Tapped Out: Thirsting for Fresh Water [rebroadcast]03/27/15
The western United States is in the grip of a punishing drought. Reservoir levels are dropping, and farmers are struggling to ensure their access to water for crops and livestock. Consider California. According to a water scientist at NASA, the state...
For those of us who live on the mainland, islands are something we often tend to think about as destinations. As places to visit, perhaps, to take a break from our ordinary lives. And then to leave again. They’re places on the periphery -- and that’s...
The Green Show [rebroadcast]
With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, we bring you this reprise of last year's St. Patty's Day episode: an offbeat, wide-ranging, and colorful look at the color green in American history. From the Green Mountain Boys in colonial America, to...
On the Clock: A (Brief) History of Time [Spring 2015]
As we switch the clocks to "spring forward" this week, we're taking a look at time itself in American history. In this episode, we look at the changing ways Americans have experienced the 24-hour day -- from pre-industrial times right on up through...
The Middling Sort: Visions of the Middle Class
In his 2015 State of the Union address, the president defined “middle-class economics” as “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everyone plays by the same set of rules.” Now, however...
Pop History :The Past in Last Year's Media
U.S. history is everywhere in pop culture — in movies like Selma, TV shows like The Americans, even in video games like Assassin’s Creed, with a recent version set during the French and Indian War. So in their shout-out to the Oscars this year, Brian,...
Stars & Tsars: A History of U.S.-Russia Relations [Rebroadcast]
In the past few years, the White House and the Kremlin have sparred over Syria, the Winter Olympics, and now, the crisis in Ukraine. It can be tempting to view these events through the familiar lens of the Cold War, but in this episode, the History...
Women at Work: A History
This time on BackStory, we look at women in the workforce, from 19th century domestic workers, to the Rosies of World War II, to the offices of Silicon Valley... Consider this, for instance: Although personal computers are everywhere these days, in...
New & Improved: Advertising in America
As more than 100 million Americans tune in to watch Seattle and New England duke it out in the Super Bowl, advertisers are vying for the nation's attention -- during all those seemingly endless commercial breaks. The NFL's championship game, after...
Talk Of The Nation: Oratory In America (rebroadcast)
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is, of course, one of the most iconic speeches in American history. But in 1863, it got decidedly mixed reviews – one newspaper even called it “silly, flat and dishwatery.” So how did it become one of the most...
Henceforth Free: The Emancipation Proclamation [rebroadcast]
On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It declared that all slaves in the rebellious states “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Today, Lincoln is remembered as “The Great Emancipator,” but the story...
Black Gold: An American History of Oil [rebroadcast]
At the beginning of the 20th century, oil was hardly on America's energy map. Coal was king, supplying as much as 90% of the nation's energy needs. And the second most used energy source? Wood. But in just a few short decades Americans would come to...
The Future Then: Visions Of America Yet To Come
Across history, Americans have dreamed of what the future will hold, from the flying cars and 3-hour workdays of The Jetsons to fears of World War III and nuclear holocaust. Sometimes, we’ve made those dreams come true… or at least tried. On this...
Naughty & Nice: A History of the Holidays [2014 rebroadcast]
Christmas may be the Big Kahuna of American holy days… but it wasn’t always so. For centuries it was a time of drunken rowdiness, when the poor would aggressively demand food and money from the rich. Little surprise, then, that the Puritans banned...
Counter Culture: A History of Shopping
The word shop first appeared as a verb in the 16th century — when it meant to put someone in prison. And boy can shopping feel that way, especially around the holiday season. The smells, the colors, the teeming shelves and showcases, the muzak. On...
What Gives: Generosity in America
’Tis the season for giving. And on this episode, we’re going to give you the history of that. The stories we’re working on explore gifts in the American past and consider how ideas about charity, philanthropy and generosity have changed over the...
Tyrannophobia: Uses & Abuses of Executive Power
With Republicans expected to gain seats in the House and Senate, it looks like President Obama will cap off his time in office with more gridlock. But if Congress can’t act, he says, he’ll use executive authority to sidestep the legislative process on...
Health Nuts: A History of Nutritional Advice
Until recently, the link between a high fat diet and heart disease was one of the touchstones of modern medicine. But new research has thrown that connection into question, just as numerous studies over the years have brought new advice about health...
Imagined Nations: Depictions of American Indians
Is the name of a certain NFL team from Washington a racial slur? The U.S. Patent Office says so. So do many Native Americans who have protested the use of the term by that team. Activists say the team’s name and its logo — the image of a generic...
Stuck A History of Gridlock [rebroadcast]
On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Ed, and Peter take an in-depth look at stalemate in American history. Are there other times when the system has so routinely ground to a halt? Is compromise the main way of ending legislative standoffs, or does...
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