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History Unplugged Podcast

Scott Rank, 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
The Revolution Before the Revolution: How 1776 Happened

51:48 | Mar 14th

In the 1760s, the American colonies were completely incapable of organized resistance. One's loyalty was to their state, as the idea of being an “American” was nearly empty. Few clamored for democracy, as Europe and the rest of the world believed tha...Show More
Hollywood Hates History, Part 2: Agora (2009)

39:25 | Aug 8th

In the second episode of this series, Stephen tells us everything he doesn't like about the 2009 film Agora, which is a lot. The movie stars Rachel Weisz (maybe the only good thing about the film) as Hypatia, a real-life 4th/5th-century philosopher...Show More
Hollywood Hates History, Part 1: Kingdom of Heaven

1:02:46 | Aug 6th

This episode is the first in a mini-series that Scott is doing with fellow history podcaster Stephen Guerra (History of the Papacy, Beyond the Big Screen) about some of the most historically inaccurate movies that have ever appear. We kick off this s...Show More
Introducing Mindscape: A Show That Dives Into the Inner Workings of the Brain

08:41 | Aug 5th

Check out Mindscape by going here: http://wondery.fm/HUPSC Logic. Perception. Consciousness. These are the things that we process each and every day. But there is much more to our minds than we will ever realize. That’s why I want to tell you about ...Show More
Announcement: 'Hollywood Hates History' Starts Next Week

02:48 | Aug 3rd

Next week an eight-part mini-series called Hollywood Hates History launches. Scott co-hosts with fellow history podcaster Steve Guerra to look at some of the most historically inaccurate movies ever made. Offenders include "The Scarlet Letter," the 1...Show More
A Vote of No Confidence: How to Obliterate Your Current Government

42:14 | Aug 1st

Americans and Europeans are confused by much about each other, especially their respective governmental systems. Europeans are baffled by American elections, the powers of the president, and most of all, the electoral college (how again is the popula...Show More
George Washington as Man, General, Leader, and Mule Pioneer

50:38 | Jul 30th

George Washington is nearly as famous for his character as he is a general and statesman. In this episode we look at his famed attributes for leadership and doing such things as keeping together the fragile Continental Army in the hungriest, coldest ...Show More
A Shred to End All Shreds: World War I Meets Swedish Metal

24:16 | Jul 25th

This episode of History Unplugged is unlike any we've ever done. Scott interviews Joakim Brodén, lead singer of Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton, whose new album “The Great War” is a concept record focused on World War 1. The album features songs abo...Show More
Has The Lost Colony of Roanoke Been Found?

35:24 | Jul 23rd

In 1587, 115 men, women, and children arrived at Roanoke Island on the coast ofNorth Carolina. Chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, their colony was to establish England's first foothold in the New World. But when the colony's leader, John White, returned...Show More
Einstein's War: How Relativity Triumphed Amid the Vicious Nationalism of World War I

28:41 | Jul 18th

Albert Einstein’s rise to fame was not instantaneous and easy. Rather, Einstein’s celebrity was, in large part, not his own doing. His grand ideas (ideas that would change physics forever) were formulated during a time of worldwide crises. The Great ...Show More
The Forgotten Assassin – Sirhan Sirhan and the Killing of Robert F. Kennedy

37:13 | Jul 16th

Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1968 seemed like it should have been an open-and-shut case. Many people crowded in the small room at Los Angeles’s famed Ambassador Hotel that fateful night and saw Sirhan Sirhan pull the trigger. Sirhan was also ...Show More
Chief Executives in the Cockpit—When Presidents Take to the Skies

32:36 | Jul 11th

In this episode we look at all U.S. presidents who served as fighter pilots or in any sort of military combat role. We also look at the first president to fly (it was in a rinky-dink Wright Bros. flyer), the development of Air Force One, and the theo...Show More
George Mason: The Most Important Founding Father Nobody Remembers

25:20 | Jul 9th

If a list were constructed of the most important Virginians in American history, George Mason would appear near the top. His influence on public policy, the Revolution, and the Constitution was far greater than his modern, meager reputation allows. ...Show More
Spies in the Ancient World, Part 2: On His Roman Emperor's Secret Service

