Welcome to our Early Bird programme. The full programme will be released at the end of March.
The diplomat and historian examines the nuclear confrontation between the Soviet Union and the West during the Cold War, and the lessons for managing our difficulties with Russia today. Braithwaite was ambassador in Moscow at the time of the Soviet collapse, and then the Prime Minister's foreign policy adviser and chairman of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee. His books include Across the Moscow River (2002), Moscow 1941 (2006), Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan (2011) and Armageddon and Paranoia: The Nuclear Confrontation (2017). Chaired by Nik Gowing, author of Thinking the Unthinkable: A New Imperative for Leadership in the Digital Age.
Operation Market Garden, the plan to end the war by capturing the bridges leading to the Lower Rhine and beyond, was a bold concept: the Americans thought it unusually bold for Field Marshal Montgomery. But the cost of failure was horrendous, above all for the Dutch who risked everything to help. German reprisals were cruel and lasted until the end of the war. The pre-eminent war historian looks into the very heart of the conflict.
The author of The Bletchley Girls interviewed six centenarians for this wonderful collection of tales: The Final Word From the Women Who’ve Lived the Past Hundred Years of British History. Through the prism of their own experiences and memories, she tells the human story of how women gradually began to build independent lives for themselves in the modern world of post-Great War Britain, by re-telling what their actual day-to-day reality was like, through the decades.
Mayo’s first adult novel weaves Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet through a tense prison drama that sets itself against the epic backdrop of mighty Dartmoor in 1815. The passions unleashed in this riveting account place black against white and Americans against Britons with the stirring soul of a forbidden love caught in between.
A walk on the dark side of globalisation and the all-pervasive organised crime that reaches from Russia to the banks and parliaments of the world, and to every personal computer networked to the web. Bradley is Buzzfeed’s Investigations Correspondent, Glenny is the author of McMafia, Harding is the author of Collusion and a foreign correspondent at the Guardian, Bullough’s forthcoming book is Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks now Rule the World and How to Take it Back.
A rare interview with the former Prime Minister of Israel, the most decorated soldier in his country’s history and author of a new memoir. Barak is a fierce proponent of a two-state solution for a lasting peace with Palestinians, with a shared capital in Jerusalem. He reflects on the current state of the peace process, on Israeli, Arab and American politicians and on the opportunities that are still available.
Bronwen Maddox is the director of The Institute for Government. She was previously editor of Prospect and Foreign Editor of The Times.
Following his hugely celebrated debut novel, The Yellow Birds, Powers returns to the battlefield and its aftermath, this time in his native Virginia, just before and during the Civil War and then 90 years later. The novel pinpoints with unerring emotional depth the nature of random violence, the necessity of love and compassion, and the fragility and preciousness of life.
General Sir Adrian Bradshaw has just stepped down as Deputy Supreme Commander of NATO, having also served as Director of the SAS, and taken a key strategic role in the campaign against Daesh/ISIL. He talks to Nik Gowing, author of Thinking the Unthinkable: A New Imperative for Leadership in the Digital Age.
The human rights lawyer, author of East West Street and President of English PEN examines the state of the contemporary world in the context of the convulsive traumas of the 20th Century that resonate today across Europe, Asia, America and the Middle East. How do we find the language to tell these truths? What do we say? And how might we listen?
To celebrate the centenary of the Armistice of 1918, we have commissioned poets from the main protagonist nations to respond to a Great War poem from their own culture. We have poems in French, Russian, German, Welsh and several forms of English. The new poems will be read today for the first time, in the original language and in English translation alongside the works that inspired them, and other poems of the time. The full cast list will be announced on 20 May.
The two-year-long siege of Acre (1189-1191) was the most significant military engagement of the Third Crusade, attracting armies from across Europe, Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Maghreb. Drawing on a balanced selection of Christian and Muslim sources, the historian introduces his account of this hard-won victory for the Crusaders, when England’s Richard the Lionheart and King Philip Augustus of France joined forces to defeat the Egyptian Sultan Saladin. Chaired by Peter Florence.
