Reflecting History

Reflecting History


Reflecting History is an educational history podcast that explores significant historical events and themes without losing track of the ordinary people involved. Covering a wide variety of topics, it is a narrative driven podcast that delves into the...Show More

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Episode 51: The Cultural Revolution Part VII-Mobilizing for War

37:54 | Feb 12th

In the 1970's Red Guards and "undesirables" were forced to toil away in rural China working at re-education camps or doing manual labor in the people's communes. The ordinary people of China continued to suffer and found little motivation to carry on...Show More

Episode 50: The Cultural Revolution Part VI-The Army Intervenes

24:33 | Feb 5th

The Cultural Revolution began as a campaign against bad class elements, but spiraled out of control as counter-revolutions emerged throughout the country between rebel groups and the local party establishments. As the chaos got out of control, the ar...Show More

Episode 49: The Cultural Revolution Part V-The Hidden Victims

16:30 | Jan 29th

By 1967, China was engulfed in the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. But the violence of the counter-revolutions and counter-counter-revolutions was not the only source of misery for ordinary people in China. As fear spread and the Cultural Revolutio...Show More

Episode 48: The Cultural Revolution Part IV-Red August

29:26 | Jan 22nd

By the end of August in 1966, it was clear that the Cultural Revolution was going to be a unique historical period of violence and upheaval. Violence and brutality were becoming routine, symptoms of the incredibly modern issues that the Cultural Revo...Show More

Episode 47: The Cultural Revolution Part III-A Culture of Paranoia

20:48 | Jan 15th

During the first month of the Cultural Revolution Mao Zedong unleashed a whirlwind of chaos and confusion in China. Mao mobilized students as "Red Guards"- one part student group, one part paramilitary group- to terrorize class enemies and spread fea...Show More

Episode 46: The Cultural Revolution Part II-Nine Fingers to One

29:05 | Jan 8th

After the deaths of tens of millions of people during the Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong had to re-establish control over the Communist Party in China. Through a process of political maneuvering and ruthless policy making, by 1966 Mao was finally rea...Show More

Episode 45: The Cultural Revolution Part I-No Half Measures

21:21 | Dec 17th, 2018

The Cultural Revolution in China lasted roughly from 1966-1976. But the cultural disintegration and scars left from Mao Zedong's final campaign of terror and violence will last for generations to come.  This is Part I in a series on the Cultural Revo...Show More

Episode 44: Red Scarf Girl Part II-Party vs. Family

29:55 | Nov 27th, 2018

As Ji-Li Jiang describes in "Red Scarf Girl," the Cultural Revolution became more sinister over time and the psychological pressure on Ji-Li to conform became greater. When the humiliations, beatings, and deaths started hitting close to home, Mao Zed...Show More

Episode 43: Red Scarf Girl Part I-Destroying the Four Olds

31:35 | Nov 6th, 2018

Kids often get overlooked in traditional historical narratives. But in China around 1966, the communist leader Mao Zedong realized that he could weaponize the youth of China to achieve his political goals. The result was disastrously tragic. In her m...Show More

Episode 42: Where the World Ended- History and Identity in East Germany

34:47 | Oct 15th, 2018

What is it that makes you, you? How would your identity change if you suddenly belonged to a new country? For the people of East Germany, this hypothetical became a reality shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War in the ...Show More

Episode 41: Where the World Ended- Secrets, Politics, and Religion in East Germany

54:55 | Sep 24th, 2018

The end of the Cold War is often simplified to the triumph of democracy and capitalism over communism. But what impact did this triumph have on the everyday people involved? Shortly after the fall of the Berlin wall and the re-unification of Germany,...Show More

Episode 40: The Tao of Pooh- Taoism in the Modern World

35:42 | Sep 3rd, 2018

Picking up where the last episode left off, this episode looks at some of the core principles and wisdom contained in "The Tao of Pooh." The Taoist concepts of inner nature, yin and yang, wu wei, the uncarved block, simplicity, patience, and compassi...Show More

