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Dan Snow's History Hit

History Hit

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History! The most exciting and important things that have ever happened on the planet. Powerful kings, warrior queens, nomads, empires and expeditions. Historian Dan Snow and his expert guests bring all these stories to life and more in a daily dose of history. Join Dan as he digs into the past to make sense of the headlines and get up close to the biggest discoveries being made around the world today, as they happen. If you want to get in touch with the podcast, you can email us at ds.hh@hi ...
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On the 1st of April, 2024, a presumed Israeli airstrike destroyed the Iranian consulate in Damascus, killing 13 people. Amongst them was a Brigadier General of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mohammad Reza Zahedi. In retaliation, Iran launched its first-ever direct attack on Israeli soil, firing some 300 missiles and drones at target…
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Fought in the second half of 1942, the Battles of El Alamein were a series of climactic confrontations in Egypt between British Imperial and Commonwealth forces and a combined German and Italian army. Intended as a last-ditch attempt by the British to halt Axis gains in North Africa, they resulted in a clear victory for the British and represented …
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As a foreign correspondent for ITN in the 70s, Peter Snow remembers handing tins of film to strangers on airport runways, hoping they would take it back to Britain to hand over to his colleagues on the other side. It was a tough and thrilling job as a travelling reporter before the internet, and Dan remembers hearing his dad's travel stories as a c…
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In the mid-17th century, King Charles I of England was put on trial for treason against the sovereign state. Such a process involved a singular determination by Parliament to find a way, through due legal process, to try the one they saw as a man of blood, to ensure that he paid the price for his faults and failings, but not through extrajudicial s…
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Dan delves into the complex history of Zionism, exploring its multifaceted origins and the various ideological strands that have shaped it over the years. From its early beginnings in the 19th century to its pivotal role in the establishment of the State of Israel. With expert insight and analysis from Peter Bergamin, lecturer at the University of …
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From a plague in Athens during the Peloponnesian War in 430 BCE, to another in 540 that wiped out half the population of the Roman empire, down through the Black Death in the Middle Ages and on through the 1918 flu epidemic (which killed between 50 and 100 million people) and this century's deadly SARS outbreak, plagues have been a much more relent…
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Frederick Rutland was one of Britain's finest naval pilots and a celebrated hero of the First World War. And yet in the interwar period, he would become a turncoat, feeding information to Japanese intelligence whilst living undercover in the glitz and glamour of 1930s Hollywood. Joining Dan to discuss Rutland's life is Ronald Drabkin, author of 'Be…
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Join Dan as he narrates the harrowing story of the HMS Wager and its crew's descent into mutiny and survival against all odds. Set against the backdrop of the War of Jenkins' Ear, the Wager, a British warship, was part of a secret squadron sent to attack Spanish holdings in the Pacific but, tragedy struck as the ship was wrecked off the desolate co…
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This is the untold story of how Nazi experiments with psychedelics influenced CIA research and the War on Drugs. From covert mind control programs to experiments with 'truth serums', we trace the connection between the Third Reich's sinister scientific experiments and later US drug policy. To explain this wild post-war history, Dan is joined by the…
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In 1872 the ghost ship Mary Celeste is found sailing across the Atlantic without a single crew member left onboard. Theories over what happened on the Mary Celeste range from insurance fraud to a violent mutiny... this week, Maddy and Anthony discuss what they think happened to the ship's crew. Edited by Tom Delargy. Produced by Freddy Chick. Senio…
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Kensington Palace was the centre of court life in 18th-century Britain. It was the principal London residence for the Royals, as well as a lavish venue for hosting monarchs and world leaders. But behind this very public world existed an entirely obscured one, made up of a small army of people who kept the royal show on the road. Dan is joined by Dr…
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As Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, George Washington was a central feature of the American Revolutionary War. He was also the first President of the nascent United States, and his ethics permeated the nation's constitution. Dan is joined by Craig Bruce Smith, Associate Professor of History at the National Defense University specialising…
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What happened to the pioneering pilot, Amelia Earhart? In 1937, while attempting to circumnavigate the globe by aircraft, Earhart and her navigator went missing. Some 87 years later, new evidence has emerged - a grainy image of what looks like a plane, thousands of feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. To talk about Earhart and this discover…
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This is the story of the British Empire in India. Over two episodes, we'll chart India's history from the birth of the Mughal Empire until the Partition of India. Joining us is Shrabani Basu, a journalist, historian and author of books including Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen's Closest Confidant. In this second episode, Dan and Shrab…
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This is the story of the British Empire in India. Over two episodes, we'll chart India's history from the birth of the Mughal Empire until the Partition of India. Joining us is Shrabani Basu, a journalist, historian and author of books including Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen's Closest Confidant. In this first episode, Dan and Shraba…
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On 23 June 1972, a man boarded American Airlines Flight 119 in St Louis. He sat most of the way to Tulsa before donning a wig and a pair of gloves in the restroom, taking out a gun and handing a member of the cabin crew a note. 'Don't panic. This is a ransom hijacking.' To find out more about this man, what he hoped to gain from his crimes, and how…
