Saturday, 24 September 2011

A Senseless and Squalid War - Norman Rose LSE

Looking at the history of the Jews in the twentieth century it isn't hard to be sympathetic to them. Looking at the history of the Palestinians, it isn't hard to be sympathetic to them either.  But there was another people involved in the creation of the state of Israel in the forties who don't get talked about nearly so much.  The British Empire always regarded the Suez canal as of key strategic importance.  With the collapse of the empire, what would that mean for their policy to Palestine?  

Norman Rose examines that question in this lecture and finds that their motives were far from clear even to themselves.

Norman Rose Chair of International Relations at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem is the author of  A Senseless Squalid War': Voices from Palestine 1945-1948.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Was the British Empire a Force for Good? - Intelligence Squared Debate

The star of the show is undoubtedly Niall Ferguson who has the numbers up his sleeve and a an answer for every objection.   But there are some splendid cases made by some very eloquent speakers.  Personally, I am hopeless.  I found myself agreeing with whoever happened to be speaking at the time.  I suppose some of us are just natural followers.  But an entertaining and very educational listen, though probably more interesting for us Brits.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Queen Victoria Part 1 - The History Chicks

If you like your history with a human touch this is the history podcast for you.  Queen Victoria is someone everyone has some idea about, but this is a great description of what her life was really like.  Be warmed, the HC girls are usually amusing but the description of the wedding of Victoria and Albert is absolutely hilarious.  Do not make the mistake I made of listening to it with hot coffee in your mouth.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

This Week's Most Viewed Podcast Reviews

I've been out of action for a few days so this is a bit late, but here are the current most viewed podcast reviews.  It is a bit of a clean sweep for Ray Harris Junior this week.  And his some time collaborator Laslow Montgomery is up there too.  Only History Books Review breaks into the top five as well.

23 Jun 2011, 2 comments
14 Pageviews

Friday, 16 September 2011

Heretics - History Books Review Colin Sanders

Christianity conquered the late Roman Empire under Constantine.  But which version of Christianity would prevail?  This podcast is basically one prolonged punch up between the factions.  By the end of it Colin sounds tired and upset.  I get the feeling he didn't enjoy researching this one much.  But it does make for good listening.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

When Christ and his Saints Slept - History of England David Crowther

Despite the name, this episode is a lot about explaining why the anarchy of the reign of Stephen wasn't as bad as it is often portrayed.

If you like the kings, dates and battles approach to history this series is the one for you.  Personally I like a mixture of the narrative and the social so I could live with a bit more about ordinary people's lives.  But this is a good explanation of the complex dynastic goings on of the time which is well worth a listen to get the KD&B side straight. If you really aren't interested in who did what when you might want to give it a skip because that is pretty much all this particular episode delivers.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Afgansty - New Books in History Rodric Braithwaite

Rodric Braithwaite in a former generation would quite likely have been running a colony in the British Empire somewhere.  But without an empire to run, the British have finally got around to learning to cook and to writing a few books.  This one sounds like a very interesting inside story on the Russian involvement in Afghanistan in the early eighties.  There are obvious parallels and lessons for today, but those are for other countries than Britain.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Being a British Colonist - Joanne Freeman

What was it like being a British Colonist in the American colonies prior to the War of Independence?  It is always a problem in history of projecting current views onto an historical event, and nowhere is more prone to this temptation than this period.  Prepare to have your eyes opened.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Art of the English Renaissance - Heather Teysko

This is episode 15 of a series on Renaissance history in England. It is a good listen and very informative.  It is surprising how much you can cram into just over 11 minutes, but even so you'll probably end up wanting more, so it is a bit of a tease.  I'll go back through the series and see if there are any other episodes worth a plug.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

This weeks most viewed podcast reviews

Dave Crowther tops the chart this week.  If I remember rightly that one was a bonus episode so that was good.  Page views in general on the up, so that is good too.