Episode 39: The Tao of Pooh- The State of Education and Context

21:43 | Aug 13th, 2018

Written in 1982 by Benjamin Hoff, "The Tao of Pooh" gives an overview of the ancient philosophy of Taoism. The book is accessible and full of wisdom, but perhaps its most useful element is how it sheds light on the concerning trends in the modern edu...Show More

Episode 38: The Bystander Effect During the Holocaust

47:40 | Jul 23rd, 2018

The Bystander Effect is a psychological term for the tendency for people to be less likely to help victims in need when other people are present. During the Holocaust, a significant number of people around the globe knew about the mass murders, depor...Show More

Episode 37: World War I-1919-Final Tally and Treaty of Versailles

16:32 | Jul 2nd, 2018

The fighting may have ended in 1918, but the Treaty of Versailles negotiations in 1919 may have been just as important. Woodrow Wilson’s noble ideas like “self determination” and “fair and lasting peace” didn’t amount to much as the Allied powers sou...Show More

Episode 36: World War I-1918-Desperate Times

29:21 | Jun 11th, 2018

As the rest of their alliance crumbled around them, Germany kicked off 1918 with Operation Michael-the first in a series of huge offensives designed to win the war. Desperate times call for desperate measures, but in the end exhaustion and futility r...Show More

Episode 35: World War I-1917-Exhaustion and Demoralization

46:01 | May 21st, 2018

Of all the crazy years during the Great War, 1917 was probably the most eventful. The Russian Revolution, Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, the Zimmerman Telegram, Woodrow Wilson and the United States entering the war, the Nivelle Offensive, and Passch...Show More

Episode 34: Fake News and Propaganda During World War I

18:16 | Apr 30th, 2018

Fake News and propaganda have been around as long as civilization itself. The modern epidemic of lies and deception as a means to influence public opinion can draw some interesting parallels to World War I. What can we learn from the efforts of both ...Show More

Episode 33: World War I-1916-Death Trap

50:14 | Apr 9th, 2018

In 1916, World War I continued to corrupt and destroy everything it came into contact with. The rates of death and destruction at Verdun and the Somme were unlike anything ever seen before. Soldiers, governments, and civilians were decimated by the t...Show More

Episode 32: World War I-1915-Horror Show

48:42 | Mar 19th, 2018

During 1915, it was apparent that World War I was becoming something truly malevolent. With the carnage and the devastation continuing on the Western and Eastern Front, new innovations and tactics had to be used in order to have any measure of succes...Show More

Episode 31: World War I-1914-Destroyed But Not Defeated

44:21 | Feb 27th, 2018

The first year of World War I set the tone for the rest of the war. Violence, brutality, and chaos ruled the day as huge armies clashed in what many see as the first truly modern war. But could things have turned out differently? Should the Germans h...Show More

Episode 30: The Causes of World War I-Spreading the Blame

54:13 | Feb 6th, 2018

It is amazing how misinformed the general public is regarding the origins of World War I. Even historians debate the causes of the Great War. Who or what is to blame for one of the greatest tragedies in history? Like most things that are complicated ...Show More

Episode 29: All Quiet on the Western Front

25:33 | Jan 15th, 2018

"Terror can be endured so long as a man simply ducks; but it kills, if a man thinks about it." Published by Erich Maria Remarque in 1929, "All Quiet on the Western Front" is one of the most important war novels of all time. This episode is a discussi...Show More

Episode 28: Christmas in the Trenches

45:12 | Dec 22nd, 2017

The Great War has it's share of amazing stories, but the Christmas Truce of 1914 stands out as one of the greatest. In a spontaneous outburst of humanity, soldiers on the Western Front put down their weapons and met the enemy in no-man's-land to exch...Show More

Episode 27: The Amistad Rebellion-Going Home

34:18 | Dec 12th, 2017

Fighting against historic odds, 53 slaves aboard "La Amistad" decided to take fate in their own hands. In an epic struggle of violence, politics, and public opinion, the Amistad Africans overcame incredible adversity to do the one thing they wanted m...Show More

