The History Hour

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Max Pearson brings you a roundup of this week’s Witness History stories of resistance from the last 70 years. From the early days of opposition to President Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, through the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, a photographer's memories of the 1989 demonstrations in China, an iconic civil rights story from the USA, to Argentina and the women who are still demonstrating in the hope of discovering what became of their children under military rule. Photo: a lone protestor, who became known as Tank Man, in Tiananmen Square in China in June 1989. Credit: Stuart Franklin/Magnum.
How Indian women in the 1990s campaigned to stop the sale of alcohol in the state of Andhra Pradesh to protect women from domestic violence and safeguard family finances. The history of America's healthcare system, how the UN was eventually persuaded to apologise for the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti and the horror of being caught up in one of the most notorious hi-jackings of the 1970s, plus the birth of Reddit, one the world's most successful websites. Photo A shop selling alcohol in India. Credit Getty.
How author and former intelligence officer Ian Fleming created the British super-spy, James Bond plus, how the British government shifted social care for the disabled away from large institutions and into the community and the Cape Town bombings in 1990s South Africa. Also how a British Airways jumbo jet flew through a volcanic ash cloud and survived and the birth of the Sony Walkman, a device that changed listening habits forever. Photo: Ian Lancaster Fleming, British author and creator of the James Bond character, in 1958. (Getty Images)
Margaret Ekpo helped establish Nigerian independence and became one of the country's first female MPs. We hear from her grandson and speak to a Nigerian feminist about why Nigeria has so few women in government today. Plus the US Supreme Court decision that threatens the voting rights of Black Americans, the policeman turned protestor who was part of the Occupy Wall Street protest, America's first woman combat pilot and the bittersweet memories of the Gaelic-speaking community who left the remote islands of St Kilda in 1930. PHOTO: Margaret Ekpo in London in August 1953 (ANL/Shutterstock)
Randy Weaver was a white separatist in Idaho in the north-west United States who was wanted by the government on firearms charges. When government agents approached his remote cabin on Ruby Ridge in August 1992, it was the start of an eleven day siege involving hundreds of police officers – which ended with the deaths of Weaver’s wife and teenage son, along with a US marshal. The incident would become a touchstone for the American far right. Plus, growing up with Saddam Hussein, the invention of the asthma inhaler and digging up King Richard III of England. PHOTO: Randy Weaver (C) shows a model of his Ruby Ridge, Idaho cabin to US Senator Arlen Specter, R-PA, during Senate hearings investigating the events surrounding the 1992 standoff with federal agents (PAMELA PRICE/AFP via Getty Images).
At the start of the Lebanese civil war in 1975, Beirut’s luxury hotel district was turned into a battlefield, with rival groups of gunmen holed up in some of the most expensive accommodation in the Middle East. We hear from two former employees of the Holiday Inn about what came to be known as the Battle of the Hotels. Also in today's programme, the first radar, the invention of the ventilator, and how women in Turkey overhauled decades-old laws on rape and sexual assault. Photo: The ruins of the Holiday Inn. (Credit: Getty Images)
It’s 75 years this week since the dropping of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which led to Japan’s surrender to Allied forces and the end of the Second World War. We hear first-hand accounts of military turning points in the Pacific including the attack on Pearl Harbour and the Battle of Midway, and historian Ian Buruma explains the context for Japan’s attack on the US. We also hear about the impact of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki on civilians, about Japanese-American citizens imprisoned in internment camps in the US, and about the writing of Japan’s post-war constitution. Picture: Mushroom cloud over Nagasaki after bombing by atomic bomb on 9th August 1945 ( US Air Force photo/PA)
Surviving the Atlantic alone in a liferaft, Spain's historic 1960s tourism boom, the death of the infamous Nazi Heinrich Himmler, plus fighting Australia's bushfires and we remember a groundbreaking Latino writer. Photo: Photo: Steve Callahan shows how he hunted fish from his life raft. © Steve Callahan
On 16th October 1995 hundreds of thousands of black American men marched on Washington D.C. in an attempt to put black issues back on the government agenda. We hear from one woman who went on the march. Plus the first women's refuge opens in Afghanistan, the son of the man behind the failed plot to kill Hitler in 1944, campaigning to protect the Borneo rain forest, and the world's fastest vaccine maker. (Photo:The Million Man March, Credit:TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
As the world begins to consider how to emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic, we look back at economic crises of the past and how countries have responded to them. Max Pearson hears about America's "New Deal" in the 1930s, South Korea's transformation in the 1950s and Chile's "miracle economy" of the 1970s. Plus, Tanzania and its African form of socialism, and economic shock therapy in Russia in the 1990s. PHOTO: President Franklin D Roosevelt in 1935 (Getty Images).
