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History Unplugged Podcast | American History, World History, World War 2, US Presidents, Civil War

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Anthology: How Switzerland Remained Neutral In Two World Wars

5/17/2018
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How was Switzerland able to remain neutral in the two world wars? Why was a tiny mountainous nation of watch-makers, bankers, and chocolateers able to dictate their own fate at a time when nobody else could? In this episode I answer this listener question and three others, and they all have to do with critical events in European history that could have changed the continent's fate. The other three questions I answer are as follows.

Duration:00:41:14

Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty) on the Reasons English is so Strange due to Its Crazy History

5/15/2018
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Mignon Fogarty has spent years helping others sort out the extremely peculiar grammar of the English language. But in the course of her research on how to navigate the weirdness of English, she learned the why of the weirdness of English. Did you know that egregious once meant outstandingly good? Or that the sport badminton comes from an English manor with a love of peculiar sports? Or that many of the words in the Oxford Dictionary of English got there from the suggestions of a serial...

Duration:00:56:44

History's Most Insane Rulers: From Emperor Caligula to Muammar Gaddafi

5/10/2018
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Few mixtures are as toxic as absolute power and insanity that comes from megalomania or severe mental illness. When nothing stands between a leader's delusional whims and seeing them carried them out, all sorts of bizarre outcomes are possible. Whether it is Ottoman Sultan Ibrahim I practicing archery on palace servants and sending out his advisers to find the heaviest woman in the empire for his wife or Turkmenistan President Turkmenbashi renaming the days of the week after himself and...

Duration:01:13:12

Meet Pico, The 23-Year-Old Wunderkind Who Kicked Off the Renaissance

5/8/2018
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Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Pico for short), was the wunderkind of the Renaissance. In 1486, at the age of 23 he proposed to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy, and magic against all comers, for which he wrote the Oration on the Dignity of Man, which has been called the “Manifesto of the Renaissance.” Today we are going to talk to Professor Matthew Gaetano about this remarkable figure. Pico was called a great genius, even in his own time. He defend 900...

Duration:00:58:30

Richard Burton: The Victorian Explorer Who Discovered the Kama Sutra, Made a Secret Pilgrimage to Mecca, and Knew 29 Languages

5/3/2018
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Everybody imagines the World's Most Interesting Man to be a fictional grey-haired lothario who drinks Mexican beer and boasts of his legendary exploits. But what if a man like this really lived? It turns out he did. He is Richard Francis Burton, a Victorian-era explorer who learned 29 languages, went undercover as a Muslim on a pilgrimage to Mecca, and wrote 50 books on topics ranging from a translation of the Kama Sutra to a manual on bayonet exercises. In this episode I explore...

Duration:01:08:02

Panic on the Pacific: How America Prepared for a Japanese West Coast Invasion after Pearl Harbor

5/1/2018
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The aftershocks of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor were felt keenly all over America—the war in Europe had hit home. But nowhere was American life more immediately disrupted than on the West Coast, where people lived in certain fear of more Japanese attacks. Today I talk with Bill Yenne, author of “Panic on the Pacific.” He describes how from that day until the end of the war, a dizzying mix of battle preparedness and rampant paranoia swept the states. Japanese immigrants were...

Duration:01:09:44

The Hypothetical Economy of a Present-Day Confederate States of America, Alternate Theories to the Titanic Sinking, and Other Counterfactual Histories

4/26/2018
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In this anthology episode I answer questions from the audience all centered around one theme. Today's theme is about alternate history and alternate theories to historical questions. Well, three of the questions have to do with this (the ones about the Confederacy, the Titanic, and an American Indian in Iceland). The other two are about quack doctors in the American frontier and the influence that Zoroasatrianism had on Christianity and Islam. Here are the questions answered in today's...

Duration:00:40:43

The 4 Successful (And Hundreds of Unsuccessful) Assassins Attempts of U.S. Presidents—Mel Ayton

4/24/2018
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In American history, four U.S. Presidents have been murdered at the hands of an assassin. In each case the assassinations changed the course of American history. But most historians have overlooked or downplayed the many threats modern presidents have faced, and survived. In this episode I talk with Mel Ayton , author of the book Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts—From FDR to Obama, who has looked at the largely forgotten—or never-before revealed—malicious...

Duration:00:42:37

Prostitution Throughout History: Sumerian Temple Priestesses, Ottoman Brothel Workers, and Call-Girls for the Medieval Clergy

4/19/2018
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Prostitution, often known as the world's oldest profession, can be traced throughout recorded history. This cliché is so often repeated it remains completely unexamined. Is prostitution really a natural by-product of human society or does it only appear in circumstances where human sexuality is limited or curtailed? In this episode we dive deep into the history of prostitution, from ancient Sumeria and its temple prostitutes to Old Testament Israeli sex workers, to Ottoman Istanbul, and...

Duration:01:15:17

The Ladykiller who Killed Lincoln: The Scandalous Love Life of John Wilkes Booth

4/17/2018
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What if People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” assassinated a U.S. President? John Wilkes Booth has been despised as a traitor, hailed as a martyr, and dismissed as a lunatic. But in the 1860s he was considered the “handsomest man in America”? Before cementing his name in history by assassinating President Lincoln, this actor extraordinaire was the Leonardo DiCaprio of the 1860s. Women packed the audiences wherever Booth played, pawed him for autographs, and tore at his clothes for...