17 Jun 2011
        28 Pageviews
5 Jun 2011
         18 Pageviews
14 Jun 2011
       17 Pageviews
13 Jun 2011
      16 Pageviews
21 May 2011
      14 Pageviews

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Conversion of Constantine - History Books Review Colin Sanders

In the last History Books Review podcast we left Julian on the Rhine fighting the Germans.  If you have tuned in to find out what happens to Julian next, you will be disappointed because we are back in the reign of Constantine looking in detail at his relationship with Christianity.  Some surprises as usual.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Lynching - New Books in History Robert Thurston

This book takes a fresh look at the role of lynching in American history.  Its thesis is that while bad, it wasn't perhaps quite as bad as it is often portrayed and was rather more complex than you might imagine. Personally, I had no idea it was so prevalent so the revelation was rather lost on me.  A gruesome and not particularly enjoyable podcast that frankly I can't recommend for any other reason than to make you realise just how bad humans can behave when the mood takes them.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Keynes versus Hayek Debate - LSE

This is a bit of ramshackle podcast because they have left in the bits they did for the purposes of editing for Radio Four.  I suppose it gives you the feeling of being there.  The supporters of Keynes have the best of the argument.  The main reason for this is the pro-Hayek speaker seems to have adopted the strategy of making out that Hayek was not that different to Keynes in his approach.

This is a shame because the debate between Keynes and Hayek is quite a key one to the history of the twentieth century.  Does a strong state inevitably lead to authoritarian governments and a decline in private enterprise and individual freedom?  I'd really like to know the answer to that one.  This podcast gives you a bit more background and is worth a listen but I think it was a bit of a missed opportunity to go a bit deeper.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Churchill Debate, was he a liability?

This Intelligence Squared podcast broadcasts a debate about the role of Churchill in the history of the twentieth century.  Interesting stuff it is too.

To my mind the format didn't work as well as it could have done for the subject.  There were a total of six speakers which meant that we got quite a lot of perspectives.  Personally I'd have preferred a couple of speakers and a bit more depth.  But it was an interesting listen nonetheless.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

State of Emergency, Britain 1970-74 LSE Podcast Dominic Sandbrook

In this time of financial crisis it is interesting to look back forty years to a time when one of the major world economies had a crisis so serious that the lights actually went out.   It is quite comforting in fact.  Even though everything seemed to be going wrong, somehow we muddled through.  But it was neither an heroic era nor a stylish one.  If 1940 was Britain's finest hour, the seventies were probably its least well groomed.

Monday, 5 September 2011

France Crumbles - History of World War 2 Ray Harris Junior

It is a bit of a mystery why France played so small a part in the second world war.  It could have been so different - on paper the French might easily have beaten Germany.  It makes a lot more sense when you follow the details of the politics at the top level.  The pace of this podcast remains its single best feature allowing you to really get into the details.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

This weeks most viewed podcast reviews

Another dead heat this week.   World War 2 and New Books in History slugging it out at the top.   But it is good to see Lars Bronsworth making the top five this week.
13 Jun 2011
      18 Pageviews
9 Jun 2011       
18 Pageviews
8 May 2011, 1 comment
     16 Pageviews
21 Jun 2011
     15 Pageviews
8 Jun 2011      
14 Pageviews

Saturday, 3 September 2011

U.S. Debt and the Millennials: Is Washington Creating a Lost Generation? - Cato Institute Podcast

The overthrow of the Gadaffi regime in Tripoli will go down as one of the historic events of 2011.  France and Britain were key players in this via the military support they offered the rebels.  A story is going around that at around the time the rebels reached the Libyan capital their supporters had run out of ammunition and had to borrow some from the Americans.  I don't know if this is actually true but it doesn't matter because nobody really doubts that it could be true.  We all know that the US outspends the world on military items.

The really big boost in US military spending came in the term of office of Ronald Reagan.  This had the effect of bankrupting the USSR and making the world a safer place, so it could be considered to be a really good investment. President Bush was another enthusiastic spender and it may well be that it was his generous funding that has brought about the demise of Gadaffi.  Libya wasn't the menace that the Soviet Union was, but nonetheless the removal from power of a dangerous and unpredictable tyrant does sound like something worth paying for.

