Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Campaigning for Obama in Ohio

This time last year, I was told there was a chance that I could spend October 2012 campaigning for President Barack Obama. Obviously, I jumped at this opportunity and refused to let go. Which is how, last month, I found myself travelling 2,000 miles to the swing state of Ohio as part of a contingent from the Labour Party to help our sister Democrats. It was to be one the most demanding, exhausting, and ultimately thrilling weeks of my life.
First we flew to Detroit to stock up on Motown, before starting our road trip east. As soon as we arrived in Cleveland, we were taken to campaign headquarters to be briefed. Here we were told that our battleground was Cuyahoga, the most marginal county in the state. We were armed with clipboards, split into crack teams of door-knockers and given our marching orders. Ohio early voting starts a month before election day, and our job was to get this vote out. The next week passed in a blur of determined canvassing, leafleting and occasional running away from Republicans’ dogs.

We soon discovered that the most rewarding places to campaign were the predominantly poor and African-American neighbourhoods, where there was almost universal support for Obama. Many were practically disenfranchised from early voting by poor access to polling stations and being overlooked by the parties for fancy publicity campaigns. The most interesting part of the week was just speaking to people on the doorstep, talking about things like how the laws passed in Washington really affected their everyday lives; how grand rhetoric about the economy actually translated into wages in the bank and food on the table. Over the course of the week, we knocked on over 10,000 doors.

We were lucky enough to be in Ohio in an eventful week – the local Democrats threw a watch party for the broadcast of the second presidential debate, and on our last day we attended a rally headlined by Bruce Springsteen and Bill Clinton. Locals were particularly anxious about the second debate, after Obama’s flop in the first (there were many, many theories about this – from Obama being kept up the night before due to alien landings to Romney’s skiing experience helping him cope with Denver’s thinner air). Emotions at the rally ran high as Bruce, with Bill Clinton cheering from the side, covered Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land Is Your Land’ to a stadium full of people singing along.
Finally, our convoy rolled on towards our final destination, Washington D.C. We said goodbye to our friends in the campaign headquarters before stocking up on everything Obama-related we could lay our hands on. In D.C. we spent the day touring Congress, the monuments and the tat shops, and in the evening we were lucky enough to have dinner with a few local Democratic senators. We finally waddled through customs with our suitcases bulging with badges, masks, and a few ‘Obama for America’ emblazoned frisbees, desperate for our first full night’s sleep in ten days.

Three weeks later, our group, though now far-flung across the UK, was reunited in sitting glued to our TV screens into the early hours. After a nail-biting night, watching Obama’s electoral college votes slowly mount, there was an eruption of several very loud celebrations as Cuyahoga County came through for Obama, and with it Ohio.

Bring on 2016.


Monday, 12 November 2012

Why did Obama win?

After all the hype, the US presidential elections did not look so close in the Electoral College which ended up as 332 to Obama and 206 to Romney.  However, when looking at the popular vote it was much closer: 50.6% to Obama and 47.9% to Romney.
But why did Obama win in the end?  Was it Obama's campaign that was more sophisticated?  Was it Romney who just failed to gel with the voters?  Were people nervous of changing horses mid-race during the economic recession?
What do you think?

Hitler's Charisma

Here is an interesting article on why Hitler was able to appeal to so many German people during the Nazis' rise to power. It links to a BBC2 programme that starts tonight called The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler made by Laurence Rees, who has been responsible for many excellent BBC History programmes.

Student at the UN

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take part in work experience at the United Nations headquarters in Switzerland. I was to be flying by myself for the first time and I knew no one in Geneva or on the study trip. Arriving at the hostel, I began to feel a little concerned about the prospect of being alone in a completely unfamiliar country, but there was no time to be worried with a briefing only an hour later. As I looked around the table at the other students, I was yet to realise that they would become the people I spent every waking moment with for the rest of the week.

