Brian Moynahan (1941-2018) was for many years a foreign correspondent and latterly European Editor of The Sunday Times. He has written a dozen books since his first, the best-selling Airport International. They include The Claws of the Bear, The Russian Century, The Faith: A History of Christianity and If God Spare My Life, a biography of William Tyndale.
His latest book, Leningrad: Seige and Symphony, charting the terrible winter in Leningrad in 1941-2 and the progress of Shostakovich and his score, was published in November 2013 by Quercus.
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LENINGRAD: SIEGE AND SYMPHONY – Buy it here.
In Leningrad: Siege and Symphony, Brian Moynahan sets the composition of Shostakovich’s most famous work against the tragic canvas of the siege itself and the years of repression and terror that preceded it.
Drawing on extensive primary research in archives as well as personal letters and diaries, he vividly tells the story of the cruelties heaped by the twin monsters of the 20th century, Stalin and Hitler, on a city of exquisite beauty, and of its no less remarkable survival.
Weaving Shostakovich’s own story and that of many others into the context of the maelstrom of Stalin’s purges and the Nazis’ brutal invasion of Russia, Leningrad Symphony is a magisterial and moving account of one of the most tragic periods of the twentieth century.
PUBLICATION DATE: 7th November 2013
COMRADES – Buy it here
Nobody, least of all the Bolsheviks, expected Russia to become the world’s first Communist state. It was the random forces of personality, luck and mischance that created 1917. The incredible year of Comrades begins with the murder of Rasputin, the mad monk, by an Oxford-educated transvestite and the collapse of Old Russia and ends with the creation of the secret police and the slide into dictatorship. In a narrative style, this book chronicles the February Revolution that began with an obscure labour dispute and led to the Tsar’s abdication later in the month, Alexander Kerensky’s descent into chaos during the summer turmoil, Lenin’s flight to Finland when he thought the game was over and the Red Terror that followed.
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
PUBLICATION DATE: 14 May 1992
THE FRENCH CENTURY: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF MODERN FRANCE
Sixteen chapters cover the history of France from the end of the 19th century to the present day, encapsulating everything from political events and scientific discoveries to cultural achievements and sporting triumphs. The five presidents of France’s fifth republic–Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, François Mitterand, and Jacques Chirac–have led the country through tremendous change in all sectors, and their respective reigns are covered in detail. The Dreyfus Affair, the May 1968 student protests, the onset of a socialist government in 1981, and two world wars are but a few French landmarks that have changed the face of Europe and the world. French culture flourished in the 20th century. Colette, Proust, Emile Zola, and Jules Verne wrote classics in literature while Picasso, Rodin, the Dadaists, and the Surrealists redefined art. Haussmann’s urban plan and I. M. Pei’s pyramid set new standards in architecture. Sarah Bernhard and Josephine Baker revolutionized the performing arts while Camille Saint-Saëns, Claude Debussy, Pablo Casals, and Maurice Ravel set the era to music. The Tour de France, Lacoste tennis, and World Cup soccer energized the sports scene. Innovations in science came from Louis Pasteur, Marie Curie, and Henry Bequerel. This book includes two hundred and photographs of the main events and key personalities of the century.
PUBLICATION DATE: 17 Sep 2007
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This is history on an epic scale, written by an author who combines the journalist’s flair for colour and immediacy with the scholar’s respect for rigour and accuracy. Starting with the events of Jesus’ own life, The Faith traces the rise of Christianity from the status of a small, subversive sect to that of a great world religion, the story of two millennia of evangelism and persecution, heresy and schism, reformation and counter-reformation, from the missionary journeys of the apostles to the rise of the ‘tele-evangelists’ of the late twentieth century. Whether he is describing the heroism of the early Christian martyrs, the horrors of the Inquisition, the tragedy of the crusades or the spirituality of the Christian mystics, Brian Moynahan writes with balance and objectivity. He is no apologist for the manifest follies and abominable cruelties so often perpetrated in the name of Christ, but nor is he dismissive of the power and beauty of a faith which has endured for so long and inspired so many. This is a book that will appeal to Christians of all denominations, as well as to those of other faiths, who wish to understand the role of Christianity in world history. The vast temporal and geographical scale of the author’s canvas, the width and depth of his research, the staggering range of quotations, many from primary and little known sources, and the variety and quality of the hundred-plus illustrations make this book unique. Its treatment of the relationships between Christianity and other faiths, particularly Islam, also make it highly topical.
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Shatters the myths surrounding the infamous guru to Russia’s last tsar and tsarina, shedding new light on the man, his relationship with Nicholas and Alexandra, and his assassination in 1916.
