Episode 107 Emeritus Professor in American Studies, Jon Roper, puts Donald Trump’s presidency in historical perspective and offers his expert insights into the 2020 presidential election. Professor Roper covers comparisons to previous presidents, explains his interpretation of what Trump calls ‘21st century presidential’, offers his views on the Electoral College, and much more.
Episode #105 In October 1953, Vice President Richard Nixon embarked on a precedent-setting tour of the countries of South and South East Asia. The newly elected republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, reinvented the office of the Vice Presidency by elevating it from a nominal and ceremonial position to one of unprecedented responsibility in US foreign policy. Nixon’s core remit was to reinforce, consolidate and expand where possible, the American Cold War sphere of influence in Asia. As part of this tour the Vice President spent three days in Ceylon, an Indian Ocean island state, recently independent from Great Britain. In 1951 Ceylon became the only non communist Asian state to begin shipping strategic materials to the newly communist China. Nixon’s visit to Ceylon, in order to address this (and other issues) personally, would become something of a blueprint for US diplomatic operations in South Asia.
Episode #104 This week we interview Professor Carlton F.W. Larson on the History of Treason in America and his brand new book, 'On Treason: A Citizen's Guide to the Law'. Treason — the only crime specifically defined in the United States Constitution — is routinely described by judges as more heinous than murder. Today, the term is regularly tossed around by politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle. But, as accusations of treason flood the news cycle, it is not always clear what the crime truly is, or when it should be prosecuted. In this interview, we discuss a broad range of questions and topics including the origins of American treason law, the American Revolution and Benedict Arnold. Robert E. Grant, WW2 and Donald Trump ... Carlton F.W. Larson is a Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis, School of Law, where he teaches American constitutional law and English and American legal history. A graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, Larson is one of the nation’s leading authorities on the law of treason and is the author of the book The Trials of Allegiance: Treason, Juries, and the American Revolution (Oxford University Press). Professor Larson’s scholarship has been cited by numerous federal and state courts and has been profiled in The New York Times, The Economist, TIME, and many other publications. He is a frequent commentator for the national media on constitutional law issues.
Episode #92 In this episode the @versushistory team spoke to Donny O'Rourke about the events of the Battle of George Square. This violent confrontation between police officers and Glaswegian workers striking in support of a 40 hour working week, took place on January 31st 1919 and the UK government would send 10,000 troops and 6 tanks to Glasgow as a result. The events of the day were the inspiration for Donny O'Rourke's short story 'Bright Red', part of the compilation 'Resist: Stories of Uprising' released by @commapress.
Episode #83 The Weimar Republic might have been 'borne out of Germany's defeat in WW1', but it had a relatively enlightened, democratic, inclusive and forward-thinking codified constitution. To what extent was this a strength or a weakness? What were its most important terms in the 1920s and early 1930s? Is talk of the constitution being central to the demise of the Weimar Republic overstated? In this Podcast, the @VersusHistory Editorial Team discuss the Constitution of the Weimar Republic in Germany, 1919-1933.
Episode #82 Dr. John Woolf (@drjohnwoolf) - the expert in things related to the Victorian Freak Shows and author of the oustanding new book 'The Wonders' - presents a radical new history of the Victorian age. In this episode, we discover the truth behind 'The Greatest Showman' and we meet the forgotten and extraordinary freak performers whose talents and disabilities helped define an era. Dr Woolf discusses John Merrick, known as the Elephant Man, plus a range of other interesting characters in this podcast. You can purchase his work from all good booksellers worldwide and visit his website at www.johnwoolf.co.uk.
Episode #72 On January 9th 2007, an announcement was made that would revolutionise the technology industry and arguably the way humans interact with one another and the world. In San Francisco California, the CEO of Apple Steve Jobs announced the release of the first iphone which sought to combine 3 functions. It was a mobile phone, an ipod and an internet communication device rolled into one. 146,000 iphones were activated in the US alone on the first weekend of its release in June 2007 and from there took the world by storm, with well over a billion iphones sold in the last 12 years. From this one device and its technological innovation has also come the new breed of smartphones that are ubiquitous today.
Episode #70 On the night of the 25th going into the 26th of April 1986, a chain of events began that would destroy thousands of lives, ruin millions of acres of land and would, in many respects, help catalyst the re-shaping of a world that had been in the grip of the Cold War since 1945. That chain of events would culminate in the nuclear disaster that decimated Reactor 4 at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the town of Pripyat, in northern Soviet Ukraine. This April sees the 33rd anniversary of the disaster. Dr. Paul Goldsmith joins Versus History to talk about his research and experiences at Chernobyl.
