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 (Scot…
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Three years into a global pandemic, the fact that infectious disease is capable of reshaping humanity is obvious. But seen in the context of sixty thousand years of human and scientific history, COVID-19 is simply the latest in a series of world-changing pathogens. In fact, the role that humans play in social and political change is often overstated. Instead, bacteria and viruses have been the invisible protagonists of mankind's ever-evolving story. Today's guest is Jonathan Kennedy, author of “Pathogensis: A History of the World in Eight Plagues.” We discuss how Neanderthals and other early species of humans died out—not because they were cognitively inferior to Homo sapiens but because they were vulnerable to the diseases they carried; how disease triggered the agricultural revolution and allowed it to spread; how plague outbreaks in the 6th and 7th centuries led to the creation of modern states in Western Europe and the transformation of Islam into a world religion; and how infectious diseases aided the colonization of the Americas but inhibited the colonization of AfricaThis show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at https://www.spreaker.com/show/3101278/advertisement
The horror occurred in a rustic farming enclave in 1920s Hungary. Investigators would discover that a murder ring of women was responsible for the deaths of at least 160 men. It was an unlikely lineup of killers—village wives, mothers, and daughters. At the center of it all was a sharp-minded village midwife, a “smiling Buddha” known as Auntie Suzy, who distilled arsenic from flypaper and distributed it to the women of Nagyrév. “Why are you bothering with him?” Auntie Suzy would ask, as she produced an arsenic-filled vial from her apron pocket. In the beginning, a great many used the deadly solution to finally be free of cruel and abusive spouses. But as the number of dead bodies grew without consequence, the killers grew bolder. With each vial of poison emptied, a new reason surfaced to drain yet another. Some women disposed of sickly relatives. Some used arsenic as “inheritance powder” to secure land and houses. For more than fifteen years, the unlikely murderers aided death unfettered and tended to it as if it were simply another chore—spooning doses of arsenic into soup and wine, stirring it into coffee and brandy. By the time their crimes were discovered, hundreds were feared dead. Todays guest is Patti McCracken, author of “The Angel Makers: Arsenic, a Midwife, and Modern History's Most Astonishing Murder Ring.” We explore whether these murders were of a very particular time and place, or if they could happen anywhere if the right conditions emerge.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at https://www.spreaker.com/show/3101278/advertisement
Eddie Rickenbacker shouldn't have survived—his childhood, his auto racing career, the first World War as he became America's greatest ace, the many plane crashes that had taken others' lives but yet, not his. A Medal of Honor recipient, he became a genuine icon and hero to the American people, providing a reason to celebrate during the Depression and inspiring them to face life's daily challenges. But then, in his 50s in 1942, Rickenbacker faced his worst odds yet: a B-17 bomber forced to ditch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with only inflatable rafts to survive the searing days and freezingnights—and no way to contact anyone. To tell Eddie's story is today's guest, John Wukovits, author of “Lost at Sea: Eddie Rickenbacker's Twenty-Four Days Adrift on the Pacific.” We look at his fight for survival with seven other men adrift on the Pacific. We also look at how many times Eddie Rickenbacker actually defied death—including one airline crash when a dislodged eyeball dangled on his cheek, and yet he tried to help the otherpeople escape while he remained pinned inside the plane.
The American Civil War brought with it unprecedented demands upon the warring sections—North and South. The conflict required a mobilization and an organization of natural and man-made resources on a massive scale.In this episode I talk with Jeffry Wert, author of the new book Civil War Barons, which profiles the contributions of nineteen Northern businessmen to the Union cause. They were tinkerers, inventors, improvisers, builders, organizers, entrepreneurs, and all visionaries. They contributed to the war effort in myriad ways: they operated railroads, designed repeating firearms, condensed milk, sawed lumber, cured meat, built warships, purified medicines, forged iron, made horseshoes, constructed wagons, and financed a war. And some of their names and companies have endured—Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Deere, McCormick, Studebaker, Armour, and Squibb.The eclectic group includes Henry Burden, a Scottish immigrant who invented a horseshoe-making machine in the 1830s, who refined the process to be able to forge a horseshoe every second, supplying the Union army with 70 million horseshoes during the four years. John Deere's plows “sang through the rich sod, portending bountiful harvests for a Union in peril.” And Jay Cooke emerged from the war as the most famous banker in America, earning a reputation for trustworthiness with his marketing of government bonds.
In late December 1776, the American War of Independence appeared tobe on its last legs. General George Washington's continental forces hadbeen reduced to a shadow of their former strength, the British Armyhad chased them across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, andenlistments for many of the rank and file would be up by month's end.Desperate times call for desperate measures, however, and GeorgeWashington responded to this crisis with astonishing audacity. OnChristmas night 1776, he recrossed the Delaware as a nor'easterchurned up the coast, burying his small detachment under howlingsheets of snow and ice. Undaunted, they attacked a Hessian brigade atTrenton, New Jersey, taking the German auxiliaries by completesurprise. Then, only three days later, Washington struck again, crossingthe Delaware, slipping away from the British at Trenton, and attackingthe Redcoats at Princeton—to their utter astonishment. The British, now back on their heels, retreated toward New Brunswickas Washington's reinvigorated force followed them north into Jersey.Over the next eight months, Washington's continentals and the statemilitias of New Jersey would go head-to-head with the British in amultitude of small-scale actions and large-scale battles, eventuallyforcing the British to flee New Jersey by sea. In this narrative of the American War of Independence, today's guest Jim Stempel, author of “The Enemy Harassed: Washington's New Jersey Campaign of 1777” brings to life one of the most violent, courageous, yet virtually forgotten periods of the Revolutionary War.
