Dan Snow's History Hit
Dan Snow's History Hit
History Hit
History! The most exciting and important things that have ever happened on the planet! Featuring reports from the weird and wonderful places around the world where history has been made and interviews with some of the best historians writing today. Dan also covers some of the major anniversaries as they pass by and explores the deep history behind today's headlines - giving you the context to understand what is going on today.
Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill was many things a writer, politician, journalist, painter but the defining aspect of his career was as a war leader. Warfare infused his life from its very beginning due to his relation to the Duke of Marlborough and a childhood re-enacting the Battle of Waterloo in the ground of Blenheim Palace. As a young man, he saw conflict at first hand both as a soldier and a reporter in Cuba, India, Sudan and South Africa. In the political wilderness following the disaster of Gallipoli during the First World War, he undertook service on the Western Front. These experiences were what made Churchill uniquely qualified as Prime Minister in 1940 to lead Britain through its great ever military crisis and onto victory in the Second World War. Joining Dan to discuss how the military experiences of his formative years shaped him for the difficult military decisions he took in office is Anthony Tucker-Jones. Anthony is a former defence intelligence officer, widely published military expert and author of the upcoming book: Churchill, Master and Commander: Winston Churchill at War 1895–1945. They examine Churchill's military career, his role as commander in chief and the decisions he took both good and bad. 
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Nov 28
39 min
The Complicated Legacy of F W de Klerk
The result of his complicated legacy, the death of South Africa's last apartheid president, F W de Klerk, on November 11 2021 generated a flood of differing assessments. De Klerk wrote himself into the history of South Africa on February 2 1990, when he announced the unbanning of the African National Party (ANC) and other liberation movements, as well as the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. While this set South Africa on the path of reform, De Klerk’s failure to break free of apartheid thinking was evident throughout the years that would follow. To arrive at a rounded, fact-based understanding of De Klerk’s place in history, Dan is joined by “Mac” Maharaj. Mac has been involved in the freedom struggle since 1952. After serving a twelve-year sentence on Robben Island from 1965-1976, he was appointed secretary of the department charged with organising the ANC within South Africa. Mac served alongside De Klerk in the first democratic cabinet, led by Mandela. As joint secretary of the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum and the Transitional Executive Council, Mac was directly involved in the negotiations that produced the transition from apartheid to democracy. Mac is the co-author of the upcoming Breakthrough: The Struggles and Secret Talks that Brought Apartheid SA to the Negotiating Table 
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Nov 27
28 min
The Rise of the Praetorian Guard
From Gladiator to Rome Total War to Star Wars, today the Praetorians are one of the most distinctive military units of Imperial Rome. It was their job to protect the Roman Emperor and his household, a task for which they hold a somewhat ‘chequered’ record (especially when we focus in on the Praetorian Prefects). But what do we know about this unit’s origins? How did this powerful force become protectors of the Emperor and his household? What other functions did they serve? And how did they differ from the standard Roman legions in their structure? To talk through the rise of the Praetorian Guard, with a specific focus on the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, Tristan caught up with historian Lindsay Powell at Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex for the Ancients Podcast. Lindsay is the author of several books about the Early Roman Imperial Period. His latest book, Bar Kokhba: The Jew Who Defied Hadrian and Challenged the Might of Rome, is out now. 
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Nov 25
1 hr 4 min
The British Spy who Saved Jews from Hitler
Thomas Kendrick was at the very centre of British Intelligence operations throughout the first half of the twentieth century. He combined a public face of an English gentleman whilst privately masterminding MI6's spy networks throughout Europe. Perhaps his finest hour came in the run-up to the Second World War when stationed in Vienna as a British passport officer he issued thousands of visas and passports to Austrian Jews enabling an estimated 10,000 people to escape the coming Holocaust. Betrayed by a double agent in 1938 he survived an assassination attempt and was arrested by the Gestapo and interrogated before being expelled from Austria and returning to Britain. Once the Second World War broke out headed one of the most important intelligence operations of the war. Senior Nazi generals who had become POWs were installed in luxurious accommodation and allowed to speak freely whilst all the while being monitored on hidden microphones. The information they unwittingly revealed undoubtedly shortened the war and saved many thousands of lives. Historian Helen Fry returns to the podcast to tell Dan all about this extraordinary story that she has been researching for her new book Spymaster: The Man Who Saved MI6. 
