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(10404)

Rank #17 in History category

Kids & Family
History
Education for Kids

American History Tellers

Updated 8 days ago

Rank #17 in History category

Kids & Family
History
Education for Kids
Read more

The Cold War, Prohibition, the Gold Rush, the Space Race. Every part of your life -the words you speak, the ideas you share- can be traced to our history, but how well do you really know the stories that made America? We’ll take you to the events, the times and the people that shaped our nation. And we’ll show you how our history affected them, their families and affects you today. Hosted by Lindsay Graham (not the Senator). From Wondery, the network behind Tides Of History, Fall Of Rome and Dirty John.

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The Cold War, Prohibition, the Gold Rush, the Space Race. Every part of your life -the words you speak, the ideas you share- can be traced to our history, but how well do you really know the stories that made America? We’ll take you to the events, the times and the people that shaped our nation. And we’ll show you how our history affected them, their families and affects you today. Hosted by Lindsay Graham (not the Senator). From Wondery, the network behind Tides Of History, Fall Of Rome and Dirty John.

iTunes Ratings

10404 Ratings
Average Ratings
8664
848
369
230
293

Amazing Podcast!

By LoriPulsski - Jan 12 2020
Read more
A Must listen for anyone interested in history. Credibly researched and compellingly told!

Imagine you’re looking for a great podcast...

By -exray - Dec 28 2019
Read more
... stop. You’ve found it.

iTunes Ratings

10404 Ratings
Average Ratings
8664
848
369
230
293

Amazing Podcast!

By LoriPulsski - Jan 12 2020
Read more
A Must listen for anyone interested in history. Credibly researched and compellingly told!

Imagine you’re looking for a great podcast...

By -exray - Dec 28 2019
Read more
... stop. You’ve found it.
Cover image of American History Tellers

American History Tellers

Latest release on Jan 22, 2020

Read more

The Cold War, Prohibition, the Gold Rush, the Space Race. Every part of your life -the words you speak, the ideas you share- can be traced to our history, but how well do you really know the stories that made America? We’ll take you to the events, the times and the people that shaped our nation. And we’ll show you how our history affected them, their families and affects you today. Hosted by Lindsay Graham (not the Senator). From Wondery, the network behind Tides Of History, Fall Of Rome and Dirty John.

Rank #1: The Cold War - An Ideological War | 1

Podcast cover
Read more

For nearly 50 years, the United States and Soviet Union waged a global war of ideas fueled by politics, intrigue, and nuclear weapons. But how did the polarized ideologies of these two global powers threaten the existence of the entire world?

This is Episode 1 of a six-part series on the Cold War. We’ll discover how the United States’ suspicion of communism not only led to a global stand-off, but threatened the freedom and democracy Americans so cherished at home.

For more information on the subjects and themes discussed in the episode, see the book “Global Cold War,” by Odd Arne Wested. It’s an amazing dissection of the ideologies that dominated the Cold War. See also, “Many Are the Crimes,” by Ellen Schrecker, for an in-depth discussion of McCarthyism and the real world effects of the Red Scare.

For more info about Bentley Glass, the geneticist under investigation at the beginning of the article, see Audra Wolfe’s article, The Organization Man and the Archive: A Look at the Bentley Glass Papers. Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was also crucial to our understanding of the Cold War.


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Jan 03 2018

40mins

Play

Rank #2: The Great Depression - The Crash | 1

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The Roaring Twenties came to a screeching halt on October 29, 1929, with the collapse of the U.S. stock market. A year earlier, president Herbert Hoover had coasted to victory by promising the American people “a chicken for every pot” and “a car in every backyard.” Lured by the promise of skyrocketing markets, many first-time investors got caught up in margin trading, borrowing money to make bigger stock purchases than they could actually afford. It was a foolproof way to make money, so long as stock prices kept rising.

But then, on the morning of Tuesday, October 29, more than sixteen million shares changed hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. By the market’s close, investors had lost tens of billions of dollars — and kicked off a decade that would reshape American institutions, even as labor unrest, racial tensions, and the dark shadow of nativism pushed back from all sides.

Feb 20 2019

37mins

Play

Rank #3: Political Parties - A Tale of Two Parties | 1

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In the earliest days of the United States, there was no such thing as an organized political party. George Washington, elected twice to the presidency unanimously in the Electoral College, warned the new nation against political factions, writing that organized parties would become, “potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men subvert the power of the people.”

But immediately after Washington vacated the Presidency, factions did spring up and bitter personal rivalries began to shape the nation. The two first political parties–the Federalists and the Republicans–had very different views of what America should become, and were led by very different men: Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.

