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The History Hour

The History Hour

An hour of historical reporting told by the people who were there.

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The Pakistani law that jailed rape survivors

Under legislation known as the Hudood Ordinances introduced in 1979, a nearly blind teenaged rape survivor was jailed herself for having sex outside marriage. In 1983 Safia Bibi was sentenced to three years imprisonment, 15 lashes and a fine. The verdict and the draconian punishment galvanised the women's rights movement in Pakistan. Also in the programme the terrible price paid by an abortion doctor in 1990s America, the rise of a fascist movement in 1960s Britain plus the Saudi author who shook up Arabic fiction in the early 2000s and from 1987 how a baby stuck down a well in Texas gripped the world?s attention.
2021-10-16
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Black history: Britain and race

As part of our British black history coverage we look back at the racism faced by London's first black policeman from his own colleagues. We also hear about the death in police custody of black ex-soldier Christopher Alder. Plus, the intriguing story of a Somali sailor based in the UK in the early 20th century; the heartbreak faced by the children of black American soldiers and white British mothers during World War Two; and the story of Clyde Best, Britain's pioneering black footballer. Presenter Max Pearson also hears from Dr Martin Glynn of Birmingham City University's Black Studies course. Photo: London's first black policeman PC Norwell Roberts beginning his training with colleagues at Hendon Police College, London, 5 April 1967. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
2021-10-09
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Photographing Brazil's Yanomami

In 1971 photographer Claudia Andujar began documenting the lives of a remote indigenous tribe in the Brazilian Amazon jungle. Her photographs helped the campaign for recognition of the Yanomami's rights over their own land. Chris Feliciano Arnold, writer and reporter specializing in the Amazon, describes the new threats facing the many indigenous communities in the region. Plus, remembering Petra Kelly - one of the influential founders of the German Green party, tracing the birth of the Taliban, and a survivor of of the Tanker Wars in the 1980s describes the moment his ship was attacked. Photo:Antônio Korihana thëri, a young man under the effect of the hallucinogenic powder yãkoana, Catrimani, 1972-1976. © Claudia Andujar
2021-10-02
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Kenya: Westgate mall attack

Eyewitnesses remember the Westgate mall attack in Kenya, the 1990s 'miracle water' craze in Mexico, and the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. Plus the amazing story of how a journalist revealed the secret romance between Aristotle Onassis and Jackie Kennedy, and we look back at the changing nature of James Bond. Photo: A police officer at the site of the terrorist attack, Westgate Mall, on September 21, 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya.. (Photo by Jeff Angote/Nation Media/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
2021-09-25
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The earthquake that devastated Haiti

In 2010 the Haitian capital and surrounding areas were hit by a catastrophic earthquake. Much of Port Au Prince was flattened and more than a hundred thousand people were killed. Amid the destruction and death people's first instinct was to pull together and help one another. A survivor describes what happened after his family home collapsed around him. Plus, a prisoner who took part in the dramatic Attica prison uprising of 1971, the professor who used DNA to unravel a 200-year-old royal mystery from France, and one of the first settlers of Copenhagen's famous hippy commune, Christiania. Photo: Men gather to try to reach those still buried in the rubble beneath the Haitian Department of Justice building in January 2010.(Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
2021-09-18
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9/11 and the war on terror

In a special edition on the terrorist attacks on America, we hear from the White House official who broke the news to the President and a Muslim first-responder who worked at Ground Zero. Plus, personal memories of the US intelligence failures in the run-up to 9/11 and the bombing of Afghanistan which followed. We also get a dramatic first-hand account of the death of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Afghan resistance against the Taleban, who was killed by an al-Qaeda suicide bomber on the eve of the attacks on New York and Washington. And former BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus joins us to analyse the war on terror and the gains made - or not made - in the twenty years since a day which changed the world. Photo: Smoke pours from the World Trade Centre after it was hit by two passenger planes on September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Credit: Robert Giroux/Getty Images)
2021-09-11
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Surviving the fall of Saigon