The trouble is that all spending has to be paid for.  In this Cato Institute podcast the problem of the enormous American budget deficit is on the agenda.  Interestingly, cutting spending on weapons isn't.  The connection between the military budget and taxing and spending barely gets a mention.  But some very good points are made and it is fascinating listening.  One speaker makes the point that spending is the actual problem.  Any government expenditure must require taxes to pay for it.  You can tax now, or you can tax later.  You can tax in any number of ways.  But it all has to be paid for.

And ultimately, that is what history really is.  It is nothing more than the results of the decisions of what governments choose to spend money on, and how they choose to finance it.  I am not at all sure that the huge deficit the US is running will necessarily prove to be a disaster for the US in the long run as a lot of commentators seem to think.  But there is no doubt that it will affect the world we live in in lots of ways.  And to hear some very smart people discussing it with so obviously little idea of what effect it is going to have is sobering.  I wonder what future historians will make of it all.

Friday, 2 September 2011

The Great Conspiracy - The History of Rome Mike Duncan

What was the great conspiracy of the title?  It refers to a huge co-ordinated attack on the province of Britain by Picts, Irish, Franks and the Germanic tribe that was to have a surprisingly impressive CV later in history, the Saxons.  Sorting out this conspiracy was going to allow a new dynasty to emerge.  For a foggy out of the way island where it rains a lot, Britain was to play a disproportionate role in the history of the empire.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Populist Vision - New Books in History Charles Postel

 Imagine an American political party that is in favour of public ownership of things like the railways, that has progressive views on science and women's rights and that believes in organising the financial system to help small farmers.

This was exactly what the People's Party of the mid Nineteenth Century was.  The judgement of history has not been kind to the Populists, and in this podcast we hear that the judgement was probably unfair.  The Populists have been slammed as backward looking agrarian romantics rather than their true identity as the closest the US has ever got to a proper socialist party.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Constantius and Julian - History Books Review Colin Sanders

Julian was catapulted from political prisoner to Caesar of the West.  He was supposed to be a figurehead through which Constantius was to rule.  But that wasn't how it turned out.  A story of hard deadly fighting and even more deadly politics as the declining empire is attacked on all sides.  Don't miss this one.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Richard II -Rex Factor

England has another child king in 1377 with the accession of Richard II. Richard takes after his great-grandfather Edward II with his tendency for promoting lowly favourites and being considered of dubious heterosexuality and he frequently is at odds with the great nobles of the realm. However, he is also a surprisingly cultured monarch and shows impressive courage during the Peasants Revolt. His fortunes fluctuate rather wildly and troubles with his uncles and cousins (in particular Henry Bolingbroke) will test him to the utmost.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

This weeks most viewed podcast reviews

In Our Time leads the field this week, but with strong showings from Dave Crowther's History of England and Cameron Foster's History of Japan.  So a good week for histories of densely populated highly industrialised islands.

8 Jun 2011
     20 Page views
1 Feb 2011
   16 Page views
14 Jun 2011
   16 Page views
9 Jun 2011
    14 Page views
3 Feb 2011
     12 Page views

Helping Humanity -New Books in History Keith Pomakoy

It can't be easy being American if you are sensitive to criticism.  America gets slammed not only for doing things, but also for failing to do things.  What's a superpower to do, eh?

This podcast is a good antidote to both American triumphalism and general anti-Americanism.  When it comes to genocide, on the whole the United States has tried to do what it can, but it turns out that generally what it can do isn't very much.  Basically, they are just humans trying their best in a difficult world rather than superheros riding to the rescue or uniquely wicked villains out to do the rest of us down.  An hour and a bit of common sense and plain talking.