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Nov 21 2018

45mins

Play

Rank #4: Revolution | The Virginia Planter | 1

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It’s 1754, and the British had developed thirteen colonies along the eastern seaboard of the American continent. You may be familiar with them. But what you may not know is that a skirmish between the British and French settlers, who colonized a strip of land lining the Mississippi River, is where a young George Washington made a serious war blunder that ultimately led to Revolution.

Written by New York Times bestselling author, Russell Shorto, this is Revolution by American History Tellers. Over the next six episodes, we’ll dive into the Revolutionary War period from the perspectives of a slave, a woman, a native American, a common shoemaker and a British aristocrat.

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Jun 27 2018

39mins

Play

Rank #5: The Bastard Brigade - The Accidental A-Bomb | 1

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The Second World War ended with two black mushroom clouds rising over the scorched remains of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But most people don’t realize how easily the war could have ended not with an American atomic bomb but a German one, obliterating not a Japanese city but Paris, London, or even New York. As the war began, all the pieces were in place for the Germans to develop an atomic weapon. They had scientific visionaries like Werner Heisenberg, a manufacturing base committed to total war—and a big head start. The Allies were willing to go to desperate lengths to stop Adolph Hitler from getting his hands on an atomic bomb. They assembled a team of men and women to spy on, sabotage, and even assassinate members of the Nazi bomb project. They would become known as The Bastard Brigade.

But in the years leading up to the war, the scientific community couldn’t yet anticipate that artificial radioactivity was possible, let alone that it could lead to a weapon on the scale of an atomic bomb. That initial discovery would fall to a husband and wife team in Paris with a famous surname, a string of failures behind them, and a lot to prove: Frédéric and Irène Joliot-Curie. 


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Jul 17 2019

37mins

Play

Rank #6: Dutch Manhattan - Henry Hudson’s Big Mistake | 1

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In 1609, a headstrong English sea captain named Henry Hudson set out on behalf of the Dutch East India Company to find a trade route to Asia — and promptly found himself and his crew stranded in icy waters off the coast of Norway. As supplies dwindled, Hudson announced to his frostbitten crew that the ship would change course. They set off across the Atlantic Ocean in search of an alternative route through the North American continent.

Hudson never found the Northwest Passage, but he did come across something else on that journey — a small island the native people called Manna-hatta. That settlement would eventually give rise to a new Dutch colony called New Netherland, with Manhattan Island, or New Amsterdam, as it would come to be known, as its capital. New Amsterdam would come to be defined by two key Dutch values: tolerance and capitalism. This series by Russell Shorto, based on his book The Island at the Center of the World, traces how Manhattan’s brief chapter as a Dutch colony shaped the city for centuries to come.

Sep 04 2019

35mins

Play

Rank #7: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - Wildcat | 1

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On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Manhattan, claiming the lives of 146 garment workers — mostly women and girls. It was one of the deadliest workplace disasters in American history. Caused by a combination of carelessness and poor safety measures, the fire eventually set off a wave of workplace reforms that changed industry in America and sent New York party politics in a totally different direction.

But in the years before the fire, the workers of the Triangle factory were focused on a different issue — advocating for higher pay. Facing long hours and unsympathetic bosses unwilling to implement change, the women decided they had only one option left. 

It was time to go on strike.


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Oct 23 2019

44mins

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Rank #8: The Cold War - Hearts and Minds | 2

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Forget trenches, infantry and tanks. The United States and Soviet Union fought the Cold War with ideas and information. Episode 2 describes the cunning of Soviet propaganda campaigns. The United States adapted those techniques for their own purposes, broadcasting an image of the nation as a beacon of hope and freedom through covert ops and jazz concerts alike - even if those at home were hurting or oppressed.

For more information on the subjects and themes discussed in the episode, see the book “Total Cold War,” by Kenneth Osgood. It’s essential to understanding how propaganda shaped policy and vice-versa during the Cold War.

Penny Von Eschen’s books, “Race Against Empire,” and “Satchmo Blows Up the World,” discuss at length the ways in which black American culture, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement both helped and hindered US foreign policy goals.

Finally, Audra Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was crucial to our overall understanding of the Cold War.


Support us by supporting our sponsors:

ZipRecruiter - To post jobs on ZipRecruiter for FREE, just go to ZipRecruiter.com/AHT

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Jan 03 2018

37mins

Play

Rank #9: Tulsa Race Massacre - The Promised Land | 1

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Between 1838 and 1890, thousands of African Americans moved to Oklahoma, brought there as Cherokee slaves or drawn there by the promise of free land. Black pioneers established towns where African Americans could govern themselves and thrive in community together, and in time, Oklahoma became known as “The Promised Land” of freedom, dignity, and economic self-sufficiency. Out of this movement, the wealthiest African American community in the nation was born. By 1921, the Tulsa neighborhood of Greenwood had become such a hotspot of entrepreneurship that it became famous as “Negro Wall Street.”

But the Greenwood community lived uneasily in the racist, corrupt, lawless oil boomtown of Tulsa. On a hot May day in 1921, a young shoeshine boy would step into an elevator with a teenage white girl and accidentally spark the worst incident of racial violence in America -- a massacre that would be kept secret for decades.


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May 29 2019

52mins

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Rank #10: J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI - The Department of Easy Virtues | 1

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By the turn of the century, radical anarchists were becoming a growing -- and volatile -- political movement. As shifting workplace conditions exploited and endangered American workers, anarchists increasingly turned to violence to spur everyday citizens to upend the capitalist system. The growth of these politically motivated shootings and bombings stoked fear among American citizens — fear of immigrants, outsiders, and anyone else whose ideas might be considered a threat. Soon President Woodrow Wilson was calling on his attorney general A. Mitchell Palmer to investigate, arrest and imprison any noncitizen suspected of spouting “disloyal” or “radical” ideologies.

The so-called Palmer Raids would move the little-known, poorly funded and notoriously corrupt Bureau of Investigation into the national spotlight. And it would eventually launch the career of an ambitious young civil servant named Edgar Hoover.


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Apr 10 2019

33mins

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Rank #11: The Age of Jackson | Washington Burns | 1

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In August 1814, the White House burned. A fire that would eventually consume the entire nation in Civil War was already burning. This is Antebellum America.

This is the adolescence of the United States, when the country grew at tremendous speed, and when fundamental questions about the kind of place it would be were being asked. Like, could the states put their individual differences aside to remain one country? And could this new country live up to its lofty ideals, especially when it came to issues like slavery or the treatment of Native Americans?

Welcome to the Age of Jackson.

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Mar 28 2018

39mins

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Rank #12: The Great Depression - Brother, Can You Spare a Dime | 2

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Factories have shut down, banks have failed, and millions are out of work. As the Depression worsens, public opinion sours toward President Hoover.

Hoover’s allies attempt to counter criticism of the President by galvanizing anti-foreigner attitudes. They devise a scheme to frighten immigrants from Mexico and other countries with the specter of mass immigration raids in the hopes they’ll leave the country on their own, as hundreds of thousands do.

Meanwhile, an unemployed cannery worker from Portland, Oregon leads tens of thousands of World War I veterans on a march to Washington, D.C., to demand payment of wartime bonuses. A deadly showdown looms as this “Bonus Army” wears out its welcome in the capital.


You can find new episodes of American History Tellers, completely ad-free, only on Stitcher Premium. For a free month of Stitcher Premium, go to stitcherpremium.com/wondery and use promo code ‘WONDERY’.

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Feb 27 2019

39mins

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Rank #13: Political Parties - Jacksonian Democracy | 2

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Andrew Jackson lost the 1824 presidential election to John Quincy Adams through what some called a “corrupt bargain” in the House of Representatives. The maneuver was masterminded by hot-headed but politically savvy Henry Clay, who with Adams, announced their intent for far-reaching new federal programs. Fierce opposition to these policies united pro-Jackson supporters who formed a new party, the Democrats, to rally around their hero and elect him to president in 1828.

But while Adams was defeated, Henry Clay had no intention of leaving the fight. He helped lead a new party which gathered together anti-Jackson, fiscal conservatives, and pro-states rights factions. The rise of Clay’s new Whig party seemed unstoppable–they captured both houses of Congress and the presidency–until, on April 4, 1841, president William Henry Harrison died in office and gave John Tyler the power of the veto.

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Nov 28 2018

46mins

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Rank #14: National Parks - The Business of Nature | 1

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America's greatest National Parks are truly one of our country's greatest treasures. But many beautiful landmarks have ugly histories. Over the next few episodes, we’ll learn how good intentions sometimes lead to tragic and violent ends, and how in some instances, dirty business dealings would lead to the preservation of many of our countries greatest natural wonders.

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Aug 15 2018

44mins

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Rank #15: Revolution | The Empire Builder | 2

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In 1776, the British Under Secretary of State for the American Colonies was giddy. The Americans needed to be punished like children for their bad behavior. “Roman severity,” he called it, and then when he crushed the rebellion, the American children could come crawling back to their British parents, begging for forgiveness. It would be his crowning glory, he thought. It was not.

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This Series of American History Tellers is written by Russell Shorto, author of the book Revolution Song. Get your copy of Revolution Song from W.W. Norton today.

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Jul 04 2018

42mins

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Rank #16: Political Parties - The Golden Age of the GOP | 4

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As the Civil War came to a close, the government set its sights once again on the future of the United States. Working closely with a Republican President, the Republican Congress expected a swift and peaceful road to Reconstruction. But then, a mere four weeks into his second term, Lincoln was assassinated, leaving the country in the hands of Andrew Johnson, a Southern Democrat who had personally owned slaves just three years before.

While Johnson’s unwavering commitment to states rights cultivated a fraught relationship with his Congress, the tumult would ultimately be short-lived. After just four years of a Democratic president, America’s Grand Old Party would ascend to power—and hold it—for over 70 years.

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Dec 12 2018

48mins

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Rank #17: The Cold War - Nuclear Fear | 3

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What is the United States to do when direct conflict with the Soviet Union promises almost certain annihilation? They turned to proxy wars and psychological warfare with the threat of nuclear weapons keeping both countries in check. Ever wondered how an atom bomb works? We’ll cover it in Episode 3 including the scientific concepts, the arms race and the problem of ensuring complete and absolute control over these weapons.

For more information on the subjects and themes discussed in the episode, see the book “Raven’s Rock” by Garrett Graff. It goes into great detail about the secret plans our government made to ride out a nuclear holocaust.

Eric Schlosser’s “Command and Control” examines the ways the nuclear arsenal was required to function at 100% — and what happened the few times it didn’t.

“Command and Control” was also made into a riveting documentary film.

Finally, Audra Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was crucial to our overall understanding of the Cold War.


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ZipRecruiter - To post jobs on ZipRecruiter for FREE, just go to ZipRecruiter.com/AHT

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Jan 03 2018

44mins

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Rank #18: Prohibition - Closing Time | 1

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On January 17, 1920, the United States passed the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, ushering in a 13-year dry spell known as Prohibition. But how did a country that loved to drink turn its back on alcohol? How did two-thirds of both the House and Senate and three-fourths of State legislatures all agree that going dry was the way to get the country going forward? It had always been a long, uphill battle for the temperance movement, but towards the end of the nineteenth century, certain forces aligned: fears of industrialization, urbanization and immigration. Traditional American life was changing - fast - and many people looked for a scapegoat: the saloon.

For more information on how Prohibition came to be, check out Professor David J. Hanson’s, “Alcohol Problems and Solutions,” a comprehensive, interactive site that outlines all the various stakeholders in the Noble Experiment.

Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is a key text for learning more about Prohibition and how it came about. And, to narrow in on New York, itself, Michael Lerner’s Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City is a tremendous resource.

The bootlegger character was based on a real story, A Bootlegger’s Story: How I Started, which ran in the New Yorker in 1926.

For more on the Atlanta race riots and how they connect to Prohibition, check out this story on NPR, in which professor Cliff Kuhn describes his research. To learn more about the intersection between race and the policing of Prohibition, Lisa McGirr’s The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State is invaluable.

Further references can be found in America Walks Into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops by Christine Sismondo.

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Feb 07 2018

40mins

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Rank #19: Civil Rights - New World A’Comin | 1

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President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, freeing the slaves in much of the South. But the road to freedom—true freedom—would take generations longer for most black Americans.

In this new six-part series, we investigate their struggle, beginning in the heady post-war years of the Forties. Segregation was endemic; it was the law of the South, and the custom of the North and West. No black American escaped its demeaning and often violent grip. But in discovering the power of collective protest, civil rights activists began to make demands for basic equality in restaurants, the workplace and in schools. And as they racked up victories, excitement and determination built that this was a movement with momentum. Could they really do this? Could they make a change and finally—finally—fight off Jim Crow?


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Oct 03 2018

38mins

Play

Rank #20: The Age of Jackson | The Little Magician | 5

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During the last years of Jackson's presidency, the economy flourished. The national debt was paid in full, industry and agriculture boomed. But when Martin Van Buren assumed the presidency, he inherited an economic disaster. The divide between rich and poor was growing and people were starting to lose their patience. The country was so on edge that the threat of increase in the price of flour caused riots in Manhattan. How this happened and more, in today's episode.

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Apr 25 2018

39mins

Play

Introducing American History Tellers | 1

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American History Tellers. Our History, Your Story

Premieres January 3rd.

Dec 13 2017

2mins

Play

The Cold War - An Ideological War | 1

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For nearly 50 years, the United States and Soviet Union waged a global war of ideas fueled by politics, intrigue, and nuclear weapons. But how did the polarized ideologies of these two global powers threaten the existence of the entire world?