When South Vietnam fell in 1975, most could not escape. In the last days, the US airlifted its remaining personnel and some high ranking Vietnamese officials - but millions were left behind to await their fate. Hear the account of one South Vietnamese veteran who remained in Saigon as North Vietnamese forces took the city. Also on the programme: the 1990s electric car that was taken out of production, we go up close with North Korea's Kim Il Sung, the Gdansk shipyard strike in Poland, and the Sicilian businessman who tried to defy the Mafia. Photo: A South Vietnamese soldier helps his wounded friend during fighting with communist forces in Saigon, 28th April 1975 (Bettmann/Getty Images)
2021-09-04
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My father survived the sinking of the Titanic

Fang Lang was one of six Chinese men who survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The six faced racism and a hostile immigration system when they reached America. Unlike other survivors, their stories remained untold for decades. We hear from Fang Lang's son Tom and Arthur Jones whose documentary called The Six tells the story of those six Chinese survivors. Also John Maynard Keynes, the economist who transformed the world, changing attitudes in Mexico towards disabled women plus Nigeria?s war against indiscipline in the 1980s and the contested legacy of one of the most revered Arab poets of the twentieth century. Photo: Tom?s father, Fang Lang. Credit: LP Films.
2021-08-28
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US withdrawal: The Fall of Saigon

The desperate scramble to evacuate the US embassy at the end of the Vietnam war in 1975, also the 1940s Indian radio station calling for independence. We'll look at life as a 'human shield' in Iraq under Saddam, the man who invented the term 'genocide' and why, and the messy diplomatic embarrassment of Nicolae Ceau?escu's visit to The Queen in 1978. (Photo: A CIA employee helps Vietnamese evacuees onto an Air America helicopter from the top of 22 Gia Long Street, a half mile from the U.S. Embassy. April 1975. Getty Images.)
2021-08-21
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The Berlin Wall

In August 1961, communist East Germany began building the Berlin Wall, which divided the city for nearly three decades and became a symbol of the Cold War. We hear the memories of Germans from both sides of the Wall and tales of daring escapes. Plus, what life was like in the East - from nudism and folk music to the grim reality of facing the notorious Stasi secret police. PHOTO: Soldiers at the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s (Getty Images)
2021-08-14
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Chipko: India?s tree-hugging women

The story of the famed 1970s Indian conservation movement. Plus we speak to Professor Vinita Damodaran about the history of Indian environmentalism. Also Patti Boulaye on escaping the Biafran war, we hear from Dorothy Butler Gilliam - an African American news pioneer, why Afghanistan's first private radio station helped change a generation, and memories of a taboo-breaking gay support group in 1990s India. (Photo by Bhawan Singh/The The India Today Group via Getty Images)
2021-08-07
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Darfur's ethnic war

We hear about the start of the war in Darfur, through the eyes of a teenage boy whose life was changed when the Sudanese military allied to a local militia, the Janjaweed, laid waste to villages across the region, killing and raping as they went. We hear from a survivor of Norway's worst day of terror, when a far-right extremist, Anders Breivik, launched a bomb attack on government offices and attacked a summer camp. Plus a story from our archives from a British army officer during World War Two who witnessed the end of Italy's colonial rule in East Africa during a final battle in the Ethiopian town of Gondar. From Brazil, the women's rights activist whose story of abuse inflicted by her husband inspired the country's first legislation recognising different forms of domestic violence in 2006. Lastly, the story of how the family of the artist Vincent Van Gogh worked to get him recognised as a great painter after he died penniless in 1890. Photo: A young Darfurian refugee walks past a Sudan Liberation Army Land Rover filled with teenage rebel fighters on October 14 2004 in the violent North Darfur region of Sudan. (Photo by Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images)
2021-07-24
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When the Taliban ruled Kabul

Afghans remember life under the Taliban in 1990s Kabul, and we ask Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analysts Network about the fall and rise of the Taliban. Plus, Jane Goodall on her ground-breaking study of chimpanzees, why race riots swept northern England in 2001, the remarkable story of a boy trapped in China's Cultural Revolution, and the invention of the jet engine. Photo: Taliban gunners outside Kabul in November 1996.(Credit: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images)
2021-07-17
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North Korea's 1990s famine

