The History of the Twentieth Century

Mark Painter

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A chronicle of the history of the twentieth century, including art, music, popular culture, science, religion, and, of course, politics and war.

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001 Age of Empires

40:53 | Sep 13th, 2015

We take a brief look at the world as it is on 1 January 1901--the birthday of the twentieth century.

086 Paris Cannot Hold Out

43:08 | Aug 20th, 2017

The failure of the French counteroffensive has the Allies in retreat across the front, and it now appears there is no stopping the Germans short of Paris.

062 To Strive, To Seek, To Find, and Not To Yield

43:50 | Jan 23rd, 2017

Following Scott's acclaimed Discovery Expedition, he and Ernest Shackleton plan competing expeditions to the South Pole, along with a surprise appearance by Roald Amundsen.

151 The Eye of the Day

53:23 | Apr 14th

Mata Hari earned internationally acclaim as a dancer during the Belle Époque by trading on her exotic (and mostly invented) origins. But during the Great War, being mysterious and not entirely honest can get you killed.

150 Caporetto

44:02 | Apr 7th

In the autumn of 1917, the Germans lend the Austrians a hand in their losing struggle with Italy. The result is the Battle of Caporetto, which undoes all of Italy's previous gains and brings the Central Powers within 20 miles of Venice.

149 Passchendaele

33:09 | Mar 24th

After the failure of the Nivelle Offensive, and with Russia collapsing into chaos, the British Cabinet unleashes Haig, who begins his latest offensive.

148 Peace, Land, and Bread

46:00 | Mar 17th

By autumn of 1917, the Russian Provisional Government had failed. It lost popular support, the Army was collapsing, and the Germans were advancing on Petrograd. Lenin determined it was time for the Bolsheviks to make their move.

147 The Kornilov Affair

40:58 | Mar 10th

Following the July Days, Alexander Kerensky became convinced that the biggest threat to his government now loomed on the political right, and he became increasingly suspicious of the new army commander-in-chief, Lavr Kornilov.

146 Chaos in the Army

37:01 | Feb 24th

The Kerensky Offensive was supposed to prove that the Russian Provisional Government was in control and that Russia could still field an effective army. Instead, it demonstrated that neither of these were true.

145 The July Days

45:35 | Feb 17th

The Kerensky Offensive provoked discontent among soldiers in Petrograd which triggered a Bolshevik uprising against the Provisional Government. The uprising was put down and evidence was made public that the Bolsheviks were being supported and funded...Show More

144 All Power to the Soviets

35:05 | Feb 10th

With the Bolsheviks relentlessly criticizing the Russian government, the question of war aims came to the fore. When the liberals in the government couldn't give a straight answer, a cabinet shuffle followed, giving socialists more power than before.

143 Disabling the Russian Colossus

46:39 | Jan 27th

The Russian Provisional Government had declared a political amnesty that allowed political exiles to return home, notably Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin, who got an assist from the German government.

142 Lafayette, We Are Here

39:46 | Jan 20th

The US entered the war in early 1917, but it would take time for her to have an impact on the war. Brazil also joined the war in 1917, and in Canada, the political fight over conscription leads to a divisive general election.

141 The Cossacks Are Not Coming

39:36 | Jan 13th

By 1917, many in German and Austrian official and military circles had given up hope of winning the Great War on the battlefield and were ready to discuss peace terms. Hindenburg and Ludendorff, however, insisted that victory was at hand.

140 The Hindenburg Line

54:50 | Dec 23rd, 2018

With Russia in disarray, and the Eastern Front in a de facto armistice, we shift our attention to the West, where the French begin the latest "final" offensive.

139 No Fight, No Loan

38:29 | Dec 16th, 2018

Russia's allies--The United Kingdom, France, Italy, and now the United States--were pleased that Russia was taking a more liberal and democratic direction, but they also expected Russia to honor the commitments the czar had made to them, even though ...Show More

138 Make the World Safe for Democracy

56:57 | Dec 9th, 2018

Even the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans was not enough to push Woodrow Wilson into supporting war, but the Zimmerman Telegram made it impossible to oppose war any further. Additionally, the Russian Revolution eliminated a...Show More

137 The February Revolution

34:22 | Dec 2nd, 2018

The revolutionary upheavals in Petrograd lead to the formation of a Provisional Government. Emperor Nikolai II abdicates, ending the 304-year old Romanov dynasty.