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In the year 1600, a bedraggled English sailor and his sick and dying crewmates anchored off the coast of Kyushu, Japan. His name was William Adams, and over the next two decades, he would rise through the ranks of Japanese society to become the first Western samurai. As a close advisor to the revered shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, Adams was a first-hand w…
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The fictional island of Atlantis has intrigued and eluded us for millennia. First mentioned in the works of Plato, it's a story that captures our collective imagination - and yet it's almost certainly false. Dan is joined by Stephen Kershaw, author of "A Brief History of Atlantis: Plato's Ideal State". We're going to see if there are any grains of …
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The Sasanians are renowned as one of Rome's most feared enemies. Founded in third-century Persia by an Iranian noble called Ardashir, their dynasty oversaw the growth of a mighty empire that brought down the Parthians and survived into the early Middle Ages. But how did one family oversee the rebirth of Persia as a Mesopotamian heavyweight? In this…
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In the tempestuous waters of the 18th century, a revolutionary idea emerged from the depths of despair and necessity: the lifeboat. Born from the genius of Lionel Lukin in 1785, the invention redefined maritime rescue. Amidst the roaring seas, innovations flourished and a new institution was set up. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) wh…
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How did warfare work in Ancient Greece? The weapons and armour of the Greek hoplite are legendary, as are the warrior cultures of city-states like Sparta. But how would a Greek battle have played out on the ground? Dan is joined by Roel Konijnendijk, Darby Fellow in Ancient History at the University of Oxford and an expert in warfare in the Greek w…
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She's the warrior queen who took on the mighty Roman Empire, but who really was Boudica? Separating facts from the myths we've read can be tricky, but thankfully Kate is joined by the wonderful Emma Southon, author of A History of the Roman Empire in 21 Women, to find out the truth and explore our most reliable sources. What happened when Boudica l…
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With Operation Kenova back in the headlines, we look to the story of Frank Hegarty, an IRA member turned British informant whose assassination led to the largest murder investigation in British history. Dan is joined by Henry Hemming, the bestselling author of Four Shots in the Night. Henry unravels this tale of espionage, murder, and justice, and …
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Today we're talking about two 20th century titans, the physicists J. Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein. Their scientific achievements changed the world, and yet they were sceptical of one another. In the 1930s, Oppenheimer had described Einstein as 'completely cuckoo' - later in his life, Einstein would say that he admired Oppenheimer as a man…
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Over the last turbulent century, the global economy has suffered the shockwaves of recessions and depressions, bubbles and unchecked investor euphoria. And with the UK's spring budget announced this week, we ask the question - have we learnt from the economic mistakes of the past? In this episode, Dan is joined by Linda Yueh, Fellow in Economics at…
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Part 4/4. The Spanish conquistadors arrived in Peru in 1526 in a bloody pursuit of gold and riches; it was the beginning of the end for the Inca. The Inca were unable to comprehend the Spanish weapons of war, foresee their underhanded tactics or resist the deadly diseases they brought with them. In the final episode, Dan and his expert guests trace…
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Part 3/4. Juanita the Ice Maiden is one of the most famous mummies in the world. She was found in 1991 by anthropologist Johan Reinhard lying out in the sun on top of a dormant volcano in the Peruvian Andes. Found almost perfectly preserved, she was bludgeoned to death as a human sacrifice. Dan is joined by Johan who tells the story of her discover…
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Part 2/4. At their most powerful, the Inca had the largest empire in the world. Lasting just one century from the mid-15th century, it stretched across the South American continent from the Amazon to the Pacific. The Inca developed ingenious ways to grow food in some of the world's most extreme climates, they managed to convert disparate tribes to …
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Part 1/4. Dan takes the podcast to the Peruvian Andes as he follows in the footsteps of intrepid American explorer Hiram Bingham who revealed Machu Picchu to the world. At the turn of the 20th century, Bingham heard rumours of a fabled lost city in the clouds that revealed the power and brilliance of the Inca and their vast empire that once spanned…
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On the 16th of February, 2024, the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service announced that opposition leader Alexei Navalny had died. He had been imprisoned in the far-flung "Polar Wolf" penal colony, built in the city of Kharp on the ruins of a Stalin-era labour camp. Dan is joined by Alexander Watson, Professor of History at Goldsmiths, University of…
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Following in the footsteps of explorer Hiram Bingham, Dan embarks on an incredible adventure through the cloud forest of the Andes to reveal the mysteries of Machu Picchu and the mighty Inca civilization. In this series he takes listeners to Peru's city in the clouds, chronicling the way this extraordinary citadel was unveiled to the world at the t…
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Life in Tudor England was risky. In addition to the outbreaks of plague, the threat of poverty and the dangers of childbirth, there were social risks - of not fitting in, of social death. How was a person supposed to behave? And what were the dangers involved? In this episode of Not Just the Tudors, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb finds out about the a…
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On the 19th of May, 1919, an Ottoman general stepped ashore at the Black Sea port city of Samsun. This marked the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence, and ultimately the end of the Ottoman Empire. The man's name was Mustafa Kemal, the soldier, statesman and reformer who would create the Republic of Turkey out of the rubble, and become its …
