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Rank #64 in Society & Culture category

Society & Culture
History

History Unplugged Podcast

Updated 2 months ago

Rank #64 in Society & Culture category

Society & Culture
History
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For history lovers who listen to podcasts, History Unplugged is the most comprehensive show of its kind. It's the only show that dedicates episodes to both interviewing experts and answering questions from its audience. First, it features a call-in show where you can ask our resident historian (Scott Rank, PhD) absolutely anything (What was it like to be a Turkish sultan with four wives and twelve concubines? If you were sent back in time, how would you kill Hitler?). Second, it features long-form interviews with best-selling authors who have written about everything. Topics include gruff World War II generals who flew with airmen on bombing raids, a war horse who gained the rank of sergeant, and presidents who gave their best speeches while drunk.

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For history lovers who listen to podcasts, History Unplugged is the most comprehensive show of its kind. It's the only show that dedicates episodes to both interviewing experts and answering questions from its audience. First, it features a call-in show where you can ask our resident historian (Scott Rank, PhD) absolutely anything (What was it like to be a Turkish sultan with four wives and twelve concubines? If you were sent back in time, how would you kill Hitler?). Second, it features long-form interviews with best-selling authors who have written about everything. Topics include gruff World War II generals who flew with airmen on bombing raids, a war horse who gained the rank of sergeant, and presidents who gave their best speeches while drunk.

iTunes Ratings

1608 Ratings
Average Ratings
1092
235
104
80
97

Fascinating

By TildaJean - May 27 2020
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I just listened to the April 10 2020 podcast on discovering you grandfather was Stalin’s bodyguard. Not only did discussion provide some insight into the Soviet Union of the past, but also touched on some more philosophical nuances. It was well worth the listen.

Love.

By Ryan Estes - May 22 2020
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Always informative, always story-driven.

iTunes Ratings

1608 Ratings
Average Ratings
1092
235
104
80
97

Fascinating

By TildaJean - May 27 2020
Read more
I just listened to the April 10 2020 podcast on discovering you grandfather was Stalin’s bodyguard. Not only did discussion provide some insight into the Soviet Union of the past, but also touched on some more philosophical nuances. It was well worth the listen.

Love.

By Ryan Estes - May 22 2020
Read more
Always informative, always story-driven.
Cover image of History Unplugged Podcast

History Unplugged Podcast

Latest release on Jul 30, 2020

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For history lovers who listen to podcasts, History Unplugged is the most comprehensive show of its kind. It's the only show that dedicates episodes to both interviewing experts and answering questions from its audience. First, it features a call-in show where you can ask our resident historian (Scott Rank, PhD) absolutely anything (What was it like to be a Turkish sultan with four wives and twelve concubines? If you were sent back in time, how would you kill Hitler?). Second, it features long-form interviews with best-selling authors who have written about everything. Topics include gruff World War II generals who flew with airmen on bombing raids, a war horse who gained the rank of sergeant, and presidents who gave their best speeches while drunk.

Rank #1: Why Your Favorite Presidents (Lincoln, Washington) Actually Screwed Up America—Brion McClanahan

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Quick – name your favorite president. You probably said Washington or Lincoln, right? C'mon. You can be more original than that. Well, Brion McClanahan is original. He gladly tells people that the greatest president in American history was John Tyler. Confused looks then follow, usually with a question of "Who was that again?" On the other hand, we all have presidents whom we think were terrible. You can point to a Jimmy Carter, a Herbert Hoover, a Warren G. Harding, or (if you're an insufferable history nerd like me) Millard Fillmore. But Abraham Lincoln? Brion McClanahan—again, being original here—makes the argument that Lincoln, far from being America's savior, may have done her irreparable harm. But he is not making this argument for the sake of being a contrarian. Rather it's a position grounded in thorough research an consideration of what the real responsibility of a president is. After all, he wrote a book called 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America: And Four Who Tried to Save Her. I can almost guarantee that you won't be able to guess who he names as the good and bad presidents. In this episode we discuss who they were, why they were so good or bad, and whether Brion has seen Hamilton on Broadway (he has a book on him coming out later this year). McClanahan argues that... Lincoln violated the Constitution because as commander in chief he believed he had to “subdue the enemy,” no matter the collateral damage. His violations created a blueprint for more executive abuse in the future. By the time Obama left office earlier this year, Americans suffered under twenty-eight consecutive years of unconstitutional executive usurpation of power. Over a two-year period, the Obama administration delayed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act twenty-eight times, ostensibly to give employers time to comply with the law. This was a blatantly unconstitutional power grab by the executive office. History has shown that presidents tend to abuse their power in their second term, and that the best presidents tend to serve less than eight years in office. MORE ABOUT BRION Brion McClanahan is the author or co-author of four books, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers, (Regnery, 2009), The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution (Regnery History, 2012), Forgotten Conservatives in American History (Pelican, 2012), and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes, (Regnery, 2012). He has written for TheDailyCaller.com, LewRockwell.com, TheTenthAmendmentCenter.com, Townhall.com, and HumanEvents.com. McClanahan is a faculty member at Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom, has appeared on dozens of radio talk shows, and has spoken across the Southeast on the Founding Fathers and the founding principles of the United States. If you would like to book Dr. McClanahan for a speaking appearance, please email him. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE Brion's website Brion's podcast Tom Woods' Liberty Classroom Brion's Book: 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America: And Four Who Tried to Save Her TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher

May 19 2017

44mins

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Rank #2: History's Most Insane Rulers, Part 1: Emperor Caligula--Bankrupting Rome By Appointing Your Horse Senator

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When Salvador Dali set out to paint a depiction of the infamous Roman Emperor Caligula in 1971, he chose to depict the thing nearest and dearest to the emperor's heart: his favorite racehorse, Incitatus. The painting “Le Cheval de Caligula” shows the pampered pony in all his royal glory. It is wearing a bejeweled crown and clothed in purple blankets and a collar of precious stones. While the gaudy clothing of the horse is historically correct, the Spanish surrealist artist managed perhaps for the only time to understate the strangeness of his subject matter.