49:33 | Jul 4th

In this episode we are looking at ancient Greek cryptography and the Roman frumentarii, a group of wheat sellers who turned into the empire's premier intelligence outfit in the second century. In the fourth century BC, Aeneas Tacticus wrote “How to...Show More
Spies in the Ancient World, Part 1: How a Bronze-Age Tribe Infiltrated Jericho

44:16 | Jul 2nd

Spycraft is as old as civilization and just as essential to running a government as taxes, roads, armies, or schools. Sun Tzu devoted an entire chapter to spy craft in his 2,600-year-old treatise The Art of War and understood that critical intelligen...Show More
The Real Oregon Trail: Beyond Dysentery and the Apple II Game

58:06 | Jun 27th

If you were a middle schooler in the United States anytime after 1985 and had a study hall with an Apple II, there is a very high chance you played Oregon Trail. After setting out from Independence, Missouri, you led your pixelated wagon across the f...Show More
How to Get Processed Through Ellis Island In 2 Hours or Less

50:59 | Jun 25th

More than 12 million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island during its years of operation from 1892 to 1954. Those that came typically spoke no English and fled religious persecution, famine, or epidemics in their homeland. But...Show More
Special Announcement: Check Out My New Show 'Ottoman Lives'

02:07 | Jun 22nd

Go to www.ottomanlives.com to check out my new show about the people who made the Ottoman Empire run. The Ottoman Empire lasted for six hundred years and dominated the Middle East and Europe, from Budapest to Baghdad and everything in between. The s...Show More
George Armstrong Custer: Cocky Military Officer or America's Version of Leonidas at Thermopylae?

43:17 | Jun 20th

George Armstrong Custer had a storied military career—from cutting his teeth at Bull Run in the Civil War, to his famous and untimely death at Little Bighorn in the Indian Wars. But what was his legacy? Was he a brilliant desperado sadly cut down too...Show More
An Interview with 95-Year-Old Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Harry Stewart

57:34 | Jun 18th

“Colored people aren’t accepted as airline pilots.” The “negro type has not the proper reflexes to make a first-class fighter pilot.” These were the degrading sentiments that faced eighteen-year-old Lt. Col. Harry Stewart Jr. as he journeyed in a seg...Show More
Vlad the Impaler is the (Partial) Inspiration for Count Dracula

56:54 | Jun 13th

Vampire lore goes back to the ancient world (revenant legends abound from Rome to China) but vampire mythology doesn't come into its own until at least the Renaissance period. Was the inspiration for it all the bloodthirsty Wallachian ruler Vlad Tepe...Show More
'A Woman of No Importance': The One-Legged WW2 Spy Virginia Hall

36:35 | Jun 11th

In 1942, as World War II was raging, the Gestapo sent out an urgent message: “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.” That spy was Virginia Hall, a young American woman who—rejected from the Foreign Service becau...Show More
The 4,000-Year-Old Question: Is Judaism a Religion, Ethnicity, Race, or Culture?

52:03 | Jun 6th

What is Judaism? What does it mean to be Jewish? Is it an ethnicity (being one of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), a religion (following the tenets of the Torah, Mishnah, and Talmud) or a cultural experience (a common experienced develo...Show More
The 500-Year Story of a Gutenberg Bible And Everyone Who Owned It

1:01:16 | Jun 4th

For rare-book collectors, an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible—of which there are fewer than 50 in existence (and which can sell for $100 million)—represents the ultimate prize. One copy, Number 45, passed through the hands of Johannes Gutenberg, ...Show More
Hitler’s “Desert Fox”: The Military Career of Erwin Rommel

50:17 | May 30th

Erwin Rommel, a German field marshal in World War Two, was probably more respected and feared than any other figure in the Wehrmacht. He issued early defeats against the British in North Africa against vastly superior forces using a mix of cutting-ed...Show More
When Irish Vets of the American Civil War Invaded Canada in 1866

50:43 | May 28th

One year after the Civil War ended, a group of delusional and mostly incompetent commanders sponsored by bitterly competing groups riddled with spies, led tiny armies against the combined forces of the British, Canadian, and American governments. The...Show More
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present

36:52 | May 23rd

The received idea of Native American history--as promulgated by books like Dee Brown's mega-bestselling 1970 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee--has been that American Indian history essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. Not only did o...Show More
How Industrialists Plotted to Overthrow FDR Over The New Deal in 1934

