History Unplugged Podcast

History Unplugged Podcast

www.historyonthenet.com/podcast-2
A show about American history, world history, World Wars 1 & 2, the Civil War, and much more.


Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, Part 8: The Battle of Quebec
Oct 10 • 34 min
The Battle of Quebec, fought on December 31, 1775, marked the end of American offensive operations in Canada. General Richard Montgomery was killed, Arnold wounded, and Daniel Morgan and more than four hundred American soldiers taken prisoner. Returning…
Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, Part 7: The Quebec Campaign
Oct 8 • 44 min
The Continental Army thought they could rally the French-speaking residents of Canada in their uprising against the British. Such thinking led to the Quebec Campaign. Although a major defeat for the Americans, it showed the dogged determinism of American…
Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, Part 6: Bunker Hill (2/2)
Oct 3 • 51 min
“Dont’ fire till you see the white’s of their eyes!” — famous words, and smart strategy for using terribly inaccurate muskets, but what were the conditions that gave arise to that advice? Find out in this episode, as the Battle of Bunker hill wraps up.
Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, Part 5: Bunker Hill (1/2)
Oct 1 • 44 min
With the Revolutionary War turning from cold to hot, the British made plans to send troops from Boston to break the Colonials’ siege of that city and occupy the surrounding hills. About one thousand militiamen fortified Breed’s Hill to prepare for the…
Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, Part 4: British and Continental Soldiers
Sep 26 • 55 min
The Continental Army and the British Army were significantly different in their organizational structure, levels of experience, and funding. The Continental Army was an undisciplined, unprepared fighting force with makeshift uniforms and sloppy tactics…
Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, Part 3: Lexington and Concord
Sep 24 • 65 min
The Battles of Lexington and Concord were of minor military significance but of world-historical importance in the modern era. They were the first military engagements of the Revolutionary War, marking the outbreak of armed conflict between Great Britain…
Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, Part 2: Background to the War
Sep 19 • 53 min
Our series is picking up steam as we jump to the years immediately prior to the Shot Heard ‘Round the World. James and Scott discuss the interregnum between the French-Indian War and the Revolutionary War, the Sugar Act (1764), the Stamp Act (1765), then…
Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, Part 1: The World of the American Revolution
Sep 17 • 42 min
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…
Announcement: Key Battles of the Revolutionary War Starts Next Week
Sep 14 • 1 min
Grab your tricorne hat and musket because next week we are kicking off a massive series called Key Battles of the Revolutionary War.
Opium: How an Ancient Flower Shaped and Poisoned Our World
Sep 12 • 52 min
In 2017, over 47,000 Americans died as the result of opioid overdoses, more than died annually in this country during the peak of the AIDs epidemic, and more than die every year from breast cancer. But despite the unprecedented efforts of regulators,…
Eisenhower’s Interstates: The Modern-Day Roman Roads
Sep 10 • 44 min
Dwight Eisenhower inaugurated the US. Interstate System, which now boasts more than 50,000 miles of roads. The idea came to a young Eisenhower in 1919 when he spent 62 days with a military convoy snaking across America on its primitive road system. But…
After Watergate, Richard Nixon Created the Career Path for All Ex-Presidents
Sep 5 • 37 min
On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon became the first and only U.S. president to resign from office—to avoid almost certain impeachment. Utterly disgraced, he was forced to flee the White House with a small cadre of advisors and family. Richard Nixon was a…
Women Warriors: How Females Have Fought in Combat Since History’s Beginning
Sep 3 • 50 min
From Vikings and African queens to cross-dressing military doctors and WWII Russian fighter pilots, battle was not a metaphor for women across history.But for the most part, women warriors have been pushed into the historical shadows, hidden in the…
Hollywood Hates History, Part 8: Dracula Untold (2014)
Aug 29 • 52 min
Dracula Untold has absolutely no right being as historically accurate as it is. Made in 2014, this was Universal Studio’s first attempt to use the intellectual property of their 1930s monster movies and turn it into a Marvel-esque cinematic universe. As a…
Hollywood Hates History, Part 7: The Alamo (2004)
Aug 27 • 45 min
In the final two episodes of this mini-series, Steve and Scott talk about movies that actually do a good job of conveying history, or at least as much as possible when handled by Hollywood producers enslaved to suggestions from marketing research reports.…
Teaser: Rendezvous With Death, Part 8
Aug 24 • 10 min
Subscribe today for access to all premium episodes! https://patreon.com/unplugged
Hollywood Hates History, Part 6: The Scarlet Letter (1995)
Aug 22 • 45 min
Demi Moore did not win any Academy Awards for her portrayal of 17th-century Puritan Hester Prynne. But she did succeed in transforming Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous moral drama into a Cinemax movie that also features Indians, deadly fights, burning…
Hollywood Hates History, Part 5—The Conqueror (1956)
Aug 20 • 42 min
In our second John Wayne film, we watch the Duke put on a fake fu manchu mustache and yellow face makeup to play the role he was born NOT to play: Genghis Khan. Scott and Steve discuss the infamous film that, in addition to featuring the worst casting…
Hollywood Hates History, Part 4—The Green Berets (1968)
Aug 15 • 31 min
John Wayne was 62 years old when he tried to portray a fit Vietnam War Green Beret colonel, but the obvious age gap isn’t the only head scratcher in this film. Released in 1968, the film was Lyndon B. Johnson-approved attempt to shift American opinion on…
Hollywood Hates History, Part 3—The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Aug 13 • 43 min
Based on Dan Brown’s mega best-selling instructional manual on how to write terrible English, Scott and Steve discuss “The Da Vinci Code,” the 2006 Ron Howard film that dares to ask the question: Has the secret life of Jesus been hidden by the Catholic…
Hollywood Hates History, Part 2: Agora (2009)
Aug 8 • 39 min
In the second episode of this series, Stephen tells us everything he doesn’t like about the 2009 film Agora, which is a lot. The movie stars Rachel Weisz (maybe the only good thing about the film) as Hypatia, a real-life 4th/5th-century philosopher in…
Hollywood Hates History, Part 1: Kingdom of Heaven
Aug 6 • 62 min
This episode is the first in a mini-series that Scott is doing with fellow history podcaster Stephen Guerra (History of the Papacy, Beyond the Big Screen) about some of the most historically inaccurate movies that have ever appear. We kick off this series…
Announcement: ‘Hollywood Hates History’ Starts Next Week
Aug 3 • 2 min
Next week an eight-part mini-series called Hollywood Hates History launches. Scott co-hosts with fellow history podcaster Steve Guerra to look at some of the most historically inaccurate movies ever made. Offenders include “The Scarlet Letter,” the 1995…
A Vote of No Confidence: How to Obliterate Your Current Government
Aug 1 • 42 min
Americans and Europeans are confused by much about each other, especially their respective governmental systems. Europeans are baffled by American elections, the powers of the president, and most of all, the electoral college (how again is the popular…
George Washington as Man, General, Leader, and Mule Pioneer
Jul 30 • 50 min
George Washington is nearly as famous for his character as he is a general and statesman. In this episode we look at his famed attributes for leadership and doing such things as keeping together the fragile Continental Army in the hungriest, coldest days…
A Shred to End All Shreds: World War I Meets Swedish Metal
Jul 25 • 24 min
This episode of History Unplugged is unlike any we’ve ever done. Scott interviews Joakim Brodén, lead singer of Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton, whose new album “The Great War” is a concept record focused on World War 1. The album features songs about…
Has The Lost Colony of Roanoke Been Found?
Jul 23 • 35 min
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…
Einstein’s War: How Relativity Triumphed Amid the Vicious Nationalism of World War I
Jul 18 • 28 min
Albert Einstein’s rise to fame was not instantaneous and easy. Rather, Einstein’s celebrity was, in large part, not his own doing. His grand ideas (ideas that would change physics forever) were formulated during a time of worldwide crises. The Great War…
The Forgotten Assassin – Sirhan Sirhan and the Killing of Robert F. Kennedy
Jul 16 • 37 min
Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1968 seemed like it should have been an open-and-shut case. Many people crowded in the small room at Los Angeles’s famed Ambassador Hotel that fateful night and saw Sirhan Sirhan pull the trigger. Sirhan was also…
Chief Executives in the Cockpit—When Presidents Take to the Skies
Jul 11 • 32 min
In this episode we look at all U.S. presidents who served as fighter pilots or in any sort of military combat role. We also look at the first president to fly (it was in a rinky-dink Wright Bros. flyer), the development of Air Force One, and the theory…
George Mason: The Most Important Founding Father Nobody Remembers
Jul 9 • 25 min
If a list were constructed of the most important Virginians in American history, George Mason would appear near the top. His influence on public policy, the Revolution, and the Constitution was far greater than his modern, meager reputation allows. His…
Teaser: Rendezvous With Death, Part 7
Jul 6 • 10 min
Subscribe today for access to all premium episodes! https://patreon.com/unplugged
Spies in the Ancient World, Part 2: On His Roman Emperor’s Secret Service
Jul 4 • 49 min
In this episode we are looking at ancient Greek cryptography and the Roman frumentarii, a group of wheat sellers who turned into the empire’s premier intelligence outfit in the second century. In the fourth century BC, Aeneas Tacticus wrote “How to…
Spies in the Ancient World, Part 1: How a Bronze-Age Tribe Infiltrated Jericho
Jul 2 • 44 min
Spycraft is as old as civilization and just as essential to running a government as taxes, roads, armies, or schools. Sun Tzu devoted an entire chapter to spy craft in his 2,600-year-old treatise The Art of War and understood that critical intelligence…
Teaser: Rendezvous With Death, Part 6
Jun 29 • 10 min
Subscribe today for access to all premium episodes! https://patreon.com/unplugged
The Real Oregon Trail: Beyond Dysentery and the Apple II Game
Jun 27 • 58 min
If you were a middle schooler in the United States anytime after 1985 and had a study hall with an Apple II, there is a very high chance you played Oregon Trail. After setting out from Independence, Missouri, you led your pixelated wagon across the…
How to Get Processed Through Ellis Island In 2 Hours or Less
Jun 25 • 50 min
More than 12 million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island during its years of operation from 1892 to 1954. Those that came typically spoke no English and fled religious persecution, famine, or epidemics in their homeland. But what was…
Special Announcement: Check Out My New Show ‘Ottoman Lives’
Jun 22 • 2 min
Go to www.ottomanlives.com to check out my new show about the people who made the Ottoman Empire run. The Ottoman Empire lasted for six hundred years and dominated the Middle East and Europe, from Budapest to Baghdad and everything in between. The sultans…
George Armstrong Custer: Cocky Military Officer or America’s Version of Leonidas at Thermopylae?
Jun 20 • 43 min
George Armstrong Custer had a storied military career—from cutting his teeth at Bull Run in the Civil War, to his famous and untimely death at Little Bighorn in the Indian Wars. But what was his legacy? Was he a brilliant desperado sadly cut down too…
An Interview with 95-Year-Old Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Harry Stewart
Jun 18 • 57 min
“Colored people aren’t accepted as airline pilots.” The “negro type has not the proper reflexes to make a first-class fighter pilot.” These were the degrading sentiments that faced eighteen-year-old Lt. Col. Harry Stewart Jr. as he journeyed in a…
Vlad the Impaler is the (Partial) Inspiration for Count Dracula
Jun 13 • 56 min
Vampire lore goes back to the ancient world (revenant legends abound from Rome to China) but vampire mythology doesn’t come into its own until at least the Renaissance period. Was the inspiration for it all the bloodthirsty Wallachian ruler Vlad Tepes,…
‘A Woman of No Importance’: The One-Legged WW2 Spy Virginia Hall
Jun 11 • 36 min
In 1942, as World War II was raging, the Gestapo sent out an urgent message: “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.” That spy was Virginia Hall, a young American woman who—rejected from the Foreign Service because of…
The 4,000-Year-Old Question: Is Judaism a Religion, Ethnicity, Race, or Culture?
