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Tom Holland

The Christopher Hitchens Lecture: De-radicalising Muhammad

Hay Festival 2015, 

What do the Charlie Hebdo murders and the rise of the Islamic State owe to Islam? It would be comforting to insist, as many have done, that they owe nothing at all; but Holland, in the inaugural Christopher Hitchens Lecture, argues that the truth is more complex. The best way to combat jihadism, he proposes, is to recognise the centrality of Muhammad to Islam – and that he comes in many forms. There is the moral leader who swallowed abuse peaceably; and there is the war leader who ordered people who insulted him put to death. How best, then, to de-radicalise the Prophet? Tom Holland is author of In The Shadow of the Sword, Rubicon, Persian Fire, Millennium and the new translation of The Histories by Herodotus. Chaired by Katrin Bennhold of the New York Times.

Tom Holland

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Terry Pratchett talks to Rob Wilkins

Hay Festival 2012, 
The brilliantly inventive creator of Discworld discusses his work and life

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Hugh Ellis, Peter Ellis, Kate Henderson, Derek Hooper, David Lock, Fiona Mannion and Diane Smith

Love, Life & Liberty

Hay Festival 2013, 

A journey through Britain’s radical tradition of utopian art and politics. The performance of music and readings spans 350 years from The Diggers to Bruce Springsteen, and captures the spirit of hope and vision that once transformed the nation. Music performed by Chris Ellis and Rosie Toll.

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Joan Bakewell

The Eric Hobsbawm Lecture

Hay Festival 2014, 

Why History Matters

The writer and broadcaster who succeeded Hobsbawm as President of Birkbeck gives the inaugural lecture in his name, in this year of resonant anniversaries. Chaired by Oscar Guardiola Rivera.

Joan Bakewell

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Jeremy Paxman

The Victorians

Hay Festival 2009, 
Starting out from the hugely popular masterpieces of Victorian art, the grand inquisitor challenges our assumptions about the birth of modern Britain.

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Niall Ferguson

The Barclays Wealth Lecture: Civilization – The West and The Rest

Hay Festival 2011, 
If the West’s ascendancy over the last 500 years is based on six ‘killer applications’ – competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism and the work ethic – then what happens now?
 
Read an article by Niall Ferguson www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/

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Christopher Hitchens talks to Ian McEwan

God Is Not Great

London Events 2007, 
Christopher Hitchens presents his case against religion to a London audience. He talks to Ian McEwan.

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Brian May & Elena Vidal

A Village Lost and Found

Hay Festival 2010, 
A painstaking excavation of exquisite stereo photographs from the dawn of photography transports us back in time to the lost world of an Oxfordshire village of the 1850s. Pioneering stereographer TR Williams created these powerfully atmospheric views of rural society in 1856, and here today they burst into glorious 3D life.
Brian May & Elena Vidal

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Stephen Fry

More Fool Me

Hay Festival 2015, 

Ultra-high-functioning addict meets gravity in this latest volume of autobiography. The writer and actor talks to Peter Florence.

Stephen Fry

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Andrew Roberts

How Hitler Lost the Second World War

Cartagena 2010, 
The British historian and journalist Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War, has analysed the conflict in which more than 50 million people died. Were the German generals that blamed Hitler for the defeat right, or did they just incriminate him to hide their own mistakes? 

This event is in English. Simultaneous translation from English to Spanish available.

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Yuval Noah Harari talks to Anita Anand

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Hay Festival 2015, 

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, palaeontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?

This event was recorded for broadcast on the BBC World News programme Talking Books.

Yuval Noah Harari talks to Anita Anand

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Elizabeth Chapman

The LSE Lecture: 100 Years And Counting

Hay Festival 2013, 

In 2013 the collections of the Women’s Library move to join those at the Library of the London School of Economics to create a powerful resource for discovering the history of campaigning women. The Library Director explores some of the stories revealed in the collections. Chaired by Gaby Wood.

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Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig and guests

What Do We Want?

Hay Festival 2015, 

Eight hundred years after a gang of barons met in a tent by a river, which Rights do we want to fight for today? A fortnight after what looks like a rough old election, let’s dream about what a better world might look like and talk about how that might be achieved.