A good listen for everyone except conspiracy theorists and bigoted patriots.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Petain takes over - History of World War 2 Ray Harris Junior

With half the country overrun by panzers, you might imagine that the French government would have been concentrating on trying to recover the military position. But in fact they were engaging in a struggle that was to leave Petain, a defeatist general, in charge of France.  It is a grim story.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Constantius and Gallus - History Books Review Colin Sanders

The sons of Constantine were all killed in civil wars with the exception of Constantius.  He found running the empire alone to be difficult, and recruited his cousin Gallus to act as emperor in the East.  Unfortunately it didn't work out too well.  Colin gives us the story of the unfortunate Gallus and in the process illuminates just how decadent the court in Constantinople was becoming.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Edward III - Rex Factor

With his father deposed in 1327 and Roger Mortimer all-powerful, things did not look too promising for the young Edward III, but this turned out to be one of the most remarkable reigns of the medieval period. Encompassing the start of the Hundred Years War and the Black Death, this was a pivotal period in English history. For Edward, there are triumphs with the Battles of Crecy and Poitiers and the Order of the Garter, but also personal tragedies which beset his later years. When it's all put together, will he make for a great king?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Dominion of God - New Books in History Brett Whalen

 Brett Whalen has studied the millenarian atmosphere in the Middle Ages, in particular the crusades.  Marshall seems particularly interested in relating this to the present day.  This makes it quite an interesting chat - don't tune in if you want to learn about the book, interesting as it sounds, but do tune in for some historical perspective on modern American attitudes.

In particular, we get an interesting comparison between medieval anti-semitism and the modern variety. (Totally different).  We also get to see how apocalyptic visions compare.  (Pretty similar)

Basically, an entertaining and educational hour's worth of listening.  I wouldn't mind if they got together again and actually talked about the book either.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Fall of Paris - History of World War 2 Ray Harris Junior

 It sometimes seems looking back that France collapsed a bit too easily in 1940, and giving up Paris without a fight in particular doesn't suggest much in the way of heroism.  But when you follow this podcast you realise that the fighting had already been done and that really the French would have achieved nothing apart from take casualties by fighting on at this stage.

It is still a gripping story though.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

This weeks most viewed podcast reviews

Byron tops the charts this week.
14 Jan 2011
16 Pageviews
5 Jun 2011
15 Pageviews
8 May 2011, 1 comment
15 Pageviews
14 Jun 2011
14 Pageviews
30 May 2011
13 Pageviews

Marie Antoinette - The History Chicks

I have just come across this female orientated history podcast.  One of the things that makes history interesting is thinking about what the lives of people in the past were really like.  How for example, would you cope with having to wait to be dressed by the highest ranking woman in the room?

This was one of the many weird things that Marie Antoinette had to cope with.  The History Chicks are a couple of enthusiastic history fans who are interested in the experience that she went through in her life.  They share their fascination with gusto in this podcast.  Its quite a ride.  Personally, I found I had to split listening into two sessions.  It was a bit too high energy for me to take the full hour long show in one go.  But a very interesting approach and I will certainly be back for more.  If you like your history on a human scale you will probably enjoy them too.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Rebels Rising - New Books in History Ben Carp

Rebels Rising covers some of the intriguing minutiae of the outbreak of the American War of Independence.  It doesn't ask the key question - if the colonists had lost would America have turned out as a normal country like, say, Canada.  But it does look at the role played by bars and churches, asks why the rebels dressed up as Red Indians during the Boston Tea Party, why was Boston such a key place during the build up to the war but not very significant during the war itself, and most fascinatingly could New York have become a sort of American version of Hong Kong?

Friday, 19 August 2011

Abraham Lincoln Museum Stories from the Vault Podcast

Abraham Lincoln is one of those figures from history that most people seem to be interested in.  The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum have a podcast based on the premise of talking about objects from their vault of Lincolnalia. It sounds like it ought to be interesting.  I listened to the first one which didn't really grab me.  But podcasting seems to be a skill that improves with practice so I'll try a few more before I make a judgement.  No link at the moment.  I don't know why, but for some reason I can't get through to their website either on the link they sent me, nor on Google nor from the iTunes store.

If you want to give it a listen, the only way that worked for me was to search for 'stories from the vault' in the iTunes store and subscribe there.  (I am not in the US so the problem may well be local to me).

