Category Archives: Podcasts 2022

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 24-31 December 2022

Emperors of Rome. Episode XXII What an Artist Dies in Nero finishes off the Julio-Claudian empire. Dr Rhiannon Evans points out that Nero’s reign was essentially performative. Everything was theatre: he acted as if he were low-born; he acted as if he were a criminal. He constructed his Golden House, with a huge golden statue of himself inside – the Colossus of Nero (and hence the Colosseum which was erected on its site later on). The Pisoean conspiracy was revealed at this point, and from here on the generals started moving against him – a change in the nature of Roman politics. He fled Rome and ended up getting his private secretary to kill him. Although his reputation today is terrible, he was not universally reviled at the time, and for some time rumours abounded that he was still alive. But he wasn’t, and the Julio-Claudian empire came to an end. Episode XIII Romans vs. the Christians is a stand-alone episode. Reflecting the views at the time, Dr Evans refers to Christianity as a cult, pointing out that the Romans didn’t really have problems with the beliefs of cults, but they did have problems with the behaviors that sprang from those beliefs. The Christians had meetings (as distinct from the public performances of the Romans) and they refused to comply with the deification of the emperors, which led to fear of treason. So when the Christians faced punishment, it was on political grounds rather than on account of their beliefs. Tacitus has a throw-away line about Nero punishing the Christians after the fires, but there is no evidence that they ever appeared at the Colosseum. The Romans wanted to integrate the Christians, rather than punish them. Episode XXIV- Cicero is another stand-alone episode. He was born to the equestrian ranks (i.e. second rank, rich, noble) and trained in oratory. He became Consul in his own right in 63AD as the first man in his family to join the Senate. After executing the protagonists in the Cataline conspiracy without trial, he then had to convince the Senate that he acted appropriately. He was exiled for a year, but then returned. He had a love/hate relationship with Caesar, and was even offered a role with the Triumvirate (which would have made it a Quadvirate) but he refused and withdrew into writing philosophy. He was a vocal opponent to Mark Antony, who proscribed him and had him killed by a soldier. He is sometimes described as one of the Stoics, but he was more a questioner and nowadays he is more known as a statesman.

History Extra History Extra has started a series on Conspiracies (with a capital C) and it starts off with notable historian Richard J. Evans debunking the conspiracy theory that Hitler escaped to South America after WWII. Certainly, lots of other high Nazis did, but Evans is convinced by the testimony of his adherents who witnessed his body after his suicide with Eva Braun. He points out that Stalin was responsible for quite a few conspiracy theories, and probably started this one too. He reminds us that after WWII people had Napoleon in mind (who DID come back) and historian Hugh Trevor-Roper was dispatched to discover what happened in Hitler’s bunker. Evans has written The Hitler Conspiracies

Revolutions Podcast. I’ve been listening to this podcast for years and years, first listening to different Revolutions, then going back to the beginning to listen to History of Rome. It’s still on my Stitcher feed, and when I saw Final Episode- Adieu Mes Amis I just had to tune in. Yes, it’s over but wait there’s more. He’s going to co-host a conversational podcast about history books. I wonder if there’s a market for this one?

Swan Lake Ballet. Free image from Pixabay

Russia If You´re Listening (ABC) Episode 5: Has Putin finally pushed the Russian people too far? They say that intermittent punishment/reward is the most effective form of behaviour management. Putin seems to use it when faced with public dissent. Inconsistency and unpredictability is the key – and so Pussy Riot were imprisoned back in 2012, but the journalist who stepped behind the newsreader earlier this year holding a sign saying that the news was all lies was not. Despite the economic sanctions imposed by the West on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, Putin’s popularity kept going up and up- until he conscripted ordinary Russian men. At this point, Putin’s attitude towards dissent hardened. Opposition newspapers and television programs were taken off air, choosing to view a scene of ballerinas dancing Swan Lake, a common message during Soviet times that that something’s happening. As Matt Bevin points out, historically the Imperial Family and the Soviet Union both seemed immovable, until suddenly support collapsed. With Putin’s declaration that more troops will be called up, will the same thing happen with Putin?

Lives Less Ordinary (BBC) The secrets of a slave ship in an Alabama swamp. The Clotilda was said to be the last slave ship that set off from Africa in 1860 with a consignment of enslaved people, even though the trade of slavery had officially been abolished in 1807. However, slaving continued illegally, and this last journey was largely the result of a bet. Once the 110 men women and children disembarked, the ship was burnt to remove all evidence, and the people marched through the swamp. However, the owner couldn’t help bragging about it even though he never kept the story straight about where the ship was scuttled, and the formerly enslaved people had their own stories about the burning of the ship. After emancipation, they established Africatown. Journalist Ben Raines decided to search for the wreck of the ship- and thought that he had found it – until it was ascertained that he had not. He kept looking, and….. (you’ll have to listen to it yourself).

