About the Publisher

Yale University Press is a leading publisher of groundbreaking history books.  Our list includes many award-winners, the authoritative Yale English Monarchs series and the much-loved Little Histories books.  With our London office established in 1961, Yale is the only American university press with a full-scale publishing operation in Europe.

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A Burning Sea
A Burning Sea
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From the Publisher

Yale University Press is a leading publisher of groundbreaking history books.  Our list includes many award-winners, the authoritative Yale English Monarchs series and the much-loved Little Histories books.  With our London office established in 1961, Yale is the only American university press with a full-scale publishing operation in Europe.

Book Reviews

MI9: A History of the Secret Service for Escape and Evasion in World War Two, by Helen Fry
In the 1950s and 60s, Word War Two was a recent memory for most families who had nearly all been involved in the struggle one way or another. At that time, escape stories and the daring exploits of servicemen who had been captured regularly appeared on shop bookshelves. Films were released like The Wooden Horse, The Colditz Story, and, of course, The Great Escape. I doubt ...
Merchants, by Edmond Smith
Merchants, in the literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, are ubiquitous. One finds them represented on the stage, for example, in the works of Shakespeare and Jonson (‘let’s see him creep!’). The word itself conjures up a host of senses: the jingling of coins in purses, the frantic pounding of footsteps as news of expected cargo is awaited, and the rich scent of spices. The ...
Spymaster: The Man Who Saved MI6, by Helen Fry
British Intelligence operations of the Second World War have been the frequent subject of both scholarly and creative attention, often appearing in popular culture in films such as The Imitation Game and A Call To Spy. Some might argue that there is little left to uncover on the topic, but
Empire and Jihad, by Neil Faulkner
It seems fitting given recent events, to examine the history of jihad in Northeast Africa through the lens of western interventionism. As Warren Dockter, author of Churchill and the Islamic World, puts it: Empire and Jihad is a ‘sobering bridge’ between British imperialist activity in the 19th century and ...
Foursquare: The Last Parachutist, by George Bearfield
Most of us have probably never heard of Operation Foursquare, a top secret operation into Czechoslovakia at the end of the Second World War. On the night of 4th May 1945, an RAF plane takes off from Dijon in France, with four Czech soldiers on board, who have been given secret instructions. The plane flew over Bohemia; the men feeling a sense of pleasure at the justice they hoped to ...
The British Way of War, by Andrew Lambert
Julian Corbett was born in 1854 and after becoming a barrister in 1877 he practised law until 1882. At that point he turned to writing as a career beginning with historical fiction often with a maritime theme. That led on to commissions to write a couple of biographies of historical figures including Francis Drake. He then accepted an invitation to edit a collection of documents on the ...
Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union, by Vladislav M. Zubok
As a long-term Russophile with a grudge against the Bolsheviks I jumped at the chance to review this authoritative book, written through the unclouded lens of such an illustrious Russian historian. Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union is enthralling from the get-go, brimming with fascinating insights into life in ...
Cornwallis, by Richard Middleton
Charles Cornwallis, Lord Cornwallis, is remembered as one of the salient military leaders of the American Revolution, blamed for the British defeat at Yorktown that marked the beginning of the end of the Revolution. Yet as Richard Middleton´s masterful new biography illustrates, Cornwallis´ North American service from 1776 to 1781 was just a chapter in a life characterised by public service ...
The Happy Traitor, by Simon Kuper
On a Saturday in 2012, journalist Simon Kuper had the highly sought-after opportunity to interview the last surviving traitor of the Cold War, George Blake, in his dacha (home) outside Moscow. As it turned out, Kuper is believed to have been the last Western journalist to interview Blake. Kuper recalls the moment the unexpected phone call came through to him from Blake agreeing to be ...
In the Shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral, by Margaret Willes
As soon as I picked up this book I knew it was a brilliant idea, and wondered why no-one had thought to do it before. The answer lies in the book itself, which is that the amount of research taken is enormous. Writing as an amateur, and not a historian, it is a veritable feast for anyone who loves books and history. The research is backed up by black and white illustrations, colour plates, ...
Victory at Sea, by Paul Kennedy
By the close of 1943, the tides of the global war at sea had turned significantly in favour of the Allies. In the North Atlantic Doenitz’s wolf-packs were increasingly pulling back, relieving the pressure on Allied convoy lines. In the Mediterranean most of the inland sea was under the control of the Allies, whose amphibious forces streamed into Europe and toppled Mussolini’s fascist state, ...