This is Episode 1 of a six-part series on the Cold War. We’ll discover how the United States’ suspicion of communism not only led to a global stand-off, but threatened the freedom and democracy Americans so cherished at home.

For more information on the subjects and themes discussed in the episode, see the book “Global Cold War,” by Odd Arne Wested. It’s an amazing dissection of the ideologies that dominated the Cold War. See also, “Many Are the Crimes,” by Ellen Schrecker, for an in-depth discussion of McCarthyism and the real world effects of the Red Scare.

For more info about Bentley Glass, the geneticist under investigation at the beginning of the article, see Audra Wolfe’s article, The Organization Man and the Archive: A Look at the Bentley Glass Papers. Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was also crucial to our understanding of the Cold War.


Support us by supporting our sponsors:

ZipRecruiter - To post jobs on ZipRecruiter for FREE, just go to ZipRecruiter.com/AHT

Squarespace - When you’re ready to launch your website, go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code TELLERS to save 10% on your first purchase of a website or domain.

Stamps.com - To get a 4-week trial PLUS postage AND a digital scale without long-term commitments, go to Stamps.com, click on the Microphone at the top of the homepage and type in TELLERS

Hello Fresh - Get $30 off your first week when you visit them at HelloFresh.com and enter the code Tellers30

Jan 03 2018

40mins

Play

The Cold War - Hearts and Minds | 2

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Read more

Forget trenches, infantry and tanks. The United States and Soviet Union fought the Cold War with ideas and information. Episode 2 describes the cunning of Soviet propaganda campaigns. The United States adapted those techniques for their own purposes, broadcasting an image of the nation as a beacon of hope and freedom through covert ops and jazz concerts alike - even if those at home were hurting or oppressed.

For more information on the subjects and themes discussed in the episode, see the book “Total Cold War,” by Kenneth Osgood. It’s essential to understanding how propaganda shaped policy and vice-versa during the Cold War.

Penny Von Eschen’s books, “Race Against Empire,” and “Satchmo Blows Up the World,” discuss at length the ways in which black American culture, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement both helped and hindered US foreign policy goals.

Finally, Audra Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was crucial to our overall understanding of the Cold War.


Support us by supporting our sponsors:

ZipRecruiter - To post jobs on ZipRecruiter for FREE, just go to ZipRecruiter.com/AHT

Squarespace - When you’re ready to launch your website, go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code TELLERS to save 10% on your first purchase of a website or domain.

Stamps.com - To get a 4-week trial PLUS postage AND a digital scale without long-term commitments, go to Stamps.com, click on the Microphone at the top of the homepage and type in TELLERS

Hello Fresh - Get $30 off your first week when you visit them at HelloFresh.com and enter the code Tellers30

Jan 03 2018

37mins

Play

The Cold War - Nuclear Fear | 3

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What is the United States to do when direct conflict with the Soviet Union promises almost certain annihilation? They turned to proxy wars and psychological warfare with the threat of nuclear weapons keeping both countries in check. Ever wondered how an atom bomb works? We’ll cover it in Episode 3 including the scientific concepts, the arms race and the problem of ensuring complete and absolute control over these weapons.

For more information on the subjects and themes discussed in the episode, see the book “Raven’s Rock” by Garrett Graff. It goes into great detail about the secret plans our government made to ride out a nuclear holocaust.

Eric Schlosser’s “Command and Control” examines the ways the nuclear arsenal was required to function at 100% — and what happened the few times it didn’t.

“Command and Control” was also made into a riveting documentary film.

Finally, Audra Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was crucial to our overall understanding of the Cold War.


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Jan 03 2018

44mins

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The Cold War - The Nature of Risk | 4

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Americans were desperate to find hope in the shadow of the bomb.

Miracle cures, cheap energy, and even brand new atomic gardens: the wonders of the atom were ours to discover! Right? Eager to explore nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes, Americans instead found the resulting radioactive fallout too dangerous.

In Episode 4, we’ll talk about swim wear, baby teeth, and how America just couldn’t get friendly with the atom.

Scott Kauffman’s “Project Plowshare: The Peaceful Use of Nuclear Explosives in Cold War Alaska” was inspired by Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” speech and essential reading for anyone interested in nuclear history.

Finally, Audra Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was crucial to our overall understanding of the Cold War.


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Jan 10 2018

38mins

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Bonus | The Cold War Recap | 5

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Welcome to a special bonus episode of American History Tellers! We wanted to remind you what we covered in Episodes 1 through 4, so if you’re new to this show, welcome! If you’re all caught up (gold star for you!) then you can skip right on to Episode 5.