Jun 6 • 52 min
What is Judaism? What does it mean to be Jewish? Is it an ethnicity (being one of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), a religion (following the tenets of the Torah, Mishnah, and Talmud) or a cultural experience (a common experienced developed…
The 500-Year Story of a Gutenberg Bible And Everyone Who Owned It
Jun 4 • 61 min
For rare-book collectors, an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible—of which there are fewer than 50 in existence (and which can sell for $100 million)—represents the ultimate prize. One copy, Number 45, passed through the hands of Johannes Gutenberg,…
Teaser: Rendezvous With Death, Part 5
Jun 1 • 10 min
Subscribe today for access to all premium episodes! https://patreon.com/unplugged
Hitler’s “Desert Fox”: The Military Career of Erwin Rommel
May 30 • 50 min
Erwin Rommel, a German field marshal in World War Two, was probably more respected and feared than any other figure in the Wehrmacht. He issued early defeats against the British in North Africa against vastly superior forces using a mix of cutting-edge…
When Irish Vets of the American Civil War Invaded Canada in 1866
May 28 • 50 min
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…
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present
May 23 • 36 min
The received idea of Native American history—as promulgated by books like Dee Brown’s mega-bestselling 1970 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee—has been that American Indian history essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. Not only did one…
How Industrialists Plotted to Overthrow FDR Over The New Deal in 1934
May 21 • 38 min
FDR launched the New Deal immediately after his 1933 inauguration, but it was not universally popular. Some hated it bitterly. Critics from the right thought it was part of a long-term plan to push America into Soviet-style socialism. Critics from the…
Teaser: Rendezvous With Death, Part 4
May 18 • 6 min
Subscribe today for access to all premium episodes! https://patreon.com/unplugged
Making Your Death Memorable: The Oldest Tombs We Can Trace To One Person
May 16 • 36 min
What are the oldest known tombs that can reliably be traced to a person? These are surprisingly tricky to track down. While archeologists constantly find human remains at an excavation site, there are almost never any identifying marks about the person.…
The Kremlin Letters: Stalin’s Wartime Correspondence with Churchill and Roosevelt
May 14 • 58 min
From 1941 to 1945, Joseph Stalin exchanged more than six hundred messages with Allied leaders Churchill and Roosevelt. The correspondence ranged from intimate personal greetings to weighty salvos about diplomacy and strategy, and they reveal political…
The RAF Won the Battle of Britain With Strategy But Also Plenty of Luck
May 9 • 39 min
In the summer of 1940, Germany sent armadas of bombers and fighters over England hoping to lure the RAF into battle and annihilate the defenders. Day after day the RAF scrambled their pilots into the sky to do battle up to five times a day. Britain’s air…
Why The Printing Press Appeared in the Middle East 400 Years After Europe
May 7 • 45 min
Why were there no printing presses in the Middle East until four centuries after Europe? Did it have to do with Islam prohibiting this technology? Was the calligraphy lobby too strong? Or is the answer more complicated? The global spread of the printing…
Teaser: Rendezvous With Death, Part 3
May 4 • 18 min
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Last Night on the Titanic: Conclusion
May 2 • 13 min
In the final episode in this series, Veronica and Scott discuss the enduring legacy of the Titanic and why a disaster that happened 107 years ago still captures our imaginations.
Last Night on the Titanic: Doctors and Con Artists
Apr 30 • 23 min
The Titanic was filled with medical professionals either working as ship personnel or traveling in a non-professional capacity. There were also plenty of con artists aboard, hoping to worm their way into the wills of wealthy widows. Learn about their…
Last Night on the Titanic: The Musicians
Apr 25 • 19 min
The musicians of the Titanic famously continued playing as the ship went down, a testimony to practicing one’s craft until their dying breath. But did it really happen like this?Varying accounts exist as to whether the band played until the end and also…
Last Night on the Titanic: The Trend Setters
Apr 23 • 31 min
Many Titanic passengers were known for setting the styles. In this episode we will profile the two Luciles: famed fashionistas Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon and Lucile Polk Carter. We will also look at John Jacob Astor IV, perhaps the world’s richest man at the…
Teaser: Rendezvous With Death, Part 2
Apr 20 • 8 min
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Last Night on the Titanic: The Life Savers
Apr 18 • 29 min
Mr. Rogers once said, “When there is a disaster, always look for the helpers; there will always be helpers. Many died on the night of the Titanic’s sinking, but many more would have died if not for the heroic efforts of such helpers as the “unsinkable”…
Last Night on the Titanic: The Cooks
Apr 16 • 22 min
The cooks and other support staff of the Titanic “drowned like rats” due to not being assigned a clear place in the pecking order of escapees. One who did survive was French cook Paul Mauge, who used his extraordinary wits to survive. This episode…
Sneak Peek of the New Podcast Series “Espionage”
Apr 13 • 15 min
Code Names. Deception. Gadgets. It might seem like something out of the movies, but theseare just some of the essential components of being a spy.ESPIONAGE tells the stories of the world’s most incredible undercover missions, and how thesecovert…
Last Night on the Titanic: The Writers
Apr 11 • 38 min
The sinking of the Titanic is memorable for its countless stories, and the reason that so many of them have found their way down to us today was the many writers that were onboard the ship. The first draft of history about the Titanic was written by man…
Last Night on the Titanic: The Popcorn Vendor
Apr 9 • 29 min
One legendary fixture on the Titanic was a gregarious popcorn vendor known as Popcorn Dan (Coxon). He was one of America’s first food truck operators and a highly successful purveyor of popcorn. He was lost on the Titanic and his body was never recovered,…
Teaser: Rendezvous With Death
Apr 6 • 4 min
Subscribe today for access to all premium episodes! https://patreon.com/unplugged
Last Night on the Titanic: The Bakers
Apr 4 • 37 min
In this episode we are looking at the life of Charles Joughin, a colorful character who has appeared in both film version of the Titanic. After the sinking, Joughin claimed he knew it was an iceberg that struck the ship because he saw a polar bear— and it…
The Last Night on the Titanic: Overview of the 1,500 Passengers and Crew Who Lost Their Lives
Apr 2 • 25 min
On the night of April 14, 1912, in the last hours before the Titanic struckthe iceberg, passengers in all classes were enjoying unprecedented luxuries. Innovations in food, drink, and decor made this voyage the apogee of Edwardian elegance. This episode…
ANNOUNCEMENT: Special Series ‘Last Night on the Titanic’ Starts Next Week
Mar 30 • 3 min
An announcement for a forthcoming series coming to the History Unplugged Podcast called “Last Night on the Titanic.”
Light-Horse Harry Lee: A Founding Father’s Journey From Glory to Ruin
Mar 28 • 63 min
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…
Bad Puns and Dirty Jokes in Rome and Ancient Greece
Mar 26 • 35 min
“A student dunce went swimming and almost drowned. So now he swears he’ll never get into water until he’s really learned to swim.” That was a decent dad joke to be sure. But it’s not a joke your dad came up with. Nor your grandfather. Rather, it was a…
Wright Brothers, Wrong Story? Why Some Say Wilbur—Not Orville—Discovered Manned Flight
Mar 21 • 40 min
How did two brothers who never left home, were high-school dropouts, and made a living as bicycle mechanics figure out the secret of manned flight? The story goes that Wilbur and Orville Wright were an inseparable duo that were equally responsible for…
When Danzig Became Gdańsk: What Happens to a City When Its Demographics Change Completely
Mar 19 • 40 min
What happens to a city when its demographics change completely in the space of a few years? To explore this question, we will take a look at the case of Danzig (modern-day Gdańsk) in northern Poland. The city’s population was almost entirely German from…
The Revolution Before the Revolution: How 1776 Happened
Mar 14 • 51 min
In the 1760s, the American colonies were completely incapable of organized resistance. One’s loyalty was to their state, as the idea of being an “American” was nearly empty. Few clamored for democracy, as Europe and the rest of the world believed that the…
An Active Neutrality: The WW2 Experiences of Switzerland, Portugal, and Turkey
Mar 12 • 33 min
Neutrality is not the same thing as passivity. Just ask the many nations who had to walk an extremely thin tightrope during World War 2 to stay out of the war (in which they saw nothing for themselves to gain) but not get invaded by a more powerful…
Kangaroo Squadron: The Tip of the American Spear in the WW2 Pacific Theatre
Mar 7 • 49 min
In early 1942, while most of the American military was in disarray from the devastating attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, a single USAAF squadron advanced to the far side of the world to face America’s new enemy. Based in Australia with poor…
Common Knowledge About The Middle Ages That Is Incorrect, Part 5: Crusades In The Renaissance
Mar 5 • 26 min
The Crusades are typically bookended between Pope Urban II’s call to reclaim the Holy Land in 1095 and the fall of Acre and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1291. But two of the most notable religious figures of the 1400s—Pope Pius II and John of…
Common Knowledge About The Middle Ages That Is Incorrect, Part 4: The Medieval Technological Explosion
Feb 28 • 43 min
The Middle Ages was not a thousand-year period of technological stagnation between the fall of Rome and Leonardo da Vinci. It was an incredible period of invention and scientific innovation that saw major technological advances, including gunpowder, the…
Common Knowledge About The Middle Ages That Is Incorrect, Part 3: Witch Burnings
Feb 26 • 51 min
At the height of the witch burning craze, thousands people, largely women, were falsely accused of witchcraft. Many of them were burned, hanged, and executed, typically under religious pretense. But this phenomena largely didn’t happen in the Middle Ages,…
Common Knowledge About The Middle Ages That Is Incorrect, Part 2: Were Indulgences a Get-out-of-Hell-Free Card Or Something Else?
Feb 21 • 25 min
Was it really possible to buy your way out of hell in the Middle Ages? If so, how much did it cost? And what did the Catholic Church do with all this money? In this second episode in our five-part series on the misunderstood Middle Ages, we will explore…
Common Knowledge About The Middle Ages That Is Incorrect, Part 1: Why the Middle Ages, Not the Renaissance, Created the Modern World
Feb 19 • 45 min
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.…
Civil War Barons: The Tycoons, Entrepreneurs, and Inventors and Visionaries Who Forged Victory and Shaped a Nation
Feb 14 • 53 min
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,…
Women Have Been Running For President Since 1872. Here Are 4 Of Their Stories
Feb 12 • 67 min
2016 was the first election in which a woman won the nomination of a major political party to be president of the United States. But women have been legally running for president as far back as 1872, decades before they could even vote. Since then several…
War Animals: How 55 Birds, Dogs, and Horses Saved Thousands of Lives in World War Two
Feb 7 • 62 min
Did you know that in World War Two there were “para-dogs,” or dogs that parachuted along with paratroopers in anticipation of D-Day? Or that carrier pigeons were dropped into France in their bird cages so that French Resistance members could find them and…
Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts, Part 5: Barack Obama
Feb 5 • 39 min
With the election of America’s first African-American president in 2008, many feared that the presidency of Barack Obama would bring out the most reactionary elements in society and end his life in assassination. Did Obama’s eight years as president bring…
Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts, Part 4: Bill Clinton
Jan 31 • 36 min
Many tried to kill Bill Clinton during his presidency, including former military officers, white supremacists, and a little-known militant named Osama bin Laden. Most famously, Frank Eugene Corder crashed a Cessna onto the White House lawn. Learn about…
Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts, Part 3: Ronald Reagan
Jan 29 • 44 min
After his presidency, a deranged man broke into Ronald Reagan’s California home and attempted to strangle the former president before he was subdued by Secret Service agents. This attempt on his life came on the heels on many other attempts on Reagan, the…
Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts, Part 2: JFK
Jan 24 • 34 min
The only president to be assassinated in the last century was John F. Kennedy. What caused this failure in the Secret Service’s typical protection procedures? Was it a perfect storm of bad luck, a lapse in judgement in the protection detail, or something…
Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts, Part 1: FDR
Jan 22 • 45 min
In American history, four U.S. Presidents have been murdered at the hands of an assassin. In each case the assassinations changed the course of American history.But most historians have overlooked or downplayed the many threats modern presidents have…
Understanding the Rise of Islam Through Military History
Jan 17 • 50 min
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…
Fugitive Slaves in America, From the Revolution to the Civil War
Jan 15 • 31 min
For decades after its founding, America was really two nations – one slave, one free. There were many reasons why this nation ultimately broke apart in the Civil War, but the fact that enslaved black people repeatedly risked their lives to flee their…
Moral Panics and Mass Hysteria: The Dancing Plague, Salem Witch Trials, and The Tulip Market Bubble
Jan 10 • 51 min
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,…
How a Researcher Discovered That Her Grandparents Were in the Nazi SS
Jan 8 • 81 min
How would you react if you discovered that your family were deeply embedded within the Third Reich? Today I’m talking with Brazilian-born American Julie Lindahl about her journey to uncover her grandparents’ roles in the Nazi regime and why she was driven…
Teaser: Ottoman Lives Part 7—The Outlaw
Jan 5 • 6 min
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James Holman Traveled Over 250,000 Miles in the Early 1800s. He Was Also Completely Blind.
Jan 3 • 80 min
He was known simply as the Blind Traveler. A solitary, sightless adventurer, James Holman (1786-1857) fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon, helped chart the Australian outback—and…
The History of Cannabis and Its Use By Humans
Jan 1 • 64 min
History is often looked at through the perspective of a very high-up official. We look at military history through the eyes of a general. We look at political history through the eyes of a president or prime minister. But what if we look at history…
Bonus Q&A on the Civil War Series with Scott & James
Dec 27, 2018 • 64 min
Two weeks ago we finished the 25-part series on the 10 most important battles in the Civil War. Some of you had follow-up questions. We ran a poll to so which ones were the most popular. In a recording of a live-streaming Q&A session, James and Scott…
What Would the Real St. Nicholas Drink? Here’s What an Ancient History Professor Thinks
Dec 24, 2018 • 41 min
Ever wondered what cocktail a fourth-century bishop from Asia Minor would order? That would be an obscure question to ask if the bishop in question weren’t the historical basis for the Santa Claus myth. But since we are dealing here with Nicholas, bishop…
How Ancient Europeans Circumnavigated Africa, Explored Iceland, and Sent Goods all the Way to Japan
Dec 20, 2018 • 38 min
What is the greatest extent of classical European reach, and how did they affect or influence the culture of the known world in that period?In today’s episode I answer this question—which was submitted by Karl, a listener from Norway. Greek and Roman…
What if George Custer Had Survived the Battle of Little Bighorn?
Dec 18, 2018 • 43 min
George Custer, if he is remembered at all, is a cautionary tale of hubris. He grossly underestimated Sitting Bull’s forces at the Battle of Little Big Horn and he was killed in one of the American military’s worst defeat in its history. This defeat clouds…
Teaser: Ottoman Lives Part 6—The Holy Man
Dec 15, 2018 • 6 min
Subscribe today for access to all premium episodes! https://patreon.com/unplugged
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 22: How the Civil War Lives on Today
Dec 13, 2018 • 66 min
In this very final episode, James and Scott discuss the lasting effects of the Civil War and why it is the single most important event in the history of the United States. The Revolutionary War may have answered the question of whether America would…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 21: What Became of the Men Who Wore the Blue and the Grey
Dec 11, 2018 • 55 min
In this epilogue episode James and Scott talk about the Union and Confederate generals whom we’ve gotten to know so well after the war finished. They became presidents, professors, bankrupt businessmen, assassination victims, and everything in between.
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 20: The Naval War
Dec 6, 2018 • 51 min
The Civil War is now finished but our series is not. Scott and James discuss an aspect of the Civil War that for the most part didn’t tie into our main discussion: the naval war. Learn how battles occurred on American Rivers, gulfs, shorelines, and even…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 19: African Americans in Uniform
Dec 4, 2018 • 56 min
As the Civil War came to an end, a big question remained for the North and eventually the reunited United States. What would become of its African-American residents? Would they be given full legal rights or only partial? This question was largely…
Teaser: Ottoman Lives Part 5—The Peasant
Dec 1, 2018 • 7 min
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History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 18: The Overland Campaign
Nov 29, 2018 • 45 min
We’re nearing the end of our Civil War series. It’s 1864. Lincoln is re-elected, and Sherman’s March to the Sea obliterated the Confederacy’s industrial base. But work remains for General Grant. He must contend with his greatest foe, Robert E. Lee. Now…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 17: Sherman’s March to the Sea
Nov 27, 2018 • 55 min
From November to December 1864, Gen. Sherman led over 60,000 soldiers from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia in a scorched earth campaign to completely demoralized the Southern war effort. Sherman explained that they needed to “make old and young, rich and…
Turkey is Both a Bird and a Country. Which Came First?
Nov 22, 2018 • 26 min
It’s no coincidence that the bird we eat for Thanksgiving and a Middle Eastern country are both called Turkey. One was named after the other, and it all has to do with a 500-year-old story of emerging global trade, mistaken identity, foreign language…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 16: The Battle of Atlanta
Nov 20, 2018 • 50 min
In the fall of 1864, the Union Army now had full momentum against the Confederacy, pushing deeper into the South than ever before. General Sherman overwhelmed forces led by John Bell Hood. With the fall of Atlanta, Lincoln nearly assured his re-election…
Teaser: Ottoman Lives, Part 4—The Concubine
Nov 17, 2018 • 8 min
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History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 15: Chattanooga
Nov 15, 2018 • 43 min
Following Union defeat at the Battle of Chickamauga, Union forces retreated to the railroad junction of Chattanooga, Tennessee. From November 23-25, 1863, Union troops routed the Confederates at the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionaries Ridge; the…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 14: Chickamauga
Nov 13, 2018 • 38 min
The Battle of Chickamauga marked the end of Union Maj. Gen. William Rosencran’s offensive into southwestern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia and the most significant Union defeat in the Western Theatre. More died here than in any other battle, save…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 13: The Battle of Gettysburg
Nov 8, 2018 • 84 min
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…
September 1918: War, Plague, and The World Series
Nov 6, 2018 • 58 min
In the late summer of 1918, a division of Massachusetts militia volunteers led the first unified American fighting force into battle in France, turning the tide of World War I. Meanwhile, the world’s deadliest pandemic—the Spanish Flu—erupted in Boston…
Teaser: Ottoman Lives, Part 3—The Eunuch
Nov 3, 2018 • 4 min
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6 Historical Figures Who Deserve Their Own Movie—History Unplugged Meets 1001 Stories
Nov 1, 2018 • 67 min
Historical biopics perform a great service. These movies remind the world of people that would have otherwise fallen into obscurity: Oscar Schindler (Schindler’s List), John Nash (A Beautiful Mind), and Solomon Northup (12 Years a Slave).In this episode I…
The Story of Bravo, The Greatest Rescue Mission in Navy SEAL History
Oct 30, 2018 • 52 min
Today’s guest is Stephan Talty, author of the new book, SAVING BRAVO, which comes out October 30. Talty tells the never-before-told story of one of the greatest rescue missions not just of the Vietnam War, but the entire Cold War.In 1972, the Vietnam War…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 12: (Vicksburg 2 of 2)
Oct 25, 2018 • 43 min
Welcome to the second part in our episodes on the Vicksburg Campaign, one of the most consequential Civil War battles in the Western theatre and what many historians consider to be the turning point of the war.Grant’s Vicksburg campaign is considered one…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 11: Vicksburg (1 of 2)
Oct 23, 2018 • 55 min
In the next two episodes Scott and James will discuss the Siege of Vicksburg. In the summer of 1863, Grant’s Army of the Tennessee came to Vicksburg, located on a high bluff converged on Vicksburg, a Mississippi town on the same river. Union occupation of…
Teaser: Ottoman Lives, Part 2—The Sultan
Oct 20, 2018 • 8 min
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History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 10: Battle of Chancellorsville
Oct 18, 2018 • 48 min
The Battle of Chancellorsville is considered Robert E. Lee’s masterpiece. His reputation as a military genius was sealed by fighting an incredibly successful offensive battle despite being outnumbered 2-to-1 and launching attacks on multiple fronts. After…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 9: The Battle of Fredericksburg
Oct 16, 2018 • 38 min
Following McClellan’s disastrous Union loss at Antietam, Lincoln replaced him with Ambrose Burnside, who planned to march to the city of Fredericksburg, getting there before Lee and possibly marching all the way to Richmond. But once they confronted the…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 8: Sidetrack Episode on Emancipation
Oct 11, 2018 • 44 min
The entire point of the Civil War was to end slavery, right? Not exactly, and definitely not at the beginning of the War. The North went to war strictly to save the Union and had little interest in abolishing slavery in the South. The Emancipation…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 7: The Battle of Antietam
Oct 9, 2018 • 55 min
The Battle of Antietam—an 1862 clash between Robert E. lee’s Army of Northern Virginian and George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac—was the deadliest one-day battle in American history, with a total of 22,717 dead, wounded or missing. It came after Lee…
Teaser: Ottoman Lives, Part 1: The Janissary
Oct 6, 2018 • 11 min
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History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 6: The Seven Days’ Battle
Oct 4, 2018 • 49 min
Union General George B. McClellan, who led 100,000 men and moved as fast as an iceberg, attempted to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond in a series of six different battles along the Virginia Peninsula from June 25 to July 1, 1862). Confederate…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 5: The 1862 Peninsula Campaign
Oct 2, 2018 • 58 min
In early 1862 the Union Army launched a major operation in southeastern Virginia, the first large-scale offensive in the Eastern Theater. Lincoln replaced McDowell with George B. McClellan as commander. He reorganized the army, whipped it into shape, and…
History of Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 4: The Battle of Shiloh
Sep 27, 2018 • 45 min
The Battle of Shiloh was a battle in the Western Theater fought April 6–7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. On the first morning, 40,000 Confederate troops struck Union Soldiers at Pittsburg Landing. They were under the command of Major General Ulysses S.…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 3: Border States and the War in the West
Sep 25, 2018 • 42 min
In the summer of 1861, four slave states had still not seceded. If even two or three joined the Confederacy, the Union would be in big trouble. Lincoln was determined to keep all four in (Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware, and Missouri). We will look at these…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 2: First Battle of Bull Run
Sep 20, 2018 • 57 min
Abraham Lincoln believed that the Civil War would be over in a few months, with the Union Army marching on Richmond by late 1861. Both sides hastily assembled armies and Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell led his unseasoned Union Army across Bull Run against the…
History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 1: Background to the Civil War
Sep 18, 2018 • 46 min
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…
Special Announcement: A History of the Civil War in 10 Battles Begins Next Week
Sep 14, 2018 • 4 min
The Civil War pitted brother against brother and divided a nation. It also featured the most epic—and deadliest—battles in American history. From Shiloh to Vicksburg to Gettsburg, these battles resulted in higher casualty rates than any other armed…
How a 1522 Battled Transformed Russia from a Minor Duchy into Earth’s Largest Empire
Sep 13, 2018 • 30 min
The Russian Siege of Kazan in 1552 and the conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan by Muscovy can be seen as the birth of a Russian Empire. It had profound consequences for the steppe region and beyond, allowing Russian expansion eastwards, eventually as far as…
The Most Famous Founding Father You’ve Never Heard of Was Hamilton’s Arch-Nemesis and a Deficit Hawk
Sep 11, 2018 • 37 min
Alexander Hamilton had a nemesis… and it was not Aaron Burr. After Hamilton enacted a wide-scale spending program to build up America’s military and infrastructure, and thus send it into debt, newly-elected President Thomas Jefferson chose a Secretary of…
Lost Civilizations, Part 3: European Visitors to the New World Before Columbus
Sep 6, 2018 • 61 min
Learn about cultures that came to America long before Columbus, suggesting that trans-oceanic voyages could be accomplished well back into the Bronze Age.
Lost Civilizations, Part 2: The Egyptian Pyramid Builders, the Nabateans, and the Aksumites.
Sep 4, 2018 • 59 min
Welcome to part two on our series on the greatest lost civilizations in history. Today we are looking at three groups: The Egytian Pyramid Builders, the Nabateans, and the Aksumites. These three groups are particularly beloved by believers in…
Lost Civilizations: Ancient Societies that Vanished Without a Trace, Part 1
Aug 30, 2018 • 68 min
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…
The Most Powerful Women in the Middle Ages, Part 3: Elizabeth of Tudor and Ottoman Queen Mother Kösem Sultan
Aug 28, 2018 • 58 min
This is the third in our three-part series on the most powerful women in the Middle Ages. To wrap things up we will explore the lives of two female rulers — one very famous, the other almost unknown. They are Elizabeth I of Tudor and Ottoman Queen Mother…
Teaser: Intro to Audie Murphy Series
Aug 25, 2018 • 6 min
Subscribe today for access to all premium episodes! https://patreon.com/unplugged
The Most Powerful Women in the Middle Ages, Part 2: Catherine of Sienna and Isabella of Castile
Aug 23, 2018 • 44 min
Female rulers dominated the Middle Ages. But it wasn’t just the queens or empresses who wielded enormous power. This episode is the second of a three-part series at the lives of the most powerful women in the Middle Ages, and we will first look at the…
The Most Powerful Women in the Middle Ages, Part 1: Queens, Empresses, and Viking Slayers
Aug 21, 2018 • 67 min
The idea of a powerful woman in the Middle Ages seems like an oxymoron. Females in this time are imagined to be damsels in distress, trapped in a high tower, and waiting for knights to rescue them, all while wearing traffic-cones for a hat. After rescue,…
How the Vicksburg Siege May Have Turned the Tide of the Civil War—Samuel Mitcham
Aug 16, 2018 • 55 min
“Traitor!” “Failure!” “Bungling fool!”Southern newspapers hurled these sentiments at Confederate General John C. Pemberton after he surrendered the fortress of Vicksburg—the key to controlling the Mississippi River during the Civil War. But were they…
The Story of Malaria, The Killer of Half of Humanity
Aug 14, 2018 • 86 min
Long before Thanos snapped his fingers in Avengers: Infinity War, another villain successfully killed half of humanity.Malaria is a simple parasite, transmitted by a mosquito bite. But this deadly disease, which has been around as long as homo sapiens,…
An Archeologist Talks About the Discovery of a Civil War Surgeon’s Burial Pit at Manassas Field
Aug 9, 2018 • 56 min
In August 1862, two Union soldiers were gravely wounded at the Battle of Second Manassas. They were brought to a field hospital, though both died as a result of their injuries. Their bodies were laid to rest in a shallow burial pit, intermixed with…
Why U.S. Political Elections Have Always Been Chaotic—David Severa from the Early and Often Podcast
Aug 7, 2018 • 43 min
You’ve heard it before: American politics have never been nastier or more divisive than they are today. Just witness the recent words of one recent front-runner candidate, who told told the media his opponent was a hermaphrodite, because he was too weak…
The History of Slavery, Part 5: The Road to Abolition
Aug 2, 2018 • 74 min
The History of Slavery, Part 4: African Slavery in the New World, 1500-1865
Jul 31, 2018 • 81 min
Slavery predates European entry into the Atlantic world in the Age of Exploration, but the system that developed during the 16th and 17th centuries was an arguably more inhumane and racially tinged institution than anything that had previously existed…
The History of Slavery, Part 3: Christian Slaves and Muslim Masters—Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean, 1500-1800
Jul 26, 2018 • 60 min
As the trans-Atlantic slave trade from sub-Saharan Africa to the Americas flourished in the 1500s, there was another slave trade that operate on an even larger scale. It was the capture of Europeans by north-African Muslims. Barbary Pirates enslaved an…
The History of Slavery, Part 2: The Medieval Slave Trade to Arabia
Jul 24, 2018 • 62 min
The image of the slave trade is a white slaver capturing African tribesmen, packing them like corkwood into a ship, selling them in the Antebellum South, and having a plantation owner work them to death. All of this took place on a scale of millions in…
The History of Slavery, Part 1: Shackled and Chained in the Ancient World
Jul 19, 2018 • 76 min
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…
Prohibition: How it Happened, Why it Failed, and How it Still Affects America Today
Jul 17, 2018 • 65 min
America has a strange relationship with alcohol. Certain drinks represented the darkest parts of the national psyche. Rum was once associated with slavery because sugar cane plantations that made rum were only profitable with chattel slavery. Whisky and…
What Did People Eat in the Middle Ages?
