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This Is Hell!


Longform interview Hell since 1996.

Longform interview Hell since 1996.


United States


Longform interview Hell since 1996.




How to Steal a Forest / Lyndsie Bourgon

It's Chuck's Birthday! Jubilations all around! We welcome writer, researcher, and oral historian Lyndsie Bourgon to talk about her book "Tree Thieves - Crime and Survival in North America's Woods." We also present your Hangover Cure for this Monday, and have a new Question from Hell! for the week. Also producer Sebastian talks immigration history in another installment of The Past Inside the Present.


Reparations In Evanston / Kari Lydersen

Journalist Kari Lydersen is an author and assistant professor of journalism at Northwestern University. She's on to discuss her article at The New Republic, "Can Liberal Evanston, Illinois, Atone for Its Racist Past?"


The Inflation Gun Aimed At Labor Power's Head / Hadas Thier

Hadas Thier returns to This is Hell! to discuss her In These Times Article "A Left Answer to Inflation." Producer Alex returns for one show. We have new answers to this week's Question from Hell!, and This Week in Rotten History.


To Degrow or Not to Degrow? / Andrea Vetter & Matthias Schmelzer

Chuck talks to cultural anthropologist Andrea Vetter and economic historian Matthias Schmelzer about their new book "The Future is Degrowth - A Guide to a World Beyond Capitalism. We also have your hangover cure for this Monday, and this week's new Question from Hell!


Epidemiology and the Poultry Industry / Boyce Upholt

Investigative journalist Boyce Upholt wrote The New Republic article, "Will the Next Pandemic Start With Chickens?: This spring, a virulent strain of bird flu ripped through U.S. farms. The public hardly noticed. That we could ignore the disease shows just how little we’ve learned about the origin of new viruses."


Carbon Footprints vs. Carbon Bootprints: Climate Change Class War / Matthew Huber

Host Chuck Mertz speaks with with Geographer Matthew Huber to discuss how individualized focus on the purification of consumer choices divides the working class and depletes energy for collective organizing against the the Capitalist culprits profiting off the extraction of environmental resources. Matthew T. Huber is Professor of Geography in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. His book Climate Change as Class War: Building Socialism on a Warming...


Guilty Until Further Notice / Daniel Medwed

Legal scholar Daniel Medwed talks about his book "Barred: Why the Innocent Can't Get Out of Prison." We present your Hangover Cure, talk about the weekend's Listener Appreciation Party, and present this week's Question from Hell!.


Big Alcohol vs. Working Class Joy / James Wilt

Today we have on James Wilt, author of, “Drinking Up the Revolution: How to Smash Big Alcohol and Reclaim Working-Class Joy.” James is a writer and PhD candidate based in Winnipeg, Canada. James discusses how working class people form their relationship with drugs and alcohol when these are commodified by big business interests as well as the way in which enforcement of norms surrounding drugs and alcohol are often racialized.


Failed Fostering Punishes Poor Families and Protects White Supremacy / Dorothy Roberts

Dorothy Roberts is an award-winning author and expert on the interplay of gender, race, and class in legal issues concerning reproduction, bioethics, and child welfare. She is a professor of law and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Chuck Mertz interviews Dorothy about her latest book, TORN APART: How the child welfare system destroys black families—and how abolition can build a safer world. TORN APART available Now at Basic Books...


SCOTUS v. Democracy / Steve Fraser

Historian Steve Fraser talks about his Tom Dispatch article "The Trump Supreme Court is Nothing New," about how the Supreme Court has over time been used to kneecap the democrat process in the U.S., and how it's been originally designed to provide that function to uphold the rule of the powerful against the masses.


The Supreme Court - Guardrail against Excessive Democracy / Steve Fraser

Steve Fraser talks about his Tom Dispatch article "The Trump Supreme Court is Nothing New." Chuck complains about the hell of a week he's had. Seb presents another Past inside the Present, in which he muses about what 9/11 means in the age of Covid. We reveal this week's Question from Hell! (anniversary edition), and this week's Hangover Cure.


Naturally Noxious: Misplaced Faith and the Impact of Natural Gas Industry in Appalachian America

Chuck Mertz talks with Sean O'Leary about his writing for the Ohio River Valley Institute on the impact of the natural gas industry on Appalachian Americans. Sean O’Leary is senior researcher of energy and petrochemicals at the ORVI and is a native of Wheeling, WV. He has written about coal, natural gas, and their role in the economies of Appalachia in a book, a newspaper column, and blog titled, “The State of My State”. Previously, Sean served as communications director at the NW Energy...


Naturally Noxious: Misplaced Faith in Appalachian Natural Gas Industry / Sean O'Leary

Chuck Mertz talks with Sean O'Leary about his writing for the Ohio River Valley Institute on the impact of the natural gas industry on Appalachian Americans. Also including this week's Hangover Cure, Rotten History, and Introducing this week's Question from Hell. Featuring a first announcement of musical artists performing at This Is Hell's listener appreciation party on September 17th, 2022. Sean O’Leary is senior researcher of energy and petrochemicals at the ORVI and is a native of...


The History of Personhood in the Abortion Debate / Brianna Muir

Brianna Muir wrote the Sapiens article, "An Archaeology of Personhood and Abortion: Opinions about fetal personhood and abortion have fluctuated enormously throughout history and differ in surprising ways between cultures." Brianna is a master’s student in biological anthropology at the University of Central Florida. As an emerging bioarchaeologist, she is interested in how integrative approaches can be used to address questions of personhood, identity, and agency in the past. In particular,...


Leaving the Ivy League / William Deresiewicz

William Deresiewicz is a writer and former professor of English at Yale University. William discusses his article "Why I Left Academia (Since You're Wondering)" published August 17th 2022 on with host Chuck Mertz. New responses to the Question From Hell and this week in Rotten History


Flooding in Eastern Kentucky / Tarence Ray

We have on Tarence Ray from the Trillbilly Worker's Party podcast to discuss the devastating effects of recent flooding in Eastern Kentucky and how the government response affected the poor and working class.


How Bad is Inflation? / Dean Baker

The return of economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research. Dean is on to discuss his most recent writing, including, “Structuring the Economy to Give Money to the Rich Is Inflationary.”


Lessons From the Cold War / Penny M. Von Eschen

Penny M. Von Eschen is author of the new book, “Paradoxes of Nostalgia: Cold War Triumphalism and Global Disorder since 1989.” Penny is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of American Studies and Professor of History at the University of Virginia and author of, “Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War,” and “Race against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937–1957.” We speak with Penny about the enduring legacy of the Cold War in international politics.


Disability is Everybody's Problem Some Day

Sociologist Laura Mauldin talks about her Baffler article "Care Tactics: Hacking an Ableist World," we introduce this week's Question from Hell!, and bring you your Hangover Cure for this Monday. Also, producer Seb gives another history lesson on the Nazis, and the Holocaust - and why we need to remember it.


Heather Berg / The Stripper in the Coal Mine: Sex Work and Labor Rights

Gender and Sexuality studies scholar Heather Berg talks about her Boston Review article "Freedom, Not Benefits Sex workers are labor’s vanguard. The left ignores them at its peril." We have the winning answer to this week's Question from Hell!, and producer Seb introduces his rebranded segment "The Past inside the Present" with the first half of a two-parter on the most fun topic of all: the Holocaust.