The festival President hosts this first in a Magna Carta series of twenty events at Hay Festival 2015, and is joined by international guests to discuss equalities.

Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig and guests

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Eric Hobsbawm and Niall Ferguson

After Versailles

Hay Festival 2009, 
The two historians discuss the Versailles Treaty of 1919 and its influence on the world today. Chaired by Philippe Sands.

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Paul Roberts

Life And Death In Pompeii And Herculaneum

Hay Festival 2013, 

An exploration of the lives of the ordinary people of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the two cities on the Bay of Naples that were buried by the catastrophic volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. The plaster-cast bodies of the victims are the most vivid and shocking reminders of the horrific event that made Pompeii famous, but who were these men, women and children so cruelly frozen in time?

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Hans Blix talks to Jon Snow

The Joseph Rotblat Lecture 2013

Hay Festival 2013, 

This year’s lecture is given by the Swedish politician and diplomat. As Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency he led the Western inspection and response to the Chernobyl disaster. As head of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission he led the search for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq between 2000 and 2003, finding none. Chaired by Jon Snow.

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Sergio Cabrera and William Ospina in conversation with Juan Carlos Pérez Flórez

History and Television

Cartagena 2010, 
The stormy relationship between the small screen and the history of Colombia has led to a shortage of history programmes on Colombian TV. Why does television pay so little heed to the country's past? Is it true that history is not strong enough to fight for the ratings against Miss Colombia contests and drug dealing? Experts Sergio Cabrera and William Ospina analyse the pros and the cons of a genre that was once crowned with laurels and now struggles to rise from its own ashes. Chaired by Juan Carlos Pérez Flórez.

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Simon Schama, Niall Ferguson, Gary Younge and David Reynolds talk to Bronwen Maddox

Obama’s America

Hay Festival 2010, 
The historians set the current US administration and its achievements in context.
Simon Schama, Niall Ferguson, Gary Younge and David Reynolds talk to Bronwen Maddox

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Elizabeth Haycox and Paul Greatbatch, Nancy Lavin Albert and Justin Albert, Andrew Craven, Elizabeth Evans-Bevan, Lyndy Cooke and Peter Florence

Hay Castle Trust

Hay Festival 2012, 
Come and meet the Trustees and Directors of the newly-formed Hay Castle Trust and hear about the restoration and curation project of the medieval castle in the centre of Hay.
 
FREE BUT TICKETED

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Al Murray/The Pub Landlord Double Bill

Hay Festival 2014, 

Listen to an evening with the phenomenal comedian.

Part 1: Watching War Films With My Dad

In the first part Al discusses his passion for history with James Holland. Growing up in the 1970s, Al, with the help of his dad, became fascinated with the history of World War Two. They didn’t go to football; they went to battlefields. Because like so many of his generation whose childhood was all about Airfix, Action Man and Where Eagles Dare, he grew up in the cultural wake of the Second World War…

Part 2: The Pub Landlord – The Only Way Is Epic

In the second part Al brings his legendary stand-up character to Hay Festival. Britain’s most irrepressible inn-keeper will be serving up his premier brew of ale-inspired acumen and bar-room buffoonery.

“An exceptional balancing act. Performing in his short-sleeved white shirt, with a working beer pump behind him, Murray’s interaction with his crowd remains one of the wonders of the comedy world…satire with scope and a real sting.” The Times

“It’s wickedly witty stuff, and the knowledge that Murray is in fact a staunch, rather high-born Europhile with an MA in modern history makes this outwardly boorish satire on British provincialism more seductive still – right down, in fact, to the occasional guilt-ridden moment of doubt as to exactly what it is you’re laughing at.” The Telegraph

Al Murray/The Pub Landlord Double Bill

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Martin Rees, Maggi Dawn, Richard Harries

The Guardian Debate: Is Reason Always Right?