When the USSR collapsed it could no longer support North Korea, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths due to starvation and malnutrition. We hear from one survivor and Prof Hazel Smith who explains some of the contributing factors behind the 'long, slow famine'. Also on the programme, the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, why the UK sent all its gold to Canada during World War Two, battling for Roma rights and the mystery behind Cuba's blindness epidemic. All told by the people at the heart of the stories. Photo: North Korean boys at a kindergarten in Pyongyang pose for a World Food Programme Emergency Food Assistance photographer in 1997. Their thin arms and legs, knobby knees and distended abdomens show that they are seriously malnourished. (Credit: Susan North/AFP/Getty Images)
2021-07-10
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Supernatural sightings

Is there anybody out there? Max Pearson hears about a UFO sighting in rural Zimbabwe in 1994 and talks to Gideon Lewis-Kraus of the New Yorker about whether the US Pentagon is taking UFOs more seriously. Plus, the birth of communist China, a wind power pioneer, trailblazing Chinese students and a radical Syrian playwright. Image: Composite of children's illustrations of UFO, Zimbabwe 1994.
2021-07-03
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The Confederate flag and America?s battle over race

In June 2015 an American anti-racist activist climbed a flagpole on the South Carolina state house grounds to take down the Confederate flag. The protest followed the killing of 9 black people at a historic Charleston church by a white supremacist who was pictured holding the flag. We discuss the history of this divisive symbol of America's racist past. Also how life in the Chinese countryside has been dramatically changed by 40 years of migration to the cities. Plus, from the 1980s, a British TV event that shifted attitudes towards victims of rape, East Germany?s iconic Trabant car and the man behind Mindfulness. Photo Bree Newsome taking down the Confederate flag at the State House in Columbia, SC, on Saturday 27th June 2015. Credit Adam Anderson / Reuters.
2021-06-19
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When Israel destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor

On 7 June 1981 Israeli fighter jets launched a surprise attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor located outside Baghdad, killing 11 people. The French-built reactor was still under construction and there was no leakage of nuclear material, but the bombing was widely condemned internationally. We hear from Dr Fadhil Muslim al Janabi, a former consultant for Iraq's nuclear agency. Also this week, eye-witness testimony to the fall of Madrid in 1939; Hamas' unexpected election victoryin 2006, the plight of legal sex workers in Tunisia and taking part in Benjamin Britten's War Requiem at the consecration of Coventry's new cathedral. Photo: The Tammuz light-water nuclear materials testing reactor under construction in Al-Tuwaitha, just outside of Baghdad, 1979. (Getty Images)
2021-06-12
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The war on drugs

US President Richard Nixon declared illegal drugs 'public enemy number one' in 1971 and launched a worldwide 'war' on the narcotics trade. 50 years on we revisit key moments in the ongoing fight against the powerful criminal groups involved from Columbia to Afghanistan. We'll hear personal stories from the front line of drug addiction, plus journalist and author Ioan Grillo joins our presenter Max Pearson to discuss, what went wrong in the war on drugs? Photo: US President Richard Nixon (BBC)
2021-06-05
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Amilcar Cabral: an African liberation legend

We remember Amilcar Cabral, who led the armed struggle against Portuguese colonial rule in West Africa in the 1970s and speak to Dr Nayanka Perdigao about his legacy. Plus the shocking fallout of the Indian rail strike in 1974 which was - at the time - the biggest industrial action on record and from a century ago, the Tulsa race massacre, when thousands of African Americans were left homeless and hundreds were killed. We'll also find out how Lotfia Elnadi became the first Arab woman pilot in 1933 and the story behind the first big charity fundraising rock concert in the Soviet Union when communism broke with its antipathy toward western pop music. Photo: Rebel soldiers on patrol in Guinea Bissau during the Portuguese Colonial War in West Africa, 1972. Credit: Reg Lancaster/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
2021-05-29
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When Egypt said Enough