Tudor Merchants: Steven Veerapen Interviews Edmond Smith
Edmond Smith, what inspired you to write about these early entrepreneurs, the subject of your new book, Merchants?My PhD set out to explore how individual investors shaped the infamous East India Company, but the more I dug into this, the more links I discovered with other parts
Empire & Jihad: Neil Faulkner Interview
Neil Faulkner, your book opens in 1851 with the explorer and missionary, David Livingstone, who encounters what turns out to be a huge slave trade that stretches from Africa to India. Whilst Britain had abolished slavery in 1833, what were the numbers that were involved in this ongoing practice?There are no precise figures, but a rough estimate is that the East African ...
The British Way of War: Andrew Lambert Interview
Andrew Lambert, your new book is based on Sir Julian Corbett. He was a fascinating man, with many interests outside of military strategy, but he’s not as well-known as he should be. Why is that?Despite his critical role in capturing and distilling the essence of British strategy, Sir Julian Corbett, ...
The Collapse of the USSR: Vladislav Zubok Interview
Vladislav Zubok, Collapse is a brilliant book and incredibly comprehensive, but there are polar opposite narratives about this historical period which focus (for example) on the nefarious actions of the KGB in Eastern Europe. Did you deliberately avoid exploring the darker side of the KGB in equal depth to your economic analysis?The story of the Soviet collapse ...
Richard Middleton on Cornwallis
Richard Middleton, Charles, 1st Marquis Cornwallis is probably most well-known for his disastrous military leadership during the American War of Independence. Was he really a terrible commander?  Cornwallis’s career as a field commander certainly began badly when he allowed Washington to escape from Trenton in early January 1777. However, he proved an energetic commander ...
Ian Gentles on The New Model Army
Ian Gentles, The New Model Army: Agent of Revolution is an updated edition of your earlier title, but it’s almost a different book – just how much has changed?The first edition has been condensed to about half its original length. It assimilates much new research, particularly on the Levellers ...
Margaret Willes on The Shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral
Margaret Willes, what inspired you to write about this subject, a book not about the cathedral, but about its surrounding area?My first memory of St Paul's Churchyard was emerging from the Underground into an area of devastation. It was probably in 1953, when my father took me up to London as he planned to take photographs of the City churches, to be lit up for the ...
Victor Stater on Hoax: The Popish Plot That Never Was
Victor Stater, in your introduction you describe the Popish Plot as ‘preposterous’. Are we talking QAnon levels, or a more sane conspiracy theory such as the assassination of JFK?I’d say there are elements of both—the idea that Charles II might be assassinated in order to put his Catholic brother on the throne was certainly plausible. But as Titus Oates and his fellow ...
Ronald Hutton on Queens of the Wild
Ronald, you wrote Queens of the Wild during 2020, when Covid struck the land, and we were all confined to our homes. Did this experience bring any historical examples to mind when writing the book – a time when plagues were a more frequent occurrence?Covid was unprecedented, as never before ...
Robin Prior on Conquer We Must
In the First World War mass casualties were suffered in the sluggish trench warfare of the Western Front. Did we see enough involvement by the politicians to attempt to limit those losses?During the First World War British politicians made various but only sporadic attempts to limit the casualties on the Western Front. The most spectacular example of this was the ...
Huw J Davies on The Wandering Army
Your book opens with the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745 when the British, despite superiority of firepower, were defeated by Saxe’s use of the terrain and positioning of his forces. The use of topography by senior officers would seem to be rather an obvious ‘innovation’ – commanders had been taking advantage of the topography since antiquity. Why were the British so slow to incorporate ...
Tony Spawforth on What the Greeks Did For Us
Tony Spawforth, surely the impact on our world today by the Greeks is significantly limited - after all the Romans would surely claim the ancient influence, if there is any?In many ways the Romans were simply conduits for the older and greater Greek civilisation that they conquered. As recently as World War I at least, the Greeks thus preserved were a kind of cultural ...