It was an early start the next morning as we visited the Palais des Nations. We walked around, taking in hugely impressive conference rooms that had participated in some of the most important decisions in current affairs for years. The tour took us past conferences in session discussing the states of North Korea, Libya, Syria and many more. The building was stunning and I was awed by the realisation that on these grounds I was legally considered to be in no country and on completely neutral ground. There was little time as we moved on fast; next to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Listening to the speaker talk of his experiences in countries facing refugee crises, I was struck by how real the situations became. Watching the news on Syria behind television screens, there can be no true knowledge of the scale and the amount of people working behind the scenes.

As the week progressed, I went to a wide variation of UN agencies including the UN Environment Programme, World Food Programme and the International Organisation for Migration. As the international centre for humanitarian action, Geneva presented opportunities to visit the International Federation for the Red Cross and Red Crescent and Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders). The speakers were some of the most inspirational people I have ever encountered, working in extremely insecure surroundings solely to help people with no personal incentive. The trip overall gave me an amazing perspective on the world’s affairs and assured me that international work is something I definitely want to pursue in the future. It was undoubtedly one of the most incredible weeks of my life and is something I would recommend to anyone, whether you are interested in politics or not.


Friday, 19 October 2012

British Empire

Here is an excellent site on the British Empire and its impact which Year 9s in particular may find useful.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Hilary Mantel wins the Booker Prize...again

Hilary Mantel won the Booker Prize last night with "Bring up the Bodies", her sequel to "Wolf Hall" which itself won the prize three years ago. Both books cover the life of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's Chief Minister, with the second installment covering the events in 1535 that led to the execution of Anne Boleyn.  It is an exciting time for historical fiction, and will hopefully lead to more readers being introduced to Tudor History through her work. Mantel is planning a 3rd book, "The Mirror and the Light" and "Wolf Hall" is being adapted for television and will be shown on the BBC next year.

You can read more about Mantel and her analysis of Cromwell here, a review of Bring up the Bodies here, and an article by Mantel about Anne Boleyn here.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Australian PM & sexism

Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister, delivers a lesson in how to put down troublesome opposition leaders and deal with accusations of sexism and misogyny in a 15 minute speech which has attracted over 1 million Youtube hits.  She was reacting to a motion trying to force out the Speaker for the first time after he was discovered to have sent lewd messages to a staffer.  The Observer assessed the issue in yesterday's newspaper.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Vote at 16?

Should the voting age be lowered to 16?  The issue is back on the agenda as Alex Salmond is keen for 16-17 year olds to take part in the Scottish Referendum in 2014.

This rather bad-tempered article from the Guardian suggests there is little point in doing so, as "young people" are too involved in their personal lives to bother to vote.

"At a time when the non-voting habit, civil disengagement, is creeping upwards towards 30...I see little point in making the turnout figures even worse by inviting 16-year-olds to join an election party most of them won't want to attend."
Do you agree with this analysis? What can be done to stop apathy amongst young voters? Please let us know.
PS: Here is the official "Votes at 16" campaign's website.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Tweeting again

Nonsuch HP is having another go with Twitter. We signed up with @nonsuchhp over 2 years ago but frankly didn't do a lot with it.  There is clearly great potential on Twitter to link up with other historians, politicians, journalists etc so please take a look at our Twitter page and let us know if there is anyone else we should be following. We have included a "latest tweets" section on the right hand side of the blog, and if you think there is anything else we should be doing, or any trends we should be following, let us know.

On that subject, you may find this blog post of interest showing tweeting trends during last week's political debates between @BarackObama and @MittRomney. It may not surprise you to know that the most popular subject of interest (hence the picture above) was #BigBird following Mitt Romney's comments...

What is History's Role in Society?

More good stuff from Radio 4. Here is a transcript from last week's "Point of View" by the writer and broadcaster Sarah Dunant explaining quite clearly what the purpose of History is.

"The humanities," she writes, "alongside filling one in on human history, teach people how to think analytically while at the same time noting and appreciating innovation and creativity. Not a bad set of skills for most jobs wouldn't you say?"

There are further thought-provoking comments within the article and also a useful guide to some of the ways that the study of History has evolved in recent years - very valuable information in particular for personal statement writers...

