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History Unplugged Podcast

History Podcasts

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

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

Location:

United States

Description:

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

Language:

English


Episodes

James Early Explains Why the War of 1812 Turned America Into an Expansionist Military Power

9/29/2022
We are joined by James Early, the co-host of some of the best series on this show, including our Key Battles Series (World War One, the Civl War, the Revolutionary War) and Presidential Fight Club. James is here to discuss the War of 1812, a little war with a big impact. Although it was a sideshow for the British (that cared more about the Napoleonic Wars, which threatened its existence) and to the lesser extent the Americans (that couldn’t bother to field a standing army up to the war), the...

Duration:01:09:01

Introducing: It Was Said Season 2

9/28/2022
It Was Said, the 2021 Webby Award winner for Best Podcast Series, returns with a new season to look back on some of the most powerful, impactful, and timeless speeches in history. Written and narrated by Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author-historian Jon Meacham, this documentary podcast series takes you through another season of ten generation-defining speeches. Meacham, along with top historians, authors and journalists, offers expert insight and analysis into the origins,...

How to Escape From a Nazi Prison Fortress

9/27/2022
Looking at Colditz Castle, it was no surprise why the Nazi’s chose the towering fortress as their prison-of-war camp for the most defiant Allied prisoners. Perched high above a rocky outcrop with thick medieval walls of stone, the men who had escaped other camps would surely have no such luck here, living out the war under the watchful eye of their German captors. But men do not resign themselves so lightly, and with nothing but time on their hands, the POWs of Colditz would engineer some of...

Thomas Jefferson’s European Travel Guide Includes Architectural Sketches, Farming Tips, and an Astronomical Wine Expense Report

9/22/2022
In 1784, Thomas Jefferson was a broken man. Reeling from the loss of his wife and humiliated from a political scandal during the Revolutionary war, he needed to remake himself. And to do that, he traveled. Traipsing through Europe, Jefferson saw and learned as much as he could, ultimately bringing his knowledge home to a young America. He wrote a travelogue called “Hints to Americans Traveling in Europe.” Jefferson documented his trip in order to educate the infant nation on cutting-edge...

The Michigan Politician Who Created a Proto-New Deal, Defeated the KKK in Court, and Defended Interred Japanese-Americans

9/20/2022
Frank Murphy was a public servant that achieved the highest levels of civilian success in the early 20th century. After serving in World War I, he served as mayor of Detroit, then as the top appointed U.S. official to the Philippines, then as Governor of Michigan, U.S. Attorney General, and ultimately as a Justice on the Supreme Court, appointed by FDR. But it was his securing justice for a black doctor against a KKK mob that made him an icon. In 1925, Ossian Sweet, a black doctor, moved...

Duration:00:50:38

The Rag-Tag Art Renegades that Brought Picasso and Modernist Art to the United States

9/15/2022
Today we think of New York as the center of the twentieth century art world, but it took three determined men, two world wars, and one singular artist to secure the city’s cultural prominence. Pablo Picasso was the most influential and perplexing artist of his age, and the turning points of his career and salient facets of his private life have intrigued the world for decades. However, the tremendous feat of winning support for his art in the U.S. has long been overlooked. To discuss this...

Duration:00:50:06

The Oldest Stories of King Arthur Have Female Warriors, Black Knights, and Whole Lot of Supernatural Encounters

9/13/2022
The stories of King Arthur and Merlin, Lancelot and Guinevere, Galahad, Gawain, Tristan and the rest of the Knights of the Roundtable, and the search for the Holy Grail have been beloved for centuries and are the inspiration of many modern fantasy novels, films, and shows. These legends began when an obscure Celtic hero named Arthur stepped on to the stage of history sometime in the sixth century, generating a host of oral tales that would be inscribed some 900 years later by Thomas Malory...

Duration:00:46:49

Steve Guerra on Freemasonry, The Catholic Church, and the Modern World

9/9/2022
This is a sample of a recent episode of Steve Guerra's History of the Papacy Podcast (https://www.parthenonpodcast.com/history-of-the-papacy-podcast/) about Freemasonry, the Catholic Church, and the modern world.

Mata Hari Was Either the World’s Greatest Female Spy or a WWI Exotic Dancer Way In Over Her Head

9/8/2022
Even before Mata Hari (née Margaretha Zelle) was executed by a French firing squad in 1917 for spying on behalf of the Germans, her life had already become legend. At her trial, prosecutors claimed that the world-famous exotic dancer had seduced countless men from both sides of the war (definitely true) and leaked intelligence that caused the deaths of 50,000 French soldiers (almost certainly false). Immediately after her death, biographies ran with the juicier narrative and turned her into...

Duration:00:33:24

Vikings Definitely Came to the New World Before Columbus. Did Celtic Monks, the Chinese, and Phoenicians Do So Also?

9/6/2022
Many brave sailors arrived in North and South America long before Columbus, suggesting that trans-oceanic voyages could be accomplished centuries before his voyage. Some think that the Atlantic was crossed as far back as the Bronze Age. While written records of such voyages are often poorly sourced, archeology keeps rewriting the story about Old World visitors to the New World.

Duration:01:05:37

How America Chooses to Remember Itself: 200 Years of U.S. Museums, and Presenting the Civil War, Spanish Flu, and the Culture Wars

9/1/2022
On an afternoon in January 1865, a roaring fire swept through the Smithsonian Institution. The New York Times wrote that “the destruction of so many of its fine collections will be viewed as a national calamity.” Dazed soldiers and worried citizens could only watch as the flames engulfed the museum’s castle. Rare objects and valuable paintings were destroyed. The flames at the Smithsonian were not the first —and certainly would not be the last—disaster to upend a museum in the United States....

Duration:00:43:04

The Many Ways To Die While Building an Aircraft Carrier

8/30/2022
Tip the Empire State Building onto its side and you’ll have a sense of the length of the United States Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the most powerful in the world: the USS John F. Kennedy. Weighing 100,000 tons, Kennedy features the most futuristic technology ever put to sea, making it the most dangerous aircraft carrier in the world. Only one place possesses the brawn, brains and brass to transform naval warfare with such a creation – the Newport News Shipbuilding yard in Virginia and...

Duration:00:47:15

The Divorce Colony: Why Women Fled to South Dakota in the 1880s to End Their Troubled Marriages

8/25/2022
No-fault divorce laws began spreading across the globe in the 1970s, in which neither party had to prove wrong-doing. Before this time, somebody had to prove that the other party breached the marital contract, typically through infidelity or desertion. Basically, it was shockingly difficult to get divorced. For a woman in the late 19th century, there was only one place in the country to reliably get a divorce: Sioux Falls, otherwise known as the “Divorce Colony,” a place where the land and...

Duration:00:48:53

America's Universal Education System Exists From a Coalition of Progressives, the Know-Nothing Party, and the Ku Klux Klan

8/23/2022
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 spreading throughout all levels of American society. But other supporters of universal education had darker motives. They feared the influx of Irish Catholic immigrants and thought they'd bring their papist ideas to the young republic. Only...

Duration:01:13:20

How 2 Men Escaped Auschwitz, Exposed the Holocaust to the World, and Saved Hundreds of Thousands of Hungarian Jews

8/18/2022
Europe’s Jewish population suffered during every stage of the Holocaust, but by the time the Third Reich occupied Hungary and targeted its Jews for deportation and extermination, the concentration camps had reached their most efficient form. Historian Geralt Reitlinger said the Hungarian Holocaust was “the most concentrated and methodical deportation and massacre program of the war, a slaughter machine that functioned, perfectly oiled, for forty-six days on end.” Every day, 12,000 arrived at...

Duration:00:38:58

Josie Underwood: The Civil War-Era Socialite Who Owned Slaves, Hated Lincoln, and Loved the Union

8/16/2022
A well-educated, outspoken member of a politically prominent family in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Josie Underwood (1840–1923) left behind one of the few intimate accounts of the Civil War written by a southern woman sympathetic to the Union. This vivid portrayal of the early years of the war begins several months before the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861. "The Philistines are upon us," twenty-year-old Josie writes in her diary, leaving no question about the alarm she feels...

Duration:00:25:26

The American Revolution Would Have Been Lost Without a Ragtag Fleet of Thousands of Privateers

8/11/2022
Privateers were a cross between an enlisted sailor and an outright pirate. But they were crucial in winning the Revolutionary War. As John Lehman, former secretary of the navy under President Ronald Reagan, observed, “From the beginning of the American Revolution until the end of the War of 1812, America’s real naval advantage lay in its privateers. It has been said that the battles of the American Revolution were fought on land, and independence was won at sea. For this we have the enormous...

Duration:01:01:53

Gen. George Marshall and Henry Stimson Built America’s WW2 War Machine and Created the Postwar Global Order

8/9/2022
Five years after World War II ended, Winston Churchill said he was still amazed that the United States, which before WWII had a tiny military and was fully committed to isolationism, “were able not only to build up the armies and air force units, but also to find the leaders and vast staffs capable of handling enormous masses and of moving them faster and farther than masses have ever been moved in war before.” He was speaking in general about the United States, but much of the credit...

Duration:00:57:33

Bruce Lee Became a Global Celebrity by Embodying 400 Years of Western-Chinese Cultural Trade

8/4/2022
An Asian and Asian American icon of unimaginable stature and influence, Bruce Lee revolutionized the martial arts by combining influences drawn from around the world. Uncommonly determined, physically gifted, and artistically brilliant, Lee rose to fame as part of a wave of transpacific globalization that bridged the nearly seven thousand miles between Hong Kong and California. Today’s guest, Daryl Joji Maeda (author of the new Bruce Lee biography Like Water) unpacks Lee’s global impact,...

John McWhorter Describes Human Language's 20,000-Year Journey from Proto-Sumerian to Ebonics

8/2/2022
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. How did different languages come to be? Why isn't there just a single language? How does a language change, and when it does, is that change indicative of decay or growth? How does a language become extinct? In today's rebroadcast, I speak with John McWhorter, a linguist from Columbia University. He addresses...

Duration:00:54:58