From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast

From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast

A modern U.S. history podcast about the events that spanned the Baby Boomer generation’s lifespan & that are still relevant to people today, especially to Millennials. Unlike some history podcasts, this podcast follows the national story in a chronological manner, starting in 1946. Most episodes are around a half-hour to 45 minutes in length. Each episode covers one year, possibly going all the way up to the present.... Show More

Episodes

January 16, 2021 46 min

After a brief reflection on troubling recent events in the USA, this episode looks back at a seemingly simpler time - Dwight D. Eisenhower's second term as President. By the late 1950s, Cold War pressures led the US government to build major defense & infrastructure projects, to invest heavily in education & scientific research, & to undertake modest steps in the direction of greater racial equality.  The Interstate...

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The key events of 1956 include a civil rights milestone, a presidential election, & an international crisis. The 1955 lynching of black teenager Emmett Till in Mississippi was just one manifestation of Southern resistance to the challenge to white supremacy posed by desegregation. More organized defenses of Jim Crow also formed, ranging from the plebeian (Ku Klux Klan) to the patrician (White Citizens' Councils; US Senate S...

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On Halloween 2020, our show returns from hiatus to preview Season 2 of the podcast, & to discuss the frightening topic of conspiracy theories in world history. We recount the dark history of pandemic-stricken societies seeking to blame alleged conspirators & scapegoats. Far-fetched conspiracy theories have had a wide appeal during troubled times throughout history, despite the fact that they often paint a bleak picture of a...

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The year 1955 was chock-full of events of economic, social, medical, & cultural importance. Perhaps the year's biggest story was Dr. Jonas Salk's development of a successful vaccine to prevent the terrifying childhood disease known as polio. The economy remained strong, overcoming a scare from Pres. Eisenhower's heart attack. The AFL-CIO merger marked a landmark in labor history. Commercial enterprises like McDonald...

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To help listeners understand the origins of the social unrest of May & June 2020, we created this special supplemental episode that provides historical background & context for turbulent current events. The large turnout & enthusiasm for the current Black Lives Matter protests occurred because of social developments that have been festering for decades: growing police militarization, continuing racial inequities, failin...

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This week’s episode considers the fate of social reform movements during the Cold War Era, giving an overview of long-term cultural trajectories. The Red Scare of the early Cold War years cast reformers who challenged existing institutions as potential subversives. After World War II, US society valued traditional gender roles; the “happy American housewife” was regarded as freer than the Soviet woman who was required to work. Sout...

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This wide-ranging & globe-trotting episode begins with a brief look at the successful 1953 expedition to summit Mount Everest, then pivots to some less inspiring international intrigue, as Cold War fears led the USA to meddle in the internal politics of Iran, Guatemala, & Vietnam, among other nations. John Foster Dulles's leadership of the State Department & his brother Allen Dulles's direction of the Central In...

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Throughout US history, many Americans have been reluctant to get involved in international affairs, hoping to avoid the wars & problems of the Old World. After the Pearl Harbor attacks brought the USA into World War II, the isolationist mentality quickly changed, & the Americans co-founded & joined the United Nations to preserve world peace after the war. But isolationist sentiments soon re-emerged in the form of suspic...

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In '53, the new US President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, managed to reach his goal of resolving the Korean War, thanks in part to a leadership change in the Soviet Union. However, with both superpowers successfully testing massively destructive hydrogen bombs, the Cold War still presented serious dangers. Meanwhile, Ike's own Republican Party was soon creating headaches for him in Congress. Sen. Joseph McCarthy insisted on conti...

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In March 1953, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin died of a stroke after several decades as the dominant figure in the USSR. American leaders, who had struggled to negotiate with the paranoid & merciless Stalin, responded by becoming hopeful but apprehensive, given the now-uncertain future of their chief Cold War opponent. Stalin's demise led rival high-ranking officials within the communist state to engage in a competition for l...

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President Harry Truman couldn't seem to catch a break during his final year in office. His attempts to bring an end to the Korean War were going nowhere, and his government was embarrassed by corruption scandals that hurt his administration's image. Truman didn't improve matters when he took drastic measures to break up a steel strike that threatened the war effort. He took the constitutionally dubious approach of havin...

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In the late 1940s, a middle-aged Egyptian writer & civil servant named Sayyid Qutb went to study in the United States. He had recently established himself as a critic of the Egyptian government, & was traveling abroad in part to escape a potential crackdown on political dissidents by Egypt's monarchy. However, Qutb soon found that he loathed American society even more than he disliked the Egyptian status quo. He found N...

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January 3, 2020 41 min

The Korean War reached a key turning point when President Harry Truman removed General Douglas MacArthur as the conflict's top strategic commander. MacArthur provoked the decision with his statements and actions that undermined the Truman Administration's military policies. Nevertheless, the American public was outraged that an unpopular small-town politician like Truman could end the career of a revered war hero like MacAr...

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This episode investigates the intergenerational argument over the phrase "OK Boomer" that has been spreading on social media during late 2019. Is it a well-justified Millennial pushback against bossy, out-of-touch Boomers? Or is it just an excuse for younger generations to be dismissive of older people? We examine the evidence & reach a nuanced verdict. Then, we map out a whirlwind overview of the period between 1946 &a...

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November 16, 2019 38 min

Cold War tensions finally boiled over into a heated military conflict during the Summer of 1950, when Soviet-allied North Korea invaded US-allied South Korea. In response, President Truman called General Douglas MacArthur away from his role administering the American occupation of Japan in order to fight the Communists on the Korean Peninsula. MacArthur's bold military strategies allowed the Americans to recapture South Korea f...

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This supplemental episode examines the post-World War II trials in Nuremberg, Germany, during 1946, where US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson led the prosecution against prominent Nazi leaders such as Hermann Goering & Albert Speer. Some of the USA’s WWII allies had recommended executing or imprisoning these infamous figures without trial, but the Americans believed that it was important for them to get a fair trial that...

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In 1949, a re-elected Pres. Harry Truman attempted to push through a Fair Deal of domestic reforms, but with little success. Instead, the US government’s attention fixated upon the “Red” threat after a Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War & the Soviet acquisition of the atomic bomb. As a charter member of the new NATO military alliance, the United States committed itself to counter these red gains by crushing Communist in...

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The late 1940s witnessed the birth of modern suburbia, as economic prosperity & declining inequality combined with newly-generous lending policies allowing millions of Americans to own their own homes for the first time in their lives. American families in an ascendant middle class could now afford cars, which began to transform the residential & commercial landscape of the nation. So-called "white ethnic" immigrant...

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In this overview of the key events of 1948, we take a closer look at the unlikely presidency of Harry S Truman. Presidential challengers Republican Thomas Dewey, Progressive Henry Wallace, & Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond collectively wanted to know, "do we defeat Truman?" in the '48 presidential election. Meanwhile, Americans successfully faced down the most serious challenge of the Cold War so far, overcoming a Soviet b...

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Tensions between the US & USSR had been building even during their awkward wartime alliance, but it was in 1947 that the Cold War became a staple feature of the post-WWII American political & diplomatic scene. This episode indulges in a very brief & oversimplified history of the Soviet Union, and then explores what caused the souring of US-Soviet relations and describes the governmental maneuvers that followed (includin...

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