Cover image of FRDH Podcast with Michael Goldfarb

FRDH Podcast with Michael Goldfarb

Host FRDH podcast. Radio essayist and documentarist for the BBC and NPR. Historian and author of Ahmad's War, Ahmad's Peace and Emancipation.

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Yellow Springs Ohio 1993

This draft of history is from 1993: Race, violence, fear. It was part of my Sony-Award winning series, Homeward Bound. Listen to the voices recorded from the radio.


20 Jun 2015

Rank #1

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Clarksdale Mississippi 1995

Draft history. Race in America. A piece from 1995 reported from the Mississippi Delta


26 Nov 2014

Rank #2

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FRDH on the BBC: HIgh Crimes and Misdemeanours

In this BBC programme, originally broadcast in the Archive on 4 slot, FRDH host Michael Goldfarb uses archive sound and historical readings to trace the history of American presidential impeachment. Using interviews with participants in the last two presidential imepachments and historians he explores what it's like to sit in judgment on a freely elected president and just what are High Crimes and Misdemeanours.Those who don't know history are condemned to repeat it - listen to this important history and, please, share widely.


24 Nov 2019

Rank #3

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FRDH: No Place of Greater Safety

There is no place of greater safety for civilians and soldiers wounded in today's wars. In 2016 alone there was nearly one attack every day on a hospital in a conflict zone. The most infamous attack came in 2015, when the United States bombed an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Why? Are we seeing the end of the rules that governed warfare and provision of safe spaces for those caught in the crossfire? The origins of the Red Cross and humanitarian law go back to the middle of the 19th Century, to the battle of Solferino in 1859. The French Army under Napoleon III faced off against the Austrian Army led by Emperor Franz Joseph 1st. The politics behind the battle related to Italian independence but the battle is famous for much more.300,000 men met on the field of battle near Solferino a small town between Milan and Verona. After nine hours of combat nearly five thousand were dead and more than 22,000 were wounded, many lying where they fell receiving no medical treatment. A Swiss observer of the carnage, Henri Dunant, organized local people to bring some kind of relief to the stricken soldiers. Dunant, a man of private wealth, self-published a book about his experiences, it was the first step in the lobbying that would create the Red Cross in 1863 and the First Geneva Convention or the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field, the following year.War today is different. Emperors no longer command armies into battle in great open spaces. Conflict is everywhere and involves everyone unlucky enough to be nearby.In WW1 for every 10 soldiers killed 1 civilian died. Today that is reversed. For every soldier killed 10 civilians die.


25 Oct 2017

Rank #4

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Bible Study for Atheists: Don the Revelator

John the Revelator is an African-American hymn and Don the Revelator is the current President of the United States. In the latest edition of Bible Study for Atheists, FRDH host Michael Goldfarb goes on a roundabout journey to explain why Donald Trump is the Revelator of contemporary America and that's fine with evangelical Christians.


6 Dec 2019

Rank #5

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FRDH: Republican Party Is Now a Faction How it Happened

The Republican Party has become the people James Madison warned us against: a Faction. In any country, the most dangerous thing that can happen is for a group and its political representatives to act as if their view alone represents the nation. That thinking leads to the view that they alone “are” the nation and that those who disagree with them are not of the nation - even if they are fellow citizens, born on the country’s soil. When this happens in a democratic republic, like the US, and the view takes over a political party, then the threat to the national fabric is mortal. And that is the heart of the crisis in America today: The Republicans are no longer a political party but a faction.The danger of factions was noted at the foundation of the United States. In Federalist paper #10 https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Federalist_(Dawson)/10James Madison defined faction as, "a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”The Republican Party has been slowly morphing into a faction for almost 70 years. In this FRDH podcast the history of this change is told through applying the words of the Declaration of Independence to current Republican behavior. The Declaration of Independence is really a bill of divorcement, a declaration before the community of nations of the causes leading the states to separate from Britain. As I read through the list this past holiday it was amazing how many could be applied to the Republican faction today.Republican factionalism leads their elected representatives to upend existing Constitutional customs and norms and defamed the design of Madison, Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers by refusing to cooperate with anyone not of their group The design of the founders was a constitutional order that provided a mechanism for balancing the inevitable competing points of view that would grow in a society where people were free to follow different religions and debate ideas freely. Without respect for these rules the system cannot work.The result is the United States has, over the last quarter of a century, become ungovernable and now, more than at any moment in my lifetime is on the edge of some kind of catastrophic disintegration.


18 Jul 2017

Rank #6

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Civility And the Paradox of Tolerance

America is undergoing a crisis of civility - don't just take FRDH podcast's word for it - and this civility crisis is an example of the Paradox of Tolerance. In this FRDH, Michael Goldfarb traces the origins of the civility crisis thirty years to Newt Gingrich's declaration of a second Civil War using words instead of guns to conquer all those who disagree with the Republican party. He looks at how three decades of Republican unwillingness to tolerate other views of America has brought America face to face with philosopher Karl Popper's concept of the Paradox of Tolerance. Do you think politely asking Sarah Sanders to leave a restaurant was uncivil? or perfectly reasonable?Share this podcast widely.


10 Jul 2018

Rank #7

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America's Decades Long Incivil War

Since at least 1994 America has been in the grip of an incivil war. That year, led by Newt Gingrich, the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives for the frst time in 40 years. Incivil war may sound like a figure of speech, something in the realm of the metaphorical - but it is not. The weapons may be words but the they are deployed in support of a radical reordering of American society. This documentary originally aired on BBC Radio 4. If you want to understand how America got to Trump you must understand this history recounted with great detail by Michael Goldfarb. Please share this documentary widely, urgently.


1 Mar 2019

Rank #8

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WHAT IS A NATION? pt 5 From the ashes of Empires

National History: Europe - what is "the" nation? What is the "nation-state"?


25 Mar 2014

Rank #9

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WHAT IS A NATION? pt. 2 Kurdistan

National History: The story of the Kurds, the largest ethnic group in the world without a "nation-state" of their own.


30 Apr 2014

Rank #10

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FRDH Podcast Ep 4: Mind Of The South

Social History: "Whoever wants to understand the heart and mind of America better know baseball" Jacques Barzun. Not really. They better know the South, the region that more than any other shapes US politics. This piece from 2004 foreshadows much of what shaped the election of Donald Trump + great music.


10 Nov 2016

Rank #11

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The Very, Very First Rough Draft of HIstory: What Assyria Can Teach Us

FRDH stands for First Rough Draft of History and the very first drafts of history were written in cuneiform in the Akkadian language at the time of the Assyrian Empire, around 1,000 BCE. In this podcast, Michael Goldfarb talks to Assyriologist Dr. Moudhy al-Rashid, about the world described in the cuneiform covered fragments she works with. Her specialization is in medical texts. You think depression is a modern malady? It isn't. Listen to Dr. al-Rashid describe how the ancient people of Assyria and Babylon dealt with it.


14 Mar 2019

Rank #12

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Bible Study for Atheists: America, One Nation Under Whose God?

This Bible study for atheists looks at what Thomas Jefferson meant when he wrote about God in the Declaration of Independence. Many evangelical or political Christians argue that the US is a "Christian" country because Jefferson used the word. Michael Goldfarb challenges that idea which explores the Enlightenment use of God as Nature. Far from the scriptural understanding of the Judeo-Christian divinity. He traces Jefferson's ideas back to those of Enlightenment philosopher Benedict Spinoza. He uses Spinoza's own bible study as a way of explaining what the founding father's intentions were. Spinoza, who wrote in Latin, coined the phrase Deus sive natura, God or Nature. Nature for Spinoza is is all there is. YOu can call it God if you like but it does not cause itself, or create itself. It is not the creator God of the Bible, anthropomorphized, and directing the fate of human beings and particularly the Israelites, his chosen people.This was pretty revolutionary theory, for the late 17th century. By the late 18th century Jefferson and the Founders were moving it out of the realm of speculation and putting it into practice in the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment to the Constitution.This is the second Bible Study for Atheists, a semi-regular feature of the FRDH podcast. Response to the first Bible Study for Atheists was overwhelmingly positive and is still regularly listened to at the FRDH podcast website. This edition of Bible Study for Atheists will provide background for those who wish to keep religion out of government in America and need to argue with evangelical friends and neighbors about why.


26 Jul 2017

Rank #13

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Year 1 Trump report: Crazy or a member of the Club?