Jul 12, 2018 • 50 min
Welcome to an anthology episode where I ask six short questions about the Middle Ages from you, the listener. Here they are in order of appearance:What Did People Eat in the Middle Ages?How Did You Conquer a Castle?Could You Tell Me About Harold…
Almost Everything in American Politics has Happened Before, Even Donald Trump—Bruce Carlson from My History Can Beat Up Your Politics
Jul 10, 2018 • 58 min
Cable news pundits tell you everything is “breaking news.” TV pundits discuss politics in a vacuum. But in nearly every case, the politics of today have long roots in history. This includes media celebrities winning elections by manipulating the press and…
The Quest to Make Information Free Forever: Copyright Battles From Venetian Printers in the Renaissance to 21st Century Hackers
Jul 5, 2018 • 57 min
The © symbol (or “Copyright”) is a completely forgettable character ignored by all but lawyers. It is buried at the bottom of legal notices that your brain reflexively skips over. But this little symbol represents a war that has raged for centuries…
How a Rivalry Between Two Cherokee Chiefs Led to the Trail of Tears and the Collapse of Their Nation
Jul 3, 2018 • 73 min
A century-long blood feud between two Cherokee chiefs shaped the history of the Cherokee tribe far more than anyone, even the reviled President Andrew Jackson. They were John Ross and the Ridge. Today I’m talking with John Sedgwick about the fall of the…
If It Weren’t For Two Iowans, Billions Would Have Died of Starvation or Been Left in a Technological Dark Age
Jun 28, 2018 • 60 min
Norman Borlaug and Robert Noyce aren’t household names. But these two Iowans influenced the 20th century more than anyone else on Planet Earth. Borlaug created drought and disease-resistant varieties of wheat that thrived in poor soils throughout the…
Introducing the History Unplugged Membership Program
Jun 27, 2018 • 5 min
Learn how to get access to bonus episodes of History Unplugged (including a multi-part series on Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in WW2), the entire History Unplugged back catalogue, and even shout-outs at the end of each episode. Learn more by…
Life After Auschwitz: How European Jews Attempted to Assimilate in America After Unspeakable Tragedy
Jun 26, 2018 • 33 min
What happened to Jews after they were liberated from concentration camps? Some tried to return to their homes, only to find them occupied by neighbors who thought them dead and refused to give up their new dwellings. Others went on to build lives in the…
Patton and Churchill’s Experiences Before and During World War Two
Jun 21, 2018 • 34 min
This is an anthology episode that looks at the experiences of Winston Churchill and Gen. George S. Patton before and during World War Two. Specifically this episode will explorePatton’s experiences in World War One as a tank commanderChurchill’s…
Special Announcement: Presidential Fight Club Is Now Its Own Podcast
Jun 20, 2018 • 1 min
Remember when we did the 44-episode series on this show called Presidential Fight Club that imagined what would happen if every president fought each other one-on-one? Now it has been re-released as its own podcast, and you can find it on…
An Infantry Officer’s Fight Through Nazi Europe, From D-Day to VE Day
Jun 19, 2018 • 76 min
Falling comrades, savagery of war, and the intense will to prevail in battle faced young Bill Chapman when he stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. For the following eleven months Chapman served in the most hazardous duty in the Army—dodging…
Everything You Need to Know About D-Day: H-Hour, Weapons Info, and First-Hand Accounts from Soldiers, Beachmasters, and the French Resistanc
Jun 14, 2018 • 60 min
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…
Benjamin Franklin: Diplomat, Polymath, and Member of 18th Century Jet Set—Elizabeth Covart of the Ben Franklin’s World Podcast
Jun 12, 2018 • 51 min
Benjamin Franklin was a world traveler, consummate learner, and a polymath extraordinaire; the Founding Father was a printer, scientist, inventor, diplomat, postmaster general, educator, philosopher, entrepreneur, library curator, and America’s first…
From Farm Fields to Classrooms: Horace Mann’s War for Universal and Compulsory Education for Children
Jun 7, 2018 • 69 min
In a remarkably short span of time, American children went from laboring on family farms to spending their days in classrooms. The change came from optimistic reformers like Horace Mann, who in the early 1800s dreamed of education, literacy, and science…
Meet Joan: The Female Pope—Stephen Guerra of the History of the Papacy Podcast
Jun 5, 2018 • 48 min
According to medieval accounts, a woman named Joan reigned as pope, 855-857 A.D., by disguising herself as a man. The story is widely thought to be fiction, but almost everyone took it as fact in the Middle Ages, up to the point that the Siena Cathedral…
The Most Productive People in History, Part 2: Thomas Aquinas to Thomas Edison
May 31, 2018 • 68 min
This is Part 2 of an exploration of the live of the most productive people in history. We will look at the life, times, and work habits of medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas (the most prolific writer before the invention of the word processor), composer…
The Most Productive People in History, Part 1: From Archimedes to Ben Franklin
May 29, 2018 • 68 min
They never knew how he did it. Few composers write more than one or two symphonies in their lifetimes. Beethoven spent a year on his shorter symphonies but more than six years on his 9th Symphony. But Georg Philipp Telemann composed at least 200 overtures…
The Union’s Secret Rebels: The Story of Gettysburg’s Five Rebellious Double Crossers Who Returned as Foreign Invaders
May 24, 2018 • 46 min
The Civil War is called the war in which brother fought against brother. But few knew of the“Gettysburg Rebels”: the five privates from that very town who moved south to Virginia in the 1850s,joined the Confederate army, and returned home as foreign…
How to Reach Allied Territory When Your Plane Is Shot Down in Nazi-Occupied France
May 22, 2018 • 57 min
Lieutenant George W. Starks’ worst fear came true when his B-17 was shot down over Nazi-occupiedFrance. Earlier that morning, the boyish 20-year-old and his crew were assigned to the most exposedsection of the bomber formation: the “coffin corner.” Now,…
Anthology: How Switzerland Remained Neutral In Two World Wars
May 17, 2018 • 41 min
How was Switzerland able to remain neutral in the two world wars? Why was a tiny mountainous nation of watch-makers, bankers, and chocolateers able to dictate their own fate at a time when nobody else could? In this episode I answer this listener question…
Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty) on the Strange History of the English Language
May 15, 2018 • 52 min
Mignon Fogarty has spent years helping others sort out the extremely peculiar grammar of the English language. But in the course of her research on how to navigate the weirdness of English, she learned the why of the weirdness of English.Did you know that…
History’s Most Insane Rulers: From Emperor Caligula to Muammar Gaddafi
May 10, 2018 • 71 min
Few mixtures are as toxic as absolute power and insanity that comes from megalomania or severe mental illness. When nothing stands between a leader’s delusional whims and seeing them carried them out, all sorts of bizarre outcomes are possible. Whether it…
Meet Pico, The 23-Year-Old Wunderkind Who Kicked Off the Renaissance
May 8, 2018 • 58 min
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Pico for short), was the wunderkind of the Renaissance. In 1486, at the age of 23 he proposed to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy, and magic against all comers, for which he wrote the Oration on…
Richard Burton: The Victorian Explorer Who Discovered the Kama Sutra, Made a Secret Pilgrimage to Mecca, and Knew 29 Languages
May 3, 2018 • 68 min
Everybody imagines the World’s Most Interesting Man to be a fictional grey-haired lothario who drinks Mexican beer and boasts of his legendary exploits. But what if a man like this really lived?It turns out he did. He is Richard Francis Burton, a…
Panic on the Pacific: How America Prepared for a Japanese West Coast Invasion after Pearl Harbor
May 1, 2018 • 67 min
The aftershocks of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor were felt keenly all over America—the war in Europe had hit home. But nowhere was American life more immediately disrupted than on the West Coast, where people lived in certain fear of more…
The Hypothetical Economy of a Present-Day Confederate States of America, Alternate Theories to the Titanic Sinking, and Other Counterfactual
Apr 26, 2018 • 40 min
In this anthology episode I answer questions from the audience all centered around one theme. Today’s theme is about alternate history and alternate theories to historical questions. Well, three of the questions have to do with this (the ones about the…
The 4 Successful (And Hundreds of Unsuccessful) Assassination Attempts of U.S. Presidents—Mel Ayton
Apr 24, 2018 • 42 min
In American history, four U.S. Presidents have been murdered at the hands of an assassin. In each case the assassinations changed the course of American history.But most historians have overlooked or downplayed the many threats modern presidents have…
Prostitution Throughout History: Sumerian Temple Priestesses, Ottoman Brothel Workers, and Call-Girls for the Medieval Clergy
Apr 19, 2018 • 75 min
Prostitution, often known as the world’s oldest profession, can be traced throughout recorded history. This cliché is so often repeated it remains completely unexamined. Is prostitution really a natural by-product of human society or does it only appear…
The Ladykiller who Killed Lincoln: The Scandalous Love Life of John Wilkes Booth
Apr 17, 2018 • 51 min
What if People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” assassinated a U.S. President? John Wilkes Booth has been despised as a traitor, hailed as a martyr, and dismissed as a lunatic. But in the 1860s he was considered the “handsomest man in America”? Before…
Ulysses S. Grant Was (Mostly) Responsible For Winning the Civil War. Robert E. Lee Was Responsible For Losing It.
Apr 12, 2018 • 68 min
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.…
How Long Have Foreign Governments Attempted to Meddle in U.S Elections? Answers to This And 3 Other Questions
Apr 5, 2018 • 38 min
Foreign governments did not only start trying to influence American presidential elections in 2016. It goes all the way back to the 18th century. In this anthology episode I answer this question and three others from you, the audience. Two of the…
The Life and Times of Aristotle, and How His Philosophy Conquered the World—Lantern Jack from the Ancient Greece Declassified Podcast
Apr 3, 2018 • 44 min
Whether you have a BA in philosophy or have never read a book, your daily life is impacted by Aristotle. Have you ever tried to win an argument? Have you ever tried to solve a riddle? Have you tried to rationalize eating twelve doughnuts? Congratulations:…
World War Two Spycraft: Stealing Nuclear Secrets, Blowing Up Nazi Factories, and Infiltrating Japanese High Command
Mar 29, 2018 • 77 min
Spies have been a feature of state security and military intelligence since the beginning of warfare. Entire wars have been won or lost according to these secret activities. Today we will look at spycraft during World War Two, a golden age of…
A Retired Policeman Tells us the Story of The Most Daring Jailbreak in the Underground Railroad’s History
Mar 27, 2018 • 60 min
You probably know what the Underground Railroad is—you know, the network of secret routes and safe houses set up in antebellum America and used by African-American slaves (with the help of abolitionists and allies) to escape into free states and Canada.…
What are Arguments For and Against Bombing Japan, Why Don’t Militias Matter in American, and What is Close-Air Support?
