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HISTORY This Week

HISTORY This Week

This week, something momentous happened. Whether or not it made the textbooks, it most certainly made history. Join HISTORY This Week as we turn back the clock to meet the people, visit the places and witness the moments that led us to where we are today.

To get in touch with story ideas or feedback, email us at [email protected], or leave us a voicemail at 212-351-0410.

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The Night Witches

October 4, 1938. Soviet pilot Marina Raskova beats a world record: the longest continuous flight ever recorded by a woman. She'll soon break another barrier-- she'll lead the first-ever female air force pilots to fly on the front lines of World War Two. One of her regiments in particular will wreak havoc on Nazi German soldiers and become the most notorious night bombers in the entire Soviet Union. They'll become known as the Night Witches. Who were these barrier-breaking pilots? And how did they become some of the most feared forces on the Eastern front?

Thank you to our guests, Claudia Hagen, author of "Tonight We Fly!" The Soviet Night Witches of WWII, and to Christer Bergström, author of "Black Cross Red Star - Air War over the Eastern Front: Volume 1 Operation Barbarossa."

 

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2021-10-04
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Monopoly Money

October 1, 1904. Show up at a newsstand this morning, and you'll see that the October issue of McClure's magazine has hit the shelves. Alongside it, newspapers advertise what?s inside: "Ida M. Tarbell renders her final judgment of Rockefeller's Trust." It?s the 19th and last installment in a series that has made people sit up and take notice of a powerful monopoly and the man behind it. How did a scrappy reporter take on the richest man in the country? And how, in the process, did she change corporate America and investigative journalism itself?

Special thanks to our guests, Stephanie Gorton, author of Citizen Reporters: S. S. McClure, Ida Tarbell, and the Magazine that Rewrote America; Kathleen Brady, author of Ida Tarbell: Portrait of a Muckraker; and Steve Weinberg, author of Taking on the Trust: How Ida Tarbell Brought Down John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil.

 

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2021-09-27
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The Mother of Level Measurements

September 24, 1902. A new cooking school is set to open at Boston?s 30 Huntington Avenue. The rooms will soon be filled with trainee cooks, who will watch in awe as the school?s namesake and principal, Fannie Farmer, lectures on everything from boning meats to baking the perfect reception rolls. Farmer is an innovative cook, and a pioneer in a thriving women's culinary movement known as "domestic science." But her school stands at a crossroads of that very movement and begs the question, what is the purpose of food? Who was Fannie Farmer, ?the mother of level measurements?? And how did she shape the way we cook and eat today?

Special thanks to our guests, Laura Shapiro, author of Perfection Salad; Danielle Dreilinger, author of The Secret History of Home Economics; and Anne Willan, author of Women in the Kitchen.

 

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2021-09-20
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"The Strangest Gathering of Men"

September 15, 1893. About 4,000 people are intently listening to a monk on a stage in Chicago. They?re at an event called Parliament of the World?s Religions ? an unprecedented gathering of leaders from many different faiths all over the world, held at the Chicago World's Fair. The monk is Hindu from Bombay India and is telling a mostly Protestant American audience a story that is not planned and certainly not what the Protestant organizers were expecting. What happened when tension among religious leaders unfolded in front of thousands of American spectators? And how did this Parliament help broaden the country?s understanding of religion?

Thank you to our guests, Scholar of Religion and Professor Eric Ziolkowski from Lafayette College and Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies Diana Eck from Harvard University. Thank you also to Richard Hughs Seager, author of "The World's Parliament of Religions; The East/West Encounter, Chicago 1892."

 

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2021-09-13
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Blindspot: The Road to 9/11

Episode 1: The Bullet. The 9/11 attacks were so much more than a bolt from the blue on a crisp September morning. They were more than a decade in the making. Our story starts in a Midtown Manhattan hotel ballroom in 1990. Shots ring out and the extremist rabbi, Meir Kahane, lies mortally wounded. His assassin, El-Sayyid Nosair, is connected to members of a Brooklyn mosque who are training to fight with Islamic freedom fighters in Afghanistan. NYPD Detective Louis Napoli and FBI Special Agent John Anticev catch the case and start unraveling a conspiracy that is taking place in plain sight by blending into the tumult of the city. It is animated by an emerging ideology: violent jihad.

