Culture & History

Before there was Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, there was Fergus Hume's The Mystery of a Hansom Cab the biggest and fastest-selling detective novel of the 1800s, and Australia's first literary blockbuster. BLOCKBUSTER! is the engrossing story of a book that would help define the genre of crime fiction, and a portrait of a great city in full… Read More

I enjoyed A Crime in the Family. It is promoted as revealing one of the most extraordinary untold stories of the Second World War. In reality it describes one man’s search to understand his own and his family’s past history and the dark secrets that lurk within. As a journey of personal discovery, I was… Read More

The RSA is a huge institution in New Zealand and still today has over 100,000 members. It can be subtly different from region to region and in many places remains in touch with and part of the local community. Looking back we see it initially as a club for the servicemen returned from the First… Read More

It sounds like a very ambitious title, but the reality is that Dr Adam Rutherford is simply claiming that we are all the same. We are all Homo sapiens and that hasn’t changed in a long time. The book is in essence all about a strand of evidence called DNA and Rutherford helps us to… Read More

It is great to approach history from a different angle, especially in order to gain a new perspective on events. In this book Anne Sebba forces us to reconsider a momentous decade for France, beginning with the German occupation of Paris in 1940, from the point of view of the women of the city. It… Read More

For the many fans of Neil Gaiman the publication of The View from the Cheap Seats, a collection of Gaiman’s selected non-fiction, must feel at least a little bit like a childhood Christmas morning: the anticipation of unwrapping a selection of presents one by one, excitedly discovering their contents - and just like a good… Read More

To spend years of your life tramping around the country looking for war memorials sounds mad. But that is what Jock Phillips and his helpers have been doing since the 1980s. The result is this wonderful collection of photos and stories, but also a deeper look at our history and our national consciousness. The Australian… Read More

First Day of the Somme is an excellent new book by Kiwi-born writer Andrew Macdonald. His engaging first book, On my way to the Somme, dates from 2005 and looked only at the New Zealand experience of the campaign. This new work limits itself to just one day, 1st July 1916, which still ranks as… Read More

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