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New non-fiction for February 2017

Written by · Published Jan 30, 2017

Felix The Railway Cat, Night Trains

The Last of the Tsars: Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution, by Robert Service

The Last of the Tsars is a study of a man who was almost entirely out of his depth, perhaps even willfully so. It is also a compelling account of the social, economic and political foment in Russia in the aftermath of Alexander Kerensky’s February Revolution, the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917 and the beginnings of Lenin’s Soviet republic.”

Felix the Railway Cat, by Kate Moore

“The Huddersfield Train Station cat Felix is a much-loved and hugely popular member of staff at Huddersfield Train Station - and also just so happens to be a fluffy kitten. By day, she spends her time meowing over the tannoy and getting in the way of the ticket printer. By night, she plays a vital role as their official Pest Control Manager, patrolling the platforms in her high-viz vest.

“But for the close-knit Yorkshire community which Felix is a part of, this remarkable little cat has changed their lives in surprising ways. From helping the station manager to cope with the responsibility of his new job and providing comfort to a colleague with a terminal illness, to coming to the rescue of a runaway boy and a child with autism - this book is full of moving stories that show an amazing bond between this very special cat and the station’s staff and commuters.”

This is one for all those people who enjoyed A Street Cat Named Bob.

What a Life!, by Ted Blackbrow

“From his humble beginnings in London’s East End, Ted Blackbrow went on to become one of the UK’s greatest press photographers. Thrown out of a good grammar school at 15, Ted embarked on a career that would see him photograph members of the Royal Family, Enoch Powell, The Beatles, Sean Connery, Elton John and Mick Jagger, to name just a few! Long before social media, his images were being shared all over the globe. His pictures of the Vietnamese refugees on the Sibonga were a widely-syndicated world exclusive, and what started as an ordinary day at Newmarket Racecourse resulted in an award-winning photograph that was syndicated across the world.

What a Life! features some of the best of Ted’s photos, along with the entertaining, engaging and enlightening stories behind them.”

Night Trains: the rise and fall of the sleeper, by Andrew Martin

“In Night Trains, Andrew Martin attempts to relive the golden age of the great European sleeper trains by using their modern-day equivalents. This is no simple matter. The night trains have fallen on hard times, and the services are disappearing one by one. But if the Orient Express experience can only be recreated by taking three separate sleepers, the intriguing characters and exotic atmospheres have survived. Whether the backdrop is 3am at a Turkish customs post, the sun rising over the Riviera, or the constant twilight of a Norwegian summer night, Martin rediscovers the pleasures of a continent connected by rail.”

Unless you have been on one, the idea of travelling on the night sleeper has an enviable romanticism. My own experience a few years back was cold and uncomfortable and involved snoring fellow passengers, lights being put on at 4am and someone screaming “anyone else for Crewe?”

No Wall Too High: one man’s daring escape from Mao’s Darkest Prison, by Xu Hongci and Erling Hoh (translator)

“It was one of the greatest prison breaks of all time, during one of the worst totalitarian tragedies of the 20th Century. Xu Hongci was an ordinary medical student when he was incarcerated under Mao’s regime and forced to spend years of his youth in some of China’s most brutal labour camps. Three times he tried to escape. And three times he failed. But, determined, he eventually broke free, travelling the length of China, across the Gobi desert, and into Mongolia. This is the extraordinary memoir of his unrelenting struggle to retain dignity, integrity and freedom; but also the untold story of what life was like for ordinary people trapped in the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.”

True Colours: the story of the first openly transgender soldier in the British Armed Forces, by Caroline Paige

“Caroline Paige describes a personal conflict influenced by prejudice and acceptance, in a military that initially persecutes its LGBT personnel before ultimately celebrating them. It is a journey set in a world of change, a story of secrecy and vulnerability, of fear and courage, of challenge and hope.”

Brandon King

I work in the Suffolk Libraries Stock Team