Jan 17 2018

25mins

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The Cold War - The Long 1960s | 6

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America sent a man to the moon in 1969, and with Neil Armstrong’s first steps, the United States projected to the world an image of American power, wealth and achievement. But it was hardly just for bragging rights. The space race started under Kennedy to compete with the Soviets on a global stage, but it was under Johnson that its goals became domestic. NASA, Head Start, Medicaid and even the war in Vietnam were domestic social programs, used at least in part to alleviate poverty, provide jobs and desegregate the country.

But the spending on these programs birthed a new political movement on the right demanding smaller government - and attracted the ire of progressives on the left who thought the money spent on rockets to be misdirected. Meanwhile, the war in Vietnam intensified, costing the nation far more than just money.

For more on NASA’s efforts to desegregate the South, check out the book “We Could Not Fail,” by Richard Paul and Steven Moss.

For more on the African American women who worked as human computers for NASA, overcoming discrimination and sexism to change history, we recommend the book “Hidden Figures,” by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Finally, Audra Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was crucial to our overall understanding of the Cold War.


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Jan 17 2018

41mins

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The Cold War - Last Man Standing | 7

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In the early 1970s, while trying to wind down the war in Vietnam, President Richard Nixon made overtures to Moscow and Beijing that would usher in a new era of the Cold War: Detente. But the thaw in relations didn’t last long - the Iran Hostage Crisis and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan set the old adversaries against each other once again. Throughout the Eighties, President Reagan took a hard line against the “Evil Empire,” ramping up military spending and rhetoric, and Americans were once again tense with nuclear anxiety.

Until suddenly, it all changed.


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Jan 24 2018

42mins

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The Cold War - Interview with Audra Wolfe and Patrick Wyman | 8

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We’re closing out our series on the Cold War with two interviews with fascinating historians. First, we’re talking with Audra Wolfe, the author of Competing with the Soviets: Science, Technology, and the State in Cold War America, and the writer of this first six-part series of American History Tellers. Then, we take a seat in the way-back machine with Patrick Wyman, host of the hit podcasts Fall of Rome and Tides of History. We’ll investigate how the Cold War standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union compares to another much earlier rivalry between ancient Rome and the Sassanid Persians. They might not have pointed nuclear warheads at each other, but the conflict was nonetheless tense and protracted.

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Jan 31 2018

48mins

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Prohibition - Closing Time | 1

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On January 17, 1920, the United States passed the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, ushering in a 13-year dry spell known as Prohibition. But how did a country that loved to drink turn its back on alcohol? How did two-thirds of both the House and Senate and three-fourths of State legislatures all agree that going dry was the way to get the country going forward? It had always been a long, uphill battle for the temperance movement, but towards the end of the nineteenth century, certain forces aligned: fears of industrialization, urbanization and immigration. Traditional American life was changing - fast - and many people looked for a scapegoat: the saloon.

For more information on how Prohibition came to be, check out Professor David J. Hanson’s, “Alcohol Problems and Solutions,” a comprehensive, interactive site that outlines all the various stakeholders in the Noble Experiment.

Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is a key text for learning more about Prohibition and how it came about. And, to narrow in on New York, itself, Michael Lerner’s Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City is a tremendous resource.

The bootlegger character was based on a real story, A Bootlegger’s Story: How I Started, which ran in the New Yorker in 1926.

For more on the Atlanta race riots and how they connect to Prohibition, check out this story on NPR, in which professor Cliff Kuhn describes his research. To learn more about the intersection between race and the policing of Prohibition, Lisa McGirr’s The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State is invaluable.

Further references can be found in America Walks Into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops by Christine Sismondo.

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Feb 07 2018

40mins

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Prohibition - Drying Out | 2

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When a German U-boat torpedoed the RMS Lusitania on Friday, May 7th, 1915, Americans found two new enemies: Germany and the beer it was so associated with. Anti-German sentiment grew, and with it hostility to the breweries founded in the 19th century by German immigrants. Soon, the war effort and the temperance movement were linked: it was patriotic to abstain, and Prohibition became law.

How did America cope? They swapped their stool at the bar for a seat at the soda shop, listening to new radios and the first ever baseball broadcasts. But Americans’ thirst wasn’t ever fully quenched: they turned to family doctors who prescribed “medicinal alcohol,” and then finally to the bootleggers, moonshiners and rum-runners who made, smuggled and sold hooch of all types, from top-shelf French cognac to homemade swill that might just kill you.


For more about the Lusitania, check out Dead Wake: The Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson.

Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition has more information on medicinal alcohol and how it was prescribed by doctors. To learn more about medicinal beer, this article by Beverly Gage for The Smithsonian is excellent.

The 1991 study “Alcohol Consumption During Prohibition” by Jeffrey A. Miron and Jeffrey Zwiebel, is considered the definitive study about how much people actually drank during the noble experiment. For more information on how Prohibition played out in the early days, check out Professor David J. Hanson’s, “Alcohol Problems and Solutions,” a comprehensive, interactive site that outlines all the various stakeholders in the Noble Experiment.

To read more about Americans behaving badly in Cuba and other places during Prohibition, check out Wayne Curtis’s And A Bootle of Rum: A History of the World in Ten Cocktails, as well as Matthew Rowley’s Lost Recipes of Prohibition. And, to learn more about rum-runners, Daniel Francis’s book, Closing Time: Prohibition, Rum-Runners and Border Wars is an excellent reference.

Further references can be found in America Walks Into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops by Christine Sismondo.


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Feb 14 2018

33mins

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Prohibition - Speakeasy | 3

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While Prohibition was successful in closing the saloon, it didn’t quench America’s thirst. Enterprising bootleggers found more ways to provide more alcohol to parched Americans – so much that there was finally enough supply to meet demand. New drinking establishments popped up across the nation: speakeasies.

Forced underground, these new types of saloons operated under new rules, too. Women drank right alongside the men, and both black and white patrons danced together to Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, all while local cops shrugged or were paid off to look the other way.

But the Feds hadn’t turned their backs on the bootleggers. They went undercover, arresting thousands in stings that some claimed were entrapment. Increasingly, Federal agents took the job of enforcing Prohibition seriously. They had to; the business of illicit alcohol was growing dangerous – and violent.

To learn more about Izzy Einstein and Moe Smith and the problems involved in the enforcement of Prohibition, check out Professor David J. Hanson’s, “Alcohol Problems and Solutions,” is an excellent resource.

If you want to read more about the raids on Prohibition-era speakeasies in New Orleans, this “Intemperance” map by Hannah C. Griggs is an amazing resource that shows every single raid over in that city. For New York speakeasies, Michael Lerner’s Dry Manhattan is a thorough investigation of that city. Queen of the Nightclubs by Louise Berliner is also a fun read.

To learn more about Harlem and the generation gap in the 1920s, Terrible Honesty by Ann Douglas is required reading.


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Feb 21 2018

34mins

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Bonus | Prohibition Recap | 4

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It's another bonus episode of American History Tellers! Missed episodes 1-3? You can catch up here. If you already listened to those episodes, you may hear something new...

Feb 26 2018

15mins

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Prohibition - Poisoning the Well | 5

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The rise of the speakeasy was one of many unintended consequences of Prohibition - and others were much deadlier.

Not coincidentally, at the same time Prohibition was taking effect, the Klu Klux Klan rose to power. They combined Prohibition’s anti-immigrant rhetoric with violence. 

As the number of speakeasies continued to grow, and states continued to buckle down, suppliers couldn’t keep up. Quality went down. Most bootleg alcohol from the time had elements of stuff that would kill you. But people everywhere still wanted to drink - and they would go to any length to get one.

Almost everyone could see there was a problem with how Prohibition was actually playing out, but no one could agree what the solution was.

No Place of Grace by T. J. Jackson Lears is a fantastic book to learn about the roots of modernism and anti-modernism in American culture. Allan Levine’s The Devil in Babylon also explores these themes, specifically how these impulses played out in 1920’s America.

For more on the author of Elmer Gantry, Sinclair Lewis: Rebel from Main Street by Richard Lingerman is a great read. And to understand the relationship between the Ku Klux Klan and Prohibition, Paul Angle’s Bloody Williamson: A Chapter in American Lawlessness and Thomas Pegram’s articles and books, including One Hundred Percent American are essential reading. Again, Lisa McGirr’s The War on Alcohol explores these topics quite thoroughly and connects them to the rise of the modern state. 

A few different articles have delved into the dirty political campaigns of the 1920s, including this good summary by Mental Floss.

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Feb 28 2018

35mins

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Prohibition - Down and Out | 6

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Closing Time by Daniel Francis provides a good account of the border wars and smuggling across the northern border. Robert Rockaway’s article “The Notorious Purple Gang” details the gang’s origin as well as the Cleaners and Dyers War.

For information about the link between Prohibition and organized crime in Chicago, Gus Russo’s The Outfit and Get Capone by Johnathan Eig are invaluable sources. Al Capone’s Beer Wars by John J. Binder is a fantastic re-assessment of the period that sorts out some of the fact from fiction, in a highly mythologized period. 