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Constantius - History Books Review Colin Sanders

Colin's review of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire has now reached the rise of Constantius, the only one of Constantine's successors to get a decent run at being in charge of the empire.  It is a bit hard to keep up with the details, but we do get to hear about the bloodiest battle in the history of Rome.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Edward II - Rex factor

The reign of Edward I was always going to be hard to follow, but even so Edward II makes rather a meal of it. His devotion to his favourites Piers Gaveston (a foppish arrogant knight) and Hugh Despenser (a brutal baron) cause resentment and rebellion among the rest of the nobility, particularly Thomas Lancaster and Roger Mortimer. Even Edward's wife, the beautiful Isabella of France, has her patience tried once too often. This dark period of English history stands in stark contrast to the legendary Scottish king Robert the Bruce, who inflicts one of the most infamous defeats on the English army in the Battle of Bannockburn. Is there anything good to say about Edward?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Polish Question at the End of the First World War - LSE Anita Prazmowska

 Poland is such a well established country in Europe that it is sometimes hard to remember that as a state it is still less than a 100 years old.  Since its formation two major wars have been fought where its borders were at issue.

It is interesting to hear a bit about the formation of Poland, and how the Poland that emerged was shaped by a handful of individuals.  It has rather an academic style of presentation but the story is not at all what you would expect if, like me, you knew nothing about it.  You won't be able to hear a pianist playing Chopin the same way again.

Monday, 15 August 2011

England in the Reign of Henry I - History of England Dave Crowther

Did the effective establishment of a feudal system under the Normans in England create the stable conditions that allowed the country to develop out of feudalism?  It is an interesting question that Dave raises early on in this episode of the History of England.  He doesn't answer it, he gets on with describing the politics, infighting and fighting methods in use at the time instead.  If you don't know your Plantagenets from your Normans, this is a great podcast series.  If you know very little about the subject it is a good starting point as it assumes very little knowledge of history.

If you want a bit more depth and already have a good idea of what went on, try - bearing in mind you'll have to invest a lot more time into it. 

But you if like this period, you may well enjoy both.  I do.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

This weeks most viewed podcast reviews

We haven't posted many reviews this week, but normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.  One of the reasons was the sudden appearance of an old review of the Darkness Falls episode from Ancient Warfare.  We had to go back and give it another listen.  Highly recommended.

9 Jan 2011
34 Pageviews
16 Jul 2011
24 Pageviews
29 Apr 2011
21 Pageviews
9 May 2011
21 Pageviews
3 Feb 2011
18 Pageviews

Monday, 8 August 2011

Natural Experiments of History - New Books in History Jared Diamond

What does Jared Diamond think of historians?  They are unloved and don't get paid much for good reason, because they produce work of little value.  They are too specialised and not good enough at sums.

This emerges in this podcast where he talks about it.  To an historian.

Incidentally they also talk about a history book that Diamond has just edited.  That sounds quite interesting too.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

This weeks most viewed podcast reviews

Cock of the heap this week?  Epicurus.  Sadly, he is not around to enjoy his success, but he would be philosophical about that.

7 Jan 2011
32 Pageviews
3 Feb 2011
26 Pageviews
17 Jun 2011
23 Pageviews
31 May 2011
23 Pageviews
24 Jul 2011
21 Pageviews

Friday, 5 August 2011

Waterloo Pts 1 and 2 - Napoleon Podcast

The Napoleon podcast was really the one that got the historical podcasts website, and now blog and forum as well going.   But unfortunately they have not been particularly productive lately - I guess the fact that they have done the man himself from beginning to end means that they don't have a huge amount of material to hand.  But it is always good to hear from them when they come up with something.

