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BBC World Histories Magazine

BBC World Histories Magazine Issue 15

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.

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United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
Back issues only
€ 12,12(Incl. btw)
€ 38,83(Incl. btw)
6 Edities

in deze editie

2 min.

There are few more striking examples of history becoming political than the story of Rutger Bregman, the Dutch author at the centre of a media storm earlier this year. His 2017 book Utopia for Realists explores how historical political ideas could rejuvenate today’s divided world. As such, he might seem the perfect guest for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, which brings together politicians, business moguls and thought-leaders in an idyllic Swiss Alpine town. Yet his contribution was not met with universal approval. The fallout made headlines around the world, led to a memorably testy exchange between Bregman and a US TV news anchor, and catapulted the idea of the ‘public historian’ back into the limelight. Bregman shares his take on the experience, and his arguments for why more historians…

1 min.

Rutger Bregman “I think history is one of the most subversive sciences: it shows us that things can be different – that there’s nothing inevitable about the way things are right now,” says the historian and writer. On page 11 he discusses how he ruffled feathers at the World Economics Forum, and why historians should speak truth to power. Daniel Immerwahr On page 26, the associate professor of history at Northwestern University, Illinois explores the United States’ now largely forgotten imperial ambitions, which resulted in a scattering of overseas territories. “Some four million people live in them,” he says, “four million people who can’t vote in presidential elections.” Tiffany Jenkins Arguments rage about the ‘return’ of museum treasures such as the Elgin Marbles – but do such artefacts really belong to any particular time and…

4 min.
eastern intelligence

Expert opinions onhistorical issues that touch today's world During a recent outreach visit at a secondary school in England, I showed a group of 15-year-olds a picture of the Gate of Heavenly Peace that leads to the entrance of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Above the portal of this gate, hangs one of the most widely circulated portrait images of Mao Zedong. Flanked by two placards saying ‘Long Live the People’s Republic of China’ and ‘Long Live the Great Unity of the World’s People’, the Great Helmsman stares serenely across Tiananmen Square. I asked the students if they recognised the scene or the gentleman perching above the entrance. For some, the upturned roof eaves and red lanterns gave the game away. “It has an Asian feel to it,” one observed, “perhaps somewhere…

4 min.
post-columbian chill

The arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492 had huge and irreversible consequences. History is full of ‘what if ’ moments, but the navigator’s first sight of the Bahamas was perhaps one of the most significant turning points. Yet one impact of his ‘discovery’ that hasn’t been explored before was a prolonged period of global cooling in the 16th and 17th centuries. Though not a true ice age, the so-called Little Ice Age was a significant chill that began in the northern hemisphere by around 1400 and turned global in roughly 1600, gripping the world for more than a century and suppressing average temperatures by around 0.5°C. In the Swiss Alps, farms and villages were swallowed by swelling glaciers. Further afield, the Little Ice Age is associated with the…

4 min.
the caliph’s dream

Looking around the Arab world today, one might well despair about its political future. With few exceptions, it’s ruled by ruthless men – autocrats who brook no dissent. It seems that they alone can keep things together, and only by brute force. In the autocrats’ world, there is no debate. Free speech is punished with what has been called, since pre-Islamic times, ‘the cutting of the tongue’. Historically, the cutting was usually metaphorical; today it can be more literal, and far more drastic – think bonesaws. Political language seems to support the autocrats. Look in an English–Arabic dictionary and you’ll find ‘politics’ translated as siyasah. Find siyasah in an Arabic dictionary, though, and the first meaning given is “the breaking in of horses, camels” – as if politics begins with the use…

7 min.
the historical is political

Historian and author Rutger Bregman made headlines earlier this year when a speech he gave at a World Economic Forum meeting went viral. He spoke to Matt Elton about the experience, and why historians must speak out on current affairs Talk me through how you went from writing your book, 2017’s Utopia for Realists , to appearing at the Davos conference that gained so much media attention. Rutger Bregman: Yeah, that’s a good question, and I’ve sometimes wondered that myself! My book is about all sorts of ideas that may seem bizarre right now but may become reality in the future – just as we have a lot of ideas that are very normal right now but were completely bizarre just a couple of decades or a century or so ago. Think about…