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 16-23 December 2022

Emperors of Rome Episode XIX Nero the Youngest Emperor introduces Nero, the 17 year old adopted son of Claudius, grandson of Germanicus, and great-grandson of Mark Antony and Octavia so he had a peerless pedigree on both sides. Yet he was not groomed for power because his mother Agrippina was exiled for plotting to overthrow Caligula until they were both brought back when Agrippina married Claudius. Claudius made both Nero and his step-brother Brittanicus co-heirs, which was pretty much a death sentence for Brittanicus who mysterious died the day before he came of age. Nero’s reign started off well for the first five years. During this time he conducted a proxy war with Parthia over Armenia but it backfired badly as a PR exercise when he insisted that the client king of Armenia come to pay obeisance to him in Rome at great financial expense. Episode XX Agrippina looks at this woman so thoroughly enmeshed in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. She was the daughter of Germanicus, Caligula’s sister and her mother Agrippina the Elder was seen as the perfect wife. The grew up surrounded by strong women and a stable empire. She was married off twice, before marrying her uncle Claudius, which even the Romans saw as a bit ‘off’. Even though she was a victim of Nero, she has been viewed as a malign influence by association because Nero was bad. Nero tried to drown her and eventually had her stabbed. Interlude Q and A is a special session where Matt and Rhiannon answer questions about themselves- who they are, how they became interested in Rome etc. Episode XXI The Great Fire of Rome in 64CE distinguishes Nero’s fire from the ones that preceded and followed it. Rome was always a fire hazard, but in this case, Nero himself was blamed FOR the fire, and not just playing his lyre during it. It’s not clear that he was really responsible, but he was happy enough to blame the Christians (although this might just be a throw-away line from Tacitus, because the Christians weren’t particularly important or visible at that time). The fire burned for 6 days and destroyed 10 of the 14 zones of Rome. Nero did put a lot of money and effort into rebuilding housing for the poor, but he also took the opportunity to build his golden house across three of the seven hills of Rome (the Colosseum is now on the site).

Russia If You’re Listening (ABC) Season 7 In Episode 4: Undersea sabotage? The mysterious pipe blasts Matt Bevan asks who blew up the Nord Stream pipelines on the bottom of the Baltic Sea on 26 September. Was it Germany? They had a long history of trade with Russia, and Germany gambled that if both countries remained mutually dependent there would be peace between them. Was it Ukraine? Ukraine was no fan of Nordstream because it went directly between Russia and Germany, thus depriving Ukraine of transit fees and political influence. Was it America? The US has long been fearful of Russia’s influence – in fact, Reagan imposed sanctions on anyone who was involved in building the pipe lines. Biden threatened that the US would bring Nordstream to an end. Was it Russia? Gazprom is under the direct control of the Kremlin, who told it to cut back. Russia had already turned off the gas in Pipe 1. All in all, the whole thing has been a disaster

Boyer Lectures (ABC) I am no great fan of Noel Pearson. I dislike his biblical, stentorian tones when speaking, his conservative worldview, his Western Canon name-dropping and his dripping contempt for ‘progressives’. However, I recognize that if the Recognition Referendum is to succeed, then it needs support from both conservatives and the Labor Party. When Pearson came out so strongly against Senator Jacinta Price and her rejection of the Voice to Parliament, I decided that I would listen to these Boyer lectures after all. Episode 1: Who we were, who we are and who we can be was very good. In many ways it encapsulated Pearson’s view of Australia as being a mixture of Aboriginal, British and multicultural elements. Episode 2 A Rightful but not Separate Place went through the history of the journey that has led to the Uluru Statement, crediting John Howard with starting the 15 year process by declaring his support for constitutional recognition if he won the 2007 election (although note that he only did this the night before the election). Pearson does, however, point out where his path and that of Howard diverged, and he comes out very strongly for the Voice to Parliament. Episode 3: A Job Guarantee for the Bottom Million revealed more of the Pearson I expected, railing against ‘progressives’ and welfare dependency, and valorizing the family as the means for improvement. In Episode 4: Transformational School Education he displays his enthusiasm for Direct Instruction, and has another dig at ‘progressives’ who have qualms about Direct Instruction as a pedagogy (Disclaimer here: I have used Direct Instruction, complete with the chanting and hand-movements. It is very effective with some children, but I would not want to build a whole curriculum on it). By this time I had had almost as much as I could stomach. Fortunately Episode 5: We the Australian People was more inclusive – arguing that we are more united by similarities than our differences. He had a bit of a rail against identity politics (although it seems to me that the right is just as guilty of this as ‘progressives’) and the dangers of constant campaigning in politics that never leaves space for governing, just campaigning. He then goes through a roll call of the dead, and asks rhetorically how they would vote in the upcoming Referendum.

History Hit Germany’s Extreme Monarchists. Good grief- what happened? Over 3000 police officers raided the ‘Reichsburger’ group comprising a celebrity chef, former police officers and serving army officers as part of an extremist coup to overthrow the government. They planned to reinstate the German monarchy with a 71 year descendent of the Hohenzollern dynasty, Henrich XIII. The world is going mad. This episode features historian Katja Hoyer who speaks about the deposing of the German monarchy after World War I, and the influence of conspiracy thinking among right-wing groups in Germany.

New Books Network: Latin America This episode features Sarah Zukerman Daly, author of Violent Victors: Why Bloodstained Parties Win Postwar Elections Based on her studies of various Latin American countries, she explores the question of how parties that commit mass atrocities in war often win the support of victimized populations to establish the postwar political order. She argues that in post-war societies, people are likely to vote for whichever party will bring peace and security, even if the party is deeply implicated in violence and atrocities. Often it’s the party that won the conflict that is rewarded, and by purging a few people, it offers security although often at the expense of justice, liberal democracy, and social welfare. This is real social science, using interviews, court transcripts, polls and statistics and at times it gets very technical. But great question, though.