Episode #57 This special episode celebrates the launch of Co-Editor Elliott's (@thelibrarian6) new book, entitled 'Blowing Up The Nazis'. The book contains a treasure trove of historical information on the Nazis. Think you know everything there is to know about the Nazis? Think again. Do you know what a Beefsteak Nazi is? Were you aware that the Holocaust can be traced back to the murder of one German baby? Did you know that the Nazis were able to control Hollywood during the 1930's? Our ever-expanding library of books and podcasts just welcomed another addition. Elliott (that’s L. Watson) has written an extraordinary book that explores elements of Nazi history that are so far from common knowledge as to render them astonishing. Throughout the chapters of Blowing up the Nazis, Elliott reveals remarkable histories that range from über violent SA leader, Ernst Röhm, being a gay rights activist, Coca Cola using the swastika in their marketing, and the ‘Hitler salute’ actually being part of the American ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ ceremony. If you are in any way interested in discovering more than you ever knew about the Nazis, then this book is for you. Blowing up the Nazis: What you didn’t know will blow your mind. Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon.
Episode #23 Special edition this week! The Editors are very proud and excited to announce the launch of the first 'Versus History' publication - '33 Easy Ways to Improve your History Essays'. This publication will be available via the Kindle eBook store for all students and teachers in advance of the Summer 2018 examination season. Given the complexities of undertaking a Post-16 History essay, the Editors wanted to offer something that made a genuine and positive difference to the quality of our readers' own examination responses and written work. Patrick (@historychappy) and Elliott (@thelibrarian6) discuss the inspiration behind the book, the key concepts that have driven the project and their aim to help young Historians develop a deep passion and aptitude for History. '33 Tips for Writing Better History Essays' will be available via Amazon very soon. Stay tuned for more details! For more details, check out www.versushistory.com
Episode #22 Hitler was released from Landsberg Jail in 1924 following the failed Munich Putsch in 1923. He immediately set about remodelling the Nazi Party, along with their strategy for gaining power and internal organisation. Historians largely concur that while the Nazis did not gain much traction at the ballot box in this period - gaining just 2.6% of the vote in 1928 - much work had been done to lay the platform for future success. In this period, the Nazis submitted to Hitler as the unchallenged Fuhrer, adopted Mein Kampf as the central political tract, grew the SA, established the SS, allowed energetic followers to lead at HQ and became a national Party as opposed to a provincial, Bavarian one. Moreover, the Bamberg Conference of 1926 saw the Nazis move away from the 'socialist' elements of the 25 Point Programme and by 1929, the Nazis had become the leading 'Volkish' Party of the political right. In addition, the Nazis were now committed to gaining power democratically.
Which of these changes was the most significant? In this episode, Patrick (@historychappy) and Elliott (@thelibrarian6) discuss each of them, offering insight and analysis.
Episode #21 When the Nazi Party came to power in January 1933 under Adolf Hitler, they aimed to create a dictatorship - this they had achieved by the Summer of 1934. However, they also spoke of the mass rearmament of the military forces, becoming economically self-sufficient and also of creating jobs for the German people. The Nazi Party made significant propaganda gains out of a supposedly improved standard of living for ‘racially pure’ German citizens. Wages for German workers supposedly grew, new organisations such as ‘Strength Through Joy’ were established to cater for the needs of workers and the Nazis even had a scheme whereby German’s could save for a ‘Volkswagen Beetle’ or, the ‘People’s Car’. However, Goering himself said that the the focus of Germany should be on the purchase of military hardware rather than foodstuffs; “Guns make us strong, Butter only makes us fat!” This leads us to the important question; did the standard of living fundamentally improve in Germany between 1933-1939?
In this episode, Patrick argues that the standard of living for German people did demonstrate improvements between 1933-1939, while Elliott (@thelibrarian6) contends that the standard of living did not fundamentally improve.
Episode #20 When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, Germany was still suffering the impacts of the Great Depression and unemployment stood at approximately 6 million. However, by 1939, Nazi statistics indicated that unemployment had been defeated; indeed, by 1936 the Nazis were claiming victory in the battle against a lack of employment opportunities. However, to what extent did the Nazis really tackle the problem of unemployment? How effective were their solutions? Was the Nazi victory built on firm foundations or was this a case of selective statistics?