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Caligula) was born in 12 A.D. and reigned from 37-41. He was the first emperor with no memory of the pre-Augustan era, that is, before emperors were deified—and had no compunction about being worshipped as a god. As the object of a cultus, the boy emperor believed in his own semi-divine status and saw no reason not to follow whatever strange desire entered his mind, such as treating his horse better than royalty. The Roman historian Suetonius writes that he gave the horse eighteen servants, a marble stable, an ivory manger, and rich red robes. He demanded that it be fed oats mixed with flex of gold and wine delivered in fine goblets. Dignitaries bowed and tolerated Incitatus as a guest of honor at banquets. Caligula repeatedly mocked the system of imperial decorum in Roman upper crust society in incidents such as these. His actions led to his violent death at the hands of political rivals.

May 14 2020

46mins

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Rank #3: Common Knowledge About The Middle Ages That Is Incorrect, Part 1: Why the Middle Ages, Not the Renaissance, Created the Modern World

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The popular view of the Middle Ages is a thousand-year period of superstition and ignorance, punctuated by witch burnings and belief in a flat earth. But the medieval period, more than any other time in history, laid the foundations for the modern world. The work of scholars, intellectuals, architects, statesmen and craftsmen led to rise of towns, the earliest bureaucratic states, the emergence of vernacular literatures, the recovery of Greek science and philosophy with its Arabic additions, and the beginnings of the first European universities.

This episode is the first in a five-part series to explore a revisionist history of the Middle Ages, starting with the Roman Empire’s collapse in the fifth century. We will march through the accounts of Charlemagne’s reign, the Black Plague, the fall of Constantinople, and everything in between. It explores social aspects of the Middle Ages that are still largely misunderstood (i.e., no educated person believed the earth was flat). There was also a surprisingly high level of medieval technology, the love of Aristotle in the Middle Ages, and the lack of witch burnings (those were not popularized until the Thirty Years War in the Renaissance Period).

The Middle Ages were not a period to suffer through until the Renaissance returned Europe to its intellectual and cultural birthright. Rather, they were the fire powering the forge out of which Western identity was forged. The modern world owes a permanent debt of gratitude to the medieval culture of Europe. It was the light that illuminated the darkness following the collapse of Rome and remained lit into the world we inhabit today.

Feb 19 2019

45mins

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Rank #4: The Causes of World War 1

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The reasons for the Great War go way beyond the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Learn about the causes of one of humanity's most vicious wars.

Nov 30 2017

16mins

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Rank #5: COVID-19 is Nothing Compared to the 1918 Spanish Flu

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COVID19, aka - the coronavirus, has triggered mass quarantines and spooked markets across the globe. To date, over 3,000 have died and over 100,000 infected. But however dangerous this virus ends up being, it doesn't belong in the same galaxy as Spanish Flu, which killed up to 100 million in 1918, which was 5 percent of the earth's population.

Today's guest is Dr. Jeremy Brown, director of emergency care at the National Institute of Health and author of Influenza: The 100-Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History. He notes that great strides have been made in medicine the last century, and whatever happens next, it won’t be a second 1918.

We discuss the quarantine methods used in the ancient and medieval worlds during epidemics and pandemics; how the Spanish Flu pandemic began; what it was it like for an average person in 1918 and whether there was an omnipresent fear of death, or were people mostly resigned to their fate; how the Spanish flu pandemic ended; and finally, lessons from 1918 we should heed today.

Here's the bottom line: with coronavirus, you will definitely have it much, much better than your great grandpappy did with Spanish flu.

Mar 12 2020

59mins

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Rank #6: Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, and the Barbarian Empires of the Steppe—Kenneth Harl

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Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan loom large in Western popular consciousness as two of history’s most fearsome warrior-leaders. Chroniclers referred to them as “The Scourge of God” and “Universal Lord” both fascinate and repel. But few people today are aware of their place in a succession of nomadic warriors who used campaigns of terror to sweep across the Eurasian steppes. They toppled empires and seizing control of civilizations. Today Professor Kenneth Harl joins us to talk about the effects of these steppe empires on world civilization. From antiquity through the Middle Ages, nomadic warriors repeatedly emerged from the steppes, exerting direct and indirect pressure on sedentary populations and causing a domino effect of displacement and cultural exchange. Dr. Harl and I discuss these turning points in history set into motion by steppe nomads: The fall of the Roman Empire can be blamed at least in part on the Huns. Christians of Asia Minor converted to Islam after the clergy fled the nomadic Turks. The Mongol sack of Baghdad destroyed the city and its role in the Muslim world. China’s modern-day Great Wall was constructed in response to the humiliation of Mongol rule. The spread of Buddhism and trade followed the Silk Road, which allowed cultural exchange between nomads and settled zones across Eurasia. Russia’s preemptive expansion into the northern regions was a reaction to the horror of being conquered by Mongols.   RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE Kenneth's course “The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes”   ABOUT KENNETH HARL Dr. Kenneth W. Harl is Professor of Classical and Byzantine History at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he teaches courses in Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Crusader history. He earned his B.A. from Trinity College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. An expert on classical Anatolia, he has taken students with him into the field on excursions and to assist in excavations of Hellenistic and Roman sites in Turkey. Professor Harl has also published a wide variety of articles and books, including his current work on coins unearthed in an excavation of Gordion, Turkey, and a new book on Rome and her Iranian foes. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher

Sep 04 2017

1hr 1min

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Rank #7: George Washington Wasn’t the First President. He Was the Ninth

