History Unplugged Podcast | American History, World History, World War 2, U.S. Presidents, Civil War

Scott Rank, History PhD


For history lovers who listen to podcasts, History Unplugged is the most comprehensive show of its kind. It's the only show that dedicates episodes to both interviewing experts and answering questions from its audience. First, it features a call-in s...Show More

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Kangaroo Squadron: The Tip of the American Spear in the WW2 Pacific Theatre

49:00 | Mar 7th

In early 1942, while most of the American military was in disarray from the devastating attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, a single USAAF squadron advanced to the far side of the world to face America's new enemy. Based in Australia with...Show More

Common Knowledge About The Middle Ages That Is Incorrect, Part 5: Crusades In The Renaissance

26:36 | Mar 5th

The Crusades are typically bookended between Pope Urban II's call to reclaim the Holy Land in 1095 and the fall of Acre and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1291. But two of the most notable religious figures of the 1400s—Pope Pius II and John of Ca...Show More

Common Knowledge About The Middle Ages That Is Incorrect, Part 4: The Medieval Technological Explosion

43:09 | Feb 28th

The Middle Ages was not a thousand-year period of technological stagnation between the fall of Rome and Leonardo da Vinci. It was an incredible period of invention and scientific innovation that saw major technological advances, including gunpowder, ...Show More

Common Knowledge About The Middle Ages That Is Incorrect, Part 3: Witch Burnings

44:45 | Feb 26th

At the height of the witch burning craze, thousands people, largely women, were falsely accused of witchcraft. Many of them were burned, hanged, and executed, typically under religious pretense. But this phenomena largely didn’t happen in the Middle ...Show More

Common Knowledge About The Middle Ages That Is Incorrect, Part 2: Were Indulgences a Get-out-of-Hell-Free Card Or Something Else?

25:04 | Feb 21st

Was it really possible to buy your way out of hell in the Middle Ages? If so, how much did it cost? And what did the Catholic Church do with all this money? In this second episode in our five-part series on the misunderstood Middle Ages, we will expl...Show More

Common Knowledge About The Middle Ages That Is Incorrect, Part 1: Why the Middle Ages, Not the Renaissance, Created the Modern World

45:38 | Feb 19th

The popular view of the Middle Ages is a thousand-year period of superstition and ignorance, punctuated by witch burnings and belief in a flat earth. But the medieval period, more than any other time in history, laid the foundations for the modern wo...Show More

Civil War Barons: The Tycoons, Entrepreneurs, and Inventors and Visionaries Who Forged Victory and Shaped a Nation

53:11 | Feb 14th

The American Civil War brought with it unprecedented demands upon the warring sections—North and South. The conflict required a mobilization and an organization of natural and man-made resources on a massive scale. In this episode I talk with Jeffr...Show More

Women Have Been Running For President Since 1872. Here Are 4 Of Their Stories

1:07:40 | Feb 12th

2016 was the first election in which a woman won the nomination of a major political party to be president of the United States. But women have been legally running for president as far back as 1872, decades before they could even vote. Since then se...Show More

War Animals: How 55 Birds, Dogs, and Horses Saved Thousands of Lives in World War Two

1:02:15 | Feb 7th

Did you know that in World War Two there were “para-dogs,” or dogs that parachuted along with paratroopers in anticipation of D-Day? Or that carrier pigeons were dropped into France in their bird cages so that French Resistance members could find the...Show More

Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts, Part 5: Barack Obama

39:22 | Feb 5th

With the election of America's first African-American president in 2008, many feared that the presidency of Barack Obama would bring out the most reactionary elements in society and end his life in assassination. Did Obama's eight years as president ...Show More

Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts, Part 4: Bill Clinton

36:12 | Jan 31st

Many tried to kill Bill Clinton during his presidency, including former military officers, white supremacists, and a little-known militant named Osama bin Laden. Most famously, Frank Eugene Corder crashed a Cessna onto the White House lawn. Learn abo...Show More

Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts, Part 3: Ronald Reagan

44:56 | Jan 29th

After his presidency, a deranged man broke into Ronald Reagan’s California home and attempted to strangle the former president before he was subdued by Secret Service agents. This attempt on his life came on the heels on many other attempts on Reagan...Show More

Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts, Part 2: JFK

34:20 | Jan 24th

The only president to be assassinated in the last century was John F. Kennedy. What caused this failure in the Secret Service's typical protection procedures? Was it a perfect storm of bad luck, a lapse in judgement in the protection detail, or somet...Show More

Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts, Part 1: FDR

45:45 | Jan 22nd

In American history, four U.S. Presidents have been murdered at the hands of an assassin. In each case the assassinations changed the course of American history. But most historians have overlooked or downplayed the many threats modern presidents ha...Show More

Understanding the Rise of Islam Through Military History

50:22 | Jan 17th

How did an initially small religious movement envelope such enormous areas of the world? That is precisely what the community of believers under Muhammed did, conquering the Persian Empire and crippling the Byzantine Empire in a matter of decades, tw...Show More

Fugitive Slaves in America, From the Revolution to the Civil War

31:54 | Jan 15th

For decades after its founding, America was really two nations – one slave, one free. There were many reasons why this nation ultimately broke apart in the Civil War, but the fact that enslaved black people repeatedly risked their lives to flee their...Show More

Moral Panics and Mass Hysteria: The Dancing Plague, Salem Witch Trials, and The Tulip Market Bubble

51:25 | Jan 10th

One person's psychosis can be easily dismissed, but how do we account for collective hysteria, when an entire crowd sees the same illusion or suffer from the same illness? It's enough to make somebody believe in dark magic and pick up their pitchfork...Show More

How a Researcher Discovered That Her Grandparents Were in the Nazi SS

1:21:51 | Jan 8th

How would you react if you discovered that your family were deeply embedded within the Third Reich? Today I'm talking with Brazilian-born American Julie Lindahl about her journey to uncover her grandparents’ roles in the Nazi regime and why she was d...Show More

James Holman Traveled Over 250,000 Miles in the Early 1800s. He Was Also Completely Blind.

1:20:47 | Jan 3rd

He was known simply as the Blind Traveler. A solitary, sightless adventurer, James Holman (1786-1857) fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon, helped chart the Australian outback—and ...Show More

The History of Cannabis and Its Use By Humans

1:04:08 | Jan 1st

History is often looked at through the perspective of a very high-up official. We look at military history through the eyes of a general. We look at political history through the eyes of a president or prime minister. But what if we look at history...Show More

Bonus Q&A on the Civil War Series with Scott & James

1:04:13 | Dec 27th, 2018

Two weeks ago we finished the 25-part series on the 10 most important battles in the Civil War. Some of you had follow-up questions. We ran a poll to so which ones were the most popular. In a recording of a live-streaming Q&A session, James and Scott...Show More

What Would the Real St. Nicholas Drink? Here's What an Ancient History Professor Thinks

41:52 | Dec 24th, 2018

Ever wondered what cocktail a fourth-century bishop from Asia Minor would order? That would be an obscure question to ask if the bishop in question weren't the historical basis for the Santa Claus myth. But since we are dealing here with Nicholas, b...Show More

How Ancient Europeans Circumnavigated Africa, Explored Iceland, and Sent Goods all the Way to Japan

38:35 | Dec 20th, 2018

What is the greatest extent of classical European reach, and how did they affect or influence the culture of the known world in that period? In today's episode I answer this question—which was submitted by Karl, a listener from Norway. Greek and Rom...Show More

What if George Custer Had Survived the Battle of Little Bighorn?

43:48 | Dec 18th, 2018

George Custer, if he is remembered at all, is a cautionary tale of hubris. He grossly underestimated Sitting Bull's forces at the Battle of Little Big Horn and he was killed in one of the American military's worst defeat in its history. This defeat ...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 22: How the Civil War Lives on Today

1:06:45 | Dec 13th, 2018

In this very final episode, James and Scott discuss the lasting effects of the Civil War and why it is the single most important event in the history of the United States. The Revolutionary War may have answered the question of whether America would ...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 21: What Became of the Men Who Wore the Blue and the Grey

55:59 | Dec 11th, 2018

In this epilogue episode James and Scott talk about the Union and Confederate generals whom we've gotten to know so well after the war finished. They became presidents, professors, bankrupt businessmen, assassination victims, and everything in betwee...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 20: The Naval War

51:03 | Dec 6th, 2018

The Civil War is now finished but our series is not. Scott and James discuss an aspect of the Civil War that for the most part didn't tie into our main discussion: the naval war. Learn how battles occurred on American Rivers, gulfs, shorelines, and e...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 19: African Americans in Uniform

56:36 | Dec 4th, 2018

As the Civil War came to an end, a big question remained for the North and eventually the reunited United States. What would become of its African-American residents? Would they be given full legal rights or only partial? This question was largely an...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 18: The Overland Campaign

45:07 | Nov 29th, 2018

We're nearing the end of our Civil War series. It's 1864. Lincoln is re-elected, and Sherman's March to the Sea obliterated the Confederacy's industrial base. But work remains for General Grant. He must contend with his greatest foe, Robert E. Lee. N...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 17: Sherman's March to the Sea

55:18 | Nov 27th, 2018

From November to December 1864, Gen. Sherman led over 60,000 soldiers from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia in a scorched earth campaign to completely demoralized the Southern war effort. Sherman explained that they needed to “make old and young, rich an...Show More

Turkey is Both a Bird and a Country. Which Came First?

