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The Road to Now is a series of interviews and conversations that trace the historical roots of today’s events. Hosted by Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers & Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University, this podcast brings pressing questions and exceptional guests to the table to explain how our shared and personal past has shaped the road that brought us to where we are now.

The Road to Now is a series of interviews and conversations that trace the historical roots of today’s events. Hosted by Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers & Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University, this podcast brings pressing questions and exceptional guests to the table to explain how our shared and personal past has shaped the road that brought us to where we are now.
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The Road to Now is a series of interviews and conversations that trace the historical roots of today’s events. Hosted by Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers & Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University, this podcast brings pressing questions and exceptional guests to the table to explain how our shared and personal past has shaped the road that brought us to where we are now.








#91 The History of Satire and the American Political Cartoon w/ Richard Samuel West

In this episode of The Road to Now, Richard Samuel West joins Bob and Ben for a conversation on the history of political cartoons in the United States.


#90 The History of the Cherokee Nation w/ John Sedgewick

We speak with John Sedgewick about new book, Blood Moon: An American Epic of War and Splendor in the Cherokee Nation (Simon & Schuster, 2018), and how the rivalry between two Cherokee leaders shaped the history of the Tribe and the United States as a whole.


#40 The Life & Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. w/ Clayborne Carson

April 4, 2018 marks 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In honor or Dr. King's legacy, this week we are re-airing our interview w/ Dr. Clayborne Carson, Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History and Ronnie Lott Founding Director of the Martin Luther King Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.


RTN Theology #3: A Conversation with Kate Bowler

Chris Breslin recently invited Bob to be part of a live conversation with Kate Bowler to talk about the history of Christianity, their faith, and how the crisis of cancer has affected their relationships with God. Kate Bowler is Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School and author of the New York Times Best Selling Book Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved (Random House, 2018) and Blessed: A History of the American...


#89 The GOP and Tax Reform Revisited w/ Brian Riedl

In this episode, we speak with the Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl to get his perspective on taxation and its role in the economy since the 20th Century. Riedl explains the evidence that led him to advocate for small government, and breaks down why the 2017 tax reform is not quite as conservative as some commentators have suggested.


#88 Taxation, the Great Depression, and the GOP Tax Reform w/ Robert McElvaine

Bob and Ben speak with Robert McElvaine, an expert on the history of the Great Depression, to get his take on what the past can teach us about tax policy and the economy. McElvaine explains why he thinks that history has disproven the Republican principle of supply side economics, and why he sees the recent GOP-backed tax reform as reminiscent of the policies that led the US into the Great Depression.


RTN Theology #2: Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?

In the second installment of RTN Theology, Bob speaks with Messiah College’s John Fea about Christianity in Early America and the ways that the founders viewed the relationship between faith and politics. Fea outlines the “5 Cs” of history, the importance of approaching history with an open mind, and explains why he thinks the title of his book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? may not be the question in approaching Christianity’s role in the establishment of the United States....


#86 William McKinley and the Republican Party with Robert Merry

The Republican Party has changed a lot since a few former Whigs started the party in the 1850s. Today, the party’s legacy is usually defined in terms of well-known figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, but author Robert Merry thinks William McKinley deserves a lot more credit than historians and modern politicians have given him. In this Presidents’ Day 2018 episode of The Road to Now, we talk with Robert Merry to learn more about McKinley’s impact on the...


#85 The History of US-Mexican Relations w/ Bruce Carlson (Recorded Live in Riviera Maya, Mexico)

The Road to Now was lucky enough to be part of The Avett Brothers at the Beach music festival, so we invited our friend Bruce Carlson of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics to join us for a discussion of some key moments in the relationship between the United States and Mexico. We cover the US annexation of Texas and the Mexican-American War, as well as the ways that the US and Mexico have contributed to each other’s development. We couldn’t hit everything, but we hope this discussion...


#83 Foreign Policy in American History w/ Joyce Kaufman

There is no question that Donald Trump’s approach to foreign affairs is nothing we’ve seen from the Presidents who preceded him. In a recent New York Times Op-Ed, Mark Landler argued that the Trump Administration has broken a 70-year tradition in America’s foreign policy. Whether this is an abrogation of America’s responsibility to the globe or a necessary change for the good of the country requires knowledge of what came before, so Bob & Ben caught up with Whittier College’s Joyce Kaufman...


