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History As It Happens

News & Politics Podcasts

This is a podcast for people who want to think historically about current events. History As It Happens, hosted by award-winning broadcaster Martin Di Caro, features interviews with today's top scholars and thinkers, interwoven with audio from history's archive.

This is a podcast for people who want to think historically about current events. History As It Happens, hosted by award-winning broadcaster Martin Di Caro, features interviews with today's top scholars and thinkers, interwoven with audio from history's archive.


United States


This is a podcast for people who want to think historically about current events. History As It Happens, hosted by award-winning broadcaster Martin Di Caro, features interviews with today's top scholars and thinkers, interwoven with audio from history's archive.






D-Day: History and Memory

In the first 24 hours of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, about as many French civilians were killed as Allied soldiers. From June 6 to August 25, in the areas of Northern France that saw the most fighting, “about twenty-thousand French civilians paid for liberation with their lives,” says University of Virginia historian William Hitchcock, the author of The Bitter Road to Freedom. In this episode, we compare history and memory of the invasion of Normandy and the power of liberation in...


Why Third Parties Fail

In the words of Richard Hofstadter, “Third parties are like bees: once they have stung, they die." What Hofstadter, a towering public intellectual who died in 1970, meant was that in American politics, third parties succeeded not by winning elections, but by pushing the major parties to reform, to adopt ideas circulating on the margins and bring them into the mainstream. Whether third parties are a help or a hindrance, there is an immovable reason why they have struggled to maintain...


Why Tulsa Was Forgotten

In the past week Americans marked the anniversaries of two major events that hold different places in the common memory. One evoked feelings of honor and pride, the other shame and revulsion. June 6 was the 77th anniversary of the D-Day invasion; May 31 was the centenary of the Tulsa race massacre, one of the most violent acts of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. But unlike D-Day, the Tulsa massacre had been largely forgotten until recent efforts succeeded in drawing attention to its...


Biden's Foreign Policy

Host Martin Di Caro and The Washington Times national security team leader Guy Taylor discuss President Biden's foreign policy. During the Democratic primary debates in 2020, foreign policy was largely ignored. Reality has imposed itself in the early days of the Biden presidency, as the new administration juggles geopolitical dilemmas all over the globe. But as often as American presidents try to shape events to their advantage, unforeseen events shape presidencies. And how a chief executive...


The Bitcoin Bubble

Is Bitcoin a revolutionary currency or a speculative bubble about to pop? Depends on whom you ask! From cryptocurrencies to total return swaps to hedge fund short-sellers, the financial markets can appear a minefield loaded with dangerous bets and outright scams. In this episode, Harvard economist Benjamin Friedman discusses whether we should be worried about Bitcoin's wild gyrations, and whether it is possible to see the next crash before it hits.


Never-Ending Conflict: Israel and the Palestinians

The fourth war between Israel and Hamas since the latter took power in Gaza 14 years ago killed hundreds of people, mostly Palestinians, and left unresolved the historical grievances between two peoples whose national aspirations compete for the same piece of earth. What will it take to end this conflict? Two people who work for the cause of peace, Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen and former Ambassador Hesham Youssef, explain why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems so intractable.


The Democrats' Comeback

In the quarter century after the Second World War, New Deal liberalism was riding high. But after LBJ's Great Society was sacrificed on the altar of Vietnam, and after Carter’s failed presidency gave way to the Reagan Revolution, Democrats were in disarray and liberal became a dirty word. A generation later, is Joe Biden leading a liberal comeback? Princeton historian Sean Wilentz returns to the podcast to talk about the possibilities and perils facing the Democratic Party after four years...


The 1619 Project and America's Schools

An effort by Republican lawmakers in several states to prohibit the teaching of the New York Times’ 1619 Project in public schools has reignited the debate over who controls our understanding of the past. It has also refocused attention on the project’s numerous factual errors about a matter of such surpassing importance as the American Revolution. University of Virginia historian Alan Taylor shares both criticism and praise of the 1619 Project’s specific claims as well as its overall aim,...


Checking On Democracy

Is the liberal democratic order in real trouble? From Donald Trump's ongoing campaign to discredit the results of the 2020 election, to the emergence of authoritarian rulers across the globe, it can appear that democracy is on the retreat. The rise of China, a coup in Myanmar, Putin's staying power, and strongmen in Hungary, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere -- all point to democracy's demise. But maybe things are not as grim as they seem. The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft...


