‘Butterfly’s Tongue’ tells of the friendship between a schoolboy and an anarchist schoolmaster, born of a shared interest in animal and insect life, which is destroyed by the eruption of the Spanish Civil War in the summer of 1936. Other stories are woven around characters who appear in this central story. In ‘A Saxophone in the Mist’, a young musician discovers the meaning of music and of love in the face of a girl he meets one foggy night at a fair.

In ‘Carmina’ a boy listen as a man relates how a dog frustrated him in his attempts to woo his … More

The War Baby is a compelling account of bravery and betrayal in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. Amid the last, faltering, steps to repulse General Franco’s fascists, a young British Communist, Frank Brendan, heads to Barcelona on behalf of the Party. He becomes part of a hedonistic elite at the helm of what’s left of Republican Spain before being sent to the battle front during the ill-fated Ebro offensive of 1938 – Republican Spain’s last stand against the advancing falangists. He is a political commissar to the British troops among the International Brigades; his task is to ‘expose the bad elements’. Eventually, Brendan picks up a gun and joins an increasingly brutal and unequal battle alongside ill-equipped Volunteers. Few of the British Brigaders make it out alive; none are unscathed. The War Baby is a blistering account of the corrupting of the struggle against fascism. It is deeply critical of international Communism while compassionate and generous towards those who enrolled under that flag.

Alexander Baron was born Joseph Alexander Bernstein in 1917 to Jewish parents. His first novel, From the City, From the … More

A thrillingly dark novel that shows the rare magic that can happen when two dazzlingly original imaginations come together to make a book. Bestselling author Cornelia Funke has written a novel inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s captivating 2006 film. Beautiful, haunting, visceral, gutsy, it’s a vastly inventive, grown-up modern fairytale, pulsing with power of stories to shape lives, hearts and minds. Ofelia has been sent to stay with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. For him, the dark and eerie forest in which they live is a cage, serving only to hide resistance fighters in the drawn-out and bloody civil war – those he has made it his aim to destroy. But with her mother bedridden, Ofelia is left unchecked and becomes enchanted by their magical home.

Obsessed with fairytales, she is drawn deeper and deeper into a mythical world which is both cruel and kind, benign … More

Born OTD in 1842. Russian Zoologist, economist, geographer, and philosopher, Peter Kropotkin. Writing partly in response to Social Darwinism, Kropotkin draws on his scientific knowledge to illustrate the phenomenon of cooperation. After examining the evidence of cooperation in nonhuman animals, pre-feudal societies, medieval cities, and in modern times, he concludes that cooperation and mutual aid are the most important factors in the evolution of the species and the ability to survive.

“In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find … More

Born OTD in 1913, Hungarian war photographer & photojournalist, Robert Capa. ‘Robert Capa: A Graphic Biography’ is a brilliant portrayal of the career of the great war photographer who, at the time of his death in 1954, had only one wish: to be an unemployed war photographer. ‘It is not always easy’ he said, ‘to stand aside and be unable to do anything except record the suffering.

Born in 1913 to a Jewish family in Budapest, Endre Friedmann left home at 18 for Germany where he studied … More