77 minutes | Mar 2, 2023
Season 7, Episode 5: John Rodrigue and the Destruction of Slavery during the Civil War
John C. Rodrigue returns! John is a professor of history at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, where he has been since 2007. He was one of Colin's professors at LSU when they were both in Baton Rouge in the early 2000s. John's new book is Freedom's Crescent: The Civil War and the Destruction of Slavery in the Lower Mississippi Valley (Cambridge University Press). It's John's third book. Influenced by everything from Eugene Genovese to Timothy Snyder's book on Eastern Europe, Bloodlands, Freedom's Crescent looks at the process whereby the Union went from freeing (some) slaves via the Emancipation Proclamation to the eradication of slavery through the 13th Amendment. AsJohn makes clear, it was a complicated and frustrating process. Building on work of Armstead Robinson, James Oakes, and Michael Vorenberg, John provides a detailed look at how Union commanders and politicians grappled with thorny military, political, and constitutional issues in the western theater of operations. Historians have written many books about slaves fleeing to Union lines and thus "emancipating themselves." But what happened when the Union army came to them, and how did this affect the North's ability to maintain the loyalty of former slaveholders? Colin and John also talk about the state of the history profession generally, wondering whether it makes sense for undergraduates to pursue a Ph.D. in history these days. Buy John's book here! https://www.amazon.com/Freedoms-Crescent-Cambridge-Studies-American/dp/1108439349/ref=sr_1_1?crid=W5WEZTCUCD03&keywords=freedom%27s+crescent&qid=1679492796&sprefix=freedom%27s+crescent%2Caps%2C110&sr=8-1
72 minutes | Feb 15, 2023
Season 7, Episode 4: Greg Wells of Records and Relics
Greg Wells is a hustler. The owner of Records and Relics in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond, he's been buying and selling vinyl for a long time. As he tells Colin, he sold sold records at antique stores, vinyl shows, and on Ebay before he decided to get his own place. Greg has been in Richmond for over 25 years, and he's seen the city change quite a bit. But he's always been devoted to vinyl. Now he's the owner of a thriving business in a neighborhood humming with coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. An in-store podcast, Greg walks Colin through the process of setting up a small business, dealing with Covid, and not becoming a "record store guy" cliche. So, stop by the shop! Records and Relics is open Friday-Sunday, 12-5. Used vinyl only, but Greg is open to buying and trades. You can follow the store here: https://www.facebook.com/recordsandrelicsrva https://www.instagram.com/recordsandrelicsrva/?hl=en
95 minutes | Jan 25, 2023
Season 7, Episode 3: David Vaught on Pitcher Gaylord Perry
A professor at Texas A & M since the late-90s, David Vaught is a longtime baseball fan. A native of the Bay Area, he visited ever-chilly Candlestick Park as a kid and remembered seeing Perry pitch. But while he has loved the Giants, Spitter: Baseball's Notorious Gaylord Perry, grew out of a previous book on baseball. San Francisco was just one of many teams Perry played for, including the Indians, Rangers, Yankees, Braves, Royals, and Mariners. As David shows in his terrific biography, Gaylord Perry wasn't just notorious for his use of the spitter, he was also a fierce competitor and often difficult. Perry was a terror to batters as well as the men in the field behind him, management, and owners. Much of his competitive fire was rooted in his hard upbringing in rural eastern North Carolina, where he was the son of tobacco sharecroppers. He was also the younger brother of Jim Perry, who excelled as a major league pitcher. What are we to make of Perry? Did he deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? A known cheater who lied about his cheating, Perry nevertheless compiled impressive career stats, including more than 300 wins, two Cy Youngs (one in each league), and more than 3,500 strikeouts. He was admired for hiding his "hard slider" from the prying eyes of umpires for many years. But how do we evaluate him in the context of baseball ethics, where rules are often abused and ever changing? Perry was controversial, but should we condemn him? Whatever we make of Perry, David Vaught has written a compelling and well researched book. Buy David's book here: https://www.amazon.com/Spitter-Baseballs-Notorious-Swaim-Paup-sponsored/dp/1648430643/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3100EF75O41XU&keywords=david+vaught&qid=1674659757&sprefix=david+vaught%2Caps%2C74&sr=8-1
87 minutes | Oct 11, 2022
Season 7, Episode 2: Bob Beatty and the Allman Brothers Band
Play All Night!: Duane Allman and the Journey to Fillmore East is Bob Beatty's most recent book. Bob, however, has been an Allman Brothers fan for a long time. Like the Allmans, Bob has Florida roots. He now lives and works in Tennessee, where he got his Ph.D. and is a history and museum consultant. Bob's fast-reading book looks at the breakout album for the Allmans. Released in 1971, Live at Fillmore East is one of the best live albums ever, and it brought the band to a mass audience. It features the classic Allmans lineup, with Duane Allman and Dickey Betts on guitar, Gregg Allman on vocals and organ, Berry Oakley on bass, and Butch Trucks and Jaimoe Johanson on drums. Unfortunately, though Duane started the Allman Brothers Band, his time with the group was relatively brief. He died in a motorcycle accident only a few months after At Fillmore East came out. Duane was just 24, and there seemed no limit to what he could do as a guitarist. As Bob makes clear, with Duane at the helm, the Allmans were closer to blues and acid rock than the more laid back band they became later. The radio friendly mid-70s sound of the ABB was the result of Dickey Betts writing more country-flavored tunes. Nothing wrong with that. But the Duane period has a tougher quality. Bob and Colin talk about how the Allmans formed, why the Fillmore album took off with listeners, and how the band continued to evolve amid lineup changes and inner-tensions.
78 minutes | Sep 4, 2022
Season 7, Episode 1: John A. Kirk and the Arkansas Rockefeller
John Kirk is English, but he has lived in Arkansas for more than ten years. Raised in the Manchester area, his fascination with the US began as a graduate student, where he studied the civil rights movement. He is the author and editor of ten books, and his newest is on soldier, philanthropist, and governor Winthrop Rockefeller (yes, that Rockefeller family). It is the first fullscale scholarly treatment of WR's early life. In Arkansas, the legacy of Winthrop Rockefeller is a palpable one. Elected in 1966, WR was the first Republican Arkansas governor since Reconstruction. The fact that it took 90 years for that to happen says a lot about the political culture in which he lived. His journey from New York City to Little Rock may seem odd for someone of his stature, but in many ways it was an old American story of someone starting fresh by going west. WR was a reformer, but as John shows, the governor was always progressive when it came to civil rights. A flawed man, to be sure, WR nevertheless used his money and family name for good. While he struggled as a student at Yale, he felt comfortable in the oil fields of the 1930s and as an officer during World War II, where he was wounded in the Pacific during a kamikaze attack. John's book stops in 1956 when WR arrives in Arkansas. The book provides a detailed and penetrating look at Rockefeller, and it sets the stage for what will no doubt be an engaging and well-researched second volume.
97 minutes | Jul 5, 2022
Season 6, Episode 16: Bradley J. Sommer
Bradley J. Sommer is a native of Ohio who received his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 2021. In Pittsburgh, he studied under labor historian Joe William Trotter. His dissertation was “Tomorrow Never Came: Race, Class, Reform, Conflict, and the Decline of an Industrial City, Toledo, Ohio, 1930-1980,” which he is now revising into a book. Ohio is one of the country’s most populous states, a “purple” place that has usually determined the outcome of the presidential elections (though not in 2020, when Ohio went overwhelmingly for Trump). Brad talks about the difference between being a “de-industrial” and “post-industrial” city. And though Ohio has had its problems, none of its cities have been in crisis the way Detroit or Baltimore have. Brad is also on the vicious and unforgiving job market, so if you’re looking for a good historian, let him know. You can read more about him at https://bradleyjsommer.com. You can also follow him at @DrHistoryBrad on Twitter.
82 minutes | Jun 15, 2022
Season 6, Episode 15: Edward T. O'Donnell
Edward T. O'Donnell is a professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. A native of the Bay State, Ed completed his Ph.D. at Columbia University. For years, he was the host of the history podcast In the Past Lane, whose guests included Ken Burns. Ed has stayed focused throughout his career. At Columbia, he gave history tours around lower Manhattan, while studying the labor movement in America. He also started a family. This type of focus has allowed helped him publish several books: 1001 Things Everyone Should Know about Irish- American History; Ship Ablaze: The Tragedy of the Steamboat General Slocum; Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality; and Visions of America. He is on sabbatical now, where he hopes to finish a new writing project. Unfortunately, he is no longer podcasting. But he has some interesting things to say about the process and the guests he talked with.
