Chalke Talk

The podcast from the Chalke Valley History Festival
Released every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings


Chalke Talks for CVHFYEAR: 2019


  • 01. NO TURNING BACK: LIFE, LOSS AND HOPE IN WARTIME SYRIA
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    Award-winning journalist Rania Abouzeid presents reportage of unprecedented scope. From the first rumblings of dissent in 2011, she shows the unravelling of a nation: peaceful protests collapsing into violence, families shattered, and religious conviction sharpened by rage to a radical point. She reveals how Syrians found new ways to resist as the cruelty of the […]

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  • 03. AROUND THE WORLD IN 1847
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    Turtle Bunbury takes a fast-paced look at the world as it was 170 years ago. Featuring an exceptional cast of characters from those who explored the world’s oceans to show stopping entertainers, his talk also encompasses the intrepid pioneers who crossed the prairies of the Americas, the genius of Liszt and Mendelssohn, the Irish soldiers […]

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  • 10. FIGHTING WITH THE FRENCH RESISTANCE
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    Jean Jammes was a schoolboy in 1944 when, that summer, he joined the Resistance group led by his father in the countryside around Épernon. Involved in numerous actions of sabotage, he also helped capture three German officers and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. In this very special event he talks to Peter Caddick-Adams about […]

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  • 12. THE PATIENT ASSASSIN: A TRUE TALE OF MASSACRE, REVENGE AND THE RAJ
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    On April 13th 1919, the British Indian Army opened fire on a crowd attending an unauthorised public meeting in Amritsar. Over 1,000 unarmed Indians were killed. Among the survivors was a young man who made a vow of vengeance that would ultimately prove successful. Prompted by her own family connections to the Amritsar massacre, Anita […]

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  • 14. APPEASING HITLER: CHAMBERLAIN, CHURCHILL AND THE ROAD TO WAR
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    On 30th September 1938, Neville Chamberlain stepped off an aeroplane and announced that his visit to Hitler had averted the greatest crisis in recent memory. He declared it was ‘peace for our time’, but within a year Britain was at war with Germany. Tim Bouverie gives a compelling reappraisal of the immense drama of those […]

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  • 24. UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN GOVERNMENT
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    At times America’s complicated system of Federalism has seemed like a model of rational and democratic government — at others it has seemed like a recipe for obstruction and chaos. Nicholas Cole discusses the circumstances in which America’s government was created, the objectives of its founders, and whether the assumptions of the eighteenth century are […]

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  • 32. LIVING IN THE IRON AGE
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    In this talk, specially designed for younger pupils, Chris Culpin develops and widens their knowledge of the Iron Age. Using examples of their extraordinary metalwork and impressive hill-forts, the talk shows how different archaeological techniques continue to broaden our understanding of life in Iron Age Britain.

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  • 37. TUDOR DYEING: FROM SHEEP TO CLOTH
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    From the process of dyeing to the weave, mother and daughter team Lindsey and George Ratcliffe demonstrate how Tudors would have prepared wool from fleece and turned it into a range of clothing.

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  • 40. THIS IS SHAKESPEARE
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    Shakespeare, a genius and prophet whose timeless works encapsulate the human condition like no others. A writer whose vision, originality and literary mastery were second to none. Professor Emma Smith debunks these common perceptions of the Bard and instead introduces an intellectually, theatrically and ethically exciting writer who treated topics such as individual agency, privacy, […]

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  • THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
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    The story of philosophy is an epic tale: from classical antiquity to the present, it is the unending quest for an understanding of reality, truth and value by some of the most creative minds in the world. Professor Anthony Grayling gives a comprehensive account of the great adventure of philosophy, mainly in the Western tradition […]

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  • VIETNAM: AN EPIC TRAGEDY 1945-1975
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    In an acclaimed retelling of the Vietnam tragedy, Max Hastings offers a balanced account of how and why the Vietnam War unfolded as it did, and a gripping description of what it was like to take part, based on the testimony of scores of participants – communist and anti-communist Vietnamese, Chinese railway engineers, Soviet missile […]

