Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Introduction to World War II - History of World War 2 Podcast Ray Harris Jnr

There is so much stuff around about the Second World War, and it is so familiar that I tend to ignore it.  And listening to the introduction to this series reminded me why.  It was a pretty dull repeating of stuff we have all heard before.  But I have noticed that a lot, most in fact, history podcasts get better as they go along.  So I sneaked a peak at some later ones and the whole of 24 and was quite impressed. Given that we all know the story, I think it is one where you can get away with jumping in at a later episode.  So my plan is to listen to them all, but only start reviewing them from when I find them worth recommending. 

In the meantime, the advice is don't judge it too quickly if you don't like the first one.  And if you do like the first one, you are probably going to become a fan.


Monday, 30 May 2011

History of Japan - New Section on the Forum devoted to it

This podcast is proving very popular.  Log onto the forum to tell us what you make of it.


Oppressed Peasants and Capital Cities - History of Japan Cameron Foster

This episode deals with the social and political structure of eight century Japan, with particular emphasis on the lives of the peasants.  The life of peasants was basically rubbish.  When they weren't building entire cities for no pay they had to fight in the army for nothing while their families starved.  Oh and they had to pay for their own food and equipment.

A great series to follow if you don't know much about Japan or if  you like your history tinged with a bit of humour.


Sunday, 29 May 2011

Five Most Viewed Posts on Historical Podcasts This Week

History of Japan podcast tops the chart again this week.  In Our Time and History Books Review are both back again, but with different episodes.

28 Apr 2011
27 Pageviews
8 Jan 2011
14 Pageviews
22 May 2011
12 Pageviews
25 Apr 2011
12 Pageviews

Edward the Confessor - History of England Dave Crowther

Edward the Confessor is sometimes portrayed as a weak character, sometimes as a saintly one and occasionally as a man who managed pretty well in tough times.  But most of us just don't know anything about him.  In this first of two episodes on him, Dave suggests he did okay, but maybe could have done with a bit of assertiveness training.


Thursday, 26 May 2011

How the Church Won - History Books Review Colin Sanders

The History Books Review looks at how the Church grew within the Roman Empire and why the emperors persecuted the early Christians. Not many jokes in this one, but still entertaining.  One thing that isn't widely realised is just how big a role women played in the early days of Christianity.

Well worth a listen.


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Model Nazi - New Books in History Catherine Epstein

Whatever you think of top Nazis, having affairs with pianists doesn't spring to mind.  When you look at the things the Nazis did it is hard to think of them as normal people at all.  But of course they might be monsters, but that doesn't stop them being humans.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Richard the Lionheart - Rex Factor Podcast

In 1189, one of England's legendary kings takes the throne. Richard I (nicknamed the Lionheart for his courage in battle) has become an English folk hero, most famously in the story of Robin Hood, but he spent surprisingly little time in England. For Richard, the supreme priority was taking back Jerusalem from the great Muslim leader Saladin in the Third Crusade. As if this was not challenging enough, Phillip II of France starts to encroach on his continental Angevin territories and his younger brother John seeks to move against him. Richard is fortunate to have the unfailing support of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, but when we pass our judgement will his performance stand up to the legend?

Monday, 23 May 2011

Abdication - History of Rome

Abdications are a rare thing in history, but  Diocletian's reign ended with a double abdication.  He decided to go and grow cabbages instead.


Sunday, 22 May 2011

Five Most Viewed Posts on Historical Podcasts This Week

The big winner this week is the History of Japan podcast, which was doing well last week but has hit the top spot this week.

28 Apr 2011
25 Pageviews
4 Feb 2011
22 Pageviews
22 Apr 2011
15 Pageviews
17 May 2011
13 Pageviews
20 May 2011
11 Pageviews

History of World War Two Podcast - Reader Recommendation

We've had our attention drawn to World_War_II_Podcast by reader @kimawhitaker on Twitter.  Haven't had a chance to listen yet, but the website looks very interesting.  If you have tried this one, please let us know what you think of it.

Miracles - History Books Review Colin Sanders

Gibbon's negative view of Christianity is well known.  In this podcast Colin tries to get to roots of what exactly his problem was.  He concentrates on the issues of miracles which seem to have been a big issue for him.  An interesting and unusual angle on a familiar story.