Mar 22, 2018 • 48 min
In this anthology series I answer four listener questions. Three of them have to do with World War II, one of them has to do with the second amendment. Here they are:What are the arguments for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki?What are the arguments…
Daily Lives of Middle Eastern Women in the School, the Home, the Harem, and Everywhere Else—Marie Grace Brown
Mar 20, 2018 • 42 min
For those who haven’t studied the Middle East, the historical lives of women there can be thought to be a black hole: no information available about those who were thrown under a burkha and locked up at home or in a harem. Never mind that few women wore…
How Archeologists Decide What We Remember—Chris Webster, Archeology Podcast Network
Mar 13, 2018 • 53 min
Chris Webster is a cultural resource management archeologist. That means when the National Registry of Historic Places is thinking about adding a mining town, Spanish mission, or Native American burial site to its list, it calls in Chris.He has worked in…
When Weather Wipes Out Civilization — Four Cases of Climate Killing Empires
Mar 8, 2018 • 51 min
The deadliest army on earth can’t top the weather for its destructive potential. History’s mightiest empires have fallen for no more of a reason than climate change leading to failed harvests and a starving population.But you wouldn’t know that from most…
George Washington’s Guide to Greatness, As Told by His Great Nephew —Austin Washington
Mar 6, 2018 • 47 min
George Washington—widely considered a man of honor, bravery and leadership. He is known as America’s first President, a great general, and a humble gentleman, but how did he become this man of stature?My guest today is Austin Washington, a great nephew of…
Medieval Health Care: Bloodletting, Primitive Surgery, and How Surprisingly Good Doctors Could Be Despite Knowing Almost Nothing
Mar 1, 2018 • 50 min
The Middle Ages were a terrible time to get sick. There was no sanitation inside cities and hardly any in rural areas. The common way to relieve pain amongst sick people was to inflict more pain upon them, and then hope to the stars for a bit of luck.…
A First-Hand Account of the Battle of Ramadi, Iraq – Maj. Scott Huesing
Feb 27, 2018 • 52 min
From the winter of 2006 through the spring of 2007, two-hundred-fifty Marines from Echo Company, Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment fought daily in the dangerous, dense city streets of Ramadi, Iraq during the Multi-National Forces Surge ordered by…
Mesopotamian Civilization (2): Everyday Life of Merchants, Temple Priests, and Prostitutes
Feb 22, 2018 • 42 min
Welcome to part two in our series on Mesopotamia. The last installment covered the lives of the elites; now let’s go several steps down the social ladder. We are going to be covering everyday life in Sumeria, Akkadia, Assyria, and any other civilization…
One Nation Under (the Influence of) Alcohol: Drinking During the Civil War—Mark Will-Weber
Feb 20, 2018 • 40 min
Bloody battles, lionhearted leaders, valiant victories, and lamentable losses—the history of the Civil War has been told time and again. Yet, one monumental component of the Civil War has gone untold… until now. Delving deep into rare Civil War memoirs…
Mesopotamian Civilization: Gilgamesh, Sargon, and Why 1 GB of Information on Cuneiform Tablets Weights as Much as a 747
Feb 15, 2018 • 41 min
Welcome to the first episode in a two-part series on Mesopotamian civilization. In this episode we are going to be covering four topics: 1) The origins of Mesopotamian civilization with Sumeria, its evolution into the Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian…
Race to the Top of the World: Richard Byrd and the First Flight to the North Pole—Sheldon Bart
Feb 13, 2018 • 103 min
In the age of adventure, when dirigibles coasted through the air and vast swaths of the Earth remained untouched and unseen by man, one pack of relentless explorers competed in the race of a lifetime: to be the first aviator to fly over the North Pole.…
Positive Legacies of the Mongolian Empire: International Trade, Religious Tolerance, Career Opportunities, and Horse Milk
Feb 8, 2018 • 45 min
The Mongolian Empire has a well-deserved reputation for its brutality (it did, after all, kill 40 million in the 12th century, enough people to alter planetary climate conditions). But it’s positive legacies are nearly as profound, if less well known. In…
America’s Utopian Communities: From Plymouth Colony’s Failed Experiments in Collective Farming to 60s Hippie Communes—Timothy Miller
Feb 6, 2018 • 42 min
One of the oldest traditions in America is trying (and failing) to set up a utopian community. French Enlightenment thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed if man could return to a state of nature – free from social conditioning that put him in…
The Reasons the Mongolian Army Was Unstoppable
Feb 2, 2018 • 10 min
Mongols were fierce on horseback, but so were the many other steppe nomads who tried and failed to conquer the walled cities of China, Persia, and Rome. Yet the Mongols succeeded where their predecessors failed by incorporating siege engineers into their…
Horse and Bow- A Mongol’s Two Best Friends
Feb 1, 2018 • 9 min
Steppe nomads plagued the ancient world with their cavalries, but nobody perfected this form of warfare like the Mongols. A horse archer had such a deep kinesthetic relationship with his steed he could feel when all four hooves were off the ground,…
The Rise of Genghis- From Temujin to the Great Khan
Jan 31, 2018 • 14 min
The Mongols Killed So Many People They Lowered the Global Temperature
Jan 30, 2018 • 12 min
Welcome to part one of Mongol Week(s). In this multi-part series, we will look at the Mongolian Empire from multiple perspectives, including its unprecedented level of brutality (so many died from their attacks that untended farmland returned to forrest,…
Chester A. Arthur’s Presidency Was a Colossal Accident…And a Huge Success
Jan 29, 2018 • 51 min
Chester A. Arthur, America’s 21st president, lands on the lists of the most obscure chief executives. Few know anything about him besides his trademark mutton-chop sideburns. Moreover, he fell into the position unexpectedly when Garfield was assassinated;…
The Vietnam War Was About…Stealing Asia’s Tin?
Jan 26, 2018 • 8 min
Fighting over scarce resources have fueled wars back to the Sumerian city-states squabbling over water-use rights of the Euphrates river. Did the same drive fuel America’s entrance into Vietnam to take its tin? Listener Toby asks if there’s any truth to…
About 70-90 Percent of a Society Needs to Die Before It Completely Collapses
Jan 25, 2018 • 12 min
Some disasters hurt society (Hurricane Katrina in 2005). Bigger ones permanently alter it (the Black Death in the 1300s; Mao’s Great Leap Forward). The worst of disasters completely destroy a civilization and leave behind so few they take centuries to…
Why The Black Plague is Partially (But Not Completely) Responsible For the Renaissance?
Jan 24, 2018 • 8 min
The death of thirty percent of Europe’s population in the fourteenth century permanently altered the medieval social order, and many scholars credit the Black Plague with ushering in the Renaissance. But this is not the whole story—after all, plagues have…
Did Mussollini Really Make the Trains Run on Time?
Jan 23, 2018 • 6 min
Fascism is loved by few, but many at least credit Mussolini’s heavy-handed rule for making Italy’s notoriously disastrous train system operate effectively. Was this actually true or more of Il Duce’s propaganda?
How Teddy Roosevelt Became The Man He Was in the Badlands—William Hazelgrove of “Forging a President”
Jan 22, 2018 • 42 min
Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t born as the rough riding, big-game-hunting, Amazon-exploring legend that America has come to love. So how did he become the larger-than- life character portrayed in history books? He was forged by the last vestige of the Wild…
The Origin of the High Five
Jan 18, 2018 • 5 min
The origins of some cultural practices are lost to the mists of time. Not so the high five. We can trace it back to a specific day at a specific baseball game. From then on the world was never the same.
Nobody in the Middle Ages Thought the Earth Was Flat
Jan 17, 2018 • 6 min
One of the most widespread and pernicious bits of common knowledge about the Middle Ages that is incorrect is the idea that everyone believed the world to be flat. This is ridiculous. Nobody thought that. Anyone who knew about astronomy (which was almost…
Which Leader Had the Best Shot at World Domination?
Jan 16, 2018 • 14 min
Which world leader or dictator had the best chance at world domination? (i.e. Hitler, Napoleon, Alexander the Great). In this episode I discuss whether such a goal is even possible, and if so, under what conditions.
Pinetti, the 18th-Century Illusionist and Forerunner of Chris Angel and David Copperfield—Brian Earl from the Illusion Podcast
Jan 15, 2018 • 56 min
Giussepe Pinetti: You might not know the name, but he’s considered the guy who made magic into a respected theatrical art form. Before him, it was practiced mostly by buskers on street corners, or at private engagements for the rich, not public theaters.…
The Origin of the Military Salute
Jan 12, 2018 • 6 min
The simple military salute is a symbol whose meaning goes back centuries earlier than most any soldier would suspect.
Would Somebody from 1000 BC Transported to 1000 AD Notice the Difference?
Jan 11, 2018 • 11 min
Did technological and social change happen fast enough in the 2,000-year period between 1000 BC and AD that a time traveller would notice he were transported from one to the other?
The English Channel—The 26-Mile Strait That Has Stopped Armies For Millenia
Jan 10, 2018 • 9 min
Why has a puny strip of sea stopped invading armies almost as effectively as the Atlantic Ocean has for America? Because staging a successful amphibious assault is extremely hard.
The Richest Man in History Was the 14th c. King of Mali
Jan 9, 2018 • 7 min
Learn about King Musa, the man so rich he crashed the value of gold in Egypt by giving away too many gifts while on an extended vacation.
Canines in Combat: How the 8125th Sentry Dog Detachment Saved Countless Lives in the Korean War—Rachel Reed
Jan 8, 2018 • 58 min
The Korean War is widely misunderstood in the 21st century. Most have a sepia-toned nostalgia of the bravery of World War Two, or the less black-and-white nature of the Vietnam War. But not Korea. If anyone thinks of it, they might think of reruns of…
Europe’s Military Quantum Leap (1350-1650)—Patrick Wyman From Tides of History
Jan 1, 2018 • 53 min
Want to conquer Europe in the Middle Ages? You need plenty of knights mounted on steeds to launch a full cavalry charge. Once they take out their enemies in pitched battle, you need engineers to launch a siege on your enemies castles.Want to conquer…
Christmas Special: Fr. Longenecker on Why The 3 Wise Men Were Real…But They Weren’t From the Orient or Kings (Rebroadcast)
Dec 25, 2017 • 64 min
How do we separate myth from fact in ancient history? How do we do this when it comes down to one of the most beloved and well-known stories of all time: The Nativity? Fr. Dwight Longenecker, a Catholic priest from Greenville, South Carolina, is…
Bringing Abraham and Mary Todd to Life in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”—Historical Consultant Catherine Clinton
Dec 18, 2017 • 69 min
Being a historical consultant for movies is never easy. How do you get the period details right while keeping it contained within an interesting narrative? But being a historical consultant about one of the most recognizable figure in history is even…
Meet Nathaniel Clark Smith, the Melchizedek of Jazz—Bill McKemy
Dec 11, 2017 • 74 min
Jazz is the most American of musical genres. But its origins are shrouded in mystery. Some like to think that Louis Armstrong and his bluesmen friends were sitting at a bar in New Orleans, when a solar eclipse and Haley’s Comet occurred at the same time,…
The Story of Human Language, From Proto Indo-European to Ebonics English—John McWhorter
Dec 4, 2017 • 55 min
Language not only defines humans as a species, placing us head and shoulders above even the most proficient animal communicators, but it also beguiles us with its endless mysteries. For example… How did different languages come to be? Why isn’t there just…
The Causes of World War 2
Dec 1, 2017 • 14 min
In the wreckage of World War 1, Germany was slapped with a war reparations bill worth billions and the loss of much of its land. This and many other reasons launched the Second World War.
The Causes of World War 1
Nov 30, 2017 • 16 min
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.
Is There Any Hard Evidence Hannibal Took Elephants Over the Alps?
Nov 29, 2017 • 7 min
Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps with war elephants is considered one of the most daring move of the Punic Wars. But is it professionally accepted among historians that he actually crossed the Alps, and if so, is there any physical evidence?
The Greek Military Owned The Ancient World. Why Did They Roll Over For the Romans?
Nov 28, 2017 • 8 min
When did the ancient Greeks stop making armies or supplying fighting men? One moment they’re beating up the the Persian empire and conquering the known world, and the next, they’re slave tutors for the Romans or philosophers in their major cities. Learn…
Why Food Tells Us More About a Culture Than Anything Else—Ken Alba
Nov 27, 2017 • 64 min
You and your ancestor from 1,000 years ago have almost nothing in common. Your clothes are different. Your worship rituals are different. Your thoughts about the opposite sex are definitely different. Almost the only similarity is that both of you are…
The Electoral College Isn’t an Outdated 18th-Century Relic; It Keeps America From Falling Apart—Tara Ross
Nov 24, 2017 • 38 min
The Electoral college is one of the most confusing—and, after the 2016 election, contentious—parts of American democracy. After losing two of the past five presidential races in the Electoral College (EC), Democrats are determined to never let it happen…
Arabic Numerals Took Over 600 Years To Spread Across the West
Nov 23, 2017 • 8 min
Western scholars first encountered “Arabic” numerals in the seventh century, making mathematics and accounting much easier. But Roman numerals stubbornly stuck around until the invention of the printing press made them permanently obsolete.
