Show cover of 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.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at


Eyewitnesses of History Share Stories of the 1980 Miracle on Ice, Pablo Escobar, Jonestown, and Much More
In this special compilation episode, Josh Cohen of Eyewitness History shares his favorite interview moments and stories from people who witnessed some of history’s most extraordinary events.First up, revisit his conversation with Frank DeAngelis, former principal of Columbine High School, recounting the harrowing events of the 1999 massacre.Apple Podcasts: / Spotify: Next, dive into the world of podcasting with the podfather himself, Adam Curry. Discover the fascinating tale of his MTV days and presenting an award to Michael Jackson.Apple Podcasts: / Spotify: CIA Agent Valerie Plame takes the spotlight in the next segment, shedding light on the notorious 'Plame Affair' of 2003.Apple Podcasts: / Spotify: Sports enthusiasts, get ready! HBO Boxing legend Jim Lampley shares his experiences covering the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, including the unforgettable 'Miracle on Ice.'Apple Podcasts: / Spotify: Jonestown cult survivor and writer Eugene Smith takes a solemn turn as he revisits his journey through tragedy and survival.Apple Podcasts: / Spotify: Rock music lovers, stay tuned for insights from Ken Caillat, the record producer behind Fleetwood Mac's iconic albums, including the Emmy-winning 'Rumors.'Apple Podcasts: / Spotify: Hear from DEA Agents Steve Murphy and Javier Peña, the real-life heroes who took down Pablo Escobar, inspiring the hit Netflix series 'Narcos.'Apple Podcasts: / Spotify: Podcasting sensation Jordan Harbinger shares his adventures and observations in North Korea.Apple Podcasts: / Spotify: And finally, wrap up with a legendary performance – an interview with Queen's keyboardist, Spike Edney, discussing their iconic set at Live Aid in 1985.Apple Podcasts: / Spotify: show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
44:04 22/09/2023
In 1864, Nine Union Officers Escaped from a POW Camp and Trekked 300 Miles to the North
At the height of the Civil War in November 1864, nine Union prisoners-of-war escaped from a Confederate Prison known as Camp Sorghum in Columbia, South Carolina. They scrambled north on foot in rags that had once been uniforms of blue. Traveling in brutal winter conditions more than 300 miles with search parties and bloodhounds hot on their trail. On the difficult journey they relied on the help of enslaved men and women, as well as Southerners who sympathized with the North, before finally reaching Union lines on New Years Day 1865.After arriving in Knoxville, Tennessee, and checking in with Union authorities, one of the men had a wonderful idea. The nine officers and their three mountain guides found a local photographer, hoping to commemorate what they had accomplished by posing together for a photograph. The instant, frozen in time, showed twelve ragged men with determination strong on their faces. It was a Civil War selfie. A moment that Captured Freedom.Steve Procko, a documentarian, received a copy of the more than 150-year-old photograph from a descendant of one of the mountain guides. Upon identifying and researching the men in the photograph, he realized their remarkable story had never been told. Procko is today’s guest, and he’s here to tell the story. He’s also the author of “Captured Freedom: The Epic True Civil War Story of Union POW Officers Escaping From a South Prison.”This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
53:44 21/09/2023
Teddy Roosevelt Nearly Died in a Cavalry Charge Against German Machine Guns in WW1
Teddy Roosevelt faced many challenges at the end of his life. Racked by rheumatism, a ticking embolism, pathogens in his blood, a bad leg from an accident, and a bullet in his chest from an assassination attempt. But none of that stopped Roosevelt from attempting to reassemble the Rough Riders for a final charge against the Germans in World War One, pushing them into a likely suicide mission of a cavalry attack against 50 caliber machine guns. Suffering from grief and guilt, marginalized by world events, the great glow that had been his life was now but a dimming lantern. But TR’s final years were productive ones as well: he churned out several “instant” books that promoted U.S. entry into the Great War, and he was making plans for another run at the Presidency in 1920 at the time of his death. Indeed, his political influence was so great that his opposition to the policies of Woodrow Wilson helped the Republican Party take back the Congress in 1918. To look at Roosevelt’s final years is today’s guest Bill Hazelgrove, author of “The Last Charge of the Rough Rider.” It was Roosevelt’s quest for the “vigorous life” that, ironically, may have led to his early demise at the age of sixty. "The Old Lion is dead,” TR’s son Archie cabled his brother on January 6, 1919, and so, too, ended a historic era in American life and politics.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
39:17 19/09/2023
Beyond the Wall: What Life Was Really Like in East Germany
When the Iron Curtain fell in 1990, East Germany ceased to be. For over forty years, from the ruin of the Second World War to the cusp of a new millennium, the German Democratic Republic presented a radically different Germany than what had come before and what exists today. Socialist solidarity, secret police, central planning, barbed wire: this was a Germany forged on the fault lines of ideology and geopolitics. Today’s guest is Katja Hoyer, author of “Beyond the Wall,” who was born in the GDR. She saw beyond the usual Cold War caricatures of the GDR and experienced the political, social, and cultural landscape that existed amid oppression and hardship to see the other Germany, beyond the Wall.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