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Southern and Northern China Dynasties - China History Podcast Laszlo Montgomery

If you want a clear and easy to follow account of the different emperors of the Northern and Southern dynasties that ruled China from 420 to 589AD this is the podcast for you.  Personally I find this aspect not as interesting as the rise of Buddhism and the development of Chinese culture that were happening at the same time, but Laszlo is giving the whole history of China so has to cover everything.  And there is a lot of it.  Recommended - but there is a lot of listening.


Friday, 20 May 2011

The Pelagian Controversy - In Our Time Melvyn Bragg

Pelagius was a British monk of the 4th Century who clashed with St Augustine over the doctrine of original sin.  Pelagius didn't believe in it, Augustin did.  But it was a key argument in the development of the theology of Christianity and was being argued about long afterwards.  Predestination was another bone of contention - but Melvyn gets it all sorted.  I suppose it was inevitable that he would.


Thursday, 19 May 2011

Shot Heard Around the World Episode 4 Part 2 - 2 Cents History Marc Edelheit

This is the fifth show in a five part series with probably one more to come.  Don't ask.

The story has reached the battle of Concord which is dealt with in some level of detail.  This isn't a podcast for dropping into, you need to listen to the whole series one by one in order to follow what is going on.  What is going on is the the almost minute by minute comings and goings of the forces on both sides of a conflict that probably never needed to have taken place and which even by the time of this battle was a bit half hearted as wars generally go.

My main thought was that of course we know what happened.  To the people at the time if must have been highly unpredictable what the outcome was and the opponents of the day might well have been friends a short while later.

Sadly, this was not to be.  But it does make a good story.


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

William the Conqueror

After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror has defeated Harold II and the Saxons and the Normans are now ruling England. However, he still has to quell a persistent English Resistance featuring characters such as Edgar the Aetheling (the last Saxon prince) and Hereward the Wake. Will they be able to restore the Saxons to power? Do they know how angry William gets when people oppose him? And most importantly of all, can William cement his place in history by earning the coveted Rex Factor?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Russian Rulers Podcast - Reader Recommendation

I am enjoying currently enjoying the Russian Rulers podcast. 
Also my current favourites are a series of lectures recently released by Yale Open Courses (via iTunesU): Early Modern England: Politics, Religion and Society under the Tudor and Stuarts - Prof Keith Wrightson and American Revolution - Prof Joanne Freeman.
Would be great to know other people are enjoying these too.

The Rise of Christianity - History Books Review Colin Sanders

Colin is back to his review of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in this episode.  The subject is the rise of Christianity - as a bit of history it is a lot more obscure than you might expect.  It is also surprising how big a part the actions of the emperor Hadrian played.


Monday, 16 May 2011

The Great Persecution - History of Rome

The History of Rome is never less than excellent, but it shines particularly when there is a big personality about to describe.  Diocletian is certainly a big character and we hear a lot about his good points.  But like everyone, he wasn't flawless, and the persecution of the Christians was a big policy mistake.  Quite why the emperor decided to turn his ire against a harmless minority and cause a lot of totally unnecessary suffering not to say disruption we'll probably never know. 


Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Putney Debates - Binge Thinking History Tony Cocks

New releases of the Binge Thinking History podcast are so rare they count as major historical events in their own right.  But they are always worth the wait, particularly this one.  Tony dips back into history for an event that is nowhere near as well known as it ought to be.  After the civil war the Parliamentarian army composed of ordinary men gathered in St Marys Church in Putney to decide what should be done about the new political situation in which they found themselves.  Not just Britain, but a huge number of other countries are still living with the consequences.  Tony explains it all clearly and with a fair amount of humour.


Friday, 13 May 2011

Napoleon and Haiti - Napoleon Podcast Nicholas Stark

Nicholas Stark joins the regular team for the first of a three part detailed investigation of what went on in Haiti during the Napoleonic and Revolutionary wars.  The answer is a lot of stuff, most of it pretty bad.  Haiti at the time was a huge source of revenue for the French crown.  By contrast the British colonies that had recently broken away to form the United States had probably been a net drain on Britain.  With France short of cash, it couldn't afford to let Haiti slip through its fingers the way the Britain had with its possessions.  The result was unimaginable brutality.

Recommended.  (That is the podcast is recommended, not the brutality.)


