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History

Histories of the Unexpected

Updated 2 days ago

Society & Culture
History
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Histories of the Unexpected explores the past in ways that you never dreamt possible. Surely there’s nothing unexpected about the past? About History? Aha, well Histories of the Unexpected adopts a new approach to exploring our past. Gone is the traditional linear plotting of battles, monarchs and political movements. Histories of the Unexpected argues that everything has a history, even the most unexpected of subjects. Like SLIME. Or COURAGE. or APPLAUSE.... Presented by Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell.

Read more

Histories of the Unexpected explores the past in ways that you never dreamt possible. Surely there’s nothing unexpected about the past? About History? Aha, well Histories of the Unexpected adopts a new approach to exploring our past. Gone is the traditional linear plotting of battles, monarchs and political movements. Histories of the Unexpected argues that everything has a history, even the most unexpected of subjects. Like SLIME. Or COURAGE. or APPLAUSE.... Presented by Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell.

iTunes Ratings

88 Ratings
Average Ratings
61
14
6
4
3

Interesting and eclectic

By Bjartur108 - May 19 2020
Read more
Fun podcast! I would love an episode on sock monkeys.

Who knew history could be this much fun?

By Stberpuppy - Mar 13 2020
Read more
I have thoroughly enjoyed every episode. The depth of research that is obviously done makes this podcast engaging and the humor thrown in keeps it from ever becoming boring. This is one of the highlights of my week. Keep up the good work!

iTunes Ratings

88 Ratings
Average Ratings
61
14
6
4
3

Interesting and eclectic

By Bjartur108 - May 19 2020
Read more
Fun podcast! I would love an episode on sock monkeys.

Who knew history could be this much fun?

By Stberpuppy - Mar 13 2020
Read more
I have thoroughly enjoyed every episode. The depth of research that is obviously done makes this podcast engaging and the humor thrown in keeps it from ever becoming boring. This is one of the highlights of my week. Keep up the good work!
Cover image of Histories of the Unexpected

Histories of the Unexpected

Latest release on May 31, 2020

Read more

Histories of the Unexpected explores the past in ways that you never dreamt possible. Surely there’s nothing unexpected about the past? About History? Aha, well Histories of the Unexpected adopts a new approach to exploring our past. Gone is the traditional linear plotting of battles, monarchs and political movements. Histories of the Unexpected argues that everything has a history, even the most unexpected of subjects. Like SLIME. Or COURAGE. or APPLAUSE.... Presented by Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell.

Rank #1: Christmas Ep.2

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Sam & James dig deep into the Unexpected History of Christmas. For more exclusive interviews and documentaries, signup to HistoryHit,TV, click here to subscribe.


Producer: Natt Tapley

Audio: Pete Dennis

Theme tune: Dan Morelle

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Dec 21 2017

33mins

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Rank #2: Clothing

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Sam Willis and James Daybell take on the UNEXPECTED history of CLOTHING! It's all about social control, death, recycling and mending, nationalism, Venice, knights and maidens, the Crown Jewels, ostriches, Thomas Wolsey, and the rediscovery of a long lost dress that once belonged to Queen Elizabeth I of England!

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Dec 04 2019

47mins

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Rank #3: Lunchboxes! Homeschooling WW1 and Life in the Trenches Part 1

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It's a packed lunch of fun! James and Sam explore the extraordinary history of lunchboxes, which are all about the industrial revolution and nomads and Elizabeth I, before moving on to looking at lunchboxes in relation to WW1 and life in the trenches.

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

May 19 2020

31mins

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Rank #4: Vikings

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James and Sam explore the UNEXPECTED history of the Vikings. Who knew that the Vikings are all about graffiti, break-ins, criminal profiling, colour, teeth, keys, birds, nicknames, saunas, silk, mischief, staffs and goading!

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May 06 2019

37mins

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Rank #5: World War 2

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Sam and James discuss all of the unexpected aspects of WWII, which is all about rubble, carrots, blood, pockets, suicide, gates, Zen Buddhism, furniture, cancer, Mozart, King Arthur, cows, mothers, puppets, handkerchiefs, and much, much more! It's not just all about the Nazis, Churchill and the Battle of Britain...

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May 13 2019

34mins

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Rank #6: The Letter

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Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move, Doubt truth to be a liar, ~Shakespeare, Hamlet’s letter to Ophelia

But never doubt the unexpected historical links as the lieutenant of lifetimes, Professor James Daybell, and the investigator of intrigue, Dr Sam Willis, take the old post road from London to Dover. With a stop-off on Dartmoor, it’s then across the sea to Jamaica as they chart the material history of the letter. From statecraft to warfare, from love to diplomacy, join James and Sam as they uncover the unexpected history of letters. Need tips on how to hit just the right note with a letter to the mother-in- law? Listen out for how the Elizabethan gentlewoman Maria Thynne wrote to hers. You may well be inspired.