43:11 14/09/2023
How An Unlikely Cohort of Black Nurses at a New York Sanatorium Helped Cure Tuberculosis
Nearly a century before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life as we know it, a devastating tuberculosis epidemic was ravaging hospitals across the country. In those dark, pre-antibiotic days, the disease claimed the lives of 1 in 7 Americans; in the United States alone, it killed over 5.6 million people in the first half of the twentieth century. Nowhere was TB more rampant than in New York City, where it spread like wildfire through the tenements, decimating the city’s poorest residents. The city’s hospital system was already overwhelmed when, in 1929, the white nurses at Staten Island’s Sea View Hospital began quitting en masse. Pushed to the brink of a major labor crisis and fearing a public health catastrophe, city health officials made a call for black female nurses seeking to work on the frontlines, promising them good pay, education, housing, and employment free from the constraints of Jim Crow. Today’s guest is Maria Smilios, author of “The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis.” We look at the unlikely ways in which public health developed in America, by means of these nurses who put in 14-hour days caring for people who lay waiting to die or, worse, become “guinea pigs” to test experimental (and often deadly) drugs at a facility that was understaffed and unregulated.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
54:09 12/09/2023
The Mississippi Was First Mapped by a Polyglot Priest and a College Dropout-Turned-Fur Trapper
Perhaps the most consequential expedition in North American history wasn’t the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It was one that happened 130 years earlier and undertaken by a Catholic priest fluent in multiple Indian languages and a philosophy-student-drop-out-turned fur trapper. This was the 1673 Jolliet and Marquette expedition – in which French explorers mapped out the Mississippi Valley and confirmed that the river led to the Gulf of Mexico, not the Pacific or Atlantic – and it took place against a sprawling backdrop that encompassed everything from ancient Native American cities to French colonial machinations.Today’s guest, Mark Walczynski, author of “Jolliet and Marquette: A New History of the 1673 Expedition“ place the explorers and their journey within seventeenth-century North America. His account takes readers among the region’s diverse Native American peoples and into a vanished natural world of treacherous waterways and native flora and fauna.Walczynski also charts the little-known exploits of the French-Canadian officials, explorers, traders, soldiers, and missionaries who created the political and religious environment that formed Jolliet and Marquette and shaped European colonization of the heartland. A multifaceted voyage into the past, Jolliet and Marquette expands and updates the oft-told story of a pivotal event in North American history.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
56:35 07/09/2023
The Eurasian Steppes Gave Us Atilla the Hun, Genghis Khan, Global Trade and Hybrid Camels
The barbarian nomads of the Eurasian steppes have played a decisive role in world history, but their impact has gone largely unnoticed. These nomadic tribes have produced some of the world’s greatest conquerors: Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, among others. And their deeds still resonate today.These nomads built long-lasting empires, facilitated the first global trade of the Silk Road and disseminated religions, technology, knowledge and goods of every description that enriched and changed the lives of so many across Europe, China and the Middle East. From a single region emerged a great many peoples – the Huns, the Mongols, the Magyars, the Turks, the Xiongnu, the Scythians, the Goths – all of whom went on to profoundly and irrevocably shape the modern world. But their legacy is also death. An estimated 100 million died in the Mongol conquests, include 90 percent of Iran’s population, which only recovered in the 20th century.To discuss these legacies is Kenneth Harl, author of “Empires of the Steppes.” He draws on a lifetime of scholarship to vividly recreate the lives and world of these often-forgotten peoples from their beginnings to the early modern age.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
66:43 05/09/2023
Decades of Turbulent Decolonization After WW2 Launched With The Dutch-Indonesian Wars of 1945-49
The Dutch–Indonesian War was one of the first postwar struggles that followed the Japanese surrender in September 1945, which left a power vacuum in the colonial Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). The infant nation didn’t have a normal standing army but was a fragile coalition of various forces involved in the struggle: the Indonesian nationalists who immediately proclaimed an independent republic, remaining Japanese troops, and revolutionary student groups. Pitted against them were the Dutch forces, which arrived in 1946, and tried to restore its colony.Today’s guest is Marc Lohnstein, author of “The Dutch-Indonesian War 1945-49.” We discusss how the nationalists were defeated by Dutch and Dutch-led local forces in urban areas, but how their guerrillas evaded Dutch troops in the jungle hills and swamps.While mostly forgotten, this war is one of many such conflicts in the turbulent years of decolonization.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
44:26 31/08/2023
Could the Pacific War of WW2 Have Been Entirely Avoided if Not For U.S. Diplomats in Over Their Heads?