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  • THE WOMAN WHO SAVED THE CHILDREN: EGLANTYNE JEBB
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    Eglantyne Jebb not only helped save millions of lives, she also permanently changed the way the world treats children through the foundation of Save the Children. Clare Mulley brings to life this brilliant, charismatic, and passionate woman, whose work took her between drawing rooms and war zones, defying convention and breaking the law, until she […]

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  • 53. START AGAIN: HOW WE CAN FIX OUR BROKEN POLITICS
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    Britain today is divided by generation, education, place and attitude. In this time of tumult, when Britain is wrestling with the question of what sort of nation it wishes to be, its politics is stuck. Drawing on lessons from history, Philip Collins proposes new answers to today’s most urgent questions: questions of education, work, health, […]

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  • 56. 1821: THE GREEK WAR OF INDEPENDENCE
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    It began as a spark in the Peloponnese and grew to suck in the Great Powers. James Heneage describes an eleven-year adventure full of heroism and unspeakable savagery with a glittering, international cast that included Byron, Delacroix and hundreds of young philhellenes who went out to fight and die. It ended with the last naval […]

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  • 58. WAR AND GOLD: A FIVE HUNDRED YEAR HISTORY OF EMPIRE, ADVENTURES AND DEBT
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    In the sixteenth century, Spanish conquistadors discovered the New World. The vast quantities of gold and silver would make their country rich, yet the new wealth supported multiple wars, ultimately leading to the economic ruin of their empire. Kwasi Kwarteng examines the role that money has played in the destabilisation of societies and places the […]

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  • 59. A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE AMERICAN SPY WHO HELPED WIN WORLD WAR II
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    In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: “She is the most dangerous of all Allies spies. We must find and destroy her.” The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organisation dubbed Winston Churchill’s “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.” Sonia Purnell […]

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  • 67. CHURCHILL: WALKING WITH DESTINY
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    When we seek an example of a great leader with unalloyed courage, the person who comes to mind is Winston Churchill: the iconic, visionary war leader, who stood firmly for his beliefs when everyone doubted him. But how did young Winston become Churchill? What gave him the strength to take on the superior force of […]

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  • 69. OUR UNINVITED GUESTS: THE SECRET LIVES OF BRITAIN’S COUNTRY HOUSES 1939-1945
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    At the beginning of the Second World War the government requisitioned thousands of houses to provide accommodation for the armed forces, secret services and government offices as well as vulnerable children, the sick and the elderly. Julie Summers gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life in some of Britain’s greatest country houses that were occupied by […]

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  • 70. CAPITALISM IN AMERICA: A HISTORY
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    Adrian Wooldridge, otherwise known as Bagehot from the Economist, describes America’s evolution from a small patchwork of colonies to an unsurpassed engine of wealth and innovation. He addresses the crucial debates, from the role of slavery in the antebellum Southern economy to the real impact of Roosevelt’s New Deal and America’s violent mood swings in […]

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  • 71. THE 1917 RUSSIAN REVOLUTION
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    In this lecture to senior school pupils, Dr George Gilbert talks about the Russian Revolution of 1917 and puts this in context by what came before and what happened after into the civil-war era of the 1920s. He covers war, revolution, civil war as well as the different interpretations of these events today.

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  • 72. THE GREAT EXPLORERS
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    What inspires explorers to push back the boundaries of the world? Why do they risk their lives in unforgiving conditions far from home? How do they survive at the limits of human endurance? Who are the great pioneers of land, sea and space? Robin Hanbury-Tenison charts the great expeditions of the most outstanding men and […]

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  • 75. THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY
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    In this talk for secondary schools, Professor Olivette Otele begins with her own trajectory which has led to her becoming Britain’s first female black professor of history. She examines three questions: What is history? Why do we learn history? and How do we enquire into the past?

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  • 80. THE LAST CAVALIER: PRINCE RUPERT OF THE RHINE
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    Described as ‘half man, half devil’ by the Parliamentarians, Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Charles I’s nephew and commander of the Royalist forces in exile, was truly a man of two halves. Although nicknamed Prince Robber and renowned as a brutal general, dashing cavalier and Royalist pirate, Charles Spencer reveals the hidden side of Prince […]

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