More about the Blindspot: Road to 9/11:

While the devastating images of the 9/11 attacks are seared into our national collective memory, most of the events that led up to that day took place out of public view. Over eight episodes, Blindspot: The Road to 9/11, brings to light the decade-long ?shadow struggle? that preceded the attacks. Hosted by WNYC reporter Jim O?Grady and based on The HISTORY® Channel's television documentary Road to 9/11 (produced by Left/Right), this podcast series draws on interviews with more than 60 people ? including FBI agents, high-level bureaucrats, journalists, experts, and people who knew the terrorists personally ? and weaves them together with original reporting to create a gripping, serialized narrative audio experience. Blindspot: The Road to 9/11 is a co-production of The HISTORY® Channel and WNYC Studios.

 

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2021-09-11
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9/11: Rescue on the Water

September 11, 2001. On a clear and sunny day, Captain Richard Thornton is piloting his ferry boat back and forth between New Jersey and New York City. But when he hears an airplane flying too low to the ground, he knows something is wrong. After the World Trade Center?s North Tower is struck, Thornton instinctively drives his ship down towards Lower Manhattan. He will soon be joined by countless other marine craft: ferries, fishing boats, tugboats, and more. With the roads, bridges, and trains that connect the island of Manhattan to the rest of the world shut down, this collection of civilian, commercial, and military boats manages to carry more than 500,000 survivors to safety. How did this impromptu evacuation, which was larger than Dunkirk during WWII, come together? And how does one ferry boat captain reflect on the shared sense of duty he felt on that fateful day?

 

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2021-09-06
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Shaving Russia

History repeats itself this week with an episode from the HISTORY This Week archives: Sept 5, 1698. Tsar Peter the Great of Russia returns home from a year-long European tour. When noblemen, religious figures and friends gather to welcome him home, Peter pulls out a straight razor, holds it to their throats, and?forcibly shaves their beards. This event will go down in history as a first step towards Russian geopolitical power. Before Peter?s reign, Russia was an isolated nation that was largely ignored by the rest of the world. How did Peter the Great almost single-handedly drag Russia onto the world stage? And how did his great beard-shaving endeavor lead to the Russia we know today?

Special thank you to our guest Lynne Hartnett, Ph.D., professor of History, Villanova University and Understanding Russia: A Cultural History.

 

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2021-08-30
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The True Winnie-the-Pooh

August 24, 1914. A train pulls up to the lumber town of White River, Ontario, carrying a regiment of Canadian troops on board. On the tracks where they disembark is a small black bear cub. An army veterinarian decides to buy the bear and name her Winnipeg?Winnie for short?after the town where he's been living. When the soldiers are deployed to the European front, Winnie is left at the London Zoo, where a child named Christopher Robin Milne will meet her. He'll later rename his own teddy bear after her: Winnie-the-Pooh. How did a real-life boy and a real-life bear inspire some of the world's most famous literary characters? And what impact did these stories ultimately have on the people who helped bring them to life?

Special thanks to Ann Thwaite, whose most recent book about Milne and Winnie-the-Pooh is titled Goodbye Christopher Robin: A.A. Milne and the Making of Winnie-the-Pooh.

 

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2021-08-23
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The Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa

August 21, 1911. On a Monday morning, a department store employee on a Paris street sees a man hurrying by. He carries a white-wrapped package and, as the employee watches, he throws something small and shiny over his shoulder...it?s a doorknob. Then the man disappears into the streets of Paris. That store employee has just witnessed a small part of what will soon become the world?s most famous crime. In that white-wrapped package was...the Mona Lisa. Why has the Mona Lisa enchanted so many people since the 1500s? And how did a struggling Italian handyman manage to steal it?

Thank you to our guests, Martin Kemp, author of Mona Lisa. The People and the Painting, and Dr. Noah Charney, founder of the Association for Research into Crimes against Art.

 

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2021-08-16
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Pop Music Pirates

August 14, 1967. Off the coast of England, a group of pirate ships has been fighting to stay afloat. These are pirates of a particular kind?less sword fighting and treasure hunting, more spinning records and dancing late into the night. For the past few years, these boats have made it their mission to broadcast popular music from international waters. But at the stroke of midnight, a new law will make these pirate radio DJs criminals. Some of them, aboard Radio Caroline, are willing to risk it. How did a group of young rebels launch an offshore radio station that gave the BBC a run for its money? And how did they change the course of music history?

Special thanks to our guests, former Caroline pirates Nick Bailey, Gordon Cruse, Roger Gale, Patrick Hammerton, Keith Hampshire, Dermot Hoy, Colin Nichol, Paul Noble, Ian Ross, Chris Sandford, and Steve Young.