Statue of Duke Wenceslaus, St Vitus Cathedral Prague. Wikimedia http://www.heiligenlexikon.de/BiographienW/Wenzeslaus.html

Gone Medieval It’s coming up to Christmas, so a bit of seasonal listening to The Real ‘Good King Wenceslas’ – not one of my favourite carols. Who is King Wenceslas, anyway? And when IS St Stephen’s day ?( Answer: the 27th December in the Eastern calendar- the second day of Christmas) Well, he was born around 905 CE and died in 935CE when he was murdered by his brother. He wasn’t actually a King, although he was a Duke or a Prince of a Bohemian noble family. Bohemia at that time was in the western region of the Czech republic, with its capital in Prague. Europe at this time was riven by dynastic rivalries, including the Magyars, the Franks and the Saxons. It’s not really clear why his brother killed him. He was made a saint quite soon after his death, as part of the shift to the idea of the Holy King. St Wenceslas’ Square in Prague is named after him, but his reputation suffered when the Nazis issued Medals of St Wenceslas to reward their supporters. He was embraced by both German speaking and Czech speaking Bohemians, and later kings drew on his reputation in their iconography. Dr. Cat Jarman is joined by Czech historian Dr. David Kalhous.

History This Week A bit more Christmas in my ears! The Surprising History of Christmas Gifts gives a very American-centric history of Christmas at it takes us back to New York in December 1913 when shoppers are being exhorted to ‘Shop Early’. In fact, newspapers had been exhorting them to do so since May 30th. Although the Puritans had banned Christmas, the people had been celebrating mid-winter anyway out in the streets, and in the early 19th century it was domesticated by people being encouraged to bring it inside. This, alongside the conceptualisation of childhood, led to New York becoming the centre of toy manufacture and department stores. You might think that it was avaricious department store owners who might have encouraged the ‘shop early’ theme, but it was instead Florence Kelly, a labour organizer, who wanted to protect factory and shop workers from the loophole in their labour agreements which limited the hours of work for women and children except between December 15-31, without overtime payments. Later, wealthy women patrons supported the SPUG movement- The Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving- which criticized the practice where pressure was placed on working women (in particular) to chip in to buy a present for their bosses! In recognition of the gift giving qualities of Christmas, FDR moved Thanksgiving a week forward in 1939 to give more time for Christmas Sales. Features Jennifer Le Zotte, professor of history and material culture at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington; Ellen Litwicki, Professor Emerita at the State University of New York at Fredonia; and Paul Ringel, professor of history at High Point University and author of Commercializing Childhood.

Soul Search (ABC) The Gospel of John and the poetry of belief. To be honest, I always found the Gospel of John a bit flakey, with all it’s “beginning was the word and the word was God” stuff. This episode, features Meredith Lake and Dorothy Lee and Bob Derrenback, editors of The Enduring Impact of the Gospel of John . Chronologically, Mark was the source text for Matthew and Luke, but you can find things in John that don’t appear in the other synoptic gospels. They don’t really know who the author who identified himself as “disciple that Jesus love” was. By the 2nd century CE it was assumed that it was Apostle John, but it could be John the Elder. Mark was probably written around 70AD, and Mark and Luke in 80AD. John was probably written in the 90s. Literacy rates were about 5% in the Roman Empire at that time, so while there were eyewitnesses around, there was no urgency to put in on paper. As far as Christmas is concerned, we don’t get any at all in John. In fact, Christmas is a bit of a mash-up, with the shepherds in one gospel and the wise men in the other. The interviewees then go on to talk about John as a devotional text, at which point I lost interest.

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 1-7 December 2022

Russia If You’re Listening (ABC) Episode 3: Why It’s So Hard to Fight When You Don’t Know Why. The episode starts with Matt Bevan reminding us that the beautiful rich soils of Ukraine turn to mud twice a year, and now that the war is extending to 9 months, the soldiers there will have experienced this phenomenon twice. In fact, they experienced it earlier than they would have because this year the muddy season came early. He tells the story of two men: one Ukrainian and the other Russian. ABC reporter Isabella Higgins met 52 year old “Dad soldier” Taris as he was enlisting in the Ukrainian army from the reserves. The Ukrainian army had been modernizing since 2014, when Russia invaded the Donbass region. The Russian army, on the other hand, was poorly trained, corrupt and poorly provisioned. The second man, Vadim, is a 21 year old Russian boy who lives five days away from Moscow who is now imprisoned for 15 years for war crimes committed when he shot a man on a bicycle. He, and his fellow soldiers, were told that they would only be in Ukraine for three days, and that their mission was to terrorize the Ukrainians and their authorities sufficiently that they would surrender.

