The History Listen (ABC) A couple of re-runs for the summer season. Oh for a properly-funded public television and radio system that didn’t have to shut down from November to February every year and subsist on re-runs. Two Spoons- the general who plotted to kill Hitler is about a man who delves into his family history to find out the truth about a long-lost relative, Georg Von Sodenstern, who was reputed to have tried to kill Hitler (the ultimate what-if history). Imagining a family castle and a shining hero, he finds that the story is more complex than goodies/baddies. Actually, I found this podcast a bit hard to follow. I don’t know whether I was distracted, or whether it was so many unfamiliar names, but I found that I had to listen to it twice.
Heavenly and demonic: the story of the saxophone is, as the title suggests, the history of the relatively-recently invented saxophone (invented in about 1840) , which had a hard time being accepted as a ‘serious’ instrument. During the early 20th century, it was picked up by jazz musicians, but was still rejected as ‘devil music’ by churches. Who would have thought that Lisa Simpson would be the saviour of the saxophone by attracting young girls to play the sax.
Heather Cox Richardson I woke up on 7 January to hear that mobs had stormed Congress after attending a Trump rally nearby. Driving down to the beach, I listened to Heather Cox Richardson who was live at the time, obviously shell-shocked by what had happened. She had predicted violence in her podcast of January 5, but listening to her live on January 7, you could just hear the shock in her voice at what she had seen. She suggested that Trump would resign within a couple of days- I wonder if that will happen.
Big Ideas I had just finished reading Jenny Hockings The Palace Letters (review coming soon), so I listened to her Dymphna Clark Lecture, delivered in November 2020 and broadcast on 3 December 2020. In her lecture “For the Sake of the Monarchy: How the Palace Letters have recast the history of the dismissal of the Whitlam government” she goes through much the same information as in the book.
Next up on the phone came Francis Fukuyama, not particularly one of my favourite historians since his gloating about the supremacy of liberal democracy a few years back. In Will a Biden presidency revitalize America at home and abroad , Fukuyama distances himself from Trump but there was nothing here that I hadn’t heard before. A bit ho-hum
Sydney Institute I can hardly believe that I listened to this podcast from the Sydney Institute, but I did. Having listened to Jenny Hocking’s talk on the Palace letters, I thought I’d get the perspective from Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston, both from The Australian, a paper which I do not read. The Truth of the Palace Letters (the name of their book) agrees more with Hocking’s book than I thought it would, although they exonerate the Palace from any involvement at all, (which I don’t agree with- I believe that there was tacit encouragement to use the reserve powers -albeit in his own right- on the part of Sir Martin Charteris, and beyond some early advice, a deliberate avoidance of the instruction to tell the Prime Minister). Gerard Henderson moderated the discussion and reminded me why I don’t listen to Sydney Institute podcasts.