In this episode, we welcome back Patrick (@historychappy), who argues that the Nazis were not as successful as they claimed. Elliott (@thelibrarian6) argues that the Nazis were largely successful in providing employment. Conal (@prohistoricman) hosts the debate and chimes in with valuable insight.
Episode #19 Czechoslovakia was a Soviet satellite state and a member of the Warsaw Pact in 1968. Alexander Dubcek - the Czech Premier - spoke of reinvigorating Communism within Czech borders, by relaxing state censorship, introducing multi-candidate elections and permitting a greater degree of free speech. Collectively, his suggestions were known as 'The Prague Spring Reforms'. Dubcek envisaged the reforms as a mechanism for making Communism more palatable to the populace - 'Socialism with a Human Face'. However, hundreds of thousands of Warsaw Pact troops entered Czechoslovakia to put an end to the reforms, with Dubcek sidelined. He was replaced by Husak, a pro-Soviet candidate. The package of reforms were firmly halted. In the wake of the invasion, Leonid Brezhnev announced the 'Brezhnev Doctrine' in Pravda, the Communist periodical; this was a tacit threat to any member of the Warsaw Pact who threatened the stability of the union.
In this episode, we debate the impact / consequences of the invasion.
Episode #18 In December 1979, the Soviet Union (USSR) decided to intervene in the internal affairs of Afghanistan by sending troops to prop up the ailing and fractious Communist Party, based in Kabul. Afghanistan was of key geo-strategic significance in the Cold War to both the USSR and the USA; the USSR invaded on the pretence of an invitation by the domestic Afghan Communist Party, but the USA viewed this as an unprecedented expansion beyond Warsaw Pact borders by Soviet military forces. The period of Detente (relaxed relations) between the Superpowers which had characterised the 1970s was definitely over after this point, giving way to heightened tensions in the 1980s. But what was the primary consequence / significance of the invasion? Where was its impact felt most? In this episode, Co-Editor Elliott (@thelibrarian6) argues that the main ramifications were felt in the arena of international relations, while our Special Guest Conal (@prohistoricman) contends that the main impact was felt by the USSR domestically. Patrick (@historychappy) is on paternity leave this week.
Episode #17 In January 1933 Hitler was given the Chancellorship legally and democratically. However, this did not mean that Hitler was able to rule as he wished from the outset. A number of barriers to unparalleled and unchecked power remained in place, such as opposition Parties, the President, the Constitution, the Law and not least the German Army. However, by mid-1934, Adolf Hitler had become the unrivalled 'Fuhrer' of Germany. What was the main causal factor that facilitated Hitler's journey from Chancellor to Fuhrer by 1934?
In this episode, Elliott (@thelibrarian6) argues in favour of the Enabling Act of 1933, while Patrick (@historychappy) argues that it was the death of President Hindenburg in 1934 that allowed Hitler unchecked power. Special guest Conal (@prohistoricman) argues that it was the mechanisms of the Nazi 'Police State' which mainly enabled Hitler to become Fuhrer.
Episode #16 In the 1928 elections, the Nazis polled just 2.6% of the parliamentary elections and won just 12 seats. In many respects, Hitler was as far away from power as ever. However, the Wall Street Crash in 1929 and subsequent Great Depression ended the 'golden-years' of the Weimar Republic and paved the way for political, economic and social instability. Into this 'post-crash' context, Hitler and the Nazi Party could gain political traction. The Nazis had a formidable propaganda machine, a network of Gauleiters, the SA and SS as well as the figure of Hitler as leader. Which causes - or hierarchy of causes - best explain Hitler's election as Chancellor in January 1933?
In this episode, Elliott argues that the Great Depression was the ultimate cause, while Patrick contends that other factors within the unique context of the Depression should be considered as paramount.
Episode #15 America in the 1920s is often described as being a period of optimism and prosperity for the American economy - hence the moniker 'Roaring 20s'. Following the devastation suffered in Europe during WW1, America was advantageously placed to become the leading global economy. The advent of mass production, credit, the laissez-faire attitude of the Federal Government towards big business and consumer goods all helped to fuel an economic boom. Indeed, by the mid-1920s, the American economy was growing at 7% per annum on average. However, to what extent can the American economy in the 1920s be classified as 'Roaring'? Did all sections of American society benefit from this boom? In this context, 'Roaring' can be defined as a period characterised by optimism and prosperity.
In this episode, Patrick argues that 'roaring' is an apt description for the American economy in the 1920s, while Elliott argues to the contrary.
