Monday, March 26, 2012

Podcast review - Historyzine

Duke of Marlborough:
Big hair isn't restricted to '80s soft-metal bands!
Jim Mowatt's Historyzine podcast has kept me entertained and informed over the last couple of weeks with his combination of history podcast and book reviews, interviews, historical etymology lessons and his narrative history of the War of the Spanish Succession (WSS).

 I've really enjoyed this series with Jim's engaging Northern accent gently but enthusiastically, walking me through the intricacies of the WSS and the Duke of Marlborough's part in it all. While, not surprisingly, focusing a lot on Marlborough's role in the wars, Jim doesn't neglect the other theatres including Italy and Spain itself, which I knew next to nothing about. There were interesting similarities between this war and the Napoleonic Wars; both wars being an attempt on the part of the Allies to limit the power of a France led by an aggressive ruler determined to make France the dominant power in Europe. Both wars involved sending a British army to the Iberian Peninsula and both also involved a struggle for control of the sea. Both saw the emergence of a talented British general truly head and shoulders above the crowd in terms of tactical and strategic ability.

The differences are also clear, however. The Dutch were a major ally in the WSS and another able allied leader existed in the person of Eugene, Duke of Savoy. The Spanish campaign was more or less a sideshow when compared to the major allied efforts in the Low Countries and southern Germany. The war petered out due to political and military exhaustion on both sides, and while Wellington's name was made by his role in the Napoleonic Wars, Marlborough's was destroyed, despite his military brilliance. Likewise, Holland was ruined as a major power, bankrupted by the cost of the war and ending without the hoped for territorial gains in modern Belgium (or the Spanish Netherlands as it was known at the time), whereas Prussia came out of the war enhanced as a kingdom, set on the road to expansion for the following 2 centuries. Louis IV remained on the throne at the end of the war, unlike Napoleon, and the balance of power was restored, more or less, until the next time.

Jim's podcast reviews and little lessons on the origins of words and phrases at the start of each podcast irritated me to begin with as I was more interested in the main history narrative of the show, but over time I came to enjoy his reviews as it shows his passion for history and the medium of podcasting. His enthusiasm is infectious; I may well take up some of his suggested listening recommendations later. His little historical word of the day bit is a little bit of fluff; entertaining, but irrelevant really.

The biggest problem, though, is that after investing in the time listening to 19 episodes, and being thoroughly entertained and educated, the series abruptly ends with no more shows to wrap up the narrative of the WSS or indeed any explanations as to what has happened or when or if we can expect any more from Jim!

1 comment:

  1. I have listened to the whole series and it was informative and engaging. I worry what has happened to Jim?


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