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Abraham Lincoln began his life in a log cabin in Kentucky, the son of poor pioneers. He would end it as President of the United States, having steered the Union through the turbulent years of civil war. Dan is joined by Adam Smith, Professor of US Politics & Political History at the University of Oxford and host of the podcast The Last Best Hope. A…
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In 1943, just as the Second World War was raging across the globe, the British government launched a top-secret mission to the Antarctic. Code-named Operation Tabarin, its goal was to gather scientific data in some of the harshest conditions on the planet and reaffirm British sovereignty in the region. Dan is joined by Camilla Nichol, CEO of the UK…
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Dr Eleanor Janega and Matt Lewis uncover the stories of the protagonists and events that led up to the Battle of Hastings. There’s Harold Godwinson, the Anglo-Saxon Lord who became the king of a people only recently brought together; Harald Hardrada, a legendary Viking warrior seeking to rebuild the North Sea Empire to which he believes himself hei…
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The gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece have been written about for thousands of years. From their home atop Mount Olympus, they reigned over the land, sea and sky. The course of human history was shaped by the whims and wishes of these deities, and the Furies were no exception. On today's episode, Dan is joined by classicist and author Natalie Ha…
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Why was Georgian Britain's penal code so bloodthirsty when it came to homosexuality? Was Britain unusually cruel in this regard? And does this animosity persist to the present day? For LGBT+ History Month, we hear the story of James Pratt and John Smith, the last two men executed for homosexuality in Britain. Dan is joined by politician and histori…
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In its final centuries, Ancient Egypt was conquered by the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans, beginning with the invasion of Alexander the Great in 332 BC. But these new arrivals didn't squash the Egyptian way of life - the invaders blended their customs, practices and style with the native Egyptians. This is most notable in the extraordinary Fay…
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Was Rameses really that great or just an excellent self-promoter? Well, as Dan learns in this episode, a little bit of both. He reigned for 66 years and marked a golden era of prosperity, architectural triumphs, and military might. He also made sure to put his face on almost everything he built, and the things others had built before him. Even in d…
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Built by Pharaoh Khufu some 4,500 years ago, the Great Pyramid was the first ancient wonder to be built and is the only one still standing. Towering above the Giza Plateau, this stone behemoth was to be Khufu's tomb, the place from which he would travel to the afterlife. For this episode, Dan is joined by broadcaster and historian Bettany Hughes, a…
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All this week Dan is delving into the history, mystery and legacy of Ancient Egypt. Discover how this mighty empire grew from nomadic settlers to the Nile and how its magnificent wonders were built. Dan explores the life of the most powerful Pharaoh Rameses II, of the ideological muse and Queen Nefertiti as well as Egypt's conquest at the hands of …
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As Houthi missile attacks on shipping in the Red Sea continue, we turn to the past to answer the all-important questions - who are the Houthis, and what do they want? Dan is joined by Baraa Shiban, a Yemeni human rights activist and Associate Fellow with the Royal United Services Institute in London. Following the Houthis' coup in September 2014, h…
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This is the story of a city that laid the foundations for our modern world. Sitting at the intersection of East and West, Alexandria has been home to many of humanity's greatest architectural and cultural achievements, like the famous Lighthouse and the storied Great Library. Some of history's most illustrious figures have left their mark there, fr…
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If King Arthur never existed, why does he loom so large in England's history? Dan traces the real-life figures who could have been the legendary King Arthur- the medieval king who pulled the sword from the stone and led the English against the Anglo-Saxons who arrived in England in the 5th century with peace on their tongues and conquest in their h…
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By the summer of 1943, there were Allied boots on Axis soil. Sicily had been taken, and fascism's grip on Italy was beginning to loosen. But Allied command was faced with a tough decision - what to do next? Dan is joined by historian, author and broadcaster, James Holland, to explain why they decided to invade Italy proper and tell us how the invas…
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On 17 January 1920, the 18th Amendment came into effect in the United States. It made the manufacture, sale and transportation of 'intoxicating liquor' illegal. Sarah Churchwell is BACK to explore the realities of the roaring twenties with Don. Why was alcohol banned? How did prohibition become federal law? And why would the US government have pois…
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People have always looked to the wonders of the ancient world for awe and inspiration. In the Ancient era, people embarked on dangerous pilgrimages to visit storied sites like the Pyramids of Giza, or the Statue of Zeus at Olympia. While only one of them remains, they still excite us thousands of years later. Bettany Hughes, author of 'The Seven Wo…
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In small wooden canoes and with just the stars for navigation, how did the first Polynesians conquer the largest ocean on earth? For centuries this has perplexed scholars and anthropologists. The Polynesian Triangle is drawn by connecting the points of Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island and encompasses countries like Samoa, Tonga and Tahiti wit…
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Screenwriter John Orloff joins Dan to talk about the new WWII mini-series 'Masters of the Air'. It tells the true story of the 'Bloody Hundredth', an American bomb group stationed in England that fought in the skies over Nazi-occupied Europe. A decade in the making, John explains how the show works to faithfully recreate the story of these airmen a…
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