9 episodes

Please Expand is a podcast where I discuss non-fiction books with their authors. But Please Expand is not just about summaries; it's about conversations. I go into every episode having read each book in great detail and having reflected on the fundamental assumptions, foundations and questions with which the book grapples.
If you, like me, have finished a book with burning questions that only the author could answer, then Please Expand is the podcast for you.
Pick up one of the books I'm discussing and settle in for what I hope will be an illuminating conversation.

Please Expand Ahilleas Rokni

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

Please Expand is a podcast where I discuss non-fiction books with their authors. But Please Expand is not just about summaries; it's about conversations. I go into every episode having read each book in great detail and having reflected on the fundamental assumptions, foundations and questions with which the book grapples.
If you, like me, have finished a book with burning questions that only the author could answer, then Please Expand is the podcast for you.
Pick up one of the books I'm discussing and settle in for what I hope will be an illuminating conversation.

    Conquistadores: A New History with Fernando Cervantes

    Conquistadores: A New History with Fernando Cervantes

    In this episode I interview Fernando Cervantes, author of "Conquistadores", where we discuss his new interpretation of the conquest of the Americas. By placing figures like Columbus and Cortes in their proper historical context, Fernando paints a picture of the conquest of the Americas that is no less violent than traditional narratives, but much less wicked.
    We talk about the Christian, medieval, crusading spirit that is fundamental to understanding the motivations and actions of the conquistadors; we look at the methods used by missionaries to spread Christianity and how their flexibility to blending native religions with Christianity led to the establishment of a distinctly Latin American Christian religion; and, finally, we look at the kinds of political lessons that can be learnt from the earliest forms of government in Latin America, particularly in the context of contemporary debates between the sovereignty of states over and against transnational political entities.

    • 56 min
    America and Iran: A History, 1720 to the Present with John Ghazvinian

    America and Iran: A History, 1720 to the Present with John Ghazvinian

    In this episode I interview John Ghazvinian, author of "American and Iran", where we talk about the surprising history of American-Iranian relations by beginning in 1720, and continue all the way through the circuitous and, sometimes tortuous, path that is the history of these two remarkable nations.
    We look at the foundations for American interest in Iran; the growth of Iranian fascination with American democracy; the fascinating dual character of Iran as both the inheritor of Ancient Persia and Cyrus the Great, on the one hand, and as a Muslim nation, on the other hand; the role that religion played as a motor for progress in both the Constitutional Revolution of 1905 and the Iranian Revolution of 1979; and, finally, we consider the future of American-Iranian relations.

    • 59 min
    Time's Witness with Rosemary Hill

    Time's Witness with Rosemary Hill

    In this episodes we talk about an obscure group of professionals called "Antiquaries" ,whose intellectual activities became increasingly relevant in the period from 1789 -1851. We discuss the changing self-image of the English; the antiquaries made the Gothic central to English identity; and it is to the antiquaries that we owe the canonisation of Shakespeare. We grapple with questions concerning historical authenticity, the role of creativity in historical narratives, and ultimately wonder whether the histories we get are simply the ones that we need.

    • 1 hr 8 min
    The History of the Bible with John Barton

    The History of the Bible with John Barton

    I interview John Barton on “The History of the Bible: The Book and its Faiths”, with my guest J. A. Velasco. We grapple with some challenging issues surround the Bible. We discuss problems surrounding the authorship of the various books of the bible; we talk about the role that divine inspiration can play in our comprehension of the Bible; and we try to unpack the kinds of moral truths that one can reasonably take away from the Bible.

    • 55 min
    The Life and Death of Ancient Cities with Greg Woolf

    The Life and Death of Ancient Cities with Greg Woolf

    I interview Greg Woolf on "The Life and Death of Ancient Cities", with my guest J. A. Velasco. We talk about three main themes of Greg's book. First, we discuss the innovative evolutionary framework through which Greg has chosen to discuss the phenomenon of urbanisation. Second, we talk about the claim that inequality between people grew as urban centres expanded. We investigate whether there was less inequality in rural settings or whether the appearance of no inequality is simply due to the difficulties in inferring inequality from the archaeological record. Third, we reflect on the nature of urban centres and grapple with the possibility that urban centres necessarily require poorer centres around them from which they can draw cheap resources that can sustain that kind of life in urban centres.
    After the interview I chat with J about the first two issues. We question the cogency of investigating urbanisation through an evolutionary framework and ask about the role of free will; we talk about the kinds of inequality that might be inferred from the archaeological record and why inequality might grow within urban centres.
    Make sure to check out my website, www.pleaseexpand.com, for more information about upcoming episodes, and follow me on twitter @pleasexpand for updates.

    • 1 hr 2 min
    The Invention of Science with David Wootton

    The Invention of Science with David Wootton

    I interview David Wootton on "The Invention of Science". We talk about what science is and how science came about in the 16th century. We look at the rise of perspective painting; Columbus's discovery of America; and the invention of the printing press. We discuss the significance of Galileo's discovery of the phases of Venus and David's notion of "killer facts"; and we discuss the impact of David's arguments for contemporary academic history of science as well as the Kuhnian legacy.
    After the interview I focus on two concepts that we look at in the interview: the issue of incommensurability in Kuhn and David's notion of path dependency. For more discussion of "The Invention of Science", check out the Forum page on the website: https://www.pleaseexpand.com/forum. I look forward to hearing what you have to say about it!

    • 1 hr 14 min

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