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George Washington was the First President of the United States. This is the most basic fact that an American school child can learn. Only it isn't true. He wasn’t the first. Nor the second. He was actually the ninth president of the United States. How can that be? It all has to do with the ad hoc, make-it-up-as-you-go nature of the United States government between the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the signing of the Constitution in 1789.   TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher

Oct 10 2017

6mins

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Rank #8: The History of Slavery, Part 1: Shackled and Chained in the Ancient World

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When asked “what is slavery?” most Americans or Westerners would respond with a description of an African slave in the antebellum South, picking cotton and suffering under the whip of a cruel master. But if you asked an Irishman in 1650, he would have answered differently. He would recount the horrors of Barbary Muslim pirates invading the town of Baltimore, dragging his kinsmen off to the slave markets of Algeria. A medieval Arab would have still answered differently. He would talk about the African slave trade, albeit the one that went east to Arabia instead of the one that went west to the New World. A Roman would answer differently again, describing slavery as the rightful spoils of war and what brought a Greek to his household that tutors his children.
Slavery goes back to the beginning of the agricultural revolution. It is universal yet localized to the particular conditions in the society that enslaves others. Some researchers think slavery is common across history in that it leads to the social death of a slave. Others think that slaves were treated rather well in the ancient world, and it was only the weaponized racism of recent centuries that turned the chattel slavery of Africans brought to the New World into such a cruel institution.
This episode is the beginning of a five-part series on slavery. We are looking at the origins of the practice, why it began, the work that slaves did, what was the “best” sort of work, and how they revolted. By looking into the past we will have a better understanding of this practice, and how much it resembles slavery in the modern world.

Jul 19 2018

1hr 16mins

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Rank #9: Has The Lost Colony of Roanoke Been Found?

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In 1587, 115 men, women, and children arrived at Roanoke Island on the coast ofNorth Carolina. Chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, their colony was to establish England's first foothold in the New World. But when the colony's leader, John White, returned to Roanoke from a resupply mission, his settlers were nowhere to be found. They left behind only a single clue—a "secret token" carved into a tree. Neither White nor any other European laid eyes on the colonists again.

What happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke? For four hundred years, that question has consumed historians and amateur sleuths, leading only to dead ends and hoaxes. However, Andrew Lawler thinks he might have found the answer.

Lawler, author of the book “The Secret Token,” talked with an archeologist working on one of the supposed destinations of the colonists and discovered that solid answers to the mystery were within reach. He set out to unravel the enigma of the lost settlers, accompanying competing researchers, each hoping to be the first to solve its riddle. In the course of his journey, Lawler encountered a host of characters obsessed with the colonists and their fate, and tried to determine why the Lost Colony continues to haunt our national consciousness.

Jul 23 2019

35mins

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Rank #10: History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 1: Background to the Civil War

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The origins of the Civil War go back decades, even before the United States became an independent nation The federal union had always been precarious, ever since the framing of the Constitution, with the institution of slavery led to two distinct cultures and societies. In this inagurual episode of the History of Civil War in 10 Battles, Scott and James discuss the main social and political issues that sparked the Civil War

Sep 18 2018

46mins

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Rank #11: Why the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the Norman Conquest of England Changed Everything—Jennifer Paxton

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If you were to ask a scholar about one critical moment after which the history of the English-speaking world would never be the same again, it would undoubtedly be the year 1066. I know that because I asked Prof. Jennifer Paxton of the Catholic University of America this very question. She chose that year because during this pivotal time an event occurred that would have untold ramifications for the European continent: the Norman Conquest of England. This year matters deeply for two key reasons. It turned England away from a former Scandinavian orientation toward an orientation with mainland Europe, making the island nation a major player in Europe's political, social, cultural, and religious events. It created a rich hybrid between English and French culture that had a profound impact on everything from language and literature to architecture and law. In our discussion we talk about a world of fierce Viking warriors, powerful noble families, politically charged marriages, tense succession crises, epic military invasions, and much more. But it was the Battle of Hastings in 1066 that forever enshrined in the pages of history the name of William the Conqueror, whose military and political prowess made the Norman Conquest a success. After that England was never the same.   RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE Jennifer Paxton's Great Courses history course:—1066: The Year That Changed Everything     ABOUT JENNIFER PAXTON, PHD Dr. Jennifer Paxton is Director of the University Honors Program and Clinical Assistant Professor of History at The Catholic University of America. The holder of a doctorate in history from Harvard University, Professor Paxton is both a widely published award-winning writer and a highly regarded scholar. Professor Paxton's research focuses on England from the reign of King Alfred to the late 12th century, particularly the intersection between the authority of church and state and the representation of the past in historical texts, especially those produced by religious communities.     TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher

Sep 25 2017

1hr 15mins

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Rank #12: Lost Civilizations: Ancient Societies that Vanished Without a Trace, Part 1

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A stock trope of literature is the king who believes that his kingdom will last forever, only to see it collapse under his own hubris (Exhibit A is Percy Bysshe Shelly's Ozymandias). But the trope is based on historical fact. Many great civilizations vanished without a trace, and why their disappearance still haunts us today.

This episode is the first in a three-part series that will look atf the greatest lost civilizations in history. Some were millenia ahead their neighbors, such as the Indus Valley Civilization, which had better city planning in 3,000 B.C. than any European capital in the 18th century. Others were completely myth-based, such as Plato's lost city of Atlantis, a technological advanced utopia that sank into the ocean "in a single day and night of misfortune"

Whatever the nature of their disappearance, these lost civilizations offer many lessons for us today -- even the greatest of societies can disappear, and that includes us.

Aug 30 2018

1hr 8mins

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Rank #13: Who Were Worse—The Spanish Conquistadors or the Aztecs?

