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Where history and epic collide--"History on Fire" is a podcast by author and university professor Daniele Bolelli.

Where history and epic collide--"History on Fire" is a podcast by author and university professor Daniele Bolelli.
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Where history and epic collide--"History on Fire" is a podcast by author and university professor Daniele Bolelli.






EPISODE 41 Joan of Arc (Part 3)

“We know that everything that she has said has come to pass, that her words are always confirmed by the event—she has in truth come to achieve great things in this world.” — Antonio Morosini “Go and camp for today, because it is quite late. But tomorrow, at the pleasure of God and Our Lady, we will look more closely at you.” — Joan of Arc By 1429, the heir to the French throne was about to give up and flee in exile. The English and their Burgundian allies controlled huge parts of the...


EPISODE 40 Joan of Arc (Part 2)

“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” — Star Wars “… No one else, neither a king nor a duke nor the daughter of the king of Scotland, nor any other who can recover the kingdom of France, and he will have no help, if not through me…” — Joan of Arc “You know as little of war as that Hobbit. When the fear takes him, and the blood, and the screams, and the horrors of battle take hold, do you think he would stand and fight? He would flee. And it would be right to do so. War is the...


EPISODE 39 Joan of Arc (Part 1)

“No person in the Middle Ages, male or female, has been the subject of more historical studies than Joan of Arc.” — Kelly Devries “The life of Joan is such a flagrant beating of the odds that no facts sufficiently explain the course of it. She was born during one of the most corrupt, demoralized periods of French history; she is considered a religious and military hero, but she had neither religious nor military training.” —Mary Gordon By 1429, the heir to the French throne was about to...


EPISODE 38 Monster in the Darkness

“Not since the panic-ridden days in 1888, when Jack the Ripper was abroad in the East End, had London known such a reign of terror as that which existed in this wartime February...” — Scotland Yard Chief Superintendent Fred Cherrill What I am going to tell you is one of the craziest serial killer stories that you have never heard of. And there are very good reason why most people have never heard of this. In 1942, Death stalked London. Death came from the sky in the form of German bombs....


EPISODE 37 The 47 Ronin (Part 2)

“Among other things, the Way of the Samurai requires that he realize that something may occur at any moment to test the depth of his resolution, and day and night he must sort out his thought and prepare a line of action. Depending on the circumstances, he may win or lose. But avoiding dishonor is quite a separate consideration from winning or losing.” — Hagakure “It would not befit a samurai wife to shed sorrowful tears, so please be strong. Of course I will miss you, but this is what a...


EPISODE 36 The 47 Ronin (Part 1)

“Death poems Are a delusion. You just die.” — Zen monk Kanzawa Toko The tale of the 47 Ronin is one of the most renowned revenge tales to ever come out of Japan. It is the subject of countless books, plays, and movies. It is also a story that has ignited never-ending debates. Some people argue that the 47 Ronin were paragons of virtue—perfect embodiments of the loyalty and honor that should be expected from the samurai. They offered the answer to the riddle that was plaguing the samurai...


EPISODE 35 The Magliana Gang (Part 2)

“There was money that wasn’t coming back and the choice was between leaving some cardinal dead on the street or to strike someone close to the Pope. We chose the second path.” — Antonio Mancini “We of the Magliana gang were street bandits. We loved robberies, without asking anyone’s permission, without compromises. I wanted a Ferrari? One hit and i’d buy it. Cops would take it from me? Another robbery and i’d buy it again. I enjoyed all my money. De Pedis instead would buy night clubs,...


EPISODE 34 The Magliana Gang (Part 1)

“A lifetime serving one machine Is ten times worse than prison” — The Clash (from the song Bankrobber) “We were treated like movie stars with muscle. We had it all, just for the asking… Anything I wanted was a phone call away. Free cars. The keys to a dozen hideout flats all over the city…When I was broke I would go out and rob some more. We ran everything. We paid off cops. We paid off lawyers. We paid off judges. Everybody had their hands out. Everything was for the taking.” — From the...


EPISODE 33 On Good and Evil: From My Lai to Sand Creek

“Most people are not evil. Most people are weak. And weakness is fertile ground where evil can thrive.” — DB "Every Day/ On our fellow man we prey/ Dog eat Dog/ To Get by/ Hope you like my genocide” — The Offspring “Hello darkness, my old friend…” — Simon and Garfunkel What makes seemingly normal men commit horrific acts against civilians during war? What allows some people to act heroically in the darkest circumstances and what makes others turn into monsters? How does training and...


EPISODE 32B Anything That Moves (Part 2): The Parallel Stories of Sand Creek and My Lai

"Because I felt like I was ordered to do it, and it seemed like that, at the time I felt like I was doing the right thing." — Private First Class Paul Meadlo explaining his role in the My Lai Massacre. "How do you shoot babies?" Meadlo was then asked. His reply... "I don't know. It's just one of them things." "I felt then and I still do that I acted as I was directed, and I carried out the order that I was given and I do not feel wrong in doing so." — Lieutenant William Calley Jr....


