The full programme is available for this year’s festival, 25 May to 4 June. We very much look forward to seeing you in Hay.
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Ellie’s father Sven and uncle Jacob, both leading scientists, led the XU Norwegian Resistance movement against the Nazi occupation in WW2. She tells a mesmerising story of espionage and heroism illustrated with artefacts and documents as she traces the survival of the XU all the way through the Cold War until 1988.
Lying at the crucible of Central Europe, the Silesian village of Kupferberg suffered the violence of the Thirty Years War, the Napoleonic Wars, and World War I. After Stalin’s post-World War II redrawing of Poland’s borders, Kupferberg became Miedzianka, a town settled by displaced persons from all over Poland and a new centre of the Eastern Bloc’s uranium-mining industry. Decades of neglect and environmental degradation led to the town being declared uninhabitable, and the population was evacuated. Today, it exists only in ruins, with barely a hundred people living on the unstable ground above its collapsing mines. The journalist and photographer tells its story.
The Egyptian novelist discusses her writing and her heroic Palfest festival, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year with an anthology This Is Not a Border: Reportage and Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature. Soueif’s fiction includes In The Eye of the Sun and The Map of Love. Her non-fiction work includes Cairo: Memoir of a City Transformed.
This event will be recorded for broadcast on the BBC World News programme Talking Books
Kizilhan is a psychologist who persuaded the state of Baden-Württemberg to spend €95m to rescue back to Germany 1,100 Yazidi women between the ages of 55 and eight, who had been enslaved, repeatedly raped, and tortured by IS in Iraq. He tells the stories of his patients and their desire for truth and justice in the face of genocide.
We recommend reading this article about Jan Kizilhan by Philippe Sands - https://www.ft.com/content/2ce55dee-01c7-11e6-ac98-3c15a1aa2e62
Brave, intelligent and deeply controversial, the award-winning author of A Rift in Time, Occupation Diaries, Language of War ~ Language of Peace and Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape explores the devastating effect of Occupation on even the most intimate aspects of life. Looking back over decades of political turmoil, Shehadeh traces the impact on the fragile bonds of friendship across the Israel-Palestine border, and asks whether those considered bitter enemies can come together to forge a common future.
In a tribute to the late frontline journalist Sue Lloyd-Roberts and her posthumously-published book, a panel of three exceptional and indefatigable heroes talk to Joan Bakewell about The War on Women. Lamb is the Foreign Correspondent of The Sunday Times and the author of Farewell Kabul and The Girl from Aleppo. Kennedy is a world-renowned Human Rights lawyer. Jolley is editor of Index on Censorship.
With thanks to Nick Guthrie
In the summer of 1941, at the height of the war in the Western Desert, a bored and eccentric young officer, David Stirling, has a vision for a new kind of war: attacking the enemy where they least expect it – from behind their own lines. Despite the intense opposition of many in British High Command, Winston Churchill personally gives Stirling permission to recruit the toughest, brightest and most ruthless soldiers he can find. With unprecedented access to the SAS secret files, unseen footage and exclusive interviews with its founder members, the author of Operation Mincemeat, A Spy Amongst Friends and Agent Zigzag tells the remarkable early story of the Herefordshire Regiment.
The historian tells the story of the three-in-one great cities of Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul, which has long been the gateway between East and West. Archaeologists have measured 42 layers of human inhabitation here on the Bosphorus over the past 6,000 years. It has been the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman empires and, for many years, was known simply as The City.
Sands’s inquiry into the origins of 'genocide' and 'crimes against humanity' is also a personal quest for his family in the Ukrainian city of Lviv. It won this year’s Baillie Gifford Prize. Hay Festival-goers will have heard Sands explore many of the themes of the story here over the past decade. We revisit East West Street this year to honour one of the greatest works of literature of the festival’s lifetime; a book that might be read around Europe and around the world to inform the way contemporary history is developing.
Bellaigue tells the forgotten stories of key figures and reformers of Islam’s past 200 years in The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle Between Faith and Reason; from Egypt’s visionary ruler Muhammad Ali to brave radicals such as Iran’s first feminist Qurrat al-Ayn. Terror in France: The Rise of Jihad in the West by Gilles Kepel is the explosive account of the radicalisation of a segment of Muslim youth that led to the 2016 atrocities at Bataclan and in Nice, and of the failure of governments in France and across Europe to address it.
The poignant story of Boabdil, the last Muslim king of Granada. Betrayed by his family and undermined by faction and internal conflict, Boabdil was defeated in 1492 by the forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of the newly united kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. The Christian victory marked the completion of the long Christian reconquest of Spain and ended seven centuries in which Christians, Muslims and Jews had, for the most part, lived peacefully and profitably together in La Convivencia.
20 years ago, in May 1997, the world watched as Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess player in the world, was defeated for the first time by the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. He talks to the Hay Festival President about a watershed moment in the history of technology: machine intelligence had arrived at the point where it could best human intellect.
It wasn’t a coincidence that Kasparov became the symbol of man’s fight against the machines. Chess has long been the fulcrum in development of machine intelligence; the hoax automaton ‘The Turk’ in the 18th century and Alan Turing’s first chess program in 1952 were two early examples of the quest for machines to think like humans a talent we measured by their ability to beat their creators at chess. As the pre-eminent chessmaster of the ’80s and ’90s, it was Kasparov’s blessing and his curse to play against each generation’s strongest computer champions, contributing to their development and advancing the field.
Like all passionate competitors, Kasparov has taken his defeat and learned from it. He has devoted much energy to devising ways in which humans can partner with machines in order to produce results better than either can achieve alone. During the 20 years since playing Deep Blue, he has played both with and against machines, learning a great deal about our vital relationship with our most remarkable creations. Ultimately, he has become convinced that by embracing the competition between human and machine intelligence, we can spend less time worrying about being replaced and more thinking of new challenges to conquer.
Kasparov tells his side of the story of Deep Blue for the first time – what it was like to strategize against an implacable, untiring opponent – the mistakes he made and the reasons the odds were against him. And he tells his story of AI more generally, and how he has evolved to embrace it, taking part in an urgent debate with philosophers worried about human values, programmers creating self-learning neural networks, and engineers of cutting-edge robotics.
His previous book was Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped.
Veering between carnival and apocalypse, Mexico has in the past ten years become the epicentre of the international drug trade. The so-called war on drugs has been a brutal and chaotic failure: more than 160,000 lives have been lost. The drug cartels and the forces of law and order are often in collusion; corruption is everywhere. Life is cheap, and inconvenient people – the poor, the unlucky, the honest or the inquisitive – become the ‘disappeared’, leaving not a trace behind. In September 2015, more than 26,798 were officially registered as ‘not located’. Yet people in all walks of life have refused to give up. Hernandez gives a chilling account of the ‘disappearance'” of 43 students. Cacho describes what it’s like to live every day as a journalist under threat of death.
In the wake of Colombia’s 2016 Peace Agreement, which put an end to more than 60 years of civil war, the philosopher and law professor reimagines our understanding of conflict, of truth, reconciliation and justice. Guardiola-Rivera is the author of What if Latin America Ruled the World?, Story of a Death Foretold and the forthcoming A New Art of War. Chaired by Helena Kennedy.
In 1609, the entire Muslim population of Spain was given three days to leave Spanish territory or be killed. In a brutal and traumatic exodus, entire families were forced to abandon the homes and villages where they had lived for generations. An estimated 300,000 Muslims had been removed from Spanish territory, making it – then – the largest act of ethnic cleansing in European history. Chaired by Abdul-Rehman Malik.
The renowned surgeon will talk about his most recent experiences on the frontline in Aleppo and how his roots in west Wales shaped his life. Born in Carmarthen, Nott is famous for his work in disaster and war zones the world over, including Syria, Afghanistan, Gaza and Iraq. Hedelivers the sixth annual Welsh affairs lecture dedicated to the late BBC Wales broadcaster.
Broadcast on Monday 29 May at 6.30PM on BBC Radio Wales
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.