A Point of View covers all sorts of interesting topics and you can download many of them as podcasts here.

PS: The image above came from a google search of "Purpose of History" - make of it what you will!

Sima Qian - Chinese Historian

A fascinating article this morning from the BBC about Siam Qian, who as the "Grand Historian" wrote a 2500 year history of his country (in the 1st Century BC). What is most interesting about him however is that in 99BC he wrote in support of a general who had been forced to surrender after a military defeat. This was considered an act of treason by the emperor and he was given a stark choice - death or torture. He chose torture so that he could complete his book - he believed it was his duty to his future audience to ensure his work of history, which also contained many starkly honest appraisals of China's emperors, was completed for posterity.

Sima Qian's story is told as part of a Radio 4 series on Chinese historical figures. You can read more about them and download podcasts, here.

Friday, 5 October 2012

James Bond is 50

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond film, Dr No, opening in cinemas. There are all sorts of celebrations going on, culminating with the release of the latest film, Skyfall, at the end of the month. In the meantime, here is an article from the Economist exploring why the Bond series has endured for so long.  There is lots of material over at the Guardian, where writers explain which films are their favourite (Nonsuch HP likes "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" best...) Finally, here is a rather more academic article on the relationship between James Bond and the Cold War by a professor from the Exeter University.

PS: If you're interested in a career in spying, have a look at this article, or even MI6's homepage - there are even some games to play to test your skills!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Ruth Dombey

We were delighted to have Ruth Dombey, the leader of Sutton Council, in to speak to us today on the Save St Helier Campaign.  She explained the current situation regarding the hospital and the proposal to reduce the services available there, and then fielded plenty of questions from the audience. Right at the end she revealed that she was a former Nonsuch girl herself who had not been allowed to study Politics when she attended or invite the local MP to come in and speak!

To find out more about the campaign, you can visit the Save Our St Helier website, or follow the campaign, or Ruth Dombey on Twitter.

Ruth has already tweeted about her experiences as you can see below!

Epsom College Debate

On the 20th September, four Nonsuch pupils attended a political debate at Epsom College. The panel consisted of Chris Grayling (Conservative MP for Epsom and Ewell and Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice), Anna Jones (a Liberal Democrat), a member of the Epsom and Ewell Resident Association and a Labour supporting student. 
The audience had the opportunity to question, and at times, grill the panel on a range of issues, such as tuition fees & Nick Clegg’s apology, Boris as Prime Minister, GCSE’s and the Bill of Rights.
The Euro sceptics and the republic audience took their battles. The panel had a range of opinions and ideas. Chris Grayling expressed his want to reduce the number of reoffenders through rehabilitation. As the audience nodded their heads in satisfaction (and surprise), Anna questioned his moral integrity and wondered if he actually believed that or whether it was because he had little funding; the audience laughed. The banter continued however there was a general consensus that home owners should have more property rights and cannabis should not be legalised. 
Chris Grayling ended the night expressing his preference for Mitt Romney to Obama and described Romney as ‘the Sarah Palin in trousers!’

How We Won the War

BBC2 is showing a rather patriotically titled series called "How We Won the War". It covers ordinary people's experiences of World War 2 from across the country. Here is a link to the episode covering rationing, which includes the programme and some other useful information and links.

You may also find Wartime Farm of interest, which is covering similar subject matter from an agricultural perspective.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Magna Carta

David Cameron couldn't remember what "Magna Carta" meant - hopefully anyone who has studied History in Year 7 here can help him out!

For more on the significance of Magna Carta, have a look at this (slightly controversial) article and you can also study the real thing here at the British Library's website. This BBC History Magazine article also gives a good account of the charter's historical context.

Presidential Debates

The first Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will take place tomorrow. Here is a helpful article explaining the significance of the debates, referring back to some previous encounters, including the famous Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960.

You also may find this BBC article -  "5 things you need to know about the US election" - of interest.