135 The Winter of Our Discontent

44:25 | Nov 18th, 2018

With political resentments already high, the deprivations of the harsh winter of 1916-17 cause them to boil over. The Russian Revolution has begun.

135 Stupidity or Treason?

47:58 | Nov 11th, 2018

When the Great War began, Russian political factions mostly united in a common front to support the war effort, as political parties did in the other belligerent nations. But when Russia's military reversals and shortcomings in leadership became too ...Show More

134 The Zimmerman Telegram

41:11 | Nov 4th, 2018

With the Mexican Revolution winding down and the prospects of war between Mexico and the USA seeming increasingly remote, the German Foreign Secretary explores the idea of inviting Mexico to declare war on the United States.

133 We Win Ourselves to Death

39:26 | Oct 21st, 2018

Germany was already rationing food when the bad harvests of 1916 made the situation far worse. Running out of options, the German military decides to resume unrestricted U-boat warfare.

132 Guerre à la guerre

47:18 | Oct 14th, 2018

The European powers refused to negotiate, but private groups, including women's groups, socialists, and Henry Ford, pressed ahead with campaigns to bring the belligerents to the negotiating table.

131 This Wellsian Wonder

38:58 | Oct 7th, 2018

The automobile and the airplane, both recent inventions that make use of the internal combustion engine, become weapons of war.

130 He Kept Us out of War

41:13 | Sep 23rd, 2018

With four years of peace and progressive reform and a booming economy (due to the strong French and UK wartime demand for US imports), you would think Woodrow Wilson would cruise to an easy re-election. You would be wrong.

129 Everywhere and Nowhere

43:39 | Sep 16th, 2018

In the wake of Pancho Villa's attack on the town of Columbus, New Mexico, the US Army sends an expeditionary force into Mexico in pursuit of Villa and his fighters, commanded by Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing.

128: A Portuguesa

39:25 | Sep 9th, 2018

German East Africa was the last holdout among German colonial possessions. Neighboring Portuguese and Belgian soldiers, as well as South Africans, joined in to help the British, although the British were not always happy to accept their assistance.

126 A Terrible Beauty Is Born I

47:52 | Aug 19th, 2018

Irish nationalist extremist plot an armed uprising against British rule and reach out to Germany for assistance.

125 Question Time

41:43 | Aug 12th, 2018

We take a break from the historical narrative this week as listener Brent asks the questions that (hopefully) you wanted answered.

124 What Passing-Bells for These Who Die as Cattle?

46:47 | Jul 29th, 2018

We conclude the four-part series on military moves in 1916 in the Great War with Brusilov's Offensive and the Battle of the Somme.

123 Something Wrong with Our Bloody Ships

40:41 | Jul 22nd, 2018

Austria begins an offensive against Italy, Russia gears up a counteroffensive in Galicia, and the British and German Navies have it out in the Skagerrak.

122 They Shall Not Pass

31:30 | Jul 15th, 2018

The fighting continued at Verdun as the Russians prepare an offensive of their own to relieve the pressure on France. A German U-boat mistakenly sinks a passenger ferry in the English Channel, triggering another controversy over submarine rules of en...Show More

121 England's Best Sword Knocked from Her Hand

43:31 | Jul 8th, 2018

The third year of the war opens with Britain and Germany as the mainstays of their respective alliances. The German Chief of Staff tries a bank shot: cripple Britain by wounding France.

120 A Line in the Sand

38:02 | Jun 24th, 2018

Turkish forces defeat a British force attempting to take Baghdad, but that doesn't stop the British and the French from divvying up the postwar Middle East. Also, the Russians advance, the Italians don't.

119 The Minister without Portfolio

40:44 | Jun 17th, 2018

Venustiano Carranza is gaining momentum in the struggle over the future of Mexico, but Pancho Villa is not ready to give up. The Germans hope to lure the US into intervening, then Pancho Villa decides provoking the US is also in his interests.

118 The Lunatics Have Taken Charge of the Asylum

43:55 | Jun 10th, 2018

In the neutral United States, the economy is booming and so is the motion picture business. And the most famous name in pictures is Charles Chaplin.

117 What Are the French Doing?

40:19 | Jun 3rd, 2018

Allied commanders on the Western Front spent 1915 developing new strategies for the Great War, and attempted to implement them in their autumn offensive.