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The Spanish conquistadors have rightly been called out for their brutal treatment and enslavement of native populations. But did they behave worse than the Aztecs?

Nov 14 2017

7mins

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Rank #14: Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, Part 1: The World of the American Revolution

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Grab your musket and your portion of rum, Yankee, because we have a war to fight! James Early returns to the History Unplugged Podcast to kick off a massive series called Key Battles of the Revolutionary War. We get in-depth into the battles that determined the outcome of one of the most consequential wars in history. But we also go deep into the background of social, political, cultural, and theological aspects of the of the 18th century.

Scott and James kick off this episode by talking about the global-level changes in society that made the Revolutionary War possible in the 1770s, and almost impossible anytime earlier. They have to do with changes in warfare and weapons, government/society, political philosophy, British governing policy, and the American colonies themselves.

Sep 17 2019

42mins

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Rank #15: History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 13: The Battle of Gettysburg

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The 1863 Battle of Gettysburg stopped Robert E. Lee's second invasion of the North. It was the deadliest battle of the Civil War, with over 50,000 casualties during the three day battle, a scale of suffering never seen before or since in America. The Union won victory and had new life injected into its war effort. The Confederacy saw its best chance at striking a deadly blow against the North and demoralizing them slip away.

Nov 08 2018

1hr 24mins

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Rank #16: Dan Carlin of Hardcore History on Why the German Military Was Better in WW1 Than WW2

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I was honored on this episode to interview Dan Carlin, whose podcast Hardcore History is the biggest history podcast in existence. It regularly features shows of 5-6 hours in length covering everything from the Mongol invasions to doomsday prophets of the Reformation. I met up with Dan at the Podcast Movement conference in August 2017. Since he had a six-part series on World War 1 (Blueprint for Armageddon), I wanted to ask Dan about a comment he made in the podcast, that Germany's army in World War 1 was superior to its army in World War 2. He elaborated in this episode, and as always, brings the goods.       TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher

Sep 13 2017

7mins

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Rank #17: Ulysses S. Grant Was (Mostly) Responsible For Winning the Civil War. Robert E. Lee Was Responsible For Losing It.

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Ever since the end of the Civil War, a mythology of Robert E. Lee's military genius was developed by Confederate veterans as a way to support the idea that the South was defeated only because of the Union's overwhelming advantages in men and resources. Known as the “Lost Cause” interpretation of the Civil War, it provided a sense of relief to white Southerners who feared being dishonored by defeat.

In this episode, I explore the research of the late Civil War historian Edward Bonekemper, who wrote many books challenging this thesis. He argues that Grant—far from being a bloodthirsty drunk who won by brute force alone—was the most successful Union or Confederate general of the war. Grant won the war by excelling in three theaters. He fought six Confederate armies, defeated all of them, and captured three of them. He succeeded for two years in the West with amazingly minimal casualties—particularly when compared with those of his foes. He conquered the Mississippi Valley and chased the Confederates out of Chattanooga and Tennessee.

Lee, in contrast, has been praised for his offensives against the Union Army of the Potomac, he was carrying out an aggressive strategy with aggressive tactics that were inconsistent with what should have been a Confederate grand defensive strategy. The Union, not the Confederacy, had the burden of winning the war, and the South, outnumbered about four-to-one in white men of fighting age, had a severe manpower shortage. Nevertheless, Lee acted as though he were a Union general and attacked again and again as though his side had the burden of winning and also had an unlimited supply of soldiers.

Apr 12 2018

1hr 8mins

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Rank #18: Understanding the Rise of Islam Through Military History

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How did an initially small religious movement envelope such enormous areas of the world? That is precisely what the community of believers under Muhammed did, conquering the Persian Empire and crippling the Byzantine Empire in a matter of decades, two global powers who were unable to do this to each other despite their best efforts. This episode looks at the rise of Islam, the most historically significant event of the early Middle Ages, through the perspective of military and social history.

Jan 17 2019

50mins

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Rank #19: How Texas Almost Became German

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Like much of the United States, Texas has a large popular whose ancestors originated in Germany. But Texas takes it a step further. In the 1840s a massive immigration of Germans arrived when the Adelsverein (The Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas) organized at Biebrich on the Rhine near Mainz. It assisted thousands in coming to Central Texas and establishing such settlements as New Braunfels and Fredericksburg. So many arrived that Texas practically became an outpost of Germany.   TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher

Jul 28 2017

5mins

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Rank #20: Everything You Need to Know About D-Day: H-Hour, Weapons Info, and First-Hand Accounts from Soldiers, Beachmasters, and the French Resistanc

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The D-Day landing of June 6, 1944, ranks as the boldest and most successful large-scale invasion in military history.
On June 6, as Operation Overlord went forward, roughly 160,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel, supported by seven thousand ships and boats, and landed on the coast of Normandy.The seaborne invasion included nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers. They established a beachhead from which the Germans were unable to dislodge them. Within ten days, there were half a million troops ashore, and within three weeks there were two million.
In this episode I take a comprehensive look at the largest amphibious assault in history

Jun 14 2018

1hr

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The Nazi Spy Ring in America: The Third Reich's Agents, the FBI, and the Case That Stirred the Nation

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In the mid-1930s, just as the United States was embarking on a policy of neutrality, Nazi Germany embarked on a program of espionage against the unwary nation. Hitler’s attempts to interfere in American affairs by spreading anti-Semitic propaganda, stealing military technology, and mapping US defenses.

Today’s guest is Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, author of the book “The Nazi Spy Ring in America.” Using recently declassified material, he shows how Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Abwehr, was able to steal top secret US technology such as a prototype codebreaking machine and data about the latest fighter planes.