Under the slogan 'kefaya' which means 'enough' in Arabic, in 2004 Egyptians began protesting in Cairo against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak. The months of demonstrations took place several years before the Arab Spring swept through the region and drew many people onto the streets for the first time in their lives. We get an eye-witness account. Plus, Ariel Sharon's controversial visit to the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in 2000, the women who staged strikes against military rule in South Korea, and the landmark 1971 conference on saving the world's wetlands. PHOTO: Protestors in Egypt in 2004 (AFP/Getty Images)
2021-05-22
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Why a British MP was filmed taking mescaline

# Warning: This programme contains descriptions of drug use # In 1955 Christopher Mayhew MP took the hallucinogenic drug mescaline for a TV experiment. We look back at the history of psychedelic research and speak to Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London. Plus, the battle to legalise contraception in Ireland, a pro-democracy activist in China, the chemical and biological weapons programme in apartheid South Africa, and why thousands of Jews secretly fled Iraq in the 1970s.
2021-05-15
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The IRA hunger strikes

The IRA hunger strikes of 1981 ? Max Pearson hears from Suzanne Breen of the Belfast Telegraph about the impact of the hunger strikes in Northern Ireland. Plus, one man?s story of surviving Guantanamo Bay, how a French winemaker exposed a wine fraudster, feminist science fiction pioneer Ursula Le Guin, and cannabis coffee shops in Amsterdam.
2021-05-08
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The killing of Osama Bin Laden

It is 10 years since the al-Qaeda leader was killed. We look at the US special forces operation that finally tracked him down to a city in northern Pakistan, the 1979 siege of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, one of the events that shaped his world view; we talk to a Western-based journalist who met him, hear from a survivor of the attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998 and hear about the hunt for the al-Qaeda leader in the mountains of Afghanistan after 9/11. (Photo: Osama Bin Laden. Credit:AFP/Getty Images)
2021-05-01
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How the NRA became a US political lobbying giant

The origins of the gun lobby in the US. Plus we speak to Prof Robert Spitzer about the power of the National Rifle Association. Also, the mysterious American who killed two men in Pakistan and triggered a diplomatic crisis, the historic trial of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1961, the battle to reclaim a Native American sacred lake, and the first space shuttle mission. Photo: National Rifle Association Holds Its Annual Conference In Dallas, Texas. DALLAS, TX - MAY 05 2018. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
2021-04-24
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The first woman in the US Supreme Court

Sandra Day O'Connor was appointed to America's top court in 1981. She'd been nominated by newly-elected Republican president Ronald Reagan. Also in the programme: an eye-witness on the beaches during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, the worm that unlocked secrets of genetics in the 1960s, the decline of the South Asian vulture and China's "kingdom of women". Photo:Sandra Day O'Connor is sworn in at the Senate confirmation hearing on her selection as a US Supreme Court justice, September 1981 (Credit: Keystone/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)
2021-04-17
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The women who reclaimed the night

We hear from the women who started "Reclaim the Night" marches in the north of England in 1977 - a time when a serial killer nicknamed the Yorkshire Ripper was murdering women. The women felt police were policing their behaviour rather than that of men by instructing them to stay home at night. We speak to Hallie Rubenhold author of The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper for a comparison of the treatment and expectations of women in the 19th and 20th century. Plus we go to Mexico and the neuropsychologist who met and discovered the motivations behind the country's first female serial killer - a famous woman wrestler - who strangled old women. It's 30 years since the Russian city of Leningrad voted to abandon the name of the leader of the Russian revolution - Vladimir Lenin - and to return to its historic name of St Petersburg and we hear the famous British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough remembering his first visit to the tropics of West Africa. Finally, we bring you the remarkable story behind the discovery of the jet stream ?the high speed air currents which profoundly affect our environment all-round the globe. Photo: women taking part in a Reclaim the Night march. Credit: BBC Photo:women taking part in a Reclaim the Night march. Credit: BBC
2021-04-10
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Black Jesus

On Easter Sunday 1967 the Reverend Albert Cleage re-named his church in Detroit the Shrine of the Black Madonna. He preached that if man was made in God's image there was little chance that Jesus was white as most of the world's population is non-white. Plus, how British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wowed the Soviet Union with a live TV interview in 1987; how the death of singer Karen Carpenter raised the profile of the anorexia eating disorder; and the story of two Englishmen who were kidnapped on an orchid-hunt in Colombia. Photo: Black Madonna and Child (Courtesy of BLAC Detroit)
2021-04-03
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The History Hour

