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Take a deep dive into the past as we bring you the very best of BBC History Magazine, Britain’s bestselling history magazine. With a new episode released every Monday, enjoy fascinating and enlightening articles from leading historical experts, covering a broad sweep of the centuries – from the scandals of Georgian society to the horrors of the First World War, revolutions, rebellions, and more.
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The New Statesman is the UK's leading politics and culture magazine. Here you can listen to a selection of our very best reported features and essays read aloud. Get immersed in powerful storytelling and narrative journalism from some of the world's best writers. Have your mind opened by influential thinkers on the forces shaping our lives today. Ease into the weekend with new episodes published every Saturday morning. For more, visit www.newstatesman.com/podcasts/audio-long-reads Hosted on ...
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William of Normandy sailed across the Channel and swiftly conquered England in 1066 – or at least that’s how the story goes. But, in this Long Read written by Sophie Thérèse Ambler and James Morris, we reveal how the northern stronghold of Cumbria remained untouched for another 26 years. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC…
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The work of Britain's wartime cryptanalysts is now well known, but there is one woman whose contribution has gone largely unrecognised – Emily Anderson. In this Long Read, written by Jackie Uí Chionna, we examine the life of the linguist and musicologist who became the nation's most senior female codebreaker. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the …
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When the British Empire Exhibition opened its doors in Wembley a century ago – featuring exotic pavilions, sporting spectacles and even a replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb – it wowed visitors. But, as we explore in this Long Read written by Matthew Parker, it also spoke of a superpower in decline. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles fr…
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Helen Cowie marks the RSPCA's 200th anniversary by returning to its roots campaigning against vicious Victorian animal cruelty They rescued mutilated dogs, prosecuted bull baiters, and denounced the slaughter of exotic birds. As the RSPCA marks its 200th anniversary, this Long Read, written by Helen Cowie, reveals how campaigners took the fight to …
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Nicky Nielsen traces the progress of a brutal 15th-century BC battle that saw supercharged the rise of Egypt's greatest warrior pharaoh Recovering the stories of ancient battles that happened thousands of years ago can be very difficult. But as one of the first battles to have been recorded in relatively reliable detail, the brutal battle of Megidd…
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Nick Lloyd considers why, despite its scale and legacy, the First World War's Eastern Front has been overshadowed by its Western counterpart In both scale and ferocity, the fighting on the Eastern Front from 1914 to 1917 outdid even the Western Front. So why has Eastern Europe become the forgotten theatre of the First World War? In this Long Read, …
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Sarah Gristwood delves into the diaries of women that have previously been lost to time to reveal what they can tell us about the past From meditations on grief to musings on motherhood, diaries can reveal a great deal about women's lives over the centuries. In this Long Read written by Sarah Gristwood, we turn the pages of some of history's most f…
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From the heroic glamour of Henry V to the heady nationalism of Braveheart, the medieval era has proven a rich source of material for film directors. In this Long Read, Robert Bartlett charts Hollywood's long obsession with the Middle Ages. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazine, direct to your ears. Today’s f…
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Who shot JFK? Was Elizabeth I a man? And did aliens really land at Roswell? Conspiracy theories abound in modern society – but these kinds of rumours and speculations have also been pervasive in the past. In this long read, Rob Attar, host of the HistoryExtra podcast series Conspiracy, draws on the expertise of leading historians to investigate the…
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By the end of her reign, Mary I’s relationship with her half-sister and successor, Elizabeth, was at an all-time low. But had the Tudor siblings always been such bitter enemies? In this Long Read, Nicola Tallis reveals how the duo’s bond was both broken and strengthened by events beyond their control. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best art…
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When Alexander the Great founded a settlement at the junction of three continents in 331 BC, he created a metropolitan powerhouse that would shape global history. In this Long Read, Islam Issa hails the genius of ancient Alexandria – a colourful, multicultural and thoroughly modern city. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC…
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The grey squirrel’s domination of Britain’s woodland over the past 150 years has enraged everyone from gamekeepers to prime ministers. In today's Long Read, written by Peter Coates, we discover how the ‘American tree rat’ became the furry mammal that Britons loved to hate. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazi…
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What can the history of breastfeeding tell us about medieval society? In this Long Read, written by Hannah Skoda, we explore stories of miracle cures, bizarre beliefs and caring communities. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazine, direct to your ears. Today’s feature originally appeared in the February 2024 i…
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Today, Britain’s canals are ideal places to enjoy a leisurely cruise – but in the 19th century, they had a vastly different reputation. In this Long Read, written by Susan Law, we reveal how these waterways once served as the settings for brutal acts of alcohol-fuelled violence. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History …
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The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World were daring and dazzling constructions that have burned bright in the human imagination right up to the modern day. In this Long Read written by Bettany Hughes, we follow in the footsteps of the ancients to explore their remarkable stories. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History …