The Middle Ages are seen as a bloodthirsty time of Vikings, saints and kings: a patriarchal society which oppressed and excluded women. But when we dig a little deeper into the truth, we can see that the “dark” ages were anything but.Oxford and BBC historian Janina Ramirez, today's guest author of the new book “Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It,” has uncovered countless influential women's names struck out of historical records, with the word FEMINA annotated beside them. Only now, through a careful examination of the artefacts, writings and possessions they left behind, are the influential and multifaceted lives of women emerging. Femina goes beyond the official records to uncover the true impact of women, such as: · Jadwiga, the only female King in Europe · Margery Kempe, who exploited her image and story to ensure her notoriety · Loftus Princess, whose existence gives us clues about the beginnings of Christianity in England
In this snippet from Josh Cohen's "Eyewitness History," Vietnam War veteran & "tunnel rat" Nick Sanza discusses his experience overseas, what it's like coming from a long lineage of military service, and what he learned from the tunnels in this interview from the Eyewitness History podcast. Continue listening to Eyewitness History: Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/44jShCiSpotify: https://spoti.fi/3LPfaXdDiscover more episodes of Eyewitness History: Podcasting Inventor Adam Curry: https://apple.co/44kEfQV / https://spoti.fi/410f3MFEx Double Agent & Nelson Mandela Spy Bradley Steyn: https://apple.co/3LN9EEp / https://spoti.fi/3oZtqUiHolocaust Survivor Gene Klein: https://apple.co/3EhOIQK / https://spoti.fi/3g7VGQAWWII Veteran Vince Speranza: https://apple.co/3gh33VN / https://spoti.fi/3tAxTM2Queen Keyboardist Spike Edney: https://apple.co/3Ocx6dR / https://spoti.fi/3OhXLGg
At its height in 660 BCE, the kingdom of Assyria stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. It was the first empire the world had ever seen. Assyria's wide-ranging conquests have long been known from the Hebrew Bible and later Greek accounts (and its reputation for unspeakable cruelty, with images of Assyrians skinning its enemies alive carved into stone on an Assyrian royal palace). But nearly two centuries of research now permit a rich picture of the Assyrians and their empire beyond the battlefield: their vast libraries and monumental sculptures, their elaborate trade and information networks, and the crucial role played by royal women. Today's guest is Eckart Frahm, author of “Assyria: The Rise and Fall of the World's First Empire.” Using archaeological research, along with the study of tens of thousands of cuneiform texts, researchers have been able to construct a more accurate depiction of Assyrian life, revealing the empire's enduring impact on global civilization. Frahm shows how despite its war-prone image, Assyria proved innovative in the realms of architecture, arts, technology, and diplomacy. Readers will learn about the elaborate “Royal Road” that enabled trade and communication over vast distances, how Assyrian scholars created the first universal library, and about the impact of plagues and climate change on the empire's fortunes.
One person's psychosis can be easily dismissed, but how do we account for collective hysteria, when an entire crowd sees the same illusion or suffer from the same illness? It's enough to make somebody believe in dark magic and pick up their pitchfork, ready to hang an accused witch.Sadly, such paranoia has led to many witch hunts in the past. In today's episode we look at some of the most notorious historical cases of mass hysteria and moral panics. But these cases don't only extend to Puritan-era witch panics. We will also look at cases that hit closer to home—such as economic bubbles and the housing market crash of the early 2000s.This episode includes such cases of mass hysteria as-- Dancing mania, in which German peasants in 1374 spent weeks dancing in a fugue state, with some toppling over dead from utter exhaustion-- The cat nuns of medieval France, where the sisters became to inexplicably meow together, leaving the surrounding community perplexed-- The Salem Witch trials, where 19 were executed due to claims of sorcery-- The Jersey Devil Panic, in which dozens of newspapers claimed in 1909 that a winged creature attacked a trolley car in Haddon Heights
In the 1960s, the world's attention was focused on a nail-biting race against time: Fifty countries contributed nearly a billion dollars to save a dozen ancient Egyptian temples, built during the height of the pharaohs' rule, from drowning in the floodwaters of the gigantic new Aswan High Dam. But the massive press coverage of this unprecedented rescue effort completely overlooked the gutsy French archaeologist who made it all happen. Without the intervention of Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, the temples—including the Metropolitan Museum's Temple of Dendur—would be at the bottom of a huge reservoir. It was a project of unimaginable size and complexity that required the fragile sandstone temples to be dismantled, stone by stone, and rebuilt on higher ground. A willful, real-life version of Indiana Jones, Desroches-Noblecourt refused to be cowed by anyone or anything. As a member of the French Resistance in World War II she had survived imprisonment by the Nazis; in her fight to save the temples, she defied two of the most daunting leaders of the postwar world, Egyptian President Abdel Nasser and French President Charles de Gaulle. As she told one reporter, “You don't get anywhere without a fight, you know.” Yet Desroches-Noblecourt was not the only woman who played a crucial role in the endeavor. The other was Jacqueline Kennedy, America's new First Lady, who persuaded her husband to call on Congress to help fund the rescue effort. After a century and a half of Western plunder of Egypt's ancient monuments, Desroches-Noblecourt had done the opposite. She had helped preserve a crucial part of its cultural heritage and, just as important, made sure it remained in its homeland.Today's guest is Lynne Olson, author of “Empress of the Nile: The Daredevil Archeologist Who Saved Egypt's Ancient Temples.” We discuss why Christiane Desroches is something of a real-life female Indiana Jones, what tactics Desroches used to save Egyptian antiquities from flooding in the Nile basin, and how important her intervention was to the effort.
Inspired by Charles Darwin's ideas about evolution, the theory of eugenics arose in Victorian England as a proposal for ‘improving' the British population. It quickly spread to America, where it was embraced by presidents, funded by Gilded Age monopolists, and enshrined into racist laws that became the ideological cornerstone of the Third Reich. Despite this horrific legacy, eugenics looms large today as the advances in genetics in the last thirty years—from the sequencing of the human genome to modern gene editing techniques—have brought the idea of population purification back into the mainstream. Today's guest, Adam Rutherford, author of “Control: The Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics” calls eugenics “a defining idea of the twentieth century.” Eugenics has “a short history, but a long past,” Rutherford writes. With roots in key philosophical texts of the classical world that formed the basis of the Nazi worldview and the rationale for genocide, eugenics still informs present-day discussions and beliefs about race supremacy and genetic purity. It remains an eternal temptation to powerful people who wish to sculpt society through reproductive control.
The roots of the Second World War in Europe lie within the First World War. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles formally ended the war between Germany and the western Allies, but the geopolitical situation it created was far from stable. Ten years later, the Great Depression made things even worse. In this episode preview from Key Battles of American History (the first in the World War II in Europe series), James and cohost Sean McIver discuss the unsettled state of Europe between 1918 and 1930 and the gradual fracturing of the uneasy peace that it enjoyed.To continue listening to Key Battles of American History, check out the links below!Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3nCfZZySpotify: https://spoti.fi/3nIwO5c
The history of the American Revolution is written by and about the victors like Washington, Jefferson, and Adams. But separating the heroes from the villains is not so black and white.So how should we remember a man like Major General Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee III—the father of Robert E. Lee— who rose to glory, helped shape the fabric of America, but ultimately ended his life in ruin? He is responsible for valiant victories, enduring accomplishments, and catastrophic failures.Today I'm speaking with Ryan Cole, author of the new book Light-Horse Harry Lee: The Rise and Fall of a Revolutionary HeroWe discuss how he was a...Brilliant cavalryman who played a crucial role in Nathanael Greene's strategy that led to Britain's surrender at YorktownClose friend of George Washington—he gave the famous eulogy of “first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen” which is widely quoted todayStrong supporter of the Constitution—his arguments led Virginia, the most influential colony in the soon-to-be country, to ratify itVictim of a violent political mob—he was beaten with clubs, his nose was partially sliced off, and hot wax was dripped into his eyes
Abraham Lincoln, unlike most of his political brethren, kept organized Christianity at arm's length. He never joined a church and only sometimes attended Sunday services with his wife. But over the course of his life, the erstwhile skeptic effectively evolved into the nation's first evangelical president. The Civil War, he told Americans, was divine retribution for the sin of slavery. “Lincoln's God: How Faith Transformed a President and a Nation” by today's guest Joshua Zeitz, is the story of that transformation, the role Lincoln's conversion played in the war, and the way it in turn transformed Protestantism. Rather than focus on battles and personalities, we explore the social impact of the war on Northerners' spiritual worldview, and the ways in which religion helped millions of Northerners interpret the carnage and political upheaval of the 1850s and 1860s. about the book. Long underestimated in accounts of the Civil War, religion—specifically evangelical Christianity—played an instrumental role on the battlefield and home front, and in the corridors of government.
