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Dictators

A weekly True Crime, History and Education podcast featuring Kate Leonard and Richard Rossner
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Episodes of Dictators

He was one of the most ruthless conquistadors of the era, epitomizing the unbound cruelty of the most reckless Spanish invaders. Pedro de Alvarado served as Hernán Cortés’s right-hand man during their expedition into Tenochtitlan. His paranoia
Emperor Moctezuma couldn’t stop Cortés from reaching his legendary city. But the conquistador’s plans for conquest and glory had more than a few hiccups. Still contending with an old rival, Cortés was forced to march out of Tenochtitlan — and w
In the 16th century a spate of European explorers pursued gold and glory across the so-called New World. Among them was Hernán Cortés, a fame-seeking descendant of Spanish warriors who became a soldier on Diego Velazquez’s expedition to Cuba. H
Every unsolved crime leaves us with a nagging sense that just one witness, one piece of evidence, could change everything. Join us Mondays to revisit cases that ran cold for decades. Some weeks, forensic breakthroughs close the file for good. O
After experiencing a brutal colonization in the late 19th century, and years of political corruption afterward, the Congolese people desperately needed a virtuous leader. In 1965, they got Mobutu Sese Seko. For the next thirty years Mobutu used
In Somalia, after losing both of his parents to clan factionalism, Siad Barre joins the military and ascends its ranks over the decades. As his country finds independence from British and Italian colonizers, Barre finds power — so much, in fact
He was supposed to be the revolutionary spark that swept through Libya, inspiring the masses to rule themselves through direct democracy. Instead, his brutal authoritarianism transformed the country into a police state and international pariah.
The 1950s in Libya saw the dawning of a new era, when foreign rule ended and the country became an independent kingdom. Muammar Gaddafi was just a boy then. But inspired by Egypt’s anti-imperialist president, he became a devoted pan-Arab nation
Hitler’s favorite commando took every opportunity he could to lionize himself after the raid on Gran Sasso. His efforts paid off: As the German war effort stalled, Nazi leadership used him not only as a tool of propaganda, but as an instrument
Skorzeny was an Austrian fascist whose thirst for military glory led him to the Waffen-SS. In the summer of 1943, Hitler hand-selected him for a mission: rescue Benito Mussolini. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoi
Between his stranglehold on the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and his authority over the Nazis’ anti-Jewish policies, 38-year-old Reinhard Heydrich controlled the fates of millions. His fate, though, would be determined by the same resist
Reinhard Heydrich was a disgraced German naval officer who became a devout fascist under the tutelage of Heimlich Himmler. As the Nazis consolidated their power, he became one of the most ruthless officers in the entire regime, earning the nick
Based on the popular Cults podcast, Parcast’s first book is called CULTS: Understanding the World’s Most Notorious Groups and the People Who Followed Them. This book is for every loyal listener, true crime lover, and human nature investigator w
With his power secured, Himmler began a wave of terror that started in Germany and spread throughout Europe. Today we’re covering how he convinced Hitler to sanction the Nuremberg Laws, supplied Hitler with the pretext to invade Poland, and dev
It’s been five years since the Serial Killers podcast debuted, and to celebrate, we’re taking a look back at a grisly time in America: the serial killer boom of the 1970s. This four-part special deep dives into four notorious murderers, analyzi
He was a ruthless sycophant who carried out Hitler’s orders with utter savagery. Once a far-right university radical, Heinrich Himmler rose to become a leading member of the Nazi party and one of the principal architects of the Holocaust.  Lear
Caesar’s assassination throws Rome into political turmoil, jeopardizing Cleopatra’s right to rule Egypt. She begins a legendary love affair with Mark Antony that secures her survival for the time being. But an enemy is rising that will take eve
A keen witness to political theater from a young age, Cleopatra became the teenage queen of Egypt after her father suddenly died. In the face of deadly conflicts and exile, she found an unlikely ally in Julius Caesar and rose to become one of t
Some men raise kids. Others raise hell. Devious Dads is returning with more stories of men who were more flawed than fatherly, and who ruined anyone who stood in their way... even their own families. Follow Devious Dads for new episodes every S
The pharaoh prepared his armies for battle against the Hittites in modern-day Syria. In epic poems and pictorial reliefs, Ramesses would honor himself as the savior of Egypt’s forces — despite the true outcome of the clash. It was one more exam
He set out to be a living god whose name could never be forgotten. Ramesses II built monuments and a lavish new capital city. He tore down Akhenaten’s metropolis, using its stones for his own tomb. He mined gold in the desert. And in his long r
The completion of his glorious capital city was one step in Akhenaten’s plan to diminish the power of the Amun priesthood and reorient all of Egyptian religious life around the Aten. He had learned from his father how powerful a cult of persona
During Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, a teenage pharaoh ushered in a revolutionary new theology, elevating a single solar deity above all other gods. He honored the Aten in magnificent fashion, and introduced changes to the iconography and architecture
The death of the Director in 1972 put an end to a reign that spanned 48 years, and left America to live in his outsized shadow. What happened to Hoover’s secret files? How is the modern FBI still shaped by his legacy? And what have we discovere
While antiwar and Civil Rights movements charged forward, Hoover unleashed the FBI upon his enemies and adversaries. By the end of the 1960s, he was proclaiming that America’s greatest domestic threat was the Black Panther Party — and he was de
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