In January, 1649 -- after seven years of fighting in the bloodiest war in Britain's history, Parliament had overpowered King Charles I and now faced a problem: what to do with a defeated king, a king who refused to surrender? Parliamentarians resolved to do the unthinkable, to disregard the Divine Right of Kings and hold Charles I to account for the appalling suffering and slaughter endured by his people. A tribunal of 135 men was hastily gathered in London, and although Charles refused to acknowledge the power of his subjects to try him, the death sentence was unanimously passed. On an icy winter's day on a scaffold outside Whitehall, in an event unique in English history, the King of England was executed. When the dead king's son, Charles II, was restored to the throne, he set about enacting a deadly wave of retribution against all those - the lawyers, the judges, the officers on the scaffold - responsible for his father's death. Some of the 'regicides' - the killers of the king - pleaded for mercy, while others stoically awaited their sentence.
Bestselling historian Charles Spencer explores this violent clash of ideals through the individuals whose fates were determined by that one, momentous decision in his book Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I.
From the immense staff running a lavish Edwardian estate and the lonely maid-of-all-work cooking in a cramped middle-class house to the poor child doing chores in a slightly less poor household, servants were essential to the British way of life. They were hired not only for their skills but also to demonstrate the social standing of their employers—even as they were required to tread softly and blend into the background. More than simply the laboring class serving the upper crust—as popular culture would have us believe—they were a diverse group that shaped and witnessed major changes in the modern home, family, and social order.
Lucy Lethbridge explores the servants' stories in her book, Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times.
When Lions Roar begins in the mid-1930s at Chartwell, Winston Churchill's country estate, with new revelations surrounding a secret business deal orchestrated by Joseph P. Kennedy, the soon-to-be American ambassador to Great Britain and the father of future American president John F. Kennedy. From London to America, these two powerful families shared an ever-widening circle of friends, lovers, and political associates – soon shattered by World War II, spying, sexual infidelity, and the tragic deaths of JFK's sister Kathleen and his older brother Joe Jr. By the 1960s and JFK's presidency, the Churchills and the Kennedys had overcome their bitter differences and helped to define the “greatness” in each other.
Acclaimed biographer Thomas Maier tells this dynastic saga through fathers and their sons – and the remarkable women in their lives – providing keen insight into the Churchill and Kennedy families and the profound forces of duty, loyalty, courage and ambition that shaped them.
Fearless on the battlefield, Churchill had to be ordered by the king to stay out of action on D-Day; he pioneered aerial bombing and few could match his experience in organizing violence on a colossal scale, yet he hated war and scorned politicians who had not experienced its horrors. He was the most famous journalist of his time and perhaps the greatest orator of all time, despite a lisp and chronic depression he kept at bay by painting.
On the fiftieth anniversary of Churchill’s death, Boris Johnson celebrates the brilliance of one of the most important leaders of the twentieth century in the book, The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History.
A dark tale of greed, corruption, and unquenchable ambition, House of Cards reveals that no matter the country, politics, intrigue and passion reign in the corridors of power. More than twenty years since its first publication it is still considered to be the definitive political thriller.
Michael Dobbs' novel - both its 1989 and 2014 incarnations - is a delicious wallow in British bad behavior, both public and private.
Michael Dobbs is also Lord Dobbs of Wylye, a member of the British House of Lords. He is Britain's leading political novelist and has been a senior adviser to Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron. House of Cards was made into an award winning TV series in the UK and for Netflix in the USA, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright and directed by David Fincher.
Margaret Thatcher, the first and only woman prime minister of Great Britain, left a personal style and political legacy that will be debated for years to come. Like her American ally and friend, Ronald Reagan, she took power at a time when her nation was seen by many to be in economic and international decline.
Professor Roy Ginsberg, chair of the department of government at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, spoke today with WAMC’s Brian Shields on the Thatcher-Reagan alliance.