38:23 | May 21st

FDR launched the New Deal immediately after his 1933 inauguration, but it was not universally popular. Some hated it bitterly. Critics from the right thought it was part of a long-term plan to push America into Soviet-style socialism. Critics from th...Show More
Making Your Death Memorable: The Oldest Tombs We Can Trace To One Person

36:38 | May 16th

What are the oldest known tombs that can reliably be traced to a person? These are surprisingly tricky to track down. While archeologists constantly find human remains at an excavation site, there are almost never any identifying marks about the pers...Show More
The Kremlin Letters: Stalin's Wartime Correspondence with Churchill and Roosevelt

58:16 | May 14th

From 1941 to 1945, Joseph Stalin exchanged more than six hundred messages with Allied leaders Churchill and Roosevelt. The correspondence ranged from intimate personal greetings to weighty salvos about diplomacy and strategy, and they reveal politica...Show More
The RAF Won the Battle of Britain With Strategy But Also Plenty of Luck

39:41 | May 9th

In the summer of 1940, Germany sent armadas of bombers and fighters over England hoping to lure the RAF into battle and annihilate the defenders. Day after day the RAF scrambled their pilots into the sky to do battle up to five times a day. Britai...Show More
Why The Printing Press Appeared in the Middle East 400 Years After Europe

45:53 | May 7th

Why were there no printing presses in the Middle East until four centuries after Europe? Did it have to do with Islam prohibiting this technology? Was the calligraphy lobby too strong? Or is the answer more complicated? The global spread of the pr...Show More
Last Night on the Titanic: Conclusion

13:01 | May 2nd

In the final episode in this series, Veronica and Scott discuss the enduring legacy of the Titanic and why a disaster that happened 107 years ago still captures our imaginations.
Last Night on the Titanic: Doctors and Con Artists

23:32 | Apr 30th

The Titanic was filled with medical professionals either working as ship personnel or traveling in a non-professional capacity. There were also plenty of con artists aboard, hoping to worm their way into the wills of wealthy widows. Learn about their...Show More
Last Night on the Titanic: The Musicians

19:14 | Apr 25th

The musicians of the Titanic famously continued playing as the ship went down, a testimony to practicing one's craft until their dying breath. But did it really happen like this? Varying accounts exist as to whether the band played until the end an...Show More
Last Night on the Titanic: The Trend Setters

31:47 | Apr 23rd

Many Titanic passengers were known for setting the styles. In this episode we will profile the two Luciles: famed fashionistas Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon and Lucile Polk Carter. We will also look at John Jacob Astor IV, perhaps the world’s richest man at ...Show More
Last Night on the Titanic: The Life Savers

29:19 | Apr 18th

Mr. Rogers once said, “When there is a disaster, always look for the helpers; there will always be helpers. Many died on the night of the Titanic's sinking, but many more would have died if not for the heroic efforts of such helpers as the “unsinka...Show More
Last Night on the Titanic: The Cooks

22:43 | Apr 16th

The cooks and other support staff of the Titanic “drowned like rats” due to not being assigned a clear place in the pecking order of escapees. One who did survive was French cook Paul Mauge, who used his extraordinary wits to survive. This episode c...Show More
Sneak Peek of the New Podcast Series "Espionage"

15:11 | Apr 13th

Code Names. Deception. Gadgets. It might seem like something out of the movies, but these are just some of the essential components of being a spy. ESPIONAGE tells the stories of the world’s most incredible undercover missions, and how these covert ...Show More
Last Night on the Titanic: The Writers

38:30 | Apr 11th

The sinking of the Titanic is memorable for its countless stories, and the reason that so many of them have found their way down to us today was the many writers that were onboard the ship. The first draft of history about the Titanic was written by ...Show More
Last Night on the Titanic: The Popcorn Vendor

29:01 | Apr 9th

One legendary fixture on the Titanic was a gregarious popcorn vendor known as Popcorn Dan (Coxon). He was one of America's first food truck operators and a highly successful purveyor of popcorn. He was lost on the Titanic and his body was never recov...Show More
Last Night on the Titanic: The Bakers

37:10 | Apr 4th

In this episode we are looking at the life of Charles Joughin, a colorful character who has appeared in both film version of the Titanic. After the sinking, Joughin claimed he knew it was an iceberg that struck the ship because he saw a polar bear— a...Show More
The Last Night on the Titanic: Overview of the 1,500 Passengers and Crew Who Lost Their Lives