Emperors of Rome Episode XV The Assassination of Caligula takes us further in to the strange world of Caligula. Was he mad, or was he just taking the mickey? He certainly seemed to be: he faked a battle with the Germani; sent his troops ‘over the seas’ and got them to bring back shells and seaweed, and later brought his uncle Claudius into public view after his family had kept him away, (perhaps because they were ashamed of him?) Caligula brought back the treason trials with a vengeance, and there were admittedly a lot of plots against him. He was attacked at the theatre and killed, and this time the plot went beyond the Senate to men of different ranks opposed to him. Episode XVI Claudius the Unlikely Emperor sees Caligula’s uncle step into the breach when Caligula is killed, along with his wife and baby daughter (just to make sure that there was no heir lurking around). Claudius does seem to have had some sort of physical disability and a stutter, and Dr Rhiannon Evans suggests gently that perhaps, had he been born to any other family, he might have been exposed at birth. He was a scholar, and was friends with Livy. When Caligula died, the Senate could have reasserted their authority, but they dragged their feet. Claudius didn’t subject Caligula to “Damnatio memoriae” (i.e. expunging his memory) but he didn’t pursue the assassins either. Episode XVII Claudius Conquers Britain (or as Dr Rhiannon Evans prefers, Brittania) celebrates Claudius’ big moment in returning to Brittania for the first time in 100 years. Augustus had been more concerned about stability in the empire, and there was no great hunger for the resources that Britain offered (even though the Romans were happy to take them later). At first Claudius sent Plautius over, but then he himself crossed the Channel, even though he wasn’t particularly well known as a soldier. He got his triumph in Rome after the successful invasion, but even here he showed mercy to Caratacus who led the residence, by allowing him to live in peace in Rome. Episode XVIII The Life of Claudius looks at how Claudius was received by the Romans, once he became emperor. The Senate was ambivalent: they were still a bit piqued that they weren’t consulted about who should follow Caligula. Claudius put their noses further out of joint by bringing Gauls into the Senate, and appointing freedmen (i.e. former slaves) into acting as a sort of ministry with a secretary, treasurer etc. He became involved in the law, forbidding slaveholders from killing or torturing their slaves at will, and famously allowed flatulence. His building activities mainly involved repairing shabby buildings and constructing infrastructure like the Aqua Claudia aqueduct (which still stands). He had four wives, and was criticized for liking being married too much and under his wives’ influence. He had to execute his third wife Messelina because of treason in her affair with the most handsome man in Rome Gaius Silius. He then married his niece Agrippina the younger who possibly murdered him to promote her son Nero. After his death, Claudius was deified, and his 20th century reputation was resuscitated by Robert Graves’ I Claudius.

The History Listen (ABC). Fitzroyalty- a short history of Brunswick Street. This episode looks at the transformation of Brunswick Street Fitzroy during the 1980s and 90s. As a child, I remember Brunswick Street as being rather noisy and rundown. My mum, who used to assiduously note down all the supermarket specials in the paper on a Tuesday, would go to Sims Markette which was either in Smith Street or Brunswick Street. I remember her leaving us in the car while she ‘nicked in’ for a few specials, and the smell of Weetbix or some other cereal and roasted coffee wafting in through the windows. Somehow I don’t think that parents would do that now. And as for when Brunswick Street became cool? I think I must have been off having babies and toddlers at that time and I missed it- although I met my current husband at the Fitz, and I always loved the Brunswick Street Bookstore. But I rarely go there now, because parking is just too hard and as they say in the episode, Brunswick Street is a victim of its own success, being largely just a promenade of coffee shops now.

Conversations (ABC) Niki Savva’s brutal assessment of Scott Morrison. Knowing that she used to work as Peter Costello’s press secretary, I’ve never really trusted Niki Savva, seeing her as a Liberal Party apologist. However, I’m relishing her takedown of Scott Morrison in Bulldozed: Scott Morrison’s Fall and Anthony Albanese’s Rise . As usual, Richard Fidler asks good questions and I feel as if there’s no need for me to read the book (which was probably not Savva’s intention at all!)

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 26-30 November 2022

History Extra: Desk Killers. I’ve reserved Dan Gretton’s book I You We Them, which examines the psychology of individuals who organised and implemented some of the worst crimes against humanity, from the Holocaust to human rights violations in Nigeria. Actually, all the examples that he gave in this podcast were either from the Holocaust or from a study of the culpability of oil corporations in Nigeria in 1993, when Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed on trumped-up charges by the military government to protect the oil concessions. He notes the light sentences of ‘desk killers’ (a German term) who oversee atrocities compared with the low-level guards who carry them out -for example the law professors who drew up the Nuremberg laws who escaped with very light punishments.

Wikimedia

The History Listen (ABC) Hume and Hovell and the Pathfinders. What a pain in the arse William Hovell must have been. Appointed over the young currency-lad Hamilton Hume, he seemed to want nothing more than to turn around and go back home all the time when Hume and Hovell were sent off by Governor Brisbane to chart a route between Sydney and Westernport Bay. I bet the Indigenous groups that helped them along the way came to regret their assistance.

Emperors of Rome Episode XII Tiberius the Gloomiest of Men. Tiberius set himself up over the Capri, where he may or may not have indulged in orgies. He set up Sejanus as his political gate-keeper but the senators resented this as Sejanus was only an equestrian. Tiberius passed strong laws against treason, and Dr Rhiannon Evans likens Rome at this time to East Germany, where neighbours informed on neighbours. When Sejanus had an affair with Livilla (Drusus’ widow) he was accused of treason and summarily executed. When Tiberius died, most people agreed that he was a gloomy character, and he didn’t build much. Episode XIII The Rule of Caligula looks at “Bootikins” as Matt Smith rather endearingly calls him. Caligula’s real name was “Gaius” and he never used the name Caligula (i.e. Little Boots) for himself. He had the best family tree of any of the emperors. He only reigned for 4 years. He was popular at first, spending a lot of money doing everything that Tiberius had not done – but that didn’t last. There is speculation that his cruelty was prompted by a personality change after illness, but the timelines don’t work. Episode XIV The Madness of Caligula. We get most of our information about Caligula from Suetonius, who wrote a biography of him. Caligula broke a number of taboos: he spoke about himself and his sister as gods (thereby breaking the taboo against incest and deification while still alive); he stole statues from Greece; he didn’t respect the senators or elites. He was extravagant, building a bridge direct from his home to the Temple of Jupiter directly over Augustus’ temple. He completely burnt off the residual affection that people may have had towards him on account of being Germanicus’ son.