It’s November 1941. Japan and the US are teetering on a knife-edge as leaders on both sides of the Pacific strive to prevent war between them. But failed diplomacy, foiled negotiations, and possible duplicity in the Roosevelt administration thwart their attempts.Drawing on now-declassified original documents, today’s guest, Dale Jenkins, author of “Diplomats & Admirals” reveals the inside story of one fateful year, including:How the hidden agendas of powerful civilian and military leaders pushed the two nations toward warThe miscommunications, misjudgments, and blunders that doomed efforts at peaceChina’s role in the US ultimatum that triggered the attack on Pearl HarborWhy the carrier-to-carrier showdown at Coral Sea proved a fatal mistake for JapanHow courageous US navy pilots snatched victory from defeat at the Battle of MidwayThis show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
45:00 29/08/2023
The WW2 Pacific Theatre of January-May 1942: When Japan Was Omnipotent and America Was a Fearful Underdog
After the devastating Japanese blows of December 1941, the Allies found themselves reeling with defeat everywhere in the Pacific. Although stripped of his battleships and outnumbered 10:3 in carriers, the US Navy commander-in-chief Admiral Ernest J. King decided to hit back at Japan’s rapidly expanding Pacific empire immediately, in an effort to keep the Japanese off-balance.On February 1, 1942, Vice Admiral Bill Halsey led the US Pacific Fleet carriers on their first raid, using high-speed hit-and-run tactics to strike at the Japanese, at a time when most of the Japanese carrier fleet was in the Indian Ocean. Halsey’s aggressive commitment inspired its American participants to invent the mythical “Haul Ass With Halsey” club. The last of the 1942 US carrier raids in March 1942 would form a defining moment in the Pacific War, prior to a new phase of high-seas battles between the opposing fleets.To discuss this overlooked era is Brian Herder, author of “Early Pacific Raids 1942: The American Carriers Strike Back.”This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
40:41 24/08/2023
The History of America’s Ice Obsession: Why The U.S. Loves Frozen Drinks and Ice Rinks
Ice is everywhere: in gas stations, in restaurants, in hospitals, in hotels via noisy machines, and in our homes. Americans think nothing of dropping a few ice cubes into tall glasses of tea to ward off the heat of a hot summer day. Most refrigerators owned by Americans feature automatic ice machines. Ice on-demand has so revolutionized modern life that it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always this way—in fact, the national obsession with ice can be traced back to a Bostonian merchant who, 200 years ago, figured out how to get Caribbean bartenders addicted to serving their drinks cold.Today’s guest is Amy Brady, author of “Ice: From Mixed Drinks to Skating Rinks.” She shares the strange and storied two-hundred-year-old history of ice in America: from the introduction of mixed drinks “on the rocks,” to the nation’s first-ever indoor ice rink, to how delicacies like ice creams and iced tea revolutionized our palates, to the ubiquitous ice machine in every motel across the US. But Ice doesn’t end in the past. Brady also explores the surprising present-day uses of ice in sports, medicine, and sustainable energy—including cutting-edge cryotherapy breast-cancer treatments and new refrigerator technologies that may prove to be more energy efficient—underscoring how precious this commodity is.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
42:35 22/08/2023
Introducing Mark Vinet's New Show: Historical Jesus
This is a preview of the new Parthenon Podcast Network show "Historical Jesus," hosted by Mark Vinet. This show explores the question of who was Jesus Christ and why did he inspire such admiration, fervor, and devotion? Join Mark as he unravels the truth, myth, legends, and mysteries surrounding this Titan of History.Subscribe to Historical Jesus:Apple Podcasts: more episodes of Historical Jesus:The Bible: / Testament: / of Christianity: / is Religion?: / show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
10:39 20/08/2023
Leyte Gulf: The Largest Naval Battle in History and the Downfall of the Japanese Navy
The WW2 battle of Leyte Gulf was the largest naval encounter in history and probably the most decisive naval battle of the entire Pacific War, and one that saw the Imperial Japanese Navy eliminated as an effective fighting force and forced to resort to suicide tactics.Leyte was a huge and complex action, actually consisting of four major battles. And much of the accepted wisdom of the battle has developed from the many myths that surround it, myths that have become more firmly established over time, such as the “lost victory” of the Japanese advance into Leyte Gulf that never happened. To explore this battle is today’s guest, Mark Stille, author of “Leyte Gulf: A New History of the World’s Largest Sea Battle.”This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
46:20 17/08/2023
Britain Controlled the Globe by Farming Out Colonial Governance to the East Indian Company and other Corporations
How did Britain – an island nation the same size as Oregon – manage to control most of the world through its colonial empires? The answer is that it didn’t, at least not directly. Britain farmed out control to its imperial holdings by granting land rights to joint-stock corporations. And many of them, like the East India Company, were sovereign nations in all but name.Across four centuries, from Ireland to India, the Americas to Africa and Australia, British colonialism was above all the business of corporations. Corporations conceived, promoted, financed, and governed overseas expansion, making claims over territory and peoples while ensuring that British and colonial society were invested, quite literally, in their ventures. Colonial companies were also relentlessly controversial, frequently in debt, and prone to failure. The corporation was well-suited to overseas expansion not because it was an inevitable juggernaut but because, like empire itself, it was an elusive contradiction: public and private; person and society; subordinate and autonomous; centralized and diffuse; immortal and precarious; national and cosmopolitan—a legal fiction with very real power.Breaking from traditional histories in which corporations take a supporting role by doing the dirty work of sovereign states in exchange for commercial monopolies, today’s guest, Philip Stern (author of Empire, Incorporated) argues that corporations took the lead in global expansion and administration. Whether in sixteenth-century Ireland and North America or the Falklands in the early 1980s, corporations were key players. And venture colonialism did not cease with the end of empire. Its legacies continue to raise questions about corporate power that are just as relevant today as they were 400 years ago.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
73:32 15/08/2023
How the Monroe Doctrine Led to America Occupying Cuba, Panama, Hawaii, and Haiti
Following the Napoleonic Wars, a tidal wave of independence movements hit the Western Hemisphere. The United States was afraid that expansionist powers—namely Britain, France, Germany, and Japan—might extend their empires into these regions, threatening the growth of fledgling republics in the Americas. This kicked off a century of American launching well-intentioned but bloody imperialism in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, with the annexation of Hawaii, the Spanish-American War, and military occupations of Cuba, Haiti, Panama, and other countries as a firewall against European expansion.Only after making these preemptive incursions to restore order and support democracy in its “mortal combat” against imperialism, as Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan put it, did the U.S. get bogged down in interventionist quagmires.Today’s guest is Sean Mirski, author of “We May Dominate the World: Anxiety, and the Rise of the American Colossus.” Mirski examines a lost chapter of American foreign policy, the century following the Civil War in which the United States carved out a sphere of influence and became the only great power in modern history to achieve regional hegemony.By understanding what drove the United States’ behavior, it offers a window into the trajectory that other regional powers—including China, Russia, and Iran—may take in the coming decades.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
47:30 10/08/2023
A 1943 Translation Blunder Saved FDR, Churchill, and Eisenhower From Being Assassinated
In a recently bombed, spy-infested Casablanca, Morocco, the architects of Allied victory in World War Two meet. It is January 1943, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and more assemble secretly at a resort hotel. Here, they will put together the plan to end the war – if they can make it out of the country alive. One word to the Germans, and it would be a bloodbath. Turns out, one word really was all they needed… to escape assassination. A spy in the Spanish division of German intelligence informs Berlin about the meeting at Casablanca. A wooden German officer, seemingly unfamiliar with Spanish or geography or both, translates “Casablanca” as “White House.” A slip-up that meant Hitler and his goons missed the singular chance to bomb the entire Allied command as they all assembled in one small spot. To talk about this incident and many more at the 1943 conference that determined the Allied course of the war (and the post-war world after that) is today’s guest Jim Conroy, author of “The Devilss Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan that Won the War.” We recount the the Casablanca Conference – a meeting that many historians now view as one of the most crucial conclaves directly associated with the Allied victory of World War II.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