26:43 | Nov 22nd, 2018

It's no coincidence that the bird we eat for Thanksgiving and a Middle Eastern country are both called Turkey. One was named after the other, and it all has to do with a 500-year-old story of emerging global trade, mistaken identity, foreign language...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 16: The Battle of Atlanta

50:28 | Nov 20th, 2018

In the fall of 1864, the Union Army now had full momentum against the Confederacy, pushing deeper into the South than ever before. General Sherman overwhelmed forces led by John Bell Hood. With the fall of Atlanta, Lincoln nearly assured his re-elec...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 15: Chattanooga

43:38 | Nov 15th, 2018

Following Union defeat at the Battle of Chickamauga, Union forces retreated to the railroad junction of Chattanooga, Tennessee. From November 23-25, 1863, Union troops routed the Confederates at the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionaries Ridge;...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 14: Chickamauga

38:41 | Nov 13th, 2018

The Battle of Chickamauga marked the end of Union Maj. Gen. William Rosencran's offensive into southwestern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia and the most significant Union defeat in the Western Theatre. More died here than in any other battle, save...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 13: The Battle of Gettysburg

1:24:34 | Nov 8th, 2018

The 1863 Battle of Gettysburg stopped Robert E. Lee's second invasion of the North. It was the deadliest battle of the Civil War, with over 50,000 casualties during the three day battle, a scale of suffering never seen before or since in America. The...Show More

September 1918: War, Plague, and The World Series

58:07 | Nov 6th, 2018

In the late summer of 1918, a division of Massachusetts militia volunteers led the first unified American fighting force into battle in France, turning the tide of World War I. Meanwhile, the world’s deadliest pandemic—the Spanish Flu—erupted in Bost...Show More

6 Historical Figures Who Deserve Their Own Movie—History Unplugged Meets 1001 Stories

1:07:43 | Nov 1st, 2018

Historical biopics perform a great service. These movies remind the world of people that would have otherwise fallen into obscurity: Oscar Schindler (Schindler's List), John Nash (A Beautiful Mind), and  Solomon Northup (12 Years a Slave). In this e...Show More

The Story of Bravo, The Greatest Rescue Mission in Navy SEAL History

52:48 | Oct 30th, 2018

Today's guest is Stephan Talty, author of the new book, SAVING BRAVO, which comes out October 30. Talty tells the never-before-told story of one of the greatest rescue missions not just of the Vietnam War, but the entire Cold War. In 1972, the Vie...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 12: (Vicksburg 2 of 2)

43:49 | Oct 25th, 2018

Welcome to the second part in our episodes on the Vicksburg Campaign, one of the most consequential Civil War battles in the Western theatre and what many historians consider to be the turning point of the war. Grant's Vicksburg campaign is consider...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 11: Vicksburg (1 of 2)

55:57 | Oct 23rd, 2018

In the next two episodes Scott and James will discuss the Siege of Vicksburg. In the summer of 1863, Grant’s Army of the Tennessee came to Vicksburg, located on a high bluff converged on Vicksburg, a Mississippi town on the same river. Union occupati...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 10: Battle of Chancellorsville

48:06 | Oct 18th, 2018

The Battle of Chancellorsville is considered Robert E. Lee’s masterpiece.  His reputation as a military genius was sealed by fighting an incredibly successful offensive battle despite being outnumbered 2-to-1 and launching attacks on multiple fronts....Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 9: The Battle of Fredericksburg

38:19 | Oct 16th, 2018

Following McClellan's disastrous Union loss at Antietam, Lincoln replaced him with Ambrose Burnside, who planned to march to the city of Fredericksburg, getting there before Lee and possibly marching all the way to Richmond. But once they confronted ...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 8: Sidetrack Episode on Emancipation

44:12 | Oct 11th, 2018

The entire point of the Civil War was to end slavery, right? Not exactly, and definitely not at the beginning of the War. The North went to war strictly to save the Union and had little interest in abolishing slavery in the South. The Emancipation Pr...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 7: The Battle of Antietam

55:25 | Oct 9th, 2018

The Battle of Antietam—an 1862 clash between Robert E. lee's Army of Northern Virginian and George McClellan's Army of the Potomac—was the deadliest one-day battle in American history, with a total of 22,717 dead, wounded or missing. It came after Le...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 6: The Seven Days' Battle

49:44 | Oct 4th, 2018

Union General George B. McClellan, who led 100,000 men and moved as fast as an iceberg, attempted to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond in a series of six different battles along the Virginia Peninsula from June 25 to July 1, 1862). Confede...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 5: The 1862 Peninsula Campaign

58:03 | Oct 2nd, 2018

In early 1862 the Union Army launched a major operation in southeastern Virginia, the first large-scale offensive in the Eastern Theater. Lincoln replaced McDowell with George B. McClellan as commander. He reorganized the army, whipped it into shape...Show More

History of Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 4: The Battle of Shiloh

44:59 | Sep 27th, 2018

The Battle of Shiloh was a battle in the Western Theater fought April 6–7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. On the first morning, 40,000 Confederate troops struck Union Soldiers at Pittsburg Landing. They were under the command of Major General Ulyss...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 3: Border States and the War in the West

43:00 | Sep 25th, 2018

In the summer of 1861, four slave states had still not seceded. If even two or three joined the Confederacy, the Union would be in big trouble. Lincoln was determined to keep all four in (Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware, and Missouri). We will look at t...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 2: First Battle of Bull Run

59:58 | Sep 20th, 2018

Abraham Lincoln believed that the Civil War would be over in a few months, with the Union Army marching on Richmond by late 1861. Both sides hastily assembled armies and Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell led his unseasoned Union Army across Bull Run against ...Show More

History of the Civil War in 10 Battles, Part 1: Background to the Civil War

49:40 | Sep 18th, 2018

The origins of the Civil War go back decades, even before the United States became an independent nation The federal union had always been precarious, ever since the framing of the Constitution, with the institution of slavery led to two distinct cul...Show More

Special Announcement: A History of the Civil War in 10 Battles Begins Next Week

04:56 | Sep 14th, 2018

The Civil War pitted brother against brother and divided a nation. It also featured the most epic—and deadliest—battles in American history. From Shiloh to Vicksburg to Gettsburg, these battles resulted in higher casualty rates than any other armed c...Show More

How a 1522 Battled Transformed Russia from a Minor Duchy into Earth's Largest Empire

32:25 | Sep 13th, 2018

The Russian Siege of Kazan in 1552 and the conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan by Muscovy can be seen as the birth of a Russian Empire. It had profound consequences for the steppe region and beyond, allowing Russian expansion eastwards, eventually as far...Show More

The Most Famous Founding Father You’ve Never Heard of Was Hamilton's Arch-Nemesis and a Deficit Hawk

39:19 | Sep 11th, 2018

Alexander Hamilton had a nemesis… and it was not Aaron Burr. After Hamilton enacted a wide-scale spending program to build up America's military and infrastructure, and thus send it into debt, newly-elected President Thomas Jefferson chose a Secreta...Show More

Lost Civilizations, Part 3: European Visitors to the New World Before Columbus

1:06:49 | Sep 6th, 2018

Learn about cultures that came to America long before Columbus, suggesting that trans-oceanic voyages could be accomplished well back into the Bronze Age.

Lost Civilizations, Part 2: The Egyptian Pyramid Builders, the Nabateans, and the Aksumites.

