History Unplugged Podcast

History Unplugged Podcast

For history lovers who listen to podcasts, History Unplugged is the most comprehensive show of its kind. It's the only show that dedicates episodes to both interviewing experts and answering questions from its audience. First, it features a call-in show where you can ask our resident historian (Scott Rank, PhD) absolutely anything (What was it like to be a Turkish sultan with four wives and twelve concubines? If you were sent back in time, how would you kill Hitler?). Second, it features long-form interviews with best-selling authors who have written about everything. Topics include gruff World War II generals who flew with airmen on bombing raids, a war horse who gained the rank of sergeant, and presidents who gave their best speeches while drunk.

Episodes

February 7, 2023 32 min
What if one book could contain the sum of mankind’s knowledge? Scholars and chroniclers have tried to write this book since antiquity, penning several so-called universal histories (perhaps the best was Rashid al-Din’s “Compendium of the Chronicles” that was commissioned by a Mongol Empire daughter state in 14th century). This goal was reached in 1768 with the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was published in Scotland b...
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How far can a single leader alter the course of history? Thomas Carlyle, who promoted the Great Man Theory, says that talented leaders are the primary – if not the sole – cause of change. This view has been challenged by social scientists who understand that leaders are not only constrained by their societies, but merely products of them. Whatever this interplay between a personality and his society, it raises the question of wheth...
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The most disruptive and transformative event in the Middle Ages wasn’t the Crusades, the Battle of Agincourt, or even the Black Death. It was the Mongol Conquests. Even after his death, Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire grew to become the largest in history—four times the size of Alexander the Great’s and stretching from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. But the extent to which these conquering invasions and subsequent Mongol rule trans...
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On January 16, 1944, the submarine rescue vessel USS Macaw ran aground at Midway Atoll while attempting to tow the stranded submarine USS Flier. The Flier was pulled free six days later but another three weeks of salvage efforts plagued by rough seas and equipment failures failed to dislodge the Macaw. On February 12, enormous waves nudged the ship backward into deeper water. As night fell and the Macaw slowly sank, the twenty-two ...
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January 24, 2023 50 min
Some anthropologists once believed that humanity lived in a peaceful state that lacked large-scale warfare before the arrival of large civilizations and all its wealth inequality and manufacture of weapons. But archeological findings have shown over and over that warfare dates back as far as homo sapiens themselves (such as the Bronze Age Battle of Tollense River, about which we known nearly nothing, save that 5,000 soldiers fought...
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Over 300 men were executed by the British Army for desertion and cowardice during the first World War. In this episode preview from Vlogging Through History, host Chris Mowery explores the process for executions and the stories of the men involved.

To continue listening to Vlogging Through History, check out:
Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3X3USwk
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3WX5A7E
Parthenon: https://www.parthenonpodcast.com/vloggin...
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Considered by many to be one of the best-known criminal defense lawyers in the country, Clarence Darrow became nationally recognized for his eloquence, withering cross-examinations, and compassionate support for the underdog, both in and out of the courtroom.

Though his fifty-year-long career was replete with momentous cases, specifically his work in the Scopes Monkey Trial and the Leopold and Loeb Murder Trial, Darrow’s Nightmare z...
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When the United States was founded in 1776, its citizens didn’t think of themselves as “Americans.” They were New Yorkers or Virginians or Pennsylvanians. It was decades later that the seeds of American nationalism—identifying with one’s own nation and supporting its broader interests—began to take root. But what kind of nationalism should Americans embrace? The state-focused and racist nationalism of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Ja...
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Within a decade and a half, Ottoman Sultan Suleyman, who reigned form 1520 to 1566, held dominion over twenty-five million souls, from Baghdad to the walls of Vienna, and with the help of his brilliant pirate commander Barbarossa placed more Christians than ever before or since under Muslim rule. He launched voyages into the Indian Ocean, threatened to conquer all of Europe, and took firm control over the Mediterranean Sea.