Thursday, 12 May 2011

Harold II (1066) - Rex Factor Podcast

In the most famous year in English history the Rex Factor team cover the dramatic events of 1066 and the last Saxon king, Harold Godwinson. They cover the invasions of the Viking Harald Hardrada and William the Conqueror from Normandy, as well as the three battles which would decide the course of English history, culminating in the Battle of Hastings. As ever, they also review Harold himself for his qualities as a king, who despite losing the final battle proves to be a very impressive character.


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Cnut the Conqueror - History of England Dave Crowther

Cnut put a lot of effort into appearing English, and has managed to obscure the fact that he was in fact Danish pretty successfully.  Dave is getting into his stride with this series now - this is a crisp well presented episode that takes us from the early years of Cnut's reign through to his death.  On the way we learn a lot about the man and his times.  A nice bit of work.


Cnut has also had the Rex Factor treatment.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo - History Books Review Colin Sanders

Colin is pushing the definition of a history book a bit in this one, though it does cover the historical background of aid a fair bit.  Anyway, it is an interesting and provocative listen.  If you are a liberal minded person who is worried about giving too little aid to developing countries, then you should have a listen.  It sounds like you might need to feel guilty about giving too much rather than too little.


Sunday, 8 May 2011

Domitian - Bread and Circuses Adrian Murdoch

A very short, but well researched and very scholarly account of the emperor Domitian.   This series is on iTunes but is in mv4 format that makes it a bit tricky to listen to on non-Apple MP3 players.  There are various ways of getting round this but they are all time consuming and hardly seem worth the effort for such a short snippet.  (My personal approach would be to open it in Audacity and export it.)

In any case, the visual element makes it well worth watching in a visual medium.  If you are following the exceptional History of Rome series and the very good review of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on the History Books Review then this makes a great further addition to coverage of the period.


Saturday, 7 May 2011

All the King's Men - History of Rome

Diocletian's organisational reforms were far reaching.  They had some undoubted advantages, but in the long run the costs were to cripple the empire.


Friday, 6 May 2011

Cnut - Rex Factor Podcast

In 1016 the country passes into new ownership with the Vikings now in control of England in the person of Cnut. Unlike William the Conqueror 50 years later, Cnut is perfectly happy to 'go native' and embrace Saxon culture, ably supported by the ever-present Emma. In fact, things go so well he is even able to cast his eye towards dominion over his Scandinavian homeland. For a thousand years Cnut has mainly been remembered for thinking he could control the tide, but now his sights are set on our coveted Rex Factor!

You might also be interested to see how the History of England covers Cnut.

Discuss on the History Podcast Forum http://historicalpodcasts.freeforums.org/best-rex-factor-episode-so-far-t24.html

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Edmund Ironside and Cnut- History of England Dave Crowtherl

Edmund Ironside has one of the best sobriquets of any Saxon king.  Sadly it didn't translate into long run military success and he ended up dieing and the Dane Cnut became the undisputed king of England.

As this podcast has developed it has moved steadily into periods where more and more is known about what actually happened.  Although Dave gives every impression of having enjoyed the earlier ones immensely I have a feeling that listeners will find this podcast the best in the series yet mainly because with a clearer idea of what is going on everything is a lot a clearer which is much easier on the ear.  I would go so far as to say that although there is nothing wrong with the earlier ones, you might do well to start listening here.


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Best Defence is a Good Defence - History of Rome

Mike looks at the reforms of Diocletian and ranges a bit further into the various potential defensive strategies open to the Romans.  In particular, he dismisses the so called 'defense in depth' idea which has been very popular among military historians. Defending the empire was a full time job and required a lot of resources.  Changing the centuries old size of the legions was one way Diocletian made the army more flexible, but this probably didn't go so far as to actually deliberately allowing barbarians to enter Roman territory to make them easier to defeat.


Monday, 2 May 2011

Now this is weird, but worth a look - William Bury Songs from the Howling Sea - Ruairidh Anderson

This is a short video telling the story of a gruesome murderer who killed his wife and maybe some others in London, but ended up.... well I don't want to spoil the ending.  Worth checking out but I have a feeling it may be an acquired taste for some.


Sunday, 1 May 2011

Six Emperors at the same time- History Books Review Colin Sanders

Despite the best efforts of Diocletian, the political situation in the Roman Empire after he resigned was confused and confusing.  Colin artfully picks us through a complex situation.