Episodes

  • The common sailor was a crucial engine of British prosperity and expansion up until the Industrial Revolution. From exploring the South Seas with Cook to establishing the East India Company as a global corporation; from the sea battles that made Britain a superpower to the crisis of the 1797 mutinies; these "sons of the waves" affected the nation's prosperity with their calloused hand. Yet, while British maritime history in the age of sail is full of the deeds of officers like Nelson, little attention has been paid to plain, "illiterate" seamen. Stephen Taylor, writer of maritime history and travel, challenges the perception of these sailors as a brutally punished, press ganged, anonymous group and reassesses a rich set of historical sources to illuminate their experiences. Dan and Stephen discuss ordinary seamen, far from the hapless sufferers of the press gangs, who were proud and spirited, learned in their own fashion. They demonstrated robust opinions and the courage to challenge overweening authority, and stood out from their less adventurous compatriots.

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • This week in 1914 saw the outbreak of the First World War. In this special episode from the archive, Margaret MacMillan talks to her nephew Dan about her seminal book 'The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914'. They discuss the importance of Storytelling to the historian's process, the ways in which political actors at the time viewed the relation between fate and choice, the role that masculine insecurity played in the build up to the war and also examine the construct of and myths surrounding nationalistic feeling in the pre-war years. They even consider the possibility of an alternate course of events that involved Britain not entering the war at all.

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • In December 1915, some 135,000 allied troops, nearly 400 guns and 15,000 horses were collectively trapped in the bridgeheads at Anzac, Suvla and Helles. It was clear that the operation to seize control of Dardanelles and the Bosporus straits and capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) from the Turks, and thereby open a Black Sea supply route to Russia, had failed. With every day that passed the Turks moved up more guns, threatening to blast to pieces the flimsy piers, breakwaters and blockships that acted as makeshift harbours to feed and supply tens of thousands of men. And winter was coming. The evacuation plans were brilliant, but it was still a close-run thing. A spell of bad weather in the final days might have destroyed the flimsy piers, leaving thousands trapped helpless should the Turkish guns open up and their infantry swarm over No Man's Land.

    Dan and historian Peter Hart discuss how the Gallipoli garrison escaped to fight another day. Peter Hart was an oral historian at the Imperial War Museum for almost 40 years, during that time he interviewed thousands of veterans. An internationally acknowledged expert on Gallipoli, he is uniquely well placed to tell this remarkable story. 

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • In early 1900, Rudyard Kipling, Mary Kingsley and Arthur Conan Doyle crossed paths in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. Motivated in various ways by notions of duty, service, patriotism and jingoism, they were each shaped by the theatre of war. Sarah LeFanu joined me on the podcast to explore the cultural legacies, controversial reputations and influence on colonial policy of these three British writers. 

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • Norman Ohler joined me on the pod to discuss two remarkable lovers who led Germany's resistance against the Nazis. Harro Schulze-Boysen and Libertas Haas-Heye led a complex network of antifascists, which operated across Berlin's bohemian underworld. They infiltrated German intelligence leaked Nazi battle plans to the Allies, including the details of Hitler's surprise attack on the Soviet Union. But in a world where friend could be indistinguishable from foe, nothing could prepare Libertas and Harro for the ultimate betrayals they would suffer. 

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • Jessie Childs is an award-winning author, historian and expert on the Tudors. She joined me on the podcast to discuss this notorious family. What did people think of them at the time? Do they deserve their reputation - both good and bad? All in all, why are we so obsessed?

     

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  • Just after midnight on 30th 1945, the USS Indianapolis was sailing alone in the Philippine Sea when she was struck by two Japanese torpedoes, almost three hundred miles from land. She sank in 12 minutes. For the next five nights, nearly nine hundred men struggled with battle injuries, shark attacks, dehydration, insanity, and eventually each other. Sara Vladic is one of the world's leading experts on the USS Indianapolis, having met and interviewed 108 of the ship’s survivors. She joined me on the pod to recount this nightmarish event, revealing the grievous mistakes, extraordinary courage and unimaginable horror which surrounded it.

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • Christina Lamb is Chief Foreign Correspondent at The Sunday Times and one of Britain’s leading foreign journalists. As well as working in combat zones for over thirty years, Christina's also a best selling author, a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an honorary fellow of University College, Oxford and was awarded an OBE by the Queen in 2013. So I was thrilled that she could find time to join me on the pod to discuss the topic of her latest book: rape as a weapon of war. Although there is a long and painful history of rape and war, Christina explained how it is increasingly used against thousands of women as part of barbaric military strategy. A warning - this podcast contains harrowing descriptions of sexual violence. But as Christina tells me, if these events are difficult for us to hear, they are far harder for those who have lived them to forget. 

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • Charlemagne was one of history’s most ruthless and ambitious warriors – King of the Franks, then King of the Lombards, conqueror of the Saxons, leading to the Pope crowning him Roman Emperor. But plenty of blood was spilled along the way. So how did Charlemagne manage to unite much of Europe? Why did the Pope crown him emperor? How did his legacy inspire Adolf Hitler? History Hit’s Rob Weinberg asks the big questions about this hugely influential figure to Dr. Sinead O’Sullivan of Queens University Belfast.

