[Abridged] Presidential Histories-logo

[Abridged] Presidential Histories

History Podcasts

From Yorktown to the Civil War, Pearl Harbor to 9/11, discover the pivotal moments that defined each president's life and legacy and the lessons we can draw from them. New episodes available the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month.


United States


From Yorktown to the Civil War, Pearl Harbor to 9/11, discover the pivotal moments that defined each president's life and legacy and the lessons we can draw from them. New episodes available the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month.




16.F.) How Lincoln changed American immigration, an interview with Harold Holzer

Migrating to the United States used to be as easy as buying a boat ticket. Getting settled was the hard part, and it became far more daunting when the United States was torn asunder by Civil War in 1861. As more and more northerners were conscripted into the Union Army, Lincoln realized a friendlier immigration policy might be the key to sustaining economic and military strength through the long years of war. Harold Holzer, director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in New York City and Chairman of the Lincoln Forum, discusses his new book Brought Forth on this Continent Abraham Lincoln and American Immigration, which delves into the role immigration played in killing the Whig party, building the republican party, and how Lincoln's views toward immigration changed during through his career and into the Civil War, when he attempted one of the first major overhauls of the American immigration system in U.S. history. Support the show


36.B) LBJ's Great Society, an interview with Mark Updegrove

Lyndon Baines Johnson is one of the most legislatively accomplished presidents in American history - possibly the only president who actually did so much winning, people got tired of it. But how did he make legislating look so easy? Mark Updegrove, president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation and author of 5 books on the presidency, including Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency, discusses the impact and legacy of LBJ's Great Society. Support the show


36.A) LBJ & Vietnam, an interview with Mark Lawrence

Few presidents have a darker mark on their resume that LBJ's handling of the Vietnam war. Though overwhelmingly popular at first, the war divided the nation and broke Johnson's political power just 4 years later. How did the United States get into Vietnam? Why didn't LBJ see what the American people saw as public opinion turned against it? And what can we learn from Johnson's handling of the war in Vietnam? Mark Lawrence, director of the LBJ Presidential Library & Museum in Austin and author of The End of Ambition: The United States and the Third World in the Vietnam Era, discusses the legacy of LBJ's leadership of the Vietnam War. Support the show


36.) Lyndon Baines Johnson 1963-1969

"There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem." - Lyndon Baines Johnson, March 9, 1965 ~~~ Lyndon Baines Johnson was thrust into the presidency at a moment of tragedy - the public assassination of his predecessor. With the nation in panic, Congress in deadlock, and Civil Rights seemingly out of reach, the challenges were long, but Johnson used his mastery of the legislative process to overcome them. He may have gone down as one of the greats if not for the war that consumed his presidency, the war in Vietnam. Bibliography 1. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream – Doris Kearns Goodwin 2. The Years of Lyndon Johnson and the Passage of Power – Robert Caro 3. Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency – Mark K Updegrove 4. The Vietnam War – Ken Burns (documentary) 5. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 – Robert Dallek 6. Richard Nixon: The Life – John Farrell 7. Eisenhower in War and Peace – Jean Edward Smith 8. Gerald Ford – Douglas Brinkley Support the show


35.C) JFK & The Press, an interview with Harold Holzer

JFK once joked, "the worst I do, the more popular I get." Historian Harold Holzer, director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in New York City, Chairman of the Lincoln Forum, and author of The presidents vs. the Press: The endless battle between the white house and the media, from the founding fathers to Fake News, discusses how JFK used his mastery of the press to become one of the most enduringly popular presidents in U.S. history. Support the show


35.B) Joe Kennedy Sr., The Patriarch, an interview with David Nasaw

Joe Kennedy Jr. used his intellect, connections, and more than a few shady stock market tricks to become one of the wealthiest men in America. Once there, he threw his vast fortune behind the political aspirations of his children, challenging them to do good in the world. But tragedy was always a step away. Within a year of Joe's crowning achievement, the presidential inauguration of his son, Jack, Joe was struck down by a stroke. He lived 8 more years, helplessly watching as two sons were felled by assassins bullets. Historian David Nasaw, author of The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, discusses the Shakespearean tragedy that is Joe Kennedy Sr. Support the show