 

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2021-08-09
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The Road Less Traveled

August 2, 1915. The poem appears in print for the first time this week, from Kentucky to Pennsylvania to Vermont. Every reader is transported to that same leafy path: ?two roads diverged in a yellow wood.? The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost becomes an immediate hit and will go on to become one of the most popular and well-known poems in American history. For many, it's about a spirit of individualism -- forging one?s own path. And yet? Robert Frost may have had a completely different meaning in mind. What?or who?inspired Frost to write this iconic poem? And what is it really telling us about how to make a choice?

Thank you to our guests, Professor Jay Parini, author of "Robert Frost: A Life," and Professor David Orr, author of " The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong."

Thank you also to Middlebury College Special Collections, Middlebury, Vermont for their 1953 recording of Robert Frost reading "The Road Not Taken".

 

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2021-08-02
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Jesse Owens Takes Germany

August 1, 1936. The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. Adolf Hitler enters the stadium to a militaristic Wagner march. Swastikas flutter everywhere on the flag of the Nazi Party. When these moments are remembered later, one athlete?s name comes up more than any other: Jesse Owens. He?s a Black American sprinter, a legendary athlete, and one of 18 Black Americans who competed in Hitler?s Olympics. How, through these 1936 Games, does this one man become mythologized? And what is the forgotten context of his storied Olympic wins?

Special thanks to Damion Thomas, curator of sports for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Deborah Riley Draper, director and writer of Olympic Pride, American Prejudice; and Mark Dyreson, director of research and educational programs for the Penn State Center for the Study of Sports in Society.

 

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2021-07-26
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Fiddling with the Truth

July 19, 64 AD. The Circus Maximus is the main arena in ancient Rome at this time, where tens of thousands watch chariot races and gladiator fights. The stadium is surrounded by shops and bars and restaurants, the whole area teeming with life. And tonight, it will all be destroyed. Nero, the emperor of Rome, will allegedly fiddle while he watches his city burn, and may have even set the fire himself. But if you look at the story a little closer, some of the details just don?t add up. So, what is really true about Nero? And how did a story that was essentially fake news last for 2,000 years?

Special thanks to Anthony Barrett, author of Rome Is Burning: Nero and the Fire That Ended a Dynasty.

 

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2021-07-19
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The Hunt for Hieroglyphs

July 15, 1799 (approximately). In the town of Rashid on the Nile Delta, French soldiers and Egyptian laborers are rebuilding an old, falling-down fort, when someone spots something unusual. It?s a jagged black rock, inscribed with what looks like three different types of writing. This stone?the Rosetta Stone?will become the key to deciphering a language that had been lost for thousands of years. Today: the race to unlock the secrets of hieroglyphs. How did two scholars manage to decode a language that no one in the world spoke? And when modern people could finally read the messages left by a long-dead civilization, what were we able to learn?

 

Special thanks to our guest, Edward Dolnick, whose book, The Writing of the Gods: The Race to Decode the Rosetta Stone, comes out in October 2021.

 

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2021-07-12
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The Last Archive: Scopes Monkey Trial

July 10, 1925. A group of Tennessee jurors is selected to judge the case of John T. Scopes, a high school science teacher. His offense? Teaching his students about evolution. Across the country, Americans are tuning in to hear science face off against religion in the eyes of the law. But as the trial unfolds, Scopes and his crime become a backdrop for a much bigger culture war, one that divides believers and skeptics and sows doubts that still exist today. This episode comes from the podcast The Last Archive, from Pushkin Industries. You can listen to more episodes of The Last Archive at http://podcasts.pushkin.fm/historythisweek.

 

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2021-07-05
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Introducing: Hope, Through History Season 2

Welcome back to a new season of the C13Originals critically acclaimed Hope, Through History documentary limited series. Narrated and written by Pulitzer Prize Winning and Best Selling Historian, Jon Meacham, Season Two explores some of the most historic and trying times in American History, and how this nation dealt with the impact of these moments, and how we came through these moments a more unified nation. Season Two, presented by C13Originals, in association with The HISTORY Channel, will guide you through the Battle of Gettysburg and its impact on the future of the country, the relationship between FDR and Churchill and America?s slow walk to war, the plan for AIDS relief, the sinking of the Lusitania and events impact on the future of America, and Bloody Sunday and the Voting Rights Act. As Winston Churchill once remarked, ?The future is unknowable, but the past should give us hope??the hope that human ingenuity, reason, and character can combine to save us from the abyss and keep us on a path, in another phrase of Churchill?s, to broad, sun-lit uplands. Welcome to Season Two.

