Travels Through Time 1967 The Premonitions Bureau doesn’t go back in time quite so far this episode- only to 1967. The Premonitions Bureau was established at the London Evening Standard Newspaper by psychiatrist and academic John Barker who invited people to call in with their premonitions of disaster, and then matched the predictions against actual events. The experiment only lasted about 18 months. The three days in 1967 selected by Journalist Sam Night, author of The Premonitions Bureau were January 4, when the racing driver Donald Campbell correctly predicted his death in the Bluebird the previous night while playing cards; April 21 when John Barker received a prediction that he was in danger and November 5 when a train accident at Hither Green Railway Station confirmed the prediction of two of the experiment’s most accurate prognosticators, Alan Hencher and Kathleen Middleton. Unfortunately John Barker’s files were lost, and this is the object that Sam Night would most like to bring back to the current day.
Fifteen Minute History (which always goes for longer) Episode 135 Connected Histories of Cuba and the United States features Ada Ferrer, Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University and author of the Pulitzer-prize winning Cuba: An American History. She began writing her book for an American audience when Obama began opening up transit between Cuba and US. She points out that both Cuba and the US have been invested in each other’s wars and revolutions, with slaveholders having an interest in the outcome of the US Civil War, and the Spanish/US war where Cuba was seen as a possible territory (never a state). The US occupied Cuba between 1899-1902 but kept lifting the bar for the criteria of sufficient ‘self government’ for their troops to leave. The Platt Amendment ensured that the US could intervene at will in Cuban politics. As well as politics, her book has personal stories how these political machinations affected the lives of US and Cuban people.
History Hit recorded while Liz Truss was still holding on and hadn´t yet achieved the status of shortest-lived Prime Minister in British History, in Britain’s Worst Prime Minister Dan Snow asks three historians, Tim Bale, Christine Haddon and Robin Eagles, who they think are the worst. Anthony Eden, Edward Heath and the 3rd Earl of Bute contend for first place, but Pitt the Elder, Lord North and Wellington get a guernsey too.
Emperors of Rome Interlude Pax Romana is a short episode where Dr Rhiannon Evans admits that she is no fan of Augustus, who she thinks is a tyrant. “Pax” doesn’t so much mean ‘peace’ as a contract between victor and vanquished at the end of a war. During the 41 years of Augustus’ reign, he closed the Gates of Janus three times – a sign that Rome was at peace- something that had only happened twice in the previous 700 years of Romes’ history. He instigated the Goddess of Augustan Peace which was very sneaky way of getting around the prohibition of making oneself a God during your lifetime. Episode X The Augustan Succession describes Augustus’ search for a successor, which began almost immediately he came to power – not a bad idea when leaders died young. He had no legitimate son, so he married off his daughter Julia instead to possible successors, and then turned to his grandsons. But everyone seemed to die (how curious) so he turned to his stepsons instead, especially Tiberius, Livia’s son. For a long time, Augustus was hailed as a great peace-bringer but Ronald Syme wrote a very critical biography in the 1930s and since then attitudes towards Augustus have veered between the two. Currently historians (like Dr Evans herself) tend to lean towards Syme, although not to the same extreme extent. Episode XI Tiberius the Reluctant Emperor looks at Augustus’ anointed, Livia’s son Tiberius, who was better known as a good general. He had tough gigs in Hungary and Germany for 22 years until Augustus died, and he performed well. Was he reluctant? Well, he was middle-aged by the time he returned to Rome as emperor after years in self-imposed exile in Rhodes. He was hard to read and he didn’t cater to the people as Augustus had done. He was the first in the Julio-Claudian dynasty that became very tangled as different branches (and not so different) married each other. Germanicus was tipped as the next emperor but died in the East, then Drusus died too (killed by his wife, or is that just propaganda?). In 26BC Tiberius left Rome, which he never really liked, for Capri.
Russia if You’re Listening (ABC) Episode 2: Zelensky’s Big Call: Run Away or Stay and Fight. Putin anticipated that the invasion of Ukraine would take three days, but he wasn’t counting on Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Zelenskyy was almost an accidental president. He had been a comedian on popular and populist shows like ‘Hey Hey It’s Saturday’ or ‘The Footy Show’ (did he really play the piano with his penis? Search YouTube) but the big break came with his three-season comedy ‘Servant of the People’ where he played a teacher who ended up becoming president. Life imitated art but he found by the start of 2022 that people preferred him as a comedian rather than a politician. So Putin would have seen him as a weak target but two factors disrupted Putin’s plan. First, the Russian plan was that 3000 paratroopers would take the airport, in readiness for the landing of18 planeloads of Russian soldiers. But the CIA had warned Zelenskyy (who took some convincing)of the impending invasion and the resulting Ukrainian attack meant that the paratroopers could not hold the airport. The second important factor was Zelenskyy’s determination to stay and fight. Zelenskyy speaks three languages: his first is Russian, then Ukrainian then English. In his videos, recorded on his mobile phone, he swaps between the three, depending on the message and the audience. He has framed himself as a symbol of the state: if he stays, the state stays.