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In January 1924, Ramsay MacDonald entered 10 Downing Street as Britain’s first Labour prime minister. As Richard Toye reveals in today's Long Read, MacDonald's rapid rise stunned his rivals, but it wasn’t long before they were preparing their revenge... HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazine, direct to your e…
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Recently, we marked the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio, a collection of plays by William Shakespeare. To celebrate this landmark in literary history, in today's Long Read, eight historical experts offer their takes on what the Bard's plays reveal about enduring themes including love, death, power and money. HistoryExtra Lon…
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The Bloomsbury Group transformed British culture in the early 20th century – and its impact can still felt across the world today. So, how did this small set of artists, writers and thinkers become so influential? In today's Long Read, Frances Spalding argues that the answer lies in the strong bonds between its members. HistoryExtra Long Reads brin…
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What can brutal murders reveal about society at the time they were committed? And what additional insights can we gain when those killings were committed by women? In today's Long Read, Rosalind Crone, historical consultant on the BBC series Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley, reveals what six murder cases can tell us about women’s lives in the 19th ce…
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Julius Caesar's murder is often seen as the event that ushered in the age of emperors. Yet, argues Shushma Malik in today's Long Read, structural weaknesses had plagued Rome's republic long before his death. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazine, direct to your ears. Today’s feature originally appeared in th…
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For some servicemen hardened by a long military career, death in battle is preferable to simply fading away in old age. In this Long Read, Joshua Levine tells the story of one such man, a retired naval officer who leapt bravely back into the fray during the Second World War – at the age of 70. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles fr…
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Matilda of Scotland, wife of Henry I, did perhaps more than any other figure to bridge the chasm between the Anglo-Saxons and their Norman conquerors. So why, asks Joanna Arman in this Long Read, has she been written out of history? HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazine, direct to your ears. Today’s feature …
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The Boston Tea Party is often cited as a model of peaceful civil protest. But, as Elinor Evans reveals in today's Long Read, on the 250th anniversary of this milestone in America's foundational story, it occurred against a backdrop of bloodshed. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazine, direct to your ears. Tod…
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In 1969, everyone from Prince Michael of Kent to Billy Butlin competed in a dash between London and New York aboard tandems, sedan chairs and jump jets. In this Long Read, Rachel Harris-Gardiner recalls a madcap forerunner of BBC's popular reality competition Race across the World. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC Histo…
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From dodging deceitful street hustlers and menacing bandits to dealing with the looming threat of food poisoning, sea sickness and even death, medieval travel could be a dangerous business. In today’s Long Read, Anthony Bale offers eight sage pieces of advice for those planning to pack their bags and embark on a journey to a foreign land in the Mid…
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From the mid-1920s, Adolf Hitler saw a dramatic transformation in the eyes of the German public – from the buffoon who had botched a coup, to a true patriot who could deliver Germany from chaos. A century on from the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, Frank McDonough explains how Hitler turned a bloody fiasco into a political triumph, in this Long Read. Hist…
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As the Walt Disney Company celebrates its centenary, it seems a fitting time to reflect on the legacy of the iconic House of Mouse. In this Long Read, John Wills traces the company’s story from its early animations to global blockbusters – and the political controversies it courted along the way. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles…
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Powerful foes, chronic starvation, hostile landscapes – the First Crusade, an 11th-century armed pilgrimage to the holy city of Jerusalem, overcame seemingly insurmountable challenges. In today’s long read, Emily Briffett draws on the expertise of leading medieval historians to reveal how zeal, strategy, and sheer luck secured military success for …
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The Allied invasion of Italy in 1943 was envisaged as a swift push on Rome. Yet, as James Holland explains in today’s long read, by the end of the year, the campaign was stymied by German defences far from the capital. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazine, direct to your ears. Today’s feature originally app…
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Edward III’s siege of Calais was a pivotal moment in the Hundred Years’ War. In today’s long read, Dan Jones argues that it bears comparison with one of the most brutal clashes of the modern era: the battle of Stalingrad. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazine, direct to your ears. Today’s feature originally …
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In September 1923, the British empire reached its maximum territorial extent – a staggering 460 million people lived within its borders. Yet just as the imperial project reached its apex, writes Matthew Parker in today’s long read, cracks were widening. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazine, direct to your e…
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They no longer have a stranglehold on Oxbridge and would lose tax breaks under Labour. So what is elite education really selling? At the Labour Party conference in Liverpool in October, the Independent Schools Council hosted a forlorn drinks reception: not one of the more than 40 MPs showed up. ‘We are not the enemy,’ one private school headmaster …