Saint Augustine of Hippo is one of the most important figures of the Latin Middle Ages, and his writings have shaped Western thought on marriage and sexuality. However, few have considered the deeply influential role of the women in his life and how they shaped his thinking. Drawing on how Augustine's presents them in his startlingly intimate memoir, Confessions, it becomes clear that this canonical Western is not only arguably the first autobiography; it offers a rare account of the Classical World through the eyes of women. Today's guest is Kate Cooper, author of Queens of a Fallen World, a book that explores the troubled world of the waning Roman Empire through the lens of four prominent women whose lives were chronicled in Saint Augustine of Hippo's startlingly intimate memoir, Confessions — Justina, the troubled empress of ancient Rome; Tacita, the ten-year-old Milanese heiress from whom Augustine broke his engagement, irrevocably altering the course of both their lives; Monica of Thagaste, Augustine's mother; and Una, Augustine's mistress, companion of fifteen years and mother to his illegitimate son. It's a story of not only Augustine, but, more broadly, the role of women in Antiquity.
One year after the Civil War ended, a group of delusional and mostly incompetent commanders sponsored by bitterly competing groups riddled with spies, led tiny armies against the combined forces of the British, Canadian, and American governments. They were leaders of America's feuding Irish émigré groups who thought they could conquer Canada and blackmail Great Britain (then the world's military superpower) into granting Ireland its independence.The story behind the infamous 1866 Fenian Raids seems implausible (and whiskey-fueled), but ultimately is an inspiring tale of heroic patriotism. Inspired by a fervent love for Ireland and a burning desire to free her from British rule, members of the Fenian Brotherhood – a semi-secret band of Irish-American revolutionaries – made plans to seize the British province of Canada and hold it hostage until the independence of Ireland was secured.When the Fenian Raids began, Ireland had been subjugated by Britain for over seven hundred years. The British had taken away Ireland's religion, culture, and language, and when the Great Hunger stuck, they even took away her food, exporting it to other realms of the British Empire. Those who escaped the famine and fled to America were inspired by the revolutionary actions of the Civil War to fight for their own country's freedom. After receiving a promise from President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward not to interfere with any military plans, the Fenian Brotherhood - which included a one-armed Civil War hero, an English spy posing as French sympathizer, an Irish revolutionary who faked his own death to escape capture, and a Fenian leader turned British loyalist – began to implement their grand plan to secure Ireland's freedom. They executed daring prison breaks from an Australian penal colony, conducted political assassinations and engaged in double-dealings, managing to seize a piece of Canada for three days.Today I'm speaking with Christopher Klein, author of the book WHEN THE IRISH INVADED CANADA: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland's Freedom. He brings light to this forgotten but fascinating story in history.
Family has been an inexhaustible source of conflict for writers from the ancient to modern worlds – maybe even more inexhaustible than war. From Greek dramatists Aeschylus and Sophocles to Confucius, family is a source of both self-destruction and self-actualization. In this episode, we explore how family dynamics have changed over the centuries but have surprisingly universal characteristics across time and space. We are joined by Krishnan Venkatesh, host of the “Continuing the Conversation” podcast. We being with a journey deep into the heart of Thebes—where King Laius has died at the hands of his own son Oedipus, and Oedipus has unwittingly married his mother Jocasta—and a subtler journey into the world of 20th century Japanese filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu, where a happily domiciled father and daughter, Somiya and Noriko, will be ripped apart by the norms and expectations of tradition. This is an exploration of the nature of family, the tension between the safety and anxiety that family creates, and the rich and multiple ways that different societies express these insights.
Six hundred years ago, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani —an esteemed judge, poet, and scholar in Cairo— wrote “Merits of the Plague,” a landmark work of history and religious thought that looked at accounts of centuries worth of plague outbreak and their possible origins, along with explanations of why God would allow such devastation to take place. This work wasn't only theoretical but also based on experience. He survived the bubonic plague, which took the lives of three of his children, not to mention tens of millions of others throughout the medieval world. Holding up an eerie mirror to our own time, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani reflects on the origins of plagues—from those of Muhammad's era to the Black Death of his own—and what it means that such catastrophes could have been willed by God, while also chronicling the fear, isolation, scapegoating, economic tumult, political failures, and crises of faith that he lived through. But in considering the meaning of suffering and mass death, he also offers a message of radical hope. Today's guests are Joel Blecher and Mairaj Syed, editors and translators of the book into modern English. We discuss the book and how it weaves together accounts of evil jinn, religious stories, medical manuals, death-count registers, poetry, and the author's personal anecdotes. “Merits of the Plague” is a profound reminder that with tragedy comes one of the noblest expressions of our humanity: the practice of compassion, patience, and care for those around us.
An oft-overlooked chapter in American History is the Creek War, a conflict between the Creek Indians and a young United States hungry for expansion in the early 1800s. It's remembered as an important early chapter in the life of Andrew Jackson, but what few realize is that it altered the course of early American history more than any other event, opening the Deep South to plantation cultivation and setting the stage for the Civil War. Today's guest is Peter Cozzens, author of “A Brutal Reckoning: Andrew Jackson, the Creek Indians, and the Epic War for the American South.” We discuss the dispossession of Indian lands by the young American republic and an unexplored piece of early American history, and a vivid portrait of Jackson as a young, ambitious, and cruel military commander.