 

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2021-06-30
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A Mob Boss Starts a Movement

June 28, 1971. It?s the second annual ?Unity Day? rally at Columbus Circle in New York City, organized by the Italian American Civil Rights League. Joe Colombo is the very public face of the League, a group that actively fights discrimination and ugly stereotypes against the Italian-American community, such as their association with organized crime and the Mafia. The problem? That same Joe Colombo is a leader of the Mafia, one of the heads of the ?Five Families? in New York. It?s an open secret; many people across the city know who he really is, and the FBI is hot on his tail, trying to catch him in the act. On this day, Colombo?s dual life?as a media-facing advocate and as an underground criminal?will come crashing down in a violent display.

 

Special thanks to Don Capria, co-author of Colombo: The Unsolved Murder; Selwyn Raab, veteran Mafia reporter and author of Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires; and Geoff Schumacher, vice president of exhibits and programs for the Mob Museum in Las Vegas.

 

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2021-06-28
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Two Fathers, One Fight

June 21, 1998. Father's Day. At the Church of the Atonement in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, Jon and Michael Galluccio are ready to tie the knot, in front of family, friends, reporters, and one lone picketer. The Galluccios are already public figures?a few months earlier, they had secured the right for gay and unmarried couples to jointly adopt children. And today, they pull up to their wedding in a minivan, with their son in tow: as a family. How did this family come together? And how did their son's adoption end up changing the lives of other families all across the country?

Special thanks to our guests, Jon and Michael Galluccio. Their book is called An American Family.

 

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2021-06-21
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Watergate from the Inside

June 17, 1972. In the early morning hours, five men are caught after breaking into the Watergate building in Washington, DC. The failed break-in that night will eventually lead to the unraveling of a major American scandal that reaches the highest levels of government. Why did President Nixon and the men around him believe that they could get away with something so obviously illegal? And how - for one of our producers - did this episode hit close to home?

Thank you to our guest expert, Michael Dobbs, author of King Richard: An American Tragedy.

Thank you also to Ken Hughes and Michael Greco from The Miller Center at UVA for speaking with us for this episode.

 

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2021-06-14
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Witches Among Us

June 10, 1692. Bridget Bishop is loaded into a two-wheeled cart and brought from her Salem jail cell to a pasture on a hill, where a rope is hanging from freshly-installed gallows. A crowd forms around her: law officers to read the death warrant, ministers to offer last rites, and onlookers, curious to see a witch in the flesh. Bishop?s execution raises doubts that could have stopped the Salem witch trials in their tracks. But instead, it became the first in a deluge of convictions, trials, and hangings that made the summer of 1692 go down in infamy. What happened that summer to cause a witch hunt? And what can we learn from the story of 19 supposed witches condemned to death?

Special thanks to our guest, Marilynne Roach, author of The Salem Witch Trials: a Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege.

 

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2021-06-07
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The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street

May 30, 1921. Dick Rowland, a Black teenager, works as a shoeshine in the predominantly white downtown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. On his break, he goes into a nearby office building to use the restroom, and gets on the elevator. Sarah Page, a white teenager, is the elevator operator. What happens next is just an innocent accident, but it sparks the deadliest episode of racial violence in American history. What was the story behind Greenwood, the Tulsa neighborhood known as ?Black Wall Street?? And why was it decimated on one horrific night?

Special thanks to Kalenda Eaton, professor of Africana Literature at the University of Oklahoma, and Kendra Field, professor of history at Tufts University and author of Growing Up with the Country: Family, Race, and Nation after the Civil War.

And for more history around the end of Reconstruction, listen to our episode from November 2, 2020, "Stealing the Presidency."

 

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2021-05-30
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Sojourner's Truth

May 29, 1851. Akron, Ohio?s Old Stone Church is packed to the brim. It's the second day of a big convention on women's rights. Hundreds of activists are there, but when one of them, Sojourner Truth, takes the floor, she stands out. Truth is a formerly enslaved woman, and her speech reminds the crowd that women?s rights includes the rights of working women, of Black women, and of women who are now enslaved. But this speech would be manipulated throughout history, and Truth herself boiled down to a fictionalized slogan. How did this feminist and anti-slavery activist get turned into a symbol? And what parts of the person got lost in that process? Who was Truth, really?

Special thanks to our guest, Nell Irvin Painter, author of Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol.

 

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2021-05-24
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Not My Fingerprint

May 20, 2004. A lawyer named Brandon Mayfield walks out of a Portland, Oregon courtroom a free man. About two weeks earlier, Mayfield was arrested by the FBI because they thought they had his fingerprint on a key piece of evidence in the investigation of a terrorist train bombing in Madrid, Spain earlier that year. But by this afternoon in May, that key evidence has completely fallen apart. Today: a case of mistaken identity. Why did the FBI arrest the wrong man? And how did this case change forensic science for good?

