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.