BEN McNALLY BOOKS

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An occasional preview of some forthcoming books of interest.

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

HarperCollins Canada
Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Sherlock Holmes is dead.

Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum that has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind who has risen to take Moriarty's place.

Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, a devoted student of Holmes's methods of investigation and deduction, Frederick Chase must forge a path through the darkest corners of the capital to shine light on this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace.

Author of the global bestseller The House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz once more breathes life into the world created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With pitch-perfect characterization and breathtaking pace, Horowitz weaves a relentlessly thrilling tale that teases and delights by the turn of each page.

The game is afoot . . .

Enquire about Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz.

Germany by Neil MacGragor

Viking UK
Germany by Neil MacGragor

From Neil MacGregor, this is a view of Germany like no other For the past 140 years, Germany has been the central power in continental Europe. Twenty-five years ago a new German state came into being. How much do we really understand this new Germany, and how do its people now understand themselves? Neil MacGregor argues that uniquely for any European country, no coherent, over-arching narrative of Germany's history can be constructed, for in Germany both geography and history have always been unstable. Its frontiers have constantly floated. Königsberg, home to the greatest German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, is now Kaliningrad, Russia; Strasbourg, in whose cathedral Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany's greatest writer, discovered the distinctiveness of his country's art and history, now lies within the borders of France. For most of the five hundred years covered by this book Germany has been composed of many separate political units, each with a distinct history. And any comfortable national story Germans might have told themselves before 1914 was destroyed by the events of the following thirty years. German history may be inherently fragmented, but it contains a large number of widely shared memories, awarenesses and experiences; examining some of these is the purpose of this book. Beginning with the fifteenth-century invention of modern printing by Gutenberg, MacGregor chooses objects and ideas, people and places which still resonate in the new Germany - porcelain from Dresden and rubble from its ruins, Bauhaus design and the German sausage, the crown of Charlemagne and the gates of Buchenwald - to show us something of its collective imagination.

Enquire about Germany by Neil MacGragor.

1381: The Year of the Peasants' Revolt

Belknap Press
1381: The Year of the Peasants

Written with the fluency readers have come to expect from Juliet Barker, 1381: The Year of the Peasants’ Revolt provides an account of the first great popular uprising in England and its background, and paints on a broad canvas a picture of English life in medieval times. Skeptical of contemporary chroniclers’ accounts of events, Barker draws on the judicial sources of the indictments and court proceedings that followed the rebellion. This emphasis offers a fresh perspective on the so-called Peasants’ Revolt and gives depth and texture to the historical narrative. Among the book’s arguments are that the rebels believed they were the loyal subjects of the king acting in his interests, and that the boy-king Richard II sympathized with their grievances.

Barker tells how and why a diverse and unlikely group of ordinary men and women from every corner of England—from servants and labourers living off wages, through the village elite who served as bailiffs, constables, and stewards, to the ranks of the gentry—united in armed rebellion against church and state to demand a radical political agenda. Had it been implemented, this agenda would have transformed English society and anticipated the French Revolution by four hundred years. 1381: The Year of the Peasants’ Revolt is an important reassessment of the uprising and a fascinating, original study of medieval life in England’s towns and countryside.

Enquire about 1381: The Year of the Peasants' Revolt.

Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong

Knopf Canada
Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong

For the first time in American history, religious self-identification is on the decline. Some have cited a perception that began to grow after September 11: that faith in general is a source of aggression, intolerance and divisiveness--something bad for society. But how accurate is that view? And does it apply equally to all faiths? In these troubled times, we risk basing decisions of real and dangerous consequence on mistaken understandings of the faiths subscribed around us, in our immediate community as well as globally. And so, with her deep learning and sympathetic understanding, Karen Armstrong examines the impulse toward violence in each of the world's great religions.

The comparative approach is new: while there have been plenty of books on jihad or the Crusades, this book lays the Christian and the Islamic way of war side by side, along with those of Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Judaism. Each of these faiths arose in agrarian societies with plenty of motivation for violence: landowners had to lord it over peasants and warfare was essential to increase one's landholdings, the only real source of wealth before the great age of trade and commerce. In each context, it fell to the priestly class to legitimize the actions of the state. And so the martial ethos became bound up with the sacred. At the same time, however, their ideologies developed that ran counter to the warrior code: around sages, prophets and mystics. Within each tradition there grew up communities that represented a protest against the injustice and violence endemic to agrarian society. This book explores the symbiosis of these 2 impulses and its development as these confessional faiths came of age.

The aggression of secularism has often damaged religion and pushed it into a violent mode. But modernity has also been spectacularly violent, and so Armstrong goes on to show how and in what measure religions, in their relative maturity, came to absorb modern belligerence--and what hope there might be for peace among believers in our time.

Enquire about Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong.