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Subject to Change
A lot of history episodes and a lot of film episodes. A few other subjects in between!
Apr 21, 2021
Peter Pomerantsev has stories to tell (and they are all true)
Peter Pomerantsev is the author of two outstanding books. The first is Nothing Is True and Everything is Possible. It has some wonderful stories which he made into programmes while working in Russian TV from 2006. Fascinating and sometimes heartbreaking. The next is This is Not Propaganda (adventures in the war against reality). This is about online propaganda, troll farms and influence operations and again is crammed with fascinating tales of Peter's investigations.
1 hr 8 min
Apr 11, 2021
Bean on battleships (and much else besides)
Bean blogs on naval warfare here. He writes on modern naval warfare (well, from the mid 19th century). His first love is battleships but it goes much wider than this. We talked about battleships (the Yamato in particular), the fate of the French fleet in WWII, whether carriers are obsolete and the Falklands War. If you like this kind of thing then, well, this is the kind of thing you may very well like. Bean is also a big hit over at Astral Codex Ten where his posts in the comments section generate a lot of interest.
1 hr 5 min
Apr 3, 2021
David Goodhart on Head, Hand and Heart and the Road to Somewhere
David Goodhart is one of the most acute and level headed observers of British society writing today. His influential The Road to Somewhere unpicked the divisions leading to the Brexit vote and he has followed that with Head Hand and Heart arguing for a rebalancing of esteem and resources away from the cognitive jobs and towards manual workers and caregivers. We discussed both books and he is an absolutely delightful and persuasive guide through British society, its problems and its opportunities.
Mar 22, 2021
The Siege of Gondor - Bret Devereaux rates the Witch King - A Bad Man, a Good General
Professor of ancient history Bret Devereaux concludes his two part evaluation of military strategy in the Lord of the Rings. The Witch King gets two thumbs up. I'm rag tag and bobtail. Check out the blog for more on the Siege of Gondor, Lord of the Rings and much, much more.
1 hr 21 min
Mar 15, 2021
The Knights of St John against the Turks (and the sheer bloody horror of Lepanto)
Roger Crowley takes us through the struggles between the Ottoman Turks and the Knights of St John in the Mediterranean in the mid 1500's. Astonishing stories. My favourite line 'Once the Venetians learned Bragadin had been skinned alive they were determined to have the battle, on their own if need be'. Roger's book Empires of the Sea is top rank narrative history - highly recommended.
1 hr 11 min
Mar 2, 2021
Bret Devereaux cancels Saruman. (Helms Deep as ancient military history)
Bret Devereaux is a teaching assistant professor of history at North Carolina State University and is the author of this magnificent blog that covers ancient history generally with military history as the main focus. One of the genius ideas in the blog is to illuminate the subject by analysing fantasy literature. In this episode we talked about the battle of Helm's Deep (with forays into World War II and the world of the Carolingians and much else beside). Saruman's reputation as a general is not enhanced. Bret also spoke about Tolkien's place in the canon of World War I literature. I hope you enjoy it.
1 hr 4 min
Feb 10, 2021
Tom Holland scores 300
Tom Holland and Agnes Callard are both on top form reviewing the films 300 and Hero and discussing the history behind them. They unpick the politics too. Macabee Callard and I chip in. If you enjoy the podcast you will definitely enjoy Tom's book, Persian Fire. Highly recommended.
Jan 29, 2021
The Fate of Rome with Kyle Harper
'They couldn't catch a break'. Invasion, the worst plague in history and climate change. Why the Roman Empire fell. Professor Kyle Harper is a wonderful guide to some really gruesome times. And after listening to the podcast check out his book, The Fate of Rome (or here if you are in the US). It has a great balance between telling a fantastic story and real academic rigour. Highly recommended.
1 hr 15 min
Jan 12, 2021
David Abulafia and the Boundless Sea
Professor Abulafia has written a wonderful book, The Boundless Sea (or here if you are in the US) about 'merchants, explorers, pirates, cartographers and travelers in their quests for spices, gold, ivory, slaves, lands for settlement and knowledge of what lay beyond'. I enjoyed talking to him enormously.
1 hr 15 min
Nov 10, 2020
Tyler Cowen rates A Separation
Tyler Cowen discusses A Separation and About Elly with me and Agnes and Abe Callard. Towards the end Tyler grills Abe in a session of underrated/overrated (films).
1 hr 18 min
Sep 2, 2020
Alex Tabarrok versus the People (Parasite and Burning reviewed)
In this episode we discussed two Korean films. Parasite and Burning. On the podcast in this episode was Alex Tabarrok who was defending the thesis he outlined in his wonderful blog piece, The Gaslighting of Parasite. Joining me to throw rocks at his theory were Chicago philosopher Agnes Callard and her son Abe.
1 hr 27 min
Jul 22, 2020
Agnes and Abe Callard are philosophical about films
In which Agnes and Abe Callard dissect three really great films. All About Eve, Persona and the Iranian docudrama, Close Up. Spoilers throughout.
1 hr 5 min
Jul 11, 2020
Philip Matyszak - author of the ancient world
Speaking to Philip Matyszak about his books on ancient history and novels.
Jun 11, 2020
David Friedman - Legal Systems Very Different From Ours
I talked to David Friedman about his book on legal systems operating either parallel to or in place of the State. Just about what you would expect from a anarchist-anachronist-economist who is also a brilliantly entertaining writer. His website is htttp://www.daviddfriedman.com
1 hr 20 min
May 10, 2020
Agnes Callard, Adjective
The Romanian film Police, Adjective has long been a favourite of mine and I enjoyed discussing it with the philosopher Agnes Callard. She specialises in ancient philosophy in general and Socrates in particular so she seemed the ideal person to unpick the dialogue at the climax of the film. We slightly went off track but got there in the end.
Mar 15, 2019
Is this the most improved school in Britain?
A couple of years ago Great Yarmouth Charter Academy was a drastically underperforming school. Now it is on the up and up. I visited it to see for myself and afterwards I spoke to the headmaster, Barry Smith, about what he and the staff did to turn it around. Links: Ofsted visit report Inspiration trust academies
1 hr 19 min
Feb 9, 2019
Patreon, Paypal and the impending gorilla
Patreon threw Sargon of Akkad off its 'platform'. That upset a lot of people but it may have been within its rights. But did it then collude with Paypal to squash SubscribeStar? Lior Leser thinks it might have. But fighting the big guys is easier with a gorilla on your side so Lior plans to get the FTC involved in the fight. In this podcast he tells us a bit about himself, why free speech matters to him and how the FTC may be the key to unlocking the problem.
1 hr 18 min
Jan 6, 2019
Stopping smoking - easier than you think
I got to meet the brains behind the organisation that saved my life. Allen Carr's Easyway to Stop Smoking. No need to trust me - take a look at the reviews on Amazon and the hundreds of people pretty much sobbing with relief. Smoking book Alcohol book Losing weight
1 hr 11 min
Sep 18, 2018
Alternate worlds, same old socialism
Kristian Niemietz of the IEA describes a world where East Germany decides not to unite with the West but to do socialism properly for once. Spoiler alert - even good people with good intentions can't make it work.
Sep 15, 2018
No good deed goes unpunished
Toby Young started the first Free School in England in 2011. We discuss how and why he did this and the Twitter storm that engulfed him leading to his removal from the board of the Office for Students and his other educational positions.
1 hr 24 min