Ian Mortimer is a godsend for history teachers trying to encourage reluctant students to do a bit of reading. He has an engaging, vivid style, enjoys the story and also seeks out the sort of historical nuggets that still elude textbooks. And unlike the stroppy Terry Deary he probably doesn’t mind his books being used in classes, or recommended by teachers.
Hollywood is in love with the British monarchy again. The King’s Speech is the surprise Oscar nominee that seems to be sweeping all before it with a heart-warming tale of a reluctant king over-coming his stammer to lead his country in defiance against one of the twentieth century’s worst monsters. There’s even a cameo for Britain’s Greatest Ever Prime Minister, as he offers sage advice to the introverted future monarch. Well, quite. Just as the film is beautifully made, wonderfully directed and sublimely acted, and rightly on course for its Oscars, it also manages to show just how much history is surrendered to art in the making of historical dramas. A backlash is already beginning against its re-writing of history, and few are more trenchant than British ex-pat and enfant terrible, Christopher Hitchens, in this article for online magazine Slate.read more...»
A terrific resource from the BBC archive has recently been updated and upgraded. The Berlin Wall archive contains a rich collections of video and audio clips explaining the entire history of the Berlin Wall. An essential AV resource.
The Shatila refugee camp was established in Lebanon to temporarily house Palestinians who had fled from what became Israel during the 1948-49 war. The refugees have never been able to return. This slideshow from the BBC looks at life within the camp and makes reference to the massacre that took place here during the Israeli invasion of 1982.
Yesterday, a former Blue Peter presenter carrying the Olympic torch had to wrestle for control of it with a man wearing a wolly hat who was protesting at Chinese actions in Tibet. Fire extinguishers and super soakers were also used by protestors in attempts to douse the Olympic flame. All good, traditional, British stuff. Yet using the Olympics to try and make political points is nothing new.read more...»
Today’s Independent has a host of stories that will be of interest to the historian:read more...»
Colonel Bob Stewart visited Hampton School this lunctime to deliver a fascinating talk about his time as commander of the 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment in Bosnia during the brutal conflict there in the early 1990s.read more...»
Yesterday Kosovo’s parliament declared unanimously declared itself to be independent from Serbia.
Just about immediately Serbia and her close supporter, Russia, made their protests as riot police faced protesters in Belgrade and grenades were thrown in the ethnically Serb town of Mitrovica in Kosovo.
Today Serbia withdrew her ambassador to the USA, stating that the country had violated international law by recognising Kosovo.
Amongst EU nations opinion has been divided with Spain not recognising the new state, in a directly opposite action to that taken by France, Germany and the UK.
All this not only brings back memories of the conflict in the late 1990s but also to the wider unrest in the region that has bedevilled wider European relations for upwards of 150 years. Even without going back to the strife prior to the Nineteenth Century there is enough to keep historians occupied. The crises of 1875-78, 1886, 1912-13 and, of course, 1914 all had international repercussions. It can only be hoped that both local and regional tensions will ease before more blood is spilt in a most contentious corner of our continent.
11 February 2008
Kang Khek Ieu was known as ‘Cambodia’s Himmler’, a torturer who oversaw the
deaths of 17,000 people. As he prepares to go on trial, he gives a chilling
insight into the Khmer Rouge - the most detailed account yet from a top
Exclusive by Valerio Pellizzari, Phnom Penh
Monday, 11 February 2008
In the West he has been called “Cambodia’s Heinrich Himmler”; since Pol Pot
himself and his lieutenant Ta Mok cheated justice by dying, he is the most
vivid symbol of the Khmer Rouge left alive. His name is Kang Khek Ieu, but
he is better known by his nom de guerre, Duch (pronounced “Doik”). This
spring, 28 years after fleeing Cambodia ahead of the Vietnamese army, his
trial for mass murder may finally get under way.
This is an interesting story run by the BBC today that has been doing the rounds for months. Rumours have been spreading around the world through discussion boards, email and chat rooms alleging that the government is about to ban Holocaust education in schools for fear of offending Muslims. It is not. Holocaust education remains compulsory for all schools in England.
Tonight Baroness Thatcher was awarded with a lifetime achievement award (whatever that means) by David Cameron at the Morgan Stanley Great Briton Awards. Read the story here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7220424.stm
But as more and more A Level History courses now include topics on Thatcher’s Britain it might be worth considering at what point currents affairs become history. Are we too close to events to be able to unravel Thatcher’s legacy both domestically and internationally?read more...»
Apparently the police are incensed that teachers have got a bigger pay rise than they have - a whopping 2.45%.
Whilst the discontent might show itself in the coming weeks in the shape of a few grumpy coppers it will be nothing in comparison to what happened in 1918-19 when the police went on strike. The walk out was in protest at poor wages and other conditions…and the action of the bobbies caught the government off guard. Within twenty four hours 12,000 men - just about the entire Met Police at the time - were on strike.
With troops patrolling the streets the government, under Lloyd George, frantically searched for a solution and eventually caved in. Will Gordon Brown face a similar situation in eighty years on?
I read in the news today that a computer capable of working through 63 million calculations per second has been unveiled in Edinburgh. The machine will, according to the report, help scientists ‘develop life-saving drugs and model climate change and epidemic patterns.’
Getting machines tackle highly complex problems is nothing new. During the Second World War the British created ‘Colossus’ - a huge calculating device that was aimed at cracking the German’s ‘Fish’ ciphers. Whilst the use of Colossus was most famously associated with Alan Turing other pioneers of this kind include Charles Babbage, Konrad Zuse and John von Neumann.
Learn more here: