Thursday, April 16, 2015

The History Files - episode 009: The Fall of Empires

The average duration of empires the world over seems to be about 250 years. In this episode of the History Files Gordon and Dylan look at the classic symptoms of decline, which are often confused with causes, and reflect on "The Fate of Empires" by Sir John Glubb.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The History Files - Episode 008: The Spanish Civil War

The International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War, image via Wikimedia Commons
  There's truly nothing new under the sun, and journalistic bias is one of those things. In this episode of the History Files podcast Gordon talks about the Spanish Civil War, specifically George Orwell's experiences which he fictionalized in his novel Homage to Catalonia.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The History Files episode 7: The formation of Canada and the US

In episode 007 of the History Files podcast, Gordon discusses Breki Tomasson's musings about where Canada may be headed, recommends the 2004 feature film The Alamo, and then adds his own thoughts on the formation of Canada and the United States and what the future may hold for North America.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The History Files: Episode 006 - A Cavalcade of Historical Fiction plus Major Events of the 1450s

In this episode of the History Files podcast, Gordon talks with special guest Nancy Frye about five major events of the 1450s that shaped our world, after first chatting extensively about historical fiction in film, television, and literature...the good and the not so good.

Special note: One of the things I didn’t squeeze into the show, while discussing China and silver, was the importance of Spanish silver on world trade. The Spanish “real” was, during the 17th and 18th Centuries, the standard form of exchange between people, nations, and cultures everywhere in the world. Renowned for its purity and reliable weight, these “Spanish Dollars” or “pieces of eight” were hugely important in world trade. Spanish ships carrying silver real’s sailed across the Pacific from Peru and Mexico to Manila, which became the primary trade entrepot for Chinese merchants engaged in commerce with the Europeans, and likewise Spaniards engaged in the China trade. Similarly, the “Spanish Dollar” was the standard form of exchange within all of the American colonies, Spanish and English alike (and I imagine French and Portuguese as well!). Since small change wasn’t minted, in order to “make change” these silver dollars would be cut into up to eight pieces, thus the “pieces of eight” nomenclature. See also the doggerel “Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar...”, being a quarter, half and three-quarters of a dollar respectively. 1/8 of a dollar was 12-1/2 cents in “American money”, as it were, but seldom used. The quarter and half-dollar denominations became standard, even though the name “piece of eight” still referred to the original sum of the parts.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The History Files - episode 004: The Versailles Treaty

In episode 004 of the History Files podcast, Gordon and Dylan discuss the consequences of the Versailles treaty, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and other related events from the vantage point of 2015 and the centennial of World War 1.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The History Files - episode 003: the Ukraine

In this episode of The History Files, Gordon is skeptical about promises of self-determination, tells us why we in the West should care about the Ukraine, and declares the A-10 the Chevy pickup of tactical aircraft.