Episode 26: The Amistad Rebellion-Origins and Middle Passage

40:20 | Nov 28th, 2017

Historians estimate that 12.5 million African slaves were transported across the Atlantic Ocean from the 1500's into the early 1800's. Millions would die due to the horrible and dehumanizing conditions of the Middle Passage. But in July of 1839, slav...Show More

Episode 25: The Clash of Civilizations

24:35 | Nov 7th, 2017

What will be the main source of world conflict in the future? According to political scientist Samuel Huntington, the globe will be engulfed in a struggle of cultural identity called the Clash of Civilizations. What role does belief, identity, and th...Show More

Episode 24: Trolley Problems and History

21:48 | Oct 17th, 2017

A train is barreling out of control towards five people. You have the opportunity to divert the track and send the train towards only one person instead. Do you do it? Surprisingly, the answer to this question can tell us a lot about history and how ...Show More

Episode 23: Rise of the Nazis-From Democracy to Dictatorship

44:33 | Sep 26th, 2017

How do you turn a democracy into a dictatorship while maintaining a thin veneer of legitimacy? Hitler and the Nazi party pulled out all the stops to turn the Weimar Republic into a totalitarian machine. The Reichstag Fire in early 1933 gave the Nazis...Show More

Episode 22: Rise of the Nazis-The Third Reich Begins

30:41 | Sep 5th, 2017

After Hitler's first attempt at violent revolution fails miserably, he is back to the drawing board. Sadly, the Weimar Republic gave him chance after chance to take control until he finally succeeded. Propaganda, the Great Depression, and a healthy d...Show More

Episode 21: Rise of the Nazis-Building the Movement

33:10 | Aug 15th, 2017

The unstable conditions in Germany after World War I are ideal for a radical fringe party to come to power. Adolf Hitler builds his Nazi Party and unleashes them on the world. Violence, chaos, and polarization are the fuel that feed the Nazi fire.  T...Show More

Episode 20: Rise of the Nazis-The Perfect Storm

1:03:09 | Jul 25th, 2017

More so than maybe any other historical topic, students of history have been fascinated by the brutality and moral depravity of the Nazi totalitarian regime. This is the story of how they rose to power. In a perfect storm of political, economic, and ...Show More

Episode 19: The Xhosa Cattle Killing

29:18 | Jul 4th, 2017

A young girl receives a strange vision that turns into a prophecy for an entire people. One year and 400,000 dead cattle later, more than 40,000 people would be dead as a result. The Xhosa Cattle Killing is one of the most tragic and bizarre stories ...Show More

Episode 18: Judging History and Moral Relativism

18:07 | Jun 13th, 2017

In this episode I attempt to answer the question of whether or not we can make moral judgments about the past. All too often history gets boiled down to a simple good guy vs bad guy narrative in pop culture. I reflect on some of the dangers of that a...Show More

Episode 17: The Stanford Prison Experiment

31:40 | May 30th, 2017

In what was maybe the most controversial and unethical psychological experiment of all time, psychologist Philip Zimbardo turned average university students looking for a summer job into either dehumanizing bullies or hapless victims. The only thing ...Show More

Episode 16: The Great Leap Forward-Corpses For Dinner

38:18 | May 16th, 2017

It is said that desperate times call for desperate measures. The ultimate historical example of this might just be the Great Leap Forward. As the horrors of collectivization ramped up, how were the people of China impacted? This is the final part in ...Show More

Episode 15: The Great Leap Forward-Digging China's Grave

24:02 | Apr 25th, 2017

Whether digging irrigation ditches or working backyard furnaces, the people of China were forced to smolder their lives away in the all-consuming destruction that was the Great Leap Forward.  This is Part II in a multi-part series on the Great Leap F...Show More