Facebook vs. Free Speech

Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube -- the digital behemoths have more unchecked power and technological capability to silence speech than any government. But because they are all private firms, they have the right to censor or stifle whoever they wish, from former President Donald Trump to ordinary citizens. Free expression is supposed to be a cherished value in liberal societies, yet it seems more people on both sides of the political aisle are calling for more online censorship. The ACLU's...


Liz Cheney and the Future of Conservatism

Will Trumpism devour conservatism? As House GOP leaders oust Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership post for defying ex-Pres. Donald Trump's bogus election claims, we ask National Review editor Rich Lowry to assess the future of the conservative movement. Lowry succeeded William F. Buckley as editor of a publication that helped propel conservatism to electoral success and cultural significance. Can the movement survive the personality cult enveloping the Republican Party?


Going Deeper on Immigration

Maybe we are getting the "border crisis" all wrong. If you step away from the daily headlines and avert your eyes from the border for a moment, you will see that the underlying causes of illegal migration to the United States are overlooked or ignored. In this episode, Ithaca College professor emeritus Paul McBride, a specialist in immigration history, says the way many Americans, from political leaders to ordinary citizens, view Central and South American migration misses some important...


Biden, Turkey, and the Armenian Genocide

When President Biden became the first U.S. president to recognize the Armenian genocide, the massacres and deportations that took place in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 were suddenly back in the news. Past U.S. leaders refused to recognize the genocide to avoid angering Turkey, but times have changed. The relationship between the two NATO allies has turned icy. What happened in 1915 -- and why it matters -- with Middle East historian Howard Eissenstat.


McCarthyism Redux

Like McCarthyism during the Red Scare of the 1950s, ex-President Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" movement seeks to vilify powerful, internal enemies who are trying to undermine American society. In this episode, McCarthyism Redux, historian Gary Gerstle identifies the reasons why such conspiracy theories take hold in the public mind. It is no surprise, when politics are so polarized, that some people are quick to believe the worst about others with whom they disagree.


The American Way of War

Do U.S. wars ever end? Although President Biden has announced the final withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the use of military force authorization passed by Congress 20 years ago is still on the books. In this episode of History As It Happens, The American Way of War, the Cato Institute's John Glaser explains why Congress should reassert its constitutional prerogatives over war-making and end the country's endless military commitments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.


The Cold War, 30 Years On

It is hard to believe the Cold War has been over for 30 years already, if we date its end to the final collapse of the Soviet Union on Dec. 25, 1991. The USSR lost. But what did the U.S. win? The notion that democracy and free markets were victorious, on the march, and the natural progression of human governments proved to be an illusion. In a wide-ranging interview, historian Jeffrey Engel discusses how the post-Cold War world turned out differently than many Americans assumed during those...


Enter Taliban

President Biden's decision to withdraw the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan in September is raising questions about the future of a country that has seen little but conflict and humanitarian crises since 1979. The U.S. war could end the way it started: with the Taliban in power. Former U.S. diplomat Johnny Walsh took part in negotiations with the Talibs at the peace table, and was a senior advisor on the Afghan peace process for 10 years during the Obama and Trump administrations. He...


D.C. Statehood

Will history be made in the U.S. House? The Democratic-led chamber is expected to vote to make the District of Columbia the 51st state in the Union. Although the legislation faces poor odds in the Senate, the D.C. statehood movement believes it is closer than ever to achieving its goal. Opponents say the Constitution forbids Congress from acting because new states require ratification of a constitutional amendment. But what about taxation with representation? Let's look at the issues with...


Jim Crow 2.0? The Fight For Voting Rights

Republican lawmakers in state legislatures nationwide are proposing more than 250 measures that, critics say, are designed to curb access to the ballot or open the road to partisan interference in elections. Georgia's new election laws are ground zero in the fight for voting rights, provoking a corporate backlash and comparisons to Jim Crow, the system of white supremacy that grew from the ashes of Reconstruction. Eric Foner, one of the preeminent scholars in the U.S., joins the podcast to...


Filibuster Explained

Filibuster, schmilibuster! The origins of the word filibuster seem to belie any claims that the tool of partisan warfare is really a pillar of senatorial greatness, and therefore must be guarded against efforts to weaken or eliminate it. Princeton historian Sean Wilentz returns to the podcast to discuss the pros and cons of doing away with the Senate's long-lasting accident. (Blame Aaron Burr!)