The United States has yet to elect its first female president, but over a century ago, there was a woman acting as the leader of this nation—before women could even vote nationwide. Her name was Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, wife of Woodrow Wilson. When Woodrow was incapacitated by a stroke in 1919, this fact was hidden from the public, Congress, and nearly everyone but his closest allies. Edith ran the executive branch, while at the same time downplaying her own role and influence. Portrayals of Edith tended to cast her as either a naïve rube who was manipulated by sophisticated political strategists or a power-hungry climber who seized control for her own gratification. But she was far more complex than these caricatures. Edith was raised by Confederates who mourned their lost plantation lifestyle, then rose to social prominence in the glittering years of Gilded Age Washington, then was elevated of the role of First Lady, just as the U.S. was becoming an international superpower. Today's guest is Rebecca Boggs Roberts, author of “Untold Power: The Fascinating Rise and Complex Legacy of First Lady Edith Wilson.” We look at her many contradictions – an independent woman of means (who owned her own business and was the first licensed female driver in DC), at once deeply invested in exercising her own power but also opposed to women's suffrage.
Victory gardens are perhaps the U.S. government's most successful and long-lasting propaganda campaign. It began during World War One, when the War Garden Commission offered free handbooks for garden tips and published stories in newspapers to encourage citizens to plant food crops in any little piece of unused land so citizens could help provide food for America's allies fighting in Europe. The idea caught on, and by the end of the war, over 5 million gardens were planted, producing nearly $10 billion (in today's dollars) worth of food. By World War 2, nearly 60 percent of U.S. households had some kind of garden. Over 40 percent of the nation's fresh produce was grown in a local garden. Today's guest is Maggie Stuckey, author of “The Container Victory Garden: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Your Own Groceries.” With a renewed interest in home gardening during the 2020 lockdowns, she realized the astonishing surge of gardening activity was a modern-day version of wartime Victory Gardens, when Americans planted a few vegetables in whatever little patch of ground they could find. And even more surprising was how eerily the tragedies mirrored each other through the decades: World War I with its gardens and its influenza pandemic, World War II with its gardens and its devastating loss of life, and 2020's gardens in response to the coronavirus pandemic. We look at the surprising relevance of Victory Gardens today.
The last stand at Thermopylae made the Spartans legends in their own time, famous for their toughness, stoicism and martial prowess. They were feared for never surrendering and never running from a fight, always preferring death to dishonor. But was this reputation earned? How much of it was true versus an exaggeration that compounded over the centuries?That's the question that today's guest, Myke Cole, asked himself when he set out to investigate their military history, which became his book “The Bronze Lie: Shattering the Myth of Spartan Warrior Supremacy,Spartan history had its moments of glory, but it was also punctuated by frequent and heavy losses. It was a society dedicated to militarism not in service to Greek unity or to the Spartan state itself, but as a desperate measure intended to keep its massive population of helots (a near-slave underclass) in line. What successes there were, such as in the Peloponnesian Wars, gave Sparta only a brief period of hegemony over Greece. Today, there is no greater testament to this than the relative position of modern Sparta and its famous rival Athens.Nevertheless, there is still plenty to appreciate about the Spartans when we look at them as real people, not as mythological figures.
King Arthur. The search for the historical figure behind what is arguably the most famous cycle of legends ever has been relentless over the centuries. Many think he was a Romano-British military commander in the 5th/6th centuries who fought the Anglo-Saxons and saved Britain in its infancy. But other historians put the real-life Arthur at a much earlier date, arguing that the man whose story started the traditions of Arthur was a soldier name Lucius Artorius Castus who lived at the end of the second century A.D. There are enough historical clues to reconstruct Castus's extraordinary, which career took him from one end of the Roman Empire to the other, bringing him into contact with tribespeople amongst the Steppe nomads – in particular the Sarmatians. For several decades the Sarmatians have been thought to be the inspiration behind Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, among other British tales. Today's guests are John Matthews and Linda Malcor, authors of “Artorius: The Real King Arthur.” We focus on Castus's career, not only commenting on the parallels with the Arthurian tradition but also providing details about the Roman Empire of the second century A.D. along the way.
In 19th century America, no science was more important than botany. Understanding plants meant more productive plantations, more wealth extracted from cash crops, and more money flowing into the United States. The science of botany became weaponized, fueling ideas of Manifest Destiny and other programs of political expansion was used for political ends. But other authors and thinkers believed that nature could teach humanity different lessons. Nathaniel Hawthorne's struggles in his garden inspired him to write stories in which plants defy human efforts to impose order. Radical scientific ideas about plant intelligence and sociality prompted Emily Dickinson to imagine a human polity that embraces kinship with the natural world. Frederick Douglass cautioned that the most prominent political context for plants remained plantation slavery. Today's guest is Mary Kuhn, author of “The Garden Politic: Global Plants and Botanical Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century America.” We explore how politicians of the 19th century used agriculture as a vehicle for power politics, but the same branch of science contained the seeds of alternative political visions.
In the late 1830s a young black man was born into a world of wealth and privilege in the powerful, thousand-year-old African kingdom of Borno. But instead of becoming a respected general like his fearsome father (who was known as The Lion), Nicolas Said's fate was to fight a very different kind of battle. At the age of thirteen, Said was kidnapped and sold into slavery, beginning an epic journey that would take him across Africa, Asia, Europe, and eventually the United States, where he would join one of the first African American regiments in the Union Army. Nicholas Said would then spend the rest of his life fighting for equality. Along the way, Said encountered such luminaries as Queen Victoria and Czar Nicholas I, fought Civil War battles that would turn the war for the North, established schools to educate newly freed black children, and served as one of the first black voting registrars.Today's guest is today's guest Dean Calbreath, author of“The Sergeant, a biography of Said. Through the lens of Said's continent-crossing life, Calbreath examines the parallels and differences in the ways slavery was practiced from a global and religious perspective, and he highlights how Said's experiences echo the discrimination, segregation, and violence.
What do Italian unification, Pinocchio and pizza have in common? In this episode preview from History of the Papacy, host Steve Guerra dives in!The Risorgimento was a period of political and social upheaval in Italy that lasted from the early 19th century to the mid-20th century. The movement aimed to unite the various states and regions of Italy into one unified nation. Pinocchio, the beloved children's story written by Carlo Collodi, can be seen as a metaphor for Italian unification through the character's journey from a wooden puppet to a real boy. And last but not least, let's talk about pizza. Italy's most famous export, pizza, is a symbol of the country's rich cultural heritage and culinary traditions. Whether you're a fan of traditional Margherita or a more unconventional topping, there's a pizza for everyone. To continue listening to History of the Papacy, check out:Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3L4IzN9 Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3ZtqsEd Parthenon: https://www.parthenonpodcast.com/history-of-the-papacy-podcast
November 4, 1791, was a black day in American history. General Arthur St. Clair's army had been ambushed by Native Americans in what is now western Ohio. In just three hours, St. Clair's force sustained the greatest loss ever inflicted on the United States Army by American Indians—a total nearly three times larger than what incurred in the more famous Custer fight of 1876. It was the greatest proportional loss by any American army in the nation's history. By the time this fighting ended, over six hundred corpses littered an area of about three and one half football fields laid end to end. Still more bodies were strewn along the primitive road used by hundreds of survivors as they ran for their lives with Native Americans in hot pursuit. It was a disaster of cataclysmic proportions for George Washington's first administration, which had been in office for only two years. Today's guest is Alan Gaff, author of Field of Corpses: Arthur St. Clair and the Death of the American Army. We look at the first great challenge of Washington's presidency, a humiliating defeat that the United States needed to strengthen its military or die. It's a war story that emphasizes individuals and small units rather than grandiose armies and famous generals, making St. Clair's defeat all the more immersive and personable.
Rudolf Ivanovich Abel was one of the most integral agents of the KBG, the Soviet Union's most renowned spy network during the Cold War of the 1950s. He may have infiltrated Los Alamos labs and fed critical intelligence back to Moscow through the use of cloak-and-dagger techniques like sneaking microfilm in hollowed- out coins and dropping bundles of cash at lamppost hideaways. He kept it up until his cover was blown by an incompetent colleague who wanted to defect to the United States. This lead resulted in a frenzied search by the FBI to discover the identity and whereabouts of the spymaster. The month long stake out of his hotel in Manhattan leading to his eventual arrest and transfer to a Texas deportation facility where he was put under extensive interrogation. His three-month trial and guilty verdict for violating U.S. espionage laws resulted in 30 years in prison rather than the electric chair. The exchange for his freedom several years later involved the American Spy Francis Gary Powers. To discuss this story is today's guest Cecil Kuhne, a prominent litigator, who has long been interested in the world of Cold War. He is the author of KGB Man: The Cold War's Most Notorious Soviet Agent and the First to be Exchanged at the Bridge of Spies.
In 1848, a year of international democratic revolt, a young, enslaved couple, Ellen and William Craft, achieved one of the boldest feats of self-emancipation in American history. They escaped slavery through daring, determination, and disguise, with Ellen passing as a wealthy, disabled white man and William posing as “his” slave. They made their escape together across more than 1,000 miles, riding out in the open on steamboats, carriages, and trains that took them from bondage in Georgia to the free states of the North.Along the way, they dodged slave traders, military officers, and even friends of their enslavers, who might have revealed their true identities. The tale of their adventure soon made them celebrities and generated headlines around the country. Americans could not get enough of this charismatic young couple, who traveled another 1,000 miles crisscrossing New England, drawing thunderous applause as they spoke alongside some of the greatest abolitionist luminaries of the day—among them Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown.But even then, they were not out of danger. With the passage of an infamous new Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, all Americans became accountable for returning refugees like the Crafts to slavery. Then yet another adventure began, as slave hunters came up from Georgia, forcing the Crafts to flee once again—this time from the United States, their lives and thousands more on the line, and the stakes never higher. Today's guest is Ilyon Woo, author of “Master, Slave, Husband, Wife: An Epic Journey From Slavery to Freedom.” We look at this story of escape, emancipation, and the challenges of Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction America.
The December 7, 1941, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor thrust theUnited States into World War II. Just six months later in May 1942,flying new C-47 transport aircraft, the 60th Troop Carrier Group ledthe way as the first U.S. TCG to deploy to England and the EuropeanTheater of Operations in World War II. Leading the way to victory,the 60th TCG's first mission—dropping U. S. paratroopers outside ofOran, North Africa—was not only the first combat airborne missionin U.S. Army history, but also the longest airborne mission of theentire war. This drop spearheaded Operation TORCH, also known asthe Invasion of North Africa, by taking key Axis airfields just inlandfrom the amphibious landing zones. The 60th TCG went on to fly some of the first combat aeromedical evacuation missions and the first combat mission towing CG-4A “Waco” gliders during Operation HUSKY—the Invasion of Sicily. As the new airborne, air land,aeromedical evacuation, and glider missions matured in World WarII, the 60th TCG continued to play a major role, paying in blood forvaluable lessons learned in the school of hard knocks. The group laterflew dramatic missions into Yugoslavia, supporting Partisans as partof the secret war in the Balkans, an episode of World War II historystill all but unknown today and dropped British paratroops in theairborne invasion of Greece. The Group was inactivated at the end ofthe war. Today's guest is Col. Mark C. Vlahos, author of “Leading the Way to Victory: A History of the 60th Troop Carrier Group 1940-1945.” We look at the group's battles, adversity, hardships, and triumphs from inception through the Allied victory in Europe.
Growing up in New York as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Nina Siegal had always wondered about the experience of her mother and maternal grandparents living in Europe during World War II. She had heard stories of the war as a child from her mother and grandfather, and read Anne Frank's diary in school, but the tales were crafted as moral lessons — to never waste food, to be grateful for all you receive, to hide your silver — while the details of the past went untold to make it easier to assimilate into American life. When Siegal moved to Amsterdam as an adult, those questions came up again, as did another horrifying one: Why did seventy five percent of the Dutch Jewish community perish in the war, while in other Western European countries the proportions were significantly lower? How did this square with the narratives of Dutch resistance she had heard so much about? Siegal decided to get into the archives and look at wartime diaries of Dutch citizens from all walks of life and eventually wrote “The Diary Keepers World War II In The Netherlands, as Written by the People Who Lived Through It.” Siegal joins us to discuss a part of history we haven't seen in quite this way before. We look at stories of a Dutch Nazi police detective, a Jewish journalist imprisoned at Westerbork transit camp, a grocery store owner who saved dozens of lives, and several others into a braided nonfictional narrative of the Nazi occupation and the Dutch Holocaust, as individuals experienced it day by day.
There are countless ways Shakespeare has made his way into unexpected corners of American life. It starts at the top with our presidents. Shakespeare is a longtime ally of America's Commanders-in-Chief: Thomas Jefferson took a pilgrimage to his house, John Adams took lessons from King Lear about child usurpers, and JFK thought that the Bard spoke so directly to the U.S.'s Cold War challenges that he was more American than British. But Shakespeare speaks to many other classes of people. In 1849, a riot broke out in New York between working class and aristocratic theatre fans over which actor did the best Hamlet, and 31 were left dead.Today's guest is Barry Edelstein, a seasoned director of Shakespeare and host of the new podcast Where There's a Will: Finding Shakespeare. . From a Henry V performance in a maximum security prison to a look at how Shakespeare assists children on the autism spectrum, we explore why the Bard's works permeate our history and culture, and what that says about him, and about our society.
