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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. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
 
What makes a song a smash? Talent? Luck? Timing? All that—and more. Chris Molanphy, pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts and shaped your memories forever.
 
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1/2. It's a big summer for British politics with Boris Johnson's resignation and the race between conservative hopefuls Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to take his place firmly on. To make sense of this coveted premiership, we've delved into the History Hit podcast archives for a rampage through the history of British Prime Ministers. In this episode, Da…
 
After the so-called-but-not-really “death” of disco, dance music in the 1980s moved to its own beat. There was synthpop, electro, hi-NRG and house. But the scrappy genre that seemed to pull it all together was called freestyle—a breakbeat-tempo, Latin-flavored genre fortified with dizzying, proudly synthetic beats. Freestyle grew out of the clubs a…
 
The summer of 1911 was a hot one. Massive strikes took place across the country, including seamen, railwaymen, coal miners, women working in food processing and garment-making and even school children. That, combined with record-breaking temperatures made Britain a constitutional, industrial and political tinderbox. It was harder to endure than tod…
 
Known as the Eternal City, ancient Rome was one of the greatest civilisations in human history, but how did it come about? With a turbulent history of Kings, civil wars and imperial desires - Rome has an incredible history. But who founded it? Were Romulus and Remus real brothers fighting for their kingdoms, or did a Trojan hero found one of the mi…
 
On August 6 and 9, 1945, US B-29 bombers, dropped their nuclear bombs on the two cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing hundreds of thousands and consigning millions to disease and genetic defects. The accepted wisdom in the U.S. since has been that dropping the bombs on these Japanese cities was the only way to end World War II without an invas…
 
2/2. Eva Schloss remembers her days as a girl in Amsterdam playing in the street with the other children including Anne Frank who, for a time, took a particular interest in her older brother Heinz. Eva also remembers the day the Dutch resistance worker exposed her family to the Nazis and they were carted off to Auschwitz. She remembers the train pu…
 
1/2. On the morning of the 4th of August 1944, exactly 78 years ago today, the Frank family cowered behind a bookshelf in Amsterdam, listening to heavy boots and German voices on the other side. Anne Frank and her family were discovered and taken to the Nazi concentration camps where they all perished, apart from Otto. Anne's diary stops in the sum…
 
Few early medieval gods are as well-known and as popular as Thor. He’s currently thrilling moviegoers worldwide with his new outing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: Love and Thunder. But behind the countless films and works of fiction, what’s the real origin story for Thor? How was he worshipped? And how has he secured such an enduring plac…
 
England’s historic Euro 2022 victory on Sunday night was the most watched TV programme of the year. It feels like it's the first time women's football is getting the attention it deserves. Well, a century ago, it was women who dominated the pitch, commanding crowds bigger than the men's games. But that changed on the 5th of December 1921 when the F…
 
In July 1588 the Spanish Armada sailed from Corunna to conquer England. Three weeks later an English fireship attack in the Channel—and then a fierce naval battle—foiled the planned invasion. Many myths still surround these events. The genius of Sir Francis Drake is exalted, while Spain’s efforts are belittled. But what really happened during that …
 
We celebrate abolition - in Haiti after the revolution, in the British Empire in 1833, and in the United States during the Civil War. Yet, over the approximately 100 years in which there were various moments of emancipation, these processes often provided failed pathways to justice for people who had been enslaved. Kris Manjapra is a professor, aut…
 
Anne of Cleves was the ‘last woman standing’ of Henry VIII’s wives and the only one buried in Westminster Abbey. How did she manage it? Was she in fact a political refugee, supported by the King? Was she a role model for her step-daughters Mary and Elizabeth? Why was her marriage to Henry doomed from the start? In this edition of Not Just the Tudor…
 
The Ottoman Empire was gigantic; at one point it reached the walls of Vienna to the Persian Gulf and beyond. It was established at the end of the 13th century with its centre in what is now modern Turkey. It held swathes of Europe for centuries right up to the First World War. In this episode, Professor of International History, Marc Baer and Dan r…
 
During World War II, in the town of Cowra in central New South Wales, thousands of Japanese prisoners of war were held in a POW camp. On the icy night of August 5th they staged one of the largest prison breakouts in history, launching the only land battle of World War II to be fought on Australian soil. Five Australian soldiers and more than 230 Ja…
 
Vladimir Putin has the power to reduce the United States and Europe to ashes in a nuclear firestorm. He invades his neighbours, most recently Ukraine, meddles in western elections and orders assassinations inside and outside Russia. But who is the man behind the headlines? For years, Philip Short was a foreign correspondent for the BBC. He is now t…
 
In a special episode from our sister podcast Warfare, Dan is joined by host James Rogers fresh off the Waterloo battlefield in Belgium where last week an astonishing discovery was made. The project Waterloo Uncovered unearthed bones that could hold extraordinary insights into the experiences of Waterloo soldiers, their diets, health, life and death…
 
Getting to the moon was no easy feat, no matter how confident President Kennedy may have sounded in his famous 1961 speech. NASA built a team from the ground up, and there were plenty of moments where it seemed as if they weren't going to make it. Kevin Fong tells stories of just how close they came, and how risky it was. After all, it was hard to …
 
On the West Bank of the Nile in Luxor, Egypt sits a temple considered to be one of the great architectural wonders of ancient Egypt. The memorial temple of Hatshepsut, the great female pharaoh who came to the throne of Egypt in 1478 BC sits nestled beneath a dramatic amphitheatre of limestone cliffs on the edge of the Valley of the Kings. Hatshepsu…
 
From the notorious thief Mary Frith in the seventeenth century to industrialist and LGBT trailblazer Anne Lister in the nineteenth, these heroines redefined what a woman could be and what she could do in pre-twentieth-century Britain. Holly Kyte, author and literary critic, joins Dan to shine a light on some of the unsung heroines of British histor…
 
The Imperial Japanese occupation of Hong Kong began on December 25, 1941, after the then Governor, Sir Mark Young, surrendered the British Crown colony to the Empire of Japan. The occupation lasted until Japan surrendered at the end of World War Two. Joining Dan on the podcast today is Barbara Sowerby, who was born in Hong Kong in 1936 to an Englis…
 
After the so-called-but-not-really “death” of disco, dance music in the 1980s moved to its own beat. There was synthpop, electro, hi-NRG and house. But the scrappy genre that seemed to pull it all together was called freestyle—a breakbeat-tempo, Latin-flavored genre fortified with dizzying, proudly synthetic beats. Freestyle grew out of the clubs a…
 
Pint, bottle, schooner, tinny … no matter how you drink it, beer is undeniably a part of social life here in Britain and around the world. But how did it come to hold this position? Why has this been more true for British men than for British women? And what did beer taste like before mass production and microbiology? Kate Lister has a pint with au…
 
How has warfare shaped the way humans live in the Atlantic World? Well, a lot. Military campaigns from the late Middle Ages to the Age of Revolution drove the development of technologies like ships, port facilities, fortresses, and roads. Crossing the ocean was made possible, connecting previously separate lands, nations and empires from Europe to …
 
Lasting 900 years, the ‘Dark Ages’ were between the 5th and 14th centuries, falling between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance. Today’s guest overturns preconceptions of the ‘Dark Ages’ as a shadowy and brutal era, showing them to be a richly exciting and formative period in the history of Britain. For more than 40 years, historian an…
 
In 1945, when Congress began reviewing the record of the most conspicuous acts of courage by American soldiers during WWII, they recommended awarding the Medal of Honour to 432 recipients. Despite the fact that more than one million African-Americans served, not a single black soldier received the Medal of Honour. Rob Child is an Emmy-nominated scr…
 
In a time of grave uncertainty about the future of our planet, the radical potential of democracy is more important than ever. From its beginnings in Syria-Mesopotamia – and not Athens – to its role in fomenting revolutionary fervour in France and America, democracy has subverted fixed ways of deciding who should enjoy power and privilege, and why.…
 
A cup of coffee was once a luxury. Now it is quick, cheap and widely available — a daily essential for many. How did this happen? Today on Patented, Jonathan Morris walks us through the evolution of coffee: from how people first figured out its psychoactive properties, to the transformations in roasting, processing and preparation that resulted in …
 
It's been an extraordinary day in British politics with dozens of Conservative MPs handing in their resignations and expressing a lack of confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It feels like this could be the end of his premiership. Johnson has clung to power despite scandal after scandal, including allegations of financial misconduct, risking…
 
During the War of 1812, the last time Britain and the United States went to war with each other, more than six thousand American sailors ended up in Dartmoor Prison. At the end of the war, prisoners remained behind Dartmoor’s walls for months after peace had been ratified. The prisoners’ fury at their continued incarceration led to an uprising on A…
 
Born Malcolm Little in 1925, Malcolm X would become human rights activist— a prominent African American minister and figure during the civil rights movement. As a spokesman for the Nation of Islam until 1964, Malcolm X was a vocal advocate for Black empowerment, Black nationalism and the promotion of Islam within the Black community. After Malcolm …
 
How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence impoverished in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar? This is the famous question posed by Lin Manuel Miranda in his smash-hit Broadway show Hamilton that's swept the globe. It's a celebration and looks into the…
 