And yet...
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If you are one of the 40 million people in the United States who practice yoga, or if you have ever meditated, you have a forgotten Indian monk named Swami Vivekananda to thank. Few thinkers have had so enduring an impact on both Eastern and Western life as him, the Indian monk who inspired the likes of Freud, Gandhi, and Tagore. Blending science, religion, and politics, Vivekananda introduced Westerners to yoga and the universalis...
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In 1348, King Edward III founded a charity for impoverished men-at-arms, who came to be known as the Alms Knights (or Poor Knights). These knights were destitute because their families ransomed them in foreign wars, and their sovereign didn’t see fit to leave them as beggars. He also wanted them to commit to praying for the souls of him and his descendants, setting up a chapel for this very purpose (all part of the Chantry Craze i...
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J. Edgar Hoover was possibly the most powerful non-elected person in modern American history. As FBI director from 1924 through his death in 1972, he used the tools of state to create a personal fiefdom unrivaled in U.S. history. He ruthlessly rooted out real and perceived threats to the United States, from bank robbers to Soviet spies to civil rights groups, calling Martin Luther King, Jr. “the country’s most notorious liar.” But ...
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When people think of Irish emigration, they often think of the Great Famine of the 1840s, which caused many to flee Ireland for the United States. But the real history of the Irish diaspora is much longer, more complicated, and more global. Today’s guest, Sean Connolly, author of “On Every Tide: The Making and Remaking of the Irish World,” argues that the Irish exodus helped make the modern world.

Starting in the eighteenth century...
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In 1937, two British sisters, Louise and Ida Cook, seemed headed for spinsterhood due to so many men of their generation dying in World War One. Louise was a typist, and Ida was becoming a famous romance novelist, who would go on to write over 100 books. They found refuge in their love of music, with frequent visits to Germany and Austria to see their favorite opera stars perform. But with the clouds of WW2 gathering, Europe’s ope...
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In the wake of Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, American men famously flooded recruiting offices across the nation to join the war effort. These stories are well documented and attested by eye witnesses, but a part of this story left out or overlooked is that black Americans joined with an equal level of fervor. Over one million black men and women served in the war, playing crucial roles in every theatre of World War 2. Th...
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“Free market” is a concept beloved by many but understood in incredibly different ways. Most use Milton Friedman’s definition: the absence of any and all government activity in economic affairs. In the Cold War, free markets were understood to be a feature of liberty that set the free world apart from the planned economies of communist nations. Politicians use “free markets” as a stand-in for less government regulation or red tape ...
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Was it ever possible for the Soviets to win the Cold War? Looking back, its defeat seemed inevitable. The USSR had a political system hated by much of its population, a backwards economy, and harsh geographic conditions that made development challenging. But as late as the 1980s, few thought it would fall apart as catastrophically as it did.
How close was the USSR to victory? Was it structurally doomed to fail, or could better inter...
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Confederate leaders were nothing if not dreamers. They did not merely want to maintain slavery in a quiet corner of the world and hold onto antiquated traditions. They saw themselves as true progressives that would lead a neo-feudal order, becoming massively wealthy with trade, and dominate the Western Hemisphere.
In the antebellum era, leading Southern politicians, diplomats, clerics, planters, farmers, manufacturers, and merchants...
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And Alexander wept, seeing as he had no more worlds to conquer. That’s a quote from Hans Gruber in Die Hard, which is a very convoluted paraphrase from Plutarch’s essay collection Moralia. There’s plenty of truth in that unattributed quote from Mr. Gruber.

Alexander the Great’s death at 323 BC in Babylon marked the end of the most consequential military campaign in antiquity. He left behind an empire that stretched from Greece to...
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This is a preview of an upcoming series on this podcast that looks at the detailed post-war plans from generals and heads of state that never came about because said leaders either died or lost their war. Alexander the Great was said to have plans to launch conquest along the Mediterranean all the way to Spain and send naval expeditions around Arabia and Africa. The Confederacy wanted to dominate global trade and fortify slavery in...
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