Start the Week (BBC) Power Plays and Family Dynamics. I hadn’t heard of any of the works discussed in this program, but the topic sounded interesting. The program starts with a quote from Samuel Johnson “if a kingdom be … a great family, a family likewise is a little kingdom, torn with factions and exposed to revolutions.” One guest is A. M. Homes, whose most recent book The Unfolding looks at an American ‘patriot’ maddened by Barak Obama’s election, who collects together a band of like-minded men to spread their (Trumpesque) version of the American dream. Another guest is Nick Hytner who is directing a new production of Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman about a disgraced financier while the third guest is historian Simon Sebag Montefiore who has a new book out called The World: A Family History Of Humanity, which looks at world history through the lens of particular families (sounds good, actually). Three very diverse books, and an interesting conversation.

Talking Politics I have just read Tara Westover’s Educated, and in Episode 232 Tara Westover-Educated here she is with David Runciman, who was actually one of her academic mentors. The episode was recorded in March 2020, during the COVID lockdowns and as someone who spent most of her life isolated from ´normal´social life, it made no great change to her life. There is then a replay of an earlier interview that Runciman undertook with his former pupil from February 2018 when her book was just published.

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 17-25 November 2022

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.

Source: Wikimedia

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.

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 9-16 November

Rough Translations This time, they look at Australia. The Stoop: Reclaiming Black in Australia is a discussion of Indigenous Australians and their adoption of the term ‘Black’ or ‘Blak’ to describe themselves. Two rather incredulous comperes Leila Day and Hana Baba interview Rhianna Patrick, a Torres Strait woman who used to work for the ABC. They also interview Jackie Huggins and Daniel Browning about the use of the term ‘black’ historically; the effect of American Black politics, and the delicate issue of ‘black’ as referring to colour or culture.

99% Invisible Finishing off their 500th episode three-part series on Vernacular architecture, this episode Vernacular- Volume 3 deals with the houseboats on San Francisco Bay- some very luxurious, others piled together with driftwood. They then go on to look at stone houses in Bermuda, constructed with stone roofs no less, to stop the houses being destroyed by the ‘suck-in’ effect of a hurricane. The roofs are painted white to reflect the sun and they channel and filter rainwater. They then travel to Oakland California where the Queen Anne Victorian took advantage of the slightly larger block size, and added everything possible to the decoration. Finally, the episode goes to Santa Fe, where the historic district has strict building regulation insisting on ‘earth coloured’ adobe construction – but what does ‘earth coloured’ mean? The regulations specify brown, tan or ‘local earth tones’.

Lives Less Ordinary (BBC) My Father’s Hidden Crime tells the story of an Argentinian woman, Analía Kalinec, who is an adult when she learns that her father has been arrested for crimes committed during the Pinochet regime more than 30 years ago. The rest of the family stood behind him, but when she did her own research, she decided that he was, indeed, a torturer and responsible for many kidnappings. This caused a breach with her sisters, and her father is now trying to disinherit her after she wrote a book “I Will Carry His/Your? Name” (I’m translating here, so I’m not sure).

History Extra A whistle-stop tour around the world in AD 1500 takes us, as the title promises, around the Chinese, Indian, Ottoman, Sassanid and European empires and dynasties, and nomadic kingdoms. Jerry Brotton is a Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London, which is a bit difficult because he distances himself in this podcast from the European-centric term “Renaissance”. He notes that England under the Tudors is largely peripheral to the action, and that Islam was spreading like wild-fire. Europe was small and fractured, but starting to look outwards, especially after the Black Death, but it remained a bit-player. The Americas had just been “discovered”, and the Spanish tried to conceptualize them as ‘Islam’, the only reference source for the ‘other’ that they knew. The Portuguese were travelling along the west coast of Africa, where they encountered Benin. This was really wide-ranging, and enjoyable – I loved the breadth of his analysis.

Emperors of Rome Interlude: What is an Emperor? points out that, strictly speaking, what we call ’emperors’ were actually ‘princeps’ and that Julius Caesar wasn’t actually an Emperor in terms of all power being located in one man. If he had lived longer, Julius Caesar might have entrenched himself as an Emperor but we all know what happened to him, and he spent most of his time fighting a civil war. When Augustus ascended, it wasn’t clear if he was part of a dynasty or not. Under emperors, the military became more important and they began choosing their own emperors, which meant that the Emperor was always beholden to the army. The Emperor came to have the role of the Chief Priest (the Pontifex Maximus)- a name adopted by current Popes. Episode VIII The Augustan Revolution sees Octavian taking on the name Augustus in 27BCE. He did toy with the idea of adopting the name ‘Romulus’ but the name had connotations of fracticide, so he went for Augustus or ‘revered one’ instead. He was lucky to have triumphed over Mark Antony, who was the better soldier, and probably made a mistake in fleeing with Cleopatra because he probably would have won had he stayed to fight Octavian. Octavian used anti-Eastern/ anti-Egyptian prejudice to win the propaganda war too. So who was Octavian/Augustus? He was the great-nephew of Julius Caesar, which meant that he was the adopted son of a God (because Caesar was deified after his death), but he was aware of Caesar’s mistakes and was determined not to repeat them. He gave the republic back to itself, but he retained veto power and had huge authority over his tame Senate. He burnt the oracles that were unfavourable towards him, exercised censorship and assassinated those who threatened him. Episode IX Augustan Rome looks at Rome under Augustus. He consolidated the empire, mainly through Tiberius’ success. He spent a lot of money on Rome itself, and exercised good brand management.He publicized a return to “old fashioned values” by proscribing adultery, giving baby bonuses and insisting on men wearing togas).

