On This Day – The Reichstag Fire, 27 February 1933

It’s a real change of pace today- I don’t often do On This Day posts, but this one really stood out to me. Not least because it’s one of those fact-and-dates that is clinging on from my GCSE days (the exam flashbacks are looming), but because it’s startling relevant now.

The burning of the Reichstag building is a real history-mystery with dubious blame and potential cover-ups. It was a fundamental rung on Hitler’s ladder to power, and another part of the story of anti-communism in the 1930s. Today I’m going to briefly outline the event and talk about it from a modern perspective, what with the rise of fascism being a frequently trending topic on twitter. Let me know what you think about this new format, and if you like the slightly more narrative structure.

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Sunday Non-Fiction Spotlight: Five #HistoryBooksByWomen

If you head over to twitter right now you’ll see #HistoryBooksByWomen trending like you wouldn’t believe. This week I’m going to pick out five very different histories written by women about gender, sexuality and themes of oppression and discrimination.

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2016 Cundill Prize – Thomas W Laquer, The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains

It may not be as famous as the Booker or the Pulitzer, but recently McGill University in Montreal announced the 2016 winner of their Cundill Prize in Historical Literature. The Cundill Prize is the largest non-fiction history prize in the world. It’s important because it reflects a genuine desire to reward historians and researchers for publications which are “determined to have had, or likely to have, a profound literary, social and intellectual impact.” The Cundill Prize website states that they aim to recognise “outstanding works of non-fiction that are grounded in scholarly research while retaining wide appeal and interest to the general public.”

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Sunday Non-Fiction Spotlight: Theodore Roosevelt and celebrity-presidents.

I spent a lot of time thinking about America this week. I wrote two short editorials about the election, and I thought that this week’s non-fiction spotlight might pick up on the things I discussed there, but instead I’ve chosen to reflect on the changes that have happened throughout history to the role that the president plays in the US.
Theodore Roosevelt has been much explored for his role as a huge transformative force in US politics: one of the most interesting things to consider is the role that his personal character, one might call it a ‘brand,’ had on how the public viewed him as a person, and how it has since changed the role the president plays in America.

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Pity and Piety: musings on third-party voting

Ideological purity is very appealing to a certain type of person. It means that you can engage in something, feel part of a cause or a movement far grander than you are alone, and it gives you purpose.

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