116 What Did You Do in the Great War?

49:00 | May 20th, 2018

With numbers of new volunteers declining every month, the British government wrestles with the issue of conscription. Across Europe, all the Great Powers are feeling the manpower and other shortages created by the war.

115 Let Them Raise Hell

40:34 | May 13th, 2018

After the overthrow of Victoriano Huerta, the revolutionary forces in Mexico begin fighting among themselves, and Huerta himself conspires with the Germans to return to power.

114 Beautiful Tightropes of Logic

40:10 | May 6th, 2018

Albert Einstein needed ten years to flesh out his special theory of relativity into a general theory of relativity, but when he finished, he changed our understanding of the nature of reality itself.

113 Simpson's Circus

41:10 | Apr 22nd, 2018

German East Africa stood strong against British attempts to capture the territory. The key to capturing the German colony was to contest German control of Lake Tanganyika.

112 The Banana Wars II

50:32 | Apr 15th, 2018

Political instability and mounting foreign debts lead to US military intervention on the island of Hispaniola.

111 The Bulgarian Summer

41:24 | Apr 8th, 2018

By the summer of 1915, both the Central Powers and the Allies were keen to get Bulgaria to join the war on their side. The Central Powers won the bidding war, and Bulgaria became the fourth (and last) member of the Central Powers.

110 The Shell Shortage

42:40 | Mar 25th, 2018

By the spring of 1915, it was clear that the war would last for a long time and that it would be taking an economic toll on all the nations involved, and there would likely be political consequences as well. In Britain, the debate centered on whether...Show More

109: I Am Ordering You to Die

42:52 | Mar 18th, 2018

In early 1915, with the Western Front in a stalemate, Winston Churchill becomes the leading voice behind a plan to do an end run around the Germans and knock the Turks out of the war.

108 This Isn't War!

42:07 | Mar 11th, 2018

In the spring of 1915, just before the sinking of Lusitania and in international women's conference aimed at ending the war through private diplomacy, Germany uses poison gas on the Western Front.

107 Too Proud to Fight

48:00 | Mar 4th, 2018

The sinking of Lusitania and the deaths of 128 Americans was a shock. While there was little support in the US for war against Germany, there was a strong feeling that *some* kind of response was necessary. It was up to Woodrow Wilson to figure out w...Show More

106 Breaking the Blockade

41:24 | Feb 18th, 2018

Germany searches for a way to break the British blockade; Britain looks for a decisive battle.

105 The Action of a Lunatic

40:32 | Feb 11th, 2018

In 1914, Germany and Britain held adjacent colonial territories in East Africa. When the Great War began, Britain attempted to seize German East Africa.

104 The Birth of a Nation

47:04 | Feb 4th, 2018

Another look at race relations in the USA. The formation of the NAACP and the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League and the re-founding of the Ku Klux Klan. And the release of D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation."

103 Colonialism without Bloodshed

47:02 | Jan 21st, 2018

Germany claimed Southwest Africa as a colony in 1884. This episode reviews the history of the colony through the Great War, when it was seized by South Africa.

102 They Showed Us the Way

38:25 | Jan 14th, 2018

In 1914, the war in the West ground down to a stalemate. There seemed no sign that 1915 would be any different. Allied commanders experimented with new tactics to deal with this new warfare.

101 Strike a Blow Somewhere

46:45 | Jan 7th, 2018

The beginning of 1915 sees the Central Powers under something like a giant siege. What can be done to break out?

100 These Desert Places of the Earth

42:21 | Dec 17th, 2017

The Great War was by no means restricted to Europe. In this episode, we begin an occasional series examining the war in Africa.

099: Jihad

39:22 | Dec 10th, 2017

When the Ottoman Empire joined the war, it opened new strategic possibilities for the Central Powers. It also led to a declaration of jihad against the Allies.

098 Shackled to a Corpse

42:09 | Dec 3rd, 2017

The phrase "shackled to a corpse" is often used to describe Germany's dilemma in the Great War. Surrounded by enemy nations that collectively have a greater population and larger economies, she also finds herself stuck with a disappointing alliance p...Show More

097 The Banana Wars I

53:14 | Nov 19th, 2017

By the beginning of the twentieth century, the USA was the major market for Central American coffee, cotton, sugar, and especially bananas, leading to US investment in the region, leading in turn to US involvement in Central American affairs.

