Looking for something different to do this month? What could be more exciting than exploring new ideas and worlds with their creators? At the Hungerford Bookshop, we are believers in opening up book discussion and giving our customers access to the many brilliant authors out there. Take a look at some of the acclaimed writers we have hosted over the years. Our events are always held at one of the fantastic (and often historic) local venues in Hungerford and ticket prices often include money off the title being discussed and a glass (or two) of wine. See below for our latest events.
From the best-selling author of All Hell Let Loose comes a masterful chronicle of one of the most devastating international conflicts of the 20th century and how its people were affected. Vietnam became the Western world's most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the United States in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing scores of participants on both sides, as well as researching a multitude of American and Vietnamese documents and memoirs, to create an epic narrative of an epic struggle.
He portrays the set pieces of Dienbienphu, the Tet offensive, the air blitz of North Vietnam, and less familiar battles such as the bloodbath at Daido, where a US Marine battalion was almost wiped out, together with extraordinary recollections of Ho Chi Minh's warriors. Here are the vivid realities of strife amid jungle and paddies that killed 2 million people. Many writers treat the war as a US tragedy, yet Hastings sees it as overwhelmingly that of the Vietnamese people, of whom forty died for every American.
US blunders and atrocities were matched by those committed by their enemies. While all the world has seen the image of a screaming, naked girl seared by napalm, it forgets countless eviscerations, beheadings and murders carried out by the communists. The people of both former Vietnams paid a bitter price for the Northerners' victory in privation and oppression.
Here is testimony from Vietcong guerrillas, Southern paratroopers, Saigon bargirls and Hanoi students alongside that of infantrymen from South Dakota, Marines from North Carolina, Huey pilots from Arkansas. No past volume has blended a political and military narrative of the entire conflict with heart-stopping personal experiences, in the fashion that Max Hastings' readers know so well. The author suggests that neither side deserved to win this struggle with so many lessons for the 21st century about the misuse of military might to confront intractable political and cultural challenges.
He marshals testimony from warlords and peasants, statesmen and soldiers, to create an extraordinary record. Three years in the making, this is one of the non-fiction publishing events of the year. Sir Max Hastings was 23 when he reported from this conflict. This is sure to be an excellent event.
Early booking is recommended. Tickets £8 from Hungerford Bookshop or on-line at ArtsForHungerford.com
7:30pm Herongate Club (please note change of venue)
Historian Ben Macintyre, author of Agent Zig-Zag and SAS Rogue Heroes, will be talking about his new book The Spy & the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War (published on 20th September).
A thrilling Cold War story about a KGB double agent, by one of Britain's greatest historians. On a warm July evening in 1985, a middle-aged man stood on the pavement of a busy avenue in the heart of Moscow, holding a plastic carrier bag. In his grey suit and tie, he looked like any other Soviet citizen. The bag alone was mildly conspicuous, printed with the red logo of Safeway, the British supermarket.
The man was a spy. A senior KGB officer, for more than a decade he had supplied his British spymasters with a stream of priceless secrets from deep within the Soviet intelligence machine. No spy had done more to damage the KGB.
The Safeway bag was a signal: to activate his escape plan to be smuggled out of Soviet Russia. So began one of the boldest and most extraordinary episodes in the history of spying. Ben Macintyre reveals a tale of espionage, betrayal and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War forever...
7:30pm Croft Hall, Hungerford. Tickets £8 (includes a glass of wine and £5 off the book on the night) from Hungerford Bookshop or on-line at ArtsForHungerford.com
As part of Hungerford Food Festival, farmer and campaigner Helen Browning OBE will be talking to Tim Finney about her newly published book 'Pig: Tales from an Organic Farm'.
Helen is an organic and arable livestock farmer and owner of The Royal Oak pub in Bishopstone, Wiltshire. She is also chief executive of the Soil Association and was awarded the OBE in 1998 for services to farming.
This story of nine of Helen’s characterful sows from the week of their farrowing, through one of the hardest, longest winters she can recall. Helen’s life of progressive agricultural and environmental politics is also woven through the story.
Come along to listen to the author talk about some of the real stories in her book and reveal what drives her as a farmer before answering questions and signing copies of Pig. We’ll also have some Helen Browning organic hot dogs for you to try.
Free entry - come along to the Town Hall for 12:15
During the third week of February 1944, the combined Allied air forces based in Britain and Italy launched their first-ever round-the-clock bomber offensive against Germany. The aim was to smash the main factories and production centres of the Luftwaffe and at the same time draw the German fighter force up into the air and into battle. Officially called Operation ARGUMENT, this monumental air assault was very quickly became known simply as Big Week.
In the six months up to its launch, for the Allies, the bomber war was not turning out as planned. Raids by the US Eighth Air Force and the RAF deep into Germany were being decimated and falling far short of its purpose. With D-Day drawing ever-closer, that was a massive problem.
The Allies needed clear skies to invade. The clock was ticking inexorably. Yet the Luftwaffe was also in crisis.
Short of resources, of fuel, and on properly trained pilots, the strain on those still flying was immense, their losses severe. And despite the chaos of their leadership, they were achieving far more than should have been reasonably expected against the superior numbers of the Allied planes. Big Week is the knife-edged story of bomber against flak gun and fighter, but also, crucially, fighter against fighter, as the stakes rose higher and higher.
Following the fortunes of pilots, aircrew and civilians from both sides, this is a blistering narrative of one of the most critical periods of the entire war, one that culminated in the largest air battle ever witnessed. It is also one that has been largely forgotten, but which has been brilliantly brought back to life by award-winning historian, James Holland.
The author will be giving an illustrated talk about the subject of his book, followed by a Q&A and a signing afterwards.
Wednesday October, 17th at Hungerford Town Hall (Corn Exchange).
Tickets are £8 (which include a glass of wine and £5 off the book on the night) from Hungerford Bookshop or on-line at ArtsForHungerford.com
This is a very special bookshop. Seriously diverse and fascinating authors come to talk about their books. All in all, it gives a new dimension to Hungerford and is one of the main reasons it would be hard to move to a new area!
Belinda Coote, Customer