Hay Festival 2010, 
Science and logic are often held up as the only way to answer the modern world’s big questions. But is there a role for instinct, inherited wisdom, or even God? Can religion ever win the intellectual argument? Chaired by Simon Jenkins.
Martin Rees, Maggi Dawn, Richard Harries

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Sandi Toksvig

The Hay Library Lecture

Hay Festival 2015, 

 A celebration of reading and books from the comedian, broadcaster and writer whose books include the novels Hitler’s Canary, Flying Under Bridges and Valentine Grey, children’s stories The Littlest Viking and The Troublesome Tooth Fairy, non-fiction best-sellers Peas & Queues and Girls Are Best and the play Bully Boy. Introduced by Sue Wilkinson.

Sandi Toksvig

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The Hamlin Lecture 2012 - Harry Belafonte talks to David Lammy

My Song - An American Life

Hay Festival 2012, 
The actor, singer and Civil Rights hero, who acted as a conduit between Martin Luther King and the Kennedys, launches his memoir.
 
He began as an actor—and has always thought of himself as such—but was quickly spotted in a musical, began a tentative nightclub career, and soon was on a meteoric rise to become one of the world’s most popular singers. Belafonte was never content to simply be an entertainer, however. Even at enormous personal cost, he could not shy away from activism. At first it was a question of personal dignity: breaking down racial barriers that had never been broken before, achieving an enduring popularity with both white and black audiences. Then his activism broadened to a lifelong, passionate involvement at the heart of the civil rights movement and countless other political and social causes. The sections on the rise of the civil rights movement are perhaps the most moving in the book: his close friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr.; his role as a conduit between Dr. King and the Kennedys; his up-close involvement with the demonstrations and awareness of the hatred and potential violence around him; his devastation at Dr. King’s death and his continuing fight for what he believes is right.
 
But My Song is far more than the history of a movement. It is a very personal look at the people in that movement and the world in which Belafonte has long moved. He has befriended many beloved and important figures in both entertainment and politics—Paul Robeson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sidney Poitier, John F. Kennedy, Marlon Brando, Robert Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Tony Bennett, Bill Clinton—and writes about them with the same exceptional candor with which he reveals himself on every page. This is a book that pulls no punches, and turns both a loving and critical eye on our country’s cultural past.

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Michael Morpurgo

The Mozart Question Concert

Hay Festival 2015, 

Author Michael Morpurgo is joined by actress Alison Reid, violinist Daniel Pioro and The Storyteller’s Ensemble (a quartet of strings). Together they interweave words and music, to tell his haunting tale of survival against the odds, set against the background of the Holocaust. Adapted and directed by Simon Reade.

‘It is difficult for us to imagine how dreadful was the suffering that went on in the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. The enormity of the crime that the Nazis committed is just too overwhelming for us to comprehend. In their attempt to wipe out an entire race they caused the death of six million people, most of them Jews. It is when you hear the stories of the individuals who lived through it – Anne Frank, Primo Levi – that you can begin to understand the horror just a little better, and to understand the evil that caused it.

‘For me, the most haunting image does not come from literature or film, but from music. I learned some time ago that in many of the camps the Nazis selected Jewish prisoners and forced them to play in orchestras; for the musicians it was simply a way to survive. In order to calm the new arrivals at the camps, they were made to serenade them as they were lined up and marched off, many to the gas chambers. Often they played Mozart.

‘I wondered how it must have been for a musician who played in such hellish circumstances, who adored Mozart as I do – what thoughts came when playing Mozart later in life? This was the genesis of my story, this and the sight of a small boy in a square by the Accademia Bridge in Venice, sitting one night, in his pyjamas on his tricycle, listening to a busker. He sat totally enthralled by the music that seemed to him, and to me, to be heavenly.’ Michael Morpurgo.

8+ years
Duration 1 hour 15 minutes. No interval.
Michael Morpurgo

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Justine Roberts, Paul Staines, David Prescott and Jesse Norman

The Internet And The New Constituencies

Hay Festival 2013, 

How are social media, blogging and Twitter changing the way 'consumer voters' connect with politicians? The Mumsnet founder is joined by right-wing Westminster blogger Guido Fawkes, the Labour digital campaigner and the Parliamentarian of the Year to discuss the new political powers.