Discovering My Family’s Holocaust History (it’s been a strange week…)

Hello, I’m normally a fairly upbeat chap and, if you follow my career, you’ll know I try quite hard to make history entertaining and enjoyable. I am not above writing a gratuitous fart joke (or seven). But please forgive me for this more serious, and painful, post. I’m in a strange mood while writing it,…

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When was the greatest time in history to be alive? Ask the Harappans

Hi, I was recently asked in an interview when in history was the greatest time to be alive? It’s a very difficult question to answer, so I rambled on a bit, but – when pushed – I thought a person would have had a good shot of a decent life in Bronze Age India, during the time…

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Which Big Tent Cost More: #GBBO or Henry VIII’s Field of Cloth of Gold?

Hi! I saw BBC sports journalist Dan Walker tweet this lovely joke about the Great British Bake Off this morning, and it instantly got me thinking. In terms of very expensive tents, history is full of them – Genghis Khan had one, and so did King Xerxes of Persia (it was captured by the enemy,…

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Should TV Dramas Be Historically Accurate?

VERSAILLES – VICTORIA – POLDARK – RIPPER STREET – PEAKY BLINDERS – MAD MEN – REIGN – LINCOLN – THE BIG SHORT – SPOTLIGHT – BRAVEHEART – THE IMITATION GAME – THE BUTLER These are all high profile historical dramas/films. But here’s a question for you: “…should TV dramas & movies be historically accurate?” ——————————————————– As you…

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The Real History Behind The VERSAILLES TV Drama

Introduction Hello! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed watching BBC Two’s lavish import, the Versailles TV drama. Coming from the quills of noted showrunners David Wolstencroft and Simon Mirren, both known for gripping series with a conspiratorial bent (i.e. Spooks), it was no surprise when this drama arrived with a hearty dollop of sex, violence, tension, and intrigue. Speaking as a…

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The Surprising History of Champagne

Yesterday was #NationalWineDay, so I thought I’d post an extract from my book A Million Years In A Day on the surprising history of Champagne. If you enjoy this chapter, I hope you’ll perhaps take a look at the rest of the book, which charts the history of daily life across a modern Saturday. It’s fun, honest! 7…

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MY NEW BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT! The History of Celebrity

Greetings! Depending on how you felt about my first book, I come bearing good/terrible news. Yes, the fine people at Weidenfeld & Nicolson have commissioned me to write a second history book, and this one is all about… *drum roll* …The history of celebrity! Yes, given the huge pervasiveness of celebrity culture in the modern…

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A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY: COMING TO AMERICA, JUNE 2016

THE BRITISH ARE COMING! THE BRITISH ARE COMING! Well, ok, it’s just me. And I’m actually half-French… But anyway, it gives me enormous pleasure to announce that A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY will be published in the USA on the 21st June 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books! To pre-order your copy of the newly updated…

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How Did Women In The Past Deal With Their Periods? The History of Menstruation

Hi! Before you start reading my blog, I’m excited to say that my funny history book A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY : A CURIOUS HISTORY OF DAILY LIFE, FROM THE STONE AGE TO THE PHONE AGE is available around the world in 10 languages. Check out the reviews on Amazon or GoodReads to see what people are saying…

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Who Was Worse – Henry VIII or Ivan the Terrible?

This recent survey by the Historical Writers Association has declared Henry VIII the “worst monarch in history”. I, like many historians on Twitter, find this a fairly ridiculous thing to state – not least because what is being measured when we say “worst”? Is it a moral question, or one of political success? And is…

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