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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

Failed Futures: If Alexander The Great Hadn’t Died, He Might Have Conquered Europe, Circumnavigated Africa, and Built His Own Silk Road

12/8/2022
And Alexander wept, seeing as he had no more worlds to conquer. That’s a quote from Hans Gruber in Die Hard, which is a very convoluted paraphrase from Plutarch’s essay collection Moralia. There’s plenty of truth in that unattributed quote from Mr. Gruber. Alexander the Great’s death at 323 BC in Babylon marked the end of the most consequential military campaign in antiquity. He left behind an empire that stretched from Greece to India, planted the seeds of the Silk Road, and made Greek...

Duration:00:35:06

Failed Futures: The Post-War Plans of Alexander the Great, the Confederacy, and the Soviet Union that Never Happened

12/7/2022
This is a preview of an upcoming series on this podcast that looks at the detailed post-war plans from generals and heads of state that never came about because said leaders either died or lost their war. Alexander the Great was said to have plans to launch conquest along the Mediterranean all the way to Spain and send naval expeditions around Arabia and Africa. The Confederacy wanted to dominate global trade and fortify slavery in the Western Hemisphere. The Soviet Union always had plans to...

Duration:00:01:54

Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and the Other Brilliant But Eccentric Characters That Electrified Our World

12/6/2022
You flick on a light without thinking about it. But what about the fascinating and bizarre stories hidden behind that simple action? Fortunes were made and lost, ideas stolen, rivalries pursued, dogs electrocuted, beards set on fire, arms amputated, and decapitated human heads reanimated all with the invention and evolution of electricity. To discuss this history that we take for granted is Kathy Joseph, author of The Lightning Tamers: True Stories of the Dreamers and Schemers Who Harnessed...

Duration:00:41:00

Republicans Controlled 1920s America But Were Later Crushed By the New Deal Coalition. How Do These Realignments Happen?

12/1/2022
The pendulum in American electoral politics never swung harder than the 1920s to 1930s. In the 1924 presidential election, Democrats lost every state outside the Jim Crow south and barely scraped together 25 percent of the popular vote. In less than 10 years, they built the New Deal Coalition, a tremendously powerful political force that included everyone from the KKK on one side to black communists on the other, with Great Plains populists, backcountry Jacksonians and multilingual urbanites...

Duration:00:59:39

F. Scott Fitzgerald was Every Bit the Alcoholic, Grandiose Delusional Dreamer as His Fictional Character Jay Gatsby

11/29/2022
The Great Gatsby has sold 25 million copies worldwide and sells 500,000 copies annually. The book has been made into three movies and produced for the theatre. It is considered the Greatest American Novel ever written. Yet, the story of how The Great Gatsby was written has not been told except as embedded chapters of much larger biographies. This story is one of heartbreak, infidelity, struggle, alcoholism, financial hardship, and one man’s perseverance to be faithful to the raw diamond of...

Duration:00:41:48

The Most Underrated People in History Include a U.S. President, Soviet Officer, and a Farmer Who Saved 2 Billion Lives

11/24/2022
Today’s episode is a round table of the podcasters who make up the Parthenon Podcast Network (Steve Guerra from Beyond the Big Screen; Josh Cohen from Eyewitness History, Richard Lim from This American President, and Scott Rank from History Unplugged). We discuss the most overlooked and underappreciated people in history and get into why they were overlooked and underappreciated in the first place.

Duration:00:45:50

"I Sprinted Toward the Gunman": Josh Cohen from Eyewitness History Speaks to the Former Principal of Columbine High School

11/23/2022
What you will hear in this episode is a sample from Josh Cohen's fantastic new show Eyewitness History, where he speaks with the witnesses of the most important events in living memory. In this episode, Josh speaks with the former principal of Columbine High School, Frank DeAngelis. Frank and Josh discuss the events of the tragic shooting, what the police were doing at the time of the shooting, as well as the potential motivations of the two shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. They...

Duration:00:08:40

How a Founding Father and His Family Went From Slave Owners to Radical Abolitionists

11/22/2022
John Jay was a giant in the Founding Fathers generation. He was a diplomat, Supreme Court justice, coauthor of the Federalist Papers, and key negotiator at the Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolutionary War. His children and grandchildren were also key players in the Early American Republic. They pushed changes in public opinion about slavery, moving the Overtone window on slavery from support to begrudging acceptance to calls for abolition. The changes played out over the...

Duration:01:08:13

Growing Up as the Daughter of WW2 Spies

11/17/2022
As a child, Elizabeth Winthrop Alsop, along with her five brothers, was raised to revere the tribal legends of the Alsop and Roosevelt families. Her parents’ marriage, lived in the spotlight of 1950s Washington where the author’s father, journalist Stewart Alsop, grew increasingly famous, was not what either of her parents had imagined it would be. Her mother’s strict Catholicism and her father’s restless ambition collided to create a strangely muted and ominous world, one that mirrored the...

Duration:00:42:48

Entrepreneurs in the Ancient World: From Neolithic Fashion Tycoons to Babylon’s 'Silicon Valley' Startup Founders

11/15/2022
Entrepreneurship didn’t begin with Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, or Adam Smith. Depending on how one interprets the archeological record, it goes back at least 9,000 years, when Neolithic tribes set up bead-making factories to transform worthless stones into jewelry, trading them for raw materials. This culture of business spread and grew more sophisticated. Four thousand years ago the first LLCs appeared in Mesopotamia. Entrepreneurs became a respected and important part of life,...

