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High Crimes and History
34 minutes | Jun 16, 2020
Who Watches the Watchmen? - The United States Park Police
The clearing of #BLM protesters in D.C. on 06/01 shocked the world. What you may not know is that the Park Police have a long history of disorganization, violence, and a lack of oversight. This department in disorder is just one case study of the systemic lack of police accountability in the United States today.
42 minutes | Jun 1, 2020
These #$%!ing Words - The History of Swearing
The past two months of hiatus has had Trevor and Katie swearing up a storm, so we thought this would be a good time to delve into a more lighthearted episode on the history of swearing, why we swear, and how swearing has been criminalized in history. From Vikings to Shakespeare, the English language has evolved to keep ahead of criminal codes involving swearing. It’s time to find some new, strange, or funny words to put on your list.
38 minutes | Mar 18, 2020
(BONUS) The End is (Not) Nigh - What Historical Pandemics Teach Us About COVID-19
The world has turned upside down in a manner of weeks. As COVID cases rise, the economy falls, and society grinds to a halt, Trevor has a surprisingly optimistic message – the end is NOT nigh. History teaches us that pandemics are era-ending, but they’re also era-beginning. We look at pandemics throughout history to gauge the economic, psychological, and sociological consequences of disease, and what we can do to make the transition. Friday 3/20 we’ll drop another normal episode. Stay tuned.
44 minutes | Mar 2, 2020
Human - Nazi Reserve Police Battalion 101
How do you take 500 ordinary men and train them to kill 83,000 human beings? In 1942 Poland outside the village of Jozefow, the men of the Nazi Reserve Police Battalion 101 found out that all it takes is a single push.
44 minutes | Feb 10, 2020
Violence is the Answer - Why the West is Fascinated by Violence
We take some time to delve into a common listener question we get – why is Western history so violent? Trevor dives into the systems of justice, honor, shame, religion, and entertainment that helped fuel a fascination with violence that still exists today. Tying all these systems together is the example of the execution of Damiens in 1757, the pinnacle of the spectacle of suffering and the beginning of the end for many of these systems.
48 minutes | Jan 28, 2020
The Line in the Sand - The Trial at the OK Corral
The gunfight of the O.K. Corral didn't end with the Earp brothers and Holliday riding into the sunset. They had been charged with murder. In a preliminary trial, the twists and turns of the prosecution and defense helped craft the legend of the Earp brothers. But at what cost? As you'll find out, the Earp brothers aren't the heroes in this story. Due to some difficulties, the episode is up Wednesday as opposed to our usual Monday. Our apologies!
49 minutes | Jan 13, 2020
Thirty Seconds, Thirty Shots - Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
If history is a narrative, then it stands to reason that where a story starts and ends is just as important as the events itself. The traditional narrative of the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral in 1881 is that of the Earp brothers and Holliday, lawmen of Tombstone, AZ, facing down the Cowboy gang in a classic Western gunfight. Thirty seconds. Thirty shots. What it doesn’t tell you is how the Earp brothers were immediately charged with murder. Murder it may well have been. This is true story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Special thanks to Podcorn for supporting us! To start exploring your podcast sponsorship opportunities, sign up at https://podcorn.com/podcasters/ .
34 minutes | Dec 30, 2019
Fact From Fiction - Pierre Picaud
How do historians separate fact from fiction? Sometimes it’s almost impossible to do so. Take the case of Pierre Picaud – a Frenchman sentenced in 1807 for crimes he didn’t commit on the hearsay of his own friends. Upon his release, he sought his revenge. The basis for the classic The Count of Monte Cristo, Trevor attempts to unravel a case that still mystifies historians to this day. Special thanks to Podcorn for supporting us! To start exploring your podcast sponsorship opportunities, sign up at https://podcorn.com/podcasters/ . Special thanks to Army Flashcards for their support of our show! To get your flashcard deck, go to https://armyflashcards.com/ .
49 minutes | Dec 17, 2019
Annihilating an Empire - The Century of Humiliation
Deep in the jungle in the Vietnam War, an American soldier overdoses on heroin. That overdose can be traced back to the Century of Humiliation that the Chinese faced after the start of the Opium Wars. In the face of a Second Opium War and numerous rebellions, the Chinese are forced to engage in an opium trade with Europeans and their own commercial production of the substance that will bring down the Qing Empire. Sometimes the tendrils of history reach further than we ever expect them to.