EPISODE 32A Anything That Moves (Part 1): The Parallel Stories of Sand Creek and My Lai

"Every Day/ On our fellow man we prey/ Dog eat Dog/ To Get by/ Hope you like my genocide” — The Offspring “Hello darkness, my old friend…” — Simon and Garfunkel “I believe now it is but the commencement of war with this tribe, which must result in their extermination.” — Major Jacob Downing “Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians! ... I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God's heaven to kill Indians. ... Kill and scalp all, big and...


EPISODE 31 Gladiators in Ancient Rome (Part 2): The Spirit of the Gladiator

“It’s the steel that they love” — Juvenal “I needed money for wine” — Titus Pullo in HBO’s series Rome “We can live vicariously through that moment, or use it to fuel what we desire in life.” —Jake Rossen "You must die erect and invincible. What difference will it make if you gain a few more days or years? We are born into a world in which no quarter is given." — Seneca “He who has learned how to die has learned how not to be a slave.” — Seneca "Joy... is the victim's revolt and revenge...


EPISODE 30 Gladiators in Ancient Rome (Part 1): Are You Not Entertained?

"The stupid crowd is waiting eagerly For the two valiant heroes to contend. No farther than their noses can they see; A spectacle is all they comprehend.” — Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, 30.27 Ancient Romans were obsessed with gladiatorial combat. In this two-part series, we time-travel back to get a sense of what the Games (of which gladiatorial combat was the main attraction) were like. In this episode: the origins of gladiators, human sacrifice, Achilles and the Iliad, feeding...


EPISODE 29 I Drink and I Know Things (Where History and Game of Thrones Intersect)

“No matter how much I make up, there’s stuff in history that’s just as bad, or worse.” — George R.R. Martin “Though I would treasure your friendship, I am mainly interested in your facility with murder” — Tyrion Lannister “That’s what I do. I drink and I know things.” — Tyrion Lannister “If we don’t put aside our enmities and band together, we will die. And then it doesn’t matter whose skeleton sits on the Iron Throne.” — Ser Davos Seaworth “Now, I’m sure cutting off heads is very...


EPISODE 28 Jack Johnson (Part 3): Nobody’s Slave

“He refused to allow anyone—white or black—or any laws and customs—to dictate his place in society or the manner in which he should live.” — Al-Tony Gilmore “This negro, in the eyes of many, has been persecuted. Perhaps as an individual he was. But it was his misfortune to be the foremost example of the evil in permitting the intermarriage of whites and blacks.” — Asst Atty. Gen. Harry Parkin “No brutality, no infamy, no degradation in all the years of Southern slavery, possessed such a...


EPISODE 27 Jack Johnson (Part 2): The Fight

“And it was fast cars and whiskey Long legged girls and fun I had everything that money could bring And I took it all with a gun” — from the song I’ve Never Picked Cotton “Johnson did not care. He had no use for the bourgeois values of thrift and respectability.” —Randy Roberts “You don’t catch Jim Jeffries losing to a colored man.” — Jim Jeffries “Quite conceivably there had never been a more important athletic event in American history.” — Randy Roberts “Even those who have an...


EPISODE 26 Jack Johnson (Part 1): Bad To The Bone

Back in the day when you could still pay your ticket on the spot in cash, a cop pulled over Jack Johnson for speeding. “Hey boy—said the cop—This is going to cost you $50!” Johnson handed him $100. The cop tried to protest he didn’t have change, but Johnson waved him off. “I will be coming back this same way, and I’ll be driving at the same speed, so I’m just paying you in advance.” “His story is one of the great dramas not just of American sports, but of all American history.” — New...


EPISODE 25 Roman History with Mike Duncan

Mike Duncan is one of the pioneers of historical podcasting. His “History of Rome” is iconic. And his current “Revolutions” is equally compelling. In this episode, we sit down to chat about Roman history, Rome in cinema, the inevitable comparisons between Ancient Rome and the United States, the factionalism and corruption that brought down the Republic, the connection between ‘The Walking Dead’ + ‘Game of Thrones’ and Roman history, his upcoming book “The Storm Before the Storm,” and the...


EPISODE 24 The Pirate Queen

“I never planted wheat and never will, so long as there are other harvests to be reaped with the sword.” —Robert E. Howard (from ‘Beyond the Black River’) “In the rough and violent world of seafaring, mariners could not afford to always abide by the niceties of the law or proper etiquette.” —Robert J Anthony “There is no greater calamity than not knowing what is enough”. —Tao Te Ching At the very beginning of the 1800s, a Chinese woman went from being employed as a prostitute in the...


EPISODE 23 The Conquest of Mexico (Part 4): Tenochtitlan Or Bust

“After getting this information, he had the arms, feet, and heads of our unfortunate companions cut off, and sent them round to various towns of our allies and those who had made peace with us, with the message that he did not think one of us would be left alive to return to Texcoco. Then he offered their hearts and blood to his idols.” — Bernal Diaz “Eat the flesh of your brothers, for we are full. You can stuff yourselves with our leftovers.” —Mexica warriors addressing the Spaniards “It...