History Extra podcast

History Podcasts

The latest news from the team behind BBC History Magazine - a popular History magazine. To find out more, visit www.historyextra.com Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.


United States


The latest news from the team behind BBC History Magazine - a popular History magazine. To find out more, visit www.historyextra.com Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.




A secret Nazi plot to kill the ‘Big Three’

What would have happened if Josef Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt had all been assassinated at the height of World War Two? Speaking with Elinor Evans, Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch discuss the complex tale of a little-known Nazi plot to kill the ‘Big Three’ during the 1943 summit in Tehran – regarded by some as a close call that could have changed world history, and others as a murky Soviet scam to garner secret intelligence. (Ad) Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch are the...


Wild places & wild people: a short history of common land

Common land – land which wasn’t settled or farmed – used to exist right across Britain, and provided a vital shared resource for local communities. However, it was also seen by some as a wild place for wild people, and over the centuries, was gradually ‘improved’ or enclosed. Speaking with David Musgrove, Professor Angus Winchester highlights common land’s rich and complex history, arguing that it provided a key resource for fuel, building materials, foraging and hunting, as well as being a...


The forgotten years that forged Wales

In Welsh history, the period that lies between the medieval era of resistance to English occupation, and the rapid industrialisation of the 18th and 19th centuries, is often forgotten. Yet, there was much more going on in Wales in the early modern period than might initially meet the eye. Speaking with Elinor Evans, Lloyd Bowen describes the ambiguities in Welsh identity and nationhood that arose in the decades following the Acts of Union in the early 16th century, including the impact of...


How six women programmed the world’s first modern computer

During the Second World War, six talented mathematicians were brought together to make history. These women had one mission: to program the world’s first and only supercomputer. Speaking with Rachel Dinning, Kathy Kleiman explores the vital but overlooked role the “Eniac 6” played in the history of computing during and after the Second World War. (Ad) Kathy Klieman is the author of Proving Ground: The Untold Story of the Six Women Who Programmed the World's First Modern Computer (Hurst,...


Tattoos: a 5,000 year history

Throughout history, people have got tattooed for a huge range of reasons, whether religious devotion, artistic expression, or to demonstrate cultural belonging – or cultural difference. Dr Matt Lodder talks to Charlotte Hodgman about 5,000 years of tattooing history, exploring everything from the punishment tattoos of ancient China to the pilgrim tattoos adopted by Victorian aristocrats, including a future king. (Ad) Matt Lodder is the author of Painted People: Humanity in 21 Tattoos...


Railway history: everything you wanted to know

What was it like to travel on the earliest trains, before open carriages, and even toilets? When was the first rail accident? And how did railways transform nations and continents? Christian Wolmar answers listener questions on the history of the railways. Speaking to Ellie Cawthorne, he touches on industrial innovation, passengers’ experiences on early train journeys, and the role of railways in imperialism. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.


Forgotten histories of the Holocaust

According to historian Dan Stone, popular understanding of the Holocaust, in all of its horror and complexity, is often incomplete or fractured. Speaking with Matt Elton, Dan explores some of the overlooked and misunderstood aspects of the Holocaust, from the scope of international collaboration to the ways its horrors reverberated for decades afterward. (Ad) Dan Stone is the author of The Holocaust: An Unfinished History (Pelican, 2023). Buy it now from...


An audacious kidnapping in 1970s Paris

On 23 January 1978, Baron Édouard-Jean Empain was snatched from the streets of Paris, in an audacious kidnapping attempt. Before long, a ransom of 80 million francs was demanded. And to show they meant business, the kidnappers chopped off the baron’s little finger – with the disturbing warning that more body parts would follow. In conversation with Emily Briffett, Tom Sancton charts the two tangled months of the kidnapping case, which led to a bloody shootout and ultimately triggered the...


Blood, sweat & marble: examining ancient bodies

Imagine an ancient Greek or Roman body, and the first picture that pops into your head is probably made of marble or stone – perhaps an austere bust, or a gleaming, musclebound sculpture, polished, cold and pale. But what about the experience of living in a real body, in all its pleasure, pain and flaws, during antiquity? Speaking with Elinor Evans, Caroline Vout presents the flesh and blood realities of life – and death – in ancient Greece and Rome. (Ad) Caroline Vout is the author of...


A journey along the Iron Curtain

In 1946, Churchill declared that “from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the Continent”. But what exactly did this rhetorical border look like during the Cold War, and what’s happening along it today? Timothy Phillips tells David Musgrove about his experiences travelling the length of the border between east and west, exploring the borderlands where a clash of ideologies was at its most intense. (Ad) Timothy Phillips is the author of...