Some remember Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency as a time of peace and prosperity, but in reality, it was an era of constant global crises. In this episode preview from This American President, host Richard Lim explores how Eisenhower skillfully navigated the perils of the Cold War.To continue listening to This American President, check out:Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3RNJS4jSpotify: https://spoti.fi/3jTClEjParthenon: https://www.parthenonpodcast.com/this-american-president Hear more episodes of This American President:Theodore Roosevelt and the Pursuit of Greatness: https://apple.co/3IgUAx9 / https://spoti.fi/3E0zoZvZachary Taylor, America's Only Homeless President: https://apple.co/40OuGaW / https://spoti.fi/3DUzzFBThe Turbulent Life and Improbable Presidency of Grover Cleveland: https://apple.co/3xdIUER / https://spoti.fi/3ltBmLF
In 1861, just as the Civil War began, the leaders of the Confederacy soon realized they were outmatched when it came to military might, especially in terms of Naval power. (For example, the U.S. Navy had 42 commissioned ships as of the start of the year—the Confederacy had 1.) And the Northern states had much more industrial might in order to get more ships built. With such a stark advantage, the Union was able to form a naval blockade that could choke the Confederacy militarily, and also economically.The leaders of the Confederacy realized that the only way to outfit a strong navy was to receive support from aboard—namely, from the still-neutral Great Britain. Neutral though its leaders claimed to be, public sentiment in Britain at the time leaned toward the Confederacy. The Southern leaders dispatched the charming and devious Captain James Bulloch to Liverpool to lead the way to clandestinely acquire a cutting-edge fleet of ships (and weapons) that would break President Lincoln's blockade of Confederate ports, sink Northern merchant vessels, and drown the U.S. Navy's mightiest ships at sea. The profits from gunrunning and smuggling cotton—Dixie's notorious “white gold”—would finance the scheme.Opposing him was the American consul named Thomas Dudley, a resolute Quaker lawyer and abolitionist. Knowing that the state of the Union was at stake, he was determined to stop Bulloch by any means necessary in a spy-versus-spy game of move and countermove, gambit and sacrifice, intrigue and betrayal. If Dudley failed, Britain would likely ally with the South and imperil a Northern victory.The battleground for these spy games was the Dickensian port of Liverpool, whose dockyards built more ships each year than the rest of the world combined, whose warehouses stored more cotton than anywhere else on earth, and whose merchant princes, said one observer, were “addicted to Southern proclivities, foreign slave trade, and domestic bribery.”To tell this story is today's guest Alexander Rose, author of “The Lion and the Fox: Two Rival Spies and the Secret Plot to Build a Confederate Navy.”
One of the lowest points of World War 2 for the Allies was autumn 1943, when bombing runs from England to Germany were ramping up. Hundreds of B-17s flew out to strike military targets, but they flew unescorted due to being the only planes with enough range (fighters could only make it from England to Belgium and back) and were sitting ducks for German fighters. Losses were as high as 25 percent. Flight crews were grounded and murmured mutiny.But what change everything was the revolutionary P-51 Mustang fighter. It had a top speed of over 400 mph and fly over 2,000 miles – outrunning and outlasting any other fighter in the war. But not many know the story of how it gained its reputation—how it nearly didn't make it to the skies at all. Today's guests are David and Margaret White, author of “Wings of War: The World War II Fighter Plane that Saved the Allies and the Believers Who Made It Fly.”We discuss how the P-51 Mustang airplane was not only used in the war, but how it was created, the roadblocks that almost prevented it from taking flight against the Luftwaffe, and how it ultimately won the war.
No British General of the Revolutionary War has been written about more than John Burgoyne. That's because of his surrender of his army at Saratoga, New York in 1777, widely seen as the turning point in the Revolutionary War. He is considered a reckless lout, and there's plenty in his life story to support this characterization. He gambled heavily and possibly had to flee England as a young man to escape his debtors. His father-in-law eventually paid Burgoyne's debts and got him another commission in the army, just in time for the 7 Years War. There he served admirably and became a war hero. But 300 years after his birth, the many lives of Burgyone -- dashing cavalry colonel of the Seven Years War, satirical London playwright, reformer Member of Parliament, gambler in the clubs on St James's Street – have been forgotten.Today's guest is Norman Poser, author of From the Battlefield to the Stage: The Many Lives of General John Burgyone. We look not only at the Saratoga campaign, but also elements of Burgoyne's eventful life that have never been adequately explored. He was a socialite, welcome in London's fashionable drawing rooms, a high-stakes gambler in its elite clubs, and a playwright whose social comedies were successfully performed on the London stage. Moreover, as a member of Parliament for thirty years, Burgoyne supported the rule of law, fought the corruption of the East India Company – he was a sworn enemy of Clive of India whom he denounced with all his might – and advocated religious tolerance.
"How might the British have handled Hitler differently?” remains one of history's greatest "what ifs."Many fault the Neville Chamberlain administration of the 1930s with trying to appease the Fuhrer by any means necessary. But they failed, still got a war, and earned a reputation for cowardice. Or as Winston Churchill said to Chamberlain, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.” But what if we haven't given Britain enough credit for trying to stave off the war in ways that weren't dishonorable?It turns out they did, and they got very creative. One method involved using a handful of amateur British intelligence agents who wined, dined, and befriended the leading National Socialists between the wars. With support from royalty, aristocracy, politicians, and businessmen, they hoped to use the recently founded Anglo-German Fellowship as a vehicle to civilize and enlighten the Nazis.At the heart of the story are a pacifist Welsh historian, a World War I flying ace, and a butterfly-collecting businessman, who together offered the British government better intelligence on the horrifying rise of the Nazis than any other agents. They infiltrated the Nazi high command deeper than any other spies, relaying accurate intelligence to both their government and to its anti-appeasing critics. Having established a personal rapport with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, they delivered intelligence to him directly, paving the way for American military support for Great Britain against the Nazi threat.To tell this story is today's guest, Charles Spicer, author of “Coffee With Hitler.” His book is based on eight years of research among letters, intelligence reports, and other primary sources, many of which have been lost or overlooked by historians.While these men didn't succeed in their goal, they did feed critical intelligence to the British Establishment and gave them a very clear understanding of the threat that Hitler posed. That's why when war did finally break out, Britain wasn't caught asleep at the switch. It had spent years arming itself and training for the outbreak of hostilities. More could have been done – and that's always the case when it comes to total war – but we have these men to credit for trying to avoid and neutralize an enemy that was unavoidable and immovable.
What if one book could contain the sum of mankind's knowledge? Scholars and chroniclers have tried to write this book since antiquity, penning several so-called universal histories (perhaps the best was Rashid al-Din's “Compendium of the Chronicles” that was commissioned by a Mongol Empire daughter state in 14th century). This goal was reached in 1768 with the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was published in Scotland by Enlightenment thinkers who believed that human thinking could be categorized. It became a fixture of American households in the 19th century and occupied the bookshelves of every library and school in the United States until very recently.Today's guest is Jill Lepore's show, host of the show “The Last Archive,” about the US's post-truth crisis -- of how we know what we know and why it seems lately as if we can't agree on anything at all. She both reckons with the present moment through her historical expertise and also presents solutions that are forward and current.