Enlisting the services of German-American fascists and anti-Semites, they resorted to ruthless methods to achieve their goals, including murdering the wife and daughter of an American industrialist. When the spy ring was busted in 1938 by FBI agent Leon Turrou, the ensuing trial caused a national sensation and played a significant role in shifting public opinion against Germany, awakening many Americans to the looming Nazi threat.

This story provides essential insight into the role of espionage in shaping American perceptions of Germany in the years leading up to US entry into World War II and sheds light on a now-forgotten but significant episode in the history of international relations.

Jul 30 2020

48mins

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Introducing "The Sneak: Murders at Whiskey Creek"

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This episode is a preview of the new season of Wondery's "The Sneak."
World Champion surfer Jack Murphy pulled off the biggest jewel heist in American history. He became infamous as his face was plastered across the front pages of every newspaper in the country.

After a massive manhunt, Jack was eventually caught. He was sent to prison, but somehow talked his way out of jail, and headed home to the beautiful beaches of Southern Florida - a free man.

But this was only the start of his misadventures on the wrong side of the law. Jack was later arrested for the murder of two women, who were directly related to his other crimes.

From Wondery and USA Today, comes a new season of The Sneak: Murders at Whiskey Creek - a new true crime show unlike any you have ever heard. With exclusive interviews with the victims and perpetrators, The Sneak reveals secrets that have been kept for decades.

You’re about to hear a preview of The Sneak: Murders at Whiskey Creek. While you're listening, subscribe to The Sneak: Murders at Whiskey Creek today on Apple Podcasts. Or binge all 9 episodes on the Wondery App with a free trial of Wondery Plus.

Jul 29 2020

5mins

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In 1200 AD, This Indian City on the Mississippi Was Larger Than London And On the Verge Of Starting an Advanced Civilization

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Many great Mesoamerican civilizations existed before and long after the arrival of Christopher Columbus: The Incans, Mayas, and Aztecs. But there was one civilization in North America you likely never have heard of that could have been more advanced as any of them, a reached a level of China or Mesopotamian civilization.

The Mississippian Culture of North America built a number of settlements in the centuries before Columbus arrived in the new world. The largest settlement, Cahokia, may have had up to 50,000 residents in 1200 A.D. This made it larger than contemporary London and Paris. The entire city was planned and built on a grid that matched with celestial events. In the center of the city was a mound made up of 22 million cubic feet of earth, making it nearly as impressive as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Native cultures north of Mesoamerica (in the modern-day US) on the cusp of becoming an advanced civilization? Many of the ingredients were there, and perhaps a little more mixing would have done it.

Jul 28 2020

51mins

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America's Hub of Global Trade and Culture Was and Is....the Midwest?

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When Kristin L. Hoganson arrived in Champaign, Illinois, after teaching at Harvard, studying at Yale, and living in the D.C. metro area with various stints overseas, she expected to find her new home, well, isolated. Even provincial. After all, she had landed in the American heartland, a place where the nation's identity exists in its pristine form. Or so we have been taught to believe. Struck by the gap between reputation and reality, she determined to get to the bottom of history and myth. The deeper she dug into the making of the modern heartland, the wider her story became as she realized that she'd uncovered an unheralded crossroads of people, commerce, and ideas. But the really interesting thing, Hoganson found, was that over the course of American history, even as the region's connections with the rest of the planet became increasingly dense and intricate, the idea of the rural Midwest as a steadfast heartland became a stronger and more stubbornly immovable myth.

I’m speaking to Hoganson today, who is author of the book The Heartland: An American History. She tracks both the backstory of this region and the evolution of the idea of an unalloyed heart at the center of the land.

Jul 23 2020

30mins

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How Hollywood First Depicted the Atomic Bomb and the Manhattan Project

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Soon after atomic bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, MGM set out to make a movie studio chief Louis B. Mayer called “the most important story” he would ever film: a big budget dramatization of the Manhattan Project and the invention and use of the revolutionary new weapon.

Over at Paramount, Hal B. Wallis was ramping up his own film version. His screenwriter: the novelist Ayn Rand, who saw in physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer the model for a character she was sketching for Atlas Shrugged.

Today’s guest is Greg Mitchell’s, author of “The Beginning or the End,” and we discuss the first efforts of American media and culture to process the Atomic Age. A movie that began as a cautionary tale inspired by atomic scientists aiming to warn the world against a nuclear arms race would be drained of all impact due to revisions and retakes ordered by President Truman and the military—for reasons of propaganda, politics, and petty human vanity (this was Hollywood, after all).

Jul 21 2020

49mins

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A Time of Perfect American National Unity is a Myth, But Some US Origin Stories Are Better Than Others

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The cherished idea of United States as a unified country has been long believed. But today’s guest Colin Woodard argues that this is an invented tradition. He has argued for the existence of 11 separate stateless nations within the United States, where rival cultures explain the history, identity, and voting behaviors of the United States. At least 5 explanations for American ideology have existed, from Manifest Destiny to Frederick Douglas's civic nationalism. However, there is a vision of American that can bring us all together.
In his new book “Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood,” he examines how the myth of our national unity was created and fought over by five men—George Bancroft, William Gilmore Simms, Frederick Douglass, Woodrow Wilson, and Frederick Jackson Turner—and how it continues to affect us today.

If we’ve never been one America, but several, then where did the narrative of United States nationhood come from? Who came up with it, when, and why? How did it come to be accepted and at what point did it succeed in concealing the fragmented reality? In the 19th and early 20th century, a small group of individuals—historians, political leaders, and novelists—fashioned a history that attempted to erase the fundamental differences and profound tensions between the nation’s regional cultures. These men were creating the idea of an American nation instead of a union of disparate states—but their rosy vision was immediately contested by another set of intellectuals who claimed that if we are a nation at all, it is an ethno-state belonging to the allegedly superior Anglo-Saxon race. This concept eventually morphed into white supremacy and ethno-nationalism in people like Woodrow Wilson.