35.A) The Assassination of JFK, an interview with Stephen Fagin

60 years ago today, John F. Kennedy was assassinated while traveling through the streets of Dallas. Stephen Fagin, curator of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, takes us through the tragic day and discusses why Kennedy's assassination has attracted so much doubt and dreams of conspiracy. Support the show


35.) John F. Kennedy 1961-1963

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." - John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961 ~~~ John F. Kennedy presided over three of the most turbulent years of the Cold War. From the Bay of Pigs to the Cuban Missile Crisis and a coup in Vietnam, the stakes have rarely been higher. But how did he overcome youth and bigotry against his Catholic faith to reach the White House? Well, it helps when your daddy has money and you have charisma to spare. Bibliography 1. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 – Robert Dallek 2. Richard Nixon: The Life – John Farrell 3. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream – Doris Kearns Goodwin 4. The Years of Lyndon Johnson and the Passage of Power – Robert Caro 5. Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency – Mark K Updegrove 6. Eisenhower in War and Peace – Jean Edward Smith Support the show


BONUS! 2023 Friendsgiving History Podcast Spectacular

Earlier this year, four podcasters got together to record the second annual Friendsgiving History Podcast Spectacular! Tune in as I'm joined by three fellow history podcasters and friends for a round table discussion on U.S. and presidential history. The other podcasters are: Presidencies of the United StatesCivics & CoffeePlodding through the PresidentsHappy Thanksgiving! Support the show


34.C) Ike, the Last General, an interview with Bryan Gibby

Eisenhower is the last general to have become president. How did his time in the army influence his administration and what stamp did it leave on the presidency? Bryan Gibby, the deputy head of West Point's history department, discusses how Ike's time at the academy, in the army, and during World War II shaped his leadership style and impacted his presidential administration Support the show


34.C) Isolationism v internationalism, Ike & the election of 1952, an interview with Chris Nichols

As the election of 1952 approached, one thing seemed certain - a staunch isolationist, senator Robert Taft, was going to be the GOP's presidential nominee and the next president of the United States. Which was a major concern to anyone who feared the United States retreating back to its borders would invite Soviet conquest in the 50s just as it had invited Nazi conquest in the 30s. And so a plan was hatched to draft Eisenhower, the supreme commander of a fledgling NATO, to defeat Taft at home so the United States could defeat soviet influence abroad. The fate of the GOP, and the world, hung in the balance - would the later half of the 20th century be an isolationist one, or an international one? Historian Christopher Nichols, who is currently working on a book about the 1952 election, discusses the pivotal race that set the stage for the rest of the Cold War. Support the show


Bonus. Intelligent Speech Conference: The political double cross that saved American democracy

Bonus episode! Even the seemingly powerless have the power to change history. When the infamously corrupt Chester Arthur became president after the assassination of his predecessor, most Americans feared Democracy was about to go on the auction block. But, in an era when women couldn't even vote, one woman, Julia Sand, put pen to paper and changed history. Her letters imploring Arthur to abandon his corrupt political allies and listen to his long-abandoned better nature moved something in Arthur and Democracy itself may well have been saved. This is a recording of my 2022 Intelligent Speech Conference presentation. If you enjoy it, you might just enjoy the upcoming 2023 Intelligent Speech Conference on November 4. Learn more and buy tickets with the code "Abridged" at intelligentspeechonline.com Support the show


34.B) Ike & the Suez Crisis, an interview with Jim Newton

There are October Surprises, and there are October crisis. Just days before Americans went to the polls to vote for Ike's 1956 reelection, his allies France, England, and Israel launched a surprise October invasion of Egypt to capture the Suez Canal. With Cold War temperatures rising, Ike was faced with a high-stakes dilemma. Would he back his allies, or Egypt, for control of the all-important canal. Veteran journalist Jim Newton, author of Eisenhower: The White House Years, discusses the crisis that reshaped the political world order. Support the show


34.A) Ike v McCarthyism, an interview with Larry Tye

Dwight Eisenhower ascended to the presidency when the United States was in the grips of a red scare - a red scare fanned by Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy. As McCarthy exploited the public fear to steal the spotlight with hundreds of unfounded accusations of communist sympathies, Eisenhower, and three future presidents then in the Senate, had to grapple with the moral and societal threat of McCarthy to the republic, and what they were willing to do to stop him. New York Times best-selling author Larry Tye, author of Demagogue: The life and long shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, discusses the origins of the McCarthy era, its costs, and what it took to end it. Support the show


