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History Podcasts

Eclectic interviews with historians, authors and other interesting guests. Moderated by Rob Mellon.

Eclectic interviews with historians, authors and other interesting guests. Moderated by Rob Mellon.


United States


Eclectic interviews with historians, authors and other interesting guests. Moderated by Rob Mellon.






Admiral Hyman Rickover: Engineer of Power (Marc Wortman)

Known as the “Father of the Nuclear Navy,” Admiral Hyman George Rickover (1899–1986) remains an almost mythical figure in the United States Navy. A brilliant engineer with a ferocious will and combative personality, he oversaw the invention of the world’s first practical nuclear power reactor. As important as the transition from sail to steam, his development of nuclear-propelled submarines and ships transformed naval power and Cold War strategy. They still influence world affairs...


Geography Is Destiny: Britain and the World: A 10,000-Year History (Ian Morris)

When Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016, the 48 percent who wanted to stay and the 52 percent who wanted to go each accused the other of stupidity, fraud, and treason. In reality, the Brexit debate merely reran a script written ten thousand years earlier, when the rising seas physically separated the British Isles from the European continent. Ever since, geography has been destiny―yet it is humans who get to decide what that destiny means. Ian Morris, the critically acclaimed...


The Only Wonderful Things: The Creative Partnership of Willa Cather & Edith Lewis (Melissa Homestead)

What would Willa Cather's widely read and cherished novels have looked like if she had never met magazine editor and copywriter Edith Lewis? In this groundbreaking book on Cather's relationship with her life partner, author Melissa J. Homestead counters the established portrayal of Cather as a solitary genius and reassesses the role that Lewis, who has so far been rendered largely invisible by scholars, played in shaping Cather's work. Inviting Lewis to share the spotlight alongside this...


The Facemaker: A Visionary Surgeon's Battle to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I (Lindsey Fitzharris)

From the moment the first machine gun rang out over the Western Front, one thing was clear: mankind’s military technology had wildly surpassed its medical capabilities. Bodies were battered, gouged, hacked, and gassed. The First World War claimed millions of lives and left millions more wounded and disfigured. In the midst of this brutality, however, there were also those who strove to alleviate suffering. The Facemaker tells the extraordinary story of such an individual: the pioneering...


Justice Deferred: Race and the Supreme Court (Orville Vernon Burton)

The Supreme Court is usually seen as protector of our liberties: it ended segregation, was a guarantor of fair trials, and safeguarded free speech and the vote. But this narrative derives mostly from a short period, from the 1930s to the early 1970s. Before then, the Court spent a century largely ignoring or suppressing basic rights, while the fifty years since 1970 have witnessed a mostly accelerating retreat from racial justice. From the Cherokee Trail of Tears to Brown v. Board of...


America Second: How America's Elites Are Making China Stronger (Isaac Stone Fish)

The past few years have seen relations between China and the United States shift, from enthusiastic economic partners, to wary frenemies, to open rivals. Americans have been slow to wake up to the challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party. Why did this happen? And what can we do about it? In America Second, Isaac Stone Fish traces the evolution of the Party’s influence in America. He shows how America’s leaders initially welcomed China’s entry into the U.S. economy, believing that...


Scandalous Women Of The Old West: Women Who Dared To Be Different (Donna Pedace)

Detailed profiles of ten amazing women who lived in the Old West. They dared to step outside the traditional roles of wife and mother, and left society’s conventions behind them. These women engaged in a wide range of interests and professions, and their stories will inspire and entertain. They overcame incredible odds to make a place for themselves in their chosen world, despite the sometimes strong objections of both men and women. Each blazed new trails for women who would come after...


George Washington's Hair: How Early Americans Remembered the Founders (Keith Beutler)

Mostly hidden from public view, like an embarrassing family secret, scores of putative locks of George Washington’s hair are held, more than two centuries after his death, in the collections of America’s historical societies, public and academic archives, and museums. Excavating the origins of these bodily artifacts, Keith Beutler uncovers a forgotten strand of early American memory practices and emerging patriotic identity. Between 1790 and 1840, popular memory took a turn toward the...


Blood and Ruins: The Last Imperial War, 1931-1945 (Richard Overy)

Richard Overy sets out in Blood and Ruins to recast the way in which we view the Second World War and its origins and aftermath. As one of Britain’s most decorated and respected World War II historians, he argues that this was the “last imperial war,” with almost a century-long lead-up of global imperial expansion, which reached its peak in the territorial ambitions of Italy, Germany and Japan in the 1930s and early 1940s, before descending into the largest and costliest war in human history...


Our First Civil War: Patriots and Loyalists in the American Revolution (H.W. Brands)

What causes people to forsake their country and take arms against it? What prompts their neighbors, hardly distinguishable in station or success, to defend that country against the rebels? That is the question H. W. Brands answers in his powerful new history of the American Revolution. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were the unlikeliest of rebels. Washington in the 1770s stood at the apex of Virginia society. Franklin was more successful still, having risen from humble origins to...