25:25 | Apr 2nd

On the night of April 14, 1912, in the last hours before the Titanic struck the iceberg, passengers in all classes were enjoying unprecedented luxuries. Innovations in food, drink, and decor made this voyage the apogee of Edwardian elegance. This e...Show More
ANNOUNCEMENT: Special Series 'Last Night on the Titanic' Starts Next Week

03:29 | Mar 30th

An announcement for a forthcoming series coming to the History Unplugged Podcast called "Last Night on the Titanic."
Light-Horse Harry Lee: A Founding Father's Journey From Glory to Ruin

1:03:33 | Mar 28th

The history of the American Revolution is written by and about the victors like Washington, Jefferson, and Adams. But separating the heroes from the villains is not so black and white. So how should we remember a man like Major General Henry “Light-...Show More
Bad Puns and Dirty Jokes in Rome and Ancient Greece

35:35 | Mar 26th

"A student dunce went swimming and almost drowned. So now he swears he'll never get into water until he's really learned to swim." That was a decent dad joke to be sure. But it's not a joke your dad came up with. Nor your grandfather. Rather, it was ...Show More
Wright Brothers, Wrong Story? Why Some Say Wilbur—Not Orville—Discovered Manned Flight

40:56 | Mar 21st

How did two brothers who never left home, were high-school dropouts, and made a living as bicycle mechanics figure out the secret of manned flight? The story goes that Wilbur and Orville Wright were an inseparable duo that were equally responsible fo...Show More
When Danzig Became Gdańsk: What Happens to a City When Its Demographics Change Completely

40:49 | Mar 19th

What happens to a city when its demographics change completely in the space of a few years? To explore this question, we will take a look at the case of Danzig (modern-day Gdańsk) in northern Poland. The city's population was almost entirely German f...Show More
An Active Neutrality: The WW2 Experiences of Switzerland, Portugal, and Turkey

33:10 | Mar 12th

Neutrality is not the same thing as passivity. Just ask the many nations who had to walk an extremely thin tightrope during World War 2 to stay out of the war (in which they saw nothing for themselves to gain) but not get invaded by a more powerful n...Show More
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

51:12 | 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

45:23 | 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

42:50 | 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

57:22 | 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

46:52 | 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

30:15 | 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

37:03 | 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

1:01:27 | 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.

59:48 | 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

1:26:31 | 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

56:47 | 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

43:14 | 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

1:21:06 | 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

1:00:35 | 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

1:02:56 | 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

1:16:56 | 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
Prohibition: How it Happened, Why it Failed, and How it Still Affects America Today

1:05:40 | 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?

50:26 | 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

58:08 | 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

57:50 | 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

1:13:52 | 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

1:00:31 | 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

05:10 | 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

33:30 | 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

34:31 | 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

01:42 | 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

1:16:38 | 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 Resistanc

1:00:27 | 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

51:17 | 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

1:09:47 | 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

48:40 | 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

1:08:53 | 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

1:08:50 | 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

46:11 | 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

57:42 | 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

41:15 | 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

52:44 | 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

1:11:18 | 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

58:31 | 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

1:08:03 | 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

1:07:11 | 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

40:44 | 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) Assassination Attempts of U.S. Presidents—Mel Ayton

42:38 | 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

1:15:18 | 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

51:30 | 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.

1:08:06 | 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

38:39 | 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

44:40 | 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

1:17:23 | 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

1:00:51 | 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?

48:33 | 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

42:48 | 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

53:29 | 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

51:04 | 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

47:13 | 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

50:09 | 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

52:15 | 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

42:23 | 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

40:05 | 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

41:08 | 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

1:43:59 | 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

45:43 | 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

42:23 | 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

10:54 | 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

09:48 | 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

12:05 | 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

51:23 | 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?

08:04 | 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

12:11 | 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?

08:13 | 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?

06:35 | 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”

42:45 | 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

05:20 | 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

06:05 | 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?

14:05 | 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

56:48 | 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

06:17 | 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?

11:54 | 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

09:39 | 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

07:18 | 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

58:09 | 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 - Washington vs. Eisenhower

12:46 | Jan 3rd, 2018

George Washington vs.  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

53:44 | 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