The fight continues today but there are narratives that could unite all of us and that's what we'll discuss today.

Jul 16 2020

47mins

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40 Thieves on Saipan: The Elite Marine Scout-Snipers in One of WWII’s Bloodiest Battles

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Before there were Navy SEALs, before there were Green Berets, there were the 40 Thieves: the elite Scout Sniper Platoon of the Sixth Marine Regiment during World War II.
Behind enemy lines on the island of Saipan—where firing a gun could mean instant discovery and death—the 40 Thieves killed in silence during the grueling battle for Saipan, the "D-Day" of the Pacific.
Now Joseph Tachovsky—today's guest and whose father Frank was the commanding officer of the 40 Thieves, also called "Tachovsky's Terrors"—joins with award-winning author Cynthia Kraack to transport readers back to the brutal Battle of Saipan.

World War 2 Marines were the poorest equipped branch of the services at that time, and they were notorious thieves. To improve their odds for victory against the Japanese, they found it necessary to improve their supply chains through “Marine Methods,” stealing. Being the elite of the Sixth Regiment, the Scout-Sniper Platoon excelled at the craft—earning them the nickname of the “40 Thieves” from their envious peers. Upon returning from a 1943 trip to the Pacific theater, Eleanor Roosevelt observed, “The Marines I have met around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marines.”

Jul 14 2020

38mins

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George Washington’s Team of Rivals: How His Cabinet Forefathered One of America’s Most Powerful Institutions

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The U.S. Constitution never established a presidential cabinet—the delegates to the Constitutional Convention explicitly rejected the idea. So how did George Washington create one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government?

On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries—Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph—for the first cabinet meeting. Why did he wait two and a half years into his presidency to call his cabinet? Because the U.S. Constitution did not create or provide for such a body. Washington was on his own.

Faced with diplomatic crises, domestic insurrections, and constitutional challenges—and finding congressional help lacking—Washington decided he needed a group of advisors he could turn to. He modeled his new cabinet on the councils of war he had led as commander of the Continental Army. In the early days, the cabinet served at the president’s pleasure. Washington tinkered with its structure throughout his administration, at times calling regular meetings, at other times preferring written advice and individual discussions.

Todays guest, Lindsay M. Chervinsky, author of the book The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, reveals the far-reaching consequences of Washington’s choice. The tensions in the cabinet between Hamilton and Jefferson heightened partisanship and contributed to the development of the first party system. And as Washington faced an increasingly recalcitrant Congress, he came to treat the cabinet as a private advisory body to summon as needed, greatly expanding the role of the president and the executive branch.

Jul 09 2020

42mins

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Lessons From James Monroe, Who Defeated a Pandemic and Overcame Partisanship

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James Monroe, America’s fifth president and the last chief executive of the Founding Father generation, lived a life defined by revolutions. From the battlefields of the War for Independence, to his ambassadorship in Paris in the days of the guillotine, to his own role in the creation of Congress's partisan divide, he was a man who embodied the restless spirit of the age. He was never one to back down from a fight, whether it be with Alexander Hamilton, with whom he nearly engaged in a duel (prevented, ironically, by Aaron Burr), or George Washington, his hero turned political opponent.
Today’s guest, Tim McGrath, author of James Monroe: A life, discusses the epic sweep of Monroe’s life: his near-death wounding at Trenton and a brutal winter at Valley Forge; his pivotal negotiations with France over the Louisiana Purchase; his deep, complex friendships with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison; his valiant leadership when the British ransacked the nation’s capital and burned down the Executive Mansion; and Monroe’s lifelong struggle to reckon with his own complicity in slavery. Elected the fifth president of the United States in 1816, this fiercest of partisans sought to bridge divisions and sow unity, calming turbulent political seas and inheriting Washington's mantle of placing country above party. Over his two terms, Monroe transformed the nation, strengthening American power both at home and abroad.

Jul 07 2020

31mins

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Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men’s Epic Duel to Rule the World

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At the dawn of the twentieth century, when human flight was still considered an impossibility, Germany's Count von Zeppelin vied with the Wright Brothers to build the world's first successful flying machine. As the Wrights labored to invent the airplane, Zeppelin fathered the wondrous airship, sparking a bitter rivalry between the two types of aircraft and their innovators that would last for decades in the quest to control one of humanity's most inspiring achievements. And it was the airship--not the airplane--that would lead the way.

In the glittery 1920s, the count's brilliant protégé, Hugo Eckener, achieved undreamt-of feats of daring and skill, including the extraordinary round-the-world voyage of the Graf Zeppelin. What Charles Lindbergh almost died doing--crossing the Atlantic in 1927--Eckener effortlessly accomplished three years before the Spirit of St. Louis even took off.

I'm talking to Alexander Rose, author of the new book “Empires of the Sky,” which gets into this story. Even as the Nazis sought to exploit Zeppelins for their own nefarious purposes, Eckener built his masterwork, the behemoth Hindenburg--a marvel of design and engineering. Eckener met his match in Juan Trippe, the ruthlessly ambitious king of Pan American Airways, who believed his fleet of next-generation planes would vanquish Eckener's coming airship armada. It was a fight only one man--and one technology--could win. Countering each other's moves on the global chessboard, each seeking to wrest the advantage from his rival, the two men's struggle for mastery of the air was not only the clash of technologies, but of business, diplomacy, politics, personalities, and their vastly different dreams of the future.

Jul 02 2020

1hr 11mins

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Nazis Nearly Assassinated Stalin, Churchill, and FDR in 1943. What If They Had Succeeded?

