March 4th, 2010

never there

Making of Modern Britain; Secrets of Egypt - Cleopatra

This episode of Making of Modern Britain (the last one) was about World War II. It's kinda weird how little I actually know of the details of WWII, what I've got is more a knowledge of the broad sweep of it in a more emotional sense - Dunkirk spirit, the blitz not breaking the spirit of the great British public, D-Day, the horrors of Auschwitz etc only discovered afterwards, US nuking Japan. But I didn't know things like how we'd interned our Italians & Germans & Austrians on the Isle of Man (maybe it saved them from mobs, but it's still wrong), I knew we'd bombed German cities (like Dresden) but didn't know it had been done based on fiddled stats and some half-arsed idea it'd break the German public's spirit despite knowing the Germans bombing us hadn't had that effect. I also hadn't known how close it had come to the British negotiating peace after Dunkirk, that would've changed the face of the present and I don't think I'd like to live in the world that would've created. Also interesting was the UK trading military scientific advances with US to try & bring them into the war - how we were more up-to-date with radar (for instance) than the US at the time.

Overall that's been a very interesting series, I'm going to buy the book, I think. I know for his other series (A History of Modern Britain) the book was as good as the programmes & had more details.

As we'd run out of Michael Palin in the Sahara our second programme of the evening was about ancient Egypt - Secrets of Egypt: Cleopatra. Obviously about "the" Cleopatra, Cleopatra VII who ruled right before the Romans took over Egypt, lover of Julius Caesar & Mark Antony. J winced a bit at some of it saying it was over-simplified (he'd just finished reading the bit of "The Complete Royal Families of Egypt" (by Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton) on the Ptolemys and they seem to've been a bit of an incestuous soap opera of a dynasty, so the programme simplified things down quite a bit to keep it on message). But overall a very interesting programme, portraying Cleopatra as canny politician not a nymphomaniac with a taste for Romans (as later Romans would have one believe). And it had its fair share of "been there" moments as they showed us bits of the temples at Dendara, Karnak and Edfu :)