1:03:33 | Sep 4th, 2018

Welcome to part two on our series on the greatest lost civilizations in history. Today we are looking at three groups: The Egytian Pyramid Builders, the Nabateans, and the Aksumites. These three groups are particularly beloved by believers in extra-...Show More

Lost Civilizations: Ancient Societies that Vanished Without a Trace, Part 1

1:08:12 | Aug 30th, 2018

A stock trope of literature is the king who believes that his kingdom will last forever, only to see it collapse under his own hubris (Exhibit A is Percy Bysshe Shelly's Ozymandias). But the trope is based on historical fact. Many great civilizations...Show More

The Most Powerful Women in the Middle Ages, Part 3: Elizabeth of Tudor and Ottoman Queen Mother Kösem Sultan

58:28 | Aug 28th, 2018

This is the third in our three-part series on the most powerful women in the Middle Ages. To wrap things up we will explore the lives of two female rulers — one very famous, the other almost unknown. They are Elizabeth I of Tudor and Ottoman Queen Mo...Show More

The Most Powerful Women in the Middle Ages, Part 2: Catherine of Sienna and Isabella of Castile

44:22 | Aug 23rd, 2018

Female rulers dominated the Middle Ages. But it wasn't just the queens or empresses who wielded enormous power. This episode is the second of a three-part series at the lives of the most powerful women in the Middle Ages, and we will first look at th...Show More

The Most Powerful Women in the Middle Ages, Part 1: Queens, Empresses, and Viking Slayers

1:07:31 | Aug 21st, 2018

The idea of a powerful woman in the Middle Ages seems like an oxymoron. Females in this time are imagined to be damsels in distress, trapped in a high tower, and waiting for knights to rescue them, all while wearing traffic-cones for a hat. After res...Show More

How the Vicksburg Siege May Have Turned the Tide of the Civil War—Samuel Mitcham

55:30 | Aug 16th, 2018

“Traitor!” “Failure!” “Bungling fool!” Southern newspapers hurled these sentiments at Confederate General John C. Pemberton after he surrendered the fortress of Vicksburg—the key to controlling the Mississippi River during the Civil War. But were...Show More

The Story of Malaria, The Killer of Half of Humanity

1:26:30 | Aug 14th, 2018

Long before Thanos snapped his fingers in Avengers: Infinity War, another villain successfully killed half of humanity. Malaria is a simple parasite, transmitted by a mosquito bite. But this deadly disease, which has been around as long as homo sapi...Show More

An Archeologist Talks About the Discovery of a Civil War Surgeon's Burial Pit at Manassas Field

56:46 | Aug 9th, 2018

In August 1862, two Union soldiers were gravely wounded at the Battle of Second Manassas. They were brought to a field hospital, though both died as a result of their injuries. Their bodies were laid to rest in a shallow burial pit, intermixed with a...Show More

Why U.S. Political Elections Have Always Been Chaotic—David Severa from the Early and Often Podcast

43:13 | Aug 7th, 2018

You've heard it before: American politics have never been nastier or more divisive than they are today. Just witness the recent words of one recent front-runner candidate, who told told the media his opponent was a hermaphrodite, because he was too w...Show More

The History of Slavery, Part 4: African Slavery in the New World, 1500-1865

1:21:05 | Jul 31st, 2018

Slavery predates European entry into the Atlantic world in the Age of Exploration, but the system that developed during the 16th and 17th centuries was an arguably more inhumane and racially tinged institution than anything that had previously existe...Show More

The History of Slavery, Part 3: Christian Slaves and Muslim Masters—Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean, 1500-1800

1:00:34 | Jul 26th, 2018

As the trans-Atlantic slave trade from sub-Saharan Africa to the Americas flourished in the 1500s, there was another slave trade that operate on an even larger scale. It was the capture of Europeans by north-African Muslims. Barbary Pirates enslaved ...Show More

The History of Slavery, Part 2: The Medieval Slave Trade to Arabia

1:02:55 | Jul 24th, 2018

The image of the slave trade is a white slaver capturing African tribesmen, packing them like corkwood into a ship, selling them in the Antebellum South, and having a plantation owner work them to death. All of this took place on a scale of millions ...Show More

The History of Slavery, Part 1: Shackled and Chained in the Ancient World

1:18:35 | Jul 19th, 2018

When asked “what is slavery,” most Americans or Westerners would respond with a description of an African slave in the antebellum South, picking cotton and suffering under the whip of a cruel master. But if you asked an Irishman in 1650, he would hav...Show More

—Cody Wheat from the Shots of History Podcast

1:07:42 | Jul 17th, 2018

America has a strange relationship with alcohol. Certain drinks represented the darkest parts of the national psyche. Rum was once associated with slavery because sugar cane plantations that made rum were only profitable with chattel slavery. Whisky ...Show More

What Did People Eat in the Middle Ages?

52:00 | Jul 12th, 2018

Welcome to an anthology episode where I ask six short questions about the Middle Ages from you, the listener. Here they are in order of appearance: What Did People Eat in the Middle Ages?How Did You Conquer a Castle?Could You Tell Me About Harold H...Show More

Almost Everything in American Politics has Happened Before, Even Donald Trump—Bruce Carlson from My History Can Beat Up Your Politics

1:01:29 | Jul 10th, 2018

Cable news pundits tell you everything is “breaking news.” TV pundits discuss politics in a vacuum. But in nearly every case, the politics of today have long roots in history. This includes media celebrities winning elections by manipulating the pres...Show More

The Quest to Make Information Free Forever: Copyright Battles From Venetian Printers in the Renaissance to 21st Century Hackers

1:00:35 | Jul 5th, 2018

The © symbol (or "Copyright") is a completely forgettable character ignored by all but lawyers. It is buried at the bottom of legal notices that your brain reflexively skips over. But this little symbol represents a war that has raged for centuries b...Show More

How a Rivalry Between Two Cherokee Chiefs Led to the Trail of Tears and the Collapse of Their Nation

1:17:10 | Jul 3rd, 2018

A century-long blood feud between two Cherokee chiefs shaped the history of the Cherokee tribe far more than anyone, even the reviled President Andrew Jackson. They were John Ross and the Ridge. Today I'm talking with John Sedgwick about the fall of ...Show More

If It Weren't For Two Iowans, Billions Would Have Died of Starvation or Been Left in a Technological Dark Age

1:02:20 | Jun 28th, 2018

Norman Borlaug and Robert Noyce aren't household names. But these two Iowans influenced the 20th century more than anyone else on Planet Earth. Borlaug created drought and disease-resistant varieties of wheat that thrived in poor soils throughout the...Show More

Introducing the History Unplugged Membership Program

05:09 | Jun 27th, 2018

Learn how to get access to bonus episodes of History Unplugged (including a multi-part series on Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in WW2), the entire History Unplugged back catalogue, and even shout-outs at the end of each episode. Learn more...Show More

Life After Auschwitz: How European Jews Attempted to Assimilate in America After Unspeakable Tragedy

35:11 | Jun 26th, 2018

What happened to Jews after they were liberated from concentration camps? Some tried to return to their homes, only to find them occupied by neighbors who thought them dead and refused to give up their new dwellings. Others went on to build lives in ...Show More

Patton and Churchill's Experiences Before and During World War Two

34:30 | Jun 21st, 2018

This is an anthology episode that looks at the experiences of Winston Churchill and Gen. George S. Patton before and during World War Two. Specifically this episode will explore Patton's experiences in World War One as a tank commanderChurchill's w...Show More

Special Announcement: Presidential Fight Club Is Now Its Own Podcast

01:41 | Jun 20th, 2018

Remember when we did the 44-episode series on this show called Presidential Fight Club that imagined what would happen if every president fought each other one-on-one? Now it has been re-released as its own podcast, and you can find it on https://pre...Show More

An Infantry Officer's Fight Through Nazi Europe, From D-Day to VE Day

1:16:37 | Jun 19th, 2018

Falling comrades, savagery of war, and the intense will to prevail in battle faced young Bill Chapman when he stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. For the following eleven months Chapman served in the most hazardous duty in the Army—dodgi...Show More

Everything You Need to Know About D-Day: H-Hour, Weapons Info, and First-Hand Accounts from Soldiers, Beachmasters, and the French Resistance

1:00:25 | Jun 14th, 2018

The D-Day landing of June 6, 1944, ranks as the boldest and most successful large-scale invasion in military history. On June 6, as Operation Overlord went forward, roughly 160,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel, supported by seven tho...Show More

Benjamin Franklin: Diplomat, Polymath, and Member of 18th Century Jet Set—Elizabeth Covart of the Ben Franklin's World Podcast

51:16 | Jun 12th, 2018

Benjamin Franklin was a world traveler, consummate learner, and a polymath extraordinaire; the Founding Father was a printer, scientist, inventor, diplomat, postmaster general, educator, philosopher, entrepreneur, library curator, and America's first...Show More

From Farm Fields to Classrooms: Horace Mann's War for Universal and Compulsory Education for Children

1:09:46 | Jun 7th, 2018

In a remarkably short span of time, American children went from laboring on family farms to spending their days in classrooms. The change came from optimistic reformers like Horace Mann, who in the early 1800s dreamed of education, literacy, and scie...Show More

