Chalke Talk

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


Chalke Talks for REGION: World


  • 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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  • 06. THE SILK ROADS: A NEW HISTORY OF THE WORLD
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    In this brilliant major reassessment of world history, Peter Frankopan gives a compelling account of the forces that have shaped the global economy and the political renaissance in the re-emerging east. He explores the forces that have driven the rise and fall of empires, determined the flow of ideas and goods and are now heralding […]

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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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  • 22. REMEMBERING THE FUTURE: HISTORY AS A CORDIAL FOR DROOPING SPIRITS
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    We cannot change the past, but we are responsible for how we remember it. The Irish, Welsh and Scots have recovered their sense of identity through a fresh remembering of their heritage. Richard Chartres, former Bishop of London, proposes a creative response to the post-Brexit challenges to the English national identity and examines what needs […]

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  • 28. SALAFI-JIHADISM: THE HISTORY OF AN IDEA
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    No topic has gripped the public imagination as dramatically as the spectre of global jihadism. While much has been said about the way jihadists behave, their ideology remains poorly understood. Shiraz Maher, an authority on radicalisation, charts the intellectual underpinnings of Salafi-Jihadism from its origins in the mountains of the Hindu Kush to the jihadist […]

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  • 31. NATO: SAFEGUARDING FREEDOM – 1949 TO THE PRESENT
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    General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, a former Commander of UK Land Forces, spent three years as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, working with our NATO allies. This talk outlines his thoughts on the history of NATO, the challenges it has faced and those that still confront it today as the ripples of discord sweep across […]

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  • 35. TEN CITIES THAT MADE AN EMPIRE
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    Historian, broadcaster and former Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt takes a new approach towards the history and decline of the British Empire. By examining the stories and defining ideas of ten of the most important cities, he shows how they transformed the culture, economy and identity of the British Isles for good.

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  • 39. A BRIEF HISTORY OF EVERYONE WHO EVER LIVED: THE STORIES IN OUR GENES
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    In a captivating journey through the expanding landscape of genetics, Adam Rutherford, geneticist and broadcaster, argues that our genomes should be read not as instruction manuals, but as epic poems. Touching on everything from Neanderthals to murder, redheads to race, and dead kings to plague, he decodes the mystery behind who we are and how […]

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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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  • HISTORY’S PEOPLE: PERSONALITIES AND THE PAST
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    What difference do individuals make to history? Scrutinising the lives and behaviour of great and lesser-known figures of the past, internationally-acclaimed historian Margaret MacMillan investigates the decisions they made that changed our lives irrevocably. What is the concept of leadership? And how, for better or worse, have personalities influenced the way we see our past […]

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  • 84. THE CAUSES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR
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    In this talk for secondary school pupils, Professor Frank McDonough examines the causes of WWII. He looks at long-term factors such as the Treaty of Versailles, the League of Nations and the depression following the Wall Street Crash, before turning to Hitler. He was an exceptional individual who had laid out his expansionist intentions as […]

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  • 86. OUR BOYS: THE STORY OF A FALKLANDS PARATROOPER
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    Helen Parr brings to life the human experiences of the paratroopers who fought in the Falklands, and examines the long aftermath of that short and symbolic war. She looks at the social and cultural history of a regiment with an aggressive reputation, while intertwining the personal story of her uncle who was killed during the […]

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  • 96. THE VIKING AGE OF EXPLORATION
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    Dan Snow tells the story of the Viking expansion across the North Atlantic to the New World. What does the archeology tell us? How did they navigate across the vast expanse of ocean and why did they use reindeer droppings as a preservative? Dan Snow has followed the Vikings from Estonia to Newfoundland and here […]

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  • 99. THE GOLDEN THREAD: HOW FABRIC CHANGED HISTORY
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    From 30,000-year-old threads found in a Georgian cave to the linen wrappings of Tutankhamun’s mummy; from the lace ruffs that infuriated the puritans to the Indian calicoes and chintzes that powered the Industrial Revolution, Kassia St Clair reveals how the continual reinvention of cloth weaves a fascinating story of human ingenuity.

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  • 101. THE SECRET WORLD: THE LOST HISTORY OF INTELLIGENCE FROM THE ANCIENT WORLD TO THE 21st CENTURY
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    What difference have security and intelligence operations made to the course of history? Professor Christopher Andrew, Britain’s foremost intelligence scholar, provides the answers. Beginning with the shift in the ancient world from divination to recognisable attempts to gather intelligence, he charts the development of intelligence and security operations through Renaissance Venice, Elizabethan England and Napoleonic […]

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  • 105. THE FIGHTER PILOTS
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    We rightly venerate those who fought in the Battle of Britain but what of those other fighter pilots who fought in World War II? Keith Quilter was a naval carrier pilot flying Corsairs in the Pacific, while Colin Bell flew Mosquitoes over Germany as part of the Light Night Strike Force. For both, the danger […]

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  • 106. AIRFORCE BLUE: THE RAF IN WORLD WAR TWO- SPEARHEAD OF VICTORY
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    Patrick Bishop, an outstanding historian of the wartime RAF, examines the high point of the RAF’s existence – the Second World War – when the air force saved the nation from defeat and then led the advance to victory. From the choppy seas of the Atlantic to the sands of the Western Desert to the […]

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  • 107. MAPS OF WAR: MAPPING CONFLICT THROUGH THE CENTURIES
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    In this talk, Professor Jeremy Black explains how the development of mapping from the Renaissance onwards provides us with an invaluable guide to the history of warfare. From the impact of printing through to the two World Wars and beyond, this is a fascinating and revealing talk from one of our very finest historians.