     

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  • "Their finest hour", "we shall fight on the beaches", "never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". These words of Winston Churchill are synonymous with our idea of the British war effort during the darkest days of WWII. Richard Toye joined me on the podcast to take a closer look at these speeches. How many civilians would have actually heard Churchill's brilliant rhetoric, and what did they think of them? Why were they so compelling, both then and now? And perhaps most importantly, did they make any difference to the war effort? 

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • Kim Ghattas joined me on the podcast to explore how Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran - who were once allies and the twin pillars of US strategy in the area - became mortal enemies after the revolution of 1979. In a war of cultural supremacy, we discussed the nature of various groups using and distorting religion, suppressing cultural expression and encouragning sectarian violence. And how did events like Iran’s fatwa against author Salman Rushdie lay the groundwork for more recent troubles, including the birth of groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the rise of ISIS? 

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • For hundreds of years, monarchy has reigned as the dominant political model in Europe. But how has this system - where political life was shaped by the births, marriages and deaths of the ruling family - maintained such a strong grip for so long? How did these dynasties cope with female rule, child monarchs, mistresses or pretenders to the throne? How were names, numbering and the visual display of heraldry express an identity and cement loyalty? Robert Bartlett is Professor Emeritus at the University of St Andrews, and her joined see on the pod to untangle this complex web of internal rivalries and loyalties in the politics of the royal and imperial dynasties of Europe. 

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • SS Great Britain was the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854, and now resides in Bristol as a museum. She was the brainchild of Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company's transatlantic service between Bristol and New York City. In this pod, I was taken on a tour around this remarkable feat of Victorian engineering to hear how Brunel's ingenuity transformed the world. 

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • I was delighted to be joined by Nicholas O'Shaughnessy, who took me through the remarkable rise of Adolf Hitler. Starting with his experience of the First World War, Nicholas took me through the events and turning points which turned a failed art student into one of the most powerful men in history. We discussed how the Beer Hall Putsch, the Wall Street Crash, the Article 48 Decree, the Reichstag Fire and the death of Hindenburg acting as stepping stones to Hitler's success. This podcast compliments our latest documentary on the Rise of Hitler, available now on History Hit TV. 

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • The Battle of Prokhorovka was one of the largest tank battles in military history. Taking place on the Eastern Front, it was fought on 12 July 1943 as part of the wider Battle of Kursk. Two elite SS divisions were obliterated, and about 300 panzers were destroyed as the Red Army began to turn the tide for Hitler. Prokhorovka has always been notorious, but British historian Ben Wheatley has challenged the traditional myths surrounding the battle by fine-combing through the evidence. He joined me on the pod to reveal his findings, and argue how it was impossible for the German's to have suffered the major losses which have been marked out in history books.

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • Arguably the world’s greatest ever dramatist, after five and a half centuries William Shakespeare remains as popular as ever. But how did he became so famous? How did later authors boost his reputation? And why has Shakespeare stayed supreme above all other writers? Rob Weinberg asks the big questions to Jerry Brotton, Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London.

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • I was thrilled to be joined on the podcast by the Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, Anne Applebaum. Anne's written extensively on Marxism–Leninism, the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe, and was one of the first American journalists to raise an alarm about antidemocratic trends in the West. In this podcast we asked big questions about democracy - does it still appeal to us, and where does it stand in the modern world?

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • I am very excited to be joined by Colonel Kevin W. Farrell, who spent over 30 years in uniform and commanded at the platoon, company, and battalion levels. He finished up in the army as the Chief of the Military History Division at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. I am fascinated to hear about how the modern army chooses to teach history to its future leaders. He acted as an advisor to the Afghan National Army and the commander of a 1,000-soldier combined arms battalion conducting extended combat operations in East Baghdad, Iraq. Kevin and I discussed how a deep understanding of military history and leadership theories can benefit military and civilian workers in all sorts of ways. 

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • 10 years after the expulsion of the British, leading US figures including Washington, Hamilton and Jefferson came together to draw up plans for governing the world's newest country. But what should the role of a President be and how should American politics function? I was thrilled to be joined by Joanne B. Freeman, a professor of History and American studies at Yale University, to discuss this turning point of American politics. 

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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  • Getting to the moon was no easy feat, no matter how confident 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. After all, it was hard to feel safe when a pen could go straight through the module. Kevin Fong is part of the NHS emergency response team for major fatality incidents like terror attacks. He's also an anaesthetist, a lecturer in physiology at UCL and an expert in space medicine. He joined me on the podcast to explore our first moments on the surface of the moon. 

    Subscribe to History Hit and you'll get access to hundreds of history documentaries, as well as every single episode of this podcast from the beginning (400 extra episodes). We're running live podcasts on Zoom, we've got weekly quizzes where you can win prizes, and exclusive subscriber only articles. It's the ultimate history package. Just go to historyhit.tv to subscribe. Use code 'pod1' at checkout for your first month free and the following month for just £/€/$1.

     

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