096 The Rape of Belgium

39:03 | Nov 12th, 2017

German soldiers committed numerous war crimes against civilians in the initial offensive, especially in Belgium. The Allies made use of this for propaganda purposes, while adding lurid embellishments.

095 The Far Seas

48:44 | Nov 5th, 2017

When the Great War began, Germany had a number of naval units stationed around the world. These ships attempted to disrupt British shipping.

094 The Puritan of the North

54:55 | Oct 29th, 2017

The murder of Francisco Madero and the iron-fisted rule of Victoriano Huerta that followed might seem like the end of constitutional democracy in Mexico, but in fact the revolutionaries like the ones who had overthrown Díaz took up arms once again, a...Show More

093 The Twenty-One Demands

40:18 | Oct 22nd, 2017

The UK and Japan had an alliance agreement, and when the Great War began, Japan was eager to enter the conflict. Aiding their ally was nice, but the Japanese were also eyeing German colonial possessions in the Pacific.

092 Home Before the Leaves Fall

35:02 | Oct 8th, 2017

Kaiser Wilhelm told the troops they would be "home before the leaves fall." By autumn of 1914, it was clear they would not.

091 The Luxury Navy

39:40 | Oct 1st, 2017

Germany invested heavily in building itself a great navy, including paying the price of a strained relationship with the United Kingdom. Now that the world is at war, how is this navy going to be used?

090 I Will See It Through

43:18 | Sep 24th, 2017

The Great War began as a confrontation between Austria and Russia. It soon became about a lot more than that, but for Austria, job one is defeating the Russians, or at least holding them at bay. The Austrian Army will prove incapable of accomplishing...Show More

089 A Good Five-Cent Cigar

44:01 | Sep 17th, 2017

President Wilson pushes through more reform legislation, including the Federal Reserve Act. The outbreak of the Great War creates a financial panic in the US, and Vice President Marshall pines for the days of a really good five-cent cigar.

088 The Miracle on the Marne

48:53 | Sep 10th, 2017

The German First Army was only thirty miles from Paris, and the final victory was tantalizingly close. But the German Army was weakening, and the French and British not so beaten as the Germans believed.

087 The Cossacks Are Coming!

52:01 | Aug 27th, 2017

In response to pleas from the French, the Russian Army undertakes an invasion of East Prussia in the hope of taking some of the pressure off of France.

085 Serbien muß sterbien

42:46 | Aug 13th, 2017

The Great War started as a conflict between Austria and Serbia. Now, amid all the other conflicts emerging as the war goes continental, Austria makes its bid to punish Serbia for the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand.

084 So Much the Better

41:55 | Jul 30th, 2017

The French plan to respond to a German offensive was a counteroffensive into the German center. The French attempted this on August 21-23; it was an utter failure.

083 The Flight of the Goeben

49:48 | Jul 23rd, 2017

The outbreak of the Great War saw one of the German Navy's newest and most powerful battlecruisers in the Mediterranean. She was a threat to the Entente and had to be stopped. Only...what exactly is she trying to do?

082 No, Whatever the Consequences

41:53 | Jul 16th, 2017

The German war plan called for a massive offensive against France that would pass through Belgium, but one of the big unknowns in German war planning was whether the Belgians would resist, and if so, how fiercely.

081 Offense to the Utmost

43:59 | Jul 9th, 2017

French strategists emphasized the importance of offense and planned to respond to a German invasion with an offensive of their own. British strategy increasingly revolved around joining with France in a ground war.

080 Keep the Right Wing Very Strong

45:40 | Jun 25th, 2017

A look at how Germany and Russia planned to fight the Great War.

079 Lessons Learned II

39:14 | Jun 18th, 2017

A survey of the most important reasons why the Great War happened and why the international order failed to prevent it.

078 The Lamps Go Out II

47:54 | Jun 11th, 2017

Germany mobilizes and declares war on Russia and France. As German troops move into Luxembourg and Belgium, the British Cabinet comes around and joins the war.

077 The Lamps Go Out I

1:03:08 | Jun 4th, 2017

Russia finds the Austrian ultimatum unacceptable. Austria, egged on by Germany, pursues war with Serbia anyway.

076 Today Is Better Than Tomorrow

44:00 | May 21st, 2017

In the four weeks following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the Austrian government slowly pondered its response. Meanwhile, in the rest of Europe, the murders were already being forgotten.

075 The Great Illusion

44:45 | May 14th, 2017

In the final days of peace, many European leaders were preoccupied with domestic problems as others debated whether war was inevitable, or obsolete.

074 A Few Serbian Bullets

38:39 | May 7th, 2017

Despite warnings of possible violence, the Austrian Crown Prince travels to Bosnia to observe military maneuvers. During a visit to Sarajevo, he and his wife are assassinated.

073 For Serbia We Shall Do Everything

50:00 | Apr 30th, 2017

In 1914, with victory against the Turks secured, Serb nationalist extremists look north toward Austria.

072 England Is No Longer an Island

45:34 | Apr 23rd, 2017

The airplane means that the English Channel may no longer be all the defense Britain needs. Women's suffrage and Irish Home Rule remain contentious issues in British politics.

071 Like a Sinking Ship

37:28 | Apr 9th, 2017

Just weeks after the First Balkan War ended, the Second Balkan War broke out over the spoils. When it was over, Serbia was Russia's only remaining diplomatic asset in the Balkans, and was spoiling for a fight with Austria.

070 The Schlemiel of Europe

40:25 | Apr 2nd, 2017

As the small Balkan states redraw the map of their region, Austria-Hungary is largely a spectator, tied up in her own scandals.

069 Some Damned Silly Thing

38:51 | Mar 26th, 2017

The small Balkan states have been coming together in alliance. Originally defensive, the allies came to a secret agreement to attack the Ottoman Empire together, while it was preoccupied by the war with Italy.

068 The New Freedom

41:55 | Mar 12th, 2017

After the difficult 1912 US Presidential election, Woodrow Wilson takes office, but the women's suffrage movement upstages him with a huge demonstration the day before.

067 Twilight of the Belle Époque

41:23 | Mar 5th, 2017

Alfred Binet invents IQ testing, Picasso cheers up, the Mona Lisa is stolen, and Jim Thorpe wins two gold medals at the 1912 Olympics.

066 An Immense Box of Sand

44:09 | Feb 26th, 2017

Italy has been angling to secure Libya as a colonial possession for some time now. But war fever broke out in 1911, partly because of the Agadir crisis, prompting Italy to declare war on the Ottoman Empire over control of the province.

065 The Panther Leap

38:31 | Feb 19th, 2017

The year 1910 was relatively quiet in Europe, except in the turbulent Ottoman Empire. But 1911 saw another crisis in Morocco, and renewed tensions.

064 A Night to Remember

55:32 | Feb 5th, 2017

One of the greatest, and certainly the most famous, of disasters at sea occurred the night of April 14, 1912, when the passenger liner Titanic sank, taking with her about 2/3 of those aboard.

063 Like a Bull Moose

49:51 | Jan 29th, 2017

1912 saw a Presidential election campaign unlike anything Americans had known before or since. It was America's only true three-way race, with the added drama of a grudge match between two men who had recently been friends and allies.

061 Terra Australis

41:18 | Jan 15th, 2017

The early twentieth century saw the exploration of the remotest land on Earth: Antarctica.

060 Very Unkind of Those Canadians

46:25 | Jan 8th, 2017

William Howard Taft and Wilfrid Laurier negotiate a US-Canada free trade agreement, but it blows up when the Canadians get the idea that it is a step toward US annexation. The Standard Oil Company is broken up, US Senator "Fighting Bob" La Follette m...Show More

059 Ultima Thule

42:27 | Dec 23rd, 2016

Explorers came to the far north first, in search of a route to the Far East, and later in search of the North Pole itself. The question of who got there first is surprisingly complicated.

058 The Republic of China

46:39 | Dec 18th, 2016

After years of unrest, an accidental revolution breaks out on October 10, 1911, that will end the Empire and establish a Republic. Japan annexes Korea.

057 In My Merry Oldsmobile

41:59 | Dec 11th, 2016

Self-propelled vehicles that can carry passengers on roads are not exactly new; people have been experimenting with them since the late 18th century. But in the early years of the twentieth century, the automobile finally becomes a practical mode of ...Show More

056 The Heavens Themselves Blaze Forth

36:09 | Dec 4th, 2016

The year 1910 saw a fierce debate in the UK, including two general elections, over the role of the House of Lords in a modern, democratic state. The British King Edward VII passed away in the middle of the crisis, moving some Tories to blame his deat...Show More

055 So Far From God

39:37 | Nov 20th, 2016

Mexico began the century under the rule of the now elderly Porfirio Diaz. But Diaz was not able to keep up with changing times, and the fall of his rule is the opening chapter of the Mexican Revolution.