How whistle-blowers implicated UN peacekeepers and international police in the forced prostitution and trafficking of Eastern European women into Bosnia in the late 1990s. Plus, how Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross changed the way we think about death and dying when she developed her Five Stages of Grief; Beethoven's role in China's Cultural Revolution; the "friendship train" between India and Bangladesh; and the controversial teaching exercise which segregated children by whether they had blue or brown eyes. Picture: the United Nations Peacekeeping Force patrols the Bosnian capital Sarajevo in March 1996 (Credit: Roger Lemoyne/Liaison/Getty Images)
Eyewitness accounts of important moments in recent African American history. We hear from the daughter of the man named in the court case which became a turning point in the battle for civil rights, plus the sister of a teenage girl killed in a racist bomb attack. We hear how the winning performance of an all-black basketball team helped change America's attitude to segregation in sport. Plus Rodney King whose attack by police in 1991 was caught on camera and seen by millions - the later acquittal of the officers sparked days of rioting. Finally we hear from Bilal Chatman who was sentenced to 150 years in prison under the 1994 'three strikes law' which disproportionately affected black Americans. Putting it all into context, presenter Max Pearson talks to Professor Gloria Browne-Marshall of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
How a bloody 1960s revolution changed East Africa. We hear an eyewitness account and talk to Professor Emma Hunter of Edinburgh University. Plus the birth of ecotourism in Costa Rica, the post-war origin of the World Health Organisation, the man who created the world's first portable defibrillator, and remembering the artist Christo. PHOTO: Ugandan revolutionary and self-styled Field Marshal John Okello (1937 - 1971), leader of the Afro-Shirazi anti-Arab coup in Zanzibar, circa 1964. (Photo by Pix/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Forty years on from the Gwangju uprising in South Korea, the book that changed the way we eat, plus the dangers of being a Congolese conservationist. Also, revealing accounts of British wartime leader Winston Churchill from his doctor, and the pioneering African-American dress designer who designed Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress. Photo: soldiers beating men in Gwangju in May 1980. Credit: 5.18 Memorial Foundation/AFP via Getty Images
During times of crisis in the UK, World War Two is often remembered as a period when the country rallied together to fight a common enemy. But as Simon Watts finds out from the BBC archives, there was a crime wave during the war years, with a massive increase in looting and black marketeering. Also in the programme, the first 3D printers, plus a black policeman recalls the 1980 Miami riots, Hong Kong's city within a city and explaining autism. PHOTO: A government poster from World War Two (Getty Images)
Why Japanese women had to wait until 1999 to be allowed to take the pill, the Dutch 'Prince of scandal', plus the flatulent fish that prompted a Cold War scare, the first helpline for children and the joy of being liberated from Nazi occupation on The Channel Islands. (Photo: A collection of contraceptive pills. Getty Images)
Eyewitness accounts of the fall of Nazi Germany and the end of the Second World War in Europe. Using unique interviews from the BBC's archives we bring you men and women who fought in the battle for Berlin, and some of those who were with Hitler in his final days. We present the story of a German woman who survived the start of Soviet occupation, and we meet the historian whose 1995 exhibition challenged Germans' view of the war. Plus the sounds of VE Day in London, 8th May 1945, as reported by the BBC at the time. Putting it all into context, presenter Max Pearson talks to Dr Mary Fulbrook, Professor of German History at University College London and author of the award winning book "Reckonings" about the aftermath of the war and the quest for justice. (Photo by ullstein bild via Getty Images)