Thank you to our guests, Professor Simon Cole from UC Irvine, Steven Wax, author of Kafka Comes to America: Fighting for Justice in the War on Terror - A Public Defender's Inside Account, and Brandon Mayfield.

Thank you also to Judge Jones and former FBI agent Robert Jordan for speaking with us.

If you're interested in reading the Inspector General's Report cited, you can find it here: https://oig.justice.gov/sites/default/files/archive/special/s0601/PDF_list.htm

 

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2021-05-17
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The Chinese Immigrants Who Built America

May 10, 1869. On the dusty, barren plains of Promontory Summit, Utah, a crowd is gathered to celebrate an American milestone ? the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the first piece of infrastructure to connect the two sides of the United States. But this achievement didn?t come without great sacrifice, especially from Chinese immigrants, who made up more than 90% of the Central Pacific Railroad company workforce. How did these workers come to build what might be the most important transportation project in US history? And how were these Chinese immigrants accepted by American society, before the tides turned to violence and hate?

Special thanks to Gordon Chang, professor of history at Stanford University and author of Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad (https://amzn.to/3hgDtOH).

 

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2021-05-10
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Mother?s Day Mayhem

May 9, 1905. After weeks of illness and visits from ten different doctors, Anna Jarvis?s mother dies. In the days that follow, Jarvis makes a promise to herself: to fulfill her mother?s dream of creating a holiday devoted to celebrating mothers. Her campaign to create and define Mother?s Day would become her life?s work, and also her downfall. How did Anna Jarvis become a minor celebrity known for her fanatical devotion to this annual holiday? And why did she come to hate the holiday she created?

Special thanks to Katharine Antolini, author of Memorializing Motherhood: Anna Jarvis and the Struggle for Control of Mother?s Day.

 

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2021-05-03
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Fighting for 504

April 30, 1977. Nearly a month after entering San Francisco?s Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, a group of 150 demonstrators is going home. They?re singing, drinking champagne, and hugging the friends they?ve slept alongside for weeks on a cold office floor. Many of these activists are people with disabilities, and they?ve been sitting in to push the government to sign regulations that have sat untouched for years. What happened when a group of activists with disabilities staged the longest peaceful occupation of a federal building in US history? And how did this protest change accessibility in America?

Special thanks to our guests, Judy Heumann, Corbett O?Toole, Dennis Billups, and Debby Kaplan. Lucy Muir audio tapes courtesy of Ken Stein. Daniel Smith and Queer Blue Light Videotapes courtesy of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

Click here for a transcript of this episode: https://bit.ly/3tLEXEc.

 

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2021-04-26
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The Brink of World War III

April 19, 1951. General Douglas MacArthur's plane touches down in DC just after midnight. He?s coming home from fighting the Korean War. Over twelve thousand people are there to greet this person who the American people consider to be a national war hero. It?s quite the welcome for a general who has just been fired by the President of the United States. How, after this triumphant return, does the general end up losing his own party's political support? And could MacArthur have led his country into a nuclear war?

Thank you to our guests: Professor H.W. Brands, author of The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War, and Professor David Kang, the director of the Korean Studies Institute at USC. Thank you also to Professor James Matray for speaking with us for this episode.

 

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2021-04-19
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Killing the Gold Standard

April 18, 1933. It?s almost midnight in Washington, DC. Newly-elected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt has gathered his economic advisors for a late-night meeting. He called this meeting to announce his plan to effectively take the US off the gold standard, the system by which every paper dollar is tied to a certain amount of literal gold. To his advisors, this is inconceivable. Money is gold. Without gold backing the dollar, what even is money in the first place? But the president is resolute. The gold standard has driven America into the Great Depression, and he plans to drag it back out. How did FDR?s decision change the way Americans conceived of money? And how did killing the gold standard save the country?

Special thanks to our guest, Jacob Goldstein, host of the podcast Planet Money and author of Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing.

 

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2021-04-12
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More Than a Home Run

April 8, 1974. On a humid night in Atlanta, Hank Aaron is poised to make history. On the all-time home run leaderboard, Aaron is tied with the legendary Babe Ruth. With one swing of the bat, he can break Ruth?s record. But not everyone in America wants to see this happen; the threats against Aaron?s life have warranted FBI protection. Yet in front of 54,000 people in Atlanta and millions more watching at home, Aaron steps up to bat. What was it like to be a Black baseball superstar twenty-five years after Jackie Robinson broke the sport's color barrier? And what is the real story?of threats, fear, and danger?behind Aaron?s record-breaking game?