In the meantime here is one of the classics from the series.  The battle of Waterloo episodes were among the best shows of the series and stand up pretty well if you just want to get a flavour of the podcast without committing to working through the full 50 odd hours.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Enduring the Great War - New Books in History Alexander Watson

 How did the troops who fought in the First World War cope with it?  It is a good question and one that Alexander Watson has set out to answer in this book.  He looks specifically at the British and German armies.  The two organisations seem to have faced largely the same challenges and solved much the same problem.   But there were some differences, and this may explain why the German army seemed to give in first.  It turns out that the end of German resistance didn't happen in quite the way I imagined it.  In particular it wasn't on the point of mutiny as I imagined.  Have a listen if you want to find out what really happened.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Voices of the Past Podcasts

I haven't had a chance to listen to any of these yet, but I thought I'd draw attention to the website as it is likely to be of interest to readers.  The focus is on ways of using different media to explore aspects of history and other culture.  If you have something to say and are looking for a way to say it this might well be worth a look.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The End of Dunkirk - History of World War 2 Podcast Ray Harris Junior

We finally get to the end of the evacuation from Dunkirk.  We get the whole of that speech by Winston Churchill, the one everyone in Britain has heard.  I never thought Ray would manage to keep the podcast going on this subject for 4 whole episodes.  By the end he must have been exhausted, but he managed to carry on.  It seems quite likely that even if this podcast series lasts a thousand episodes, when people look back they will say 'that was his finest hour'.

Seriously though, this series is becoming a real treat and well worth giving a try if you haven't sampled it yet.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

This weeks most viewed podcast reviews

And this week Rex Factor have won out with their coverage of Richard the Lionheart.

24 May 2011
30 Pageviews
17 May 2011
25 Pageviews
24 Jul 2011
23 Pageviews
23 Jul 2011
21 Pageviews
16 Jul 2011
19 Pageviews

The Human Footprint - New Books in History Anthony Penna

Environmental history is a bit of a mix of disciplines, but with the great interest in the environment it does offer a new way of looking at a familiar problem.  It is also quite an eye opening way.  For example, this podcast points out a very surprising fact.  Cultivation of crops seems to have been invented independently about 14 times within the space of about a thousand years.  That doesn't sound like a coincidence.  You don't usually have to worry about spoilers when reviewing history podcast, but I'll let you find out the explanation Prof Penna comes up with when you listen yourself.

This is an intriguing podcast that made me think differently about some things I thought I knew all about already.  I am mightily tempted to seek the book out as well.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The Lion of Justice - History of England Podcast Dave Crowther

Another week, another brutal Norman tyrant comes to the throne.  This week its Henry I.  I don't know much about this period of English history and I must say that these early monarchs, and I'll take Dave's word for it that Henry was famous for his justice.  In this episode he comes across as another brutal Norman thug, but it is an interesting listen nonetheless.  The bit about surnames at the end was interesting - if I were Dave I would have put it at the beginning rather than the end.  I find that if I am hearing a story I sort of turn off when it reaches the conclusion and reach for the fast forward button.  If I hear some background before the story it gives me something to look at for while I am listening.  But maybe that is just me.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

European Podcast Awards

There is a new award being talked about online.  It is called the European Podcast award and as the name suggests it is a set of awards for European podcasts.  It is a bit hard to get any idea of how important this is going to be  but it looks like fun.  Three podcasts regularly reviewed on here have been nominated: Historyzine, History Books Review and History of England.

You seem to be able to vote for as many as you like, so why not vote for them all.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Xenophon - In Our Time Melvyn Bragg

Xenophon's account of the failed attempt by a group of Greek mercenaries to topple a king of Persia and their difficulties getting back again afterwards (for fairly obvious reasons) has been a popular classic for centuries.  But one thing it doesn't do is tell you a huge amount about the guy behind it.  This is where this podcast comes in.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Hateful to his people and odious to God - History of England Dave Crowther

"Hateful to his people and odious to God"  was how a church historian described William Rufus.  I was hoping he was going to go an add that he farted in his general direction.  William Rufus was the first English king to run into relationship issues with the Catholic Church.  A handy completion of the account of this not very well known monarch.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Wycliffe and the Lollards - In Our Time Melvyn Bragg

Not a classic, but worth half an hour of your time. It is mainly about Wycliffe rather than the Lollards to be honest.  How often do you have this experience.  There is an historical figure about which you know one solitary fact.  You find out more, and it turns out the one thing you thought you knew is wrong. 

So in my case, the only thing I knew about this guy was that he translated the Bible into English.  Except he didn't.  If you want to know more you'll have to tune in to Melvyn and a couple of not all that animated experts on the subject.