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In the middle of World War II, Nazi military intelligence discovered a seemingly easy way to win the war for Adolf Hitler. The three heads of the Allied forces—Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin—were planning to meet in Iran in October 1943. Under Hitler's personal direction, the Nazis launched “Operation Long Jump,” an intricate plan to track the Allied leaders in Tehran and assassinate all three men at the same time. “I suppose it would make a pretty good haul if they could get all three of us,” Roosevelt later said. The plan failed, but what if it had succeeded?

Perhaps some good could have come out of it, namely a less brutal Soviet premier who killed millions. But many frightening scenarios also emerge, such as an American-Soviet pact against Europe, or a Cold War that goes hot in the 1950s. In the infinite alternate timelines that include a successful assassination of theBig Three, most of them are bad.

Jun 30 2020

38mins

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In the 1850s, A Mormon Renegade Started a Massive Pirate Colony in Michigan

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In the summer of 1843, James Strang, a charismatic young lawyer and avowed atheist, vanished from a rural town in New York. Months later he reappeared on the Midwestern frontier and converted to a burgeoning religious movement known as Mormonism. In the wake of the murder of the sect’s leader, Joseph Smith, Strang unveiled a letter purportedly from the prophet naming him successor, and persuaded hundreds of fellow converts to follow him to an island in Lake Michigan, where he declared himself a divine king.

From this stronghold he controlled a fourth of the state of Michigan, establishing a pirate colony where he practiced plural marriage and perpetrated thefts, corruption, and frauds of all kinds. Eventually, having run afoul of powerful enemies, including the American president, Strang was assassinated, an event that was frontpage news across the country.

Today’s guest is Miles Harvey, author of “The King of Confidence.” Centering his narrative on this charlatan’s turbulent twelve years in power, Strang’s story gets into a crucial period of antebellum history and an account of one of the country’s boldest con men and the boisterous era that allowed him to thrive.

Jun 25 2020

51mins

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The Good Assassin: A Mossad Agent's Hunt For WW2’s “Butcher of Latvia”

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Before World War II, Herbert Cukurs was a famous figure in his small Latvian city, the “Charles Lindbergh of his country.” But by 1945, he was the Butcher of Latvia, a man who murdered some thirty thousand Latvian Jews. Somehow, he dodged the Nuremberg trials, fleeing to South America after war’s end.

By 1965, as a statute of limitations on all Nazi war crimes threatened to expire, Germany sought to welcome previous concentration camp commanders, pogrom leaders, and executioners, as citizens. The global pursuit of Nazi criminals escalated to beat the looming deadline, and Mossad, the Israeli national intelligence agency, joined the cause. Yaakov Meidad, the brilliant Mossad agent who had kidnapped Adolf Eichmann three years earlier, led the mission to assassinate Cukurs in a desperate bid to block the amnesty. In a thrilling undercover operation unrivaled by even the most ambitious spy novels, Meidad traveled to Brazil in an elaborate disguise, befriended Cukurs and earned his trust, while negotiations over the Nazi pardon neared a boiling point.
Today’s guest, Stephan Talty, is author of The Good Assassin, which uncovers this little-known chapter of Holocaust history and the undercover operation that brought Cukurs to justice.

Jun 23 2020

25mins

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Death From Above - How Paratroopers Evolved From a WW1 Pipe Dream To A Key Part of Combined-Arms Assault

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“Paratroopers are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it were some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts to ungentlemanly lengths, worshiping their units almost as if they were a God, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages... [but] generally speaking, the United States Paratroopers I’ve come in contact with are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”

This unattributed quote sums up the unique role that paratroopers have played in the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries. With the invention of the airplane, military strategists imaged troops clinging to the wings of Wright Bros. flyers and landing in enemy trenches. Such plans never came to fruition, but technical advances made it possible to drops thousands of soldiers with reasonable safety and accuracy. During WW2, Nazi Germany's paratroopers (Fallschirmjäger) had incredible success in Norway and the Netherlands and even rescued Benito Mussolini in a commando mission. Over 22,000 of them were dropped on Crete. Allied paratroopers famously landed in France on the eve of D-Day, making Operation Overlord a possibility.

In this episode, we look at the origins of paratrooping, its function in war, and how it was part of the evolution of military strategy in the 20 century, in which different combat arms were integrated to achieve complementary effects.

Jun 18 2020

49mins

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Want to Star Your Own Nation? That's What a Family Did in 1967 When it Created "Sealand"

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In 1967, a retired army major and self-made millionaire named Paddy Roy Bates cemented his family's place in history when he inaugurated himself ruler of the Principality of Sealand, a tiny dominion of the high seas. And so began the peculiar story of the world's most stubborn micronation on a World War II anti-aircraft gun platform off the British coast.

Today’s guest, Dylan Taylor-Lehman tells us the story of Sealand, a raucous tale of how a rogue adventurer seized the disused Maunsell Sea Fort from pirate radio broadcasters, settled his eccentric family on it, and defended their tiny kingdom from UK government officials and armed mercenaries for half a century. There were battles and schemes as Roy and his crew engaged with diplomats, entertained purveyors of pirate radio and TV, and even thwarted an attempted coup that saw the Prince Regent taken hostage. Incredibly, more than fifty years later, the self-proclaimed independent nation still stands--replete with its own constitution, national flag and anthem, currency, and passports.

But Sealand is more than a quirky story. It hearkens back to the conquistadors who wanted to carve out their own sovereign nations and looks to the future of libertarian billionaires who want to build their own floating micronation of their own.

Jun 16 2020

38mins

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Why the Galileo Affair is One of History's Most Misunderstood Events

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One of the most misconstrued events in history is the Galileo affair. It is commonly understood as a black-and-white morality play of science vs. religion. Galileo proves the Sun is the center of the solar system but the reactionary medieval Catholic Church is scandalized by somebody questioning their geocentric model. They imprison and torture the “heretic.” Other scientists are afraid to speak up against this oppressive regime.