How far can a single leader alter the course of history? Thomas Carlyle, who promoted the Great Man Theory, says that talented leaders are the primary – if not the sole – cause of change. This view has been challenged by social scientists who understand that leaders are not only constrained by their societies, but merely products of them. Whatever this interplay between a personality and his society, it raises the question of whether dictators are as unconstrained as they seem, and if so, how do they attain that power?Today's guest is Ian Kershaw, author of Personality and Power. We look at an array of case-studies of twentieth-century European leaders – some dictators, some democrats – and explore what was it about these leaders, and the times in which they lived, that allowed them such untrammelled and murderous power, and what factors brought that era in Europe to an end?
The most disruptive and transformative event in the Middle Ages wasn't the Crusades, the Battle of Agincourt, or even the Black Death. It was the Mongol Conquests. Even after his death, Genghis Khan's Mongol Empire grew to become the largest in history—four times the size of Alexander the Great's and stretching from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. But the extent to which these conquering invasions and subsequent Mongol rule transformed the diverse landscape of the medieval Near East have been understated in our understanding of the modern world.Today's guest is Nicholas Morton, author of “The Mongol Storm: Making and Breaking Empires in the Middle East.” We discuss the overlapping connections of religion, architecture, trade, philosophy and ideas that reformed over a century of Mongol rule. Rather than a Euro- or even Mongol-centric perspective, this history uniquely examines the Mongol invasions from the multiple perspectives of the network of peoples of the Near East and travelers from all directions—including famous figures of this era such as Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Ibn Khaldun, and Roger Bacon, who observed and reported on the changing region to their respective cultures—and the impacted peoples of empires—Byzantine, Seljuk and then Ottoman Turks, Ayyubid, Armenian, and more—under the violence of conquest.
On January 16, 1944, the submarine rescue vessel USS Macaw ran aground at Midway Atoll while attempting to tow the stranded submarine USS Flier. The Flier was pulled free six days later but another three weeks of salvage efforts plagued by rough seas and equipment failures failed to dislodge the Macaw. On February 12, enormous waves nudged the ship backward into deeper water. As night fell and the Macaw slowly sank, the twenty-two sailors on board—ship's captain Paul W. Burton, his executive officer, and twenty enlisted men—sought refuge in the pilothouse but by the following afternoon, the compartment was almost entirely flooded. Burton gave the order to open the portside door and make for the foremast. Three men succeeded but most of the others were swept overboard. Five of them died, including Burton. Three sailors from the base at Midway also lost their lives in two unauthorized rescue attempts.Today's guest is Tim Loughman, author of A Strange Whim of the Sea: The Wreck of the USS Macaw. He traces the ship's service from its launch on San Francisco Bay to its disastrous final days at Midway. It tells a war story short on combat but not on drama, a wartime tragedy in which the conflict is more interpersonal, and perhaps intrapersonal, than international. Ultimately, for Burton and the Macaw the real enemy was the sea, and in a deadly denouement, the sea won. Highlighting the underreported role auxiliary vessels played in the war, A Strange Whim of the Sea engages naval historians and students alike with a previously untold story of struggle, sacrifice, death, and survival in the World War II Pacific.
Some anthropologists once believed that humanity lived in a peaceful state that lacked large-scale warfare before the arrival of large civilizations and all its wealth inequality and manufacture of weapons. But archeological findings have shown over and over that warfare dates back as far as homo sapiens themselves (such as the Bronze Age Battle of Tollense River, about which we known nearly nothing, save that 5,000 soldiers fought each other with primitive weapons).Throughout history, warfare has transformed social, political, cultural, and religious aspects of our lives. We tell tales of wars—past, present, and future—to create and reinforce a common purpose. Today's guest is Jeremy Black, author of “A Short History of War.” We examine war as a global phenomenon, looking at the First and Second World Wars as well as those ranging from Han China and Assyria, Imperial Rome, and Napoleonic France to Vietnam and Afghanistan. Black explores too the significance of warfare more broadly and the ways in which cultural understandings of conflict have lasting consequences in societies across the world.
Over 300 men were executed by the British Army for desertion and cowardice during the first World War. In this episode preview from Vlogging Through History, host Chris Mowery explores the process for executions and the stories of the men involved.To continue listening to Vlogging Through History, check out: Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3X3USwk Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3WX5A7EParthenon: https://www.parthenonpodcast.com/vlogging-through-history Discover more episodes of Vlogging Through History: The History of the Medal of Honor: https://apple.co/3iqhU17 / https://spoti.fi/3vLt9V7The Tragic Lives of U.S. Presidents: https://apple.co/3Xa63Dm / https://spoti.fi/3VYHTdUAlvin York: An American Legend: https://apple.co/3GTHRjf / https://spoti.fi/3QpT3Hc
Considered by many to be one of the best-known criminal defense lawyers in the country, Clarence Darrow became nationally recognized for his eloquence, withering cross-examinations, and compassionate support for the underdog, both in and out of the courtroom.Though his fifty-year-long career was replete with momentous cases, specifically his work in the Scopes Monkey Trial and the Leopold and Loeb Murder Trial, Darrow's Nightmare zeroes in on just two years of Darrow's career: 1911 to 1913. It was during this time period that Darrow was hired to represent the McNamara brothers, two union workers accused of bombing the Los Angeles Times building, an incident that resulted in twenty-one deaths and hundreds more injuries.Along with investigative journalist Lincoln Steffens, Darrow negotiated an ambitious plea bargain on behalf of the McNamara brothers. But the plan soon unraveled; not long after the plea bargain was finalized, Darrow was accused of attempting to bribe a juror. As Darrow himself became the defendant, what was once his shining moment in the national spotlight became a threat to the future of his career and the safety of his family.Today's guest is Nelson Johnson, author of Darrow's Nightmare: The Forgotten Story of America's Most Famous Trial Lawyer: (Los Angeles 1911–1913). Drawing upon the 8,500-page transcript saved from the two trials, Johnson makes Darrow's story come to life like never before.
When the United States was founded in 1776, its citizens didn't think of themselves as “Americans.” They were New Yorkers or Virginians or Pennsylvanians. It was decades later that the seeds of American nationalism—identifying with one's own nation and supporting its broader interests—began to take root. But what kind of nationalism should Americans embrace? The state-focused and racist nationalism of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson? Or the belief that the U.S. Constitution made all Americans one nation, indivisible, which Daniel Webster and others espoused? Today's guest is Joel Richard Paul, author of Indivisible: Daniel Webster and the Birth of American Nationalism. We look at the story of how Webster, a young New Hampshire attorney turned politician, rose to national prominence through his powerful oratory and unwavering belief in the United States and captured the national imagination. In his speeches, on the floors of the House and Senate, in court, and as Secretary of State, Webster argued that the Constitution was not a compact made by states but an expression of the will of all Americans. As the greatest orator of his age, Webster saw his speeches and writings published widely, and his stirring rhetoric convinced Americans to see themselves differently, as a nation bound together by a government of laws, not parochial interests. As these ideas took root, they influenced future leaders, among them Abraham Lincoln, who drew on them to hold the nation together during the Civil War.
