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Prohibition and Boxing in Inter-war America

11 Jun
louis_owens

Above: Joe Louis and Jesse Owens

The two most recent episodes of the American History Too! podcast that I co-host with Mark McLay have covered critical issues in inter-war America. In May we examined the thorny issue of prohibition. Why did it happen? What were the results? Who did it affect? Do bans on alcohol and drugs ever really have any effect?

Most recently, we’ve looked at the intertwined issue of race and sport in the 1930s, with a particular focus on boxer Joe Louis and track superstar Jesse Owens. We were joined by a good friend of the podcast, Fraser McCallum of the Imperial War Museum. Fraser has made fantastic contributions to two previous podcasts, on the JFK assassination and the 1925 Scopes Trial. It was a sad coincidence that the day after we recorded this episode, the great Muhammad Ali – another sporting figure who challenged and transcended the boundaries of racism – passed away.

You can keep up to date with American History Too! on our website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. You can also download all of the podcast episodes from i

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Invisible Peak and Soviet Ice Hockey: Cold War Documentaries

18 May

These videos have been doing the rounds lately, both very interesting in different ways.

Invisible Peak chronicles the Cold War (and after) history of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Mount Tamalpais and the campaign to have it restored to a pre-USAF station state.

Mt. Tamalpais, sentinel peak of the San Francisco Bay Area, is considered sacred by many… native and non-native alike. In 1950, the military bulldozed the highest peak of the mountain to build an Air Force Station tasked with directing jet interceptors and short range Nike nuclear missiles against the potential threat of Russian nuclear bombers. By 1980 the base was obsolete and summarily closed. The military literally walked away from dozens of structures, leaving behind a huge toxic mess on the mountain. Through the use of historical footage, 3D reconstruction, interviews and breathtaking timelapse cinematography, this 20-minute film, narrated and co-written by Peter Coyote, explores the history of Tam’s West Peak and how local citizens have been fighting to restore their mountain to a natural state.

The film is only twenty minutes long and well worth watching as it explores some of the legacies of the Cold War era.

With all the hoopla of the Cannes Film Festival currently ongoing, one of the entrants that I’m very keen to see is the documentary Red Army. It focuses on the mighty Soviet ice hockey teams of the 1970s and 80s and the career of the great Slava Fetisov. Given the significance of ice hockey within the context of the Cold War, it should be fascinating viewing.

 

Fast Cars & Dodgy Regimes

17 Apr

This post takes a little bit of a sideways step away from nuclear history and teaching towards…motor racing?

I’ve enjoyed motorsport since I was a kid and – depsite the ups and downs, the dismal years, and the dodgy politics – maintain a keen interest in Formula One. The hot debate within F1 circles at the moment is over the upcoming Bahrain Grand Prix. Due to the situation in Bahrain, the GP was cancelled last year, very much the right move under the circumstances. People were losing their lives as they protested for greater political freedom, a situation where the sight of a multi-billion pound circus parading around town, flashing its wealth and political connections would be reprehensible, at best.

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