Chalke Talk

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


Chalke Talks for THEME: Politics


  • 07. THOMAS JEFFERSON AND THE EMPIRE OF THE IMAGINATION
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    Worshipped, pilloried, and forever debated. Such is the fate of Thomas Jefferson, whose actions and ideas — more than those of any of the other Founding Fathers —still divide Americans two centuries later. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Harvard Professor Annette Gordon-Reed extends the analysis of Jefferson in light of prevailing attitudes towards politics, slavery, genetics, […]

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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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  • 15. BEHOLD, AMERICA: A HISTORY OF AMERICA FIRST AND THE AMERICAN DREAM
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    Professor Sarah Churchwell offers a history of “America First,” one of Trump’s campaign slogans. Although popular wisdom attributes the phrase to Charles Lindbergh and the isolationist “America First Committee” of 1940-1941, the expression has a longer, and darker, history, a story of nativism and the Ku Klux Klan, of “100 percent Americanism” and isolationism, and […]

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  • 21. MARGARET THATCHER: A LIFE AND LEGACY
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    As Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, and one of the most controversial figures in twentieth century Britain, few people have been more discussed than Margaret Thatcher. Preeminent academic Sir David Cannadine gives a historian’s perspective on the life, politics and legacy of this formidable leader. He is Dodge Professor of History at Princeton, and General […]

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  • 25. THE DRAMA OF THE GREAT REFORM BILL 1832
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    In November 1930, the Duke of Wellington declared. ‘the beginning of reform is the beginning of revolution. Despite his fears, a bill to introduce greater democracy was duly presented to Parliament. Eminent historian, Antonia Fraser, discusses with William Waldegrave how this most divisive of bills led to a complete change in the way Britain was […]

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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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  • 34. THE DREYFUS AFFAIR
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    In this talk, best-selling author Robert Harris turns to one of the key scandals in French history, the Dreyfus Affair. Discussing this infamous miscarriage of justice that rocked France in the years before the First World War, he brings new insights to this world of secret service dealings, cover-ups and betrayal…

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  • 42. AFRICAN-AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS
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    In this talk to senior school pupils, Dr Gareth Davies explains what ‘Jim Crow’ was, and what sustained it before examining what destabilised and finally destroyed it. He finishes by discussing what replaced ‘Jim Crow’ and shows evidence of progress.

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  • 43. BAITING THE RUSSIAN BEAR
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    With Mary Ann Sieghart in the chair, Peter Frankopan, Marina Litvinenko and Edward Lucas look at the historical background to the rapidly re-emerging cold war. From the Napoleonic Wars to the Second World War and beyond, through to the current escalating tensions, they explain why the West has traditionally had such a fraught relationship with […]

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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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