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.