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Dan Snow presents
Dan Snow's History Hit
History! The most exciting and important things that have ever happened on the planet! Featuring reports from the weird and wonderful places around the world where history has been made and interviews with some of the best historians writing today. Dan also covers some of the major anniversaries as they pass by and explores the deep history behind today's headlines - giving you the context to understand what is going on today.
June 23, 2021
The World According to Obama Official Ben Rhodes
Ben Rhodes has served at the very pinnacle of politics in his role as deputy national security adviser in Barack Obama's Whitehouse and seen what it takes to run a democracy and take the tough decisions that are needed. But since leaving the Oval Office the world has seen a slide towards populism, nationalism and even authoritarianism. But how can this descent into dangerous political waters be stopped? After leaving politics Ben spent three years travelling the world speaking to leaders, activists and dissidents across dozens of countries. His new book After the Fall: Being American in the World We've Made documents those journeys and he speaks to Dan about what he discovered, the truths we have to face about our societies and how the United States can set an example for the world.
June 22, 2021
On 22 June 1941 Hitler unleashed Operation Barbarossa the biggest military operation in human history. More than 3 million men of the Axis poured into the Soviet Union beginning a conflict, that even within the context of the Second World War, was unprecedented in both its scale and savagery. Operation Barbarossa began with unparalleled success for the Wehrmacht and its allies with millions of Soviet soldiers killed and captured in the opening months of this titanic struggle. But by the winter of 1941 and against all the odds the German war machine had been halted outside the gates of Moscow marking the beginning of the end for the Nazi regime. To better understand this enormous operation Dan is joined by the author and broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby who has written a new book Barbarossa: How Hitler Lost the War. They discuss why Barbarossa was launched, the inhuman nature of the fighting and the horrific treatment of civilians and particularly the Jews, whether Barbarossa could have ever been successful and looking at the more human side behind the almost unbelievable scale of the fighting.
June 21, 2021
Tragedy at the Scottish Crannog Centre
From the Neolithic period to the early 18th century Crannogs were a feature of Scottish, Welsh and Irish lakes and estuaries enabling a unique way of life. These unusual dwellings consisted of an artificial island constructed over and in the water. The Scottish Crannog Cente on Loch Tay had a wonderful reconstruction of a crannog however just over a week ago it was very sadly destroyed by fire in just a few minutes. Fran Houston, the curator at the Scottish Crannog Centre, is today's guest on the podcast. She explains what happened in the fire but also the history of crannogs, what they were used for, why they were present in our landscapes for so long and their plans to build not just one but three new crannogs! You can out more information about the Scottish Crannog Centre by clicking here and you can make a donation to help with the rebuilding of their crannog via their JustGiving page.
June 20, 2021
Black American Struggle: Riot or Revolution?
The 1960s and early 1970s saw civil unrest and violence in the United States on a scale not seen since the civil war between black residents and the police but was this simply rioting or a revolution? Dan is joined by Elizabeth Hinton associate professor of history, African American studies, and law at Yale University and Yale Law School. She argues in her new book America on Fire that rather than being a series of criminal acts, as it was often portrayed, this violence was more akin to an uprising against an unjust and overreaching state. Elizabeth and Dan discuss the causes and consequences of these uprisings including the militarization of the police and the failure to address the fundamental social injustices which were the root causes of the unrest. This is a fascinating episode that addresses vital issues that remain extremely current.
June 19, 2021
Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary, Queen of Scots, returned to the news headlines when the rosary she carried to her execution in 1587, was recently stolen from Arundel Castle. It's the latest chapter in the enduring story of this highly romanticised figure. Mary reigned over Scotland for just over 24 years between December 1542 until her forced abdication. Considered the legitimate sovereign of England by many Catholics, Mary was seen as a threat to Queen Elizabeth I. In this episode from our sibling podcast Not Just the Tudors, Suzannah Lipscomb talks to Professor Kate Williams about Mary's tragic life, her disastrous marriages and the plots against Elizabeth that resulted in her execution.
