Alastair Sooke follows in the footsteps of Rome's mad, bad and dangerous emperors in the second part of his celebration of Roman art. He dons a wetsuit to explore the underwater remains of the Emperor Claudius's pleasure palace and ventures into the cave where Tiberius held wild parties. He finds their taste in art chimes perfectly with their obsession with sex and violence. The other side of the coin was the bombastic art the Romans are best remembered for - monumental arches and columns that boast about their conquests. Trajan's Column in Rome reads like the storyboard of a modern-day propaganda film. Sooke concludes with the remarkable legacy of the Emperor Hadrian. He gave the world the magnificent Pantheon in Rome - the eternal image of his lover Antinous, the most beautiful boy in the history of art - and a villa in Tivoli where he created one of the most ambitious art collections ever created.
D-Day is a success, but now the Allies face the challenge of breaking out of the dense hedgerows of Normandy and into open country. They face highly motivated and experienced German soldiers, including Waffen SS units, who make them pay dearly for every yard they advance. The savagery of the fighting also takes a high psychological toll on Allied soldiers – much more so than on German troops who have been subjected to years of indoctrination. But in the end, Allied material superiority takes its toll. General Patton arrives to lead the charge into open country. German soldiers start to surrender in ever greater numbers, and the road to Paris is suddenly open.
Just two years ago, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) declassified a top-secret 1960s program to put a manned spy platform into orbit. While Apollo got all the attention and the glory in its race to the Moon, the men and women behind MOL worked in the shadows to give America the eyes and ears it needed. After 50 years of secrecy, Spies in Space will be the first television program to weave together rarely seen footage from America's secret spy satellite systems.
December 7th 1941 is "a date that will live in infamy" proclaimed President Franklin Roosevelt. That was the day that Japan entered World War II, with its surprise attack upon the US Fleet in Pearl Harbour. Japan swiftly followed this up with the defeat of a huge British army in Singapore. For a while Japan was rampant in the Pacific. But gradually, America, the sleeping giant, awoke. The war that would follow would be characterised by major innovations. In particular, it saw the battleship consigned to history and the emergence of the aircraft carrier as the decisive weapons of the seas.
Some just counted tanks, others stole blueprints for bombs. The Cold War was the battleground for thousands of spies and spotters. Even the Allied Military Missions in Germany doubled as covert observers in the spying game.
Simon Sebag Montefiore charts Rome's rise from the abandonment and neglect of the 14th century into the everlasting seat of the papacy recognised today. His story takes us through the debauchery and decadence of the Renaissance, the horrors of the Sack of Rome and the Catholic Reformation, through to the arrival of fascism and the creation of the Vatican State. By taking us inside Rome's most sensational palaces and churches and telling the stories behind some of the world's most beloved art, Sebag Montefiore's final instalment is a visual feast.