Fleeing revolution: Russians exiles in Paris

In 1917, the Russian Revolution saw scores of Russian aristocrats and artists flee to Paris to escape Bolshevik brutality. Speaking to Matt Elton, Helen Rappaport highlights some of their stories, exploring the dramatic shift in circumstances that many endured, and revealing what the city’s inhabitants made of the new arrivals. (Ad) Helen Rappaport is the author of After the Romanovs: Russian exiles in Paris between the Wars (Scribe Publications, 2022). Buy it now from...


The history of atheism: everything you wanted to know

When was the word “atheist” first used? How dangerous was it to question the existence of God in the Middle Ages? And how successful were communist regimes of the 20th century at stamping out religion? More than 2,000 years since the Greek philosopher Socrates was accused of atheism, Spencer Mizen speaks to Professor Alec Ryrie to answer your top questions on the history of unbelief. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.


How FDR transformed the US presidency

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt assumed the presidency of the United States in 1933, he became the head of a nation facing immense hardship and disenchantment amid the Great Depression. No president, except Abraham Lincoln, had come to office in more challenging circumstances, says Iwan Morgan. Speaking to Elinor Evans, he discusses his new biography of FDR, and how he transformed the role of president between the Great Depression and the Second World War. (Ad) Iwan Morgan is the author of...


Indigenous American travellers in Europe

When we think about the first encounters between Europe and the Americas, we’ve traditionally imagined a one-sided story of “Old world” Europeans voyaging to the “New World” of the Americas. But what about the reverse? Caroline Dodds Pennock discusses her book On Savage Shores, which explores the stories of indigenous Americans who journeyed to Europe following Columbus’s 1492 voyage. Speaking to Ellie Cawthorne, she explores the varied experiences of indigenous Americans in Europe – from...


The PoWs who survived Nagasaki

The Japanese city of Nagasaki is probably best known for being the target of the world’s second-ever nuclear attack in August 1945. Yet the city was also home to hundreds of Allied prisoners of war, forcibly put to work to support the Japanese war economy. In conversation with Spencer Mizen, John Willis shares the incredible – and largely forgotten – story of the PoWs who had survived the brutal camps of the far east, were transported to the Japanese mainland on so-called hell-ships and were...


Parachuting monkeys & volcanic eruptions: an extraordinary Victorian zoo

With parachuting monkeys, volcanic eruptions and performances of Beethoven’s symphonies, Surrey Zoo was no ordinary Victorian attraction. Dr Joanne Cormac joins Rob Attar to discuss the story of this eye-opening pleasure park, and reveals what the rise of zoos can tell us about science, leisure and empire in the Victorian age. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.


Curious cures for medieval maladies

If you feel unwell today you can pick up a prescription or head to a medical centre, but how did ill people treat their ailments in the Middle Ages? A major new project at Cambridge University Library aims to find out, by digitising, cataloguing and conserving over 180 medieval manuscripts, containing well over 8,000 medical recipes. Dr James Freeman speaks to Emily Briffett about what these weird and wonderful recipes – using ingredients like puppy stomachs and eel grease – can tell...


Jane Austen’s England: everything you wanted to know

What was society’s attitude towards female writers in Regency England? How far did class affect the hopes of young couples looking to be wed? And did people really spend all day gossiping about grand fortunes, illustrious estates and ruinous affairs? Speaking with Lauren Good, Dr Lizzie Rogers answers listener questions on Jane Austen’s England – from the delights of a Regency ball to the flourishing ideal of marrying for love. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.


Veggie Victorians

In the 19th century, Britain imagined itself as a bastion of beef-eating carnivores. But at a time when meat consumption was taken as a signifier of personal heartiness and national prosperity, a rebel alliance formed – a ragtag group of religious devotees, health enthusiasts, temperance campaigners, animal rights activists, political reformers and eccentrics. They were all united by one cause: vegetarianism. Dr James Gregory tells Ellie Cawthorne about how going meat-free became an...


An environmental history of big business

As part of our series of conversations with winners of the 2022 Dan David Prize, Dr Bart Elmore discusses his research into the environmental impacts of global capitalism through history with Helen Carr, from Coca-Cola and plastic use, to pesticides. The Dan David Prize is the world's largest history prize, which recognizes outstanding historical scholarship. Find out more at dandavidprize.org. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.