Meet Joan: The Female Pope—Stephen Guerra of the History of the Papacy Podcast

48:39 | Jun 5th, 2018

According to medieval accounts, a woman named Joan reigned as pope, 855-857 A.D., by disguising herself as a man. The story is widely thought to be fiction, but almost everyone took it as fact in the Middle Ages, up to the point that the Siena Cathed...Show More

The Most Productive People in History, Part 2: Thomas Aquinas to Thomas Edison

1:08:52 | May 31st, 2018

This is Part 2 of an exploration of the live of the most productive people in history. We will look at the life, times, and work habits of medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas (the most prolific writer before the invention of the word processor), comp...Show More

The Most Productive People in History, Part 1: From Archimedes to Ben Franklin

1:08:49 | May 29th, 2018

They never knew how he did it. Few composers write more than one or two symphonies in their lifetimes. Beethoven spent a year on his shorter symphonies but more than six years on his 9th Symphony. But Georg Philipp Telemann composed at least 200 over...Show More

The Union's Secret Rebels: The Story of Gettysburg's Five Rebellious Double Crossers Who Returned as Foreign Invaders

46:10 | May 24th, 2018

The Civil War is called the war in which brother fought against brother. But few knew of the “Gettysburg Rebels”: the five privates from that very town who moved south to Virginia in the 1850s, joined the Confederate army, and returned home as fore...Show More

How to Reach Allied Territory When Your Plane Is Shot Down in Nazi-Occupied France

1:00:27 | May 22nd, 2018

Lieutenant George W. Starks' worst fear came true when his B-17 was shot down over Nazi-occupied France. Earlier that morning, the boyish 20-year-old and his crew were assigned to the most exposed section of the bomber formation: the “coffin corner...Show More

Anthology: How Switzerland Remained Neutral In Two World Wars

41:14 | May 17th, 2018

How was Switzerland able to remain neutral in the two world wars? Why was a tiny mountainous nation of watch-makers, bankers, and chocolateers able to dictate their own fate at a time when nobody else could? In this episode I answer this listener que...Show More

Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty) on the Strange History of the English Language

56:44 | May 15th, 2018

Mignon Fogarty has spent years helping others sort out the extremely peculiar grammar of the English language. But in the course of her research on how to navigate the weirdness of English, she learned the why of the weirdness of English. Did you kn...Show More

History's Most Insane Rulers: From Emperor Caligula to Muammar Gaddafi

1:13:12 | May 10th, 2018

Few mixtures are as toxic as absolute power and insanity that comes from megalomania or severe mental illness. When nothing stands between a leader's delusional whims and seeing them carried them out, all sorts of bizarre outcomes are possible.  Whe...Show More

Meet Pico, The 23-Year-Old Wunderkind Who Kicked Off the Renaissance

58:30 | May 8th, 2018

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Pico for short), was the wunderkind of the Renaissance. In 1486, at the age of 23 he proposed to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy, and magic against all comers, for which he wrote the Oratio...Show More

Richard Burton: The Victorian Explorer Who Discovered the Kama Sutra, Made a Secret Pilgrimage to Mecca, and Knew 29 Languages

1:08:02 | May 3rd, 2018

Everybody imagines the World's Most Interesting Man to be a fictional grey-haired lothario who drinks Mexican beer and boasts of his legendary exploits. But what if a man like this really lived? It turns out he did. He is Richard Francis Burton, a V...Show More

Panic on the Pacific: How America Prepared for a Japanese West Coast Invasion after Pearl Harbor

1:09:44 | May 1st, 2018

The aftershocks of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor were felt keenly all over America—the war in Europe had hit home. But nowhere was American life more immediately disrupted than on the West Coast, where people lived in certain fear of mo...Show More

The Hypothetical Economy of a Present-Day Confederate States of America, Alternate Theories to the Titanic Sinking, and Other Counterfactual Histories

40:43 | Apr 26th, 2018

In this anthology episode I answer questions from the audience all centered around one theme. Today's theme is about alternate history and alternate theories to historical questions. Well, three of the questions have to do with this (the ones about t...Show More

The 4 Successful (And Hundreds of Unsuccessful) Assassins Attempts of U.S. Presidents—Mel Ayton

42:37 | Apr 24th, 2018

In American history, four U.S. Presidents have been murdered at the hands of an assassin. In each case the assassinations changed the course of American history. But most historians have overlooked or downplayed the many threats modern presidents...Show More

Prostitution Throughout History: Sumerian Temple Priestesses, Ottoman Brothel Workers, and Call-Girls for the Medieval Clergy

1:15:17 | Apr 19th, 2018

Prostitution, often known as the world's oldest profession, can be traced throughout recorded history. This cliché is so often repeated it remains completely unexamined. Is prostitution really a natural by-product of human society or does it only app...Show More

The Ladykiller who Killed Lincoln: The Scandalous Love Life of John Wilkes Booth

51:29 | Apr 17th, 2018

What if People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” assassinated a U.S. President? John Wilkes Booth has been despised as a traitor, hailed as a martyr, and dismissed as a lunatic. But in the 1860s he was considered the “handsomest man in America”? Before ...Show More

Ulysses S. Grant Was (Mostly) Responsible For Winning the Civil War. Robert E. Lee Was Responsible For Losing It.

1:09:34 | Apr 12th, 2018

Ever since the end of the Civil War, a mythology of Robert E. Lee's military genius was developed by Confederate veterans as a way to support the idea that the South was defeated only because of the Union's overwhelming advantages in men and resource...Show More

The Story of Chappaquiddick and the Attempted Cover-Up—Howie Carr

38:42 | Apr 10th, 2018

The most powerful political dynasty in 20th-century America was the Kennedys. In addition to holding numerous Senate seats and, most famously, the presidency, they were able to get away with endless scandals. Except for Chappaquiddick. The story ...Show More

How Long Have Foreign Governments Attempted to Meddle in U.S Elections? Answers to This And 3 Other Questions

38:38 | Apr 5th, 2018

Foreign governments did not only start trying to influence American presidential elections in 2016. It goes all the way back to the 18th century. In this anthology episode I answer this question and three others from you, the audience. Two of the qu...Show More

The Life and Times of Aristotle, and How His Philosophy Conquered the World—Lantern Jack from the Ancient Greece Declassified Podcast

44:39 | Apr 3rd, 2018

Whether you have a BA in philosophy or have never read a book, your daily life is impacted by Aristotle. Have you ever tried to win an argument? Have you ever tried to solve a riddle? Have you tried to rationalize eating twelve doughnuts? Congratulat...Show More

World War Two Spycraft: Stealing Nuclear Secrets, Blowing Up Nazi Factories, and Infiltrating Japanese High Command

1:17:22 | Mar 29th, 2018

Spies have been a feature of state security and military intelligence since the beginning of warfare. Entire wars have been won or lost according to these secret activities. Today we will look at spycraft during World War Two, a golden age of espiona...Show More

A Retired Policeman Tells us the Story of The Most Daring Jailbreak in the Underground Railroad's History

1:00:50 | Mar 27th, 2018

You probably know what the Underground Railroad is—you know, the network of secret routes and safe houses set up in antebellum America and used by African-American slaves (with the help of abolitionists and allies) to escape into free states and Cana...Show More

What are Arguments For and Against Bombing Japan, Why Don't Militias Matter in American, and What is Close-Air Support?

48:32 | Mar 22nd, 2018

In this anthology series I answer four listener questions. Three of them have to do with World War II, one of them has to do with the second amendment. Here they are:What are the arguments for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki?What are the arguments aga...Show More

Daily Lives of Middle Eastern Women in the School, the Home, the Harem, and Everywhere Else—Marie Grace Brown

45:46 | Mar 20th, 2018

For those who haven't studied the Middle East, the historical lives of women there can be thought to be a black hole: no information available about those who were thrown under a burkha and locked up at home or in a harem. Never mind that few women w...Show More

Serial Killers in Ancient Rome, Whether Students Were Smarter 100 Years Ago, and the Greatest Orator Who Ever Lived

37:25 | Mar 15th, 2018

Welcome to an anthology episode where I answer a bunch of your questions about history and group them all together in one show (like a Simpsons-style Treehouse of Horror). In this episode I'm answering these four questions:Were there any serial kill...Show More

How Archeologists Decide What We Remember—Chris Webster, Archeology Podcast Network

56:20 | Mar 13th, 2018

Chris Webster is a cultural resource management archeologist. That means when the National Registry of Historic Places is thinking about adding a mining town, Spanish mission, or Native American burial site to its list, it calls in Chris. He has wor...Show More

When Weather Wipes Out Civilization -- Four Cases of Climate Killing Empires

51:02 | Mar 8th, 2018

The deadliest army on earth can't top the weather for its destructive potential. History's mightiest empires have fallen for no more of a reason than climate change leading to failed harvests and a starving population. But you wouldn't know that fro...Show More