Duration:00:49:05

The Abolitionist Who Was Chaplain to Black Civil War Soldiers and Started a College Burned Down by the KKK

11/10/2022
George Richardson (1824-1911) was a traveling Methodist preacher who rode on a circuit across the antebellum Midwestern frontier and became increasingly caught up in the abolitionist movement. He became a “station master” on the Underground Railroad and served as chaplain to a black regiment during the Civil War. The soldiers under his care were survivors of the Ft. Pillow Massacre, in which the Confederates refused to take black soldiers as prisoners of war and unlawfully executed them...

Duration:00:40:46

The Russian-Jewish Woman Who Voluntarily Interred Herself in a WW2 Japanese Internment Camp

11/8/2022
During World War II, Elaine Black Yoneda [1906-1988], the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, spent eight months in a concentration camp—not in Europe, but in California. She was an activist who voluntarily joined her incarcerated Japanese-American husband, Karl, and their son, Tommy, at the Manzanar Relocation Center. But her beliefs were, to put it simply, complicated. While in the camp, Elaine and Karl publicly supported the United States’ decision to exclude Japanese Americans from...

Duration:00:50:05

In 1963, A Stuttering, Nebbish Magazine Editor Negotiated a Secret Deal Between JFK and Khrushchev, Averting Nuclear War

11/3/2022
As the editor of the Saturday Review for more than thirty years, Norman Cousins had a powerful platform to shape American public debate during the height of the Cold War. Although he was a low-key, nebbish figure, under Cousins's leadership, the magazine was considered one of the most influential in the literary world and his advocacy on nuclear disarmament affect world politics ( his 1945 anti-nuclear essay “Modern Man is Obsolete” was read by over 40 million). Cousins was respected by...

Duration:00:47:24

A Traumatized Civil War Vet -- Suffering Crippling Alcoholism and PTSD -- Spent 40 Years Wandering America as a Hobo

11/1/2022
William Aspinwal was many things. A child soldier. A ladies’ man. A mechanic. A tramp. A drunkard. A husband married five times. Each of these descriptions capture an aspect of his life, yet none do him justice. And they don’t explain how he became one of the most unlikely folk heroes of pre-World War One America. Known later as “Roving Bill,” Aspinwal’s story begins when he was severely wounded and left for dead while fighting for the Union in the Battle of Champion Hill, one of the...

Duration:00:41:12

The Secret Role of Japanese Americans Who Fought in the WW2 Pacific Theatre

10/27/2022
Several thousand Japanese Americans were trained by the US Military Intelligence Service and sent to the Pacific to serve as interpreters, translators, and interrogators, even as their own families were being held in internment camps in America. Why haven’t we heard about their story? Today’s guest is Bruce Henderson, author of “Bridge to the Sun.” He follows six of these soldiers, who were among the first Japanese Americans to serve in combat after Pearl Harbor, as they fight two wars...

Duration:00:34:58

FDR’s Polio Made Him Wheelchair Bound, But Also an Incredible Orator and Strategic Mastermind

10/25/2022
The qualities that made Franklin Roosevelt great weren’t things that he was born with but arguable the things that he had to learn in the hardest years of his life. Many thought of Roosevelt as the quintessential political natural. But the essential Roosevelt traits – his strategic ability, his gifts as an orator, his understanding of suffering and his own ability to ease it – were all born in the seven years he spent trying to recover from the effects of polio. To understand what made FDR a...

Duration:00:45:51

John Donne: The Genius Priest/Poet Who Saw Infinity and Triggered Stampedes At His Sermons

10/20/2022
John Donne was not a typical English clergyman. Before his ordination, the 17th century Anglican priest had worked as a poet, lawyer, pirate, satirist, politician, and chaplain to the King, before ultimately becoming dean of the St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. But it was his preaching and writing that made him famous. He was so popular that thousands came to hear him, nearly killing some attendees in a stampede in one incident in 1623. It was his power over language that made him a...

Duration:00:38:43

Sigmund Freud Deluded Himself Into Thinking The Nazis Weren’t A Threat Until It Was Nearly Too Late

10/18/2022
“The ‘uncanny’ is that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar.” This is a quote from Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychanalysis. He laid the foundations of understanding the subconscious and how our mind tries to protect us in ways we don’t understand. But what is strange is that for Freud, he arguably had problems identifying the uncanny in his own life. Freud’s ethnicity and beliefs made him an outsider in early 20th century...

Duration:00:44:30

The Most Important Diplomat in 1700s North America was a Cherokee Woman Who Saved Washington’s Life and Introduced Dairy to Her Tribe

10/13/2022
A Cherokee woman named Nanyehi, which means “One Who Goes About” was born in the 1730s in modern-day Tennessee. She stood out at an early age: At 17, she led her tribe to victory against the Creeks. She eventually became the only female voting member of the Cherokee General Council. Nanyehi later married Irish trader Bryant Ward and took the anglicized name Nancy. With her access to many differet cultures, she became one of the most important diplomats in eighteen-century North America,...

Duration:00:41:54

Do Racial Preferences in U.S. College Admissions Process Date Back to Ivy League Attempts to Limit Jewish Enrollment?

10/11/2022
Much of what we know about the college admissions process in the United States -- eg. requiring interviews to gauge "character"; seeking diversity of interest; looking for "geographic diversity" – are not timeless features of American higher education. They were actually implemented in the early 20th century to keep their Jewish populations down. This was one of many ways these schools tried to maintain their WASP character. Columbia University created separate campus in Brooklyn from 1928...

Duration:00:37:14