South Africa fights for cheaper drugs during the AIDS epidemic, the man born into slavery in Mauritania, trying to end the troubles in Northern Ireland, Banksy?s first street art and a sex therapy legend. With Max Pearson
2021-03-27
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The History Hour

The hunt to find the Jamaican drug lord wanted for extradition to the United States, the six men trapped in a simulated space ship for a year and a half, the mother of the Swedish welfare state, the New York drag scene of the 1990s and a classic cold war chess match which was much more than just a game. With Max Pearson (Jamaican police on patrol after a frenzy of gang and drug violence in Kingston, May 24 2010. Credit: Anthony Foster/Getty Images)
2021-03-20
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The women of Egypt's Arab Spring

The women of Egypt's Arab Spring; the underground abortion network in 1960s America; Greece's champion of the Parthenon Marbles, Melina Mercouri; China?s most powerful 19th-century ruler, and the doctor who was India?s 1966 Miss World. Photo: Hend Nafea protesting in Tahrir Square in January 2011. (Copyright Hend Nafea)
2021-03-13
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The Iron Curtain

Churchill's Iron Curtain speech about the Cold War, the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa which radicalised many anti-apartheid movements and we hear from a man whose relatives were killed when police bombed the home of African-American radicals in the US. Plus how Nauru became a Pacific island limbo for asylum seekers and the first man to dive to the deepest point on the planet - the bottom of the Mariana Trench. We'll also hear from a BBC science correspondent about why we know more about space than the deepest depths of the ocean. Photo: Winston Churchill at the podium delivering his "Iron Curtain" speech, at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri, 5th March 1946 (PA)
2021-03-06
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The fall of Kwame Nkrumah

An eyewitness account of the overthrow of Ghana's famous independence leader. And we examine Nkrumah's legacy with Prof. Gareth Austin from Cambridge University. Plus the story of a heroic African WW2 airman, the scientists who alerted the world to the threat of acid rain, a Nobel Peace Prize winner on the 1990s campaign to ban landmines and an inside account of Ireland's financial crisis. Photo: Kwame Nkrumah c 1955 (Getty Images)
2021-02-27
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Black History: The Black Panthers

As part of our Black History coverage we look back at the Black Panthers and ask Professor Clayborne Carson of Stanford University "How radical was the US black rights group?" Also, we bring you an archive interview with Mary Wilson of the Supremes, we delve into the question of compensation after the abolition of slavery - and no, not compensation for the people who had been enslaved, but for the former slave owners. Also, how one descendent of slaves, James Dawkins, discovered his ancestors' connection with the British writer Richard Dawkins. And, looking back at the story of Henrietta Lacks the African-American whose cells revolutionised medical science. Photo: Schoolchildren at a Black Panthers breakfast club. Credit: Shutterstock
2021-02-20
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US 'smart bombs' hit an Iraqi air raid shelter

More than 400 civilians were killed when two US precision bombs hit the Amiriya air raid shelter in western Baghdad on the morning of 13 February 1991. The Americans claimed that the building had served as a command and control centre for Saddam Hussein's forces. It was the largest single case of civilian casualities that ocurred during Operation Desert Storm. Also in this week's programme, a drug scandal from the 1970s which blighted the lives of generations, rare archive of the celebrated British artist, Francis Bacon, the 1980s New York Street News newspaper set up to help the homeless and we hear from a nurse from West Africa who devoted her life to the British health service. Photo: Inside the Amiriya air-raid shelter following the US bombing (Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)
2021-02-13
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The Burma protests of 1988

In August 1988, people took to the streets of Burma, or Myanmar, to protest against the country's military government. The bloody uprising would lead to the rise of Aung San Suu Kyi as the country's pro-democracy leader. Also, the epidemic of drug use among US troops in Vietnam in the 1970s, the first Eurostar train service and the launch of the spectacular Moscow State Circus in 1971 PHOTO: Protestors in Rangoon in 1988 (Getty Images)
2021-02-06
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The Arab Spring of 2011