Eric Hobsbawm

Eric Hobsbawm, the eminent 19th and 20th Century historian, died on Monday aged 95. He was known for his detailed, yet accessible works, but also for his political beliefs, remaining committed to Marxism long after the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. You can read his obituary here, a BBC news report here, and some extracts from his writing here, and an assessment of his legacy by other historians here.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The First NHS Hospital

Here is a good article on Park General Hospital in Trafford, Manchester, the first to open in 1948 as part of the NHS. There is a slideshow about the history of the hospital, but also a wider look at the political, social and economic challenges facing the NHS in 2012 and beyond.

PS: The photo shows Aneurin Bevan, the Minister for Health who was one of the driving forces behind the foundation of the NHS, at the opening of the hospital on 5 July 1948. For more on the history of the NHS, click here - the website is a bit hard to navigate but there is plenty of detail.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Ethiopian Hero of the Korean War

Here is the fascinating story of Mamo Habtewold, who 60 years ago was sent from Ethiopia to fight in the Korean War. He was part of the the Emperor Haile Selassie's bodyguard, and is very proud of his record - at one time he was in a patrol of 15 soldiers who successfully fought off 300 Chinese soldiers.

The BBC World Service has an archive of interviews with people who were eyewitnesses to historic events, from the Battle of Passchendaele in World War One to the murder of Tupac Shakur. You can download and listen to these and many more here.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Is Obama a Tory?

Is Obama a Tory? This article debates that question.

Andrew Marr's Ambitious History of the World

An ambitious new series began last night attempting to cover the entire history of the world in eight episodes. Clearly it was a very difficult task selecting what to include when you have to cover 90,000 years in a short time, and Andew Marr explains the editing process here. Another article suggests 10 events that should have been included that at first sight may not look that important but have turned out to be incredibly significant, such as the creation of industrial ammonia (essential in fertiliser) and the foundation of double-entry book-keeping...

What do you think should be included in a list of the most significant events in the world history? Please let us know.

PS: If you like this sort of global history, have a look at the British Museum's History of the World in 100 Objects page, and there are some other interesting things here and here.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

A Review of Winter King: Thomas Penn

The latest biography on Henry VII. Certainly not a dull King as is often the view! Thomas Penn has also written this article on how Henry re-branded the Wars of the Roses to suit his propaganda. The White Rose had been the principal symbol of the House of York for many years, but the House of Lancaster had rarely used their red rose symbol, preferring to use either a gold rose or even an antelope. By adopting the red rose, Henry was able to demonstrate the uniting of the two houses under his marriage to Elizabeth of York, symbolising an end to the conflict.

Toynbee on the attack

Here is Polly Toynbee's assessment of Cameron's coalition government.  Do you agree?
Toynbee has a new book out with David Walker called 'Dogma and Disarray: Cameron at half-time'.  Not difficult to see what their interpretation might be...

Richard III dug up?

As you may have heard, a team of archaeologists may have found the remains of Richard III in a car park in Leicester, formerly the site of a friary destroyed during Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries.

You can find out more about the dig here and here and on these sites from the University of Leicester and the Greyfriars Project page. For further information on Richard III (albeit slightly biased!), there is plenty of information on the Richard III Society's page.

PS: Here are some further interesting articles:

From the BBC Magazine website - here is the Tudor historian Suzannah Liscombe's view, and an article by David Hipshon focusing on the treachery that led to Richard's death.

From History Today - a sceptical article on the excavations from Linda Porter.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Student report on the Battle of Bosworth

A student in Year 8 recently visited the site of the Battle of Bosworth and very kindly wrote a report to share on the HP blog:

The Battle that Changed the Face of England Forever – Bosworth Field 1485

During the 15th century, civil war raged across England as the Houses of York and Lancaster fought each other for the English throne. In 1471, the Yorkists defeated their rivals in the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury. The Lancastrian King Henry VI and his only son, Edward of Lancaster, died in the aftermath of the Battle of Tewkesbury. Their deaths left the House of Lancaster with no direct claimants to the throne. The Yorkist king, Edward IV, was in complete control of England. The Lancastrian Tudors tried to flee to France but strong winds forced them to land in Brittany. Henry Tudor’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was a distant descendant of John of Gaunt, originally a bastard family. Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, the only remaining Lancastrian noble with a trace of the royal bloodline, had a weak claim to the throne, and Edward regarded him as "a nobody".

