Monday, July 14, 2008

Tacitus - In Our Time review

The widely acclaimed BBC radio program and podcast In Our Time is going to have its summer recess. Until the end of September we will have to make do with what can be cherished in the streams of the on-line archive. There is much to be found there.

What is left as a podcast, is the latest edition, which is about Tacitus. Host Melvyn Bragg writes in his newsletter: "I fear I’ll be accused of being the man who asked three women scholars to talk about the finer, or rather the grosser, details of Roman sexuality. I’m sure you’ll accept that I simply did it in the interests of a fuller description of what Tacitus was meaning! And that’s true (no exclamation mark)." However, this is a very minor detail in the program and the guests storm through it admirably.

What remains is the historian who delivers us the template for Gibbon's Decline and Fall, the first sources about the tribes in Central Europe and the intricacies of being a senator in Rome. Even if Rome is eternally in decline, it never seems to fade and stop standing as a measure for western civilization.

More In Our Time:
John Donne (The Metaphysical Poets),
The Arab Conquests,
BBC's In Our Time (podcast review),
General review of In Our Time,
Library of Nineveh.

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Canada and New Zealand - EH podcast review

The Environmental History Podcast has, in its 19th edition, two interviews about two more environments and how they were changed by man: New Zealand and Canada.

Once upon a time, New Zealand was covered by rain forest, but then came the Maori, who began to take down the forests and after them the Europeans (a lot of Scots and Irish among them) who continued with the deforestation. They turned the islands into pastures for especially sheep, acquiring a stronghold in the market for wool and mutton.

Also in Canada the Irish and Scots arrived to find forests to the size Europe had not had until centuries ago. The scale of for example forest fires was something they could hardly grasp. The podcast tells of the great forest fires in the 19th century and how they made headlines back in Britain. As a side note, there is also mention of the eruption of the Tambora in 1815 in Indonesia and its effect on the climate in Canada.

After this, host Jan Oosthoek projects what is ahead for the 20th edition and announces he is going to address the general question what environmental history is. It turns out that this choice of subject is a reaction to this blog, where it was stated that this definition remains somewhat unclear. In passing Oosthoek pays a compliment to Anne is a Man. You can hear it in the closing minutes of the podcast where he says this blog is
one of the sharpest and smartest podcast reviewers on the web.

More Environmental History:
Environmental history,
Climate Change in recent history,
Urban Air Pollution,
Apartheid and Environmental History,
Environmental History and South Africa.

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