Tag Archives: British Empire

#78 – Notes on The Irish Famine

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In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan examines the claims regarding culpability and blame within the historiography of The Irish Famine (circa 1845-1850). The Irish Famine devastated Ireland’s population: it is estimated to have killed a million people, with around two million more people forced to leave the country. Furthermore, this appalling event is a key example of the uneasy history between Ireland and the United Kingdom. At the time of the Famine, Ireland was a formal part of the UK, following the Act of Union in 1801. Did the British intend to extirpate the Irish, as has often been claimed, or were the British simply incompetent? The genocide charge dominates the historiography of the Famine. This debate over culpability and blame is, of course, a contentious one. This episode, after providing a brief introduction to the Famine, will summarise the competing arguments. This episode includes audio from episode 24 – The Irish Famine: Tragedy and Propaganda, which featured an interview with Professor Liam Kennedy, Emeritus Professor of History at Queen’s University Belfast. Aidan and Professor Kennedy discussed the comparisons made by Irish nationalists between the Irish Famine and the Jewish Holocaust. Professor Kennedy’s most recent book is Unhappy the Land: The Most Oppressed People Ever, the Irish.

Expanded show notes:

#24 – The Irish Famine: Tragedy and Propaganda

‘Blair issues apology for Irish Potato Famine’, The Independent, 1 June 1997.

Bibliography:

D. George Boyce and Alan O’Day, The Making of Modern Irish History: Revisionism and the Revisionist Controversy, (London: Routledge, 1996).

Richard English, Irish Freedom: The History of Nationalism in Ireland, (London: Macmillan, 2007).

Peter Gray, The Irish Famine, (London: Thames & Hudson, 1995).

John Mitchel, ‘The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)’, Boston College Libraries, https://archive.org/details/lastconquestofir00mitc, accessed on 11 February 2018. [Note: Digital version of The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps) (1882). Other publishing dates listed are 1860 and 1873.]

Cormac Ó Gráda, The Great Irish Famine, (Cambridge: Macmillan, 1995).


#71 – Inspiring The Aidan Project

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In a very different edition of the podcast, Aidan takes you behind the scenes of The Aidan Project. Within this reflective podcast, Aidan introduces Inspiring The Aidan Project, a potential separate podcast series which would highlight the men and women whose thinking has inspired Aidan. Aidan then presents a pilot episode for this prospective series; the pilot tells the story of George Orwell. Also in this episode, Aidan offers further reflections on Winston Churchill, following episode 69: The Churchill Myth: Many Dark Hours, and talks about every podcaster’s worst nightmare: a full-length conversation which will never be heard.

Expanded show notes:

#69 – The Churchill Myth: Many Dark Hours

Churchill was flawed like all the greats but his achievements outshine his shortcomings, Sky News, 1 February 2018.

Mary Shores web site

More information on the pilot for Inspiring The Aidan Project:

Copy of Copy of UPSTART

Potential artwork for Inspiring The Aidan Project

Inspiring The Aidan Project is a prospective podcast series, separate to The Aidan Project.

Inspiring would feature five-minute episodes telling the stories of the incredible men and women who have inspired my thinking, for better or worse, according to your preference.

In some instances, I may disagree with certain statements and behaviours of the luminaries in question, but this does not obscure their overall importance. This is because, as Christopher Hitchens so adeptly explained, “The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”

Hitchens, Orwell, Paine, Bentham, Mill, Russell, Gandhi, Voltaire, Luxemburg, Hume, Aristotle and Arendt are examples of notables who have passed on. However, Inspiring would also profile living persons, too. After the introductory episode, each edition would be an episode unto itself, which is to say, you could listen in any order.  Episodes would neither be released in order of how I rank their influence – even if this were possible – nor according to the year of their birth. All episodes must simply meet the criteria, which is principally of being a person who inspired me to think critically. It may be, too, that a given person was somewhat dogmatic and prone to superstition; nevertheless, their immense moral courage and/or grand ideas served to inspire me, thus meriting their inclusion.

I want to pay homage to the men and women who inspired me, because I merely stand on the shoulders of these giants. I hope these persons could inspire you, too.

Your feedback will be important to me: I want to hear what you think of the vision, the format, the pacing, even down to the cover art and podcast’s title! Please get in touch.

After I have collated your feedback, the podcast could be launched as a separate entity to The Aidan Project, to be made available via this web site and via all major podcast providers. Episodes could possibly be released within a number of ‘seasons’, ala Netflix.

Kind regards,
Aidan

Aidan Coughlan
2 February 2018

#69 – The Churchill Myth: Many Dark Hours

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In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan is joined by Christopher Hale, a distinguished freelance executive producer, producer/director and writer, to discuss the less distinguished elements of the career of Winston Churchill. Yet another Churchill film, Darkest Hour, was released on 12 January 2018 in the United Kingdom. The film begins in May 1940, with Churchill about to take on the role of Prime Minister. Indeed, Churchill’s charismatic resilience has defined the popular interpretation of Britain’s experience of the Second World War. However, there is far more to Churchill than his wartime leadership. Indeed, several chapters of the real Churchill story are deeply unpleasant. The Bengal famine of 1943-44, when two million people died, is such an example. What was Churchill’s attitude towards the people of British India? What type of person was Churchill? Was he a racist even by the standards of his time? These questions, and more, including a discussion on remembering the British Empire, are examined on this episode. We must understand our history, all of it, not just the patriotic triumphs, to become a modern democratic nation. ‘Become a modern democratic nation’, you say?