Terrorist attacks are designed to 'terrorise, polarise and mobilise' their multiple audiences. In a sense, then, they function as teachable moments, where the perpetrators try to teach 'a lesson' to their 'adversaries'. At the same time, however, governments use these events to instruct the wider public about the risks that have to be managed, and how public life and values will not be modified by them. The Director of the Crime and Security Research Institute shows how by applying cutting-edge social media analytics, we can learn from past attacks about how terrorist violence tries to work.
As Wales marks the centenary of the end of the Great War, author of the Oscar-nominated film Hedd Wyn, and a number of volumes on the Welsh literature of the Great War, Professor Alan Llwyd of Academi Hywel Teifi and Dr Aled Eirug, Morgan Academy, author of two forthcoming publications on the opposition to the War in Wales, will discuss the Welsh response to the call to arms and the effect of the War on the calls for peace. The discussion will be chaired by one of Wales’ leading poets, broadcaster and leading member of Cymdeithas y Cymod (Welsh Fellowship of Reconciliation) Professor Mererid Hopwood, who is also a member of the campaign for the establishment of a Wales Peace Academy.
Between 1941 and 1944, 16,000 plucky homing pigeons were dropped in an arc from Bordeaux to Copenhagen as part of ‘Columba’ – a secret British operation to bring back intelligence from those living under Nazi occupation. The messages flooded back written on tiny pieces of rice paper tucked into canisters and tied to the legs of the birds. Authentic voices from rural France, the Netherlands and Belgium, they were sometimes comic, often tragic and occasionally invaluable with details of German troop movements and fortifications, new Nazi weapons, radar system or the deployment of the feared V-1 and V-2 rockets that terrorised London. At the centre of the story is the ‘Leopold Vindictive’ network – a small group of Belgian villagers prepared to take huge risks. They were led by an extraordinary priest, Joseph Raskin, a man whose intelligence was so valuable it was shown to Churchill, leading MI6 to parachute agents in to assist him.
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.
When Andy Grant’s eyes blinked open from a 10-day coma in February 2009, he was alone in a hospital bed in Birmingham. He had a broken sternum, a broken leg, a broken elbow and shrapnel lodged in both forearms. He had a severed femoral artery, nerve damage to his hands and feet as well as deep gaping wounds in both cheeks. He had been blown up during a routine foot patrol in Afghanistan as a Royal Marine with 45 Commando. He became a gold medallist at the Invictus Games. You’ll Never Walk is his story.
The broadcaster and historian teams up with his wife, Canadian journalist Ann MacMillan, to present the book they wrote together about 34 people who had extraordinary experiences in wartime. They have found tales of stunning individual bravery and resilience in the face of extreme distress over the course of 150 years – from the Charge of the Light Brigade to the Syrian government’s shelling of Homs. They will give a fully illustrated PowerPoint presentation highlighting some of their most gripping stories and talk about how they came to write them.
Major General Arthur Denaro commemorates the centenary of the death of Herefordshire’s only Great War recipient of the Victoria Cross, cited for exemplary leadership and ‘a splendid disregard of danger’ in single-handedly disabling enemy machine gun placements that had been enfilading his entire battalion at Ronssey during the Battle of Épehy.
Every year, the world spends about $2 trillion on wars. The total value of the global arms trade alone was at least $94.5 billion in 2014. The veteran peace campaigner suggests that establishing world peace would cost the global economy just $2 billion. She shows how everybody, from individuals in their communities to diplomats and world leaders, can realistically work together to end interminable cycles of violence and build a better society. Elworthy’s entire working life has been dedicated to building peace. She has been three times a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, and is founder of the Oxford Research Group. Chaired by Sarfraz Manzoor.
After nearly three decades reporting conflict from all over the world for the BBC, Fergal Keane has gone home to Ireland to tell a story that lies at the root of his fascination with war. It is about Irish people who found themselves caught up in the revolution that followed the 1916 Rising, in the pitiless violence of civil war in north Kerry after the British left in 1922, and how the ghosts of the past return to shape the present. It is the story of Keane’s grandmother Hannah Purtill, her brother Mick and his friend Con Brosnan, and how they and their neighbours took up guns to fight the British Empire and create an independent Ireland. It is the story of another Irishman, too, Tobias O’Sullivan, who fought against them as a policeman because he believed it was his duty to uphold the law of his country. He talks to Peter Florence.