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Anne Boleyn famously spent her youth learning the customs and etiquette of the French court. But how did this extensive education impact her later life, and her approach to queenship? Today’s long read, written by John Guy and Julia Fox, reveals how international diplomacy supercharged the rise of Henry VIII’s second wife – and hastened her fall. H…
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On 2 November 2023, Rishi Sunak closed his global AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park by interviewing the richest man on Earth, Elon Musk. The mood was deferential (the PM towards the tech billionaire). Was Sunak eyeing up a post-politics job in San Francisco, some wondered, or calculating that Musk’s Twitter might be an effective campaigning tool c…
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Today, insects are seen as a vital part of our ecosystem, but in the late 17th century, they were largely overlooked by science. Today’s long read, written by Patricia Fara, tells the story of a groundbreaking lepidopterist whose research provided solace from a turbulent personal life. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC H…
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What might be the long term impact of the Israel-Hamas war on global alliances? In this week’s audio long read, the New Statesman’s contributing writer John Gray reflects on three weeks of bloodshed, beginning with the massacres of 7 October, and their wider consequences. An escalating conflict will empower Iran and Russia, he writes, as well as st…
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Over the past 200 years, Dick Whittington has become one of Britain’s best-loved pantomime heroes. Yet, as today’s long read explores, the real-life story that inspired Dick’s rags to riches tale is even more remarkable than the fiction. Based on his interview with author Michael McCarthy, Jon Bauckham considers how this fascinating medieval mercha…
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From cobbled alleys and snarky graffiti to bustling communal fountains and holy shrines, Pompeii was a city teeming with life. In today’s long read, written by Sophie Hay, we travel back 100 years to an archaeological dig that transformed our understanding of daily life on its streets. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC H…
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In May this year, an American woman sought the help of a chatbot on an eating disorders website. The bot, named Tessa and running on an evolving, generative AI, advised her to start counting calories. Perhaps she should get some calipers, it suggested, to measure her body fat. When it emerged that Tessa had given similarly dangerous advice to other…
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From 1307, members of the Knights Templar were beaten, brutalised and put to death on charges of heresy, Satanism and mass murder. But, asks today’s long read, written by historian Steve Tibble, were this elite band of holy warriors fitted up for crimes they didn’t commit? HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazi…
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What are the roots of today’s maternity crisis? Recent research by the Care Quality Commission has found a “concerning decline” in England, with over half of maternity wards rated substandard. Donna Ockenden’s review of Shrewsbury and Telford maternity trust found that, between 2001 and 2019, 201 babies and nine mothers had died avoidable deaths. I…
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From the illicit affairs of high society to duels, crimes and even ghosts, Georgian Britain loved a scandal. Today’s long read, written by historian and author Emily Brand, charts eight of the most shocking. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazine, direct to your ears. Today’s feature originally appeared in th…
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For today’s Audio Long Read we’re bringing you one from our archives, which is suddenly extremely prescient. This week GB News is in the spotlight once again, this time for broadcasting misogynist comments made by Laurence Fox about a female journalist, Ava Evans. The channel has suspended Fox, along with host Dan Wootton, and has apologised for br…
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What did English merchants and mariners do when a Spanish invasion fleet menaced the South Coast in 1588? Well, as today’s long read written by Robert Blackmore reveals, they simply boarded their ships and carried on trading. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazine, direct to your ears. Today’s feature origina…
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At the time of writing, the crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried is due to stand trial on 3 October 2023. He stands accused of fraud and money-laundering on an epic scale through his currency exchange FTX. Did he gamble with other people’s money in a bid to do the maximum good? In this week’s long read, the New Statesman’s associate editor Sophie M…
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Fifty years after Salvador Allende was ousted, might his greatest legacy be his battle with the emerging tech giants? On 1 August 1973, a seemingly mundane diplomatic summit took place in Lima, Peru. But there was nothing mundane about its revolutionary agenda. The attendees – diplomats from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru – aspired to c…
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The image of plucky warriors sending a cocksure English army into flight has secured Bannockburn’s status in the annals of Scottish history. Today’s long read, written by public historian Helen Carr, chronicles how the 1314 clash transformed the balance of power between two warring nations. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from …
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From as early as 1914, powerful voices called for the First World War to end in a negotiated compromise. So, why were they ignored? That’s the question at the heart of today’s long read, written by historian Professor Holger Afflerbach. HistoryExtra Long Reads brings you the best articles from BBC History Magazine, direct to your ears. Today’s feat…
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After the extreme heat of summer 2024, which saw children stretchered out of their exams, Britain’s prime minister calls a press conference in Westminster Hall. He has one eye on life after office (skiing in Aspen, a big gig in Silicon Valley), but before he leaves, he wants to unveil something truly ground-breaking: a large language model that has…
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