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According to historian Dan Stone, popular understanding of the Holocaust, in all of its horror and complexity, is often incomplete or fractured. Speaking with Matt Elton, Dan explores some of the overlooked and misunderstood aspects of the Holocaust, from the scope of international collaboration to the ways its horrors reverberated for decades afte…
 
On 23 January 1978, Baron Édouard-Jean Empain was snatched from the streets of Paris, in an audacious kidnapping attempt. Before long, a ransom of 80 million francs was demanded. And to show they meant business, the kidnappers chopped off the baron’s little finger – with the disturbing warning that more body parts would follow. In conversation with…
 
Imagine an ancient Greek or Roman body, and the first picture that pops into your head is probably made of marble or stone – perhaps an austere bust, or a gleaming, musclebound sculpture, polished, cold and pale. But what about the experience of living in a real body, in all its pleasure, pain and flaws, during antiquity? Speaking with Elinor Evans…
 
In 1946, Churchill declared that “from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the Continent”. But what exactly did this rhetorical border look like during the Cold War, and what’s happening along it today? Timothy Phillips tells David Musgrove about his experiences travelling the length of the border …
 
In 1917, the Russian Revolution saw scores of Russian aristocrats and artists flee to Paris to escape Bolshevik brutality. Speaking to Matt Elton, Helen Rappaport highlights some of their stories, exploring the dramatic shift in circumstances that many endured, and revealing what the city’s inhabitants made of the new arrivals. (Ad) Helen Rappaport…
 
When was the word “atheist” first used? How dangerous was it to question the existence of God in the Middle Ages? And how successful were communist regimes of the 20th century at stamping out religion? More than 2,000 years since the Greek philosopher Socrates was accused of atheism, Spencer Mizen speaks to Professor Alec Ryrie to answer your top q…
 
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt assumed the presidency of the United States in 1933, he became the head of a nation facing immense hardship and disenchantment amid the Great Depression. No president, except Abraham Lincoln, had come to office in more challenging circumstances, says Iwan Morgan. Speaking to Elinor Evans, he discusses his new biograph…
 
When we think about the first encounters between Europe and the Americas, we’ve traditionally imagined a one-sided story of “Old world” Europeans voyaging to the “New World” of the Americas. But what about the reverse? Caroline Dodds Pennock discusses her book On Savage Shores, which explores the stories of indigenous Americans who journeyed to Eur…
 
The Japanese city of Nagasaki is probably best known for being the target of the world’s second-ever nuclear attack in August 1945. Yet the city was also home to hundreds of Allied prisoners of war, forcibly put to work to support the Japanese war economy. In conversation with Spencer Mizen, John Willis shares the incredible – and largely forgotten…
 
With parachuting monkeys, volcanic eruptions and performances of Beethoven’s symphonies, Surrey Zoo was no ordinary Victorian attraction. Dr Joanne Cormac joins Rob Attar to discuss the story of this eye-opening pleasure park, and reveals what the rise of zoos can tell us about science, leisure and empire in the Victorian age. Hosted on Acast. See …
 
If you feel unwell today you can pick up a prescription or head to a medical centre, but how did ill people treat their ailments in the Middle Ages? A major new project at Cambridge University Library aims to find out, by digitising, cataloguing and conserving over 180 medieval manuscripts, containing well over 8,000 medical recipes. Dr James Freem…
 
What was society’s attitude towards female writers in Regency England? How far did class affect the hopes of young couples looking to be wed? And did people really spend all day gossiping about grand fortunes, illustrious estates and ruinous affairs? Speaking with Lauren Good, Dr Lizzie Rogers answers listener questions on Jane Austen’s England – f…
 
In the 19th century, Britain imagined itself as a bastion of beef-eating carnivores. But at a time when meat consumption was taken as a signifier of personal heartiness and national prosperity, a rebel alliance formed – a ragtag group of religious devotees, health enthusiasts, temperance campaigners, animal rights activists, political reformers and…
 
As part of our series of conversations with winners of the 2022 Dan David Prize, Dr Bart Elmore discusses his research into the environmental impacts of global capitalism through history with Helen Carr, from Coca-Cola and plastic use, to pesticides. The Dan David Prize is the world's largest history prize, which recognizes outstanding historical s…
 
For millennia, humans have cut down trees to create buildings, ships, tools, weapons and everyday objects we still use around the home. Author and archaeologist Max Adams tells Jon Bauckham what studying this most resilient of materials can teach us about the history of our species. (Ad) Max Adams is the author of The Museum of the Wood Age (Head o…
 
In Hitler’s Germany, what you ate was not a personal matter – sacrificing luxury was a way for German citizens to demonstrate their patriotism, while hunger was weaponised as a tool of war and oppression in occupied territories. Historian Lisa Pine explains to Ellie Cawthorne why the Nazis were so eager to control the nation’s diet, and explores th…
 
From the Justinian plague to the fall of the Maya, climate change has been connected to many of history’s great catastrophes. Environmental journalist Eugene Linden speaks to Rhiannon Davies about the longer history of our relationship with the environment, and how the situation has snowballed since 1979. (Ad) Eugene Linden is the author of Fire an…
 
The 11 years between the execution of King Charles I in 1649 and the restoration of his son, Charles II, in 1660 are among the most turbulent in all of British history – and it was a period dominated by one man: Oliver Cromwell. But was it always Cromwell’s intention to execute Charles I? Why did he decide to readmit Jewish people to England? And d…
 
From kaleidoscopic hellscapes to portraits of cannibals and flying monks, Edward Brooke-Hitching introduces some of the strangest creations in art history. Speaking to Ellie Cawthorne, he takes us on a tour around this ‘madman’s gallery’ of scandalous and eccentric works, including a painting created with pigment made from mummified remains, artwor…
 
Decried by reformers as “wicked Noah’s arks” and “rotten leaky tubs”, prison hulks were a looming presence off the shores of 18th- and 19th-century Britain and its empire. Large former navy ships were docked on the Thames and elsewhere, housing convicts awaiting transportation, often in hideous conditions. Dr Anna McKay explains to David Musgrove w…
 
During the Second World War, around 60,000 people in Britain registered as conscientious objectors, seeking an exemption from military service on the grounds of their religious conviction, political stance or moral conscience. Speaking with Ellie Cawthorne, Professor Tobias Kelly shares the stories of five such people and discusses the challenges t…
 
Legal historian Laura F Edwards discusses her new book on clothing and textiles in 19th-century America, Only the Clothes on Her Back. Speaking to Elinor Evans, she reveals the meaning and care that went into garments, and how clothes and textiles could lend subversive power to marginalised people. (Ad) Laura F Edwards is the author of Only the Clo…
 
Ever since the Greeks supposedly hid inside a wooden horse to sneak into Troy, states have meddled in other nations’ affairs, turning to the dark arts of sabotage, propaganda and state-sanctioned killing to carry out their secret plans. Speaking to Rhiannon Davies, Rory Cormac delves into the murky history of covert action. (Ad) Rory Cormac is the …
 
In the final episode of our series on history’s most well-known conspiracy theories, we investigate the idea that a highly advanced civilisation existed many thousands of years ago, before being wiped out by a calamitous event. Rob Attar speaks to archaeologist Flint Dibble about the ancient Greek origins of the Atlantis legend and how it has been …
 
In the fifth episode of our new series on history’s most well-known conspiracy theories, we revisit a defining moment of the 20th century that many people believe never happened at all. Rob Attar is joined by space flight historian Francis French to examine why people doubt NASA’s greatest triumph and how this conspiracy theory ties in to the paran…
 
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