Culture & Literature
BBC World Histories Magazine

BBC World Histories Magazine Issue 20

BBC World Histories magazine is the new global history title from the BBC History Magazine team. Each issue, we delve into a diverse range of topics – from ancient Greek expeditions and the Aztec civilisation to the Cold War and the space race. Our team of international experts explores key historical events, remarkable personalities and the stories behind today’s headlines, taking you on a tour across centuries and continents.

United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
Read More
6 Issues

In this issue

1 min.

Indeed, thanks to a looming general election and the vagaries of our print schedule, the identity of the UK prime minister who will be in office as you read this issue wasn’t yet clear. Whatever the outcome, though, it seemed an apt time to look to the past for examples of great leadership. For this issue’s cover feature, we asked experts to identify the greatest leader in global history. Their nominations make for fascinating reading. You can find out who made the cut – and what factors make a successful ruler – from page 42. This January marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The Holocaust is one of the defining episodes of the 20th century but, as Nikolaus Wachsmann argued when I spoke to him recently, much about it…

1 min.
bbc world histories

MORE FROM US historyextra.com The website of BBC World Histories and our sister magazines, BBC History Magazine and BBC History Revealed, is packed with thought provoking world history content. The History Extra podcast Our twice-weekly podcast has recently featured conversations with Julia Lovell and Serhii Plokhy and receives almost two million listens a month. Episodes are available free via iTunes and other providers, or at historyextra.com/podcasts. Digital editions BBC World Histories is available for the Kindle, Kindle Fire, iPad/iPhone, Google Play and Zinio. You can find us in your app store. BBC History Magazine Britain’s bestselling history magazine is available around the world, and is published 13 times a year in print and a wide range of digital editions. Turn to page 17 for our latest subscription offer. Social media twitter.com/historyextra facebook.com/historyextra This issue on sale: 2 January Next issue on sale: 27…

2 min.

Kathleen Burk What makes a leader truly great? That’s the challenge tackled by our panel of experts on page 42. Burk, emeritus professor of modern and contemporary history at University College London, cites Alfred the Great’s focus on education: “The most revolutionary change was his insistence on general literacy”. Simon Parkin In the first of two Second World War features this issue, the writer reveals how a small group of Wrens tamed Germany’s fearsome U-boats. “Armed with little more than balls of string, sticks of chalk and a scroll of canvas, they designed a game that could closely approximate chaotic sea battles,” he explains from page 62. Serhii Plokhy During the Second World War, US air bases were set up in Ukraine – a rare US-Soviet collaboration described by Harvard University professor Plokhy on page…

7 min.
when cities run dry

The history behind today’s news “Unchecked and unplanned growth, influxes of migrants and inadequate infrastructure have all added to the ravages of climate change, crippling urban India’s supply of piped water” The north-easterly monsoons once again arrived late in southern India in 2019, consigning the residents of Chennai to yet another summer of crippling shortages of drinking and domestic water. But the scenes were starker than usual. Photographs of a bone-dry Chembarambakkam Lake, once a trusted source, and of Adayalampattu Lake – now a parking lot – were plastered across newspapers and social media, as were images of hundreds of demonstrators confronted by police at the municipal government’s offices. Chennai’s plight is hardly new. In his landmark novel Thanneer (‘Water’, 1973), Tamil writer Ashokamitran captured the bitter everyday struggle for access to water…

3 min.
history headlines

1 RALEIGH ISLAND US Shell on Earth Drone-mounted laser technology has revealed details of a pre-Columbian settlement on the Florida coast. Following initial discoveries on Raleigh Island in 1990, dense foliage hindered later work. Now archaeologists from the University of Florida have used Lidar scanners to create 3D maps of the island. These revealed 37 rings of discarded oyster shells, each thought to enclose a residential area and dating from the period AD 900–1200. It is believed that the settlement was a centre for the production of beads made from lightning whelk shells, which were widely traded. 2 GALICIA SPAIN Bible returned A rare Hebrew Bible has returned to the Spanish region in which it was created, over 500 years after its owners were expelled from the area. Decorated with animals, mythical creatures and geometric…

7 min.
alliances on the brink

Alev Scott is a journalist and author. Her new book, co-written with Andronike Makris, is Power & the People: Five Lessons from the Birthplace of Democracy (Riverrun, 2019) In 427 BC, the Athenian demagogue Cleon declared that “democracy is incapable of empire” – a surprisingly modern view recorded for us by the historian Thucydides in his account of the Peloponnesian War fought between democratic Athens and oligarchic Sparta in the years 431–405 BC. Nearly 2,500 years ago, the tension between superpower status and democratic ideals had already become obvious to political leaders and voters alike. The Athenians, early pioneers of democracy and masters of naval supremacy, understood that maintaining an empire requires some heavy handling of both subject states and allies. Cleon was advocating a less democratic, more decisive foreign policy for…