054 A Martian Odyssey

44:25 | Nov 13th, 2016

The early years of the century saw two  important comets and the biggest meteorite strike on the Earth in recorded history. There was also a lot of attention paid to the planet Mars, amid speculation that Mars might be home to life. Maybe even intell...Show More

053 Take Advice From Theodore

44:24 | Nov 6th, 2016

Roosevelt had pledged not to seek another term as President, and was concerned that his successor preserve and build upon his Progressive legacy. He chose William Howard Taft as his political heir, but after Taft's election, the two men would part wa...Show More


38:53 | Oct 30th, 2016

The development of radio and related technologies at the beginning of the century heralded the birth of what we now call electronics, and with it, mass media.

051 Goodbye, Youth!

48:29 | Oct 23rd, 2016

In 1908, Austria-Hungary formally annexed Bosnia, which she had been governing for 30 years. For the first time in Franz Josef's 60-year reign, Austria was gaining, rather than losing, territory. A cause for celebration, right?

050 The Prison of Nations

42:07 | Oct 9th, 2016

We take a look at the convoluted ethnic makeup of Austria-Hungary as well as some of the principal Austrian cultural figures of the time.

049 Tales of Old Vienna

37:29 | Oct 2nd, 2016

The Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary struggles to remain relevant in the quickly changing nineteenth century.

048 The Flight of Icarus

48:51 | Sep 25th, 2016

Wilbur and Orville Wright, working out of the limelight, succeed in developing the first heavier-than-air craft capable of carrying a human being on a controlled flight.

047s Documents

10:13 | Sep 21st, 2016

This 1870-ish American poem shows us something of the public attitude toward those who were working to build a flying machine during this period.

047 Icarus Rising

38:20 | Sep 18th, 2016

Surprisingly, small-scale flying machines have been around for centuries. It was not a question of theory, but an engineering problem: finding the right materials and designs to build a craft capable of carrying a human being through the air.

046 Deeds Not Words

34:41 | Sep 11th, 2016

Despite the Liberals winning a landslide election in 1906, the political situation in the UK was turbulent. Liberal constituencies were jockeying for favor. The new Labour Party and the working classes were increasing in power. The women's suffrage m...Show More

045 The God of Dance

55:37 | Aug 28th, 2016

Sergei Diaghilev's most enduring influence on twentieth century art was the Ballets Russes, a modern ballet company he created, starring the greatest male ballet dancer of the twentieth century and Diaghilev's lover, Vaslav Nijinsky.

044 Charlatan and Charmer

35:41 | Aug 21st, 2016

In the early twentieth century, the Russian Sergei Diaghilev was the "bad boy" of the Russian art world. It's safe to say he was the most important figure in twentieth century art who was not himself an artist.

043 Carry a Big Stick

44:39 | Aug 14th, 2016

The United States intervenes militarily in Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America. A great earthquake strikes San Francisco, triggering racial discrimination and an economic downturn. The Brownsville Affair. And Roosevelt takes "In God We Trust" off the...Show More

042 A Square Deal for Every Man

46:05 | Aug 7th, 2016

After breaking the Vice Presidents' curse, Roosevelt begins his second (and last) term as President. 1906 proves to be a good year, as Roosevelt gets much of his legislative agenda through Congress.

041 Fear God and Dread Nought

40:17 | Jul 31st, 2016

The launch of HMS Dreadnought sparked multiple naval arms races, most notably in South America. It also intensified the existing race between the United Kingdom and Germany. At the same time, British and Russian diplomats hammer out their own entente...Show More

040 Moments of Tension

35:45 | Jul 24th, 2016

France has been angling to turn Morocco into a protectorate. The German government decides to interfere, hoping to drive a wedge between France and Britain.

