'As much as anything, World War I turned on the fate of Ukraine...' The decision to go to war in 1914 had catastrophic consequences for Russia. The result was revolution, civil war and famine in 1917–20, followed by decades of Communist rule. Dominic Lieven explains why this suicidal decision was made and explores the world of the men who made it. But by looking at the origins and results of the First World War from a mostly Russian angle he also offers a radically different view of why Europe descended into disaster, overturning assumptions about the war's causes and consequences in a way that still has major implications for world history down to the present day. Chaired by Oliver Bullough.
History has pictured Elizabeth I as Gloriana, an icon of strength and power. But the reality, especially during her later years, was not as simple. In 1583 Elizabeth is 50 and beyond childbearing age, but her greatest challenges are still to come: the Spanish Armada; the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots; and relentless plotting among her courtiers. The pre-eminent Tudor historian presents a gripping and vivid portrait of Elizabeth’s life and times –often told in her own words (“You know I am no morning woman”) and reveals a monarch who is fallible, increasingly insecure and struggling to lead Britain. The London theatre, however, was thriving.
A pandemic called ‘The Sweats’ is sweeping the globe. London is a city in crisis. Hospitals begin to fill with the dead and dying, but Stevie Flint is convinced that the sudden death of her boyfriend Dr Simon Sharkey was not from natural causes. Welsh introduces A Lovely Way To Burn, the first outbreak in her Plague Times trilogy. Hannah reveals The Telling Error, the latest in her Culver Valley Crime series of novels.
Sent to Auschwitz on the first Jewish transport, Rena Kornreich survived the Nazi death camps for over three years. While there she was reunited with her sister Danka. Each day became a struggle to fulfill the promise Rena made to her mother when the family was forced to split apart – a promise to take care of her sister. New research informs this event, based on the original transport list that Macadam found in the archives of Yad Vashem with all 998 names of the first women in Auschwitz on it — 297 of whom were teenagers. Chaired by Sarah Crompton.
Reason, we are told, is what makes us human, the source of our knowledge and wisdom. But if reason is so useful, why didn’t it also evolve in other animals? If it is that reliable, why do we produce so much thoroughly reasoned nonsense? Mercier’s provocative and brilliant suggestion is that reason helps us justify our beliefs and actions to others, convince them through argument and evaluate the justifications and arguments that they address to us.
Also drawing upon an epic poem and an intimate portrait of a serving Swansea soldier, Nawr Yr Arwr \ Now The Hero brings the stories of war to life but counterpoints the tragic telling with hope. At its heart is a site specific Requiem, realised from a collaboration between the late Oscar-nominated Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhansson and Owen Morgan Roberts; with a libretto by BAFTA nominated writer Owen Sheers. Artist Owen Griffiths (Arts Council of Wales Creative Ambassador) will also join the conversation to discuss his contribution to the project – the creation of an edible landscape and harvest gathering, as featured in Brangwyn's paintings.
Rees introduces the concepts of Nawr Yr Arwr \ Now The Hero and discusses Sheers’ response to the ancient Celtic poem Y Gododdin; Roberts’ interpretation of this in musical form in a specific setting; and Griffiths unique interpretation of paintings as war memorials in contemporary landscape.
Chaired by Jasper Rees.
Now The Hero is the highlight in Wales for the final year of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.
Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri, author of The Famished Road, Astonishing the Gods and The Age of Magic, reads from his recent work and talks to Sean Rocks, presenter of Arena on RTÉ Radio 1.
Photo by Daniel Mordzinski
The bestselling novelist launches his new crime series. Twenty years ago seven rich, privileged students became friends at their exclusive private school, Potter’s Field. Now they have started dying in the most violent way imaginable. Cometh Detective Max Wolfe…
The classicist celebrates the spectacular anniversary of the birth of the ‘father of history’. Herodotus was a great, infinitely curious investigator and a digressive storyteller, whose Histories are the source of so much of what we know of the ancient world. Cartledge is AG Leventis Professor Emeritus of Greek Culture at Cambridge. His many books include The Greeks; Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed The World; After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars; The Spartans.
Pale Sister, written by Colm Tóibín for the great Beckett actress Lisa Dwan, is a dramatisation of the voice of Ismene, the sister of Antigone, who recounts her sister's defiance of the king as pressures mount on Ismene herself to act to vindicate her sister, or even follow her example. It arises from The Antigone Project, a course taught at Columbia University by Dwan and Tóibín, which examined the ways in which this story – a woman’s powerlessness emerging as power, conscience versus law, defiance versus might, protest versus order, individual versus authority. It runs for one hour and 15 minutes and will be followed by a discussion.
If the political decision is difficult, what will the practical delivery be like? How can it be done? By whom? And when? Maddox is the Director of the Institute for Government; Lord Burns was Permanent Secretary to the Treasury in the 1990s; Pryce was joint head of the Government’s Economic Service until 2010, and is the author of Greekonomics; Allen Green writes the Jack of Kent blog and is the author of Brexit: What Everyone Needs to Know.
Val McDermid is one of the bestselling authors of thriller novels in the English-speaking world. Her prolific literary work, which has been translated into more than 30 languages, includes titles such as The Wire in the Blood, The Distant Echo and her latest work The Retribution. She has received the prestigious CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger prize, awarded for her contribution to the genre throughout her career. She talks to writer and contributor for The Guardian, Giles Tremlett.
Simultaneous translation from English into Spanish.
Co-organized with the British Council
Jones mixes cultural investigation, art appreciation and dental history in an ingenious and wonderfully entertaining account of how we only learned to really smile in Revolutionary France. Colin Jones is Professor of History at Queen Mary University of London. He talks to Rothschild, winner of the Wodehouse Prize and chair of the National Gallery.