Throughline

Throughline

The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world. Subscribe to Throughline+. You'll be supporting the history-reframing, perspective-shifting, time-warping stories you can't get enough of - and you'll unlock access bonus episodes and sponsor-free listening. Learn more at plus.npr.org/throughline

Episodes

February 22, 2024 50 mins
Beyonce's Renaissance brought house music back to mainstream audiences. But even when it wasn't gracing the Grammys, house never went away. Born from the ashes of disco in the late 1970s and '80s, house was by and for the Black, queer youth DJing and dancing in Chicago's underground clubs. Since then it's become the soundtrack of parties around the world, and laid the groundwork for one of the most popular musical genres in history...
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We asked you to call us with your stories of looking for love in the 21st century — and man, did you come through. We heard the whole range of human experience in your stories, but one theme rang out loud and clear: dating, and especially online dating, is a struggle.

The data backs this up. Despite the fact that meeting someone today doesn't require much more than swiping on your phone, people who are looking for long-ter...
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February 8, 2024 51 mins
What if we told you that the key to time travel has been right in front of our eyes this whole time? Well, it has: it's in our noses. Today on the show, the science — and politics — of smell, and how it links our past and our present.

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February 1, 2024 44 mins
James Baldwin believed that America has been lying to itself since its founding. An insightful commentator on Black identity, American democracy, and racism, he saw something deep and ugly and stubborn in American culture, and never hesitated to call it by its name — to bear witness, regardless of what it cost him. As the United States continues to reckon with all aspects of its history, writer and professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. gui...
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January 30, 2024 49 mins
In October of 1983, Grenada's Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was assassinated in a coup, along with seven of his cabinet members and supporters. Six days later, the United States invaded the island country, and took control of it. The bodies of those eight people were never found.

Annie Bain's husband, Grenada's Minister of Housing, was one of the people killed alongside the Prime Minister. For 40 years, she's sought answe...
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January 25, 2024 49 mins
In 1899, Elie Metchnikoff woke up in Paris to learn that he had defeated old age. At least, that's what the newspaper headlines said. Before long he was inundated with mail from people begging him to help them live forever. The only problem? He didn't know how to do it.

At the time, Metchnikoff was one of the world's most famous scientists. And he believed aging was a disease he could cure. He dedicated his life to that q...
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January 18, 2024 51 mins
In April 1938, an Oklahoma bank robber was arrested for carrying an unregistered sawed-off shotgun across state lines. The robber, Jack Miller, put forward a novel defense: that a law banning him from carrying that gun violated his Second Amendment rights.

For most of U.S. history, the Second Amendment was one of the sleepier ones. It rarely showed up in court, and was almost never used to challenge laws. Jack Miller's cas...
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January 11, 2024 49 mins
Climate change, political unrest, random violence: modern society can often feel like what the filmmaker Werner Herzog calls "a thin layer of ice on top of an ocean of chaos and darkness." In the United States, polls indicate that many people believe law and order is the only thing protecting us from the savagery of our neighbors. This idea is often called "veneer theory." But is it true?

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January 4, 2024 56 mins
They say "everything old becomes new again." Today, that's baggy jeans, shag haircuts, 90s music, TV sitcoms – the latest version of finding comfort in nostalgia and familiarity in what came before. We constantly look for safety in the permanence of the past, or at least, what we think the past was. But, when it first appeared, nostalgia itself wasn't considered a feeling; it was a deadly disease. This episode traces the history of...
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December 28, 2023 52 mins
We live in divided times, when the answer to the question 'what is reality?' depends on who you ask. Almost all the information we take in is to some extent edited and curated, and the line between entertainment and reality has become increasingly blurred. Nowhere is that more obvious than the world of reality television. The genre feeds off our most potent feelings – love, hope, anxiety, loneliness – and turns them into profit... ...
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December 21, 2023 52 mins
Our society is saturated in apologies. They're scripted, they're public, and they often feel less than sincere. Political, corporate, celebrity apologies – they can all feel performed. It's not even always clear who they're for. So what purpose do these apologies serve? Because real apologies are not just PR stunts. Not just a way to move on. At their best, they're about acknowledgement and accountability, healing and repair. So ho...
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December 14, 2023 50 mins
Sometimes, the most dangerous and powerful thing a person can do is to stand up not against their enemies, but against their friends. As the United States heads into what will likely be another bitter and divided election year, there will be more and more pressure to stand with our in-groups rather than our consciences.

So a group of us here at Throughline decided to tell some of the stories of people who have stood up to ...
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December 7, 2023 49 mins
On November 18, 1633, a book went to press in London. Its author, Thomas Morton, had been exiled from the Puritan colonies in Massachusetts for the crimes of drinking, carousing, and – crucially – building social and economic ties with Native people. Back in England, Morton wrote down his vision for what America could become. A very different vision than that of the Puritans.

But the book wouldn't be published that day. I...
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November 30, 2023 58 mins
The Americans with Disabilities Act is considered the most important civil rights law since the 1960s. Through first-person stories, we look back at the making of this movement, the history of how disability came to be seen as a civil rights issue in the first place, and what the disability community is still fighting for more than 30 years later.

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November 23, 2023 47 mins
Hot Labor Summer has continued into fall as workers in industries from retail and carmaking to healthcare and Hollywood have organized and gone on strike. Public support for the U.S. labor movement is close to the highest it's been in 60 years. And that's no surprise to people who work in one particular industry: the airlines.

Airline workers — pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, baggage handlers, and more — represent a ...
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November 16, 2023 51 mins
On October 7th, the organization Hamas, which is also the ruling government of Gaza, perpetrated an attack just across the border in Israel. The Israeli government says that the attack killed around 1200 people, most of them civilians. And Hamas also kidnapped hundreds more, including women and children, and took them back to Gaza as hostages. In response, Israel has bombarded and invaded Gaza. More than 11,000 people have been kil...
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November 9, 2023 57 mins
A Marxist revolution, a Cold War proxy battle, and a dream of a Black utopia. In 1983, Ronald Reagan ordered the U.S. military to invade the island of Grenada. Forty years later, many Americans don't remember why — or that it even happened. This week, Martine Powers, from Post Reports, brings us a story of revolution, invasion, and the aftermath of unresolved history.

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November 2, 2023 49 mins
Roe. Brown. Obergefell. Dobbs. These Supreme Court decisions are the ones that make headlines, and eventually history books. But today, the vast majority of the Court's work actually happens out of the public eye, on what's become known as the shadow docket. The story of that transformation spans more than a century, and doesn't fall neatly along partisan lines. Today on the show: how the so-called court of last resort has gained m...
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October 26, 2023 53 mins
"Authority, without any condition and reservation, belongs to the nation." A military commander named Mustafa Kemal uttered these words in 1923, on the eve of the founding of the Republic of Turkey. He would later rename himself Ataturk, "Father of the Turks." And he was outlining a vision for the future: a future where old empires were buried and new nations reigned supreme. That vision would resonate beyond the borders of the new...
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October 19, 2023 50 mins
Long before it was a sugary moviefest, the Halloween we know was called Samhain. The Celts of ancient Ireland believed Samhain was a night when the barrier between worlds was thin, the dead could cross over, and if you didn't disguise yourself, evil fairies might spirit you away. Over time the holiday shape-shifted too, thanks to the Catholic Church, pagan groups, and even the brewing company Coors. From the Great Famine of Ireland...
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