The Alchemy of Slavery: Human Bondage and Emancipation in the Illinois Country, 1730-1865 (Scott Heerman)

In this sweeping saga that spans empires, peoples, and nations, M. Scott Heerman chronicles the long history of slavery in the heart of the continent and traces its many iterations through law and social practice. Arguing that slavery had no fixed institutional form, Heerman traces practices of slavery through indigenous, French, and finally U.S. systems of captivity, inheritable slavery, lifelong indentureship, and the kidnapping of free people. By connecting the history of indigenous...


The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery, and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird (Joshua Hammer)

A rollicking true-crime adventure about a rogue who trades in rare birds and their eggs—and the wildlife detective determined to stop him. On May 3, 2010, an Irish national named Jeffrey Lendrum was apprehended at Britain’s Birmingham International Airport with a suspicious parcel strapped to his stomach. Inside were fourteen rare peregrine falcon eggs snatched from a remote cliffside in Wales. So begins a tale almost too bizarre to believe, following the parallel lives of a globe-trotting...


Mountain Dew: The History, The Hatfield and McCoy Feud Over the Braggin' Rights to Mountain Dew (Dick Bridgforth)

This book tells the history of one of America's most popular soft drinks, Mountain Dew. The 300 page book brings you from the drink's earliest beginnings in 1946 all the way through to today's newer drinks like Mountain Dew LiveWire and Code Red. Learn about the Hatfield/McCoy feud that has been brewing for years over the bragging rights to Mountain Dew. This book gives you detailed information on who invented Mountain Dew, when they did it, and the progress of the drink through the years....


Madam: The Biography of Polly Adler, Icon of the Jazz Age (Debby Applegate)

Simply put: Everybody came to Polly's. Pearl "Polly" Adler (1900-1962) was a diminutive dynamo whose Manhattan brothels in the Roaring Twenties became places not just for men to have the company of women but were key gathering places where the culturati and celebrity elite mingled with high society and with violent figures of the underworld—and had a good time doing it. As a Jewish immigrant from eastern Europe, Polly Adler's life is a classic American story of success and assimilation...


Hitler's First Hundred Days: When Germans Embraced the Third Reich (Peter Fritzsche)

Amid the ravages of economic depression, Germans in the early 1930s were pulled to political extremes both left and right. Then, in the spring of 1933, Germany turned itself inside out, from a deeply divided republic into a one-party dictatorship. In Hitler’s First Hundred Days, award-winning historian Peter Fritzsche offers a probing account of the pivotal moments when the majority of Germans seemed, all at once, to join the Nazis to construct the Third Reich. Fritzsche examines the events...


We the Presidents: How American Presidents Shaped the Last Century (Ronald Gruner)

From the 1929 Stock Market Crash to the 2008 Financial Crisis, from victory in World War II to ignominious defeat in Afghanistan, from the birth of NATO to today's Ukraine crisis, from President Reagan's "Morning in America" to President Trump's "American Carnage," WE THE PRESIDENTS, objectively and devoid of politics, tells how American presidents from Warren G. Harding to Donald Trump have shaped America and today's world. HOST: Rob Mellon FEATURED BREW: Presidential IPA, Diamond Bear...


The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women (Kate Moore)

The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War. Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from...


Liberty Is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution (Woody Holton)

Using more than a thousand eyewitness records, Liberty Is Sweet is a “spirited account” (Gordon S. Wood, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution) that explores countless connections between the Patriots of 1776 and other Americans whose passion for freedom often brought them into conflict with the Founding Fathers. “It is all one story,” prizewinning historian Woody Holton writes. Holton describes the origins and crucial battles of the Revolution from...


Stalin's War: A New History of World War II (Sean McKeekin)

World War II endures in the popular imagination as a heroic struggle between good and evil, with villainous Hitler driving its events. But Hitler was not in power when the conflict erupted in Asia—and he was certainly dead before it ended. His armies did not fight in multiple theaters, his empire did not span the Eurasian continent, and he did not inherit any of the spoils of war. That central role belonged to Joseph Stalin. The Second World War was not Hitler’s war; it was Stalin’s...


American Schism: How the Two Enlightenments Hold the Secret to Healing our Nation (Seth David Radwell)

Two disparate Americas have always coexisted. In this thoroughly researched, engaging and ultimately hopeful story of our nation’s divergent roots, Seth David Radwell clearly links the fascinating history of the two American Enlightenments to our raging political division. He also demonstrates that reasoned analysis and historical perspective are the only antidote to irrational political discourse. “Did my vision of America ever exist at all, or was it but a myth?” Searching for a fresh and...