Episode #14 The Weimar Republic was born out of the German defeat in WW1 in 1918; the allies insisted that the Kaiser needed to be replaced by a democratic government as a necessary prerequisite of peace talks. The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 burdened Germany with 'War Guilt' and a huge reparations bill of GBP 6.6 billion; this was not a great start for democracy in Germany. The period 1919-1923 was a turbulent, revolutionary, violent and troublesome period for the Weimar Republic. Furthermore, the Wall Street Crash in October 1929 precipitated the Great Depression, which culminated in Hitler being elected as Chancellor in January 1933. However, the period 1924-1929 is often called the 'Golden Years', 'High-Water Mark' or 'Stresemann-era'. There were no major rebellions, a 'culture-boom' with artists such as Otto Dix and the Bauhaus Project and the Dawes Plan of 1924 boosted the German economy with much-needed American loans. However, to what extent can it really be considered a 'Golden-era'?
In this exciting episode, Patrick contends that the achievements of the Weimar Republic 1924-1929 were temporal, precarious and built on shaky foundations. On the contrary, Elliott argues that we should view the achievements of Weimar between 1924-1929 in a more positive light.
Episode #13 Following the death of the English King 'Edward the Confessor' in 1066, there was a succession crisis. William of Normandy, from modern day France, won the Battle of Hastings against Harold Godwineson and became King. William then became known as 'William the Conqueror', as he established his control across England. He used a variety of different methods, such as Castles, the Feudal System, the Domesday Book, the system of Sheriffs and the 'Harrying of the North'. The question remains, however; Was the Norman Conquest 'good' for England and the English?
Co-Editor Patrick (@historychappy) hosts the debate between fellow Co-Editor Elliot (@thelibrarian6) and our very special guest and Medieval Expert Conal (@prohistoricman). Elliot argues that the Norman Conquest was a 'good' thing for England, while Conal argues that it was generally negative.
Episode #12 Women in the UK were granted the vote in national parliamentary elections on the same terms as men in 1928 – it has remained that way ever since. Going further back in time, some women (those over 30 who met the relevant property qualifications) were given the vote following the conclusion of WW1 in 1918. However, before the outbreak of WW1, two groups campaigned for the right for women to vote. The Suffragists (NUWSS) were formed in 1897 and Suffragettes (WSPU) were formed in 1903; both groups aimed to secure women the vote in parliamentary elections. However, they differed markedly in their strategies. The Suffragists, led by Millicent Fawcett, campaigned using only legal means. Contrastingly, the Suffragettes, led by Emmeline Pankhurst, were prepared to break the law in order to secure the right to vote. Which group had the biggest impact pre-1914?
In this episode, Patrick supports the contributions of the Suffragists and Elliot supports the Suffragettes. It is worth noting, however, that both editors are of the opinion that it was actually the advent of WW1 that provided the context for the biggest shift towards women gaining the vote.
Episode #11 Malcolm Little was born in 1925, the son of a Baptist Minister influenced by the ‘Back to Africa’ teachings of Marcus Garvey. Following a turbulent childhood, Malcolm fell into criminality and was imprisoned in 1946. While in prison, Malcolm was exposed to the Black Muslim faith and joined the separatist religious group, the ‘Nation of Islam’, led by Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm X was a passionate and articulate speaker for the NOI, as well as a talented and tireless evangelical for the movement. He established numerous NOI temples and made countless fiery speeches across the USA. Eventually, Malcolm fell out with the NOI and Elijah Muhammad in 1964 and set up his own religious group – the MMI – as well as his own secular group – the OAAU. Prior to his assassination in 1965 by NOI members, Malcolm had started to move towards the Civil Rights ‘mainstream’ and temper his racial views. He spent moths travelling across Arabia and Africa, ‘internationalising’ the struggle of black Americans. Malcolm is often credited with inspiring the ‘Black Power’ movement and Afro-American inspired media.
In this episode, Elliot supports the achievements of Malcolm X, while Patrick offers a critical appraisal of the iconic Afro-American leader.
Episode #10 Martin Luther King was born in 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was raised as a Baptist in the segregated South and gained a Doctorate from Boston University in 1955. King dedicated his adult life to issues relating to Civil Rights and equality for Americans, becoming a national figure during the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56. King co-ordinated and spearheaded the refusal by many black people to use the public buses until segregation on public transport was overturned – which it eventually was. King subsequently led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1957 and became an internationally recognised figure during his ‘I have a Dream’ speech in Washington D.C during 1963. King’s actions are often credited with being a key factor in the passing of the Civil Rights Act 1964 and Voting Rights Act 1965. However, historians debate the ultimate significance of Martin Luther King to the movement.
