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The History Hour


From World War II to the Arab Spring, history told by the people who were there.

From World War II to the Arab Spring, history told by the people who were there.
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From World War II to the Arab Spring, history told by the people who were there.




The Battle of the Airwaves in Latin America

Why the BBC started broadcasting to South and Central America, plus the My Lai Massacre, Brazil's careful transition to democracy, and Moscow's show trials in the 1930s. Photo: Members of the BBC's Brazil service rehearsing in a London studio in 1943. Credit: BBC.


Deaf Rights Protest

A landmark protest by deaf students in the US; the early fight for women's reproductive rights; the life and times of political thinker, Hannah Arendt; language and history in Azerbaijan, and Wonder Woman. Picture: Student protestors, courtesy of Gallaudet University in Washington DC


China's Barefoot Doctors

How China's barefoot doctor scheme revolutionised rural healthcare; plus M*A*S*H, the ground-breaking American TV show that taught a generation about war; the assassination of the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme; the German and Russian soldiers who fought on the Eastern Front in the First World War; and the Angel of the North, a huge steel sculpture that has become an icon for the north-east of England. Picture: Gordon Liu


The Boy in the Bubble

How a young boy lived with a rare genetic disorder; plus "Ghana Must Go" - when 1 million Africans were expelled from Nigeria, battling the last major smallpox epidemic in India, reporting the Jimmy Swaggart scandal and the story behind the acclaimed novel "Infinite Jest" (Photo: David Vetter and his mother Carol-Ann Demaret Credit: Carol-Ann Demaret)


Women's Rights In Iran

We hear from Mahnaz Afkhami, Iran's first ever minister for Women's Affairs, appointed in 1975. Plus, the so-called "headscarf revolutionaries" who fought for improvements in Britain's notoriously dangerous fishing industry, a member of the Viet Cong recalls one of the biggest battles of the Vietnam War, finding the lost notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, and the 1970s lesbian separatist movement in America. Photo: Mahnaz Afkhami at the UN in 1975. (Mahnaz Afkhami)


The Munich Air Disaster

The plane crash that killed eight of Manchester United's top players, the courage of the British Suffragettes, uncovering South Africa's nuclear secrets, plus tracking down Nazis in South America and the attack on a South Korean airliner ahead of the Seoul Olympics. (Photo: Plane wreckage at Munich airport - AFP/Getty Images)


The Tet Offensive

In January 1968, North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong guerrillas launched a huge surprise attack on towns, cities and military bases across South Vietnam. The events of the Tet offensive had a profound impact on American public opinion and marked a turning point in the war. Plus the roots of the Rohingya crisis, the birth of gospel music, Ireland's Bloody Sunday, and the end of corporal punishment in Britain. Photo: Julian Pettifer reporting under fire near the Presidential Palace in...


The Capture of the USS Pueblo

When North Korea and the US came close to war in 1968; plus Salvador Dali, re-creating Francis Bacon's studio, the first veggie burger and the origins of Lego Photo: Members of the USS Pueblo's crew being taken into custody. Credit: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service


Truth And Reconciliation in South Africa

After Apartheid was abolished in the 1990s, South Africa set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to try to confront the legacy of its brutal past. We speak to Justice Sisi Khampepe, who served on the Commission. Plus, the inspiring story of the disabled Irish author, Christoper Nolan; an inside account of two of America's most famous presidential speeches; and the role of British women in World War I. (PHOTO: Pretoria South Africa: President Nelson Mandela (L) with Archbishop Desmond...


When France Said 'Non' to Britain Joining Europe

When France stopped Britain joining Europe in the 1960s, the boy who set a record for continuously staying awake, the launch of the first iPhone, hands reaching out in friendship between Britain and Germany after the Second World War, and a notorious massacre during Algeria's bitter internal conflict of the 1990s. Photo: Charles de Gaulle, President of France, at a press conference on 14th January 1963 at which he said Britain was not ready to join the European Economic Community, now the...


Boris Yeltsin's Surprise Resignation

Mrs Yeltsin, on the day her husband shocked the world, half a century since the Mafia's grip on America was exposed, the 1999 protests in Iran - the biggest since the revolution - a student tells us how a photograph led to his death sentence and the Brazilian woman hijacker who took her kids along for the ride.


Kwanzaa - The African-American Holiday

How Black activists invented a new holiday, flying around the world without refuelling, what not to do if you win a fortune, and the mountaineers who risked their lives climbing the spires of Leningrad during WW2. Then there's the obligatory Christmas board game - Trivial Pursuit. Picture: Children at the first Kwanzaa celebration - courtesy of Terri Bandele.


To Kill A Mockingbird

One of the most successful American films of all time was released on Christmas Day 1962. Based on the best-selling book by author Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird starred Gregory Peck as a lawyer who stood against prejudice in the Deep South of the USA. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to Gregory Peck's son Carey Peck. Plus, the life of Indian independence leader BR Ambedkar; a short-lived period of peace in Somalia under the Islamic Courts Union; the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution...


The Unsung Hero of Heart Surgery

The African-American lab technician, Vivien Thomas, who pioneered surgery that saved millions of babies, Otis Redding remembered 50 years on from his tragic death, the killer smog of the 1950's London, the man brave enough to hypnotise Uday Hussein and the Australian Prime Minister - lost at sea. (Photo: Vivien Thomas, US Surgical Technician, 1940) (Audio: Courtesy of US National Library of Medicine)


British Withdrawal from South Yemen

Fifty years since Aden gained independence from Britain, plus an amazing discovery under the oceans, a celebration of Finnish independence, Russian art punished by the Bolsheviks and the building of Mount Rushmore's famous statues. Photo: Aden 1967 Copyright: Alamy.


The Poisoning of Litvinenko

In November 2006, the world was shocked by the murder in London of former Russian intelligence officer, Alexander Litvinenko. We hear from his widow Marina about his life and agonising death, and get an analysis of the case from Luke Harding, author of "A Very Expensive Poison". Also in the programme, an astonishing assassination plot during El Salvador's Civil War, a huge oil spill in Spain, and the purpose-built city in Siberia which was home to the Soviet Union's best scientists....


The Siege of Mecca

The secret battle for the holiest site in Islam in 1979; the coup that changed the Vietnam war, plus an East German musical icon, prosecuting Charles Manson and Toy Story's digital revolution. Photo: Fighting at the Grand Mosque in Mecca after militants seized control of the shrine, November 1979 (AFP/Getty Images)


The 'Disappeared' of Lebanon

The women searching for their loved-ones who went missing during the Lebanese civil war, plus the man who first discovered diamonds in Botswana, a pioneer of the Indian restaurant business in the UK, an exploding whale, and naked dancing in post-war London. Photo: West Beirut under shellfire in 1982.(Credit:Domnique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)


The Russian Revolution: The Bolsheviks Take Control

Eye-witness accounts from the Russian Revolution of October 1917; the first dog in space; Sabah, one of the biggest 20th-century stars of the Middle East; the last journalist to interview Osama Bin Laden; and horror and heartbreak: memories of the First World War. Picture: Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin addressing crowds in the capital Petrograd during the Russian Revolution of 1917. (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


Martin Luther's 95 Theses

The German monk who began a religious uprising; the book that made us think of humans as animals; how the murder of a Brazilian journalist by the secret police became a symbol of Brazil's military brutality; plus the Lebanese architectural dream that was overtaken by war and the fight that ended sex censorship online. Photo: A portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder on display at the German Historical Museum in Berlin, Germany (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)


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