75 minutes | May 24, 2022
Season 6, Episode 14: Ruth A. Hawkins and Arkansas History
Dr. Ruth Hawkins didn't get her Ph.D. in history, but she has proven one of the most important preservationists in the history of Arkansas. As the head of Heritage Sites Program at Arkansas State University for thirty years, she oversaw the restoration of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess, the Pfeiffer-Hemingway House in Piggott, and Lakeport plantation in southeastern Arkansas along the Mississippi River. For her preservation and other work, Ruth was elected to the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame. Ruth is the author of Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow: The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Marriage, a book that took many years to finish. She says she's in no hurry to write another book. But for those interested in history, the houses ASU and Ruth helped preserve are treasures. They are as close to a time machine as we can get.
87 minutes | Apr 24, 2022
Season 6, Episode 13: Guy Lancaster
Guy Lancaster is the editor of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture in Little Rock. He is also one of the foremost historians of lynching in America. American Atrocity is his most recent book. American Atrocity focuses on Arkansas, but it tells a larger story of lynching and race relations in America. Dr. Lancaster, a native of Arkansas, also gets to the heart of the matter by asking: what is a lynching? And how do we know actually happened in many of these instances? The short answer is: we don't. And what we know or don't know has a lot to do with the history of race in this country, where white people were believed without question when they accused an African American person of a crime. Mixing traditional primary source research with theory about race, Guy has written an important book. But as he and Colin discuss, lynching hasn't disappeared, it has instead only changed. What can events like the killing of Trayvon Martin and the attacks of January 6 tell us about the legacy of lynching and the continued problem of systematic racism in this country? Lynching is a heavy topic, but these are heavy times.
70 minutes | Mar 6, 2022
Season 6, Episode 12: Citizen Cash with Michael Foley
Michael Stewart Foley has been writing about music and Johnny Cash for a long time. His new book, Citizen Cash: The Political Life and Times of Johnny Cash, looks at the politics of the Man in Black, who had the unique ability to appeal to Democrats and Republicans even when the country was hideously divided. What was the source of his appeal? Cash was by no measure an ideologue, but he became an internationally known figure who championed causes such as Native American rights, prisoners, and men in uniform. Cash practiced what Dr. Foley calls the "politics of empathy." And while Cash was more political than many artists of his day, some didn't think he was political enough. Colin and Michael talk not just about Cash but his musical and political times, discussing everything from Cash and Vietnam to his competitors Merle Haggard and Bobby Bare, artists with a distinctly blue collar bent. Cash grew up in the cotton fields of rural Arkansas, and he never lost his love for his country or the salt of the earth people who were a part of his history and fan base.
77 minutes | Feb 15, 2022
Season 6, Episode 11: Get Back with Court Carney
It's been nearly two years, but historian and music expert Court Carney, a professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, returns to talk about the recent Beatles documentary Get Back. Director Peter Jackson's long-awaited film attempts to put the Beatles' Get Back/Let It Be sessions in the best possible light. Does he succeed? And how do we judge the film based on what we have known about the Beatles for fifty years? The Beatles began recording what would become the band's last album, Let It Be, in January 1969. It was a few months after the release of the White Album, the product of fruitful but contentious sessions in the summer of 1968. Let It Be wouldn't be released until the spring of 1970, by which time the Beatles had broken up. The film and album Let It Be--initially to be called Get Back--featured the Beatles trying to get back to a more live and rock and roll sound. The sessions culminated in the famous rooftop concert in London. The Fab Four got in trouble with the cops, but not before recording tracks that made it to the final album. However difficult the process might have been, in roughly a month, the Beatles had written and recorded an album and rehearsed enough material to begin another (what became Abbey Road). So, what are we to make of Peter Jackson's revisionism? Has be presented a happier band than we knew? Or is he merely documenting the inevitable breakup of the bestselling and most prolific band of all time? Court and Colin have some thoughts.
