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Tom Holland and guests discuss the stories that are Making History

Tom Holland charts the rise and fall of Aleppo, Syria's largest city, Helen Castor finds out how the Wild West was tamed and Juliet Gardiner says why 1936 is her favourite year.

Tom is joined by Professor Marjory Harper from the University of Aberdeen and Dr Elizabeth Shlala from Harvard.

With Syria in turmoil and its largest city battered, Tom Holland is joined by Philip Mansel and Professor Jerry Brotton to discover an age when this place was a cosmopolitan cornerstone of the Middle East.

Helen Castor treks west to find out how men and women tamed the wilderness of North America both on the ground and in popular culture. She talks to Dr Karen Jones from the University of Kent.

Social historian Juliet Gardiner shares her favourite year from history - 1936.

And Dr Catherine Fletcher from the University of Swansea discusses the new breed of "hashtag historians".

Producer: Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Tue 23 Feb 2016 15:00


With the almost nightly visit by TV news programmes to the horrors of Syria’s civil war, Making History turns the spotlight on to the ancient city which has been continuously inhabited for the best part of 8,000 years but now lies in ruins: Aleppo.

Tom Holland meets with two researchers who have recently completed books on Aleppo and Britain’s historic relationship with the Middle East.

Phil Mansel is the author of Aleppo: The Rise and Fall of Syria's Great Merchant City which will be published by I.B.Taurius in March 2016

Jerry Brotton. Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London

Jerry is the author of This Orient Isle. Elizabethan England and the Islamic World

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The Frontier and popular culture

With Leonardo Di Caprio and The Revenant ( the brutal story of trapper Hugh Glass ) tipped for great things in the 2016 Oscars, Helen Castor talks to Dr Karen Jones at the University of Kent about the image of the American frontier and how it has been claimed - and often changed - in film, books and TV.

Useful Links

Dr Karen Jones 

The Telegraph 

American Cowboy 

My Favourite Year

Social historian Juliet Gardiner, the author of The Thirties: An Intimate History, picks 1936 as her favourite year.


More information  

New Statesman  


Hashtag Historians

What is the place of history on social media, BBC New Generation Thinker Dr Catherine Fletcher, Associate Professor of History and Classics at Swansea University gives her views.



  • Tue 23 Feb 2016 15:00