039 You Are All Wrong

35:22 | Jul 17th, 2016

The Entente Cordiale smoothed relations between Britain and France, but created complications for Britain's relations with Russia and with Germany. Britain makes overtures toward both of those countries, in the hope of repeating its diplomatic succes...Show More

038 The Politics of the Future

33:19 | Jul 10th, 2016

After nearly 20 years in power, the Conservatives can no longer keep a lid on changing British society. But the Liberals have to contend with the rise of the Labour Party.

037 Year of Wonders

42:12 | Jun 26th, 2016

Albert Einstein published four papers in 1905 that turned modern physics upside down and established him as the greatest scientist of the century.

036 Lessons Learned I

38:15 | Jun 19th, 2016

A review of what lessons we can take away from the war, with an emphasis on what lessons were not learned, to the grief of many.

035 Mighty Good For Me, Too

40:52 | Jun 12th, 2016

Russia's Second Pacific Squadron finally reaches the western Pacific, and meets a catastrophic end. US President Theodore Roosevelt brokers a peace agreement between Japan and Russia.

034 We No Longer Have a Czar

40:33 | Jun 5th, 2016

The Japanese fund dissenters in  Russia. A peaceful protest in St. Petersburg becomes "Bloody Sunday." Admiral Rozhdestvensky struggles against the odds to bring his fleet into the Pacific, and the Japanese win the Battle of Mukden, possibly the larg...Show More

033 The Mountain Where Your Souls Lie

37:07 | May 22nd, 2016

Japanese forces move north and oust Kuropatkin and his armies from Liaoyang. Port Arthur falls after a six-month siege and a bloody assault on 203 Hill.

032 Red Sun Rising

45:35 | May 15th, 2016

The Japanese First Army defeats the Russians at the Battle of the Yalu River and advances from Korea into Russian-occupied Manchuria. The Japanese Second Army lands on the Liaodong Peninsula and advances north, while the Japanese Third Army moves sou...Show More

031 The Ruler of the East

51:31 | May 8th, 2016

Russia has 100,000 soldiers in Manchuria, and is pressuring Japan's interests in Korea. When diplomacy fails, Japan launches as surprise attack on the Russian Pacific Squadron at Port Arthur (Liushunkou).

030 The Concert of Europe

37:51 | May 1st, 2016

Europe has managed to keep the peace (more or less) for some 85 years now. Remarkably, she has done that with no formal peacekeeping structure; just a willingness among the great powers to come to the negotiating table when necessary. But how long ca...Show More

029 Die Waffen Nieder!

38:13 | Apr 24th, 2016

There has not been a general war in Europe since Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo. But military technology has grown frighteningly effective. Is war now obsolete? Is it time to find other ways of resolving differences, or else perish?

028 What Is Going to Happen to Me?

43:10 | Apr 17th, 2016

A look at Russia during the late 19th century, during the reign of Emperor Alexander III, with a special emphasis on the coming of age of the crown prince and his wedding to Alexandra.

027 Too Soon to Thank God

42:48 | Apr 10th, 2016

Slavic people occupy half the land area of Europe, and Slav nationalism is going to be a driving force in the history of the 20th century. This episode explains the history of the Slavs, with a special emphasis on the most important Slav nation: Russ...Show More

026 America's Coming Out Party

46:49 | Apr 3rd, 2016

The 1904 World's Fair helped define America in the 20th century.

025 I Am the King

42:58 | Mar 20th, 2016

Pablo Picasso begins his career in Paris, the city of the 1900 Exposition and Olympic Games. Turmoil in Morocco gives the French an opportunity to move in, but first they need to come to an understanding with the British.

024s Documents

09:42 | Mar 17th, 2016

Finley Peter Dunne's Mr. Dooley expounds on international courts, and argues that what we really need is an international police force.

024 How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?

43:00 | Mar 13th, 2016

Roosevelt tours America and runs for re-election. Ugly racial violence erupts in the South. An American citizen is kidnapped in Morocco, and somebody thought, "This would make a great movie."

023 Making Italians

41:38 | Mar 6th, 2016

The remarkable unification of Italy in the nineteenth century was complete, but the problem of uniting these disparate peoples of the peninsula, who over the course of centuries had grown accustomed to thinking of themselves as different nationalitie...Show More

021 A Man, a Plan, a Canal—Panama!

45:54 | Feb 21st, 2016

We return to the USA to take a look at some more issues facing President Roosevelt. Possible war crimes in the Philippines. Cuban independence. The Colombia Panama Canal. A major coal strike. And, most important, Roosevelt's prospects in the 1904 ele...Show More

020 Heart of Darkness II

38:39 | Feb 7th, 2016

After securing international recognition of his claim to the Congo, King Leopold sets to work to extract as much wealth as he can from the Congo in the most brutal ways imaginable. He is eventually exposed, but walks away a billionaire.

