Created with Sketch.
History As It Happens
33 minutes | Jul 29, 2021
Are We Reliving the 1850s?
The violent decade before the Civil War serves as a warning about the perils of political polarization and the ways we may rationalize violence when it fits our purposes. Americans in 2021 are not careening toward another civil war with armies on battlefields, but the congressional investigation, now underway in the House, into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is a battle over the truth. Emerging narratives are becoming detached from reality, perpetuating a cycle of zero-sum polarization that is further dividing people into opposing camps. Are we reliving the 1850s? Paul Quigley, the director of the Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech, returns to the podcast to discuss how Trumpist narratives about Jan. 6 are distorting reality, a day that evokes the history of the sack of Lawrence, Kansas, in 1856.
35 minutes | Jul 27, 2021
Religion and the American Revolution
Few aspects of the American Revolution are as misunderstood as the role of religion. Current debates usually focus on whether the United States was founded as a Christian nation and, if true, what that would mean for public policy today. The founding documents have become a battlefield for competing claims about the faith, or lack thereof, of their authors, replete with cherry-picked quotes purporting to show that our early leaders did or did not want to privilege one religion over another. It's time to take a fresh a look at this debate. Historian Katherine Carté, author of Religion and the American Revolution reconstructs “the religious world into which the American Revolution intruded,” pitting protestant against protestant in what was an “empire of imperial protestantism.”
32 minutes | Jul 22, 2021
Similar to fascism or socialism, the political ideology of populism has meant different things to different people at different times in history. Figures as diverse as Huey Long, William Jennings Bryan, George Wallace, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump have been described as populists, which may explain why populism defies easy explanation on the right and left. With its American roots planted in the nineteenth century, populism coalesced around the notion that powerful, even conspiratorial, forces were pitted against ordinary people, fueling grievances against elites and outsiders -- cultural, economic, and political elites as well as immigrants. Georgetown University historian Michael Kazin, an expert on social and political movements, joins the podcast to explain one of the most vexing issues of our day.
40 minutes | Jul 20, 2021
If a key lesson of the Vietnam War was the United States should avoid fighting guerrilla wars in faraway countries of little strategic importance, whose people, histories, and cultures we do not understand, then the U.S. failed to heed that lesson in Afghanistan. As the final American and NATO troops prepare to exit Afghanistan after 20 years of war and nation-building, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Fredrik Logevall of the Harvard Kennedy School joins the podcast to discuss the similarities and differences between the two lost conflicts. Logevall is a preeminent scholar of the French and U.S. wars in Southeast Asia.
44 minutes | Jul 15, 2021
Violence of the American Revolution
The date upon which Americans celebrate their nation’s independence helps explain a curious act of forgetting, a whitewashing of a complicated past in favor of a mythic narrative of heroism and unity. It is on the Fourth of July when we mark the Continental Congress' adoption of the Declaration of Independence, whose opening words have come to embody the American ideal. We do not gather for barbecues or fireworks on, say, October 17. On that date in 1781 Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown, effectively ending the Revolutionary War -- a rebel victory without which the words of the Declaration would have amounted to a footnote in history. By embracing the Fourth of July and celebrating the Enlightenment ideals articulated in Jefferson’s magisterial Declaration, we tend to obscure the war part of the Revolutionary War -- the internecine violence, civil war, cruelty, terror, destruction of private property, and outright misery that has accompanied most wars and revolutions. In this episode, Pulitzer Prize-winning University of Virginia historian Alan Taylor discusses why it is important to acknowledge the violence and terror that scarred the revolutionary years as well as tales of heroism and courage and the triumph of freedom and liberty.
36 minutes | Jul 13, 2021
As the Chinese Communist Party marks its 100th anniversary, its leaders are using history to explain where the nation has been and where it intends to go. President Xi Jinping, eager to consolidate his authoritarian power, is paying his respects to Mao, conveniently ignoring the decades of violent chaos Mao instigated during his terrible reign. But Chinese youth are also looking to Chairman Mao for guidance -- for different reasons. They feel alienated in a society that is leaving them behind, where economic inequality is rampant and political freedoms scarce. Mercatus Center analyst Weifeng Zhong, an expert on Chinese domestic policy, joins the podcast to discuss China's contradictions and complexities.