Then jumping ahead about 190 episodes and a few years later, up to the recent Episode CC1 Actium features Barry Strauss (Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor in Humanistic Studies at Cornell University, author of The War That Made the Roman Empire: Antony, Cleopatra, and Octavian at Actium). The battle at Actium was between Mark Antony and Octavian. Cleopatra -politician, Queen, good strategic thinker and Mark Antony’s banker) was present because she was Queen and because she didn’t trust Mark Antony to actually fight (she feared that Octavian would talk him into not fighting). Mark Antony had a fleet of 500 state-of-the-art warships as against Octavian’s 400 ships. But Mark Antony needed to protect his supply line and his men were not as experienced in naval battles. Actium, near Corfu, was a good base and a good crossing point from Greece to Italy. However, Mark Antony and Cleopatra were losing ships and men, and they were both sick with malaria, and planning to head back to Greece and burn their ships. The battle took place on 2 September 31BCE, and right from the start Mark Antony and Cleopatra kept their sails and masts up so that they could make a quick getaway. The battle started in the morning and Cleopatra and her sixty ships began to leave, leaving Mark Antony’s troops behind as he fled too. Professor Strauss points out that Atrium was a campaign of which this battle was only a part. If Mark Antony and Cleopatra had won, the Roman Empire would have been more Eastern and more Greek.

Russia If You’re Listening. One of my favourite journalists, Matt Bevan is back with a seventh series of his “…If You’re Listening” program. He returns to where he started with “Russia If You’re Listening” part II, dealing with the invasion of Ukraine. In Episode 1 How war weakened strongman Putin, Bevan asks why Putin decided to invade Ukraine now. It wasn’t to earn another stint as president because he had already achieved the status of ‘lifetime President’, but perhaps it was a way of deflecting talk of succession. Bevan describes the four-hour radio programs that Putin gives where he takes live questions (albeit pre-vetted) for four hours. He said that he would write an essay on Russian history, which he did, setting out his justification for the ‘special operation’. Zelenskyy was not a very effective leader, and most Ukrainian leaders ended up being dictators after a couple of years – and Zelenskyy was certainly losing support. The US warned Zelenskyy that Putin was planning an attack but Zelenskyy kept it quiet, so the US went public with their information. Zelenskyy is Jewish, so the ‘Nazi’ excuse is bullshit. More accurately, it reflects the Soviet WWII meaning of Nazism as ‘the enemy’.

I hear with my little ear: 25-31 October 2022

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.

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 17-24 October 2022

Emperors of Rome Going back and continuing on with Julius Caesar with Dr Rhiannon Evans (Lecture in Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University and host Matt Smith. Episode V Caesar and Civil War has lots of parallels with current day (not that they make them- I do). Julius Caesar (hereafter JC) had enemies in the Senate but they couldn’t charge him if he was still Consul or Pro Consul (shades of Trump?). The crossing of the Rubicon with his troops (it was not allowed to bring your army with you) shows the transference of loyalty from the Roman Empire to the individual instead. The triumvirate was no longer operational: Crassus had died, and Pompey (by now JC’s rival and enemy) was killed by the Ptolomys in Egypt. Cleopatra was installed. Dr Evans questions the romance of Cleopatra’s relationship with Caesar, given the view of marriage as a form of alliance at the time. JC had made himself dictator for 10 years and then for life- so many rules and norms were being broken by that time (shades of Xi Jinping?) Episode VI The Death of Caesar JC remained popular with the people but he had enemies in the Senate- not the majority of the Senate but enough- who resented him taking on the trappings of monarchy lie a throne, a diadem, wearing purple etc. He had been merciful to his enemies, which was a mistake. The assassination happened on the Ides of March because he was going to leave with his armies the next day. His assassins had to flee, and his bloodied toga was displayed on a statue outside the Senate. Episode VII The Legacy of Caesar. For someone who didn’t rule for long, he had a big impact. Augustus claimed lineage from him (he was actually JC’s great-nephew); JC had embarked on a big building program; and he went on to be embraced by many dictators, including Mussolini. Jumping ahead a bit then to Episode LX Cleopatra, recorded live at the Wheeler Centre on 22 November 2016. Cleopatra was from the Ptolomy family from Greece, which kept itself apart from the Egyptians and intermarried within itself. However, unlike the rest of her family, Cleopatra actually learned the Egyptian language and championed herself as the Queen of Egyptians the people, as well as the territory. She was intelligent, and not necessarily beautiful. I’m rather ashamed to admit that I knew so little about this that I thought she was having it off with Caesar and Anthony at the same time, but Caesar was long dead by now.