Duration:00:51:29

Ulysses S. Grant Was (Mostly) Responsible For Winning the Civil War. Robert E. Lee Was Responsible For Losing It.

4/12/2018
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Ever since the end of the Civil War, a mythology of Robert E. Lee's military genius was developed by Confederate veterans as a way to support the idea that the South was defeated only because of the Union's overwhelming advantages in men and resources. Known as the “Lost Cause” interpretation of the Civil War, it provided a sense of relief to white Southerners who feared being dishonored by defeat. In this episode, I explore the research of the late Civil War historian Edward Bonekemper,...

Duration:01:09:34

The Story of Chappaquiddick and the Attempted Cover-Up—Howie Carr

4/10/2018
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The most powerful political dynasty in 20th-century America was the Kennedys. In addition to holding numerous Senate seats and, most famously, the presidency, they were able to get away with endless scandals. Except for Chapaquiddick. The story begins with a young woman leaving a party with a wealthy U.S. senator. The next morning her body is discovered in his car at the bottom of a pond. The victim was campaign strategist Mary Jo Kopechne and the senator was 37-year-old Senator Ted...

Duration:00:38:42

How Long Have Foreign Governments Attempted to Meddle in U.S Elections? Answers to This And 3 Other Questions

4/5/2018
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Foreign governments did not only start trying to influence American presidential elections in 2016. It goes all the way back to the 18th century. In this anthology episode I answer this question and three others from you, the audience. Two of the questions have to do with presidents, one of them is only indirectly related to presidents, and the last one has nothing to do with presidents, but it's an interesting question about Nazis so we'll go with it. Here they are:

Duration:00:38:38

The Life and Times of Aristotle, and How His Philosophy Conquered the World—Lantern Jack from the Ancient Greece Declassified Podcast

4/3/2018
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Whether you have a BA in philosophy or have never read a book, your daily life is impacted by Aristotle. Have you ever tried to win an argument? Have you ever tried to solve a riddle? Have you tried to rationalize eating twelve doughnuts? Congratulations: you are engaging in logic, the bread-and-butter of the most impactful philosopher in history. In this episode I talk with Lantern Jack (pseudonym of the host of Ancient Greece Declassified and graduate student in philosophy at...

Duration:00:44:39

World War Two Spycraft: Stealing Nuclear Secrets, Blowing Up Nazi Factories, and Infiltrating Japanese High Command

3/29/2018
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Spies have been a feature of state security and military intelligence since the beginning of warfare. Entire wars have been won or lost according to these secret activities. Today we will look at spycraft during World War Two, a golden age of espionage. Spycraft was an essential element to the war effort as ships, planes, or weapons. At no time were military secrets so valuable. Nuclear technology was vital for both sides if they did not want to fall behind the other. Learning the troop...

Duration:01:17:22

A Retired Policeman Tells us the Story of The Most Daring Jailbreak in Underground Railroad's History

3/27/2018
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You probably know what the Underground Railroad is—you know, the network of secret routes and safe houses set up in antebellum America and used by African-American slaves (with the help of abolitionists and allies) to escape into free states and Canada. But how did it work? How far apart were these slave houses? Five miles, twenty miles, or more? And how did abolitionists help the escaped slaves? Did they provide them food and shelter and send them on their way, or did they personally...

Duration:01:00:49

Your Questions Answered: What are Arguments For and Against Bombing Japan, Why Don't Militias Matter in American, and What is Close-Air Support?

3/22/2018
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In this anthology series I answer four listener questions. Three of them have to do with World War II, one of them has to do with the second amendment. Here they are:

Duration:00:48:32

Daily Lives of Middle Eastern Women in the School, the Home, the Harem, and Everywhere Else—Marie Grace Brown

3/20/2018
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For those who haven't studied the Middle East, the historical lives of women there can be thought to be a black hole: no information available about those who were thrown under a burkha and locked up at home or in a harem. Never mind that few women wore the clothing of modern-day Saudi Arabia in the past; women had vibrant lives there regardless of social restriction. Even in the harem, ostensibly most restrictive place in the pre-modern Middle East, women ironically could exert more power...

Duration:00:45:46

Serial Killers in Ancient Rome, Whether Students Were Smarter 100 Years Ago, and the Greatest Orator Who Ever Lived

3/15/2018
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Welcome to an anthology episode where I answer a bunch of your questions about history and group them all together in one show (like a Simpsons-style Treehouse of Horror). In this episode I'm answering these four questions:

Duration:00:37:25

How Archeologists Decide What We Remember—Chris Webster, Archeology Podcast Network

3/13/2018
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Chris Webster is a cultural resource management archeologist. That means when the National Registry of Historic Places is thinking about adding a mining town, Spanish mission, or Native American burial site to its list, it calls in Chris. He has worked in all phases of contract archaeology, from literature searches and Class 1 surveys to full scale excavations and lab work. He also has to figure out what's worth preserving and what isn't. The choice usually isn't easy.

Duration:00:55:02

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