For decades, British alt-pop goddess Kate Bush had never had a Top 10 hit in America. Now, in 2022, she finds herself in the Hot 100’s Top Five—and television got her there. Her classic “Running Up That Hill” is featured prominently in the latest season of Netflix’s hit ’80s horror fantasy show Stranger Things. This puts Bush in a long lineage of h…
 
In the dying days of the eighth century, the Vikings erupted onto the international stage with brutal raids and slaughter. The medieval Norsemen may be best remembered as monk murderers and village pillagers, but this is far from the whole story. Throughout the Middle Ages, long-ships transported hairy northern voyagers far and wide, where they not…
 
Alexander the Great’s untimely death at Babylon in 323 BC triggered an unprecedented crisis across his continent-spanning empire. Within a couple of days, the very chamber in which he died witnessed a gore-soaked showdown between his previously united commanders and soldiers. Within a fortnight, Babylon saw the first siege of the post-Alexander age…
 
In April 1944 nineteen-year-old Rudolf Vrba and fellow inmate, Fred Wetzler broke out of Auschwitz. Under electrified fences and past armed watchtowers, evading thousands of SS men and slavering dogs, they trekked across marshlands, mountains and rivers to freedom. Vrba's mission: to reveal to the world the truth of the Holocaust. Celebrated journa…
 
Europe in 1914 was a tinderbox of imperial tensions and the spark that would light the conflagration would be the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. But there is much more to this story than simply the murder of two royals on the street of Sarajevo. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was an often misunderstood figure seemingly hard and old-fashioned.…
 
Cleopatra VII was part of a dynasty of Macedonian rulers founded by Ptolemy, who served as general under Alexander the Great during his conquest of Egypt in 332 B.C. Cleopatra served as the dominant ruler in all three of her co-regencies and was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator. Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it resh…
 
The roots of the word ‘Nomad’ dates back to an extremely early Indo-European word, ‘nomos’. After towns and cities are built and more people settle, ‘Nomad’ comes to describe people who live without walls and beyond boundaries. Now, the word is used by settled people - for some with a sense of romantic nostalgia, and for others, it carries an impli…
 
Born in Brooklyn, New York in January 1899, Alphonse Gabriel Capone would go on to become perhaps the most infamous gangster in American history. During the Roaring Twenties, Al Capone ruled an empire of crime in the Windy City of Chicago: gambling, prostitution, bootlegging, bribery, narcotics, robbery, and many brutal acts of violence. Jonathan E…
 
The Royal Marines are the UK's Commando Force and the Royal Navy's own amphibious troops. The Commandos have become a byword for elite raiding skills and cutting-edge military operations. They are globally renowned, yet shrouded in mystery. Former Royal Marine Monty Halls joins Dan to shed light on the modern vanguard of a legendary unit, the desce…
 
In 2011, a 43-foot-high tsunami crashed into a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan. In the following days, explosions would rip buildings apart, three reactors would go into nuclear meltdown, and the surrounding area would be swamped in radioactive water. It is now considered one of the costliest nuclear disasters ever. But Fukushima was not th…
 
An extraordinary discovery has been unearthed by archaeologists working alongside the HS2 rail project. The find, made at an undisclosed location near Wendover in the Chilterns, consists of a 5th-6th century burial site that has been described as one of the most important post-Roman, early medieval discoveries of our lifetime. It offers the chance …
 
For decades, British alt-pop goddess Kate Bush had never had a Top 10 hit in America. Now, in 2022, she finds herself in the Hot 100’s Top Five—and television got her there. Her classic “Running Up That Hill” is featured prominently in the latest season of Netflix’s hit ’80s horror fantasy show Stranger Things. This puts Bush in a long lineage of h…
 
On June 17, 1940, the British ocean liner, RMS Lancastria, was sunk during Operation Aerial. RMS Lancastria had sailed to the French port of St. Nazaire to aid in the evacuation of British and French soldiers, civil servants and British civilians after the fall of Dunkirk. The ship was loaded well in excess of its capacity— the consequences of whic…
 
The Civil War was the most traumatic conflict in British history, pitting friends and family members against each other, tearing down the old order. Award-winning historian Jessie Childs plunges the reader into the shock of the struggle through one of its most dramatic episodes: the siege of Basing House. To the parliamentarian Roundheads, the Hamp…
 
A history of British monarchs in coins. With a history stretching over 1,100 years, The Royal Mint has forged a fascinating story through the world of historic coins. As the second oldest mint in the world, and the oldest company in the UK, its history is entwined with the 61 monarchs who have ruled England and Britain over the last 1,200 years. Ch…
 
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