In this episode of Versus History, Patrick defends the position that Martin Luther King was vital to the Civil Rights Movement in the USA, while Elliott contends that King deserves a more critical appraisal.
Episode #9 As Hitler’s forces advanced rapidly through Western Europe after the end of the so-called ‘Phoney War’ which began in 1939, they pushed Allied troops ever closer towards the coast. The British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.), alongside allied troops from France, faced the threat of encirclement and destruction at Dunkirk – a coastal town in northern France, 10 kilometres from the Belgian border. This was very early in World War Two and only weeks after the Wehrmacht had turned its attention to the countries of Western Europe. Consequently, the British government had to act quickly to avoid a debilitating, not to mention humiliating, defeat in 1940. This they did with Operation Dynamo – the plan to evacuate Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk, and return them to Britain. Almost 340,000 troops were successfully evacuated during the months of May and June 1940, yet there is still much debate about whether this evacuation represented a defeat so early in the war, or a triumph – allowing Britain to ‘fight another day’.
In this episode, Elliott (@thelibrarian6) argues that Dunkirk was a military defeat for the British, while Patrick (@historychappy) argues that it was actually a very lucky escape, and ultimately a failure for the German's in the longer term.
Episode #8 America's isolationist stance in global affairs - which had prevailed since the conclusion of WW1 - was brutally shattered on the morning of 7 December 1941, when the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Pacific Ocean was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Air Force. This resulted in over 2000 Americans killed, 4 battleships sunk and numerous others severely damaged. The very next day, President Roosevelt announced that the United states was officially at war with Japan. Shortly after, Hitler declared war on America, to which America reciprocated. America was now at war against the Axis forces. World War Two resulted in seismic shifts in American foreign and domestic policy and helped to shape the future of not only America, but also the wider-world in which we all live today. In this exciting episode of Versus History, Elliott (@thelibrarian6) argues that Pearl Harbor's most significant impact was on American foreign policy, while Patrick (@historychappy) argues that it had an even bigger impact on America's domestic destiny.
Episode #3 Lord Durham was a 'larger then life' character of the early 19th century who wholeheartedly supported the passing of the 1832 Great Reform Act in Britain. Six years later in 1838, he was sent to Upper and Lower Canada to find a solution to the political turmoil that had resulted in two separate rebellions. While Lord Durham's tenure was just 6 months in duration, he compiled a report in 1839 known as the 'Report on the Affairs of British North America', which advocated the extension of 'responsible self-government' to the Canada's. Did Lord Durham really 'save' the white settler Empire for the Crown with the contents of his Report? In this episode, Patrick O'Shaughnessy (@historychappy) explains the rationale behind his critique of Lord Durham's role in the forthcoming book 'Versus Empire', as well as the disciplinary and research processes behind his work, while Elliott L. Watson (@thelibrarian6) poses the questions.
Episode #2 The flamboyant and colourful Lord Durham played a significant role in the passing of the 1832 Great Reform Act in Britain; some 6 years later in 1838, he was sent to Upper and Lower Canada to find a solution to the political turmoil that had resulted in two separate rebellions. While Lord Durham's tenure was short, he penned a report in 1839 known as the 'Report on the Affairs of British North America', which advocated the extension of 'responsible self-government' to the Canada's. Did Lord Durham really 'save' the white settler Empire for the Crown with the contents of his Report? In this episode, Elliott L. Watson (@thelibrarian6) explains the rationale behind his defence of Lord Durham's role in the forthcoming book 'Versus Empire', as well as the disciplinary and research processes behind his work, while Patrick O'Shaughnessy (@historychappy) poses the questions.
Episode #1 Versus History welcome you to the very first Podcast Episode from History Teachers Elliott and Patrick. In this introductory episode, the pair discuss the launch of Versus History in 2017 and their forthcoming book, 'Versus Empire' - the first from the 'Versus' series. Elliott (@thelibrarian6) and Patrick (@historychappy) are both History Teachers and are dedicated to delivering highly academic and articulate historical debate with students of A-Level, I.B and U.S History courses in mind. Both Teachers lay the platform for the first debate on the historical significance of Lord Durham during his stint in the Canada's during the late 1830's. In this turbulent context, did Lord Durham 'save' the white settler Empire for the Crown? Versus History is here!