History Unplugged Podcast

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Many people think the Negro Leagues as a sad, somber part of America's legacy of racial division. In many ways it is, says Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Baseball Museum. But on the 100th anniversary of its founding, he stresses that it is moreover a triumphant story about what came out of segregation, and the result was a much richer, stronger country. It was the Negro Leagues that introduced baseball to Japan and Latin America when black players played in exhibition matches at those places (they went on a goodwill tour to Japan in 1927, years before Babe Ruth and others came, winning the hearts of locals). And, he says, it was the Negro League that kickstarted the Civil Rights Movement by its players breaking the baseball color barrier of the Major Leagues with Jackie Robinson in 1947. This was years before the Birmingham Bus Boycott (1956) or the Freedom Riders (1961). Today I'm speaking with Kendrick about the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, which were formed on February 13, 1920, in Kansas City, Missouri. For the next several decades, black players competed on Negro League teams every bit as competent as their white counterparts (Hank Aaron got his start in the Negro Leagues; Joe DiMaggio called Satchel Paige “the best and fastest pitcher I have ever faced.”)We discuss legends of the sport, such as Buck O'Neil, a first baseman for the Kansas City Monarchs, who became the first black scout for Major League Baseball and was a major player in establishing the museum itself (he was also a fixture on Ken Burns' documentary on baseball).
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 killers in the Roman Empire or did they only appear in the modern world?Were children and teenagers more properly educated in the late 18th and 19th centuries than today?Why was the Islamic World more scientifically advanced than Europe in the Middle Ages?Who is the greatest orator that ever lived?
Kennedy vs. FDR Stats of Fighters Name: John F. Kennedy Height: 6’0 Weight: 175 Military experience: Lieutenant (navy). Served in combat during World War II. Received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart. Special abilities: Incredible endurance under extreme pain. Kennedy suffered Addison’s disease his entire life, causing terrible physical suffering in his joints and abdomen. The left side of his body was smaller than the right, producing chronic back pain. He wore a metal brace and used crutches or even a wheelchair when the press was out of view. Despite this, when in August 1943 his boat the PT-109 was ripped apart by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy (now with a ruptured spinal disk) swam four hours with his crew to an island while towing an injured crewman by the life-jacket strap with his teeth. Name: Franklin D. Roosevelt Height: 6’2 Weight: 190 Military experience: None Special abilities: Fearlessness. Lyndon Johnson said FDR was “the only person I knew, anywhere, who was not afraid.” And he was quite hearty before coming down with polio at age 39. Like his distant cousin Teddy, FDR suffered many illnesses as a child but fought back by throwing himself into the outdoors. He loved to swim, box, sail, fish, and jog. But overall he had incredible composure under stress due to his supreme assurance of the importance of what he was doing.
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 overtures in a two-year period. Over his lifetime Telemann's oeuvre consists of more than 3,000 pieces, although “only” 800 survive to this day.He was not the only person whose productivity defied all reason. Greek scientist Archimedes discovered mathematical phenomena that weren't confirmed for 17 centuries. Isaac Newton invented classical physics and was one of the inventors of calculus. Benjamin Franklin wrote, published, politicked, invented, experimented, and humored, sometimes all at the same time.This episode is part one of two that explores the lives of the most productive people in history. We will look at the cultures into which they were born and see the methods that they used to achieve such sweeping results.  