In the early months of 2011 a wave of social unrest swept across the Arab world as people protested against repressive and authoritarian regimes, economic stagnation, unemployment and corruption. It began with reaction to the self-immolation of a young market trader in Tunisia, but soon became an outpouring of resentment after generations of fear. On The History Hour, Professor Khaled Fahmy of Cambridge University, helps us unravel the roots of the uprisings, describes what it was like to be there, and looks at why things haven't turned out as the protesters had wanted. Photo: Libyan anti-Gaddafi protesters wave their old national flag as they stand atop an abandoned army tank in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on February 28, 2011.(Credit PATRICK BAZ/AFP via Getty Images)
2021-01-30
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Hitler's beer hall putsch

Hitler made his first attempt at seizing power in Germany in 1923, ten years before he eventually became Chancellor. The failed "beer hall putsch" - so named because it started in a beer hall in the southern city of Munich - would become a foundational part of the Nazis' self-mythology. Professor Frank McDonough tells us more. Plus, more Nazis with The Turner Diaries, the novel that inspired the US far right; anti-Sikh riots in India; the birth of Swahili-language publishing; and the house fire in New Cross, South London, which led to a Black People's Day of Action. PHOTO: Nazi members during the Beer Hall Putsch, Munich, Germany 1923 (Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
2021-01-23
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Attack at the US Capitol

In 1954, Puerto Rican militants opened fire in the US House of Representatives, wounding five Congressmen - we hear how the assault was one of many previous attacks on American democracy. Plus, the coup attempt in Spain in 1981, India's first woman lawyer and landing a probe on Titan, one of Saturn's moons. PHOTO: Lolita Lebron and two other Puerto Rican activists are arrested in 1954 (Getty Images)
2021-01-16
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Buddhist on Death Row

How US inmates turned to Buddhism to face execution in 1990s Arkansas, and we look at the history of the death penalty in the US with Prof Vivien Miller. Plus, the truth of a space "strike", the 70s book that predicted global decline in 2020, sequencing the Ebola virus and we hear the world's oldest song. Photo: Anna Cox and inmate Frankie Parker.
2021-01-09
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75 years of UNESCO

UNESCO - the United Nations Scientific, Cultural and Educational Organisation - was set up 75 years ago, in the aftermath of the Second World War. It?s probably best known for its work protecting cultural monuments and areas of natural beauty around the world, but when it was founded, its aim was to use education as a means of sustaining peace after the horrors of the war. In this episode of The History Hour: UNESCO?s work on race and tolerance, its effort in the 1960s to save Egyptian treasures from the rising waters of the Aswan Dam, Le Corbusier?s attempt to build a model city in India, the fight to protect the Great Barrier Reef and the tragic story of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.
2021-01-02
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Film special

We hear from eye-witnesses to some classic moments in cinema history ? from It?s a Wonderful Life to Satyajit Ray?s Apu trilogy via Studio Ghibli, the Sound of Music and Charlie Chaplin?s Great Dictator. Plus, film critic Helen O?Hara tells us about the history of Christmas movies. Photo: one of the final scenes from Frank Capra?s It?s A Wonderful Life, featuring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Carol Coombs, Jimmy Hawkins, Larry Simms and Karolyn Grimes, clockwise from top (photo by Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images)
2020-12-26
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The birth of Bangladesh

How Pakistan's first democratic elections in 1970 led to war, the break up of Pakistan and the creation of a new country, Bangladesh. Also Gibraltar under Spanish blockade plus refugees from Namibia?s war of independence, Britain?s first reality TV family and Bing Crosby?s White Christmas. Photo East Pakistan 1971 The flag of Bangladesh is raised at the Awami League headquarters. Credit Getty Images
2020-12-19
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The first African to win the Nobel Peace Prize