43 minutes | Jul 8, 2021
Black Activism and the Olympics
It is an iconic Olympic moment that resonates in our current climate of racial activism. At the summer games in Mexico City in 1968, American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner as they stood on the awards podium, the “Black Power salute.” If that stands out as the most memorable act of political protest in Olympic history, it was also part of a long tradition of Black activism and sports. Politics and sports have always mixed, and the 2021 summer games in Tokyo will be no different. From Jesse Owens to Jackie Robinson, from Lew Alcindor (who would change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to Mohammad Ali, athletes have fought for their causes while winning medals and championships.
40 minutes | Jul 6, 2021
The Folly of American Empire
It is time for fresh thinking about America's place in the world and the meaning of national security. As 2021 reaches its midway point, Americans are still clearing the wreckage of the past year -- a deadly pandemic has claimed nearly 600,000 lives in the U.S., racial protest continues to simmer -- while their government struggles to extricate its military from "forever wars" in the Middle East. U.S. Army veteran and historian Andrew Bacevich, who is currently the president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, says it is long past time to question the fundamental assumptions underlying "American exceptionalism." Our collective belief in the ability to manage history has led to folly, alienation, and national drift.
35 minutes | Jul 1, 2021
Bibi and 'The Bomb'
In 1992 Benjamin Netanyahu, then Israel’s deputy prime minister, first warned the world that Iran was “three to five years” away from developing a nuclear bomb. In the three decades since, Netanyahu has repeated similar warnings countless times in interviews and speeches, alleging that Iran is led by irrational fanatics who dream of annihilating Israel in a nuclear armageddon. Bibi is out of power now, but his legacy on Iran lives on. No foreign politician had more influence over U.S. foreign policy over the past two decades. But Iran neither has a nuclear bomb nor does it want to produce one, according to historian John Ghazvinian. Was it all a cynical bluff to maintain U.S. support after the Cold War?
28 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
From the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the JFK assassination, from Watergate to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, special commissions and select committees have investigated traumatic events and political scandals throughout the past century. Their purpose was, to the extent possible, to set aside partisan politics and establish a comprehensive, factual record for history. So why are Senate Republicans blocking the creation of a 1/6 commission to investigate the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol? Historian Alvin Felzenberg, who was the chief spokesman for the 9/11 Commission, joins the podcast to discuss why the nation deserves all the facts.
36 minutes | Jun 24, 2021
Liberal Roots of the Republican Party
If today’s Republican Party, from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump, is known for fighting the left in the Congress, courts, and culture, the Republican Party of the 1850s rose to prominence by building on “the foundational left-wing social movement of the modern era,” which was the antislavery movement, according to Princeton historian Matthew Karp. Then a new party after the collapse of the Whigs, the antebellum Republicans fused social activism to end slavery with effective electoral politics. What can the the story of the abolitionists and antislavery men teach today's left-wing movements struggling to accomplish their goals? Karp joins host Martin Di Caro for a timely discussion tying the past to the present.
42 minutes | Jun 22, 2021
The Biggest Invasion Ever
In this episode, we are joined by world-renowned war historian Sir Antony Beevor. When someone says the Soviet Union, not the Western allies, defeated Nazism, they can point to this date, June 22, 1941, as a pivotal moment in that narrative. Eighty years ago today, the largest invasion in history began as more than three million German soldiers attacked the USSR in Operation Barbarossa. The battle caused a cataclysm; millions of people were brutally killed, including more than a million Soviet Jews. But the USSR survived, and Barbarossa's outcome helped shape our modern world.
