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Explaining History

From Tito to Milosevic - the breakup of Yugoslavia

What factors led to the destruction of Yugoslavia and the death of 140,000 people over a decade? This podcast examines the mounting tensions that communism's failure unleashed.

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  • South Africa's Democracy: 30 Years On

    36:59
    Peter Hain was, along with his family, forced to flee South Africa in the late 1960s, at the height of the Apartheid regime's war against its opponents. From exile in London Peter was a pivotal member of the anti Apartheid movement in the 60s, 70s and 80s. In this interview before the publication of his third novel, the Lion Conspiracy, we talk about conservation and the international corruption that fuels poaching across Africa, and the valiant attempts by African rangers to preserve wildlife. We also explore the state of South Africa three decades after the transition to a multiracial democracy and the reasons for a decline in the popularity of the ANC following the corruption of former prime minister Jacob Zuma. A former member of Tony Blair's government and now a member of the House of Lords, Peter has fascinating insights on the nature of the struggle against apartheid and the reasons for the fall of the Pretoria regime.You can grab a copy of the Lion Conspiracy here
  • Understanding Nostalgia

    25:58
    Open up your Twitter feed or Facebook page and you're one or two clicks away from a nostalgia meme, they grow like historically illiterate fungi, but nostalgia itself is a more complex and even sometimes problematic phenomenon. In this episode of the Explaining History podcast we hear from Dr Agnes Arnold-Forster, the author of a new history of Nostalgia itself. We explore the first recorded instances of nostalgia in the 17th Century through to its current usage and weaponisation in culture wars. Our shared longings for less complex or worrying times and our fears and misunderstandings about the nature of the past are part of this complex and fluid socially shared emotional and cultural phenomenon. You can grab a copy of the book here
  • Understanding David Lloyd George

    36:59
    In today's podcast we're joined by Damian Collins MP, whose new book - Rivals in the Storm -, charts the political career of David Lloyd George, the man credited popularly with winning the First World War. In this episode we explore the radical liberal Chancellor and later Prime Minister whose ability to focus on the key challenges of the war saw him eclipse Herbert Asquith in 1916. We examine his complex relationships with both the Liberal and Conservative Parties and his political downfall in 1923.You can hear Damian speak at the Hay Festival on May 28th, tickets are available here.You can grab your copy of Rivals in the Storm Here
  • The British Working Class - 1945-2024

    33:26
    In this wide ranging interview with Ewan Gibbs, lecturer in social and economic history at the University of Glasgow, we explore the themes in his forthcoming book, The Unmaking of the British Working Class, in which Ewan explores the changes in post war class consciousness, identity and culture. We discuss key transitional moments from post war affluence in the 1950s and 1960s, the assault on organised labour in the 1970s and the social transformations brought about by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, all the way to Brexit and the current moment.If you enjoyed this podcast, please like, subscribe and share.You can support Explaining History on Patreon here
  • The Royal Navy 1918-41

    28:51
    A family history project into the war record of Jim Carter's great grandfather became an exploration of the history of the Royal Navy in peacetime and war. In July 1918 Herbert Leeder joined the Royal Navy, beginning a naval career which spanned 2 World Wars and 16 ships. 100 years later, his great grandson, Jim Carter was researching the lives of the men listed on his Berkshire village’s war memorial when his mother gave him Herbert’s S459 Record of Service and Carter, with a passion for military history, began to research Herbert’s life.In today's podcast we discuss the early phases of the war, Britain's battle for the Mediterranean, the failed defence of Greece and Crete and the steep learning curve the Royal Navy undertook to win a war at sea.
  • Black Britain 1948-89: Economic drivers of migration

    31:38
    During the post war decades, migration from Britain's colonies in the Caribbean to the UK grew considerably. There are well documented 'pull' factors that led to this, including a deep sense of identification that many Jamaicans, Barbadians and others felt for the 'mother country'. However, long term structural economic hardships, the effects of a devastating hurricane in 1944 and the lack of any real prospect of migration to America after 1952 created powerful 'push' factors towards Britain.This episode of the Explaining History podcast explores these issues through Eddie Chambers' excellent cultural history of Black Britain, Roots and Culture
  • Infiltrating the IRA: Terror and Espionage in Northern Ireland

    33:13
    In this gripping episode of *Explaining History*, we delve into the shadowy world of espionage, conflict, and moral ambiguity with intelligence writer Henry Hemming, author of the explosive new book on one of the most controversial figures of The Troubles, the IRA double agent known as Stakeknife.Henry Hemming takes us behind the veil of secrecy to reveal the complex life of Stakeknife, who, while deeply embedded within the IRA, passed critical intelligence to British security forces. This clandestine exchange of information had profound impacts on the course of The Troubles, making Stakeknife one of the most effective double agents of the period. However, his actions did not come without a cost, as he was also implicated in numerous murders, raising questions about morality, loyalty, and the price of peace.Through Hemming's meticulous research and captivating storytelling, we explore the intricate dance of espionage, the ethical quandaries faced by those living a double life, and the human cost of conflict. This episode is a must-listen for anyone fascinated by the complexities of history, the art of intelligence, and the enduring question of what it means to do the right thing in a world where lines are often blurred.
  • IRA double agents - Terror and espionage with Henry Hemming

    34:42
    In this gripping episode of *Explaining History*, we delve into the shadowy world of espionage, conflict, and moral ambiguity with intelligence writer Henry Hemming, author of the explosive new book on one of the most controversial figures of The Troubles, the IRA double agent known as Stakeknife.Henry Hemming takes us behind the veil of secrecy to reveal the complex life of Stakeknife, who, while deeply embedded within the IRA, passed critical intelligence to British security forces. This clandestine exchange of information had profound impacts on the course of The Troubles, making Stakeknife one of the most effective double agents of the period. However, his actions did not come without a cost, as he was also implicated in numerous murders, raising questions about morality, loyalty, and the price of peace.Through Hemming's meticulous research and captivating storytelling, we explore the intricate dance of espionage, the ethical quandaries faced by those living a double life, and the human cost of conflict. This episode is a must-listen for anyone fascinated by the complexities of history, the art of intelligence, and the enduring question of what it means to do the right thing in a world where lines are often blurred.
  • A timeline of everything - In conversation with Bruce Tapping

    33:27
    In this episode of Explaining History, we sit down with the acclaimed writer Bruce Tapping, author of, "Bruce's Complete Timeline of the World." Join us as we embark on a fascinating journey through the timeline, unravelling the complexities of our past, from the agricultural revolutions that reshaped society to the intellectual awakening of the Renaissance.Bruce offers his unique insights into some of the most pivotal events in history, including the theories surrounding 9/11 and the transformative impact of information revolutions from printing to the internet on our understanding of historical change. With a narrative that weaves through the ages, we delve deep into discussions on how events are interconnected and the ways in which history repeats itself, offering lessons for the future.Through Bruce's expert lens, we explore not just the events that have shaped our world, but the underlying forces driving historical change. Whether you're a history buff, a student of human progress, or simply curious about the world around you, this episode promises to enlighten, challenge, and inspire.Tune in to Explaining History for a conversation that transcends time, offering a fresh perspective on the world we've inherited and where we're headed next.