Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Nerva and Trajan: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 3 Part 2

Whatever we may think of the model created by Augustus - it had staying power. Augustus reigned from 27BC. There was an emperor on the throne continually until 479AD - just over 500 years.

Continue reading at the new home of the blog http://historybooksreview.co.uk/nerva-and-trajan-gibbons-decline-and-fall/

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Podcasting - Beginning to get to grips with it

"So Colin", someone could very easily say to me,"okay so you've read lots of history books, but you can't speak, you can't write and you don't know anything about recording technology or the internet. So how are you going to produce history podcasts?"

Good points. I am well aware of my weaknesses. But I have this possibly misplaced faith in the power of bodging it as you go along in the hope that it will all come right in the end. I am very impressed by the way Mike Duncan's History of Rome podcast has got better and better. I admit that his earliest ones were much better than my first efforts have been, but if I can match his rate of improvement I might get to a level not far behind where he started.

Anyway, state of play at the moment is I have just about managed to get the very first few minutes of my very first podcast loaded up in the form of the audio track to a movie. The movie is fairly uninteresting as it is simply a photo of a statue of Augustus. I have worked out how to create an MP3 and do basic editing. I have the script for the first podcast written and I have recorded the whole thing, only to discover that the quality is too low to do anything with.

I need to work out how to add titles and things, and maybe short animations for maps and things. It would be good to be able to display maps with the Roman names for places for instance. I also need to work out how to get a podcast onto Blogger as well. I am sure it can be done.

But I think I will be able to sort out the technical side of things. I really need to work on my writing skills. It is much harder than I thought to write a script that sounds okay spoken out loud. And I don't have a naturally clear or charismatic voice. This is going to take some working at. In particular, I find I speak really quickly when I am interested in something.

My biggest problem is simply finding somewhere to actually record. I am too embarassed to do it in the house when anyone else is at home.

But all in all, I am pleased that I have got even this far. I know this is something I have been at for over a year now and the actual amount of stuff that has got the Internet is still pathetically small, but I feel the project is now moving and it is something so far out of my comfort zone that even getting this far is something of an achievement.

The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson

Right click on the link (control click on the Mac) to download the Ascent of Money podcast, or just click on it to listen now.

Imagine you are running a world superpower, but you are a bit strapped for cash. Your enemies all seem to be well funded, and you can't keep up with them. Who do you turn to?

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Augustus Returns to Rome: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 3

Gossip must have been at fever pitch in Rome in 27BC. Whenever somebody new takes over, there is always a lot of speculation ahead of their arrival. But there can't have been many situations where quite so many people had quite so little clue about what was going to happen next.

Augustus returned in victory to Rome after 20 years of civil war. With 44 legions behind him he could do whatever he chose. He could have declared himself a king, or a dictator or even a God. But publicly he was modest in his ambitions. An account has survived of his speech to the Senate. "He was now at liberty to satisfy his duty and his inclination. He solemnly restored the senate and people to all their ancient rights; and wished only to mingle with the crowd of his fellow-citizens, and to share the blessings which he had obtained for his country." He went on to explain that he was simply the unfortunate victim of circumstances. The grave situation had forced him to act out of character.

Continue reading on the new blog site http://historybooksreview.co.uk/augustus-returns-to-rome-gibbons-decline-and-fall/