New Books Network. You should thank me because I listened to this podcast so that you don’t have to. The Small Matter of Suing Chevron was of course not a small matter at all and in this podcast the author of the book of the same name, Suzana Sawyer talks about the case, which ended up taking up 200,000 pages and running for decades. Texaco, later taken over by Chevron, had been drilling for oil between 1964 and 1992 close to the Amazon. It was a very contaminating activity, and they left behind more than 300 wells and pits to bury the waste products from the extraction process. An Ecuadorian court ruled in 2011 that Chevron was liable for $9 billion, mainly for remediation but 2 weeks before the ruling was handed down, Chevron commenced a case in a New York court. Armed with 2000 lawyers, Chevron had the case overturned, arguing that the Republic of Ecuador had already signed off on the remediation process with Texaco and therefore the findings were overturned. It ended up in a court at The Hague determined that the Ecuadorian judgment had been procured through fraud and was unenforceable. Sawyer is an anthropologist, not a lawyer and not a historian, and she had worked with indigenous groups in the Amazon prior to the launching of the case. She talks in rather convoluted ways about finding a grammar based on chemistry to talk about the legal process, which is in itself very complicated. But chemical/scientific concepts like “valences” and “exposure orbitals” are not particularly useful in talking about legal argument and this was a very hesitant, disjointed and abstruse podcast. I would have given up but I was already too far in.

99% Invisible Vuvuzela Remember the South African world cup and that dreadful vuvuzela? Tuned at Bflat, it can play only one note, and has since been banned by FIFA (thank God). The origins of the vuvuzela are murky, but it seems that it was invented by a man called Saddam Maake, who used a bicycle horn at first, and then modified it. But somehow or other the ownership got tied up with a plastics manufacturer, who also claims to be the inventor. Soccer is very popular in South Africa, and during the apartheid years, it was the only way that activists could meet together without being arrested because – hey, they were just watching the football. Although 99% is an American podcast, this episode is presented by James Parkinson, with a lovely familiar Australian accent

In Our Time (BBC) I hadn’t heard of Berthe Morisot, but she was one of the French Impressionist painters who has been overlooked in the 20th century. She was born into a wealthy family, had the support of her mother to become an artist at a time when women required chaperones to sketch at the Louvre and were not encouraged to undertake formal training. She married Eugene Manet (Edouard Manet’s brother) and she had extensive networks within the artistic world. She exhibited six times at the Salon de Paris, and in eight Impressionist exhibitions alongside Cezanne, Degas, Monet, Pissarro and Renoir. She painted in plein-air, but she also painted family interiors, often featuring her sister Edma (who was also a gifted artist until she married) and her daughter Julie. I was fascinated by her painting of Edma who was heavily pregnant (and looking rather fed up with the whole thing). I’d never heard of her- check out her paintings. This episode Berthe Morisot features Tamar Garb (Professor of History of Art at University College London) Lois Oliver (Curator at the Royal Academy and Adjunct Professor of Art History at the American University of Notre Dame London) and Claire Moran (Reader in French at Queen’s University Belfast) and an increasingly-decrepit-sounding Melvyn Bragg. I just looked him up- he is 83 and sounds every bit of it.

All in the Mind (ABC) I seem to be listening to a few podcasts about the ethics of experiments recently, and here’s another one, part of All in the Mind’s series on Unethical Experiments. Childhood attachment, animal rights and the ‘pit of despair’ looks at the experiments conducted by eminent psychologist Harry Harlow at a time when animals were not considered to have feelings or emotions at all. I remember pictures of ‘cloth mother’ and ‘metal mother’ and baby chimps from first year Psych. Ironically, it was the resistance to the type of experiments that Harlow conducted that spurred the animal rights movement.

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 9-16 October

Revisionist History I’ve telling everyone I meet about a three-part series of podcasts on Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History program about the Minnesota Starvation Project. In the first episode, The Department of Physiological Hygiene, he describes what this experiment was about: during the last year of WWII 36 men volunteered to undertake a year-long experiment in what happens when you are put on a starvation diet that results in a loss of 25% of your body weight? Three months were spent measuring and regulating calorific intake and output, then six months on a very stringent diet and exercise regime, then three months to return to health. In Episode Two, The Rise of the Guinea Pigs, Gladwell challenges the scientific consensus that such an experiment would never be conducted today for ethical reasons. He digs deeper into the process by which the experiment was set up, and found that the volunteers were genuinely volunteers- they were conscientious objectors who wanted to do something for the war effort but did not want to fight. Most of what we know about nutrition and starvation comes from this experiment, why not repeat it with genuine volunteers (as these men were) now that we could monitor what was happening with much more precision than was done sixty years ago? (I don’t agree). Episode Three The Mennonite National Anthem looks more closely at the volunteers’ motivations for enlisting in the experiment, many of which related to their religious beliefs. They look at one volunteer, Lester Glick, who kept a diary throughout, and using the oral histories provided by many of the participants, note that none of them regretted their involvement. This is really good.

The History Listen (ABC) The Loveday Trilogy Part I looks at German Oskar Speck, who decided in 1932 to paddle his kayak single-handed to Cyprus but then kept on going- all the way to Australia. By now, Hitler’s National Socialist Party was the government of Germany so his relationship with Nazism is confused but either way, he ended up in Loveday Internment Camp as an enemy alien. Fancy going all that way, only to end up interned!

Now and Then When the news came out that Rudy Giuliani was drunk on election night, Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman dive back into American history to see other times when the tide and tenor of American politics may have been affected by alcohol. Alcohol in American Politics starts with Franklin Pierce (never heard of him), but moves onto Warren Harding’s hypocrisy during Prohibition, Teddy Kennedy’s alcoholism that led to Chappaquiddick and Gerald Ford hiding his addictions under the cover of his wife Betty.

The Ancients Much as I might want it, it’s almost impossible for me to even conceive of a mindset where race is completely irrelevant. But in this episode Race in Antiquity it seems that this might have been the case in Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures. The Kushite pharaohs, Septimus Severus, Peter the Great’s son – being ‘black’ was described much the same way that being ‘blonde’ might be described today. Features Luke Pepera who is writing a book Motherland: 500,000 Years of African History, Cultures, and Identity (big topic!) which will be published next year.