34 minutes | Jun 17, 2021
Where America and Russia Went Wrong
One summit between President Joseph Biden and Russian president Vladimir Putin will not resolve 30 years of missteps, miscalculations, and meddling by both nations. When the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union vanished in 1991, the relationship between the two states appeared hopeful, signaling a future of cooperation and peaceful coexistence. In this episode, the Quincy Institute's Anatol Lieven, a seasoned journalist and expert on international relations, discusses why U.S.-Russia relations have sunk so low: the expansion of NATO, human rights abuses, and cyber sabotage are among the issues.
47 minutes | Jun 15, 2021
D-Day: History and Memory
In the first 24 hours of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, about as many French civilians were killed as Allied soldiers. From June 6 to August 25, in the areas of Northern France that saw the most fighting, “about twenty-thousand French civilians paid for liberation with their lives,” says University of Virginia historian William Hitchcock, the author of The Bitter Road to Freedom. In this episode, we compare history and memory of the invasion of Normandy and the power of liberation in our political vocabulary. By acknowledging the morally complicated nature of the liberation of France, U.S. leaders and citizens today might be more careful about invoking the Second World War to justify military missions of dubious necessity.
41 minutes | Jun 10, 2021
Why Third Parties Fail
In the words of Richard Hofstadter, “Third parties are like bees: once they have stung, they die." What Hofstadter, a towering public intellectual who died in 1970, meant was that in American politics, third parties succeeded not by winning elections, but by pushing the major parties to reform, to adopt ideas circulating on the margins and bring them into the mainstream. Whether third parties are a help or a hindrance, there is an immovable reason why they have struggled to maintain relevance in U.S. history. Two political scientists, Lee Drutman of New America and Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, discuss why third parties fail, and whether we could use some new parties today.
40 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
Why Tulsa Was Forgotten
In the past week Americans marked the anniversaries of two major events that hold different places in the common memory. One evoked feelings of honor and pride, the other shame and revulsion. June 6 was the 77th anniversary of the D-Day invasion; May 31 was the centenary of the Tulsa race massacre, one of the most violent acts of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. But unlike D-Day, the Tulsa massacre had been largely forgotten until recent efforts succeeded in drawing attention to its relevance in a nation still grappling with a legacy of racial injustice. Northwestern University historian Leslie Harris explains why it is so difficult for Americans to reckon with the darkest chapters of our past.
44 minutes | Jun 3, 2021
Biden's Foreign Policy
Host Martin Di Caro and The Washington Times national security team leader Guy Taylor discuss President Biden's foreign policy. During the Democratic primary debates in 2020, foreign policy was largely ignored. Reality has imposed itself in the early days of the Biden presidency, as the new administration juggles geopolitical dilemmas all over the globe. But as often as American presidents try to shape events to their advantage, unforeseen events shape presidencies. And how a chief executive manages crises not of his own making can determine whether a presidency succeeds or fails.
25 minutes | Jun 1, 2021
The Bitcoin Bubble
Is Bitcoin a revolutionary currency or a speculative bubble about to pop? Depends on whom you ask! From cryptocurrencies to total return swaps to hedge fund short-sellers, the financial markets can appear a minefield loaded with dangerous bets and outright scams. In this episode, Harvard economist Benjamin Friedman discusses whether we should be worried about Bitcoin's wild gyrations, and whether it is possible to see the next crash before it hits.
48 minutes | May 27, 2021
Never-Ending Conflict: Israel and the Palestinians
The fourth war between Israel and Hamas since the latter took power in Gaza 14 years ago killed hundreds of people, mostly Palestinians, and left unresolved the historical grievances between two peoples whose national aspirations compete for the same piece of earth. What will it take to end this conflict? Two people who work for the cause of peace, Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen and former Ambassador Hesham Youssef, explain why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems so intractable.
46 minutes | May 25, 2021
The Democrats' Comeback
In the quarter century after the Second World War, New Deal liberalism was riding high. But after LBJ's Great Society was sacrificed on the altar of Vietnam, and after Carter’s failed presidency gave way to the Reagan Revolution, Democrats were in disarray and liberal became a dirty word. A generation later, is Joe Biden leading a liberal comeback? Princeton historian Sean Wilentz returns to the podcast to talk about the possibilities and perils facing the Democratic Party after four years of Trump.
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2021