A Short History of the War of the Roses
Nov 22, 2017 • 7 min
The Wars of the Roses were a series of battles that were fought between the supporters of the House of Lancaster (Lancastrians) and the supporters of the House of York (Yorkists). The wars were called the Wars of the Roses because the Yorkists were…
Richard Francis Burton—The Man Who Knew the Most Languages in History
Nov 21, 2017 • 7 min
Richard Francis Burton was an explorer, translator, and contender for the 19th-century’s world’s most interesting man. He was also functional in dozens of languages and translated monumental works of scholarship from Arabic and Portuguese in English.
The Scopes Monkey Trial, HL Mencken, and Religion in Public Life—Darryl Hart
Nov 20, 2017 • 55 min
If you’ve seen the 1960 Spencer Tracy movie Inherit the Wind, you know about the Scopes Monkey Trial. In this real-life 1925 case, John Scopes was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which had made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any…
The Reformation Happened 500 Years Ago, But It’s More Timely Than Ever—Benjamin Wiker
Nov 17, 2017 • 39 min
Secularism, radical Islam, and nationalism all sound like buzzwords pulled straight from today’s headlines. But you might be surprised to know that 500 years ago they were at the epicenter of one of the greatest religious and political convulsions in…
How Did You Call the Police Before the Phone Was Invented?
Nov 16, 2017 • 6 min
Dialing 9-1-1 is a new innovation (at least in the sense of the scope of human history), but the need for emergency services goes back to the earliest settlements. How did a pre-modern civilization call for help when there were no phone lines?
All the Presidents Who Owned Slaves and How They Treated Them
Nov 15, 2017 • 6 min
A whole bunch of presidents owned slaves considering they took an oath to uphold the rights of their citizens. But how many of the pre-Civil War presidents actually owned slaves? And how did they treat them?
Who Were Worse—The Spanish Conquistadors or the Aztecs?
Nov 14, 2017 • 7 min
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?
The Lives of Slaves, Heretics, Cave-Dwellers, and Other People Ancient History Never Tells You About—Robert Garland
Nov 13, 2017 • 83 min
The 19th-century historian Thomas Carlyle wrote, “The history of the world is but the biography of great men.” In a sense that’s true. We have plenty of biographies of emperors, popes, kings, queens, and leaders of the ancient world. But what about those…
What Did Entertainment Do To The Romans?
Nov 10, 2017 • 9 min
You can point to hundreds of factors that led to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire (which Edward Gibbon and many others have been doing for centuries). Decadence and frivolous entertainment are among the main culprits. But did bread and circuses…
Syriac-The Best Language for Conquering The Ancient World
Nov 9, 2017 • 8 min
If you were transported to the ancient world, there’s only one language that could be used in Roman Briton and China alike. It was Syriac: the lingua franca of the Silk Road and your best language to learn to conquer the ancient world. TO HELP OUT THE…
The Most Valuable Lost Treasure That Still Exists
Nov 8, 2017 • 5 min
As Imperial Spain transported literal tons of gold from the New World to the motherland, hurricanes sunk much of it to the bottom of the Atlantic. Find out about the most valuable treasure that is likely still out there. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an…
Did Vikings Have Tattoos?
Nov 7, 2017 • 8 min
Vikings left behind nearly no writings, except for Runic scripts on rocks. New burial site excavations show they also left them behind on their bodies. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read…
Call of Duty: WW2’s Historical Advisor Marty Morgan on Bringing the War to Life
Nov 6, 2017 • 82 min
Call of Duty is top best-selling first-person shooter series based on real events, but lately it has veered into futuristic sci-fi country. Call of Duty: World War II is an attempt to go back to the games WW2 roots. And historian Marty Morgan is there to…
The Codpiece—The Worst Fashion Trend in History
Nov 3, 2017 • 6 min
A wealthy man in the 1500s wore a large flap on the front of his trousers to accentuate his “credentials,” which looked like an exterior athletic cup. How did this bizarre fashion trend take off, why did it end, and will it make a comeback? TO HELP OUT…
Why Almost No Medieval Peasant Cottages Survive Today
Nov 2, 2017 • 7 min
Archeological findings have led to breakthroughs in our understand of the Roman and ancient Near Eastern worlds, but little survives from the 500s-900s. Why weren’t medieval buildings made to last? TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes.…
How a Nikita Khruschev Mistranslation Threatened Nuclear War
Nov 1, 2017 • 7 min
When Nikita Khruschev pounded his shoe on a podium, declaring “We will bury you!” many feared imminent nuclear war. Turns out a better translation of his original Russian completely changes the meaning of the phrase TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest…
British Girl, Nazi German POW—A Love Story
Oct 31, 2017 • 9 min
Were there any British women who fell in love with German POWs living in England in the mid-1940s? Despite the extreme cultural taboo, the answer is yes. Love always finds a way. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and…
Assassin’s Creed’s Resident Historian Maxime Durand on Mixing Fact with Fiction
Oct 30, 2017 • 57 min
Like it or not, far more millennials will learn about Renaissance and medieval history through Assassin’s Creed than they ever will through a history book. That can be dispiriting on the one hand —the game, after all, seems like a completely ahistorical…
Cruel and Unusual (Medieval) Punishment
Oct 27, 2017 • 13 min
An inquisitor thirsty for a confession had plenty of medieval tools of torture at his disposal: the iron maiden, the judas cradle, the rack, or the brazen bull. Turns out many of these devices are fabrications from hundreds of years later made for museums…
The Easter Uprising of 1916
Oct 26, 2017 • 9 min
Learn about one of the most important events in modern Irish history. On Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, a group of Irish nationalists proclaimed the establishment of the Irish Republic. They, along with some 1,600 followers, staged a rebellion against the…
Misattributed Quotes—No, Mark Twain Didn’t Say That
Oct 25, 2017 • 8 min
Thomas Jefferson once said you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. With those extremely true words in mind, let’s look at other quotes that are widely believed to be authentic but totally false. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review…
How to Build a 13th-Century Castle From Scratch
Oct 24, 2017 • 6 min
In a remote forest clearing in Burgundy, France, a 13th-century castle is slowly being constructed using only the tools, techniques, and materials that would have been available to the builders of the day. It’s archaeology in reverse. What started out as…
Telling Japan’s Story in The Last Samurai, Letters From Iwo Jima, and Medal of Honor—Dan King
Oct 23, 2017 • 106 min
The Japanese military of World War Two has a nasty reputation—kamikaze pilots, baby killers, and brain-washed, honor-obsessed soldiers who threw away their lives for a lost cause. Parts of this reputation is earned but much of the stereotype has come out…
Teddy Roosevelt’s Journey Through Uncharted Amazonian Jungle
Oct 20, 2017 • 7 min
Teddy Roosevelt was not afraid to tempt death. He hiked the Matterhorn during his honeymoon. He arrested outlaws on the Dakota Frontier. He hunted rhinos in Africa. But his most dangerous journey came after his failure in 1912 to retake the presidency as…
How Teddy Roosevelt Gave a 90-minute Speech After Being Shot
Oct 19, 2017 • 5 min
Theodore Roosevelt was hell bent on becoming president in 1912. He ran as a third-party candidate for the Progressive Party, a splinter group of Republicans dissatisfied with William Howard Taft. He was so committed to winning that he gave a 90-minute…
When Teddy Roosevelt Arrested Three Boat Thieves
Oct 18, 2017 • 11 min
Perhaps no president has as many unbelievable stories about his life than Teddy Roosevelt. He was an amateur boxer. He was the first American politician to learn judo. He summited the Matterhorn during his honeymoon. He joined an expedition to log data…
Carrie Nation—The Hatch-Wielding Prohibitionist
Oct 17, 2017 • 8 min
Nothing supports the Prohibition movement like a hatchet-wielding radical ready to smash in a Midwestern saloon. Carrie Amelia Nation would know. She made a career out of physical assaulting the alcohol industry in the years before Prohibition (1920). TO…
Discovering Embarrassing Family Secrets and Famous Third Cousins with Genealogist Crista Cowan From Ancestry.com
Oct 16, 2017 • 44 min
Shake a family tree long enough and something embarrassing secret is sure to drop out: a felon uncle here, an illegitimate nephew there, a grandfather arrested for indecent exposure there. Genealogy can reveal all sorts of unexpected surprises. But it can…
Why Does American Give Automatic Birthright Citizenship?
Oct 13, 2017 • 8 min
Anyone born on American soil gets automatic citizenship. This isn’t true in the rest of the world. Few other nations in the world practice jus soli (right of the soil). Rather, your parents have to be citizens. Why is this the case? It has to do with New…
What Was It Like To Be Enrolled at the University of Constantinople?
Oct 12, 2017 • 8 min
The Pandidakterion (University of Constantinople) was the empire’s imperial school. It can trace its origins to 425 AD to Emperor Theodosius II. Learn what it was like to be enrolled in the ancient world’s premier “university.” TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave…
John Birch-The First Death in the Cold War
Oct 11, 2017 • 7 min
The first death of the Cold War quickly became an anti-communist icon and symbol of the American far right from the 1950s onward. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on…
George Washington Wasn’t the First President. He Was the Ninth
Oct 10, 2017 • 6 min
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…
Anthony Esolen on Translating Dante’s Divine Comedy and Dan Brown’s Supercilious Stupidity
Oct 9, 2017 • 57 min
‘Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them: there is no third’ —T.S Elliot The most towering epic poem in Western literature, save perhaps the works of Homer, is Dante’s Divine Comedy. In this episode we are going to talk about the…
Christopher Columbus Wasn’t as Good—Or as Terrible—As You Think
Oct 6, 2017 • 9 min
Depending on which account you hear, Columbus was either the bravest explorer of the early Renaissance or a mass murdered who subjected the indigenous population of the new world to death or slavery. Learn in this episode how Columbus was both and neither…
How the 1565 Siege of Malta Led to the Golden Age of Piracy
Oct 5, 2017 • 13 min
The Knights Hospitaller were kicked out of Jerusalem following the Third Crusade, but they found a new home on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Their defense fortifications were so strong that nobody could invade, not even the might Ottoman navy in the…
Europeans in the Far East Before Marco Polo
Oct 4, 2017 • 8 min
Marco Polo is the most famous European explorer to the Far East, but he definitely wasn’t the first. His father and uncle came there years before. And they found a small colony of Europeans who lived permanently in China. Perhaps the most famous pre-Polo…
The Lost Technology of Damascus Steel
Oct 3, 2017 • 7 min
Damascus swords, which were generally made in the Middle East anywhere from 540 A.D. to 1800 A.D., were sharper, more flexible and harder/stronger than other contemporary blades. According to legend, the blades can cut a piece of silk in half as it falls…
Alexander Hamilton’s Broadway Musical is Great, but Brion McClanahan Thinks He Screwed Up America
Oct 2, 2017 • 44 min
He’s the subject of a hit Broadway musical, the face on the ten-dollar bill, and one of the most popular Founding Fathers. But what do you really know about Alexander Hamilton? In this interview with author and historian Brion McClanahan, he argues that…
Timur the Tatar’s Revenge on Bayezit—When an Emperor Literally Made a Sultan His Footstool
Sep 28, 2017 • 6 min
One of the most chilling stories of revenge is Timur the Tatar’s defeat of Ottoman Sultan Bayezit and literally making him his footstool. The humiliation likely led to his death. Learn about the clash of these two Middle East titans and what drove Timur…
A Revolutionary-Era Soldier Fights a Modern One Hand-to-Hand. Who Wins?
Sep 27, 2017 • 12 min
If we were to have a battle royale with American soldiers from its different eras all duke it out, who would win? Would a Revolutionary-era soldier win due to his scrappy toughness, or would the modern soldier win with his superior training? Let’s take a…
The Origin of the Middle Finger Insult
Sep 26, 2017 • 6 min
We’ve all done it in moments of anger. But why do we use our middle finger to express anger? And why do we call it “the bird.” Suggestions range from The Battle of Agincourt in 1415 to Ancient Rome. We find out the history everyone’s favorite one-finger…
Why the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the Norman Conquest of England Changed Everything—Jennifer Paxton
Sep 25, 2017 • 75 min
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…
The Daily Schedule of a Samurai
Sep 22, 2017 • 10 min
Samurai were the military nobility and officer cast of feudal Japan, serving an important role of social stability until their functions ceased in the 19th century. But what did a samurai exactly do every day? Did he roam the countryside, looking to…
Why Did British Men Wear Wigs in the 1700s?
Sep 21, 2017 • 6 min
You’ve seen the look in historical dramas. You laughed at the foppish dandies that appear on Masterpiece Theater. In grade school you sneered at pictures of King George with his powdered wig, adjusting it ever so slightly while drinking a cup of tea with…
Who Had the Worst Flatulence in History?