Richard, brother of Edward IV was proclaimed King Richard III on 26 June 1483. The timing and extrajudicial nature of the deeds done to obtain the throne for Richard won him no popularity, and rumours that spoke ill of the new king spread throughout England. After they were declared bastards, Edward’s two sons were confined in the Tower of London and never seen in public again. The people of England firmly believed that Richard, the "tyrant", had murdered his nephews. The survivors of subsequent failed uprisings fled to Brittany, where they openly supported Henry's claim to the throne. At Christmas, Henry Tudor swore an oath to marry Edward IV's daughter, Elizabeth of York, to unite the warring houses of York and Lancaster.

The Battle of Bosworth Field (or the Battle of Bosworth) was the final battle of the Wars of the Roses. Fought on 22 August 1485, the battle was won by the Lancastrians. Their leader Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, became the first English monarch of the Tudor dynasty by his victory and subsequent marriage to Elizabeth of York. His opponent, Richard III, the last king of the House of York, was killed in the battle. Henry hired chroniclers to portray his reign favourably; the Battle of Bosworth Field was popularised to represent his Tudor dynasty as the start of a new age. From the 15th to 18th centuries the battle was glamorised as a victory of good over evil, and as the climax of William Shakespeare's play about Richard's rise and fall, it provides a focal point for critics in later film adaptations. The exact site of the battle is disputed because of the lack of conclusive data, and memorials have been erected at different locations. The Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre was built, in 1974, on a site chosen based on a theory that has been challenged by several scholars and historians in the following years. In October 2009, a team of researchers, who had performed geological surveys and archaeological digs in the area from 2003, suggested a location 3 km southwest of Ambion Hill, just outside Sutton Cheney, Leicestershire.

I visited this location in June 2012 and saw evidence of the battlefield and its memorials. I have concluded that it is truly one of the most important events in English history and changed the nation that we are, the language we speak, our culture and religion.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

History and Politics Department Details

For more general information about the History and Politics Department at Nonsuch, including details on the courses we teach and the trips and activities that take place, please take a look at this new page.

Summer Reading 2012

NOTE: This has been adapted and updated from a previously published article and gives you a few ideas to get started on what books to read if you are considering history at university.

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. Here is a further selection of Tudor History books and here is a guide from to useful authors.

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

The history section of course has a vast range of books and is worth checking for the latest to be published.

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

PS: Here is a list of books and articles recommended for old AEA course (for A Level Students who wanted to stretch themselves further) which are worth considering.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Year 12 Handbooks

Here are copies of the Sixth Form Handbooks for History and Politics for 2012-14.  They are also available on Frog!

A-Level Government and Politics 2012-14

A-Level History 2012-14

Friday, 18 May 2012

Nonsuch Palace Page

There is now a separate page on the blog with a short history of Nonsuch Palace and further interesting information about it. If you find anything else of interest that you would like to be added there, please let us know.

Nonsuch HP is 3

Well nearly. Nonsuch HP will celebrate its 3rd birthday on Saturday. It's been perhaps a slightly quieter year blog-post wise but many thanks to all of our readers and supporters. If anyone would like to contribute an article to the blog on a historical or political topic or interest, please get in touch - we would be delighted to add new authors to the blog!

This is also a suitable occasion to thank the committee of the HP Society, who have worked extremely hard this year to produce a variety of successful and well attended events and activities. We are very grateful to VD, FV and their team for all of their hard work and enthusiasm.

Hilary Mantel on Anne Boleyn

Hilary Mantel, who won the Booker Prize with "Wolf Hall", her story of Thomas Cromwell and the Tudor court, has now written a sequel, "Bringing up the Bodies", which focuses on the introduction of Jane Seymour to the court and the unravelling of Henry VIII's relationship with Anne Boleyn. You can read a review of the new book here, and also an excellent article by Mantel on Anne Boleyn ("Witch, bitch, temptress, feminist") and the public's perception of her.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Spring Clean

The blog has been given a slight tidy up for the spring, with a few things removed and a new logo added. Please let us know if there is anything else you think can be improved.

