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Free Thinking Festival: The Speed of Revolution

Bettany Hughes, Sir Richard J Evans and John Hall consider whether periods of turmoil are seen as revolutionary at the time or whether we only understand change retrospectively.

Three leading historians, Bettany Hughes, Sir Richard J Evans and John Hall join Free Thinking presenter Philip Dodd to consider tumultuous times and how we make sense of sweeping change from classical times, through empire building and the industrial revolution to the present day. True revolutions are rare game-changers in the slow unravelling of the human story. Others fizzle out like small showy rockets, all light and no heat. But how obvious is it at the time ?

Dr Bettany Hughes is well known as a TV and radio broadcaster, an award-winning historian and author specialising in ancient and medieval history and culture. Her books include Helen of Troy, The Hemlock Cup and, most recently, Istanbul: a Tale of Three Cities.

Sir Richard J Evans is an academic and historian, best known for his research on the history of Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries. President of Wolfson College in Cambridge, his most recent books are The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914, The Third Reich in History and Memory and Altered Pasts: Counterfactual in History.

Professor John Hall is IAS Fellow at University College, Durham University (Jan – March 2017). Normally based at McGill University in Montreal, Professor Hall is currently writing about Nations, States and Empires. His books include The Importance of Being Civil, The World of States, Powers and Liberties:The Causes and Consequences of the Rise of the West.

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Torquil MacLeod

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43 minutes