Friday, 31 July 2009

Race Row Beer

Good links from the rather unexciting footage of four men having a beer in the garden here to the whole sorry story of Professor Gates, Policeman Crowley and President Obama. Did you think the USA had entered a post racial world with Obama - think again!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Judiciary in focus

Two news stories that will keep the judiciary in the news for some time. The last decision that the Law Lords have taken in their current home in the House of Lords is causing controversy - the Debby Purdy decision on assisted suicide. See the Channel 4 news excerpt here. Its move across Parliament Square in October as the newly formed Supreme Court will only highlight such decisions in the future. Secondly, the Iraq War Inquiry, to be headed by Sir John Chilcot will have political implications throughout its hearings, probably well into 2011, see the Channel 4 news story here.
And another thing - a good link here to the Guardian's special on the Human Rights Act.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Obama & Healthcare

Lots about Obama's healthcare in the news as this may well be the policy that defines his presidency and it is causing considerable concern on Capitol Hill. Bronwen Maddox from the Times sums up the issues here.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Happy Holidays

The term is nearly at a close and Nonsuch HP wishes all of you a very happy summer holiday. There will be occasional blog entries so keep an eye out for those, and if you see, do or read anything interesting please let us know by leaving a comment under this article. See you in September!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Facebook Group

Nonsuch HP now has a Facebook Group. If you would like to join, or encourage your friends to join, search for "Nonsuch History and Politics Blog" and you'll find it. We would like to thank Miss D'Souza, our "Facebook Coordinator" for setting this up!

History of the World in 100 objects

News about a new exhibition here at the British Museum which is to be accompanied by a BBC Radio 4 series in 100 15 minute programmes taking an object and telling the story of the world.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Soviet Posters at the Tate

Nonsuch HP went to Tate Modern on Saturday and found an impressive collection of Soviet Propaganda posters on display. They show images from the 1917 Revolution through to World War 2 and are well worth seeing, particularly for students beginning the A2 course. You can find them on the 5th floor in room 11 of the "States of Flux" exhibition (free entry). More details can be found here. This website doesn't show the pictures but googling the names of the artists mentioned quickly finds some good examples. is another good source for images.

Race and Religion in the USA

Two great articles from the Economist here, one about the change in the nature of religious observance by the Latino community which may have political connotations and the other about a summer camp for atheists who make up only 1 in 12 of the population, a reflection of the religious nature of US politics and society.
Also an article here about Obama's recent speech to the NAACP which aimed to raise the aspirations of young black people.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Odd Box 17 July

Here is the BBC's Odd Box, a helpful collection of the odder events in the week's news that you may have missed. It includes Barack Obama having to cope with a teleprompter smashing to the ground in front of him.

50 Political Myths

Here, courtesy of Total Politics Magazine, are 50 political issues or cliches that are regularly referred to in the media but are in fact completely untrue. E.g. The EU have never banned bendy bananas and David Cameron never said "Hug a hoodie".

Swine Flu Blog

The BBC Blog on Swine Flu (by Fergus Walsh) is highly recommended for clear analysis of what is going on (and how politicians and the NHS are responding to it) without resorting to panicked headlines based on worst-case scenario statistics.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Apollo 11

Today is the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 mission, which on 20 July 1969 successfuly landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. There is of course a huge amount of material on the web for the anniversary, including contributions from the BBC, the Daily Telegraph and NASA itself. This article puts the conflict firmly within the context of the Cold War, showing that Kennedy's speech in 1961 to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade was a clear response to American fears that the USSR was dominating the space race. It was thought that such a mission would help to rebuild national prestige and restore Kennedy's reputation after the recent debacle at the Bay of Pigs. After Kennedy's assassination it almost became a sacred duty for Lyndon Johnson to fulfil this pledge, despite the massive expense of the Apollo programme

Summer reading for politicians

The reading list given to the Shadow Foreign Affairs team is listed here along with suggestions from other politicians and features History and Politics strongly. A predictable list perhaps, with Churchill, Macmillan and Alan Clark featuring but also some less expected such as Keynes: The Return of the Master. Vernon Bogdanor's book should be well worth a read as should Douglas Alexander's choice of Timothy Garton Ash's Facts are subversive.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Obama in Africa