34.) Dwight Eisenhower 1953-1961

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight Eisenhower, April 16, 1953 ~~~ Dwight Eisenhower was born to poverty, but rose to be the savior of Europe and preside over the perilous early years of the Cold War. Follow along as Ike punches a ticket to education and upward mobility at West Point, leads the allied armies of Europe to victory during World War II, and faces off with Soviets abroad and racists at home from the White House. Bibliography 1. Eisenhower in War and Peace – Jean Edward Smith 2. Truman – David McCullough 3. FDR – Jean Edward Smith 4. Richard Nixon: The Life – John Farrell 5. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 – Robert Dallek 6. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream – Doris Kearns Goodwin Support the show


33.D) The blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the awakening of Harry S. Truman, an interview with Judge Richard Gergel

As millions of Americans demobilized after World War II, some were welcomed home as heroes, but others were attacked by their neighbors. When a white South Carolina sheriff attacked a black sergeant, still in uniform, on his way home from the war, the resulting outrage inspired Harry Truman to risk his presidency for the cause of Civil Rights. Judge Richard Gergel, author of Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring, discusses the attack and its impact on a nation and its conscience. Support the show


33.C) Truman and the Pendergast Machine, an interview with Jon Taylor

Before he was president, and before he formed the Truman Committee, Harry Truman was known primarily for one thing: his connection to an infamous Kansas City political machine - the Pendergast Machine. But what was the Pendergast Machine? How did it work? What was it into? Historian Jon Taylor discusses Truman's connection to the infamous operation, and who was helping who in the relationship. Support the show


33.B) Truman and the Bomb, an interview with D.M. Giangreco

"16 hours ago, an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima ... It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East" - President Harry S. Truman, Aug. 6, 1945, in his announcement of the first atomic attack in world history ~~~ When Harry S. Truman unexpectedly became president on April 12, 1945, the United States was still in the midst of World War II - but there were plans to hasten its resolution. Secret plans. Atomic plans. In the following four months, the first atomic bombs would be tested in New Mexico and then dropped on the Empire of Japan. Historian D.M. Giangreco, author of the new book Truman and the Bomb: The Untold Story, discusses what Senator Truman knew about the bomb and when he knew it, the casualty forecasts that Truman weighed in his decision to drop the bomb, and whether dropping the bomb ended World War II. ~~~ “The full impact of the war comes more to me, I think, in some respects than it does to anyone in this country. The daily casualty lists are mine. They arrive in a constant stream, a swelling stream, and I can’t get away from them.” - Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, June, 1945 Support the show


33.A) The Truman Committee: An interview with Steve Drummond

"When people create delays for profit, when they sell poor products for defense use, when they cheat on price and quality, they aren't any different from a draft dodger and the public at large feels just the same way about it." - Senator Harry S. Truman, March 31, 1941 ~~~ As American war industry roared to life in 1941, Senator Harry S. Truman began receiving letters from concerned constituents. Money was being wasted. Badly. And all over the place. Truman jumped in his car and travelled thousands of miles to investigate first-hand, then formed the senate investigatory committee that would bear his name - The Truman Committee. NPR executive producer Steve Drummond, author of The Watchdog: How the Truman Committee Battled Corruption and Helped Win World War Two, discusses the origin and impact of the Truman Committee, and some of the truly crazy schemes of corruption it unearthed for the American people. Support the show


33.) Harry S Truman 1945-1953

"I don't know if you fellas ever had a load of hay fall on you, but when they told me what happened yesterday, I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me." - Harry S. Truman, April 13, 1945, the day after Franklin Roosevelt died and Truman was sworn in as president. ~~~ Harry S. Truman was a political late bloomer, first elected to the senate at age 50, and becoming vice president against his own wishes at age 60. That second role lasted just 82 days before president Franklin Roosevelt died and Truman inherited the final months of a world war, and the opening years of a cold war. Follow along as Truman, an uneducated farmer, World War I veteran, and failed businessman, rises to the presidency and grapples with the atomic bomb, global communist aggression, and a rogue general eager to start World War III. Bibliography 1. Truman – David McCullough 2. FDR – Jean Edward Smith 3. Eisenhower in War and Peace – Jean Edward Smith Support the show