History, of course, can only be written if there is evidence on which to base it, and letters provide such rich testimony of the past in so many ways. What would history be, and what tales would remain untold if such vast hoards of letters had not...  

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Nov 11 2016

34mins

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Rank #7: Rainbows!

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In this episode of Histories of the Unexpected, James and Sam explore the unexpected history of RAINBOWS (inspired by this symbol of hope during lockdown) which is all about Elizabeth I, the German Peasants' War, the Bible, Norse mythology, political alliances, Gilbert Baker, Harvey Milk and the Pride flag, and LGBTQ History and Heritage and much, much more!

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May 07 2020

41mins

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Rank #8: The Spanish Armada

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Sam and James explore the UNEXPECTED history of the Spanish Armada. It's all about collapsed expectation, flags, spies (as always), threat, fire, people not doing the right jobs, seasickness and lies.

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Oct 21 2019

32mins

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Rank #9: Soap

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In this episode James and Sam explore the Unexpected History of SOAP, which is of course all about hazing, the British Royal Navy, profanities, marketing, the Spanish Flu, popular politics, freedom of speech, Speakers' Corner, and John Major's 'Soap Box' electioneering...and a little bit about coronavirus!

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Mar 28 2020

42mins

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Rank #10: Blood and Bones

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Inspired by Halloween and Bonfire Night, Sam and James discuss the unexpected history of blood and bones: it's all about prehistoric axes, mass graves, Viking armies, Tudor surgery, bear baiting, blood sports, how much it costs to make a human being, Ottomans, Italy, and eating human bone powder. So that's cannibalism too...

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Nov 06 2019

47mins

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Rank #11: Dragons

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Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPod HistoryHit Network - TwitterFacebook Producer - Dan Morelle

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Apr 04 2017

18mins

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Rank #12: Nazis

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Sam and James discuss the unexpected history of the Nazis. They're all about, motherhood, shame, medals, public speaking, architecture and cars....who knew?

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Jul 27 2019

33mins

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Rank #13: Christmas Ep.1

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“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!... Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! ...” (Dr Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1956)

It can only be the Unexpected History of Christmas!

Let us once again join the Santa of Historical Skepticism, Professor James Daybell and the Charles Dickens of Christmas Past, Dr Sam Willis as they untangle the tinsel and unravel the lights to reveal the unexpected history of Christmas. Upon Santa’s sleigh, they will dash from medieval carousing to a Dickensian Christmas, and from racing crabs on Christmas Island in the 1950s to the Puritans and Christmas riots in Canterbury, 1647.

Like Christmas Elves they’ll assemble the links between rituals and traditions, Minst pies (not a typo) and celebrations, international date lines and land shy ravens. Listen out as James plays ‘guess the day an island was discovered,’ and Sam suggests one way to get two Christmases in one day. Oh, and whoever wrote the song about the three kings following the star, well they may need to rewrite, although it may not have quite the same rhyming style! “God bless us, everyone!” (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843)

“Good tidings we bring for you and your kin

We wish you a merry Christmas

And a happy New Year”

Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPod HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

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Dec 24 2016

35mins

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Rank #14: Stench! Homeschooling Public Health in Victorian England

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This eighth episode in the special series of Histories of the Unexpected Homeschooling explores STENCH and Public Health in Victorian England. The Unexpected History of STENCH is all about personal hygiene and the marketing of smelling nice in 1950s USA; the holocaust and use of napalm during the Vietnam war, stinkiness in the medieval world, and of course nineteenth-century disease and public health. James and Sam explore discuss Public Health Reforms in Victorian Britain, including Edwin Chadwick's 1842 Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population, and look out for recipes to make your own stink bombs!

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Apr 11 2020

19mins

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Rank #15: Pockets

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Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell whisk you through the mysterious crannies in the unexpected history of pockets! For more exclusive interviews and documentaries, subscribe to HistoryHit.TV - a new kind of history channel.


Producer: Natt Tapley

Audio: Pete Dennis

Theme tune: Dan Morelle

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

Apr 07 2018

28mins

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Rank #16: Graffiti

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Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPod HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

Jan 24 2017

30mins

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Rank #17: Applause!

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In this episode of Histories of the Unexpected, James and Sam explore the unexpected history of APPLAUSE, which is all about popularity in Ancient Rome, Stalinist Russia, babies, opera-going sophisticates, crowds and paying people to clap (or boo!), Henry James's failure as a playwright, and of course gratitude to the NHS and front line medical staff across the globe during the COVID19 crisis!