Being a historical consultant for movies is never easy. How do you get the period details right while keeping it contained within an interesting narrative? But being a historical consultant about one of the most recognizable figure in history is even harder. That’s why today’s guest Catherine Clinton had her work cut out for her.For the 2012 Steve Spielberg movie “Lincoln,” Clinton—a U.S. academic historian and expert on Mary Lincoln—was consulted by filmmakers over costume details and details about the Lincolns’ lives.In this episode we discussPopular misconceptions about Mary Todd that historians know is falseWhether her reputation as a hellcat or maniac is deserved, and if not, why it became distortedChallenges of portraying historical fact while cutting necessary corners for a 2-hour film narrativeWhat “Lincoln” portrayed about Abraham and Mary Todd that other film makers have missedLessons from the life of Abraham and Mary Todd we should remember today
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 neighbor. Some nations tried merely not to get invaded. Portugal had to keep up its client relationship with Britain but not anger Hitler by helping them too much. Britain claimed the right to use Portuguese ports under the terms of a 14th century treaty. But Portugal had to refuse Britain the right to use the Azores Islands as an airbase until years into the war.Other nations profited heavily from World War Two thanks to its neutrality. Switzerland was the finance hub of 1940s Europe, as both Axis and Allied powers deposited their valuables in Swiss bank accounts and safety deposit boxes. But in recent years some have called Switzerland's actions war profiteering, especially as Switzerland laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in stolen assets, including gold taken from the central banks of German-occupied Europe. At the war's end, Holocaust survivors and the heirs of those who perished met a wall of bureaucracy and only a handful managed to reclaim their assets. Some of the dormant accounts were taken by the Swiss authorities to satisfy claims of Swiss nationals whose property was seized by Communist regimes in East Central Europe.Turkey was still devastated by the endless Ottoman wars from 1911-1922 and sat out World War Two. But they held vast reserves of chromite, necessary for making steel, which they happily sold to Axis powers. All the while Turkey held out the hope that Britain could use its islands to invade Europe from the Balkans in return for advanced aircraft. Turkey only entered the war in 1945 (and only to get a seat at the forthcoming United Nations) but profited well from the massive conflict. This episode is based on a question from listener Chris Wentworth. He asked me why some nations like Turkey, were so involved with World War One but took a backseat during World War Two, which arguably did more to create our modern world than any other event.
A special announcement about a special series that will be running this December - a battle royale among all 44 U.S. presidents!
Franklin Pierce vs. Millard Fillmore Stats of Fighters: Name: Franklin Pierce Height: 5’10 Weight: 145 Military experience: Brigadier General; New Hampshire Militia, 1831–46; Mexican–American War; commanded Infantry Brigade at Battle of Contreras, Battle of Churubusco, and the Assault on Mexico City. Special abilities: Stone-cold ruthlessness. Pierce fought at the end of the Mexican-American War and led a brigade despite being thrown from his horse and injured on the battlefield. He continued to bark orders while completely immobile. While president, Pierce was charged with running over a woman with his horse; the case was thrown out due to a lack of evidence. He was also a chronic alcoholic praised by his opponents as “the victor of many a hard-fought bottle.” Name: Millard Fillmore Height: 5’9 Weight: 165 Military experience: Major, New York State Militia; Served in New York Militia in 1820s and 1830s; Organized Union Continentals home guard unit during the Civil War. Special abilities: The power of invisibility on account of being utterly forgettable. The thirteenth president was chosen as Taylor’s vice president only on account of being a Northeasterner. He failed to quell the oncoming Civil War. In that battle he formed a forty-five-man militia, but the only action they saw was marching in parades.
George Washington was the First President of the United States. This is the most basic fact that an American school child can learn. Only it isn't true. He wasn’t the first. Nor the second. He was actually the ninth president of the United States. How can that be? It all has to do with the ad hoc, make-it-up-as-you-go nature of the United States government between the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the signing of the Constitution in 1789.   TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher
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 against?The Second Amendment is one of the most controversial parts of the American constitution today. We always talk about the part that refers to private firearm ownership but we rarely talk about well-regulated militias, even though the amendment gives equal weight to both. What was the importance of militias in the past and when did they decline in impact?Can you tell me about the history and importance of Close Air Support?
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 by President George W. Bush. The Marines' mission: to kill or capture anti-Iraqi forces. Today I'm talking with Maj. Scott Huesing, the commander who led Echo Company through Ramadi, He discussing retaking the city street-by-street in the dead of night, what it was like to fight 4-5 skirmishes a day for months on end, and the challenges of asymmetrical warfare where the frontline is everyone and no enemy wears a uniform. We discuss how the military shifted tactics from Cold War-style combat to effective street fighting, why he thinks women belong in combat units, his relationship with Iraqi translators, and the battle to overcome post-traumatic stress in the years following service.  