Christopher has numerous documentary credits to his name, for the BBC, Channel 4, Discovery, and National Geographic, amongst other broadcasters. His programs include Why Reading Matters’ for BBC4, ‘The Year the Earth Went Wild for Channel 4, Naked Science: Universe for National Geographic, Oasis of the Golden Mummies for Discovery, Accidents in Space for BBC/Travel Channel, and many more. Christopher’s 2013 book, Massacre in Malaya: Exposing Britain’s My Lai, covers the Malayan Emergency of 1948–1960, which was the longest war waged by British and Commonwealth forces in the twentieth century. Christopher has also written a number of books on wartime Nazi Germany, including Hitler’s Foreign Executioners: Europe’s Dirty Secret.

For more information on Christopher, visit http://www.christopherhalemedia.org/. You can find Christopher on Twitter at https://twitter.com/chalemedia.

Links to items mentioned on this episode:

Peter Hitchens, ‘So uniquely British, but funeral tells a tale of a different country’, Mail Online, 18 January 2015.

Blackadder star Sir Tony Robinson in Michael Gove WW1 row‘, BBC News, 05 January 2014.

The Aidan Project #46 – The Emergency: Empire, Massacre, Duterte

The Aidan Project  #48 – Project Extra: Atlantis Reimagined

Aidan Coughlan on Engel Jones’ podcast


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Coming Soon: Churchill’s Many Dark Hours

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Yet another Winston Churchill film,
Darkest Hour, will be released on 12 January 2018 in the United Kingdom. The film begins in May 1940, with Churchill about to take on the role of Prime Minister. Indeed, Churchill’s charismatic resilience has defined the popular interpretation of Britain’s experience of the Second World War.

However, there is far more to Churchill than his wartime leadership. Indeed, several chapters of the real Churchill story are deeply unpleasant. The Bengal famine of 1943-44, during which two million people died, is such an example. Was Churchill to blame for this tragedy? What was his attitude towards the people of British India? In an upcoming podcast, I will be exploring the darkest elements of the Churchill story.

Do you have any thoughts about Churchill you would like to send across? I would love to hear from you.

I look forward to sharing the new episode with you during the early part of next week.

Aidan.

p.s. For my thoughts on the 2017 film, Dunkirk, please click here.

#46 – The Emergency: Empire, Massacre, Duterte

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The British Empire, and other European powers, began to leave South East Asia in the aftermath of World War 2. The region has changed dramatically since this era; a period when British troops were fighting communists in Malaya, several years before the US attempted its own communist suppression in Vietnam. It was during the British Empire’s response to Chin Peng’s insurgency that the colonial rulers committed an atrocity that could be called ‘Britain’s My Lai’. On this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan is talking to Christopher Hale, a distinguished freelance executive producer, producer/director and writer, to discuss British rule in Malaya, post-colonial South East Asia, press constraints in Malaysia and Singapore, Donald Trump’s tenuous grasp of history, and the incomparable Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte, a man who has claimed to have personally killed criminals, among other controversies. Christopher has numerous documentary credits to his name, for the BBC, Channel 4, Discovery, and National Geographic, amongst other broadcasters. His programs include ‘Why Reading Matters’ for BBC4, ‘The Year the Earth Went Wild’ for Channel 4, ‘Naked Science: Universe’ for National Geographic, ‘Oasis of the Golden Mummies’ for Discovery, ‘Accidents in Space’ for BBC/Travel Channel, and many more. Christopher’s 2013 book, ‘Massacre in Malaya: Exposing Britain’s My Lai’, covers the Malayan Emergency of 1948–1960, which was the longest war waged by British and Commonwealth forces in the twentieth century.  Christopher has also written a number of books on wartime Nazi Germany, including ‘Hitler’s Foreign Executioners: Europe’s Dirty Secret’. For more information on Christopher and to check out his voluminous work, visit http://www.christopherhalemedia.org/. You can find Christopher on Twitter at https://twitter.com/chalemedia.

For more ways to listen, to subscribe to the podcast or to sign-up for e-mail updates when new content is available, please click here.

#42 – Notes on Dunkirk

In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan looks at the glorious myths and gloomy realities of the real Dunkirk, and examines how accurately Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster addresses the bittersweet events of Operation Dynamo. Is the movie mere flag-waving or a true account of the disastrous chaos on the beaches of the French town of Dunkerque in 1940? Did the French receive fair treatment in the film? How does the script handle the German’s costly halt, which allowed so many men to make it off the beaches? If you have not yet seen the film, Aidan will signpost when to press pause to avoid the film review section of this episode. Current events, history and culture merge in this edition of the Aidan Project Podcast – enjoy the episode! Referenced in this podcast is an article Aidan wrote in December 2016. What did you think of the film? You can Tweet Aidan @theaidanproject.

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#28 – Notes on America’s Great War

In this first spoken essay edition of the Aidan Project Podcast, Aidan examines why, and with what effects, the United States opted to enter World War One in 1917. The essay also looks at the idealist US President, Woodrow Wilson, who declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917, following repeated provocations. This essay takes a deliberately contentious look at the US’s role in the war, which adds a few ‘what-ifs’ into the mix for your consideration. Could, or should, the Bolshevik take-over have been snuffed out before it began? What about the conditions for Hitler’s rise to power? The roots exist within World War One and its aftermath. For more Project podcasts on the US involvement in World War One, take a look at the ‘America’s Great War’ two-part series with Dr. Paul Dean. Part one covers the period of US non-belligerence, up until the Zimmermann Telegram. Part two looks at ‘America’s Forgotten War’ from Wilson’s declaration of war, up until the Treaty of Versailles, for which this essay serves as a useful companion piece. You can find a full archive of podcasts at iTunes, YouTube and www.AidanCoughlan.org. Enjoy the essay.

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