For more on the Increased Penalties Act, Michael Lerner’s Dry Manhattan, is a good resource used for this podcast, as is Daniel Okrent’s Last Call. Robin Room’s The Movies and the Wettening of America is the source for the section on Hollywood’s move away from temperance.

Kenneth D. Rose’s American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition provided insight into Pauline Sabin’s work, as did David J. Hanson’s comprehensive resource, Alcohol Problems and Solutions. The Washington Post’s recap of The Man in the Green Hat exposé is available here. 

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Mar 07 2018

39mins

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Prohibition - We Want Beer | 7

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The people had spoken: They wanted beer, and they wanted it now, but not just for drinking. Protestors wanted the jobs that came with breweries, and the country was desperate from the money that could come from alcohol taxes. As quickly as temperance organizations sprang up in the decade before, anti-Prohibition organizations appeared in every city. But, a constitutional amendment had never been repealed before. The anti-Prohibition leagues realized they needed someone bigger than a governor or mayor to repeal this. They went after the Presidency.

For a deeper understanding of the interplay between beer, taxation and the history of Repeal, Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Brew by Maureen Ogle is essential reading.  

Kenneth D. Rose’s American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition provided insight into Pauline Sabin’s work, as did David J. Hanson’s comprehensive resource, Alcohol Problems and Solutions.

Those who want to do a deeper dive into the 1932 DNC and the mob’s involvement, you can read more in the article from Salon, Corruption for Decades. Lisa McGirr’s The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State also explores the relationship between the New Deal and Repeal. For more on Cox’s Army, check out The Bonus Army: An American Epic by Paul Dixon and Thomas B. Allen.

Andrew Barr’s Drink: A Social History of America contains a great chapter about the failure of controls and the legacy of prohibition in state liquor laws and the relationship between California’s wine industry and repeal is well documented in When the Rivers Ran Red by Vivienne Sosnowski. To catch up with the bartenders who are bringing back pre-Prohibition cocktails, David Wondrich’s Imbibe is required reading.


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Mar 14 2018

38mins

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Prohibition | Interview with Lillian Cunningham | 8

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Do you know the record for the longest ratification period of any constitutional amendment? Lillian Cunningham did. She’s an editor with the Washington Post, host of two outstanding American History podcasts, Presidential and Constitutional, and she’s our guest today. 

We’ll talk about amendments, those presidents you can never remember (can you name anything about Millard Fillmore?) and she helps us preview the next series on AHT, the Age of Jackson.

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Mar 21 2018

35mins

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The Age of Jackson | Washington Burns | 1

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In August 1814, the White House burned. A fire that would eventually consume the entire nation in Civil War was already burning. This is Antebellum America.

This is the adolescence of the United States, when the country grew at tremendous speed, and when fundamental questions about the kind of place it would be were being asked. Like, could the states put their individual differences aside to remain one country? And could this new country live up to its lofty ideals, especially when it came to issues like slavery or the treatment of Native Americans?

Welcome to the Age of Jackson.

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Mar 28 2018

39mins

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The Age of Jackson | Good Feelings | 2

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In the summer of 1817, President James Monroe toured the country in an effort to unite the ever-growing United States, torn between bitter political battles that overshadowed national conflict.

To Monroe, the nation seemed ready “to get back into the great family of the union.” And based on reactions to his speech, he was right. A Federalist newspaper hailed Monroe’s visit, and his message of togetherness, as a success.

It ushered in what became known as “The Era of Good Feelings.” In truth, it was barely an era at all. The appearance of political unity had already begun to crack in 1819, when the Monroe administration faced its first serious political crisis: the Missouri Controversy.

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Apr 04 2018

36mins

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The Age of Jackson | King Mob | 3

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From the beginning, Jackson's administration was riddled with controversy. Citizens mobbed the White House on inauguration day, breaking furniture and fine china. They were only lured out with alcohol. And then there was the "Petticoat Affair." His Secretary of War, John Henry Eaton, was the ideal candidate for what we now call the Secretary of State, but there was one small problem... the most beautiful woman in Washington. John was having an affair with a sailor's wife which started rumors around town... that was nothing compared to the firestorm of gossip around town after he married her just after her husband's tragic death at sea. There was widespread chaos and controversy and Jackson's term was just getting started.

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Apr 11 2018

37mins

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Amazing Podcast!

By LoriPulsski - Jan 12 2020
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A Must listen for anyone interested in history. Credibly researched and compellingly told!

Imagine you’re looking for a great podcast...

By -exray - Dec 28 2019
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... stop. You’ve found it.