Frog on the Blog

We have added a link to Frog, Nonsuch's new digital platform, on the page.  It's still early days but the History and Politics section is up and running, with information about the courses we teach, useful links, a section for the HP Society and a large number of resources for A-Level, GCSE and Key Stage 3. We hope these will be of particular help for everyone going on study leave in a few weeks. Please take a look and tell us what else we can add.

The link on the right hand side will also tell you when our pages were last updated. We hope you find this useful.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The 70s

There was a fascinating programme on BBC2 last night about Britain in the 1970s. Historian Dominic Sandbrook cut through the stereotypes of that era to show that the decade was remarkably progressive culturally and socially. Last night's episode dealt with with the early years of the decade, and considered issues as diverse as the Ugandan Refugees, the 1972 Miners' Strike and David Bowie.  Politics students will find the struggles of Ted Heath to maintain political control during increasing economic and social turmoil to be of particular interest, with Mrs Thatcher hovering ominously in the background...

PS: There is more about Britain in the 1970s, including contributions from Andrew Marr here.

Korean Army Chaplain's Sacrifice

Here is an inspiring story of a US Army Chaplain, Father Emil Kapaun (on the right in the picture above, helping a wounded soldier), who, in the middle of a fierce firefight during the Korean War in 1950, refused to leave the wounded and so was captured and sent to a North Korean labour camp, where he died from the terrible conditions sixth months later.  Kapaun's bravery has led to calls for him to be given the Congressional Medal of Honour, and he has been named a Servant of God by the Catholic church, the first step towards sainthood. You can read more about Father Emil in this sequence of articles from the Wichita Eagle, in his home state of Kansas.

Titanic Graphic

Here is a fascinating graphic showing statistics about the Titanic. As you are probably aware, the 100th Anniversary of its sinking on 15 April 1912 took place this weekend. You may also find this BBC archive material of interest and this Titanic Facebook page.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Belgium Trip Document

The Belgium Trip Document is now ready for viewing. A paper copy is available at school or you can read a digital copy here. If there are any questions, please ask the History Department.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Belgium Trip Information

Here is the powerpoint that was shown during the Battlefields Information Evening on Wednesday. If it cannot be viewed, please use this link to a larger version.
If you have any further questions, please contact Mr Coy in the History Department.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Belgium Trip 2012

View Nonsuch Belgium Trip in a larger map

Above is a map which shows the main sites that we will be visiting during the Year 10 trip to the battlefields of Flanders on 9 and 10 March. (We recommend that you click on "View Nonsuch Belgium Trip" to see it more clearly. The blue flags represents places we will visit on Friday and the green ones those on Saturday. More details for the trip will appear on the blog shortly.

If you would like to read more about what took place around Ypres during the First World War, this site is an excellent general guide. This gives more specific information about the first battle of Ypres (plus information on the other battles: (second, third, more on the third.)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commisson website is ideal for searching for those who lost their lives during the fighting.
The Long Long Trail site is excellent for more detailed searches for particular individuals and family members involved in World War One.

Who do YOU think was to blame for the outbreak of WW1

Year 9s who have been studying the origins of the World War One, here is your chance to participate in an online debate about who was to blame for the War. Was it one individual country's fault, the fault of individuals like Princip or Kaiser Wilhelm or was it the system that was put in place by a number of different governments. Write a paragraph giving your opinion, supported by reasons, and sign off with you initials.
9My - this should be completed by Wednesday 7 March.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012


If you scroll down the right hand side of the blog until you reach the dolphin you will notice a figure showing how many people have accessed Nonsuch HP since it began in May 2009. This week that number has gone over the 100,000 visits mark. The number may be small compared to the readership of The Sun or viewing figures for Downton Abbey but it is still exciting to think that that number of people have ended up on the blog through an interest in History or Politics (or maybe just a lucky Google search!). Many thanks to all our visitors.