When Chief Albert Luthuli won the Nobel Peace Prize he was living under a banning order in rural South Africa. He won the prize for advocating peaceful opposition to the Apartheid regime. We hear from his daughter Albertina and speak to a South African historian about his legacy. Plus the cave discovery in France that changed the way we think about Neanderthals, the best-selling African-American crime writer Chester Himes, celebrating 100 years since a cinematic first and the reintroduction of beavers that's helping restore Scotland's ecosystem. (Picture: Albert Luthuli receives the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961. Credit: Keystone/Hulton Archive)
2020-12-12
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The fall of Addis Ababa

In May 1991, the brutal Ethiopian dictator, Colonel Mengistu and his military regime were on the verge of collapse after years of civil war. The end came when a Tigrayan-led rebel movement advanced on the capital Addis Ababa and took power. We get a first-hand account from an American diplomat and hear how the events of 1991 contributed to the current crisis in Ethiopia. Plus, the controversy in France over banning headscarves and other religious symbols from schools, the Nazis' terrifying V1 bombing campaign in World War Two and the story of the Haitian slave leader, Toussaint Louverture. Photo: EPRDF rebels in Addis Ababa, 28 May, 1991 (BBC)
2020-12-05
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Disability History special

We look back at the fight for disability rights in the UK and India in the 1990s, plus the remarkable life of Helen Keller as told by her great niece, how a Rwandan Paralympic volleyball team made history, and the invention of the iconic disability vehicle, the Invacar. And we speak to Colin Barnes, Emeritus Professor of Disability Studies at Leeds University, about the historic struggle for disabled rights and recognition. Photo: A disabled woman on her mobility scooter is carried away by four policemen after obstructing the traffic outside the Houses of Parliament. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
2020-11-28
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The world's first woman premier

Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected prime minster of Sri Lanka, or Ceylon as it was known then, in 1960 following the assassination of her husband, Solomon Bandaranaike and became the first female prime minister in the world. We hear from Dr Asanga Welikala about her legacy. Plus the first Arab leader to visit Israel, the former hostage taken captive by Somali pirates in 2008 who came to sympathise with their plight and the Jewish refugees given sanctuary by America during WW2. Also the revolutionary and graphic book for women published in 1973 which helped us understand women's bodies and is now published in 33 different languages. Photo: Sirimavo Bandaranaike the Prime Minister of Ceylon (later Sri Lanka), 1960. Credit Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
2020-11-21
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The Guerrilla Girls

In 1985 a group of anonymous female artists in New York began dressing up with gorilla masks on their heads and putting up fly-posters around the city's museums and galleries. We hear from two of the original Guerrilla Girls, who launched a campaign to demand greater representation for women and minorities in the art world. Also on the programme, the rarely heard voices of Africans who were forced to take sides in WW1; how Pluto lost its status as a planet, the invention of a revolutionary sign language, Makaton, in the 1970s, and changing 20th century theories of child rearing. PHOTO: Some of the Guerrilla Girls in 1990 (Getty Images)
2020-11-14
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The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin

In 1995, the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was murdered at a peace rally in Tel Aviv. We hear how his death scuppered hopes of peace in the Middle East. Plus, the racism endured by children born to black American soldiers and German mothers after World War Two, the rebuilding of Dresden's most famous church, and nude theatre in London and New York. PHOTO: Yitzhak Rabin in 1993 (Getty Images)
2020-11-07
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US presidential history special

Eyewitness accounts of moments in US presidential history: Inside JFK's election victory, remembering Shirley Chisholm - the first African American from a major party to make a presidential run, plus a senator's account of the Watergate hearings, the rise of the religious right and the story of President Bush's 9/11. Photo: US President John F. Kennedy giving his first State of the Union address to Congress in January 1961. (Credit: NASA/SSPL/Getty Images)
2020-10-31
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Why Portugal decriminalised all drugs

In the grips of a drug crisis, why Portugal took a radical approach in 2001 and became the first country in the world to decriminalise all drugs. Also searching for those who disappeared during apartheid rule in South Africa, how mistakes with the initial production of the polio vaccine made thousands of children ill in 1995, plus the black women who helped propel NASA's space programme and Joan Littlewood a giant in 20th century British theatre. (Image: Staffers interview a new patient in Lisbon, Portugal (Credit: Horacio Villalobos - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
2020-10-24
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