The big question at the end of Donald Trump's first year in office is: Is he crazy or just typical of his social class? Anti-Trump forces constantly question his mental state in the hopes of provoking his cabinet into forcing him out via the 25th Amendment. In this FRDH podcast, host Michael Goldfarb looks at whether Trump is crazy or is he just a typical country club kind of person. Are his words about shithole countries and immigrants any different than you would hear most Sundays at the country club?Among people of a similar social caste and with the unwritten rules of any club - you can say what you like and it will not be repeated outside the four walls of the clubhouse - when the talk turns to politics men and women, can vent their opinions on matters of politics and foreign affairs and race and immigration. The language used, will frequently be exactly the same as Trump uses. The solutions for political, economic and international problems will be as simplistic, although perhaps not expressed as crudely as Trump expresses his views. But they will be expressed with the absolute certainty of people who have money. IN this FRDH Trump Year 1 anniversary podcast the focus is on understanding the President as a product of his class ... not a madman.


16 Jan 2018

Rank #14

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Mind of the South

If you want to know America, you have to understand the Mind of the South. If you want to understand the dynamics that drove events towards the Charlottesville Outrage, you have to understand the mind of the south, or specifically the "white" Southern mind. That mindset did not just pop up, the day Donald Trump took office. It has been the driving force in American politics … all the way back to the foundation of the Republic.White Southerners are a powerful force in American politics. Not a majority - but the largest single political bloc - in the country. In the century after the Civil War this bloc was attached to the Democrats - Lincoln was a Republican -and it acted as a drag anchor on the progressive forces that shaped the modern Democratic party. In response to the civil rights movement white Southerners shifted to the Republican party. Superiority is a key part of the white southern mindset, not just racial, but religious, as well. In the 18th and early 19th centuries the region saw a heavy influx of protestant immigrants from what is today Northern Ireland, Ulster. In this FRDH podcast, Michael Goldfarb talks with Southern historians about the region and the mind of the South and traces the origins of recent events to well before Donald Trump entered politics.And through the medium of the Republican party the mindset is spreading all over the country.


15 Aug 2017

Rank #15

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Reality in the age of trump

What is Reality in the Age of Trump? In this FRDH podcast, Michael Goldfarb speaks with Luke Harding, former Moscow correspondent of the Guardian newspaper, and author of Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, about the long, long history of official lying in Russia, how people in that country sort out reality from the propaganda, and how Putin's expertise in creating alternative "reality" influenced the 2016 US elections. Is reality an objective form of truth, or is it just relative. What did Lenin say about it? Do governments impose their version of reality, or do people collude in their own propagandisation?


20 Jun 2018

Rank #16

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Brexit and the British Ambassador

Brexit has cost the British Ambassador in Washington DC his job. In this FRDH podcast Michael Goldfarb talks to Bronwen Maddox about the effect British Ambassador Kim Darroch's resignation will have on the people who administer Britain's government: the civil service and what it means for Anglo-American relations and Brexit.


13 Jul 2019

Rank #17

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Bible Study for Atheists: Jewish Quarrels

This edition of Bible Study for Atheists looks at today's Jewish quarrels and asks whether the arguments among Jews today over whether to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem and the expansion of Israeli settlements into the West Bank is an echo of the quarrels of Biblical times. Is the story of the 12 tribes of Israel separating into two kingdoms true? How deep is the historical continuity between the Israelites whose story we read in the Old Testament and that of modern Jewry?


9 Jun 2018

Rank #18

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Republic or Empire: Pax Americana?

Pax Americana is a documentary essay about Republics vs empires and what it means to be a citizen of both. It is about America’s long argument with itself about what it should be: empire or republic. In the age of Donald Trump, republican values seem to be disappearing at an accelerated pace. Oligarchy has replaced republican democracy. Is it just repeating a process that went on 2000 years ago in in Rome at the time of Augustus and Tiberius, a republic that had become a global power changing inevitably into something far from its founding ethos? FRDH host Michael Goldfarb looks for an answer.


2 May 2019

Rank #19

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Iran War Fever: a 40-year History

For the last 40 years there has been Iran War Fever in Washington DC. With the latest bout exhausting talking heads on 24-hour news channels, Michael Goldfarb, who has reported from Iran and around the Middle East, explains why in the 40 year history of Iran War Fever, there hasn't actually been a war with Iran.


18 May 2019

Rank #20