NATO’s Greatest Achievement
NATO’s Greatest AchievementReaders may rightly wonder why NATO, so pre-eminent as Europe’s security foundation, is so timid in its response to Russia’s war on Ukraine. To fully grasp this, we need to look back to NATO’s perhaps greatest achievement, namely its ability to retool itself after the end of the Cold War and how its achievement continues to shape
Murder In The Cathedral
On Tuesday afternoon, 29 December 1170, Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, was hustled by his staff from his palace into his cathedral. There had been an angry exchange between him and four knights from the court of Henry II in France. Frustrated by the presence of his servants, the knights withdrew to get reinforcements. Their self-appointed mission was to force the archbishop to ...
Tamerlane & the Reawakening of Mongol Asia
Tamerlane (Timur ‘the Lame’, c. 1327-1405) was the last major conqueror to emerge from Inner Asia. He was not himself a nomad – except insofar as he spent several decades in incessant campaigning.  But the kernel of his army was made up of nomadic cavalry. Although a Muslim, he inflicted considerable devastation on much of the Islamic world and created a sensation in Christian ...
Templars: From Crusaders to Conspiracists
Templars: From Crusaders to ConspiracistsGalilee, 4 July 1187.The dry heat caught the stench of blood and death and held it close to the earth – the fear was palpable and, for many, overwhelming. The men, already severely dehydrated, were almost finished. Even the dying had little energy left for screams, just animal sounds of pain and ...
Vesuvius in the Age of Revolution
Vesuvius in the Age of RevolutionVolcanic is the first and only book I have written not focused on Britain, the only one that concerns the history of science, and the only one centred on Italy. So why the departure, the urge to explore something new? Restlessness brought on by impending retirement? Dyspepsia ...
Culture & Democracy in West Germany
Culture & Democracy in West GermanyIn the dictatorship of the Third Reich, the absence of democracy meant the absence of individual liberties.  For visual artists, musicians, and men and women of letters, film and the stage, next to governmental content criticism and cancellation, this absence meant curtailment in expression and experimentation.  Other consequences were the prevention
How the Redcoat Learnt the Art of War
How the Redcoat Learnt the Art of WarBy May 1779, the American Revolutionary War had transformed from a regional civil conflict into a global war, and Britain faced French aggression in the West Indies and India. The British government was forced to redistribute its modest forces in North America, leaving General Sir Henry Clinton, the new commander-in-chief, badly under-resourced. No ...
Britain in the World Wars
Three aspects of Britain in the world wars stand out. The first was the reluctance with which Britain entered both wars but then the implacable nature in which it fought them. In the First World War Britain was the last of the Great Powers to enter the war; in the Second, Chamberlain was notoriously reluctant to enter at all. But once in the wars, Britain was the only Great Power to fight in ...
Queens of the Wild
Queens of the Wild comes with two intentions: to introduce general readers to some striking and often neglected superhuman female figures from medieval and early modern Europe, and to make an intervention in a major current scholarly debate. That debate concerns the nature of pagan survivals in Europe after the ...
The Elizabethan Mind: Thomas Whythorne
In the 1570s Thomas Whythorne, a musician and composer, wrote an account of his life. It’s an extraordinary document, not least since the term and concept of ‘autobiography’ didn’t yet exist. Whythorne charts his changing mental states through the different phases and situations of his life: ‘One while I thought ... And another while I thought thus unto myself …’. He strives to define and ...
The Royal Navy’s War
There are many remarkable aspects to Victory at Sea that might be the subject of an individual blog, but one I would like to call attention to is the way the book, and perhaps especially Ian Marshall's illustrations, confirm how much the 1939-1945 war at sea was the Royal Navy's War.  It was there at the very start,
John Rastell: Renaissance Man and Bookseller
John Rastell: Renaissance Man and BooksellerAround the year 1500 Wynkyn de Worde moved his printing press from the precinct of Westminster Abbey to premises in Fleet Street. De Worde was the Dutch assistant of William Caxton, who had introduced printing to England, and he had inherited his business. This move was a significant one, for de Worde was able to link up with the craftsmen, ...