019 Heart of Darkness I

31:44 | Jan 31st, 2016

King Leopold II of Belgium, having decided his ambitions are far greater than the "small nation of small people" he reigns over, sets out to swindle for himself a colony in Africa.

018 The Spectre Haunting Europe

39:17 | Jan 24th, 2016

As working class conditions seem to be getting worse instead of better, a new political movement emerges, advocating intervention on behalf of the poor, oppressed, and disenfranchised.

017 Such a Bully Pulpit

42:18 | Jan 17th, 2016

Theodore Roosevelt becomes President and at once begins turning everything upside down. Scott Joplin writes an opera about it.

016 Assassin's Creed

34:11 | Jan 10th, 2016

Theodore Roosevelt becomes a war hero, and Vice President of the United States. An anarchist assassin takes the life of the President, William McKinley.

015 Taels I Win

42:05 | Jan 3rd, 2016

Reinforcements from the Western nations turn the tide in the fight against the Boxers. But will they get to Beijing in time?

014 The Righteous and Harmonious Fists

41:08 | Dec 20th, 2015

A grassroots uprising against foreigners develops in China in 1900, a result of outrage over Chinese territorial concessions and foreign missionary activity.

013 The Christian Century

35:15 | Dec 13th, 2015

At the beginning of the 20th century, a fault line develops in Protestantism, especially in the USA, over the role of ancient Scriptures in a modern church.

012 The Empire Strikes Back

39:21 | Dec 6th, 2015

Frustrated on all fronts, the British mobilize the enormous resources of their Empire in a bid to defeat the Boers once and for all.


0:00 | Dec 1st, 2015

There will be no new episode this week. Check back next week for the conclusion to the Boer War.

011 Moving Like the Wind

39:11 | Nov 22nd, 2015

The British get the war they want with the Boer republics in South Africa, but the Boers turn out to be more than the British can handle. At first.

010 Lest We Forget

39:24 | Nov 15th, 2015

Britain is still very much a class-bound society at home and a military power abroad. A look at the state of the Empire in the late 19th century, with a special emphasis on Ireland and South Africa.

009 Dark Clouds

37:29 | Nov 8th, 2015

What are cathode rays? X-rays? Radioactivity? How old is the Earth? Inquiring minds want to know. Also, in an age when only men can vote, the greatest scientist of the time is a woman. And Polish. Take that, haters!

008 J'Accuse...!

48:56 | Nov 1st, 2015

France at the turn of the century was rocked by the Dreyfus Affair, where an innocent soldier was convicted of treason, and the Army went to incredible lengths in its refusal to acknowledge what became increasingly obvious.

007 La Belle Époque

45:27 | Oct 25th, 2015

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

006 White Man's Burden

26:22 | Oct 18th, 2015

As relations between the Americans and the Filipinos degenerate into open combat, the war to liberate Cuba becomes a war to subjugate the Philippines.

005s Documents

06:31 | Oct 15th, 2015

...and imbued with firm confidence in Divine Providence, we hereby mutually bind ourselves to support this Declaration with our lives, our fortunes, and with our most sacred possession, our Honor....

005 Islands or Canned Goods

26:57 | Oct 11th, 2015

So, are the US and the Filipino rebels allies or not? When the US and Spain start doing deals, there are no Filipinos at the table.

004s Documents

21:47 | Oct 7th, 2015

Three documents referenced in this week's podcast on the Spanish-American War: The letter from the Spanish ambassador, McKinley's message to Congress, Joint Congressional Resolution.

004 Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight

40:19 | Oct 4th, 2015

The United States intervenes in the Cuban revolt against Spain. But what does this mean for the Philippines?

003 Touch Me Not

34:13 | Sep 27th, 2015

This episode looks at the history of the Philippines through the start of the Spanish-American War.

002 A Place in the Sun

36:23 | Sep 20th, 2015

Germany is pretty much a world leader in everything at the beginning of the 20th century. 13 Nobel Prizes in 10 years. Top that, everyone else!