George Washington's Guide to Greatness, As Told by His Great Nephew —Austin Washington

47:12 | Mar 6th, 2018

George Washington—widely considered a man of honor, bravery and leadership. He is known as America’s first President, a great general, and a humble gentleman, but how did he become this man of stature? My guest today is Austin Washington, a great...Show More

Medieval Health Care: Bloodletting, Primitive Surgery, and How Surprisingly Good Doctors Could Be Despite Knowing Almost Nothing

50:08 | Mar 1st, 2018

The Middle Ages were a terrible time to get sick. There was no sanitation inside cities and hardly any in rural areas. The common way to relieve pain amongst sick people was to inflict more pain upon them, and then hope to the stars for a bit of luck...Show More

A First-Hand Account of the Battle of Ramadi, Iraq – Maj. Scott Huesing

52:14 | Feb 27th, 2018

From the winter of 2006 through the spring of 2007, two-hundred-fifty Marines from Echo Company, Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment fought daily in the dangerous, dense city streets of Ramadi, Iraq during the Multi-National Forces Surge ordered...Show More

Mesopotamian Civilization (2): Everyday Life of Merchants, Temple Priests, and Prostitutes

42:22 | Feb 22nd, 2018

Welcome to part two in our series on Mesopotamia. The last installment covered the lives of the elites; now let's go several steps down the social ladder. We are going to be covering everyday life in Sumeria, Akkadia, Assyria, and any other civilizat...Show More

One Nation Under (the Influence of) Alcohol: Drinking During the Civil War—Mark Will-Weber

40:04 | Feb 20th, 2018

Bloody battles, lionhearted leaders, valiant victories, and lamentable losses—the history of the Civil War has been told time and again. Yet, one monumental component of the Civil War has gone untold… until now. Delving deep into rare Civil War memoi...Show More

Introducing Business Wars

10:22 | Feb 17th, 2018

Netflix vs. HBO. Nike vs. Adidas. Business is war. Sometimes the prize is your wallet, or your attention. Sometimes, it’s just the fun of beating the other guy. The outcome of these battles shapes what we buy and how we live. Business Wars gives you ...Show More

Mesopotamian Civilization: Gilgamesh, Sargon, and Why 1 GB of Information on Cuneiform Tablets Weights as Much as a 747

41:06 | Feb 15th, 2018

Welcome to the first episode in a two-part series on Mesopotamian civilization. In this episode we are going to be covering four topics: 1) The origins of Mesopotamian civilization with Sumeria, its evolution into the Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyri...Show More

Race to the Top of the World: Richard Byrd and the First Flight to the North Pole—Sheldon Bart

1:43:58 | Feb 13th, 2018

In the age of adventure, when dirigibles coasted through the air and vast swaths of the Earth remained untouched and unseen by man, one pack of relentless explorers competed in the race of a lifetime: to be the first aviator to fly over the North Pol...Show More

Positive Legacies of the Mongolian Empire: International Trade, Religious Tolerance, Career Opportunities, and Horse Milk

45:41 | Feb 8th, 2018

The Mongolian Empire has a well-deserved reputation for its brutality (it did, after all, kill 40 million in the 12th century, enough people to alter planetary climate conditions). But it's positive legacies are nearly as profound, if less well known...Show More

America's Utopian Communities: From Plymouth Colony's Failed Experiments in Collective Farming to 60s Hippie Communes—Timothy Miller

42:22 | Feb 6th, 2018

One of the oldest traditions in America is trying (and failing) to set up a utopian community. French Enlightenment thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed if man could return to a state of nature – free from social conditioning that put him ...Show More

The Reasons the Mongolian Army Was Unstoppable

10:53 | Feb 2nd, 2018

Mongols were fierce on horseback, but so were the many other steppe nomads who tried and failed to conquer the walled cities of China, Persia, and Rome.  Yet the Mongols succeeded where their predecessors failed by incorporating siege engineers i...Show More

Horse and Bow- A Mongol's Two Best Friends

09:46 | Feb 1st, 2018

Steppe nomads plagued the ancient world with their cavalries, but nobody perfected this form of warfare like the Mongols. A horse archer had such a deep kinesthetic relationship with his steed he could feel when all four hooves were off the ground, a...Show More

The Mongols Killed So Many People They Lowered the Global Temperature

12:03 | Jan 30th, 2018

Welcome to part one of Mongol Week(s). In this multi-part series, we will look at the Mongolian Empire from multiple perspectives, including its unprecedented level of brutality (so many died from their attacks that untended farmland returned to forr...Show More

Chester A. Arthur's Presidency Was a Colossal Accident...And a Huge Success

51:22 | Jan 29th, 2018

Chester A. Arthur, America's 21st president, lands on the lists of the most obscure chief executives. Few know anything about him besides his trademark mutton-chop sideburns. Moreover, he fell into the position unexpectedly when Garfield was assassin...Show More

The Vietnam War Was About...Stealing Asia's Tin?

08:03 | Jan 26th, 2018

Fighting over scarce resources have fueled wars back to the Sumerian city-states squabbling over water-use rights of the Euphrates river. Did the same drive fuel America's entrance into Vietnam to take its tin? Listener Toby asks if there's any truth...Show More

About 70-90 Percent of a Society Needs to Die Before It Completely Collapses

12:09 | Jan 25th, 2018

Some disasters hurt society (Hurricane Katrina in 2005). Bigger ones permanently alter it (the Black Death in the 1300s; Mao's Great Leap Forward). The worst of disasters completely destroy a civilization and leave behind so few they take centuries t...Show More

Why The Black Plague is Partially (But Not Completely) Responsible For the Renaissance?

08:11 | Jan 24th, 2018

The death of thirty percent of Europe's population in the fourteenth century permanently altered the medieval social order, and many scholars credit the Black Plague with ushering in the Renaissance. But this is not the whole story—after all, plagues...Show More

Did Mussollini Really Make the Trains Run on Time?

06:34 | Jan 23rd, 2018

Fascism is loved by few, but many at least credit Mussolini's heavy-handed rule for making Italy's notoriously disastrous train system operate effectively. Was this actually true or more of Il Duce's propaganda?

How Teddy Roosevelt Became The Man He Was in the Badlands—William Hazelgrove of “Forging a President”

42:43 | Jan 22nd, 2018

Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t born as the rough riding, big-game-hunting, Amazon-exploring legend that America has come to love. So how did he become the larger-than- life character portrayed in history books? He was forged by the last vestige of the Wild W...Show More

The Origin of the High Five

05:19 | Jan 18th, 2018

The origins of some cultural practices are lost to the mists of time. Not so the high five. We can trace it back to a specific day at a specific baseball game. From then on the world was never the same.

Nobody in the Middle Ages Thought the Earth Was Flat

06:04 | Jan 17th, 2018

One of the most widespread and pernicious bits of common knowledge about the Middle Ages that is incorrect is the idea that everyone believed the world to be flat. This is ridiculous. Nobody thought that. Anyone who knew about astronomy (which was al...Show More

Which Leader Had the Best Shot at World Domination?

14:04 | Jan 16th, 2018

Which world leader or dictator had the best chance at world domination? (i.e. Hitler, Napoleon, Alexander the Great). In this episode I discuss whether such a goal is even possible, and if so, under what conditions.

Pinetti, the 18th-Century Illusionist and Forerunner of Chris Angel and David Copperfield—Brian Earl from the Illusion Podcast

56:47 | Jan 15th, 2018

Giussepe Pinetti: You might not know the name, but he's considered the guy who made magic into a respected theatrical art form. Before him, it was practiced mostly by buskers on street corners, or at private engagements for the rich, not public theat...Show More

The Origin of the Military Salute

06:16 | Jan 12th, 2018

The simple military salute is a symbol whose meaning goes back centuries earlier than most any soldier would suspect.

Would Somebody from 1000 BC Transported to 1000 AD Notice the Difference?

11:53 | Jan 11th, 2018

Did technological and social change happen fast enough in the 2,000-year period between 1000 BC and AD that a time traveller would notice he were transported from one to the other?

The English Channel—The 26-Mile Strait That Has Stopped Armies For Millenia

09:38 | Jan 10th, 2018

Why has a puny strip of sea stopped invading armies almost as effectively as the Atlantic Ocean has for America? Because staging a successful amphibious assault is extremely hard.

The Richest Man in History Was the 14th c. King of Mali

07:17 | Jan 9th, 2018

Learn about King Musa, the man so rich he crashed the value of gold in Egypt by giving away too many gifts while on an extended vacation.