Special thanks to Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN and author of The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron, and Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

 

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2021-04-05
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148 Tornadoes in 18 Hours

April 3, 1974. Across America, many people wake up this morning thinking it will be a normal day. But in the next 24 hours, almost 150 tornadoes will hit the United States. It will be then the largest tornado outbreak in the nation's history. Why did so many deadly tornadoes hit on this one day? And how did it spur life-saving changes that are still with us decades later?

Thank you to our guests Greg Forbes, former severe weather expert with the Weather Channel, and Atmospheric Sciences professor, Jeff Trapp, from the University of Illinois.

 

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2021-03-29
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Surrogacy on the Stand

March 27, 1986. Mary Beth Whitehead is in labor. She?s giving birth to a baby girl today, and her husband Richard is by her side. But the Whiteheads are not, contractually-speaking, this child?s parents. Surrogacy is a brand new advancement, and another couple, William and Elizabeth Stern, are contractually owed a baby. When the little girl is born, Mary Beth has a change of heart and runs. This begins a two-year legal battle that launches the complicated question of surrogacy onto the national stage. Who is Baby M?s mother? And how did this case change our understanding of parenthood forever? 

 

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2021-03-22
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Revenge of the Ronin

March 20, 1703. Today, almost fifty men, scattered around the city of Edo, Japan, are waiting to die. They?re all former samurai who had served the same lord ? and they all carried out a deadly revenge attack in his name. Their story will go down in history as the legend of the 47 Ronin. Why did these men decide that to be loyal samurai, they had to die? And how did this moment live on for centuries and become part of the national story of Japan?

Thank you to our guest, Professor John Tucker, author of "The Forty-Seven Ronin: The Vendetta in History" and "Kumazawa Banzan: Governing the Realm and Bringing Peace to All below Heaven."

 

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2021-03-15
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Smash, Smash, Smash!

March 9, 1901. From a jail cell in Topeka, Kansas, temperance vigilante Carry Nation is hard at work. After her latest arrest for smashing up a bar with her infamous hatchet, Nation decides to spread her message with paper and ink. The first issue of The Smasher?s Mail would be published on this day, with Nation arranging the entire endeavor from behind bars. The newsletter was only a small part of her crusade against ?hell-broth,? which included everything from destroying saloons to starring in her own burlesque shows. But when considering how alcohol altered her life?s journey, were her methods really all that extreme?

 

Special thanks to Fran Grace, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Redlands and author of Carry A. Nation: Retelling the Life.

 

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2021-03-08
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A War on Women

March 2, 1923. In Wichita, Kansas, Mary Irby and Euna Hollowell are being held at the county jail. The two women are charged with ?lewdly abiding.? Translation: officials suspect them of carrying a sexually transmitted infection. Hollowell, Irby, and many women like them will go on to be forcibly examined and incarcerated under a public health program known as ?The American Plan.? This initiative resulted in decades of mass incarceration of tens of thousands of American women. How was it possible for the U.S. government to publicly wage war on women? And how did those women fight back?

Special thank you to our guest Scott W. Stern, author of The Trials of Nina McCall: Sex, Surveillance, and the Decades-Long Government Plan to Imprison "Promiscuous" Women.

 

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2021-03-01
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Jazz on the Record

February 26, 1917. At the Victor Talking Machine Company?s studio in Manhattan, five white men gathered to record the first jazz record in history. The Original Dixieland Jass Band?s release was a hit, introducing many listeners across America to this genre for the first time. These musicians even claimed that they invented jazz, but that was far from the truth. Why was jazz, an artform pioneered by black musicians, introduced to the world by an all-white band? And who were the true pioneers who could have made the first jazz record?

 

Special thanks to Damon J. Phillips, Columbia Business School professor and author of Shaping Jazz: Cities, Labels, and the Global Emergence of an Art Form, and Kevin Whitehead, jazz critic for NPR?s Fresh Air and author of Play the Way You Feel: The Essential Guide to Jazz Stories on Film.

 

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2021-02-22
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Freedom Rides Down Under

February 15, 1965. Walgett, Australia. A group of about 30 Sydney students has traveled here on a fact-finding mission ? a mission they?ll call a Freedom Ride, inspired by the efforts of Civil Rights activists in America. They?re here to document the unequal treatment of Aboriginal members in Walgett. But after being kicked out of town, their bus is run off the road, and the students brace themselves to face their attackers waiting in the night. How did the U.S. Civil Rights movement spark a wave of student activism on the other side of the world? And how did this dramatic confrontation help catapult this student protest to national importance, changing Australian society forever?