Sep 20, 2017 • 8 min
The goal of this podcast is to answer any question that you have about history… and I mean anything. To prove it, I am answering a question from a listener named Raj about who had the worst flatulence in history. I hope this episode is very educational.…
Constantinople’s Walls—The Strongest Fortress Ever Built
Sep 19, 2017 • 11 min
There are many contenders for the strongest fortress in history (Malumat in Iran or the island fortifications of Malta to name a few). But nothing can compare to the Theodosian City Walls of Constantinople. Built in 440 AD, they repelled over a dozen…
How Religion Has Influenced Politics Across History, From Ancient Sumeria to the 21st Century—Paul Rahe
Sep 18, 2017 • 49 min
In our interview, Prof. Paul Rahe says that a liberal democracy that guarantees the rights of all citizens needs the guarantee that no one religion is established as the official state belief system. At the same time, if a society doesn’t have some sort…
Why The Potato Led to the Rise of Modern Europe
Sep 15, 2017 • 11 min
The humble potato has done more for Old World peasants than any other food. Famine plagued the lower class from time immemorial. But once the potato was introduced to Europe in the 1500s and widely planted in the 1700s, it nearly wiped out malnutrition.…
When Churchill Experimented with Chemical Weapons—Giles Milton of the Unknown History Podcast
Sep 14, 2017 • 26 min
Winston Churchill is consistently ranked as the greatest leader in British History. But like any complex historical figure, he has his dark side. Most notoriously, but least well known, is his interest in chemical weapons. “If it is fair war for an Afghan…
Dan Carlin of Hardcore History on Why the German Military Was Better in WW1 Than WW2
Sep 13, 2017 • 7 min
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…
The History of Pig Latin (ig-pay atin-lay)
Sep 12, 2017 • 9 min
Everyone’s favorite code (it’s not a language) has quite a storied history. Learn how Pig Latin became the fastest, most convenient way to sound intelligent when you didn’t know any ancient languages. It goes back to Shakespeare, like much does, but Pig…
Wait, Nixon Was Innocent?—Geoff Shepard
Sep 11, 2017 • 104 min
Richard Nixon left the White House over 40 years ago, yet he remains embedded in American pop culture like no other ex-president. He was the body-less leader of Earth in Futurama, the five-time president in Alan Moore’s Watchmen, and arguably the most…
How Was Alexander Able to Supply His Army Deep Into Asia?
Sep 8, 2017 • 9 min
It’s one thing to conquer the known world and beyond without the benefit of modern communications like Alexander the Great did. It’s another thing to supply tens of thousands of soldiers deep into hostile territory when home is half a world away. How did…
Daily Life During the Civil War for Non-Combatants
Sep 7, 2017 • 13 min
More soldiers died in the Civil War than any other American conflict. But how did non-combatants fare? It depends on where you were and your life station. A northerner may barely know a war was going on at all if he did not read the newspaper or supply…
Why Gutenberg Didn’t Kick Off the Reformation
Sep 6, 2017 • 5 min
Gutenberg’s moveable type printing press was the prime mover of the Renaissance. From his machine came millions of books, leading to the democratization of knowledge, the fall of the papacy, and the rise of reason. But what if this wasn’t Gutenberg’s…
What if Japan Hadn’t Surrendered After Nagasaki?
Sep 5, 2017 • 8 min
The Allied Forces hoped the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would finally convince Imperial Japan to end the war. If not, they were prepared to launch Operation Downfall—the proposed plan for the invasion of Japan in November of 1945 and the…
Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, and the Barbarian Empires of the Steppe—Kenneth Harl
Sep 4, 2017 • 61 min
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…
Why the Galileo Affair is Completely Misunderstood
Sep 1, 2017 • 11 min
There are few episodes in history that are so misunderstood as the condemnation of Galileo. His trial has become a stock argument to show the fundamental clash between science and dogmatism. Turns out the whole affair was actually a giant clash of egos,…
Did Medieval Women Really Wear Chastity Belts?
Aug 31, 2017 • 6 min
According to legends of the Middle Ages, knights used the chastity belt on their wives as an anti-temptation device before embarking on the Crusades. When the knight left for the Holy Lands, his Lady would wear a chastity belt to preserve her faithfulness…
Why is Louis Such a Popular Name for French Kings?
Aug 30, 2017 • 7 min
If you want to be a French king who is also named Louis, then you have to slap enough Roman numerals at the end of your name to look like an encrypted message. Why are so many French kings named Louis? What significance does the name have for the French…
Did People in the Past Get 8 Hours of Sleep a Night?
Aug 29, 2017 • 7 min
Doctors love to say that eight hours of nightly rest is vital to good health. But did people in the past get this much sleep, more, or less? And how did the lack of a lightbulb affect their sleep cycles. Turns out quite a bit. People actually hit the hay…
The Real-Life Pirates of the Caribbean—Matt Albers from The Pirate History Podcast
Aug 28, 2017 • 67 min
Pirates are popular these days: they adorn our favorite brands of bargain-basement rum and populate beloved Disneyland rides and multibillion-dollar film franchises. But who were these men and women who actually inhabited the Caribbean of the 1700s and…
Would You Rather Be An Average Person Today or a Billionaire 100 Years Ago?
Aug 25, 2017 • 7 min
It’s good to be as rich as a Rockefeller. John—the patriarch of the family—rose from a lowly Ohioan bookkeeper to the leader of Standard Oil, which owned 90 percent of America’s petroleum until it was broken up by the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1911. He…
Why Wasn’t There a Scientific Revolution Under the Romans?
Aug 24, 2017 • 11 min
Scientific progress has moved steadily forward across much of the world for centuries, with few examples of abatement. The Scientific Revolution is often considered to have begun at Copernicus’s 1543 publication of On the Revolutions of the Heavenly…
What if the Nazis Had Won World War Two?
Aug 23, 2017 • 15 min
This episode is fifth in our Alternate History Week series, where I look at famous books of alternate history and discuss why I think their alternate timelines aren’t plausible. The Man in the High Castle is Phillip K. Dick’s most chilling book and the…
If I Were Sent Back in Time to the Roman Empire, How Would I Take Over?
Aug 22, 2017 • 10 min
This episode is fourth in our Alternate History Week series, where I look at famous books of alternate history and discuss why I think their alternate timelines aren’t plausible. Lest Darkness Fall, written in 1939 by L. Sprague de Camp, is one of the…
A Vietnam POW’s Story of 6 Years in the Hanoi Hilton — Amy Shively Hawk
Aug 21, 2017 • 66 min
A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic. -Joseph Stalin When consider major historical events that involved millions of people— World War 2, the Great Depression, the Cold War—it’s easy to forget that real people with their own…
What if Byzantium Had Never Fallen?
Aug 18, 2017 • 11 min
This episode is third in our Alternate History Week series, where I look at famous books of alternate history and discuss why I think their alternate timelines aren’t plausible. Today’s book is Harry Turtledove’s wonderful book Agent of Byzantium. In this…
What if China Had Discovered the New World?
Aug 17, 2017 • 12 min
This episode is second in our Alternate History Week series, where I look at famous books of alternate history and discuss why I think their alternate timelines aren’t plausible. Today’s book is Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2002 book The Years of Rice and Salt.…
Could One Marine Corps MEU Destroy the Entire Roman Army?
Aug 16, 2017 • 10 min
This episode is the first of a five-part series in our Alternate History Week—our version of Shark Week, if you will. We are looking at famous books of alternate history, and I’m discussing why I think their alternate timelines aren’t plausible. The first…
The Bronze Age Collapse of 1177 BC: The Most Catastrophic Event in History
Aug 15, 2017 • 10 min
There was an event in history worse than World War I, worse than the Mongol invasions that killed 40 million, worse than the little Ice Age that triggered famines and rebellions across the medieval world. This event was the “Dark Ages before the Dark…
Is There a Roman City in Present-Day China?
Aug 11, 2017 • 8 min
Since the 1950s, many classicists and military historians have believed that an ancient Roman bloodline lives on in a Chinese village. The town of Liqian sits on the edge of the Gobi desert, and 4,500 miles from Rome. They have tried to prove that the…
Why The Irish May Have Really Saved Civilization
Aug 10, 2017 • 9 min
Thomas Cahill argues in his best-selling book How the Irish Saved Civilization that Ireland played a critical role in Europe’s evolution from the classical age of Rome to the medieval era. Is his narrative correct? Without Ireland, he argues, the…
Did Rome And China Know of Each Other?
Aug 9, 2017 • 8 min
Rome and China were the two poles of the Silk Road. One sent precious porcelain, spices, and silks, the other sent out glassware and high-quality cloth. As Rome expanded into the Near East and China into Central Asia, did the two empires learn much of…
Americana: The Brazilian City Where the Confederacy Lives On
Aug 8, 2017 • 7 min
The United States has accepted immigrants throughout its history, but America has its emigrants as well. Did you know there is a city in Brazil founded by Confederates who wanted to flee the U.S. during Reconstruction? Welcome to Americana, Brazil. TO…
Curtis Lemay: World War II’s Greatest Hero or Worst War Criminal?—Warren Kozak
Aug 7, 2017 • 117 min
General Curtis LeMay is perhaps the most misunderstood general of the 20th century, despite the fact that he played a major role in so many important military events of the last century: he turned the air war in Europe from a dismal failure to a great…
If the Moon Landings Weren’t Fake, Why Haven’t We Been Back?
Aug 4, 2017 • 9 min
Conspiracy theorists have many “reasons” for why we’ve never been to the moon: the Van Allen radiation belts are too deadly, the challenges are too difficult, re-entry into the atmosphere is too hot. But Jason Funk, who asked today’s question, points out…
An Interview With Jerry Yellin, the 93-Year-Old Vet Who Flew WW2’s Last Combat Mission
Aug 3, 2017 • 47 min
I had the extraordinary pleasure to talk with Captain Jerry Yellin, a 93-year-old World War Two vet who flew the final combat mission in World War Two’s Pacific Theatre. Yellin piloted for the 78th Fighter Squadron and was part of the 1945 bombing…
What Were Rome’s Persian Borderlands Like?
Aug 2, 2017 • 6 min
Being a Roman isn’t easy. Running an intercontinental empire across hundreds of languages, customs, and ethnic groups without the benefit of telegraphs or steam power requires constant vigilance or the whole enterprise will fall apart. Let’s look at the…
German POWs in the US During WW2
Aug 1, 2017 • 11 min
Did you know that over 400,000 German POWs were settled in the United States during World War II? Did you know that they may have built some of the stone buildings that make up your town square? Or that they were responsible for bringing in America’s…
How Emperor Justinian Changed the World—Robin Pierson from The History of Byzantium Podcast
Jul 31, 2017 • 56 min
Justinian I of Byzantium is among the most towering figure of the ancient and medieval periods. His innovations in governance, architecture, law, and welding together religion with imperial power were blueprints of governance for the next thousand years…
How Texas Almost Became German
Jul 28, 2017 • 5 min
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…
Did America Switch from Tea to Coffee Due to the Boston Tea Party?
Jul 27, 2017 • 9 min
In mid-December 1773 a force of colonists, dressed up as Mohawk Indians, boarded the three boats and dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. The protest later became known as the Boston Tea Party, but many historians (and coffee afficionados)…
Did a 6th-Century Irishman Really Reach America?
Jul 26, 2017 • 8 min
Archeological evidence proves that Leif Ericsson, the Icelandic Viking, arrived in the New World centuries before Columbus. But what if he was in turn beaten by an Irish monk a full five extra centuries. St. Brendan the Navigator is celebrate for his…
Emperor Norton I of the United States
Jul 25, 2017 • 11 min
Emperor Norton is San Francisco’s original oddball. In 1859 he proclaimed himself “Norton I, Emperor of the United States.” He later expanded his pretense by claiming to be “Protector of Mexico” as well. But rather than get in trouble with authorities for…
Dorsey Armstrong on the Legend of King Arthur: From Noble Knight to Guy Ritchie’s ‘Excalibro’
Jul 24, 2017 • 57 min
For a guy that lived 1,500 years ago, King Arthur has remarkable staying power. He became a stock figure in Welsh and Latin chronicles of Britain by the 800s. His story spread to France, Germany, Scandinavia, and Iceland after the Norman conquest of…
What Can We Learn from the Kurds About Nationalism and Nation Building?
Jul 21, 2017 • 14 min
The Kurdish people are arguably the largest stateless people on Earth. An estimated 35 million live in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere, but do not have a nation to call their own. Despite this they have been critical power brokers in the military…
Had Native Americans Been Resistant to Old World Diseases How Different Would the New World Have Been?
Jul 20, 2017 • 7 min
Smallpox is arguably the deadliest weapon in history. Ninety percent of some Native American tribes were wiped out by this disease when they first encountered Western explorers. But what if they hadn’t been wiped out? Would Native American groups have…
What Is the Biggest Forgery in History?
Jul 19, 2017 • 8 min
You probably haven’t heard of the Donation of Constantine. It was a fake letter that represented one of the biggest real estate scams in history. How did an anonymous medieval clergyman try to forge a letter from Emperor Constantine to Pope Sylvester…
How Did the Ottoman Imperial Harem Operate?