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Apr 16 2020

45mins

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Rank #18: Oranges

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Find out about the unexpected history of the orange, how it's linked to the the Gunpowder Plot, and other extraordinary historical connections.

Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPdcst HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

Sep 30 2016

19mins

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Rank #19: Bells

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Dr Sam Willis & Professor James Daybell explore the unexpected history of bells. For more exclusive history documentaries & interviews, subscribe to HistoryHit.TV.


Producer: Natt Tapley

Audio: Pete Dennis

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

Jun 17 2018

34mins

Play

Rank #20: Hiding! Homeschooling Elizabeth I and Catholics

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This episode is about HIDING, but with some serious consequences! James and Sam explore the Unexpected history of HIDING, which is all about Oak Trees (and the future King of England, Charles II), it's about keeping secrets, MARY QUEEN of SCOTS, but most of all it's about how CATHOLICS were treated in Elizabethan England, via PRIEST HOLES, which were used to hide priests sent to England from Europe who were hunted down by the Tudor State. LISTEN IF YOU DARE!

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May 04 2020

27mins

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Big Heads! Homeschooling Henry VIII

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James and Sam get to grips with the history of BIG HEADS...it's all about a touch of arrogance, wanting to be seen to be in charge, securing your place in history...it allows us to think about all sorts of fascinating characters...Caesar, Napoleon, Robespierre, Cromwell and, of course, the Biggest Biggy McBighead of them all, Henry VIII.

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May 31 2020

32mins

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Shadows!

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James and Sam come to grips with the elusive history of SHADOWS! And it's fascinating; It's all to do with the very structure of history itself, telling the time, Chinese Emperors, entertainment, advertising in 1950s America, messages from God, the soul, oh...and Aborigines.

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May 28 2020

34mins

Play

Unfairness! Homeschooling Chartism and Electoral Reform

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James and Sam tackle the history of things being SO NOT FAIR! From the French Revolution to the massacres of Aborigines and the theft of land from Native Americans to the Suffragettes Sam and James rampage around historical unfairness before settling on the Great Reform Act of 1832 and the subsequent People's Charter of 1838.

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May 27 2020

26mins

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Beards Part 2!

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Sam and James continue their fascinating history of BEARDS! They're all about the reformation, horror stories, health, surrealism, preachers and their stentorian tones....Who Knew?

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May 25 2020

42mins

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Beards Part 1!

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Inspired by the beard-growing that was taken up by so many of us all in Coronavirus lockdown, Sam and James tackle the unexpected history of BEARDS...which is all about the Crimean War, Ottoman pirates and 'Turning Turk, Peter the Great, gas masks, and modernity in the seventeenth century! WHO KNEW!!!!

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May 21 2020

29mins

Play

Lunchboxes! Homeschooling WW1 and Life in the Trenches Part 1

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It's a packed lunch of fun! James and Sam explore the extraordinary history of lunchboxes, which are all about the industrial revolution and nomads and Elizabeth I, before moving on to looking at lunchboxes in relation to WW1 and life in the trenches.

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

May 19 2020

31mins

Play

Playing Chicken! Homeschooling the Cuban Missile Crisis!

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This special HOMESCHOOLING episode is about PLAYING CHICKEN! James and Sam explore the Unexpected history of PLAYING CHICKEN, which is all Henry VIII's Great Matter, Appeasement prior to WWII, and the Crusades! Most of all though it's about THE CUBAN MISSLE CRISIS OF 1962 which saw a standoff between Khrushchev and Kennedy over stationing of nuclear weapons on the island of Cuba - just 160 kilometres off the coast of Florida!

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May 10 2020

33mins

Play

Sharing! Homeschooling Karl Marx and the Communist Manifesto

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This special HOMESCHOOLING episode is about SHARING! James and Sam explore the Unexpected history of SHARING, which is all the Great Depression, the EU, the League of Nations, early modern marriage and working-class communities in Victorian London. Most of all though it's about KARL MARX and the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO and the abolition of private property and the redistribution of political power! "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!"

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May 09 2020

32mins

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VE Day Special!

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In this episode of Histories of the Unexpected, James and Sam explore the unexpected history of VE Day, which is all about children, parties, memory, pens, disagreement, balconies and much, much more!

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May 08 2020

39mins

Play

Rainbows!

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In this episode of Histories of the Unexpected, James and Sam explore the unexpected history of RAINBOWS (inspired by this symbol of hope during lockdown) which is all about Elizabeth I, the German Peasants' War, the Bible, Norse mythology, political alliances, Gilbert Baker, Harvey Milk and the Pride flag, and LGBTQ History and Heritage and much, much more!