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 question and three others, and they all have to do with critical events in European history that could have changed the continent's fate. The other three questions I answer are as follows.What if Spain had become disunified after the War of Spanish Succession?Could German Unification have taken place without Otto von Bismarck?What is the largest massacre still denied today?
Richard Francis Burton was an explorer, translator, and contender for the 19th-century's world's most interesting man. He was also functional in dozens of languages and translated monumental works of scholarship from Arabic and Portuguese in English.
Washington and his men had their work cut out for them after crossing the Delaware River. Over the next ten days, they won two battles. First, the Patriots defeated a Hessian garrison on December 26th. They then returned to Trenton a week later to draw British force south, then launched a night attack to capture Princeton on January 3rd. With the victory, New Jersey fell into Patriot hands.
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Justinian I of Byzantium is among the most towering figure of the ancient and medieval periods. His innovations in governance, architecture, law, and welding together religion with imperial power were blueprints of governance for the next thousand years of kings and emperors. He rose to imperial power in 527 AD and reacquired Roman lands in Europe that were lost a century ago to Vandal and Ostrogothic invasions. He removed the rotting branches of his administration, replacing bureaucrats from the aristocracy with independent counselors.Justinian also rewrote the Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis. He gathered together legal commentaries and laws of the Roman legal system into a single text that would hold the force of law. It was composed in Latin and is still the basis of civil law in many of the empire's descendant states. To talk with us about how Justinian changed the world is Robin Pierson, host of the History of Byzantium Podcast. Here are five parts of history that Justinian irrevocably changed: Laws Hagia Sophia Christianizing culture Slavs Islam   ABOUT ROBIN PIERSON Robin Pierson is from London in the UK. He writes about American TV shows at thetvcritic.org and works for his father (an actor). Robin created the show to continue the narrative established by Mike Duncan’s wonderful podcast “The History of Rome.” He uses the structure of half-hour instalments told from a state-centric perspective. He pauses the narrative at the end of each century to take time to cover wider issues to do with Byzantium RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE The History of Byzantium: A podcast telling the story of the Roman Empire from 476 AD to 1453
The Japanese military of World War Two has a nasty reputation—kamikaze pilots, baby killers, and brain-washed, honor-obsessed soldiers who threw away their lives for a lost cause. Parts of this reputation is earned but much of the stereotype has come out of World War Two films. Depicting WWII Japan fairly in film and television while humanizing its people isn't easy, but Dan King is up to the job. King is a WWII Pacific war historian who reads, writes and speaks Japanese. After returning to the US he worked on several dozen movies and historical documentaries as a technical advisor, historical & language consultant and re-enactment coordinator. He was the assistant military advisor for Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai (he had a cameo as a German officer), a researcher for Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima/Flags Of Our Fathers, and technical consultant for Nicolas Cage's Windtalkers. His passion for the subject of the war in the Pacific has also led him to seek out over 250 Japanese WWII veterans and personally interview 97 of them, in their own language. He has also been interviewed on several radio programs and has spoken to hundreds of people about Japanese aviation. Dan King was also employed by EA GAMES as the WWII Japanese technical consultant for the worldwide best selling "Medal of Honor" video game series. His basic task was to provide information to the game creators in order to make the game as accurate as possible. This included providing examples of Japanese WWII uniforms and gear; infantry weapons; tanks, large guns, ships and aircraft; Japanese language supervision during VO recording; and battle tactics and hand signals.   RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE Dan's Site Historical Consulting A Tomb Called Iwo Jima The Last Zero Fighter: Firsthand Accounts from WWII Japanese Naval Pilots TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher
Learn about one of the most important events in modern Irish history. On Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, a group of Irish nationalists proclaimed the establishment of the Irish Republic. They, along with some 1,600 followers, staged a rebellion against the British government in Ireland. It all started at a modest post office in Dublin and led to a direct clash with British troops.   TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher
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Podcast Details

May 11th, 2017
Latest Episode
Mar 30th, 2020
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
34 minutes

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