A new strain of flu emerged in East Asia in 1957 and spread all over the world. Known at the time as “Asian flu”, it killed more than a million people. We hear from a woman who survived the virus and speak to Mark Honigsbaum, author of The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria and Hubris. Plus, Indonesia’s transgender rights movement, the assassination of the UN’s first Middle East mediator, conflict in the Galapagos Islands, and the trees that survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Photo: Americans worried about "Asian flu" wait their turns at Central Harlem District Health clinic in October 1957. Credit: Getty Images
The grandson of the last surviving African-born US slave, plus the story behind the portable hospital breathing ventilator that was a precursor to those helping save coronavirus lives; also on the programme the Pakistani welfare hero, the deadly explosion which sent 130 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and candid insights from one of America's greatest playwrights.
50 years since the Apollo 13 mission, how millions of TV viewers followed the famous rescue of the three NASA astronauts. Also, the women who led the way in America’s space programme by spending two weeks under water and what happened when Skylab crashed to Earth in 1979. Plus, a collision on board the Mir space station in 1997 and the last men on the Moon. PHOTO: The crew of Apollo 13 after their rescue (Getty Images)
In a special edition of the History Hour, Max Pearson looks back at some of the major technological milestones of recent years. We hear about the Californian computer club where the founders of Apple cut their teeth, about the inventors of the webcam and about the unlikely pioneers of home shopping. Plus, the launch of the iPhone and one of the very first social networks. PHOTO: Len Shustek, former member of the Homebrew Computer Club.
Trailblazing British lawyer Rose Heilbron was the first female judge at London's famous Old Bailey criminal court. Her daughter Hillary Heilbron QC remembers how hard she had to fight to be accepted. Dana Denis-Smith, founder of the First 100 Years Project about the history of women in law, discusses women's participation in legal professions around the world. Plus, being a Muslim in China, the Swedish warship restored after 300 years, the assassination that aimed to revenge the Amritsar massacre, and Pando, the biggest living organism in the world by mass. Photo: English KC (King's Counsel) Rose Heilbron (1914 - 2005) arrives at the House of Lords in London, for the traditional champagne breakfast hosted by the Lord Chancellor at the start of the Michaelmas Term for the law courts, 2nd October 1950. (Credit William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
How an LGBTQ+ activist decided to commemorate friends who had died of AIDS with a quilt, plus sequencing the 1918 flu virus, five years of war in Yemen, the story of a child abandoned in Hong Kong, and an attack on South Korea. (Photo: A section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Getty Images)
In 1990, NASA launched the historic mission which put into orbit the Hubble Space Telescope. The orbiting observatory has revolutionized astronomy and allowed us to peer deeper than ever before into the Universe. We hear from astronaut, Kathryn Sullivan. Plus, China's cure for malaria, the "Red Scare" in Hollywood in the 1940s and 50s, and a pioneering sexual harassment case at the US Supreme Court. PHOTO: The Hubble Space Telescope (NASA)
A special edition looking at how the world has battled deadly viruses over the past 100 years, We have eyewitness accounts of the 1918 flu, and the recent struggle against SARS, we hear how a vaccine saved millions from Polio, and the moment the world discovered the killer viruses known as Marburg Fever and Ebola in the 1960s and 70s. (Photo: An American policeman wearing a mask to protect himself from the outbreak of Spanish flu. Credit:Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
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Podcast Details

Created by
Podcast Status
Aug 15th, 2015
Latest Episode
Sep 19th, 2020
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour

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