History-making Historians

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Velvet Revolution 1989What happens when the historians are part of the history? Timothy Garton Ash, the Oxford-educated, self-styled writer of the ‘history of the present’, has just re-published his book, The File: A Personal History, the story of coming to terms with the Stasi informers and secret police who kept his file from the time he arrived in Berlin in the late 1970s. His story is an interesting one. Drawn to Berlin initially to work on Hitler for a postgraduate degree, he rubbed shoulders with some of Eastern Europe’s most prominent dissidents, writing and commenting on the processes leading up to the velvet revolutions of 1989 and beyond.

He also makes for a fascinating interviewee, as his recent conversation with Philip Dodd on the BBC Radio 3’s Night Waves shows – in 45 minutes they manage to get through 1970s Berlin, Orwell, Iran, Obama and American foreign policy, the velvet revolutions, historical psychology and much more. Here on Pue’s Occurrences we are fans of interviewing those who work in the Irish history industry, with plenty more great interviews lined up for the coming months (had to get the plug in), but I thought on this occasion, you might like to hear from someone farther afield. You can listen to the programme below, or click here to download the mp3 to bring it with you.

Hat tip (again) to Speechification for archiving this show and bringing it to my attention.

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2 Responses to “History-making Historians”

  1. Edward Madigan Says:

    Alright Kevin – many thanks for putting up the TGA interview. Very interesting altogether, and I don’t know how I would have heard it otherwise.

    All the best, Ed

    • puesoccurrences Says:

      No problem Ed. That’s the great thing about the internet – and podcasts – the things that would otherwise pass you by are there in perpetuity waiting to be found. It helps, of course, that Garton Ash makes such a fascinating interviewee and that the interviewer has clearly read his material in detail and is prepared to question him on it, all of which only adds to the strength of the interview. More of this kind of material would be most welcome.

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