June 18, 2021
Voices of Waterloo
206 years ago today, 60,000 men were slaughtered in the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon Bonaparte's French army was finally defeated by an almighty coalition of troops from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Hanover, Brunswick and Nassau, led by the Duke of Wellington, and the Prussian army under the command of Field Marshal von Blücher. In this archive episode Zack White, who set up Voices of the Battlefield, an oral history project featuring 41 readings of eyewitness testimony from the campaign, joins the podcast. Dan and Zack discuss the battle and hear accounts, ranging from a 10 year old triangle player remembering the chaos of the battlefield to Wellington's own remorse at the horrific bloodshed ], of what happened that fateful day. If you want even more Waterloo content you can listen to The Battle of Waterloo with Peter Snow or watch History Hit's film Austerlitz: Napoleon's Greatest Victory about Napoleon's greatest victory ten years earlier.
June 17, 2021
Churchill's Daughters: The Privilege and the Pain
Winston Churchill's daughters Diana, Sarah, Marigold and Mary are often overshadowed by their father's extraordinary fame but they also lived fascinating lives and were often present at many of the seismic moments of history. Their lives were far from easy though. Marigold died at the age of two, Diana would suffer mental health problems and eventually committed suicide and Sarah wrestled with alcoholism. This is a story of a family at the very heart of political and social life and a story about what it's like to grow up as a child of greatness. To help tell this story Rachel Trethewey, author of The Churchill Girls: The Story of Winston's Daughters, is today's guest on the podcast and she discusses their upbringing, their relationship with their parents, the role the daughters played in supporting Winston's career and what they each aspired to do with their own lives
June 16, 2021
The Curious History of Postcards
For many people sending a postcard is an essential part of any seaside trip but rather than just being a novelty they were once a vital form of communication and often the quickest way to contact your friends and relatives. Dan is joined by Chris Taft and Georgina Tomlinson from the postal museum where a new exhibition marking 151 years of the British postcard is being launched (it was meant to be the 150th exhibition last year!). Chris and Georgina talk us through the surprising history of postcards from their inception and rise to prominence, to the coded messages sometimes contained on them and the link home they provided not just for holidaymakers but for soldiers on the frontlines as well.
June 15, 2021
Everything You Need to Know about the Anglo-Saxons
The Anglo-Saxon period is vital for the formation of England and the UK as we know it but is a difficult era to fully understand. The departure of the Romans left a power vacuum that was filled by warlords with violence, foreign invasion, occupation and religious strife being endemic. But out of this turbulent period the foundation of what we now call England came into being. Dan is joined by Marc Morris one of the most distinguished medieval historians in the world and author of a new book called The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England. Marc guides us through these difficult centuries separating truth from legend and illuminating this dark period in history.
June 14, 2021
The Heiress, the Kidnap, and the Making of London
After the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of London in 1666 London was on its knees with its population decimated and the heart of the city burnt out, but from the ashes, it would rise phoenix-like to become one of the world's dominant economic and cultural centres. Dan is joined by author Leo Hollis for a walking tour of London and they visit the key locations in London's flourishing after the tragedies of the 17th century. Along the way, they discuss how London was rebuilt, where the money came from to do it and the architectural ambitions of those involved. They also explore the life of Mary Davies, a relatively little known and tragic figure, who's life is absolutely central to the rebirth of the city. The land she inherited after the death of her father to the plague came to form what is today some of the most valuable real estate in the world. But this inheritance was a curse for her involving becoming a child bride, being kidnapped, declared mad and much shady dealing along the way.
June 13, 2021
Gordon Brown on How to save the World
Gordon Brown stood at the pinnacle of UK politics for 13 years first as Chancellor of the Exchequer and the as Prime Minister but it is as a private citizen that he now seeks to set out and help solve some of the world's most pressing problems. In this episode, Dan speaks to Gordon Brown about his time as prime minister; the power he wielded and the limitations of even the highest political office. They also, discuss the global issues that humanity needs to address and Gordon's firm belief in the power of internationalism and the dangers of failing to work together.
June 12, 2021
England holds the slight unwanted title for the most appearances in the Euros without ever reaching a final, so why the excitement when it comes back around every four years? Football journalist and podcaster Tom Fordyce joins Dan to chat about the history of the Euros, memorable moments, and what the future might have in store for the competition, which first took place in 1960. They discuss World Cup comparisons, standout penalties throughout the years, underdogs and more.
June 11, 2021
Alexander the Great’s Corpse and the Greatest Heist in History
Alexander the Great is one of the most famous generals and empire builders in history, but the story of his death is almost as remarkable as his life. Tristan Hughes host of the History Hit podcast The Ancients, and Alexander the Great superfan, joins Dan to tell the almost unbelievable tale of what happened after Alexander died. It is a titanic struggle for power and control over his empire that involves war, body snatching, extremely slow carriage chases and a thousand soldiers being eaten alive by crocodiles in the Nile.