Thank you to our guests: Ann Curthoys, student Freedom Rider and Professor Emeritus at ANU; and ANU School of History Professor, Peter Read, author of ?Charles Perkins: A Biography."

 

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2021-02-15
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The Capitol Attack of 1861

February 13, 1861. The city of Washington DC is waiting. Bracing itself. For weeks, there have been threats that this day is going to get violent because pro-slavery voters feel the recently elected president, Abraham Lincoln, is a threat to their way of life. Today, Lincoln is supposed to be affirmed when the electoral votes are counted in the US Capitol building, but on the morning of the count, hundreds of anti-Lincoln rioters storm the building. Their goal: to stop the electoral count. What happened when a mob of anti-Lincoln rioters tried to take over the US Capitol? And how did American democracy handle the test?

Thank you to our guest, Ted Widmer, distinguished lecturer at the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY and author of "Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington."

 

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2021-02-08
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INTRODUCING: The Food that Built America

It takes bold visionaries risking everything to create some of the most recognizable brands on the planet. The Food That Built America, based on the hit documentary series from The HISTORY® Channel, tells the extraordinary true stories of industry titans like Henry Heinz, Milton Hershey, the Kellogg brothers and Ray Kroc, who revolutionized the food industry and transformed American life and culture in the process. Subscribe to The Food that Built America wherever you get your podcasts and listen to new episodes every Thursday.

 

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2021-02-04
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Sitting In for Civil Rights

February 1, 1960. Four young Black men, David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Jibreel Khazan and Joseph McNeil gather outside the Woolworth department store in Greensboro, North Carolina. All four are college freshman, and they have come downtown with a single purpose: to desegregate the department store, one of the most visible embodiments of racism and segregation in America. These teenagers stage a sit in that sparks a youth movement across the nation and reignites the sputtering Civil Rights Movement. How exactly did the Greensboro sit-ins come together? And why did this particular protest spread like wildfire?

Special thank you to our guest, Dr. Traci Parker Associate Professor at University of Massachusetts at Amherst and author of Department Stores and the Black Freedom Movement.

 

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2021-02-01
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Houdini Defies Death

January 25, 1908. Harry Houdini is the most famous magician in America. He?s known for his escapes ? from handcuffs, boxes, jail cells, even a giant football. But the escape act is getting old, and ticket sales aren?t what they used to be. And on this day, an under-capacity audience at the Columbia Theater in St. Louis is about to witness Houdini?s most dangerous escape yet? from death itself. How did a Hungarian immigrant named Erik Weisz become Harry Houdini? And when his career was fading, how did Houdini embrace death to bring it back to life?

Special thanks to our guest, Joe Posnanski (author of The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini). Additional thanks to San Diego magician Tom Interval for providing archival audio of Houdini.

 

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2021-01-25
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The Capitol Riots in Context

January 6, 2021. As Congress voted to affirm Joe Biden as the incoming president, rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to thwart the election certification. This insurrection shook the nation to its core, forcing many to question the steadfastness of nearly 250 years of democratic rule. In this special episode, we asked historians to join a discussion about where this moment stands in American history, and what we can learn from the past to show us a path forward.

This episode features Sharron Conrad (postdoctoral fellow at SMU?s Center for Presidential History), Beverly Gage (professor of American history and director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy at Yale University), and Steve Gillon (scholar-in-residence at The History Channel and professor of history at the University of Oklahoma).

 

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2021-01-19
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The First VP of Color

January 23, 1907. The Kansas legislature has convened to decide who will be the next US Senator from their state. The vote shakes out as everyone expected: front-runner Charles Curtis wins the seat. Curtis ? a member of the Kaw Nation ? has just become the first person of color elected to the Senate and will go on to rise even further as Vice President of the United States. This week, Kamala Harris follows Curtis as the second person of color to fill that seat. However, his legacy is a complicated one. How did Charles Curtis rise so high during an era that was arguably the height of American white supremacy? And what does his flawed political legacy tell us about the complexities of representation? 

Special thank you to our guest, Brett Chapman.

 

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2021-01-18
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Off With Her Head

January 15, 1535. King Henry VIII has a decree. As of today, he is ?the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England". Which means: the Pope is no longer head of the Church in England for the first time in history. And why? All because of a woman named Anne Boleyn. King Henry VIII moves heaven and earth to marry the woman he loves, but just a thousand days later he will have her executed. Why did he do it? And how is the story we always tell about Anne Boleyn all wrong?

Thank you to our guest, Claire Ridgway, the author of TheAnneBoleynFiles.com.