Episode 14: The Great Leap Forward

25:01 | Apr 11th, 2017

Most people look to the Soviet Union when discussing the dangers of communism and totalitarianism. But from 1958-1962 Mao Zedong and the Communist Party of China initiated a system of incompetence, violence, and terror on a scale never before seen. T...Show More

Episode 13: Ordinary Men

30:48 | Mar 28th, 2017

The Holocaust has been analyzed often from the victim's perspective (including by me, check out Episode 3: Night), but less often from the perspective of the perpetrators. How did a group of middle-aged men deemed unfit for real combat become some of...Show More

Episode 12: The Social War-The Tyranny of Deterioration

30:00 | Mar 14th, 2017

The Social War may be won for Rome, but that doesn't mean it's over. Gaius Marius and Lucius Sulla take the stage in a winner take all battle for Rome. As the heads roll and the bodies pile up, nobody seems to be registering the destructive damage al...Show More

Episode 11: The Social War-When Conversation Fails

28:45 | Feb 28th, 2017

In 91 BC, reason and civil discussion have failed, so now it comes to war for Rome and the Italian Allies. A bizarre conclusion in 88 BC makes all sides wonder what it all was for. Hundreds of thousands would be dead by the time the fog of war is cle...Show More

Episode 10: The Social War-The Beginning of the End

26:58 | Feb 14th, 2017

Most people learn that the Roman Republic ended with Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon in 49 BC. Maybe, but the seeds of its doom were planted in the years from 140 BC-91 BC. Seemingly small issues and efforts at reform would erupt into chaos and de...Show More

Episode 9: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

26:50 | Jan 22nd, 2017

Marcus Aurelius was a complex man who dealt with absolute power in a way that no Roman Emperor ever had. He left a positive (but not uncontroversial) legacy of wisdom, justice, and leadership that has inspired humanity over the course of millennia.  ...Show More

Episode 8: Life of a Soldier

26:08 | Jan 8th, 2017

War is the most extreme experience human beings can take part in. How did soldiers during the United States Civil War endure and survive? Subscribe on iTunes

Episode 7: The Last War Between Gentleman

26:44 | Dec 14th, 2016

More than 150 years after the final shots were fired, few historical events are as hotly debated as the American Civil War. Sadly, the human element of the war often gets overlooked.  Subscribe on iTunes

Episode 6: Benedict Arnold-Part II: The Villain

36:52 | Nov 15th, 2016

Factional disputes, midnight spy meetings, and a little light treason conclude the story of Benedict Arnold.  Subscribe on iTunes

Episode 5: Benedict Arnold-Part I: The Hero

35:39 | Oct 15th, 2016

Benedict Arnold is often regarded as America's first true villain. Is there more to the story? Subscribe on iTunes

Episode 4: Historical Myth: Never Invade Russia in the Winter

43:31 | Sep 10th, 2016

Armchair historians often say it's a bad idea to invade Russia in the winter. The Mongols aren't armchair historians. This episode discusses how the Mongols conquered Russia and why they were so successful. Subscribe on iTunes

Episode 3: Night

40:51 | Aug 19th, 2016

The Holocaust was one of the most brutal and despicable events in World History. What can one child's journey into the heart of darkness teach us?  Subscribe on iTunes

Episode 2: The Somme

45:50 | Aug 10th, 2016

World War I was arguably the greatest tragedy in human history. The Battle of the Somme was it's darkest moment. To start the episode, you might wonder who won the battle. By the end of it, you might wonder how anyone could win this calamity.  Subscr...Show More

Episode 1: The Russian Women's Battalion of Death

1:01:24 | Aug 10th, 2016

This podcast tells the unbelievable story of the first all women's combat unit in history. What started as a watershed moment in women's history ends in tragedy.  Reflecting History on Twitter: @reflectinghist If you like the podcast and have 30 seco...Show More

Episode 0: Introduction to Reflecting History

03:01 | Aug 10th, 2016

Reflecting History is a history podcast that chronicles the triumphs and tragedies of the human experience. Feel free to email reflectinghistory@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or criticism.  Follow me on Twitter. Subscribe on iTunes