Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Great War - WW1 in podcasts

About a week ago I already wrote a Dutch post about the First World War in podcasts and that is because one of the very best podcasts about The Great War is in Dutch (Veertien Achttien), more about this by the end of this post. If you wish to make a study of WW1 through podcast alone, you have many formidable other podcasts to choose from as well.

There are two big stories about WW1. One is the geopolitical, diplomatic one, which goes back until the 1870's and arguably shows the effect of WW1 until at least the Cold War, if not until today (look at the Middle East for example). This perspective that can be stretched over a near century and a half is fantastically covered by Stanford's James Sheehan in the lecture series The History of the International System (feed). Part of this story is the question how the war came about and who is to blame, which is an issue every modern history series will deal with (History 5, MMW 5European Civilization 1648 to 1945History 1c) but is especially well done by Margaret Anderson in an old version of Berkeley's Renaissance to Today. Also interesting is the interview in New Books in History with Norman Stone.

Another big story of WW1 is that of Trench Warfare, or a little bit more broadly, how the war went and how it culminated in the wretched peace of Versailles. Many good podcasts give ample attention here. (New Books in HistoryHistory 151cFrance since 1871The Armistice Podcast)

The special quality of Veertien Achttien ('14 - '18) lies in this that it takes on both these themes and more by the method it applies. Veertien Achttien brings every week a short biography of one of the people involved in the war. Through this you get some chronology of the war, and frequently one stretching from earlier to way beyond, highlighting aspects that go beyond the to big narratives referred to above. Especially in this podcast you can find the effect of WW1 on everyday life, on the peripheries of the war, on culture, on science and as such, mare than any other podcast it convincingly shows how deep and fundamental the war altered our world.

While Veertien Achttien is expected to run until 2012 in Dutch, there are some rumors it may be translated into English at some point in time. We can only hope that this challenge will indeed be met.
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