THE DEATH OF THE FRONSAC — Buy it here
In 1940, during the Phony War, a French destroyer blows up in the Firth of Clyde, just off the coast from Greenock.
The disaster is witnessed by Jackie, a young girl who, for a time, thinks she caused the explosion by running away that day from school; by her mother Helen, a spirited woman married to a dreary young soldier; and by a Polish officer, whose country has just been erased from the map by Hitler and Stalin. Their lives, and the lives of many others, are changed by the death of the Fronsac.
This is a story about divided loyalties, treachery and exile; about people in flight from the destinies that seemed to be theirs before the war disrupted the world they knew.
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 10th August 2017
BLACK SEA: COASTS AND CONQUEST: FROM PERICLES TO PUTIN — Buy it here.
Black Sea is a homage to an ocean and its shores and a meditation on Eurasian history, from the earliest times to the present. It explores the culture, history and politics of the volatile region which surrounds the Black Sea.
Ascherson recalls the world of Herodotus and Aeschylus; Ovid’s place of exile on what is now the coast of Romania; the decline and fall of Byzantium; the mysterious Christian Goths; the Tatar Khanates; the growth of Russian power across the grasslands, and the centuries of war between Ottoman and Russian Empires around the Black Sea. He examines the terrors of Stalinism and its fascist enemy, both striving for mastery of these endlessly colourful and complex shores, and investigates the turbulent history of modern Ukraine.
This is a story of Greeks, Scythians, Samatians, Huns, Goths, Turks, Russians, Ukrainians and Poles. This is the sea where Europe ended. It is the place where ‘barbarism’ was born.
UPDATED WITH A NEW FOREWORD BY THE AUTHOR.
GAMES WITH SHADOWS — Buy it here
Beautifully written, intelligent and provocative reflections on the world scene as Ascherson looks first at the painful business of being English in a period of decline marked by public nastiness and private confusion. He goes on to attack – in an important and original series of arguments -the politics of ’Stonehenge’: the UK’s archaic and undemocratic constitution, and finally examines the temptations of state power in Mrs Thatcher’s decade.
Next, Ascherson takes us on a personal tour of Europe, ’the barbaric continent’, exposing some ugly hatred and memories lurking beneath the cultured surface; he writes movingly about the courage and sacrifice that nations at their best can draw out. His meditations on Eastern Europe, ’Waltzing With Molotov’, are exemplary for their critical sympathy.
In the book’s final section, a vivid and memorable collection of sectarians, spies, traitors, heroes, monsters and victims reveals a lot about fear and hope in the closing years of this dangerous century.
PUBLICATION DATE: 31 January 2013
STRUGGLES FOR POLAND
PUBLISHER: Michael Joseph
PUBLICATION DATE: June 1987
THE POLISH AUGUST: THE SELF-LIMITING REVOLUTION — Buy it here
What has happened in Poland? Poland has erupted four times in the last twenty five years, but only the events of 1980 have had comprehensive media coverage. As a result, many questions have been raised in the minds of Western observers. How were such changes possible? What forces lay behind them? In what way did the workers’ strike relate to the demands for political democracy? Although a colourful and vivid eye-witness account of the 1980 upheavals, it is to these questions that Neal Ascherson’s brilliant and thoughtful analysis mainly addresses itself. Viewing the situation in perspective, he argues that the Polish working class has brought about a controlled revolution, but is not intent on taking power for itself: the real heirs to the gains of 1980 and 1981 are likely to be the intelligentsia, in or out of the Communist Party. It is this social and political ferment that poses fundamental questions about the future of the whole Soviet system in Eastern Europe.
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Reader
PUBLICATION DATE: October 2011
THE NAZI LEGACY: KLAUS BARBIE AND THE INTERNATIONAL FASCIST CONNECTION — Buy it here
PUBLISHER: Henry Holt & Co.
PUBLICATION DATE: February 1985
Buy it here.
Neal Ascherson is one of Britain’s finest writers in an undefinable genre that fuses history, memoir, politics and meditations on places. His books on Poland and his collected essays on the strange Britain to which he returned from Europe in the mid-1980s were deeply influential. In 1995, Black Sea won critical praise in many languages and several literary prizes. Stone Voices is Ascherson’s return to his native Scotland. It is an exploration of Scottish identity, but this is no journalistic rumination on the future of that small nation. Ascherson instead weaves together a story of the deep past – the time of geology and archaeology, of myth and legend – with the story of modern Scotland and its rebirth. Few writers in these islands have his ability to write so well about the natural context of history.
THE KING INCORPORATED: LEOPALD THE SECOND AND THE CONGO — Buy it here
It is the aim of this text to describe Leopold II without prejudice. The text presents many aspects of his life: as a most ruthless negotiator; as the cold father; and as the sensual ancient riding his tricycle at Vilefranche-sur-Mer to pedal round to the villa of a young mistress.
PUBLICATION DATE: 13th July 1999
BLACK SEA: THE BIRTHPLACE OF CIVILISATION AND BARBARISM — Buy it here.
This title is a homage to the ocean and its shores, and a meditation on Eurasian history from the earliest times to the present. It evokes the culture, history and politics of the volatile region along these shores.
PUBLISHER: Jonathan Cape
PUBLICATION DATE: July 1995