Canines in Combat: How the 8125th Sentry Dog Detachment Saved Countless Lives in the Korean War—Rachel Reed

58:07 | Jan 8th, 2018

The Korean War is widely misunderstood in the 21st century. Most have a sepia-toned nostalgia of the bravery of World War Two, or the less black-and-white nature of the Vietnam War. But not Korea. If anyone thinks of it, they might think of reruns of...Show More

Presidential Fight Club Epilogue: Is There a Connection Between Fighting Ability and Being a Great President?

18:06 | Jan 5th, 2018

In this postscript to the Presidential Fight Club, James and Scott discuss whether the qualities that make a president a good fighter also make him a good leader. We mostly agree that it does.

Presidential Fight Club: The Final Match - Teddy Roosevelt vs. Dwight D. Eisenhower

10:36 | Jan 4th, 2018

We are at the end of the tournament! After 43 battles, with the arena littered with the battered and bruised presidents who lost, only two remain standing. Who will be victorious? Teddy Roosevelt or Dwight D. Eisenhower?

Presidential Fight Club: Final 4 - Teddy Roosevelt vs. Abraham Lincoln

11:59 | Jan 2nd, 2018

We're nearing the end of the tournament and down to our final four contenders! Enjoy this fight between Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln

Europe's Military Quantum Leap (1350-1650)—Patrick Wyman From Tides of History

53:43 | Jan 1st, 2018

Want to conquer Europe in the Middle Ages? You need plenty of knights mounted on steeds to launch a full cavalry charge. Once they take out their enemies in pitched battle, you need engineers to launch a siege on your enemies castles. Want to conque...Show More

Christmas Special: Fr. Longenecker on Why The 3 Wise Men Were Real...But They Weren't From the Orient or Kings (Rebroadcast)

1:04:15 | Dec 25th, 2017

How do we separate myth from fact in ancient history? How do we do this when it comes down to one of the most beloved and well-known stories of all time: The Nativity? Fr. Dwight Longenecker, a Catholic priest from Greenville, South Carolina, is atte...Show More

Bringing Abraham and Mary Todd to Life in Steven Spielberg's “Lincoln”—Historical Consultant Catherine Clinton

1:09:07 | Dec 18th, 2017

Being a historical consultant for movies is never easy. How do you get the period details right while keeping it contained within an interesting narrative? But being a historical consultant about one of the most recognizable figure in history is even...Show More

Presidential Fight Club: SE Regional Final- George Washington vs. Andrew Jackson

08:38 | Dec 13th, 2017

Final Fight of the Southeast Regional Tournament of Presidential Fight Club

Meet Nathaniel Clark Smith, the Melchizedek of Jazz—Bill McKemy

1:14:20 | Dec 11th, 2017

Jazz is the most American of musical genres. But its origins are shrouded in mystery. Some like to think that Louis Armstrong and his bluesmen friends were sitting at a bar in New Orleans, when a solar eclipse and Haley's Comet occurred at the same t...Show More

Presidential Fight Club: NE Regional Final

08:32 | Dec 6th, 2017

The winner of this fight advances to the Final Four. Listen to the previous matches in the NE Regional tournament to see which two presidents will square off to claim victory in the regional championship!

Presidential Fight Club: NE Regional Semifinal 2- Kennedy vs. FDR

08:52 | Dec 6th, 2017

Kennedy vs. FDR Stats of Fighters Name: John F. Kennedy Height: 6’0 Weight: 175 Military experience: Lieutenant (navy). Served in combat during World War II. Received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart. Special abilities:...Show More

Presidential Fight Club: NE Regional Semifinal 1- Teddy Roosevelt vs. Franklin Pierce

08:31 | Dec 6th, 2017

Teddy Roosevelt vs. Franklin Pierce Stats of Fighters: Name: Theodore Roosevelt Height: 5’10 Weight: 220 Military experience: Colonel, U.S. Army.New York National Guard, 1882 to 1886, captain and company commander. Spanish–American War serv...Show More

Presidential Fight Club: NE Regional 7- FDR vs. Donal Trump

09:14 | Dec 6th, 2017

FDR vs. Donal Trump Stats of Fighters: Name: Franklin D. Roosevelt Height: 6’2 Weight: 190 Military experience: None Special abilities: Fearlessness. Lyndon Johnson said FDR was “the only person I knew, anywhere, who was not afraid.” And ...Show More

Presidential Fight Club: NE Regional 6- Kennedy vs. Chester A. Arthur

10:25 | Dec 6th, 2017

Kennedy vs. Chester A. Arthur Stats of Fighters: Name: John F. Kennedy Height: 6’0 Weight: 175 Military experience: Lieutenant (navy). Served in combat during World War II. Received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart. Sp...Show More

Presidential Fight Club: NE Regional 5- Franklin Pierce vs. Millard Fillmore

06:47 | Dec 6th, 2017

Franklin Pierce vs. Millard Fillmore Stats of Fighters: Name: Franklin Pierce Height: 5’10 Weight: 145 Military experience: Brigadier General; New Hampshire Militia, 1831–46; Mexican–American War; commanded Infantry Brigade at Battle of Cont...Show More

Presidential Fight Club: NE Regional 4- Teddy Roosevelt vs. John Adams

07:30 | Dec 6th, 2017

Teddy Roosevelt vs. John Adams Stats of Fighters: Name: Theodore Roosevelt Height: 5’10 Weight: 220 Military experience: Colonel, U.S. Army.New York National Guard, 1882 to 1886, captain and company commander. Spanish–American War service as...Show More

Presidential Fight Club: NE Regional 3- Calvin Coolidge vs. Chester A. Arthur

07:22 | Dec 6th, 2017

Calvin Coolidge vs. Chester A. Arthur Stats of Fighters: Name: Calvin Coolidge Height: 5’10 Weight: 150 Military experience: None Special abilities: Extreme caution. Coolidge would not make any hasty moves in a fight. However, he might not make any m...Show More

Presidential Fight Club: NE Regional 2- Millard Fillmore vs. Martin Van Buren

07:24 | Dec 6th, 2017

Millard Fillmore vs. Martin Van Buren Stats of Fighters: Name: Millard Fillmore Height: 5’9 Weight: 165 Military experience: Major, New York State Militia; Served in New York Militia in 1820s and 1830s; Organized Union Continentals home guar...Show More

Presidential Fight Club: NE Regional 1- John Adams vs. John Quincy Adams

05:56 | Dec 6th, 2017

John Adams vs. John Quincy Adams Stats of Fighters: Name: John Adams Height: 5’7 1/2 Weight: 175 Military experience: None Special abilities: Supreme self-assurance. He defended the five British soldiers guilty of the Boston Massacre in 1770 in the c...Show More

Welcome to Presidential Fight Club: If All 44 U.S. Presidents Fought Each Other, Who Would Win?

13:58 | Dec 6th, 2017

Welcome to Presidential Fight Club: A battle royale among all 44 men who served as the U.S. president. This podcast is hosted by two history professors: Scott Rank and James Early. We are going to narrate each of the one-on-one fights between preside...Show More

The Story of Human Language, From Proto Indo-European to Ebonics English—John McWhorter

55:16 | Dec 4th, 2017

Language not only defines humans as a species, placing us head and shoulders above even the most proficient animal communicators, but it also beguiles us with its endless mysteries. For example... How did different languages come to be? Why isn...Show More

The Causes of World War 2

14:10 | Dec 1st, 2017

In the wreckage of World War 1, Germany was slapped with a war reparations bill worth billions and the loss of much of its land. This and many other reasons launched the Second World War.

The Causes of World War 1

16:47 | Nov 30th, 2017

The reasons for the Great War go way beyond the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Learn about the causes of one of humanity's most vicious wars.

Is There Any Hard Evidence Hannibal Took Elephants Over the Alps?

07:54 | Nov 29th, 2017

Hannibal's crossing of the Alps with war elephants is considered one of the most daring move of the Punic Wars. But is it professionally accepted among historians that he actually crossed the Alps, and if so, is there any physical evidence?

The Greek Military Owned The Ancient World. Why Did They Roll Over For the Romans?

08:52 | Nov 28th, 2017

When did the ancient Greeks stop making armies or supplying fighting men? One moment they're beating up the the Persian empire and conquering the known world, and the next, they're slave tutors for the Romans or philosophers in their major cities.  L...Show More

Why Food Tells Us More About a Culture Than Anything Else—Ken Alba

1:04:43 | Nov 27th, 2017

You and your ancestor from 1,000 years ago have almost nothing in common. Your clothes are different. Your worship rituals are different. Your thoughts about the opposite sex are definitely different. Almost the only similarity is that both of you ar...Show More

The Electoral College Isn't an Outdated 18th-Century Relic; It Keeps America From Falling Apart—Tara Ross

38:02 | Nov 24th, 2017

The Electoral college is one of the most confusing—and, after the 2016 election, contentious—parts of American democracy. After losing two of the past five presidential races in the Electoral College (EC), Democrats are determined to never let it hap...Show More

Arabic Numerals Took Over 600 Years To Spread Across the West

08:46 | Nov 23rd, 2017

Western scholars first encountered "Arabic" numerals in the seventh century, making mathematics and accounting much easier. But Roman numerals stubbornly stuck around until the invention of the printing press made them permanently obsolete.

