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Explaining History

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Fifteen minutes of 20th Century History for students and enthusiasts.

Fifteen minutes of 20th Century History for students and enthusiasts.
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Fifteen minutes of 20th Century History for students and enthusiasts.






Palestine, India and Britain: Two partitions and the end of empire

Exhausted by the Second World War, Britain was desperate to hold on to influence in the Middle East and yet policy makers were anxious to withdraw from Palestine as quickly as possible. At the same time, Britain was engaged in another hurried departure from India.

Duration: 00:28:18

Book Review: Black Power and the American People

This week's book review is an excellent and incisive analysis of the cultural history of black power in America by Rafael Torrubia.

Duration: 00:16:04

Public Opinion and International Relations 1890-1914

In the decades before the First World War, the role that public opinion and the press in forming the foreign policy of European powers became considerably more decisive. This podcast explores how and why.

Duration: 00:27:53

Book Review: Battles for Freedom by Eric Foner

The monthly book review returns, with a review of Battles for Freedom - the essays of Eric Foner for the Nation magazine 1977-2015

Duration: 00:14:57

1979 and the Birth of Neoliberalism

In the late 1970s, after a decade of economic stagnation, western economies, accompanied by China, began the first steps towards the abandonment of the Bretton Woods system and social democracy. They replaced it with the current model of global economics, neoliberalism.

Duration: 00:27:08

IG Farben and the Holocaust

In 1947 the last of the Nuremberg trials began. The accused were German industrialists from the chemicals cartel IG Farben. Prosecutors charged them with using slave labour at their bunawerk factory during the Second World War - Auschwitz Monowitz.

Duration: 00:28:31

War and British National Identity in the 20th Century

The development of British national identity in the 20th Century is intimately connected with conflict. War has provided a unifying force that has held together an inherently fissile union throughout the century.

Duration: 00:27:15

Stalin and the Soviet Bomb 1945-49

Stalin and his chief henchman Lavrenti Beria poured resources from a devastated USSR into the creation of an atomic bomb from 1945 onwards. The development of the bomb rested on Soviet espionage and the ability of scientists to experiment and work without ideological controls.

Duration: 00:25:03

Bretton Woods 1944-1971

In 1944 at Bretton Woods in the USA a new model of the world economy that would provide postwar stability and prosperity was devised. However, the compromises and plans of the USA meant that the system created a fatal flaw, leaving it to unravel by 1971.

Duration: 00:25:23

Mao, Khrushchev and the Great Leap Forward

Between 1958-1962 Mao's second five year plan, known as the Great Leap Forward, resulted in economic chaos and a famine that killed over 40 million people. It was in part inspired by Mao's attempts to eclipse Soviet leader Khrushchev as the leader of the communist world.

Duration: 00:25:08

2017 Exams Special: Expert study advice with Lucy Parsons

In a slight change from our regular episodes, I've interviewed study specialist and coach Lucy Parsons to offer her knowledge on how to prepare for history exams and what skills are needed to excel at A level. Coming on Friday: Berlin and Willy Brandt. You can find out more about Lucy's academic coaching @

Duration: 00:20:03

The World Recession in the 1970s

After three decades of unprecedented global economic growth from the Second World War onwards, the economy of the first world experienced prolonged economic crisis throughout the 1970s and 1980s. This podcast explores the long and short term causes of the crisis.

Duration: 00:26:21

French Fascism 1919-1939

Throughout the interwar period French politics polarised between right and left, but unlike Germany, the political centre ground managed to hold. On the right, a series of anti communist, pro Catholic, nationalist and militarist parties and societies proliferated, but it took a German invasion in 1940 to create a fascist government in France in the guise of the Vichy regime.

Duration: 00:25:33

Japan, war and hardship 1937-41

By 1941 Japan was facing acute economic crises due to the long drawn out war in China and the American oil and scrap metal embargo. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbour seemed to many Japanese a way out of the crisis.

Duration: 00:26:13

The Fate of Europe's Collaborators - 1945

At the end of the Second World War, savage reprisals against anyone suspected of collaborating with the Nazis swept Europe. In many instances, however, political and personal motivations led to widespread violence and killing.

Duration: 00:26:04

Kennedy, the CIA and Vietnam 1960-1963

In November 1963, shortly before he was assassinated, John F Kennedy ordered the overthrow of President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam. Diem, a corrupt authoritarian had become an embarrassment and his lack of support meant the likelihood of a communist takeover in Vietnam was steadily growing.

Duration: 00:28:27

India and the outbreak of war 1939

In September 1939 Lord Linlithgow, the British Viceroy of India declared war on Nazi Germany without consulting any of India's political parties. The war presented Indian politicians with opportunities to further their agendas and the British used divide and rule tactics to maintain their control. * visit and use the discount code Explain for ten percent off all podcasts and subscriptions.

Duration: 00:25:15

Hitler and the Catholic Church 1933-37

In 1933, as Hitler consolidated his power, he signed an agreement or 'concordat' with the Catholic Church, removing the power of the Papacy from German politics. Within months, however, the deal was abandoned and persecution of the church began. This podcast explores the reasons for the Nazis betrayal of the church.

Duration: 00:26:21

Radical Politics and British Pop Music 1976-87

For the first time in its history, British popular music became radically politicised in the mid 1970s as a result of the rise of far right racist groups in Britain. This radicalism lasted long into the 1980s, ending with the advent of New Labour.

Duration: 00:25:37

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