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Tom Holland travels back five decades to 1968 and the year of protest, the French have their say on England's island story, and we find out about historical hangovers.

Tom Holland is joined by Dr Alice Taylor from King's College in London and the historian of pop culture, Travis Elborough.

Helen Castor charts the course of the Prague Spring, that period of liberalisation in Czechoslovakia brought in when Alexander Dubcek became leader in January 1968. She hears from those who were there and those who study that period now and asks whether people had any inkling what an extraordinary year it would be.

Alice Taylor introduces a new project which will celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath in 2020. She explains how fact and fiction were brought together to create the notion of a Scottish nation and a document that would heavily influence the Constitution of the United States.

French Journalist Agnes Poirier leafs through the pages of Our Island Story, the 1905 children's book that some argue not only re-imagined English history but then shaped the world-view of some of our political leaders.

Fresh from the publication of his book of twentieth century diary extracts, Travis Elborough discusses if the diary is dead in the digital post-truth age.

And Iszi Lawrence enlists the help of the world wide web in her search for the origins of the expression "hair of the dog".

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

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28 minutes

Last on

Tue 25 Sep 2018 23:30


Tom Holland is in the chair for this edition of BBC Radio 4’s popular history magazine programme. He’s joined by:

Dr Alice Taylor Reader in Medieval History at King’s College London.

Travis Elborough author of Our History of the Twentieth Century. 

1968 - a year of protest

Fifty years ago and hot on the heels of the so-called ‘summer of love’ came a year of protest and political change. The Vietnam war was the chief target of student protest around the world, though in Paris there was a more deep-seated rage against the establishment. To get a flavour of the age, Tom talks to Martin Shaw who is Professor Emeritus at the University of Sussex, but back in 1968 was a student at the London School of Economics.

The Guardian

The People History

Prague Spring

If there was one political story that captivated the world in 1968 it came in Czechoslovakia where, exactly 50 years ago on the 5th January, Alexander Dubcek became First Secretary of the Czech Communist Party replacing Antonín Novotný. There followed an eight month period of political and social liberalisation which is commonly referred to as the Prague Spring. The world held its breathe as it wondered how the Soviet Union would react to events in its satellite country. In August that year Moscow’s patience was at breaking point and Brezhnev, the Soviet leader, sent in the tanks.

Helen Castor talks to the former head of BBC World Service, the Czech-born journalist John Tusa and Mary Heimann Professor of Modern History at Cardiff University 


Der Spiegel

The Guardian

History in an Hour

Our Island Story - does a popular Edwardian children’s history book have a resonance today?

The author, Henrietta Marshall, portrayed Britain as a precious stone set in a silver sea, and the rise of her institutions as a stirring tale of heroism and triumph. But what is the resonance of such a vision today, when the future of the United Kingdom appears as contested and uncertain as it has ever done?

Making History asked the French journalist Agnes Poirier to consider this question.

Daily Mail

The Guardian

Our Island Story by Henrietta Marshall is published by Orion Books. ISBN: 9781780228921

Historic Hangover Cures

Iszi Lawrence, who presents the history podcast ‘The Z List Dead List’, goes on-line to research the origins of the phrase ‘hair of the dog’ and discovers some rather bizarre hangover cures from our past. Helping Iszi is: one of BBC Radio 4’s favourite gardeners, Bob Flowerdew; the historian of quack doctors, Caroline Rance ; and the Kitchen Cabinet's whisky expert Rachel McCormack 

Top Town History

Fort William are back and face the historic might of Greenwich, will the Scots be triumphant in their quest to lay claim to be top for history in the UK? 

To suggest a town email

Making History is a Pier Production for BBC Radio 4