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  • 112. D-DAY: COULD THE GERMANS HAVE WON?
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    The Allied invasion of Europe involved years of painstaking preparation and mind-boggling logistics, including orchestrating the largest flotilla of ships ever assembled. In addition to covering the Allies’ build-up to the invasion, Peter Caddick-Adams examines the German preparations: the formidable Atlantikwall and Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s plans to make Europe impregnable. This talk reveals precisely […]

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  • 113. LAWRENCE OF BURMA: DADLAND
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    Winner of the 2016 Costa Biography prize, Keggie Carew, recounts how, as her ageing father descended into dementia, she undertook a quest to learn about his past. In World War II Tom Carew was parachuted behind the lines into France, then Burma where he fought with Burmese guerrillas helping not only to defeat Japan but […]

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  • 143. BRITAIN’S GREATEST BATTLE: IMPHAL AND KOHIMA
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    This epic battle was voted Britain’s Greatest Battle in a poll by the National Army Museum, yet few know or understand why this brutal but decisive engagement was so significant. As James Holland reveals, it deserves greater recognition not just for the extraordinary leadership of General Bill Slim but also for epic heroism and the […]

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  • 158. THE AVIATION HEROES OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR
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    The pioneering airmen of the First World War took incredible risks to perform their vital contribution to the war effort. Joshua Levine, official historian of the film Dunkirk, tells the story of the first heroes of the air, conveying the perils of early flight, the thrills of being airborne, and the horrors of war in […]

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  • 159. THE FEAR AND THE FREEDOM: HOW THE SECOND WORLD WAR CHANGED US
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    Keith Lowe has undertaken a pioneering and vitally important exploration of the aftermath of the war, how it affected different peoples and countries, and the unprecedented geopolitical, social, psychological and economic imprint it caused. In this talk he discusses his findings and explains why the war is still both important and highly relevant to this […]

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  • 162. DON MCCULLIN: IRRECONCILABLE TRUTHS
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    Legendary photographer Don McCullin first met Max Hastings in Cambodia in 1970. Here they discuss Sir Don’s long career from his time as a war photographer to his recent work in Syria, as well as some of the themes with which they are both familiar: fear, suffering and the terrible cost of war.

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  • 163. THE MAP OF KNOWLEDGE: HOW CLASSICAL IDEAS WERE LOST AND FOUND
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    Violet Moller traces the journey taken by the ideas of three of the greatest scientists of antiquity – Euclid, Galen and Ptolemy – through seven cities and over a thousand years. In tracing these fragile strands of knowledge, Moller reveals the web of connections between the Islamic world and Christendom, connections that would both preserve […]

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  • 169. LAST HOPE ISLAND: BRITAIN, OCCUPIED EUROPE AND THE BROTHERHOOD THAT HELPED TURN THE TIDE OF WAR
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    In the early days of World War II, London became the base of operations for the exiled leaders of occupied Europe. In their struggles against the mightiest military force in history, Britain become known as “Last Hope Island’. Acclaimed historian Lynne Olson describes how the British and their European guests joined forces to restore order […]

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  • 188. MASTERS OF THE SEAS: NAVAL POWER AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR
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    So much of our understanding of the First World War focuses on the conflict on land and yet the nation who controlled the seas also controlled the flow of resources, so critical in such a long and attritional war. In this lecture, one of our most eminent historians Professor Sir Hew Strachan shows why naval […]

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  • 191. LANCASTER BOMBER PILOT
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    Rusty Waughman DFC is a former Lancaster pilot flying with RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War. He has incredible recall, and talks of those times with great frankness, detail and consideration for all he and his crew went through.

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  • 194. HOW TO REMAIN SANE IN THE AGE OF POPULISM
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    In recent years, a wave of populism has swept the world, fuelled by fear, anger and resentment. Internationally award-winning author and TED Global speaker Elif Shafak asks how we remain sane in the age of populism. Should we retreat into tribes of our own; should we create new tribes, or should we, and can we, […]

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  • 195. HOW IDEAS CHANGE: THE EVOLUTION OF EVERYTHING
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    Best-selling author Matt Ridley’s fascinating argument for evolution definitively dispels a dangerous myth: that we can command and control our world. Taught that the world is shaped by those in charge, his perspective revolutionises the way we think. Drawing from science, economics, history and philosophy, he proves that it is actually ‘bottom-up’ trends which shape […]

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  • 201. 1918: ONE HUNDRED DAYS TO VICTORY
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    The stunning series of victories that brought the First World War to a close are regarded as some of the most important battles the British have ever fought. Yet today they are largely forgotten. Dan Snow tells the story of The Hundred Days Offensive and how a hastily assembled army of civilians was forged into […]

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