Within a decade and a half, Ottoman Sultan Suleyman, who reigned form 1520 to 1566, held dominion over twenty-five million souls, from Baghdad to the walls of Vienna, and with the help of his brilliant pirate commander Barbarossa placed more Christians than ever before or since under Muslim rule. He launched voyages into the Indian Ocean, threatened to conquer all of Europe, and took firm control over the Mediterranean Sea. And yet the real drama takes place in close-up: in small rooms and whispered conversations, behind the curtain of power. His confidantes include the Greek slave who becomes his Grand Vizier, the Venetian jewel dealer who acts as his go-between, and the Russian consort who becomes his most beloved wife.Today's guest Christopher de Bellaigue, author of The Lion House. He tells not just the story of rival superpowers in an existential duel, nor of one of the most consequential lives in human history, but of what it means to live in a time when a few men get to decide the fate of the world.
If you are one of the 40 million people in the United States who practice yoga, or if you have ever meditated, you have a forgotten Indian monk named Swami Vivekananda to thank. Few thinkers have had so enduring an impact on both Eastern and Western life as him, the Indian monk who inspired the likes of Freud, Gandhi, and Tagore. Blending science, religion, and politics, Vivekananda introduced Westerners to yoga and the universalist school of Hinduism called Vedanta. His teachings fostered a more tolerant form of mainstream spirituality in Europe and North America and forever changed the Western relationship to meditation and spirituality.Today's guest is Ruth Harris, author of Guru to the World: The Life and Legacy of Vivekananda. She traces his transformation from son of a Calcutta-based attorney into saffron-robed ascetic. At the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, he fascinated audiences with teachings from Hinduism, Western esoteric spirituality, physics, and the sciences of the mind, in the process advocating a more inclusive conception of religion and expounding the evils of colonialism. Vivekananda won many disciples, most prominently the Irish activist Margaret Noble, who disseminated his ideas in the face of much disdain for the wisdom of a “subject race.” At home, he challenged the notion that religion was antithetical to nationalist goals, arguing that Hinduism was intimately connected with Indian identity.The iconic monk emerges as a counterargument to Orientalist critiques, which interpret East–West interactions as primarily instances of Western borrowing. As Vivekananda demonstrates, we must not underestimate Eastern agency in the global circulation of ideas.
In 1348, King Edward III founded a charity for impoverished men-at-arms, who came to be known as the Alms Knights (or Poor Knights). These knights were destitute because their families ransomed them in foreign wars, and their sovereign didn't see fit to leave them as beggars. He also wanted them to commit to praying for the souls of him and his descendants, setting up a chapel for this very purpose (all part of the Chantry Craze in the 14th century) In 1833, their name was changed by William IV to the Military Knights of Windsor.The order has continued to this day, unbroken for nearly seven hundred years. Over the centuries, there have been about six hundred and fifty such knights. Their backgrounds and careers have been very varied: one was a freed slave, another had to bind Casanova over to keep the peace. Most have had a military background (three have held the Victoria Cross) – but there have been astrologers, crusaders, mad baronets, politicians, artists,and con artists. Men-At-Alms tells their stories, set against the history of their times.Today's guest is Simon Durnford, one of the Military Knights of Windsor and author of Men-At-Alms: Six Centuries of The Military Knights of Windsor.” He discusses what it means to be part of a medieval institution and how the group has evolved over the centuries.
J. Edgar Hoover was possibly the most powerful non-elected person in modern American history. As FBI director from 1924 through his death in 1972, he used the tools of state to create a personal fiefdom unrivaled in U.S. history. He ruthlessly rooted out real and perceived threats to the United States, from bank robbers to Soviet spies to civil rights groups, calling Martin Luther King, Jr. “the country's most notorious liar.” But Hoover was more than a one-dimensional tyrant and schemer who strong-armed the rest of the country into submission; he was a confidant, counselor, and adversary to eight U.S. presidents, four Republicans and four Democrats. Today's guest is Beverly Gage, author of “G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century.” We explore the full sweep of Hoover's life and career, from his birth in 1895 to a modest Washington civil-service family through his death in 1972. Hoover was not above blackmail and intimidation, but he also embodied traditional values ranging from a fierce view of law and order to anticommunism, attracting him the admiration of millions of Americans. He stayed in office for so long because many people, from the highest reaches of government down to the grassroots, wanted him there and supported what he was doing.
When people think of Irish emigration, they often think of the Great Famine of the 1840s, which caused many to flee Ireland for the United States. But the real history of the Irish diaspora is much longer, more complicated, and more global. Today's guest, Sean Connolly, author of “On Every Tide: The Making and Remaking of the Irish World,” argues that the Irish exodus helped make the modern world. Starting in the eighteenth century, the Irish fled limited opportunity at home and fanned out across America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. These emigrants helped settle new frontiers, industrialize the West, and spread Catholicism globally. This led to the commodification of Irish culture, best exemplified by the ubiquity of the Irish Pub and Guinness, the popularity of River Dance, and annual Saint Patrick's Day parades. As the Irish built vibrant communities abroad, they leveraged their newfound power—sometimes becoming oppressors themselves.
In 1937, two British sisters, Louise and Ida Cook, seemed headed for spinsterhood due to so many men of their generation dying in World War One. Louise was a typist, and Ida was becoming a famous romance novelist, who would go on to write over 100 books. They found refuge in their love of music, with frequent visits to Germany and Austria to see their favorite opera stars perform. But with the clouds of WW2 gathering, Europe's opera stars, many of whom were Jewish, face dark futures under the boot heel of the Nazis.Louise and Ida formed a secret cabal along with Austrian conductor Clemens Krauss (a favorite of Hitler, but quietly working with the Cook sisters) to bring together worldwide opera aficionados and insiders in an international operation to rescue Jews in the opera. They smuggled Jewish people's jewelry and other valuables into England, thereby enabling them to satisfy British financial security requirements for immigration. By the time war arrived, they had saved over two dozen Jewish men and women from the Holocaust and spirited them to safety in England.Today's guest is Isabel Vincent, Overture of Hope: Two Sisters' Daring Plan That Saved Opera's Jewish Stars from the Third Reich. We look at the Cook Sister's daring rescue mission and what happened to those they saved in their post-war lives. It's a story of common people who rise to the challenges of uncommon circumstances.