73 minutes | Feb 6, 2022
Season 6, Episode 10: Amanda Frost and the Battles over US Citizenship
Amanda Frost is a Harvard-educated lawyer who teaches in Washington, D.C., at American University. You are Not American is her first book. It looks at various moments in United States history where citizenship was debated and legislated in lasting ways. Some of the cases she examines are well known, such as the infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857, which ruled that African Americans had "no rights" that a "white man was bound to respect." Other cases--such as the Wong Kim Ark and Ruth Bryan Owen cases--may not be as famous, but they ended better for those seeking citizenship. Whatever the outcome of a case, You are Not American shows how often citizenship rights have come under attack and how often immigration and citizenship laws are tainted by overt racism, sexism, and xenophobia.
93 minutes | Jan 14, 2022
Season 6, Episode 9: Christina Proenza-Coles and African American History
Christina Proenza-Coles's book, American Founders: How People of African Descent Established Freedom in the New World, is now available in paperback. Christina grew up in Miami (which she calls an "apartheid city"), the daughter of a Savannah mom and Cuban dad who fled not Castro but Batista. As a kid in Miami in the 80s, she saw Hispanic culture become dominant in her hometown, and it instilled in her a lifelong interest in America's racial history and makeup. Christina went to Swathmore for her undergraduate schooling as a Psychology major. She then attended the progressive and interdisciplinary New School for Social Research in New York City, where she studied with Eli Zaretsky and completed a dissertation comparing white settlers in colonial Virginia and Cuba. Christina's discussion of race and American history goes beyond the United States into places like Haiti, which has a unique and tragic history. Her book explores evergreen topics. But she and Colin talk about how has Trumpism has made historians reassess things they have taken for granted, such as the triumph of democracy over authoritarianism. Regardless, historians try to stay productive and engaged amid the insanity. And toward the end of their discussion, Christina talks about a famous fan of hers. We won't say who, but we'll give you a hint: he's a big jazz fan.
76 minutes | Dec 30, 2021
Season 6, Episode 8: Ben Beard and Southern Cinema
Ben Beard is a writer based in Chicago. He also loves film. He has written about civil rights and Muhammad Ali in the past, but his most recent book is The South Never Plays Itself: A Film Buff's Journey through the South on Screen. Born and raised in the Deep South, Ben has been writing about movies for years. The South Never Plays Itself covers such well-known titles as Birth of a Nation and Cool Hand Luke, but also examines lesser known films such as God's Little Acre and the William Shatner vehicle, The Intruder. And it looks closely at pictures that are perhaps unappreciated, such as Driving Miss Daisy. Ben also talks about his affinity for film critics Roger Ebert and Pauline Kael and how he manages to get writing done while holding down a full-time job.
67 minutes | Dec 17, 2021
Season 6, Episode 7: LaQuita Scaife and Sun Records
LaQuita Scaife is the daughter of Cecil Scaife, who worked at Sun Records with Sam Phillips. Born in Arkansas, and a man who initially wanted to act, Cecil worked at a radio station in the Mississippi River town of Helena before somehow meeting Phillips. As the Sun promotions man, Cecil traveled to radio stations to get them to play the latest hits by Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. And he was the man who handed Johnny Cash his gold record for "I Walk the Line." A colorful, innovative, and driven businessman, Cecil later moved to Nashville, where he continued his work with Cash at Columbia Records. But he eventually went his own way, producing gospel and budget compilation albums in the 1970s and beyond. LaQuita remembers that she never knew who was going to be at the breakfast table on any given day (or what her dad would be dressed like either). Enjoy this tour of the early rock and roll and Nashville scene, with everybody from Elvis and Cash to Conway Twitty, Billy Ray Cyrus, Brenda Lee, and Amy Grant making an appearance. And have a merry country Christmas, ya'll!
100 minutes | Nov 17, 2021
Season 6, Episode 6: James Horn and Early Native American History
James Horn is a native of England who now resides in Virginia and works in Williamsburg, which makes sense if you know his scholarship. He has a new book out, A Brave and Cunning Prince: The Great Chief Opechancanough and the War for America. His book examines the crucial early years of the English colonies, which involved starvation, warfare, disease, and even cannibalism. While Jamestown is the first permanent English colony in America, it came close to annihilation in the early 1600s. Opechancanough waged war against the English for decades, but he had a long relationship with European settlers. Born in the mid-16th century, his life spanned over 90s years. He was abducted and traveled to Mexico and Europe as a young man. He remained loyal to the native people of Virginia, however, and proved a fierce adversary of the English. Colin also asks about Jim's upbringing in England, his early travels in America (involving a semester in Wisconsin and a memorable trip across country via Greyhound bus), and his eventual move to Richmond.