The harrowing story of an American traitor who sold out his country to the Russian president. Noel Field, once a well-meaning and privileged American working in the State Department, spied for the Soviets during the 1930s and -40s. Later, a pawn in Stalin’s sinister master strategy, Field was kidnapped and tortured by the KGB, and forced to testify against his own Communist comrades. Marton is an award-winning journalist, a human rights campaigner, and the author of Enemies of the People and The Great Escape.
2017 marks 100 years since the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as Passchendaele. One of those who fell in battle was Ellis Humphrey Evans, the poet from Meirionnydd whose Bardic name was Hedd Wyn. He died before being announced winner of the Chair at the National Eisteddfod in Birkenhead. The empty chair was draped in black, and Hedd Wyn is still remembered throughout Wales, as he is in Flanders, as a potent symbol of bloodshed and loss. Ifor ap Glyn will talk about the life, work and remarkable legacy of Hedd Wyn.
Questions of masculinity have been at the heart of Sheers’ writing for 20 years, in his plays Mametz and The Two Worlds of Charlie F, in his fiction Resistance and I Saw A Man, and in his poetry – most clearly in Pink Mist. In 2012 he was also artist in residence with the Welsh Rugby Union. Here he interrogates ideas of masculinity in essay form, and reimagines a man’s world.
Mixing extensive research and testimony from survivors with a searing analysis of the decision-making of the Nazi state, the distinguished film-maker and historian’s landmark work answers two of the most fundamental questions in history – how, and why, did the holocaust happen?
Stroud tells the true stories of the SOE heroines who fought with the Resistance to free Nazi-occupied France. He is joined by Tania Szabó, who has also written a book about one of those agents, her mother: Young, Brave and Beautiful: The Missions of Special Operations Executive Agent Lieutenant Violette Szabó, George Cross, Croix de Guerre avec Étoile de Bronze.
The true story of a lethal spy triangle with three men at its centre – a brilliant, ruthless, British secret agent called Roger Landes; the Gestapo counter-espionage officer Friedrich Dohse, who was charged with finding him; and French Resistance leader André Grandclément, who was responsible for the most controversial betrayal that took place in wartime France. From 1942 until 1944 these three enemies were drawn into a lethal dance in which comrades, Allied agents and downed pilots were sold to the Germans as casually as crates of wine. Chaired by Sarfraz Manzoor.
The German writer’s astounding investigation shows that the Third Reich was permeated with drugs: cocaine, heroin, morphine and, most of all, methamphetamines – or crystal meth. Everyone from factory workers to housewives, and, crucially the troops, used drugs. The promiscuous use of drugs at the very highest levels also impaired and confused decision-making. Hitler and his entourage took refuge in potentially lethal cocktails of stimulants administered by the physician Dr Morell.
Herefordshire in 1913 was an old-fashioned shire under the benevolent rule of the Church and the gentry. Its bishop was opposed to war and his successor was opposed to women’s suffrage. Many of its farmers refused to plough on a Sunday: many more regarded women as being incapable of farm work. By 1919 the shire was in mourning for more than 4,000 men, had employed 4,000-plus women in munitions factories and another 2,500 on farms. It had deprived more children of a proper education than any other English county.
Amid the number counting and hysteria about the refugee crisis, the voices of those who have fled conflict and persecution can be lost. Join us for readings from women across the world who have sought protection in the UK and learnt English with the British Red Cross in South Wales, where they have been writing about their experiences from the point of departure to their arrival in Britain.
War, glory, despair and mourning: for 2,700 years Homer has gripped listeners and readers with the stories of Achilles’ anger and Hector’s death, and of Odysseus’ decade-long journey home from Troy. Verity discusses his vigorous and elegant new translations with Peter Florence.
The distinguished anthropologist presents a dazzling, panoramic account of the history and achievements of Native North Americans and why they matter today. He suggests that no understanding of the wider world is possible without comprehending the original inhabitants of the United States and Canada: Native Americans, First Nations and Arctic peoples.
The war historian explains the different challenges faced by the RAF and the Luftwaffe in 1940, the technologies of the planes and, above all, the skill, bravery and endurance of the airmen engaged in a contest that was of critical importance to the outcome of the Second World War.