THE BRITISH CENTURY — Buy it here.
Never before seen photographs give a photo-journalistic history of Britain from 1900, showing Britain’s rise and fall through the last hundred years.
PUBLISHER: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
PUBLICATION DATE: 1 Nov 1997
JUNGLE SOLIDER – Buy it here.
Brought up in a rural vicarage surrounded by fells, falcons and ferrets, Freddy Spencer Chapman acquired a deep love of nature and became ‘fascinated by danger’ during childhood. Thirty years later, as an SOE-trained guerrilla soldier of exceptional ability and courage, the orphan boy would prove to be one of the British army’s deadliest agents. In 1941 Chapman was dispatched to Singapore to train British guerrillas for the coming war with Japan. Setting out from Kuala Lumpur on 7 January 1942 on a mission to sabotage Japanese supply lines, he became a veritable one-man army. The Japanese deployed 2,000 men to search for what they believed was a squad of 200 Australian guerrillas. Following Japan’s invasion of Malaya and the fall of Singapore in February 1942, Chapman found himself stranded. Under these most desperate of circumstances, the man dubbed the ‘the jungle Lawrence’ by Field Marshal Wavell showed his bloody-minded talent for survival. Relentlessly hunted by the Japanese army, he was afflicted by typhus, scabies, pneumonia, blackwater fever, cerebral malaria, dengue fever and ulcers before finally being rescued and evacuated to Ceylon on 13 May 1945. Chapman returned to Malaya by parachute in August to take the Japanese surrender at Penang. Jungle Soldier is a unique and remarkable account of superhuman bravery and resourcefulness in adversity.
PUBLICATION DATE: 15 Oct 2009
IF GOD SPARE MY LIFE – Buy it here
William Tyndale (1494 – 1536) is one of history’s most famous martyrs. Being out of sympathy with the contemporary English church and suspected of heresy, he left England in 1522 and matriculated at Wittenberg two years later where he got to know Luther. In 1525 he translated the New Testament and, by 1531, the Pentateuch. He had reached the book of Jonah when he was burned for heresy near Brussels. This account ties Sir Thomas More, newly named patron saint of politicians, to the betrayal and burning of Tyndale. The extraordinary feud between the two men is examined in detail and the book also includes portraits of Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Cardinal Wolsey. Burnings alive, early printing, book smuggling, and the linking of More, “the man for all seasons” to the betrayal and execution of the most quoted writer in the language (84 per cent of the King James New Testament is word-for-word Tyndale) form the backdrop to one of the most astonishing lives in British history.
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
PUBLICATION DATE: 16th May 2002
FORGOTTEN SOLDIERS — Buy it here
Forgotten Soldiers is an enthralling work of military history that shows how the courage, intelligence or simple good fortune of the individual can exert a decisive influence on the outcome of a battle or campaign. It tells the stories of fifteen unsung heroes, none of a rank higher than major, whose deeds changed the course of important battles and – arguably – the course of history.
These vivid and gripping accounts – largely drawn from the Second World War, but with tales too from other conflicts – have each been selected to illustrate one of the dictums of the great Prussian theorist of war, Carl von Clausewitz, about the importance of having the right man in the right place at the right time.
From the Roman standard bearer who plunged into the waves off Deal in 55 BC, saving Julius Caesar’s military honour and political career, to the young Israeli tank lieutenant who almost single-handedly stalled the advancing Syrian armour in 1973, these are above all tales of courage. But it is not just courage that wins wars, as these stories demonstrate: such elements as surprise, determination, good intelligence, chance, insight, inventiveness and clear thinking all play their parts in eventual victory. And it may only take one man, often of lowly rank, his name largely forgotten, to embody such qualities for the effect to be felt around the world.
PUBLICATION DATE: 3 July 2008
RUSSIAN CENTURY — Buy it here
Over 300 photographs of Russia from 1894 to 1994, most of them previously unpublished, and very few seen before in the West, have been culled from dozens of archives, museums, private collections and previously closed files. Together they provide a portrait of Russia from the Tsarists to Chernobyl, from a costume ball in old St Petersburg to a stripper at a modern Moscow nightclub, from the Revolution to the Great Terror, from the Cold War to the grim state of contemporary Russia, and from haunting landscapes to portraits of Yuri Gagarin, Pasternak, Solzhenitzyn and Shostakovich. The pictures are combined with a text that explains their context and charts the progress of Russia through the 20th century. The result is a chronicle of 100 years of Russian life.
PUBLISHER: Chatto & Windus
PUBLICATION DATE: Sept 1994