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Explaining History

Explaining History Podcast: Twenty five minutes of weekly analysis on the 20th Century for students and enthusiasts


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  • 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.

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  • 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.
  • Mexico, America and NAFTA 1994-1995

    34:24
    In "Mexico, America, and NAFTA 1994-1995," we delve into the intricate web of economic, political, and social ramifications of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the mid-90s, guided by insights from John Gray's seminal work, "False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism." This episode sheds light on the high hopes and harsh realities that followed the implementation of NAFTA, focusing on the promise of seamless trade and prosperity versus the actual outcomes for local economies, labour markets, and national sovereignty.We start by exploring the foundational goals of NAFTA, aimed at eliminating trade barriers between Mexico, Canada, and the United States, and fostering economic growth through increased trade and investment. Drawing from Gray's critique, we discuss the ideological underpinnings of free-market capitalism as championed by global institutions and how NAFTA became a test case for these principles.The episode then zooms in on Mexico's experience, highlighting the immediate economic turbulence that followed NAFTA's implementation, including the 1994 peso crisis and its long-term implications for Mexican workers and industries. Through Gray's lens, we examine the fallout of globalization on local economies and the widening inequality gap, challenging the assumption that free trade inevitably leads to mutual benefits.Finally, the episode reflects on the broader implications of NAFTA as a microcosm of global economic integration, considering how Gray's "False Dawn" frames the disillusionment with globalization and the rethinking of economic policies in the 21st century. Through expert interviews and analysis, we unpack the complex legacy of NAFTA and what it teaches us about the challenges and opportunities of navigating a globalized world.Tune in to this thought-provoking episode of the Explaining History podcast, where we dissect the layers of Mexico, America, and NAFTA through the critical eyes of John Gray, offering listeners a deep dive into the intertwined destinies of nations caught in the wave of global capitalism.
  • Neoliberalism VS National Liberation Movements 1945-79

    00:41
    In this episode of the Explaining History Podcast, we delve into the complex and often overlooked intersection of Neoliberalism and National Liberation Movements during the pivotal decades of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Drawing insights from Quinn Slobodian's insightful book "Globalists," we unravel the ideological and practical challenges that the process of decolonization presented to neoliberal thinkers of the era. As countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America broke free from colonial rule, the foundational principles of neoliberalism—marked by the advocacy for open markets, free trade, and minimal state intervention—were put to the test. The episode explores the fascinating debate around the feasibility of establishing extraterritorial property rights for corporations in these newly independent nations. Could the neoliberal dream of a global free market withstand the rise of nationalistic aspirations and the desire for economic sovereignty among the newly liberated countries?Through detailed analysis, we examine how figures within the neoliberal camp responded to this challenge, and how the neoliberals themselves had little time for the aspirations of newly decolonised peoples. This episode sheds light on a critical chapter in global history, revealing the intricate dynamics between economic ideologies and the fight for national self-determination. Join us as we navigate the legacies of these historical debates and their implications for our understanding of global economic policies today.
  • World War Two: The Good War?

    42:21
    In this episode of the Explaining History podcast, we delve deep into the heart of the twentieth century's most defining conflict: World War II. Often remembered as "The Good War," this episode, inspired by Geoffrey Wheatcroft's insightful essay and Richard Overy's comprehensive study, invites listeners to re-examine the conventional narratives that have shaped our understanding of the war.Through a meticulous analysis of "World War Two: The Myth of the Good War" and "Blood and Ruins," we uncover the layers of complexity that challenge the black-and-white morality often associated with the Allies' cause. From the strategic bombing campaigns that devastated civilian populations to the political compromises that sowed the seeds of future conflicts, we explore the ethical ambiguities and harsh realities that defy the simplistic notion of good versus evil.Join us as we navigate the geopolitical chessboard of the 1930s and 1940s, examining the motivations, decisions, and consequences that defined the era. We confront the uncomfortable truths and moral dilemmas faced by nations and leaders, shedding light on the lesser-known aspects of the war that complicate its legacy.This episode is not just a journey through history but a call to critically engage with our past, understanding that the myths we hold dear often obscure the nuanced truths that can teach us invaluable lessons about humanity, war, and the price of peace.Tune in to "World War Two: The Good War" on the Explaining History podcast, and prepare to see one of history's most significant events in a new light.https://www.theguardian.com/news/2014/dec/09/-sp-myth-of-the-good-war
  • Socialism and Fascism - what they are and are not

    30:23
    Hi everyone, I get trolled from time to time on Twitter by various far right types who object to a particular video I did years ago which states that Hitler was not, in fact, a socialist and did not , in fact, have socialist ideas. Here I revisit the argument, though I doubt it will do me much good.Anyway, would love to hear your thoughts (unless you want to tell me he is a socialist, and whilst I'm all for free discourse, you should know that I've heard this one before, lots).ThanksNick