You’re Dead to Me (BBC) This program has a ‘serious’ historian paired with a comedian, and they discuss a historical topic. Julius Caesar’s Rise to Power features Dr Shushma Malik from Cambridge who published on Nero, was a lecturer in Australia at the University of Queensland and has worked with Dr. Caillan Davenport from ANU (who features on the Emperors of Rome podcast) to write ‘Mythbusting the Roman Empire‘ for The Conversation. The comedian is Ahir Shah, and I know nothing about him. Things I learned: first, how Roman names worked: Given name first (e.g. Gaius) , Family name second (e.g. Julius), Branch of the family third (Caesar). Caesar was pronounced Kaiser. Second, there were rumours that JC was in a homosexual relationship with the King of Turkey, but the rumours weren’t so much about the homosexuality itself, as the power relationship within it. The program finished with ‘Nuance Corner’ where Dr Malik talked about the sources, pointing out that both Suetonius and Plutarch were writing biographies rather than histories, reflecting the perspective that personality influences history.
History Extra Chaos, ruin and renewal: Germany in 1945 looks at Germany in the aftermath of WWII. As Harald Jähner (author of Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich) points out, the war didn’t finish on one specific day but instead was a series of surrenders. By researching life in Germany in the years immediately afterwards, he found that despair and joy co-existed. It took a generation for Germany people to face the enormity of their acquiescence and guilt, and that to give their children some sort of moral compass, they could not admit to what had happened. He points out that one’s politics are often swayed by emotion, and that after the war, the development of the Cold War meant that former enemies became allies.
The Daily Running an election in the heart of election denialism features an interview with Stephen Richter, a conservative, lifelong Movement Republican who was elected as recorder at Maricopa County in Arizona in 2020. When Arizona went for Joe Biden, Arizona became a nerve centre for election deniers, with a company called Cyber Ninjas brought in to investigate Arizona as part of the Stop the Steal Movement. They found (incorrectly) that files had been deleted, something that was palpably false, and the threats and intimidation have continued. Although a Republican himself, he is now in the position of hoping that election deniers do not win in the mid-terms, for the sake of democracy in the future.
History Listen – This is the final episode in the 3-part series on Loveday Internment camp in South Australia. Miyakatsu Koike was a mild-mannered Japanese bank official who was arrested by the Dutch East Indies authorities in Indonesia after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. He was sent to Australia under terrible conditions overseen by the Dutch and was initially treated with compassion by the Australians, who were not yet aware of the Japanese treatment of Australian POWs. Never a soldier, only a citizen, he was interned for more than four years.
History Hit It’s Halloween as I write this, so how about A Short History of Seances. This features Lisa Morton, an expert on Spiritualism and author of Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances. Necromancy and talking to the dead existed from ancient times and in many different cultures, but seances as a public, group and usually money-making performance are a different thing. The first seance in America was conducted by Kate and Maggie Fox in 1848, who later confessed to cracking their toe knuckles to get the rapping sound. They ended up poverty-stricken alcoholics and admitted their fraudulence in 1885. They were just the start of a string of other fraudsters conducting seances. Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle sparred over the authenticity of seances, with Houdini outraged by Doyle’s wife claiming to have spoken to his mother.
Witness History (BBC) “Our” Julia Gillard makes it onto Witness History in a 10 minute segment on Julia Gillard’s Misogyny Speech, commemorating the 10th anniversary. It features an interview with Julia herself and some context. I’d forgotten that Abbott actually attacked her about hypocrisy in appointing Peter Slipper, rather than making a sexist comment as such. No matter- off she went, with good reason.