27 Dec 2017

Best features of 2017: the historians

6:55 am on 30 December 2017

Paul Ham: 'Hitler would have millions of adherents today'

Until Germany's humiliating WWI defeat ignited his ambitions and hatred, Adolf Hitler was more a 'reject' than a monster, says Australian historian Paul Ham.

No caption

Photo: Supplied

The shoes that changed sport

In his book Golden Kicks, sneakerhead Jason Coles charts how so many popular sports shoe brands, from the Stan Smith to the Converse All Star, have vaulted from the running track, football field or tennis court into popular culture.

Golden Kicks Cover

Golden Kicks Cover Photo: Supplied

Stephen Fry: comic god on why Greek myths are the best

Stephen Fry fell in love with Greek mythology as a young boy. Now the acclaimed British actor, comedian and writer has written a book about them: Mythos - The Greek Myths Retold.

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry Photo: Flickr

Buddy Mikaere on the Battle of Gate Pā

At the Battle of Gate Pā, 200 Māori faced 1,700 colonial troops and their artillery. Author Buddy Mikaere discusses the events leading up to and following the battle.

Buddy at Saint George's Anglican Church, Gate Pa.

Buddy at Saint George's Anglican Church, Gate Pa. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Jane Tolerton: the forgotten Kiwi women of WWI

We may have been the first country to give women the vote, but the New Zealand women who served as doctors, ambulance drivers and munitions workers World War I have largely been left out of our written history - until now.

Jane Tolerton holding a photo of the NZ Volunteer Sisterhood before the first group left Wellington for Egypt in October 1915. Hatless in the middle is Ettie Rout, the one woman associated with NZ in WWI whose name is well known.

Jane Tolerton holding a photo of the NZ Volunteer Sisterhood before the first group left Wellington for Egypt in October 1915. Hatless in the middle is Ettie Rout, the one woman associated with NZ in WWI whose name is well known. Photo: Bev Short

Niall Ferguson: contrarian historian

Hierarchical structures are needed for order and security, but we also need networks if we're to have innovation, historian Niall Ferguson says in his new book.

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson Photo: Tom Barnes

Origin of the specious: America's problem with facts

The idea held by some Americans that one can simply choose to consider beliefs or opinions as facts goes back long before 'fake news', argues writer and SPY magazine co-founder Kurt Andersen.

Kurt Andersen

Kurt Andersen Photo: Thomas Hart Shelby

From slavery to obesity - the history of sugar

When the western world developed a sweet tooth in the 16th century, 12 million slaves were snatched from Africa and sent to the Americas to serve what was becoming an addiction.

no caption

Sugarcane production Photo: AFP / FILE

'We need some uncomfortable conversations about cultural identity'

A persistent streak of anti-Asian sentiment is rooted in the history of New Zealand, says Emma Ng, a second-generation Chinese New Zealander and author of the new book Old Asian, New Asian.

Emma Ng

Emma Ng Photo: supplied

Harry Leslie Smith - 'Don't let the mean streets of my past be our future'

94-year-old writer, campaigner and WWII RAF veteran Harry Leslie Smith is still producing books and pushing for the preservation of Britain's National Health Service, better care for the poor and the preservation of democracy.

Harry Leslie Smith

Harry Leslie Smith Photo: Supplied

Sir Wira Gardiner on war and conflict

Sir Wira Gardiner provides insights into the Battle of Passchendaele, the Battle of Stalingrad, Māori involvement in World War I and World War II and the New Zealand Land Wars.

Historian and author Wira Gardiner is currently working on his next book about B Company of the 28th Māori Battalion.

Historian and author Wira Gardiner is currently working on his next book about B Company of the 28th Māori Battalion. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Robert Proctor: "The golden age of ignorance"

In this era of 'post-truth' and 'fake news' who do we turn to to find out what's real and what's not? Stanford science historian Robert Proctor is an expert on ignorance.

Robert Proctor

Robert Proctor Photo: Linda A. Cicero

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes