History Extra I’m fascinated by the Spanish Civil War, and one of these days I’ll read more about it. This episode Fearless female voices of the Spanish Civil War features historian Sarah Watling, the author of Tomorrow Perhaps the Future: Following Writers and Rebels in the Spanish Civil War, published this year. It is a group biography of the writers, activists and photographers who joined the International Brigade after Franco’s coup failed, and the country descended into Civil War. She looks at, among others, Nancy Cunard, the wealthy ‘It Girl’ who became a journalist; communist writer Sylvia Townsend-Warner; often-written-about Martha Gellhorn and Gerda Taro; Jessica Mitford for a short period; and lesser known women like Nan Green, a working class mother and housewife whose husband George also went to Spain, and Africa-American nurse Salaria Kea.
Emperors of Rome. Episode XXXVII Domitian Dominates sees Domitian stepping into the role of emperor, and indulging himself in all the resources and unrestricted power now available to him- in effect, the opposite to his brother Titus who had become more responsible once he became emperor. He spent quite a bit of money building his own huge house and rebuilding older buildings in Rome, especially after the volcanoes, but he committed the sin of putting his name on the building, instead of the name of the emperor who had built it originally. Naturally enough, he ran out of money, and because he wasn’t much of a military man, he wasn’t able to bring in money through conquests. Instead, he had to rely on taxing the Jews. He was interested in social reform, e.g. he banned castration for eunuchs, and controlled the planting of vines. He also reinstated harsh punishment for the vestal virgins who had sex (they were buried alive and their lovers were whipped to death). But he didn’t play by his own rules, with affairs, a possible affair with his niece Julia – although some historians question this. In effect he wiped out anyone who threatened or annoyed him. Episode XXXVIII Domitian Must Die In 89CE a conspiracy was unsuccessfully mounted against him, which made him even more paranoid. He seemed to enjoy watching people being tortured, and he specialized in ‘black dinners’ where everything- clothes, decorations and food- was black and where the guests were convinced that they were going to be murdered, only for him to let them go. He changed the names of the months September and October to reflect his name, but they were changed back again. He reigned all up for 15 years, then was assassinated in September 96CE. His assassination had been prophesized and it was a bit of an open secret that his days were numbered. He was eventually assassinated in his bedroom by a man with a bandage pretending to tell him about a planned conspiracy, and other men piled into the bedroom to stab him as well. He had a low-key burial and once a successor had been appointed the senate passed damnatio memoriae on Domitian’s memory. Episode XXXIX Asterix and the Missing Scroll. You know, I’ve never read an Asterix but both Matt and Rhiannon have. It is ostensibly based on Caesar’s narrative of the Gallic Wars – a grand work of self-promotion in talking up his successes- and the premise is that there was a missing scroll where Caesar goes through the failures in the campaign. Rhiannon says that the premise doesn’t hold water because Caesar’s narrative was chronological, so you’d have to excise negative events throughout. Nonetheless, they both enjoyed it.
Late Night Live (ABC) Australia’s History of Alcohol Control Now that alcohol controls are being re-imposed in the Northern Territory, attention has turned again to government attempts to control alcohol. Dr Elizabeth Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning & Design at Monash University is the guest, and she goes through the history of temperance and teetotalism in Australia, and attempts throughout Australian history to restrict alcohol e.g. 6 o’clock closing, local option, lockouts etc.
New Books Network. Sometimes after listening to these podcasts, I feel as if I have extracted the main points and don’t need to read the book. In the episode World War II Camps in Jamaica, I feel that I don’t need to read the book because I don’t know if it’s really all that interesting. Suzanne Francis-Brown, author of the recent World War II Camps in Jamaica: Refugees, Internees, Prisoners of War talks about internment camps established at first during WWII to control ‘enemy’ German and Italian male internees who were resident in Jamaica and also in West Africa. Britain seemed to think nothing of shipping internees halfway round the world to camps on the periphery of the Empire. By 1943, a married camp was established. There was no forced labour although many of the internees worked on the piggery and farms. The use of the camps was extended Jewish refugees, protected by the Swiss government. The author illustrated her talk with lots of case studies from the ‘alien’ and refugee periods of the camp. This was an inordinately long podcast at 1 hour and 40 minutes and I just got bored.
Latin American History Podcast Back to the Conquest of Peru after a very long hiatus, both on my part and that of the presenter, Max Serjeant. Part IV goes back to Pizarro who arrives back in Peru after getting the approval of the King to proceed. He progresses more slowly on this third attempt, and conditions have changed since he left three years earlier. Civil War had broken out between brothers Huáscar and Atahaulpa after the death of their father and his successor. Pizarro had planned to build a capital at Tumbes, and instead he went looking for the successful Atahaulpa who had prevailed over his brother.
You´re Dead to Me (BBC) It was Valentines Day, so as my one single concession to the occasion, I listened to Valentine’s Special: Georgian Courtship. Although it followed the format of pairing an academic historian and a comedian, in this case the comedian, Caraid Lloyd, is no stranger to Georgian times as she is part of the BBC comedy series, an improv on Jane Austen’s novels. As a result, she can drop into Pure Austenese at the drop of a hat, and it’s worth listening to this episode for her mimicry alone. The episode emphasizes that there was more love in Georgian relationships amongst the gentry than we think there was, and this emphasis on love was reinforced by the books and songs of the day. A bachelor was a rather pathetic specimen, as distinct from the rake. And so much for all this purity and coyness- 1/3 of Georgian brides were already pregnant.