Apologies that posts are rather sparse at the moment - if you have any ideas or read any articles that you think are suitable for the blog, please send them in!

PS: The image is of a 100,000 dollar bill - issued briefly in 1934. You can read more about it here.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Much warmer today in Washington which allowed our group to enjoy their tour of Washington buildings whilst still being able to feel their ears.

They got to Ford's Theatre, the National Archives, the US Supreme Court and the Capitol Building as well as getting to one of the committee rooms in the Dirksen Congressional Office. Unfortunately, we missed our meeting with the congressional staffer as he was called away to a meeting with the Foreign Relations Committee chairman who clearly has more sway than us.

The evening was spent at the Verizon Center watch the Washington Capitals ice hockey team lost to the San Jose Sharks 5-3. Great atmosphere and a fantastic experience.

Location:Monday in DC

Monday, 13 February 2012

Sunday in Washington

Bitterly cold in Washington today with temperatures barely above zero all day. Our brave group soldiered on and saw both the White House and Washington Monument and visited the White House Visitor Centre, American History Museum and Newseum which, once again, was firmly voted as a favourite museum. The Naval Memorial which includes a walk over map of the world allowed an excited Mrs Forkan to conduct an impromptu Geography lesson. Dinner at the Hard Rock was a pleasant experience (which made a change from previous trips) and the day was finished off with a visit to the tackiest souvenir shop in DC so don't expect great presents when we return!!

Weather set to warm up for the rest of the week which will be a relief.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Washington Update

With all their winter clothes crammed into suitcases, the 2012 History & Politics Washington group arrived safely to the bitterly cold US capital yesterday. Having sampled the US size food portions in Harriets, a very tired group headed off to bed for an early night ready for the first day of sightseeing tomorrow. Predicted snow did not materialise but temperature staying around freezing all day today but everyone ready to "layer up" and face the biting wind chill!!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Who do YOU think was to blame for the Cold War?

Year 10s who have been studying the origins of the Cold War, here is your chance to participate in an online debate about who was to blame for the Cold War. Was it the USSR's fault (traditional view), the USA's fault (revisionist view) or both sides were to blame (post-revisionist view). Use the comments box to state which interpretation of history you agree with and give your reasons why. Do feel free to engage with the views of others and say if you agree or disagree with them (but be respectful). Please sign the post using just your initials rather than your full name. If you are looking for additional sources about the Cold War including definitions of many of the key terms, look here.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Civil Rights Timeline

Year 9s may find this of interest for their research into Civil Rights in the USA - the timeline extends over 4 sections - click on the arrow on the bottom right for the next part.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Groundhog Rivalry

Today is Groundhog Day - and you can catch the latest weather reports from Phil the Groundhog from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania here - will he predict an early spring? However, Phil is not the only hog-based forecaster - he has a rival, Chuck, in Staten Island, New York who counts the mayor Michael Bloomberg amongst his afficionados. You can read more about the prickly relationship between the two hogs here.

UPDATE: Sadly Phil has seen his shadow - which means 6 more weeks of winter. Judging by the temperature outside, I think we all saw that one coming.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Obama on Google

President Obama gave a 50 minute interview on Google+ yesterday, discussing issues with 6 people selected from 13,000 applicants. This included confirmation that the USA is using drones against targets in Pakistan. You can see the whole interview here (YouTube link) and read some of the thousands of comments that follow. PS: You also may find these stories of interest: How Europe became a dirty word in the republican primaries and is there a psyschological reason behind why people vote republican or democrat?

Monday, 30 January 2012

Washington Trip Powerpoint

Here is the powerpoint covering details for this February's trip to Washington. To make it larger, click on the "square" button at the bottom in the middle.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Holocaust Memorial Day

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, here is the latest video from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust encouraging you to speak out against discrimination.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

GCSE Guide

We have created a new page showing what will be available for GCSE students for 2012-2014. For more information, click here.