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

May 07 2020

41mins

Play

Dressing Up! Homeschooling the Rebecca Riots and Turnpike Roads

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This episode is about DRESSING UP! James and Sam explore the Unexpected history of DRESSING UP, which is all Count Leo Tolstoy, Carnival in Venice, the Maldon Grain Riots of 1629, and the Lord of Misrule. Most of all though it's about THE REBECCA RIOTS and TURNPIKE ROADS during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which greatly improved the quality of roads in Britain, but with social consequences!

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May 06 2020

25mins

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Insults!

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In this episode of Histories of the Unexpected, James and Sam explore the unexpected history of INSULTS, which is all about duelling, 3500 BCE Babylonia, poison pen letters, and of course gloves! It's also all about Shakespeare, slander and name-calling in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Devon, and much, much more!

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

May 05 2020

38mins

Play

Hiding! Homeschooling Elizabeth I and Catholics

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This episode is about HIDING, but with some serious consequences! James and Sam explore the Unexpected history of HIDING, which is all about Oak Trees (and the future King of England, Charles II), it's about keeping secrets, MARY QUEEN of SCOTS, but most of all it's about how CATHOLICS were treated in Elizabethan England, via PRIEST HOLES, which were used to hide priests sent to England from Europe who were hunted down by the Tudor State. LISTEN IF YOU DARE!

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

May 04 2020

27mins

Play

Presents! Homeschooling William the Conqueror and Feudalism

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The Unexpected History of PRESENTS is all about power and politics at the TUDOR COURT, diplomacy and showing off, and getting people to do exactly what you want. It's especially about FEUDALISM in Norman England, and the transfer of land to Barons and Knights in return for military service!

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

May 03 2020

22mins

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Bullies! Homeschooling The Nazi Brownshirts and the Rise of Hitler

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Who kew that BULLIES have a history! Well they do and it's FASCINATING. James and Sam explore the history of bullies across time and then focus on the Nazi Brownshirts and how they used their muscle to propel Hitler to power in the 1930s. The story is followed up to the Night of the Long Knives in 1934 when Hitler used his ultra-loyal personal bodyguard, the SS, to turn against the Brownshirts, ending their reign of terror.

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May 02 2020

23mins

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Breath!

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In this episode of Histories of the Unexpected, James and Sam explore the unexpected history of BREATH, which is all about halitosis, free diving, humanity and the soul, Harry Houdini, advertising and consumerism in 1950s America, mouth to mouth resuscitation and the Royal Humane Society and much, much more!

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Apr 30 2020

46mins

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Sucking Up! Homeschooling the Appeasement of Hitler and the Outbreak of WW2

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Who knew that SUCKING UP had a history? Well it does, and it's all about the APPEASEMENT of Germany in an attempt to keep the peace before the outbreak of World War II. James and Sam brainstorm examples of sucking up from across history, focussing especially on Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler with discussion of the Anschluss that unified Austria and Germany, the Sudetenland and Munich agreement which promised 'peace in our time'. Was it all a matter of sucking up, or a clever way to buy time to prepare for a major global conflict?

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Apr 29 2020

22mins

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Epic Fails! Homeschooling the League of Nations and Mussolini

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The history of things that go HORRIBLY WRONG. And there are TONS of them...from shipwrecks to international relationships and military campaigns. Sam and James explore this theme throughout history and with particular focus on the League of Nations inspired by Woodrow Wilson and set up in the aftermath of the First World War....to prevent anything like that ever happening again. Did it work? HELL NO. #EpicFail

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Apr 29 2020

22mins

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Broken Promises! Homeschooling the Gunpowder Plot and James VI and I

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Who knew that Broken Promises have a history?! Well they do and it's FASCINATING, and James and Sam explore the wonderful of history of saying you're going to do ONE THING and then doing SOMETHING ELSE instead. SO ANNOYING. And they focus in particular on the promises that James VI and I made to Catholics, how he broke them...and how those broken promises led to Guy Fawkes stashing 36 barrels of gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament...the Gunpowder Plot!

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Apr 28 2020

25mins

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Blame! Homeschooling WW1 and the Treaty of Versailles

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Episode 16 in our Homeschooling series! This one's all about the history of Blame and wanting to say IT'S SO YOUR FAULT!! James and Sam explore the idea of blame in history and then focus on who was held responsible for the First World War, and the writing of the War Guilt clause in the Versailles Treaty.

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Apr 27 2020

25mins

Play

iTunes Ratings

88 Ratings
Average Ratings
61
14
6
4
3

Interesting and eclectic

By Bjartur108 - May 19 2020
Read more
Fun podcast! I would love an episode on sock monkeys.

Who knew history could be this much fun?

By Stberpuppy - Mar 13 2020
Read more
I have thoroughly enjoyed every episode. The depth of research that is obviously done makes this podcast engaging and the humor thrown in keeps it from ever becoming boring. This is one of the highlights of my week. Keep up the good work!