A perfect Nonsuch HP blog entry here, as it combines the history of the slave trade with Obama's reaction to it and his thoughts on the future for Africa. He believes that good governance is the way to reform many African countries and, although he accepted the negative history of slavery and colonialism, he made it clear that he did not think that Africa could any longer blame that history for its current troubles. A good quotation to end the BBC clip of his speech: "as bad as history can be, it's always possible to overcome".
A particularly poignant visit for Michelle Obama as she is directly descended from slaves.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Japanese PM in trouble

The Japanese Prime Minister, Taro Aso, has been forced to call a general election for next month and it is likely that his party will lose. As the Liberal Democratic Party have dominated Japanese politics since World War 2, this is big news. This article from the Independent is a good examination of how Mr Aso has got into so much trouble, mainly due to the economic crisis and his tendency to make serious gaffes. (He compared his political opponents to the Nazi Party and said that the elderly "Did nothing except eat and sit around drinking" - this is the country with the largest percentage of pensioners in the world!)

More on Sonia

It looks like the Committee is quite keen... Lots more on Sonia on the CNN website

Women in History Timeline

A great timeline here of important developments for women in Britain from 1900 to 2006. From Radio 4's Woman's Hour, it gives an audio commentary on each decade. Which ones do you think were the most important? The presenter of Woman's Hour Jenni Murray writes an article here to accompany the series about her own family's experiences alongside the events and ends with a discussion of feminism today, finishing with the quotation,"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what a feminist is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat"!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Politics and Literature

Can politics and literature go together? Can political issues be explored through fiction? This article from The Guardian explores these issues further, considering authors as diverse as Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway and David Hare.

Summer History Reading

For people with UCAS and university interviews on their mind, Summer is a good time to find inspiration by reading some history books.

David Aaronovitch of The Times has helpfully made some recommendations, which include "The Ascent of Money" by Niall Ferguson, which looks at the global history of finance and "The Birth of the Modern World 1788-1800" by Jay Winik, which considers the connections between the momentous political events of the late 18th Century. Both books would obviously provide helpful parallels with our current political and economic problems.

Tudor Historians may find "Mary Tudor:England's First Queen" of interest as it takes quite a sympathetic view of her and David Starkey's "Henry-The Virtuous Prince" looks closely at the often neglected early years of Henry VIII's life.

EH Carr's "What is History" is the classic introduction to the nature of the subject and some ideas of historiography. Although it was published 48 years ago, it still contains many stimulating ideas to get the historian thinking. Other books that follow similar ideas, often written in response to Carr, include Geoffrey Elton's "The Practice of History, Richard Evans' "In Defence of History" and John Tosh's "The Pursuit of History". More information about these ideas can be seen at the Institute of History's special section on "What is History" here and in the Open University's website here.

If you are looking for further inspiration on what to read, check the "History Reviews" sections of the newspapers. Here is a links to the The Guardian'sand The Telegraph's history books secions. The Institute of Historical Research also has an extensive Reviews Section

Please pass on any recommendations for books you have enjoyed, and happy reading!

15 ways to cope with a flu epidemic

The Times has helpfully looked through its archive from the early 20th Century to find various pieces of advice on how to cope with an outbreak of flu. This includes taking taking a mustard bath, sterilising the air around your room with an incandescent gas burner, or taking special mints as recommended by the Bishop of Bath and Wells.
Here is the full list.

Friday, 10 July 2009

What are you reading?

The summer holidays are fast approaching, which give a chance for everyone (including Nonsuch HP) to catch up on their reading. Many will also be considering what to put on their UCAS Personal Statements so we would like to ask 2 questions:
What are people reading at the moment?
What history or politics books could they recommend?

Please add comments!! Anonymous answers will be accepted!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Street Fight

A clip below from an award-winning documentary about the mayoral election in Newark in 2002 in the USA that symbolises old v new in black politics. The 'new', Cory Brooker, is now Mayor and is making a splash nationally whereas the 'old', Sharpe James, has just been sentenced to two years in prison for corruption.

The Nuclear Debate Timeline

A fantastic resource here from the Times and Sky News which follows Britain's involvement with nuclear weapons and contains great pictures and film clips.