June 10, 2021
The Mary Rose and Her Ethnically Diverse Crew
The Mary Rose, a Tudor warship in Henry VIII's navy, sank in the Solent on 19 July 1545 with the loss of most of her 415 strong crew. Recent developments in marine archaeology have enabled researchers to bring to light fascinating new evidence about the diversity of the crew. Dr Alex Hildred, the head of research at the Mary Rose Trust, is back on the podcast to discuss the cutting edge technology used, and the implications of this new discovery.
June 8, 2021
The Second World War is often depicted as a straight battle between good and evil but it was perhaps less straightforward than that. Whilst the Nazi regime was undoubtedly barbarous and deserved its fate the consequences of victory were not always the positive they are portrayed to be. Indeed for much of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, the end of the war leads to decades of military occupation and repression under the Soviet Regime. That regime was led by one man; Stalin. Dan is joined by Sean McMeekin, author of Stalin's War, who argues that it was Stalin who really shaped the conflict in order to achieve his own geopolitical aims.
June 7, 2021
The History of Head Transplants
The superpower rivalry of the Cold War had many different fronts, space, the rice paddy fields of south-east Asia and even the operating theatre. The desire to push the envelope of human ingenuity led Dr Robert J. White to conduct a series of successful head transplants on monkies during the 1970s with the eventual aim of performing the procedure on a human patient. Dr Brandy Schillace, the author of Mr Humble and Dr Butcher, is today's guest on the podcast and she tells the almost unbelievable story of how close we came to seeing human head transplants take place.
June 6, 2021
New D-Day Shipwrecks Discovered
D-Day on 6 June 1944 saw the largest amphibious landing in history take place as more than 150,000 allied troops stormed five assault beaches in Normandy, attempting to break through Hitler's Atlantic Wall. One of the unsung heroes of that operation were the landing craft and their crews. Without whom there could have been no initial landing and that beachhead that created could not have been maintained. Landing Craft Tank were the backbone of the operation to put the Allies back on continental Europe. They brought thousands of tanks, vehicles and tons of supplies ashore on the beaches and allowing the men fighting inland to continue to push forward against stiff German resistance. In this episode of the podcast, Dan speaks with historian Stephen Fisher about his exciting new project which has led to the identification of two Landing Craft Tank that were sunk in Poole Harbour after the war as a breakwater. They discuss the role of these ships, their development, the often perilous conditions they faced in The Channel and how Stephen came to discover the identities of these vessels. For more D-day content, such as the new film D-Day: Secrets of the Solent, subscribe to historyhit.tv. For a limited time, you can receive 50% off your first six months as a History Hit subscriber using the code dday.
June 5, 2021
The Profumo Affair
It was the scandal that shook the British political world to its core leading to ministerial resignations and helping to bring down a prime minister and cause the defeat of the Conservative party at the next general election. When John Profumo resigned as Minister for War after being exposed lying to parliament about his affair with the model Christine Keeler. The scandal sent shockwaves through the British press, people and establishment and was one of the defining scandals of the 1960s. Historian Richard Davenport-Hines joins Dan to discuss the events of the Profumo affair, what it says about society at the time and the impact of the scandal. Subscribe to history this weekend using the code dday and receive 50% of your subscription for the first six months. Once subscribed you'll be able to listen to the History Hit's first audiobook The Profumo Affair: Lord Denning's Report
June 4, 2021
The Beauty and Violence of the Renaissance
The Renaissance was a time of radical change in Europe with an explosion in the production of art, new methods of waging war, Europeans discovering the new world, the printing press and religious strife with reformation. At the centre of all this tumult was Italy which was made up of competing princely states squabbling and fighting for cultural as well political supremacy. Ultimately it is this period that would come to shape what we know as the Western World. To help better understand this enthralling period Dan is joined by the author Catherine Fletcher to explore the politics, art, warfare and the amazing characters that make up what we think of as the Rennaissance The History Hit Book Club is the new way to enjoy reading books that spark rich conversations about history. Every month we’ll carefully select a history book to read and discuss with like-minded members. If you would like to join the new History Hit Bookclub and to find out the full terms and conditions click here.