 

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2021-01-11
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Declaring War on Poverty

SEASON TWO PREMIERE ? January 8, 1964. In his State of the Union address, Lyndon Johnson unveils his War on Poverty, an effort to tackle subpar living conditions and create jobs across the United States. Johnson discovers that declaring war?even one on an idea?always comes with great costs. Why did LBJ pick poverty as one of his major initiatives? And what is the legacy of the war he started?

This episode features Doris Kearns Goodwin (presidential historian and executive producer of The HISTORY Channel?s forthcoming documentary series, Lincoln and Roosevelt) and Guian McKee (associate professor in Presidential Studies at UVA?s Miller Center).

 

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2021-01-04
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Best Stories of 2020

December 28, 2020. In this year-end recap, Sally sits down with HISTORY This Week producers McCamey Lynn, Julie Magruder and Ben Dickstein to discuss their favorite episodes from 2020 and bonus info that didn?t make it into the episodes. Plus, we?ll hear researcher Emma Frederick?s favorite facts from a year?s worth of deep dives. You can find the links to all relevant episodes below. We?re back next week to kick off Season 2 with a very special guest. 

Special thank you to our guests in this episode, Jackie Logan and John Uri.

Episode links:

Houston We've Had a Problem

Surviving Auschwitz

The Inca's Last Stand

 

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2020-12-28
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A Scrooge for the Ages

December 27, 1853. On a freezing, snowy night in Birmingham, England, 2,000 people have lined up outside the town hall. They?ve braved the temperatures for a landmark performance, Charles Dickens? first reading of A Christmas Carol. The tale will become an international sensation and beloved Christmas tradition. In this special episode of HISTORY This Week, we bring you a classic 1949 rendition of the story starring Vincent Price, so you can decide for yourself: What is it about A Christmas Carol that?s endured for over 150 years? 

 

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2020-12-21
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A Drug Rushed to Market

December 18, 1970. Decades after the end of WWII a Nazi doctor is on trial. Today is judgment day in a long, difficult legal battle, but this case isn?t about war crimes. The German pharmaceutical company Grunenthal is charged with the worst medical disaster in history: the Thalidomide scandal. The shoddily tested and hastily approved drug made its way into medicine cabinets around the world, and a decade after its release, the reality is becoming clear: Thalidomide is killing babies. Who are the heroes that brought down Thalidomide? And how did this disaster change pharmaceutical regulations forever?

Special thanks to our guest Michael Magazanik, author of Silent Shock.

 

 

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2020-12-14
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The Crown Steps Down

December 11, 1936. Just yesterday, King Edward VIII of England officially abdicated the throne. And tonight, some ten million people will hear the reason from the man himself. He tells the country in a radio address, ?I have found it impossible to carry a heavy burden of responsibility, and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love?. This ?woman? is a twice-divorced American. The country is shocked. Edward VIII has become the first monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne in British history. How did Edward VIII cause trouble for England before, during, and after his reign? And how does his legacy continue to shape the fate of the royals to this day?

Thank you to our guests:

Adrian Phillips, author of "The King Who Had to Go: Edward Vlll, Mrs Simpson and the Hidden Politics of the Abdication Crisis"

Anna Pasternak, author of "The Real Wallis Simpson: A New History of the American Divorcée Who Became the Duchess of Windsor'

 

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2020-12-07
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Wartime Weapon Turned Medical Miracle

December 2, 1943. World War II is raging throughout Europe, but in the Allied port city of Bari, Italy, things have remained relatively quiet. The Allies are offloading tanks, guns and other equipment when on this night, the Nazis attack. They bomb the port, killing 2,000 soldiers and civilians, and sinking 28 Allied ships. One of those ships holds a secret cargo, a chemical weapon that leaks into the harbor where soldiers are swimming for their lives. What happened when those soldiers were exposed to this deadly toxin? And how did the investigation of this incident revolutionize the way we treat cancer?

Special thanks to Jennet Conant, author of The Great Secret: The Classified World War II Disaster that Launched the War on Cancer

 

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2020-11-30
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A Toxic Turkey Day

November 24, 1966. Millions of spectators flood Broadway in New York City to watch the Macy?s Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning. The iconic floats ? Superman, Popeye, Smokey the Bear ? are set against a grey sky that can only be described as noxious. A smog of pollutants is trapped over New York City, and it will ultimately kill nearly 200 people. How did the 1966 Thanksgiving Smog help usher in a new era of environmental protection? And how have we been thinking about environmental disasters all wrong?

Special thanks to our guest Professor Frank Uekotter, author of The Age of Smoke.

 

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2020-11-23
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