Exciting lineup of Historians at Emirates LitFest 2014
History affects the present and the future in many small and diverse ways and you can hear all about these various effects at the 6th Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, to be held from March 4-8 at the Intercontinental Hotel Dubai Festival City, as the world’s leading historians give their views in inspiring and captivating talks and panel discussions.
The programme includes sessions with former BBC Chief News Correspondent Kate Adie, UK politician Paddy Ashdown and British broadcast journalist Jeremy Paxman, all of which record the unlikely heroes of the two World Wars; local authors Ali Alsaloom, David Heard and Frauke Heard-Bey’s chronicles of the rise of the UAE; historian Orlando Figes’s touching real-life love story based in a Russian Gulag and political commentator and journalist Pankaj Mishra’s discussion of Asia’s revolt against the West.
Pankaj Mishra in his latest political and social history, From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia, gives a well-researched yet accessible account of the events of two centuries, from the refreshingly new point of view of journalists, poets and radicals who travelled across Asia and Europe. Joining Mishra to discuss the effects of British rule on India is Jeremy Paxman, whose book Empire: What Ruling the World did to the British, gives an in depth view of the British ventures in the East.
Lord Ashdown, better known as Paddy Ashdown, has written a marvellous book entitled A Brilliant Little Operation: The Cockleshell Heroes, which outlines the daring “Cockleshell” raid of 1942. As an intellectual and former Royal Marine, Lord Ashdown gives readers an impartial assessment of ‘The Most Courageous Raid of WW2’ while describing the heroics of the soldiers and underscoring the more faulty aspects of the operation.
Friday is packed with intriguing historical tales. Renowned interviewer and journalist Jeremy Paxman will talk about ‘Getting Beneath the Skin’ of politicians and celebrities and challenging modern assumptions about the World War in his book Great Britain’s Great War.
Orlando Figes’s Just Send Me Word: A True Story of Love and Survival in the Gulag is the extraordinary tale of Lev Mishchenko, a prisoner in Pechora labour camp, and Svetlana Ivanova, his girlfriend in Moscow. Figes wrote the story with the help of the 1,246 letters exchanged between Lev and Svetlana. In his session, Figes will discuss his research methods for the novel, what processes he used to tell a very personal tale and how he met the real-life protagonists of this moving story.
Ali Alsaloom, author of a series of mini-guides on the UAE knows first-hand how much the country has changed in a very short period of time. In ‘From Sand to Skyscrapers’, Alsaloom is joined by David Heard and Frauke Heard-Bey, authors of From Pearls to Oil: How the Oil Industry Came to the United Arab Emirates and From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates, respectively, to discuss what has facilitated the vast changes we see in the country.
DJ Taylor combines the meticulous research of an historian with suspense in his latest novel, The Windsor Faction. Join Taylor in his session ‘The Windsor Faction: Fact or Fiction?’ to discover how he combines real-life events with imaginative story-telling.
Then, award-winning Irish writer John Boyne and romantic novelist Rachel Hore discuss the draw of history in fiction-writing in their Friday afternoon session ‘History in Fiction’. Boyne has set a number of his novels in historical settings while Hore is a trained historian whose contemporary characters often feel a strong affinity towards history.
William Sitwell takes a unique approach to documenting history – food. In ‘The History of Food in 100 Recipes – From Senet’s Tomb to Blumenthal’, the multi-talented Sitwell uses recipes from history to understand the world. Join Sitwell in this fascinating historical journey with a twist.
In ‘Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations’ Georgina Howell tells the remarkable story of English traveller Gertrude Bell, who played a large part in the establishment of the Iraq government and was looked upon by many in the Middle East as an ally. At a time when women barely saw the outside of the four walls of their home, Gertrude Bell was a trailblazer, a fact that Howell puts front and centre in her biography of Bell.
World War I was a devastating period of history that changed the course of the world in unimaginable ways. In ‘Fighting on the Home Front – The Legacy of Women in WW1’, Festival favourite Kate Adie sheds light on the little-known legacy of the women of ‘The Great War’.
On Saturday afternoon, Kate Adie and Orlando Figes look at the place of the individual swept along by historical forces in ‘Change Happens – It’s History’. With a particular focus on women’s contributions to the First World War and a love story set in a Russian Gulag, they will begin to identify the role of the historian, either as observer or sculptor of history.
And finally, as a celebration of International Women’s Day, Kate Adie, Georgina Howell and Christina Lamb, co-author of I Am Malala, review the changes that have occurred in women’s lives in the last 100 years and ponder what remains to be done to allow half the world’s population the chance to achieve their full potential.
From the Ruins of Empire
Thursday 6 March, 5:30pm
Session sponsored by Gulf News
A Brilliant Little Operation: The Cockleshell Heroes
Thursday 6 March, 7pm
Session sponsored by Transguard
Getting Beneath the Skin
Friday 7 March, 1pm
Session sponsored by Time Out
Just Send Me Word
Friday 7 March, 1:30pm
From Sand to Skyscrapers
Ali Alsaloom, David Heard, Frauke Heard-Bey
Friday 7 March, 1:30pm
Session sponsored by Dubai Airports
The Windsor Faction: Fact or Fiction?
Friday 7 March, 3pm
History in Fiction
John Boyne, Rachel Hore
Friday 7 March, 3pm
The History of Food in 100 Recipes – From Senet’s Tomb to Blumenthal
Friday 7 March, 5pm
Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations
Friday 7 March, 6:30pm
Fighting on the Home Front – The Legacy of Women in WW1
Friday 7 March, 8pm
Session sponsored by Explorer
Change Happens – It’s History
Kate Adie & Orlando Figes
Saturday 8 March, 2pm
International Women’s Day: The Changing Roles of Women
Kate Adie, Georgina Howell, Christina Lamb
Saturday 8 March, 5pm