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WELCOME

NOVEMBER 2020

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It is one of the most celebrated tales of ancient history. A vast Persian army is pitted against 300 Spartan warriors guarding a narrow pass, which they defend with every last drop of blood – inspiring their fellow Greeks to ultimate victory. Thanks in particular to the film 300, few today can be unaware of the legend of Thermopylae, but how far does it accord to the reality? As the world marks the 2,500th anniversary of the battle, Andrew Bayliss looks afresh at Sparta’s finest hour in our cover feature on page 20.

Myths of a very different kind are the focus of this month’s Think Piece, from Richard J Evans. His new book explores the conspiracy theories that swirl around the Third Reich, and in his article he highlights some of the most pervasive – from the burning of the Reichstag to Hitler’s supposed escape to Argentina – as he seeks to explain the popular desire to create an alternative reality around Nazi Germany. You’ll find this on page 59.

Finally, debates have been raging in recent weeks about how we should treat the refugees who are arriving on our shores. A rather different version of these events took place in 1914, when tens of thousands of Belgians sought shelter in Britain during the First World War. As Alison S Fell reveals in her piece on the Belgian refugees, the new arrivals were at first welcomed with enthusiasm, but some disillusionment set in as the war dragged on. Turn to page 28 to discover more. I hope you enjoy the issue.

Rob Attar Editor

THIS ISSUE’S CONTRIBUTORS

Richard J Evans Since I wrote a trilogy on the history of Nazi Germany a couple of decades ago, I’ve noticed more and more conspiracy theories about Hitler and the Nazis have come into circulation, so I thought I’d investigate some of them in depth. Richard probes influential Nazi conspiracy theories on page 59

Angelina Osborne The most appealing thing about researching black Britons in history is bringing to light the lives of individuals who disrupt the narrative as it has been presented to us for many years. Angelina chronicles the lives of seven trailblazing black people who shaped British history on page 66

Neil Oliver As William Faulkner said, the past is never dead. It’s still alive. Even the distant past is still very much alive. I have found opening my mind up to the ways that ancient peoples thought about and understood the universe very helpful. Neil considers how the ancient past can help us make sense of our present on page 74

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