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Nov 24
27 min
From the Punjab to the Western Front
Over a million Indian soldiers served during the First World War, but many of the records of the soldiers who fought valiantly for the Allied cause had been lost - hiding their stories from history. Until now. Discovered in a basement of a museum in Lahore, Pakistan, where they had been left unread for 97 years, these newly recovered documents have allowed historians to put the men of the Indian Army back into the story of the allied war effort. To explain the significance of the records that have been found, Dan is joined by Amandeep Madra OBE. Amandeep is the co-author of five books about Indian history, Chair of the UK Punjab Heritage Association and has worked with the University of Greenwich to digitise the files. Amandeep and Dan discuss what the records contain and how they were discovered, some of the stories they have revealed and how this new information is allowing families across the world to shed light on the vital contribution and sacrifice made by their ancestors to the allied victory during the First World War. 
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Nov 23
23 min
The British Monarchy
The British Monarchy is a thread that has run throughout the history of Britain but over the centuries it has been a constantly evolving institution. From the warrior kings of early England steeped in violence to the largely symbolic constitutional monarch of today, Tracy Borman helps Dan chart how the monarchy has changed and what roles it continues to play. They discuss the best and worst of British Monarchs, why women seem to be better suited for this gargantuan job, her personal favourite ruler and what future kings and queens can learn from their predecessors.  Tracy Borman is an author, historian and broadcaster. Her latest book is called Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy. 
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Nov 22
34 min
The Assassination of JFK: Explained
Everyone who was alive at the time remembers the day President John F. Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas, Texas on the 22 November 1963. On this anniversary Dan gives a moment-by-moment account of the day that shocked the world and speaks to Jefferson Morley, a former Washington Post journalist and leading authority on the subject. They discuss the aftermath of the assassination and what the public was never told by the White House and the CIA. To this day, Jefferson is still fighting for the release of all of the classified documents about the JFK assassination, many of which are still being withheld. Archive courtesy of NBC. 'Measured Paces' and 'Unanswered Questions' composed by Kevin Macleod.  
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Nov 21
29 min
Greg Jenner: Ask a Historian
When and why did we start keeping hamsters as pets? When was sign language first used in the UK? If you were planning a bank heist, which historical figures would you call on? These are just some of the burning historical questions that public historian and podcaster, Greg Jenner, is tackling in his new book, Ask A Historian: 50 Surprising Answers to Things You Always Wanted to Know.In this episode, Greg joins Dan to explain the motivations behind the book, how he sees the role of public history in society as well as reveal some of the more surprising questions he was asked. 
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Nov 20
34 min
Searching for the Lost of World War One
At the end of the World War One, around one million citizens of the British Empire had been lost, and the whereabouts of about half of these was unknown. Families could be waiting weeks, months or years to hear whether their loved ones were imprisoned, wounded, missing or dead, if they heard at all. This was the task of the searchers. In the years following the war, these volunteer investigators conducted 5 million interviews, finding answers for around 400 thousand families. Robert Sackville-West is on our sibling podcast, Warfare, to bring us the stories of those looking for news of their fathers, brothers and sons, and the evolution of the search to this day. Robert’s book ‘The Searchers: The Quest for the Lost of the First World War’ is out now. 
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Nov 18
34 min
The Magic Circle & Hoaxes in History
Hoaxes and magic were widespread in 18th century Britain. From a woman who claimed to birth rabbits, to a man who said he’d climb into a bottle in front of a live audience, many of the claims sound laughably unbelievable to us today. But at the time, these sorts of hoaxes were widely influential, even drawing in celebrities of the day such as Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Swift. This episode, Dan is joined by joined by historian and magician, Ian Keable, who details some of the most bamboozling hoaxes of the 18th century and why the public fell for them. Ian's book,The Century of Deception: The Birth of the Hoax in Eighteenth-Century England, is out now. 
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Nov 17
27 min
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