Timothy Garton-Ash on Start the Week

Timothy Garton-Ash was on Radio 4's Start the Week this week. He discussed the differences between historians and journalists, and his interest in writing the "History of the Present" - using the disciplines of the historian to report and comment on current events.
The BBC link is here and he has a very extensive website here.

New Appointment

Nonsuch HP would like to wish Mrs Stottor many congratulations for her new appointment as Head of Sixth Form. We are very pleased to have such a capable historian in this important post!

9 Mars Party Presentation

Groups in Year 9 Mars were asked to develop their own political party and say how they would promote it in an election. Ideas ranged from abolishing university fees to more leisure time to teachers to wear uniform. Suggested methods of promotion also varied widely from impassioned speeches to music festivals to kidnapping the Queen! A vote was taken at the end of the lesson and this presentation by Amy, Enakshee, Sam and Neha was the winner.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Sotomayor given highest rating by ABA

Sonia Sotomayor, Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, has been given the American Bar Association's highest rating of 'well qualified'. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings begin next week and there will be a huge amount of scrutiny of everything she says, here is a link to the Washington Post website's special Sotomayor section.

RSS Feed

Nonsuch HP now has an RSS feed - the link is on the right hand side of the site. If you would like regular updates for your homepage (eg iGoogle) click on the link and then copy and paste the web address to where you want it.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Obama Tweets

We're now following Barack Obama's Twitter feed. He's currently got 1.6 million followers, which is 1 million more than the official White House feed. Sarah Palin meanwhile has just started twittering, so see what you make of her comments here (which seem to be mainly about fish...)

Hatchet jobs in Vanity Fair

In Vanity Fair this month there are two articles that intend on causing maximum damage to their subject, see here. The most effective is that on Sarah Palin by Todd Purdum, a hatchet job expert. For some further thoughts on Palin as Vice President and heaven forbid President, see the tutor2u link to a montage of interview clips from the 2008 campaign! The other article intent on damage in Vanity Fair is by a disillusioned Christopher Hitchens on Gordon Brown, reiterating his likeness to Richard Nixon. There is also an in-depth article on the relatively recent American politics-focused website Politico, link here.

Historians talk politics

Here is the link to Radio 4's Any Questions programme last Friday night where historians Linda Colley and Andrew Roberts joined the panel and talked about historians as novelists as well as the effect of new technologies such as Twitter. They also commented on recent events.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Historical Tweets

This site is quite amusing - what would historical figures have written if they had access to Twitter?

Here's one from Johannes Gutenberg

and here's Abraham Lincoln asking for speech-writing advice

Ukraine opening up part of its KGB file

The opening up of KGB files is creating a debate in the Ukraine as to whether the country's Soviet history should be discussed or not. Is 'raking up the past' always a good idea? Or does the negative spin come from those who are concerned what people will find? An interesting story on the BBC here.

Henry VIII from a US Perspective

Time Magazine has published "10 things you didn't know about Henry VIII". The site is rather fussily put together, but there is some good information buried in there (e.g. Henry had 5 sets of bagpipes, he suggested that those who committed murder by poison be boiled to death, he banned betting after his soldiers lost too much money.)
It also gives you a good insight into how America views him - are there any noticeable differences between this and the British perspective?

Thursday, 2 July 2009

We're on Twitter

Nonsuch HP has tentatively established a presence on Twitter. We're known as nonsuchhp and you can find us here. We will initially use it to send updates about the blog but if you know of other useful ways to use Twitter, please let us know!

Comedian joins the Senate to give a filibuster proof majority

Al Franken, writer and actor of Saturday Night Live, was eventually declared the winner of the Minnesota Senate race by the state Supreme Court after over 7 months of legal wrangling and vote counting. See the CNN report below. However, it might not be the blessing Obama hopes for, the last President to have a filibuster proof majority was Jimmy Carter in 1979 and things did not go too well for him...

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Do you remember the Walkman?

This article from the BBC, comparing an iPod to a Sony Walkman from 30 years ago, may seem an odd choice for a history blog. However the author (a 13 year old boy) treats the Walkman at first as if it is some archaeological artefact from the middle ages. It is interesting to see how rapidly technology changes but also how quickly people become ignorant of their immediate past - not necessarily the big political events but the small details that seemed important to our culture at the time but are quickly forgotten. What other forgotten items deserve to be reconsidered?