#82 The History of Santa Claus and Christmas Culture w/ James Cooper

Christmas is just a week away, so Ben and Bob caught up with Christmas expert James Cooper to find out the origins of Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and all the other parts of Christmas that most of us take for granted. James explains how Santa Claus and Christmas traditions evolved around the world, and how a man who lived almost 2,000 years ago became one of the most recognizable characters in American culture. You can find out more about the history of Santa Claus and Christmas at James...


RTN Theology #1: The Intersection of Christianity & Culture in the United States

In the premier episode of our theology subseries, RTN Theology we welcome Christian philosopher James K.A. Smith to discuss the intersection of Christianity and culture in the United States. We also chat about his illuminating Op-Ed that appeared in the Thanksgiving edition of the Washington Post, which looks at ‘love of country’ from a religious perspective. Smith penned “Awaiting the King,” a new book that studies secularism and its impact on modern day religion. Ian Skotte tracked down...


#80 Navajo Code Talkers, Pocahontas, & Native American History w/ Ashley Riley Sousa

A few days ago, President Donald Trump welcomed the Navajo Code Talkers to the White House. Instead of focusing solely on the veterans’ contributions during World War II, he used the event to take shots at Senator Elizabeth Warren, who he mocked as “Pocahontas” for her alleged unsubstantiated claims of Native American ancestry. He also held the ceremony in front of a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, who is a controversial figure for his policies toward Native Americans. In this...


#47 The History of Christianity w/ Molly Worthen (Rebroadcast)

Are faith and reason compatible? How do people of faith reconcile themselves to a secular world? These are difficult and complex questions that have shaped America long before the founding of the United States. On this episode of The Road to Now, we sit down with Molly Worthen to talk about the development of Christianity in the United States, and its impact on American society, culture and government. For more on this episode and many others, please visit our website:...


#79 The Russian Revolution w/ Lewis Siegelbaum

The Russian Revolution that began with the fall of Tsar Nicholas II in February of 1917 and continued into a second revolution the following October, is unquestionably one of the most significant events in modern history. The October Revolution brought Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Party from relative obscurity to the leaders of the first communist nation, later called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and the economic and ideological system espoused by Soviet leaders...


#78 The French Revolution w/ Peter McPhee

On August 4, 1789, the National Assembly of France adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which asserted the Enlightenment ideals of universal rights and democracy. Though the French Declaration shared a common ideological lineage with the American Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution took a very different path: fifteen years after their founding revolutionary documents, the US had George Washington and France had Napoleon. In this episode of The...


#77 Martin Luther & the Reformation with Donald Fortson

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther delivered his 95 Theses to the Catholic Church. We don’t know for sure if Luther actually nailed them to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, but we do know that his work changed the world. In recognition of the five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s Theses, Bob and Ben are joined by Church Historian Dr. Donald Fortson. Dr. Fortson explains the reasons Luther chose to issue his Theses, the context in which he wrote them, and how a devout member...


#76 History of American Cemeteries with Tanya Marsh

Death is something that all humans have in common. How we dealt with death is not. The cemeteries that occupy prominent places in the American landscape, as well as the twenty-one thousand funeral homes in operation across the country, are products of the time and place in which they emerged. In this episode, we speak with Wake Forest’s Tanya Marsh, to learn about the historic forces at work in the creation of America’s death care industry. If you’ve ever wondered why we embalm our dead,...


#75 William Walker, Historical Markers, and (Re)Writing History

On the corner of 4th Avenue and Commerce Street in Nashville, there’s a historical marker that reads: “William Walker; Grey-eyed Man of Destiny; Born May 8, 1824, Walker moved to this site from 6th Ave. N. in 1840. In early life he was doctor, lawyer & journalist. He invaded Mexico in 1853 with 46 men & proclaimed himself Pres., Republic of Lower Calif. Led forces into Nicaragua in 1855; was elected its Pres. in 1856. In attempt to wage war on Honduras was captured & executed Sept. 12,...


#74 Gerrymandering and the Supreme Court w/ Brent Kendall

On Tuesday, October 3rd, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, which challenged the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s political redistricting following the 2010 US Census. Americans have been crying foul over Gerrymandering since the term was coined for Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry in 1812, but this is the first time in American history that the Supreme Court has taken up the matter, and their decision could have major implications for the future of American...


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