55 minutes | Dec 2, 2019
Assaulting an Empire - The First Opium War
What would it look like if a modern army clashed with a medieval army on the battlefield? The First Opium War answers that question. In order continue their illegal opium trade in China, Britain engaged in a series of naval battles and fort assaults against the Chinese Empire, who was woefully underprepared for a modern war. When rifles meet bows and arrows, the result is devastating, and the consequences for the opium trade reached into the 20th century.
46 minutes | Nov 18, 2019
Addicting an Empire - The Opium Trade in China
The opioid crisis in the United States has reached historic levels and remains one of the worst drug epidemics in history, but it is far from the first country to be addicted. The Qing dynasty of China struggled in the face of an illegal opium trade that swept the country in the 19th and 20th centuries. Pushed by Britain and exploited by European powers, the epidemic spiraled into war, economic devastation, and the destruction of one of the greatest empires in the history of the world. This is that story.
28 minutes | Nov 4, 2019
Grab Bag Anniversary Episode!
In our anniversary episode we answer listener questions, including why history is so violent, whether historians can diagnose mental illness, why Trevor can’t pronounce anything right, and whether our cats are furry little bastards. Spoilers: they are, but we still love them. Thank you to everyone who has been there this past year! Here’s to another one.
31 minutes | Oct 21, 2019
Cruel and Unusual - Executions in Ancient Persia
What is the worst way to die? Ancient Persia invented many of the methods of execution used throughout history. Some are still used today. Others were so horrific they were never used again. These cruel and unusual punishments kept power in the hands of the kings and struck fear in the hearts of their enemies. Whether fact or fiction, one thing is known: it’s not death we fear. It’s the way we die that keeps us up at night.
55 minutes | Oct 7, 2019
The "I" Word - Andrew Johnson's Impeachment
He was a man who clashed with House leadership in a war of words, violated acts of Congress as a show of force after previous investigations on impeachable charges were inconclusive, and was potentially motivated to action in order to influence his upcoming presidential election. No, he was not our current president. He was President Andrew Johnson, and he has a lot to teach us about the next potential impeachment.
32 minutes | Sep 23, 2019
The Pretender - Perkin Warbeck
In 1491, England was in for a shock. Edward IV’s youngest son, Richard of Shrewsbury, was alive. That was a problem for three reasons. One, if Richard was alive then he was the rightful heir to the English throne. Two, he was already dead. And three, the man protested that he was Richard in the first place. In order to understand why, we need to know the role of pretenders in the Middle Ages.
36 minutes | Sep 9, 2019
Easy Money - Resurrection Gangs of Victorian England
How far would you go to make a comfortable living? Faced with a shortage of bodies for dissection, medical schools in Victorian England turned to resurrectionists. Gangs of men exhumed and stole bodies to sell to medical practitioners, operating a practice that flirted between legal and criminal.
50 minutes | Aug 26, 2019
Fear of the Horizon - Corsair Piracy and the Mediterranean Slave Trade
Corsair slavery in the 16th and 17th centuries does not fit into the modern model of the slave trade. White European Christians were enslaved in the hundreds of thousands by North African Muslim pirates. A controversial historical topic in today’s current events, the truth is more complicated than race. Religious and economic warfare fueled a massive enterprise in which entire villages and ships vanished without a trace. Sold into slavery on the Barbary Coast, the people of the Mediterranean world lived in fear of what might appear on the horizon – a fear of enslavement that still exists around the world today.
49 minutes | Aug 19, 2019
The Art of the Duel - Dueling in America (Reupload)
Men have always had a biological need to compete, and that need can turn deadly, but rarely was it socially acceptable. However, at one point in time it was not only commonplace for gentlemen to take that competition to the dueling field, but in America it was the ultimate proving ground, even when it was illegal. From politicians to pioneers, for two hundred years the duel was a socially acceptable method of killing a man. In many ways, it became its own art form. Here is the history of the duel in America.
39 minutes | Aug 12, 2019
A Matter of Honor - The 47 Ronin
Some legends are larger than life. The question is where to separate fact from fiction. We dive into another famous crime in history - the Ako incident in 1703, in which 47 samurai conspired to take revenge for their master's death in Edo Japan. But are they the heroes of this story, as fiction paints them to be? Or are they morally ambiguous murderers? The answer comes down to the matter of honor.
42 minutes | Jul 29, 2019
Stranger Than Fiction - Werewolf Trials in Europe
Werewolves have long been a horror trope in literature, but historically many people have claimed to have committed crimes as lycanthropes. Their journey has been one of tragedy and heroism, of champions and murderers, of the sane and the insane. Whether under duress or delusion, the history of the werewolf trial takes Trevor and listeners to weird world of witchcraft and psychosis, a place where the truth is stranger than fiction.
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