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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 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...


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...


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...


EPISODE 21 The Conquest of Mexico (Part 2): The Dogs of War

“My advice is not to allow into your house someone who will put you out of it.” —Cuitlahuac “He added that we could look for no help or assistance except from God, for now we had no ships in which to return to Cuba. Therefore we must rely on our own good swords and stout hearts.” — Bernal Diaz “We knew that they had come determined to leave none of us alive except those who were to be sacrificed to their idols.” — Bernal Diaz In the 1500s, two highly militaristic peoples fueled by...


EPISODE 20 The Conquest of Mexico (Part 1): People Of The Sun

“We came to serve God and get rich” — Bernal Diaz “Behold this torch which we will light and place between our armies. If you do not make haste and retreat before the torch is burned, you will die. We do not want you as guests.” — Maya warning to the Spaniards in 1518 “Do not lose your soul for the sake of an Indian woman” — Geronimo de Aguilar to Gonzalo Guerrero In the 1500s, two highly militaristic peoples fueled by religious ideologies requiring bloodshed clashed with one another....


EPISODE 19 Featuring Dan Carlin

"If I can add some nuance and complexity and some context and compassion. If I can get people to think about walking a mile in the other guy's moccasins, or pretend like you want to, I can feel like I'm adding something that is unusual. And it's a little bit shocking and upsetting to me that it is unusual. When people say it's so refreshing, you wonder why it's refreshing to try to see the other person's viewpoint? Shouldn't that just be how we are?" — Dan Carlin “It’s an uplifting story...


EPISODE 18 The War for the Black Hills (Part 3): Last Stand

"It made my heart bad. After that, I killed my enemies with the hatchet.” — Lakota leader Gall, upon finding out his family had been killed “If we’ve got to die, let’s die here like men." — Lieutenant Luther Hare "We were terribly alone on that dangerous hilltop. We were a million miles from nowhere. And death was all around us.” — Charles Windolph “Only Earth and the Heavens last long, Uncle. If we four can stop the soldiers from taking our camp, our lives will matter little.” —...


EPISODE 17 The War for the Black Hills (Part 2): The Long Defeat

“…And together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.” — J.R.R. Tolkien “I shall have glory by this losing day.” — William Shakespeare “Oyate kin ninpi kta ca lecamu yelo” (“I do this so that the people may live.”) — Lakota song “My mind was occupied mostly by such thoughts as are regularly uppermost in the minds of young men. I was eighteen years old, and I liked girls.” — Wooden Leg To the Lakota people, the Black Hills of South Dakota were — and still are — "the...


EPISODE 15 Ted Roosevelt (Part 3): The Man In The Arena

“Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” — Theodore Roosevelt He was the first American to receive a brown belt in Judo. He won the largest percentage of the vote ever by a third-party candidate. He once took a bullet to the chest shot at point blank range, and rather than going to the hospital went to deliver a 90 minute speech. He survived tragedies that would break lesser men. He...


EPISODE 14 Ted Roosevelt (Part 2): The Strenuous Life

“The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer,” he said. “A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities—all these are marks, not ... of superiority but of weakness.” — Theodore Roosevelt He was the first American to receive a brown belt in Judo. He won the largest percentage of the vote ever by a third-party candidate. He once...


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