113 minutes | Nov 11, 2021
Season 6, Episode 5: Stephen Deusner and the Drive-By Truckers
The Alabama rock band Drive-By Truckers have long been one of the hardest working and most thoughtful outfits working today. Now, they have a worthy biographer. Music writer Stephen Deusner is a native of McNairy County, Tennessee, a place immortalized on the Truckers' 2004 album The Dirty South. Stephen first encountered the Truckers through the band's 2003 album Decoration Day. Since then, he has been hooked. Where the Devil Don't Stay (which takes its name from a Mike Cooley song about a backwoods Alabama bootlegger), is his first book. DBT will be pleased. Where the Devil Don't Stay tracks the Truckers from their beginnings in north Alabama to their disastrous Memphis move, eventual breakthrough in Athens, Georgia, and making their mark via the two-disc, Skynyrd-inspired opus Southern Rock Opera. Since then, the music has kept coming, most recently on the band's 2020 offering, The New OK. So, fellow Lot Lizards, drop your Buford stick and grab your Betamax guillotine, it's time to talk some Truckers! Music used in this episode: "Where the Devil Don't Stay," "Zip City," "Santa Fe," and "Goddamn Lonely Love."
102 minutes | Oct 31, 2021
Season 6, Episode 4: Keith Cartwright and the Black Cowboys of Rodeo
Keith Ryan Cartwright returns to the podcast to talk about his new (and first) book, Black Cowboys of Rodeo: Unsung Heroes from Harlem to Hollywood and the American West. Keith admits he didn't know much about the subject when he started, but he approached his work as another mission to "write about people." Over the course of his years covering rodeos, he was moved by his subject matter and fascinated by the men whose stories have gone untold for far too long. Keith gives us a tour of the rodeo world, one far more dangerous than most sports. How dangerous is it? And how much money do these cowboys make for such work? Also, what does Mohammad Ali and blaxploitation flicks have to do with rodeo history? Keith lets us know. Keith and Colin also spend some time discussing the strange world of prison rodeos, the most notorious one being at Angola in southern Louisiana, a place previously run by the imposing Warden Burl Cain.
87 minutes | Oct 6, 2021
Season 6, Episode 3: Robert Mann and Louisiana Politics
Robert Mann has dedicated his life to politics. A professor at LSU in the Manship School of Mass Communication, he is the author of numerous books about American history and politics. He now has a memoir out, Backrooms and Bayous: My Life in Louisiana Politics. Born in west Texas, Bob moved to Louisiana as a young man. A conservative at first who had politically minded parents, he developed his writing chops as a reporter and journalism student. He learned many lessons about politics along the way and eventually got his first major job working for Senator Russell Long. Long was a Democrat and son of the notorious senator and governor Huey Long, the "Kingfish," whose shadow falls long over the state's history. Senator Long made an impression on Bob, and he is still grappling with the Long legacy in Louisiana. Louisiana has a colorful political history, from "Uncle" Earl Long to Edwin Edwards. Some figures have been sinister, such as Klansman and neo-Nazi David Duke, and Bob was on the ground floor of making sure Duke did not win a prominent seat in Louisiana government. He also worked with Kathleen Blanco, who had the misfortune of being governor during Hurricane Katrina. While a unique state in many ways, Louisiana is also reflective of American politics generally. Bob has seen many politicians come and go, which is why it's worrying that he fears for this country's political future more than ever. Music used: "Every Man a King," originally by Huey Long, performed by Randy Newman; "Louisiana, 1927," by Randy Newman; Professor Longhair, "Go to the Mardi Gras"; and in the outro, "Iko Iko" by Dr. John.
68 minutes | Sep 27, 2021
Season 6, Episode 2: Actor and Director Lou Antonio, Part II
In the second half of Colin's two-part conversation with actor and director Lou Antonio, Lou talks about playing Koko in the film Cool Hand Luke and what it was like being on the set with such a storied cast. Lou also talks about how he was almost chosen to play one of the Corleones in The Godfather, the joys of filming on location, his work on the ill-fated but popular show Dog and Cat (which he did with a young Kim Basinger) and his encounters with such legends as George Peppard, George C. Scott, Don Ameche, and Heath Ledger.