History Hit In Russia Falters in Ukraine: Parallels with World War I historian Alexander Watson, author of the award-winning book The Fortress: The Great Siege of Przemysl, talks about the Eastern front during WWI- the one that we hear less about. Although he is cautious not to say “history is repeating”, there certainly are parallels. After the Russo-Japanese war, Russia made a huge investment in its army in an attempt to project great-power status. The Russian people were never as enthusiastic about the war as the political elites were, and there were draft riots in 1914 (I think of the lines of cars leaving Russia in the wake of its recent draft). Russia came into WWI ostensibly to protect Serbia (I think of Putin designating Ukraine “Little Russia” and the need to “defend” the territories annexed through his recent “referendum”). Because of the huge size of the Russian army, people thought that its force would be overwhelming (just as many thought would be the case with Ukraine). The parallels (so far) stop once the elites lose legitimacy after 1916 and a string of defeats, and once revolution breaks out. Dare we hope?

Inside the SLV. Jamie Wang Flickr CCCC BY-SA 2.0

Nothing on TV It’s time to hear a good Aussie voice, and who better than Robyn Annear. She hasn’t done a podcast for ages, so I’m having to delve into her back catalogue. Clean Hands starts off with the theft of soap from the front entrance to the Melbourne Public Library (now State Library of Victoria) – the soap was carefully cut into small pieces the size of a domino, but people were quite annoyed by the thefts. But not as outraged as they were when people stole the books, cutting out the Melbourne Public Library stamp on p. 91 (always), and erasing the stamp on the front and back pages. The Melbourne Public Library was open to everyone, which was a principle quite unusual at the time, and one which Redmond Barry vigorously defended. There were suggestions that there be a special room for people who just came into the library to lounge instead of read, but that never happened either. Although thinking back to nights at SLV, before the roof was opened up and everything was plunged into an eternal twilight lit by little green lamps, I think that there were many people there then too, in overcoats and smelling of alcohol, who were not actually ‘reading’.

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 1-8 October 2022

The Ancients. The Rise and Fall of Roman London. This episode features Professor Dominic Perring, Director of the UCL Centre for Applied Archaeology, who discusses what the archaeology studies conducted as part of the constant rebuilding of London have told us about the Roman phase of London’s History. I had listened and read to histories of London before (e.g. Peter Ackroyd’s London) but I tended to skip over the Roman bit to get to the 16th century parts. Now having finished my History of Rome podcasts, I have much more context to understand the ebb and flow of Roman London, and how it meshed with developments in the Roman Empire more generally. He starts off in AD43 as the first fort was constructed. Emperor Claudius came along for a 16 day trip, but did not linger in London but instead marched to Colchester. With the Boudiccan revolt of 60-61CE , London was burnt to the ground, but Vespasian embarked on a big rebuilding program as a way of asserting his legitimacy. However, there were fires in 125-6 CE, and possibly plague in 165-180 CE, which led to London growing and contracting. By the 3rd century, when the whole Roman Empire was in crisis, Britain became a good source of rebellious emperors e.g. Constantine. By the 5th century when the Roman Empire ‘fell’, London was smaller and less active because of the loss of trade and people, while other towns prospered. In effect, London had been invented by Rome and discarded by Rome

History This Week. This week in 1788, William Brodie was hanged in Edinburgh. He was the source material for R.L. Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and this episode The Hanging of Jekyll and Hyde goes through the story of this outwardly respectable church member and cabinet maker, who led a gang of thieves who became increasingly brazen.

Duolingo I don’t very often include my Spanish podcasts in these lists, but I do make an exception for Duolingo, which uses both Spanish and English in their episodes. You would be able to follow the podcast, even if you don’t speak Spanish. In Mexico City- Tenochtitlan, un ciudad oculta we are taken on a tour of the remains of the Aztec city that is covered over by the modern Mexico City. In the podcast, we travel to the Zocalo, and to ruins that were uncovered while constructing the Metro. I would LOVE to go to Mexico City.

History Hit The Energy Crisis: 2022 vs 1973 compares the mining strikes and Arab-Israeli was that led to energy shortages in 1973, compared with the crisis that is facing Britain and Europe this coming winter. In 1973, it was not so much prices that were the problem as a worldwide scarcity of oil, exacerbated in England by coal strike action. It would seem that in 2022, governments are cautious of telling people what to do anymore (burnt, no doubt, by COVID) and there is less sense of communal struggle and national unity. The episode features historian Alwyn Turner, who has a new book about crises in the 1970s called Crisis, What Crisis?

Now and Then features historians Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman. In the episode From Monopoly to Mystery Date they’re feeling a bit summery (they are from America after all), so they are looking at board games- in particular those where you throw and dice and move back and forward. I hadn’t heard of them all, but the story of Monopoly was fascinating. It was invented by a woman who wanted to demonstrate the principles of Henry George’s Single Tax theory, whereby the value of land was not intrinsic, but only a reflection of the social value ascribed to it and the status of the people who lived nearby. It wasn’t called Monopoly, but instead The Landlord’s Game. She was fairly badly ripped off (how ironic) and the game lost its political commentary in the Parker Bros. version. Then there was ‘Chutzpah’, a Jewish Monopoly game, which 50 years later looks very racist, and Mystery Date, an appallingly sexist and demeaning dating game.