A Short History of the War of the Roses

07:48 | Nov 22nd, 2017

The Wars of the Roses were a series of battles that were fought between the supporters of the House of Lancaster (Lancastrians) and the supporters of the House of York (Yorkists). The wars were called the Wars of the Roses because the Yorkists were r...Show More

Richard Francis Burton—The Man Who Knew the Most Languages in History

07:08 | Nov 21st, 2017

Richard Francis Burton was an explorer, translator, and contender for the 19th-century's world's most interesting man. He was also functional in dozens of languages and translated monumental works of scholarship from Arabic and Portuguese in English.

The Scopes Monkey Trial, HL Mencken, and Religion in Public Life—Darryl Hart

55:06 | Nov 20th, 2017

If you’ve seen the 1960 Spencer Tracy movie Inherit the Wind, you know about the Scopes Monkey Trial. In this real-life 1925 case, John Scopes was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which had made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any...Show More

The Reformation Happened 500 Years Ago, But It's More Timely Than Ever—Benjamin Wiker

39:16 | Nov 17th, 2017

Secularism, radical Islam, and nationalism all sound like buzzwords pulled straight from today’s headlines. But you might be surprised to know that 500 years ago they were at the epicenter of one of the greatest religious and political convulsions in...Show More

How Did You Call the Police Before the Phone Was Invented?

06:29 | Nov 16th, 2017

Dialing 9-1-1 is a new innovation (at least in the sense of the scope of human history), but the need for emergency services goes back to the earliest settlements. How did a pre-modern civilization call for help when there were no phone lines?

All the Presidents Who Owned Slaves and How They Treated Them

06:10 | Nov 15th, 2017

A whole bunch of presidents owned slaves considering they took an oath to uphold the rights of their citizens. But how many of the pre-Civil War presidents actually owned slaves? And how did they treat them?

Who Were Worse—The Spanish Conquistadors or the Aztecs?

07:36 | Nov 14th, 2017

The Spanish conquistadors have rightly been called out for their brutal treatment and enslavement of native populations. But did they behave worse than the Aztecs?

The Lives of Slaves, Heretics, Cave-Dwellers, and Other People Ancient History Never Tells You About—Robert Garland

1:23:26 | Nov 13th, 2017

The 19th-century historian Thomas Carlyle wrote, “The history of the world is but the biography of great men.”  In a sense that's true. We have plenty of biographies of emperors, popes, kings, queens, and leaders of the ancient world. But what about ...Show More

What Did Entertainment Do To The Romans?

09:11 | Nov 10th, 2017

You can point to hundreds of factors that led to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire (which Edward Gibbon and many others have been doing for centuries). Decadence and frivolous entertainment are among the main culprits. But did bread and circus...Show More

Syriac-The Best Language for Conquering The Ancient World

08:37 | Nov 9th, 2017

If you were transported to the ancient world, there's only one language that could be used in Roman Briton and China alike. It was Syriac: the lingua franca of the Silk Road and your best language to learn to conquer the ancient world.     TO HELP O...Show More

The Most Valuable Lost Treasure That Still Exists

05:36 | Nov 8th, 2017

As Imperial Spain transported literal tons of gold from the New World to the motherland, hurricanes sunk much of it to the bottom of the Atlantic. Find out about the most valuable treasure that is likely still out there.   TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leav...Show More

Did Vikings Have Tattoos?

08:23 | Nov 7th, 2017

Vikings left behind nearly no writings, except for Runic scripts on rocks. New burial site excavations show they also left them behind on their bodies.   TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help an...Show More

Call of Duty: WW2's Historical Advisor Marty Morgan on Bringing the War to Life

1:22:55 | Nov 6th, 2017

Call of Duty is top best-selling first-person shooter series based on real events, but lately it has veered into futuristic sci-fi country. Call of Duty: World War II is an attempt to go back to the games WW2 roots. And historian Marty Morgan is ther...Show More

The Codpiece—The Worst Fashion Trend in History

06:56 | Nov 3rd, 2017

A wealthy man in the 1500s wore a large flap on the front of his trousers to accentuate his "credentials," which looked like an exterior athletic cup. How did this bizarre fashion trend take off, why did it end, and will it make a comeback?     TO H...Show More

Why Almost No Medieval Peasant Cottages Survive Today

07:13 | Nov 2nd, 2017

Archeological findings have led to breakthroughs in our understand of the Roman and ancient Near Eastern worlds, but little survives from the 500s-900s. Why weren't medieval buildings made to last?     TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on...Show More

How a Nikita Khruschev Mistranslation Threatened Nuclear War

07:49 | Nov 1st, 2017

When Nikita Khruschev pounded his shoe on a podium, declaring "We will bury you!" many feared imminent nuclear war. Turns out a better translation of his original Russian completely changes the meaning of the phrase   TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an ...Show More

British Girl, Nazi German POW—A Love Story

09:21 | Oct 31st, 2017

Were there any British women who fell in love with German POWs living in England in the mid-1940s? Despite the extreme cultural taboo, the answer is yes. Love always finds a way.     TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your rat...Show More

Assassin's Creed's Resident Historian Maxime Durand on Mixing Fact with Fiction

57:01 | Oct 30th, 2017

Like it or not, far more millennials will learn about Renaissance and medieval history through Assassin's Creed than they ever will through a history book. That can be dispiriting on the one hand —the game, after all, seems like a completely ahistori...Show More

Cruel and Unusual (Medieval) Punishment

13:03 | Oct 27th, 2017

An inquisitor thirsty for a confession had plenty of medieval tools of torture at his disposal: the iron maiden, the judas cradle, the rack, or the brazen bull. Turns out many of these devices are fabrications from hundreds of years later made for m...Show More

The Easter Uprising of 1916

09:00 | Oct 26th, 2017

Learn about one of the most important events in modern Irish history. On Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, a group of Irish nationalists proclaimed the establishment of the Irish Republic. They, along with some 1,600 followers, staged a rebellion agains...Show More

Misattributed Quotes—No, Mark Twain Didn't Say That

08:03 | Oct 25th, 2017

Thomas Jefferson once said you can't believe everything you read on the Internet. With those extremely true words in mind, let's look at other quotes that are widely believed to be authentic but totally false.   TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an hones...Show More

How to Build a 13th-Century Castle From Scratch

06:47 | Oct 24th, 2017

In a remote forest clearing in Burgundy, France, a 13th-century castle is slowly being constructed using only the tools, techniques, and materials that would have been available to the builders of the day. It’s archaeology in reverse. What started ou...Show More

Telling Japan’s Story in The Last Samurai, Letters From Iwo Jima, and Medal of Honor—Dan King

1:46:55 | Oct 23rd, 2017

The Japanese military of World War Two has a nasty reputation—kamikaze pilots, baby killers, and brain-washed, honor-obsessed soldiers who threw away their lives for a lost cause. Parts of this reputation is earned but much of the stereotype has come...Show More

Teddy Roosevelt’s Journey Through Uncharted Amazonian Jungle

07:43 | Oct 20th, 2017

Teddy Roosevelt was not afraid to tempt death. He hiked the Matterhorn during his honeymoon. He arrested outlaws on the Dakota Frontier. He hunted rhinos in Africa. But his most dangerous journey came after his failure in 1912 to retake the presidenc...Show More

How Teddy Roosevelt Gave a 90-minute Speech After Being Shot

05:37 | Oct 19th, 2017

Theodore Roosevelt was hell bent on becoming president in 1912. He ran as a third-party candidate for the Progressive Party, a splinter group of Republicans dissatisfied with William Howard Taft. He was so committed to winning that he gave a 90-minut...Show More

When Teddy Roosevelt Arrested Three Boat Thieves

11:11 | Oct 18th, 2017

Perhaps no president has as many unbelievable stories about his life than Teddy Roosevelt. He was an amateur boxer. He was the first American politician to learn judo. He summited the Matterhorn during his honeymoon. He joined an expedition to log da...Show More

Carrie Nation—The Hatch-Wielding Prohibitionist

08:26 | Oct 17th, 2017

Nothing supports the Prohibition movement like a hatchet-wielding radical ready to smash in a Midwestern saloon. Carrie Amelia Nation would know. She made a career out of physical assaulting the alcohol industry in the years before Prohibition (1920)...Show More

Discovering Embarrassing Family Secrets and Famous Third Cousins with Genealogist Crista Cowan From Ancestry.com

43:59 | Oct 16th, 2017

Shake a family tree long enough and something embarrassing secret is sure to drop out: a felon uncle here, an illegitimate nephew there, a grandfather arrested for indecent exposure there. Genealogy can reveal all sorts of unexpected surprises. But i...Show More

Why Does American Give Automatic Birthright Citizenship?

