: Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels was the most notorious demagogue of the twentieth century, and Hitler's closest confidant. This book uses his complete diary from 1923-1945, only recently released from the Soviet Union, to present a challenging new interpretation of his life. It charts Goebbels' rise from provincial obscurity in the Rhineland, through his emergence as the most dynamic speaker of the Nazi Party and the Gauleiter of Berlin in the 1920s, to his appointment as Hitler's Propaganda Minister in 1933. Combining analysis of Goebbels' relationships with women and of his political career, it argues that there were clear threads running through his life, from a turbulent adolescence through to his death. Goebbels' love of German culture, his obsession with 'sacrifice', his fascination for Hitler, and his hatred of the Jews led him into a fatal involvement with German politics which culminated in his suicide, together his wife and six children, in Hitler's bunker in 1945.
Title: The Last Englishman
Author: Roland Chambers
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Spartacus Website: Arthur Ransome
Arthur Ransome is best remembered as the author of the series of books that began with Swallows and Amazons and sold millions of copies around the world. But before he became the jolly Lakeland storyteller, offering idyllic images of brave children messing about in boats, Ransome had spent a decade in Russia and lived a very different life as a spokesman for authoritarianism and violence. He went there in 1913 as a struggling young freelance writer and made friends with leading Russian liberals, and wrote a fine book of tales based on Russian folk legends. But as the country sank into chaos and war, Ransome was caught up in the whirlwind of revolution. Always impressionable and eager to please, he gained the confidence of the Bolshevik leadership and became, for three crucial years, their main defender and propagandist in the West. His reports in the "Guardian" were uncritical and disingenuous. "MI6" considered him an agent of a foreign power; British officials argued that he should not be allowed to return to Britain. Yet at the same time, while Ransome was so intimate with the Communist leadership that he could get exclusive interviews with Lenin - who he portrayed as an avuncular, folksy, straight-talking politician - he was also offering to help elements of the British intelligence services with information about what was going on in Russia.
Title: The Second Railway King
Author: David Hodgkins
Publisher: Merton Priory Press
Spartacus Website: British Railways
Edward William Watkin bestrides the Victorian Railway Age. As a boy of 11 he witnessed the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. Two years before his death he was present at the opening of Marylebone Station, the terminus of the Great Central's London Extension, the last main-line railway to be built in Britain. Between these two occasions lay a varied and colourful life. Beginning his career with one of the constitutents of the London & North Western Railway, Watkin went on to manage the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire, before becoming chairman of the M&SL and also the South Eastern Railway and the Metropolitan. Best remembered as the driving force behind the London Extension, Watkin was also the main protagonist of the Channel Tunnel project, the completion of London's Inner Circle, and the building of the ill-fated Wembley Tower. When president of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, he played a prominent part in the political unification of the country. Throughout his life Watkin was politically active. Beginning as a Manchester Radical and supporter of the Anti-Corn Law League, he later became a Liberal and then Liberal Unionist M.P. for 25 years. He was a leading member of the Railway Interest in the Commons and one of the most important spokesmen for the industry. No biography of Sir Edward Watkin has hitherto been published. Here for the first time is a fully rounded, scholarly picture of one of giants of the Railway Age, based entirely on extensive archival research in both British and Canadian sources. It describes Watkin's individualistic career in railway management and politics in the setting of personal and company inter-relationships and rivalries, commercial and economic developments, and the national and local politics of the day. The book will appeal not only to railway enthusiasts and academics interested in nineteenth-century politics and transport history, but also rail professionals, since Watkin dealt with many issues that concern the industry today. David Hodgkins's new book is serious railway history at its best.
Author: Bertie Ahern
Spartacus Website: Ireland
Bertie Ahern, three times Irish Taoiseach, is often described as an enigma. The Old IRA man's son who delivered peace in Northern Ireland. A working class boy responsible for the Celtic Tiger. The man of faith who ushered in progressive, cosmopolitan secular Ireland. An ardent nationalist admired by European leaders. 'I know 25 per cent of Bertie Ahern', said his finance minister, Charlie McCreevy, 'and that's 24 per cent more than anyone else.' Now in this frank and revealing autobiography, Ahern gives his own account of a remarkable political life and the personal story that accompanies it. He shows the cost to his family of a life played out in the public eye and, for the first time, discloses what really happened in his final weeks in power. Here for the first time is the truth behind the man who is Bertie. Ahern has been at the cutting edge of Irish politics for over three decades. He was first elected to Dail Eireann in the Fianna Fail landslide victory in 1977 that saw Jack Lynch returned as Taoiseach. In 1982, Charles Haughey appointed him Government Chief Whip. In volatile political times, he strongly supported Haughey during three challenges to his leadership of Fianna Fail. In 1987, Bertie Ahern received his first cabinet portfolio as Minister for Labour. It was a time when the Irish economy was in crisis. Ireland had a higher debt per head than Ethiopia or Sudan. Unemployment stood at 16%. Ahern negotiated Ireland's first social partnership agreement, which underpinned economic recovery and put in place the foundations for a period of sustained growth. In 1991, he was appointed Minister for Finance. International commentators first began to refer to 'Ireland's Tiger economy' in this period. When Bertie Ahern left the Department of Finance in late 1994, for the first time in almost 30 years, Ireland had a budget surplus. Bertie Ahern succeeded Albert Reynolds as leader of Fianna Fail in November 1994. Following the General Election in 1997, he became Ireland's youngest ever Taoiseach. The Ahern Era was a time of unprecedented progress in Irish society. Over the course of his tenure in office, Ireland's economy out-performed that of every other European country. For the first time ever, the number of people in employment in the State reached 2 million. Working closely with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, Ahern won widespread acclaim for his perseverance and skill in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement, which has provided the political framework for a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. On the international stage, he was a respected figure who enjoyed an acclaimed Presidency of the European Council in 2004. He presided over the completion of the largest ever expansion of the EU and concluded negotiations on a European constitution. He is one of only five visiting statesmen to have addressed both the United States Congress and the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. At home, Ahern enjoyed phenomenal electoral support. He was the first Taoiseach since 1944 to win three successive General Elections. Bertie Ahern resigned on 6th May, 2008. He had served for ten years, ten months and ten days as Taoiseach.