Monday, 23 January 2012


Here's an interesting article examining electoral turnout in the USA. According to the Centre for the Study of the American Electorate, America is ranked 139th in terms of voter participation out of 172 recognised democracies, and turnout in the 2008 election at 63% was considerably lower than it is in much of Europe, for example. Indeed, 2008's turnout was higher than it had been since 1960, with only 51.6% turning out for the 1996 elections. Some believe this is because of America's insistence on continuing with traditions such as the Tuesday date for elections (believed to have been chosen as it was most convenient for the agricultural community) and its refusal to embrace newer technologies to make voting more convenient, although this could be expensive. Jacob Soboroff from the "Why Tuesday?" Campaign responded to criticisms by saying,
"There is a far higher cost to the nation of having perennially low turnout than the monetary cost of having weekend elections." Does he have a point?
PS: More on the Tuesday issue here.

Paxman on China

Happy Chinese New Year!

To mark the Year of the Dragon, here is an excellent piece by Jeremy Paxman (who is visiting China for Newsnight). He observes how many in modern China (particularly in the big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai) are driven by the desire to make money and increase their status, and turn a blind eye to some of the more repressive aspects of the country (for now, at least).

You may also find these articles of interest - about Chinese corner shops, and fake boyfriends.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Gingrich wins South Carolina

The Republican primary race is now wide open following Newt Gingrich's shock win in South Carolina on Saturday. The scale of his victory, with 40% of the vote, 12% ahead of Romney, is particularly impressive. This suggests that the campaign will now go on for many months. Gingrich has appealed to Rick Santorum's supporters to join him as a conservative force against Romney but Santorum also has something to be cheerful about following the news that he actually won the Iowa Caucus after all. All eyes now move to Florida, who hold their primary on 31 January.

Why do you think Gingrich has done so well? Is this a "game-changer" or are Romney's prospects sound in the long run? How much is Obama enjoying all this? Please let us know.

PS: Here are some useful resources - a "battleground map" showing some of the key states for the 2012 election, and the CNN "delegate calculator"

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Wikipedia Blackout

Here is an excellent article from the BBC's technology correspondent about Wikpedia's "blackout" yesterday in protest about proposals for new American Anti-Piracy laws, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)and PIPA (Protect IP Act).  Apparently 162 million people experienced the blackout in the last 24 hours (including Nonsuch HP) which has led to some of the politicians who had previously backed the bills becoming rather more reticent. Meanwhile Rupert Murdoch (via twitter) has commented, "Seems blogosphere has succeeded in terrorizing many senators and congressmen who previously committed. Politicians all the same." - make of that what you will!

What's your opinion on the blackout? Was it successful? Please let us know.

Economist on Romney

There are some excellent articles in this week's Economist on Mitt Romney and the situation in the US Primaries this week.
  • Here is the leading article assessing his credentials and whether he can be a credible opponent to Obama in November.
  • Here is a whizzy interactive map showing the latest poll data for each state - Romney leads in most but sometimes not by much!
  • Here is the Economists "Politics in America" blog with the latest thoughts and developments.
If you have any other recommendations from elsewhere on the web, please let us know.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Washington Trip

You may have noticed a countdown timer and weather forecast box have been added to the right hand side - this is looking forward to the Washington Trip taking place in February Half Term. With the primary season in full swing, it will certainly be an exciting time to be out there, if somewhat cold!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Iowa Caucus Tonight!

Happy New Year everyone, and apologies for the lack of posts lately.  The official start of the primary season for the US Presidential race in 2012 could not be ignored, however.  120,000 Iowans will gather tonight to participate in caucuses to elect delegates for the Republican National Convention, which will take part in Florida this August. Their decisions will give some clue as to how the Republican candidates are faring, although it should be born in mind that John McCain, the eventual Republican nominee in 2008, came fourth in this caucus during the last election.  Polls suggest that Mitt Romney and Ron Paul will do well, although Ron Paul has particularly strong local appeal and this may not translate well across the rest of the country. It will be more interesting to see how the other "Anyone but Romney" candidates fare, particularly Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. We will find out later tonight! More information from the BBC here and from the official Iowa Caucus website here. If you have any comments or good links, please let us know.