08:05 | Oct 13th, 2017

Anyone born on American soil gets automatic citizenship. This isn't true in the rest of the world. Few other nations in the world practice jus soli (right of the soil). Rather, your parents have to be citizens. Why is this the case? It has to do with...Show More

What Was It Like To Be Enrolled at the University of Constantinople?

08:26 | Oct 12th, 2017

The Pandidakterion (University of Constantinople) was the empire's imperial school. It can trace its origins to 425 AD to Emperor Theodosius II. Learn what it was like to be enrolled in the ancient world's premier "university." TO HELP OUT THE SHOW L...Show More

John Birch-The First Death in the Cold War

07:39 | Oct 11th, 2017

The first death of the Cold War quickly became an anti-communist icon and symbol of the American far right from the 1950s onward.   TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subsc...Show More

George Washington Wasn’t the First President. He Was the Ninth

06:35 | Oct 10th, 2017

George Washington was the First President of the United States. This is the most basic fact that an American school child can learn. Only it isn't true. He wasn’t the first. Nor the second. He was actually the ninth president of the United States. Ho...Show More

Anthony Esolen on Translating Dante’s Divine Comedy and Dan Brown’s Supercilious Stupidity

57:24 | Oct 9th, 2017

‘Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them: there is no third’ —T.S Elliot The most towering epic poem in Western literature, save perhaps the works of Homer, is Dante's Divine Comedy. In this episode we are going to talk about the h...Show More

Christopher Columbus Wasn’t as Good—Or as Terrible—As You Think

09:12 | Oct 6th, 2017

Depending on which account you hear, Columbus was either the bravest explorer of the early Renaissance or a mass murdered who subjected the indigenous population of the new world to death or slavery. Learn in this episode how Columbus was both and ne...Show More

How the 1565 Siege of Malta Led to the Golden Age of Piracy

13:19 | Oct 5th, 2017

The Knights Hospitaller were kicked out of Jerusalem following the Third Crusade, but they found a new home on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Their defense fortifications were so strong that nobody could invade, not even the might Ottoman navy in...Show More

Europeans in the Far East Before Marco Polo

08:20 | Oct 4th, 2017

Marco Polo is the most famous European explorer to the Far East, but he definitely wasn’t the first. His father and uncle came there years before. And they found a small colony of Europeans who lived permanently in China. Perhaps the most famous pre-...Show More

The Lost Technology of Damascus Steel

07:00 | Oct 3rd, 2017

Damascus swords, which were generally made in the Middle East anywhere from 540 A.D. to 1800 A.D., were sharper, more flexible and harder/stronger than other contemporary blades. According to legend, the blades can cut a piece of silk in half as it f...Show More

Alexander Hamilton’s Broadway Musical is Great, but Brion McClanahan Thinks He Screwed Up America

44:20 | Oct 2nd, 2017

He’s the subject of a hit Broadway musical, the face on the ten-dollar bill, and one of the most popular Founding Fathers. But what do you really know about Alexander Hamilton? In this interview with author and historian Brion McClanahan, he argues t...Show More

Timur the Tatar’s Revenge on Bayezit—When an Emperor Literally Made a Sultan His Footstool

06:32 | Sep 28th, 2017

One of the most chilling stories of revenge is Timur the Tatar's defeat of Ottoman Sultan Bayezit and literally making him his footstool. The humiliation likely led to his death. Learn about the clash of these two Middle East titans and what drove Ti...Show More

A Revolutionary-Era Soldier Fights a Modern One Hand-to-Hand. Who Wins?

12:53 | Sep 27th, 2017

If we were to have a battle royale with American soldiers from its different eras all duke it out, who would win? Would a Revolutionary-era soldier win due to his scrappy toughness, or would the modern soldier win with his superior training? Let's ta...Show More

The Origin of the Middle Finger Insult

05:59 | Sep 26th, 2017

We’ve all done it in moments of anger. But why do we use our middle finger to express anger? And why do we call it “the bird.” Suggestions range from The Battle of Agincourt in 1415 to Ancient Rome. We find out the history everyone’s favorite one-fin...Show More

Why the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the Norman Conquest of England Changed Everything—Jennifer Paxton

1:15:13 | Sep 25th, 2017

If you were to ask a scholar about one critical moment after which the history of the English-speaking world would never be the same again, it would undoubtedly be the year 1066. I know that because I asked Prof. Jennifer Paxton of the Catholic Unive...Show More

The Daily Schedule of a Samurai

10:54 | Sep 22nd, 2017

Samurai were the military nobility and officer cast of feudal Japan, serving an important role of social stability until their functions ceased in the 19th century. But what did a samurai exactly do every day? Did he roam the countryside, looking to ...Show More

Why Did British Men Wear Wigs in the 1700s?

06:36 | Sep 21st, 2017

You’ve seen the look in historical dramas. You laughed at the foppish dandies that appear on Masterpiece Theater. In grade school you sneered at pictures of King George with his powdered wig, adjusting it ever so slightly while drinking a cup of tea ...Show More

Who Had the Worst Flatulence in History?

08:53 | Sep 20th, 2017

The goal of this podcast is to answer any question that you have about history... and I mean anything. To prove it, I am answering a question from a listener named Raj about who had the worst flatulence in history. I hope this episode is very educati...Show More

Constantinople’s Walls—The Strongest Fortress Ever Built

11:47 | Sep 19th, 2017

There are many contenders for the strongest fortress in history (Malumat in Iran or the island fortifications of Malta to name a few). But nothing can compare to the Theodosian City Walls of Constantinople. Built in 440 AD, they repelled over a dozen...Show More

How Religion Has Influenced Politics Across History, From Ancient Sumeria to the 21st Century—Paul Rahe

49:51 | Sep 18th, 2017

In our interview, Prof. Paul Rahe says that a liberal democracy that guarantees the rights of all citizens needs the guarantee that no one religion is established as the official state belief system. At the same time, if a society doesn't have some s...Show More

Why The Potato Led to the Rise of Modern Europe

11:22 | Sep 15th, 2017

The humble potato has done more for Old World peasants than any other food. Famine plagued the lower class from time immemorial. But once the potato was introduced to Europe in the 1500s and widely planted in the 1700s, it nearly wiped out malnutriti...Show More

When Churchill Experimented with Chemical Weapons—Giles Milton of the Unknown History Podcast

26:40 | Sep 14th, 2017

Winston Churchill is consistently ranked as the greatest leader in British History. But like any complex historical figure, he has his dark side. Most notoriously, but least well known, is his interest in chemical weapons. “If it is fair war for an A...Show More

Dan Carlin of Hardcore History on Why the German Military Was Better in WW1 Than WW2

07:46 | Sep 13th, 2017

I was honored on this episode to interview Dan Carlin, whose podcast Hardcore History is the biggest history podcast in existence. It regularly features shows of 5-6 hours in length covering everything from the Mongol invasions to doomsday prophets o...Show More

The History of Pig Latin (ig-pay atin-lay)

09:44 | Sep 12th, 2017

Everyone's favorite code (it's not a language) has quite a storied history. Learn how Pig Latin became the fastest, most convenient way to sound intelligent when you didn't know any ancient languages. It goes back to Shakespeare, like much does, but ...Show More

Wait, Nixon Was Innocent?—Geoff Shepard

1:44:31 | Sep 11th, 2017

Richard Nixon left the White House over 40 years ago, yet he remains embedded in American pop culture like no other ex-president. He was the body-less leader of Earth in Futurama, the five-time president in Alan Moore's Watchmen, and arguably the mos...Show More

How Was Alexander Able to Supply His Army Deep Into Asia?

09:17 | Sep 8th, 2017

It's one thing to conquer the known world and beyond without the benefit of modern communications like Alexander the Great did. It's another thing to supply tens of thousands of soldiers deep into hostile territory when home is half a world away. How...Show More

Daily Life During the Civil War for Non-Combatants

13:04 | Sep 7th, 2017

More soldiers died in the Civil War than any other American conflict. But how did non-combatants fare? It depends on where you were and your life station. A northerner may barely know a war was going on at all if he did not read the newspaper or supp...Show More

Why Gutenberg Didn’t Kick Off the Reformation

05:58 | Sep 6th, 2017

Gutenberg’s moveable type printing press was the prime mover of the Renaissance. From his machine came millions of books, leading to the democratization of knowledge, the fall of the papacy, and the rise of reason. But what if this wasn’t Gutenberg’s...Show More