Jul 18, 2017 • 15 min
Nothing fascinated Europeans about the Ottoman Empire quite like the harem. Since no foreigners were permitted to enter it themselves, imaginations ran while about what sort of licentiousness happened behind the doors of Istanbul’s Topkapi palace. But…
Nathan Bedford Forrest: Racist KKK Founder or Misunderstood Military Genius?—Sandy Mitcham
Jul 17, 2017 • 81 min
Few historical figures are as infamous as Nathan Bedford Forrest. If he is remembered at all today it is for being the founder of the Ku Klux Klan in the wake of the Civil War. Many of us learned this “fact” from the opening scenes of Forrest Gump, in…
Where Did Sea Monsters From the Edge of Medieval Maps Come From?
Jul 14, 2017 • 8 min
Have you ever seen a picture of an old map of the world and wondered why they contained enormous serpents, giant squids, Krakken, and other terrifying creatures drawn on its edges? What is the purpose of these creatures? Obviously oceans of the past were…
What Are Some Inventions That Are Much Older Than We Think?
Jul 13, 2017 • 8 min
Many of us assume that cars, computers, and batteries are modern inventions. Before that time we lived in a technological dark age too barbaric and boring to contemplate. But what if the 21st century’s most important inventions aren’t all that recent?…
Who Was the Most Powerful Woman in the Middle Ages? 2/2
Jul 12, 2017 • 9 min
Joan of Arc has one of the most incredible stories in history. Consider this: How did an illiterate peasant lead an army into victory against England in the Hundred Years War? Learn about her upbringing, her visions from God, how she learned years of…
Who Was The Most Powerful Woman in the Middle Ages? 1/2
Jul 11, 2017 • 9 min
Eowyn, the Shieldmaiden of Rohan, is one of the best characters from the “Lord of the Rings.” But J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t invent her out of thin air. Ever the scholar of Anglo-Saxon England, Tolkien based is based on a real person who lived in the…
How One Man Ruled 1920s Kansas City Like a Caesar—Jason Roe
Jul 10, 2017 • 63 min
America attempted to legislate morality in the 1920s by outlawing the production, sale, and transport of intoxicating liquors through the Volstead Act. But that didn’t stop the drinks from flowing during the “dry” years. Famous organized crime networks…
Was There a Real-Life Dr. Frankenstein?
Jul 7, 2017 • 8 min
Was there a real life Dr. Frankenstein who tried to bring the dead back to life by science and alchemy? Yes there was, and his name was Johann Dippel. He lived in the transitional period between alchemy and modern science. He may have experimented on…
Who is the Bravest Person Who Ever Lived?
Jul 6, 2017 • 11 min
In the early 1800s there was no English explorer greater than James Holman. He covered a distance almost twenty times farther than Marco Polo on foot or cart—almost never using trains or steamships. He travelled among 200 different cultures, charted…
Does China Really Have a 5,000-Year-Old History?
Jul 5, 2017 • 9 min
Few will dispute that China has one of the most ancient cultures on earth, but is there any truth to the claim—made by many residents of China—that there is a 5,000-year-long line of continuity in its culture? Would an inhabitant of present-day China from…
Why Is July 4 Celebrated The Way It Is (Fireworks n’ Hot Dogs)?
Jul 4, 2017 • 7 min
Why do Americans celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks? Are we trying to take the National Anthem as literally as possible, creating “Bombs Bursting in Air”? Or is there another reason? It turns out that much of the festival trappings of the Fourth…
Israelis or Palestinians: Who Was There First? — David Brog
Jul 3, 2017 • 63 min
Probably the most contentious—and politicized—issue in history has to do with the origins of the nation of Israel. That’s because the heart of the historical debate is who is the “rightful” owner of the land: The Israelis or the Palestinians? Believe me,…
Is There Any Language In Use Today That Could Be Used 1,000 Years Ago?
Jun 30, 2017 • 8 min
Any fan of Shakespeare knows how much the English language has changed over the last 400 years. A student of Chauncer knows even better. A brave student of Beowulf knows almost better than anyone else. You literally have to be a scholar to read “English”…
When Did The Roman Empire Really End?
Jun 29, 2017 • 6 min
Rome didn’t fall in 476 when Romulus, the last of the Roman emperors in the west, was overthrown by the Germanic leader Odoacer, who became the first Barbarian to rule in Rome. Nor did it fall in 1453 when the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople.…
Why Did Hitler Hate the Jews?
Jun 28, 2017 • 6 min
The horrors of the Holocaust are as vivid now as they were in 1945 when the world discovered the horrors of Nazi Germany’s atrocities. But why did Hitler hate the Jews so vehemently? Furthermore, why did he shift precious resources away from the war…
Was There an Objective Reason for the European Colonization of Africa?
Jun 27, 2017 • 11 min
By the late 1800s Europe’s Great Powers controlled nearly 80 percent of the African continent. Much research has analyzed the brutal aspects of its colonization—particularly in the Belgian Congo—but less on why Europe colonized Africa. Were the reasons…
Understanding Putin Through the History of Russian Invasions — Mark Schauss from the Russian Rulers in History Podcast
Jun 26, 2017 • 60 min
In today’s episode we are possibly going to bite off more than we can chew… by discussing the entire history of Russia. OK, maybe not the entire history of Russia. But we will discuss how invasions of Russia over the centuries have shaped its psyche…
Did People Get Depressed in Ancient Times?
Jun 23, 2017 • 8 min
Depression is not a modern phenomenon. Take the example of Abraham Lincoln. He is an unusual psychological case study. He was both chronically melancholy, and yet among the strongest people in history. Here’s a quick rundown: Lincoln lost his one true…
Were Ancient People More Advanced Than Us?
Jun 22, 2017 • 7 min
The ancients had abilities that have fallen into near-complete disuse in the modern age. Consider memorization. The average peasant of 1,000 years ago had 10x more memorized than you ever will. They cultivated the skill in the ars memoriae, who were…
Why Was Africa Never as Developed as The Rest of the World?
Jun 21, 2017 • 9 min
Today’s question is a tricky one that has to do with global politics, colonialism, and threatens to enter the minefield of race. Why do so many African nations sit at the bottom of global development indexes? The answer has nothing to do with…
Did King Arthur and Merlin Truly Exist?
Jun 20, 2017 • 8 min
Did the greatest king who ever lived ever live? That’s a tricky question. The fabled first king of England, the mythological figure associated with Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table, may have been based on a 5th to 6th century Roman-affiliated…
What the Saints Drank and Monks Brewed—Michael Foley
Jun 19, 2017 • 60 min
Michael Foley loves contradictions. He is a Catholic professor of patristics—a study of the lives of early Christian theologians—at a dry Baptist university. That didn’t stop him from writing a book that pairs wines, beer, spirits, and cocktails with the…
Who Built the Pyramids? Aliens?
Jun 16, 2017 • 7 min
Today’s question comes from Nayeli Carpenter She asks about lost civilizations: pyramid builds, Egyptians, Mayans, Incans, especially the ones where cultures disappeared mysteriously. I’m going to confine this question to everyone’s favorite historical…
Can You Explain the 1915 Armenian Genocide?
Jun 15, 2017 • 13 min
Today’s question comes to us from Kevin deLaplante, creator of the Critical Thinker Academy and host of the Argument Ninja Podcast. Can you tell me about the 1915 Armenian Genocide and why today’s political leaders (such as Barack Obama) are hesitant to…
How Important Was the Spice Trade to Medieval Europe?
Jun 14, 2017 • 9 min
Today’s question comes from Jaime Martínez Bowness: Hi - here’s a quick list of topics I thought of: The importance of the spice trade in Medieval times TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read…
What Happened to Places Like Catalonia After Rome’s Fall?
Jun 13, 2017 • 7 min
Today’s question comes to us from Nate Finch: I would love for you to do a podcast (series?) on Mediterranean ”empires” after Rome (e.g. the Catalonian “empire”, which extended all the way to Italy, the empire of the Venetian merchants, etc.). Heck, you…
Was Hitler a Christian, Atheist, or Something Else? — Richard Weikart
Jun 12, 2017 • 60 min
No matter how little you know about history, you know something about Adolf Hitler. And if you want to shut down an opponent, you can claim that Hitler said/did/believed the same thing. Godwin’s Law exists for a reason. But Hitler remains a persistent…
Who Was WW2 Spy Zig-Zag?
Jun 9, 2017 • 8 min
Today’s question comes from Dean Wallace: Could you tell me about the career of [World War Two] agent Zigzag? WANT ME TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION ABOUT HISTORY? Click here to learn more. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and…
What Is The World’s Oldest University?
Jun 8, 2017 • 7 min
Today’s question comes from James Ganong: Could you please tell me the history of oldest university? I think it is in Egypt… WANT ME TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION ABOUT HISTORY? Click here to learn more. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes.…
Tell Me About the Varangians (The Vikings of Russia)
Jun 7, 2017 • 5 min
Today’s question is about the Varangians, a group of Vikings that conquered Kievan Rus and became the first rulers of the Russian state. I’d love it if you could talk about Kievan-Rus, the Rurik dynasty, The Varangians…any of these would be great. WANT ME…
Can We Really Know Anything in History Or Is It All Fake News?
Jun 6, 2017 • 7 min
Today’s question comes from C. M. Ho: How much of history has been the figment of some power hungry person or group? Some historians or those that call themselves historians are not adhering to the truth either. The news, it is said, is also manipulated.…
Every President’s Go-to Drink, From Washington’s Whisky to Obama’s Homebrew—Mark Will-Weber
Jun 5, 2017 • 78 min
There are books about presidents. There are books about cocktails. Then there are books that create and attribute a cocktail to each of the 45 U.S. presidents. Journalist and editor Mark Will-Weber has written such a book. He actually written three: Mint…
What Were French Trappers Doing in 1700s America?
Jun 2, 2017 • 6 min
Today’s question comes from Suzanne: I would enjoy anything about the French in North America, Canada and the US, early American History of the Michigan Territory, Seven Years War, etc. WANT ME TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION ABOUT HISTORY? Click here to learn…
Did the Inventor of the Guillotine Die By Guillotine?
Jun 1, 2017 • 6 min
Today’s question comes from August Berkshire: Is it true that the person who invented the guillotine was guillotined himself? What the story behind both events? WANT ME TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION ABOUT HISTORY? Click here to learn more. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW…
What is the Bloody Mary Myth Based On?
May 31, 2017 • 9 min
Today’s question comes from Goa Yong: Is Bloody Mary a real person? WANT ME TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION ABOUT HISTORY? Click here to learn more. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.…
Was Leif Erikson First to Visit the New World?
May 30, 2017 • 6 min
Today’s question comes from Ryan: Was Leif Erikson really the first explorer of European descent to explore North America? WANT ME TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION ABOUT HISTORY? Click here to learn more. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your…
Tevi Troy on Pop Culture in the White House: From Washington’s Library to Trump’s Twitter Account
May 29, 2017 • 52 min
In the 21st century presidents can’t stay out of the spotlight. Barack Obama released his NCAA tournament brackets every year on ESPN, was a regular guest on Jimmy Fallon and the rest of the late night circuit, and was the first president to use Twitter.…
When Did People Start Using Last Names?
May 26, 2017 • 6 min
Today’s question comes from Melanie Padon: When did people start using last names and why? How did they come up with them? WANT ME TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION ABOUT HISTORY? Click here to learn more. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your…
Did Conquering Armies Really Salt the Earth of Their Enemies?
May 25, 2017 • 7 min
Today’s question comes to us from Peter Swanson. My question is what is the history of “salting the earth” after a military victory. How would an army in the ancient world have transported tons and tons and tons of salt and spread it everywhere? Isn’t…
What if JFK Had Lost the 1960 Election?
May 24, 2017 • 13 min
Today’s question comes to us courtesy of Brandon. Here’s his question: This is Brandon Wall, and I’m wondering what would have happened if Nixon beat JFK in the 1960 presidential election. How would the world be looking these days, for instance, if Nixon…
Justin from the Generation Why Podcast: What Assassination Had the Most Impact on History?
May 23, 2017 • 18 min
Today’s question comes to us from Justin from the Generation Why Podcast. It’s a true crime podcast that you should definitely check out. Here’s his question: What murder or assassination through history do you think had the most impact on the world? From…
Why Your Favorite Presidents (Lincoln, Washington) Actually Screwed Up America—Brion McClanahan
May 19, 2017 • 44 min
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.…
How a Horse Became a Sergeant in the Korean War — Robin Hutton
May 19, 2017 • 87 min
The story of Reckless—a pack horse in the Korean War who was a beloved household name in the 1950s and the only animal in U.S. history to officially achieve the rank of Sergeant—is one of the strangest, most inspiring, and (sadly) unknown stories of the…
When Camels Roamed the American Southwest—The U.S. Camel Corps (1856-1866)
May 11, 2017 • 44 min
Welcome to the first episode of the History Unplugged podcast. We are kicking things off by exploring the US Army’s failed experiment of using camels as the military’s main pack animal in the American Southwest. Camels are more than a zoo curiosity that…