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Sometimes, we reshape the contents of this magazine in reaction to breaking news. In other instances, our longplanned themes reflect news headlines with eerie precision. Such was the case when, on 28 October, Jair Bolsonaro claimed victory in Brazil’s general election. A populist politician with extreme views on social issues including immigration and homosexuality, Bolsonaro seemed to strike a chord with a sizeable proportion of the nation’s people: he secured victory with 55% of the vote.

The issue you now hold in your hands was already nearly complete by the time that result was confirmed. But it’s certainly possible to see his win as just the latest example of a global trend towards increasingly polarised politics. From the rise of Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland party to Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro, does this pattern represent a new era of extremism? And, if so, how does it compare with historical examples? Those are the questions we put to our expert panel, and you can read their thoughts starting on page 18.

A week after the Brazilian election, news broke of the trial in Germany of a former SS guard accused of complicity in mass murder at a concentration camp. It’s the latest in a long series of legal proceedings


attempting to convict former Nazis, a process that illuminates the complex topic of how to ensure justice, in every sense of the word, for both perpetrators and victims of that almost unimaginably horrific violence. How, 75 years on, should we remember the Holocaust? Mary Fulbrook and Richard J Evans tackle that question on page 72.

Elsewhere, we step away from current affairs with two stories that cast the familiar in a new light. On page 52, Celia Hatton traces the surprising journey of the instant noodle, from its invention in Japan 60 years ago to US prisons today, via China’s boomtime factories. And, on page 60, Mark Burman charts the course of ‘Ol’ Man River’, the hit centrepiece of the musical Show Boat that evolved to become a song with a social impact felt as far afield as Spain and India.

As always, there’s much else besides, from an early trek across Canada to a look at the cultural treasures of medieval Africa. We’ll be back on 31 January; in the meantime, enjoy the issue – and the final weeks of 2018. Ma Elton Editor, BBC World Histories

Together with two regular titles, the BBC History Magazine team also produces a bi-weekly podcast, live events and a range of special editions exploring specific topics and periods

Available around the world, BBC History Magazine is published 13 times a year in print and many digital editions. Turn to page 51 for our latest subscription offer.


Launched in 2016, BBC World Histories complements BBC History Magazine and is published every two months.




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