The real story is much more complicated. There were churchmen on both sides of the geocentric/heliocentric debate. Galileo did not conclusively prove the heliocentric model (that didn’t come until long after his death). And much of the reason that the Catholic Church ordered his house imprisonment (not torture) was that Galileo slyly made fun of the pope in one of his writings.

Today’s guest is astrophysicist Mario Livio, author of the book “Galileo and the Science Deniers.” We get into the trial, the immediate aftermath, and the legacy that the trial has today. Livio began researching the life, ideas, and actions of Galileo; his life is filled with lessons relevant for today—whether with respect to trusting the advice given by scientists in relation to COVID-19 or any other matter of public importance.

Jun 11 2020

47mins

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Henry Knox's Noble Train: How a Boston Bookseller’s Expedition Saved the American Revolution

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During the brutal winter of 1775-1776, an untested Boston bookseller named Henry Knox commandeered an oxen train hauling sixty tons of cannons and other artillery from Fort Ticonderoga near the Canadian border. He and his men journeyed some three hundred miles south and east over frozen, often-treacherous terrain to supply George Washington for his attack of British troops occupying Boston. The result was the British surrender of Boston and the first major victory for the Colonial Army.
William Hazelgrove, author of “Henry Knox’s Noble Train,” joins us today to discuss one of the great stories of the American Revolution, still little known by comparison with the more famous battles of Concord, Lexington, and Bunker Hill. At this time, the ragtag American rebels were in a desperate situation. Washington's army was withering away from desertion and expiring enlistments. Typhoid fever, typhus, and dysentery were taking a terrible toll. There was little hope of dislodging British General Howe and his 20,000 British troops in Boston--until Henry Knox arrived with his supply convoy of heavy armaments. Firing down on the city from the surrounding Dorchester Heights, these weapons created a decisive turning point. An act of near desperation fueled by courage, daring, and sheer tenacity led to a tremendous victory for the cause of independence.

Jun 09 2020

47mins

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Dewey Defeats Truman: The 1948 Election and the Battle for America's Soul

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On the eve of the 1948 election, America was a fractured country. Racism was rampant, foreign relations were fraught, and political parties were more divided than ever. Americans were certain that President Harry S. Truman’s political career was over. “The ballots haven’t been counted,” noted political columnist Fred Othman, “but there seems to be no further need for holding up an affectional farewell to Harry Truman.” Truman’s own staff did not believe he could win. Nor did his wife, Bess. The only man in the world confident that Truman would win was Mr. Truman himself. And win he did.

How did he do it? A confluence of factors that resemble those of today. According to A.J. Baime, today's guest and author of Dewey Defeats Truman, 1948 was a fight for the soul of a nation. We discuss some of most action-packed six months in American history, as Truman not only triumphs, but oversees watershed events—the passing of the Marshall plan, the acknowledgment of Israel as a new state, the careful attention to the origins of the Cold War, and the first desegregation of the military.
Not only did Truman win the election, but he also succeeded in guiding his country forward at a critical time with high stakes and haunting parallels to the modern day.

Jun 04 2020

46mins

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History’s First Global Manhunt: The Search for 18th Century Pirate Henry Every

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Most confrontations, viewed from the wide angle of history, are minor disputes, sparks that quickly die out. But every now and then, someone strikes a match that lights up the whole planet.

That idea applies to Henry Every, the seventeenth century’s most notorious pirate. The press published wildly popular—and wildly inaccurate—reports of his nefarious adventures. The British government offered enormous bounties for his capture, alive or (preferably) dead. But today’s guest Steven Johnson argues that Every’s most lasting legacy was his inadvertent triggering of a major shift in the global economy. He's the author of the new book "Enemy of All Mankind," which focuses on one key event—the attack on an Indian treasure ship by Every and his crew—and its surprising repercussions across time and space. It’s the tale one of the most lucrative crimes in history, the first international manhunt, and the trial of the seventeenth century.
Johnson uses the story of Henry Every and his crimes to explore the emergence of the East India Company, the British Empire, and the modern global marketplace: a densely interconnected planet ruled by nations and corporations. How did this unlikely pirate and his notorious crime end up playing a key role in the birth of multinational capitalism?

Jun 02 2020

44mins

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History's Most Insane Rulers, Part 5: Ludwig II of Bavaria

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Ludwig II of Bavaria was a dreamer, above all. The king famously built fairy-tale style castles that adorned the Alps but were completely useless for defensive or social reasons (the king held large balls there where he was the only attendee and dined alone, maintaining conversations with his imaginary friends, Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette).

Lesser known about him, but equally odd, he went on high-speed midnight sleigh rides through the Alps, with him and his party dresses in full costume. His nocturnal behavior became legend among Alpine villagers. He woke up each evening at seven o'clock, lunched at midnight, ate his supper in the early morning, and went on strange adventures in the interim. Ludwig sometimes spent the entire night riding around the Court Riding School in Munich. At the halfway stage he would dismount and have a picnic, even in the foulest weather. Once he stopped in the middle of a blizzard, telling his servants that they were in fact at an ocean resort beneath the shining sun. Other times he dressed as French King Louis XIV, wore the state crown, and carried a scepter. The party then continued until reaching whatever goal existed in his imagination.

May 28 2020

46mins

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Fascinating

By TildaJean - May 27 2020
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I just listened to the April 10 2020 podcast on discovering you grandfather was Stalin’s bodyguard. Not only did discussion provide some insight into the Soviet Union of the past, but also touched on some more philosophical nuances. It was well worth the listen.

Love.

By Ryan Estes - May 22 2020
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Always informative, always story-driven.