32:09 08/08/2023
James Garfield – Overlooked for his Short Presidency – Was the Most Beloved Politician of Reconstruction
James Garfield was the last president born in a log cabin, and was raised by a poor widow on Ohio’s rugged Western Reserve. By his late twenties, he had become a respected preacher, state senator, and college president, and, after the Civil War broke out, joined the Union Army to help eradicate the “monstrous injustice of human slavery.” Soon Garfield was the youngest general fighting for the Union, and before war’s end was its youngest Congressman—as well as one of its most progressive. He helped establish equal citizenship and voting rights for Black Americans, and became one of the most powerful leaders of the postwar Republican Party. By 1880, Garfield was not only Minority Leader of the House, but also a practicing Supreme Court attorney, the founder of the Department of Education, the creator of a proof of the Pythagorean theorem, a Senator-elect, and (unwillingly) the Republican nominee for President. A more compelling “American Dream” story among Presidents does not exist.Garfield’s personal achievements are even more notable given the turmoil surrounding his ascent to power. He was the only major American politician who held national office for all of Reconstruction and the start of the Gilded Age. A crucial pragmatist of a divided era, he even brokered the peaceful but controversial settlement of the country’s first disputed Presidential election in 1876. “To be an extreme man is doubtless comfortable,” Garfield once remarked before his assassination. “It is painful to see so many sides to a subject.” The parallels between his time and our own are easy to spot. To explore forgotten aspects of Garfield’s life is today’s guest, C.W. Goodyear, author of “President Garfield: From Radical to Unifier.”This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
64:29 03/08/2023
Road Tripping with Henry Ford and Thomas Edison Through Rural America In Beat-Up Model Ts
Some of the most important moments in the lives of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison weren’t their inventions or business successes. It was their road trips through the most remote, rustic parts of America. Between 1916 and 1924, Ford, Edison, Harvey Firestone went on a number of camping trips. Calling themselves the Vagabonds, they set up campsites, took photographs, and fixed cars themselves. They were also joined by famous naturalist John Burroughs, an elderly writer with a large white beard who looked like a gold prospector.The relationship began in 1913 between Burroughs, then 75, and Ford, nearly 50, and enjoying a banner year for the Model T. Both men were influenced by the writing of Ralph Waldo Emerson, but they disagreed about the role of the automobile in American life.To Ford’s chagrin, Burroughs wrote in an article in Atlantic Monthly that the automobile “was going to kill the appreciation of nature”; Ford believed it would open up facets of America that most people could not access. In response, Ford sent Burroughs a new Model T, which indeed changed the old naturalist’s life by prompting him to set out on wide-ranging road trips beyond his Hudson River homestead. Meanwhile, Ford and Edison, who had both “imbibed” the rural values of the Midwest, and Firestone, “the head of the largest tire manufacturing concern in the country,” were long-standing friends, busy plotting numerous new business ventures.Their road trips became increasingly ambitious to San Francisco, the Adirondacks of New York, and the Green Mountains of Vermont. Davis chronicles the memorable road trip of summer 1918, when the fast friends—who held wildly different views about the impending war—drove from the Allegheny range through West Virginia and into the “rustic magic of the Great Smoky Mountains,” all in the spirit of curiosity and exploration.To discuss these journeys, and the long-lasting impact it had on Ford, Edison, and 20th-century America, is today’s guest Wes Davis, author of “American Journey: On the Road with Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and John Burroughs.”This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
58:39 01/08/2023
Did the South Lose the Entire Civil War Because One General Got Lost at the Battle of Gettysburg?
Did the Confederacy lose the entire Civil War on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 because one of their generals showed up late to a battle site? That’s a very simple answer to a very complicated question, but as early as the 1870s, former Confederate generals like Jubal Early offered such an explanation, laying the war’s loss at the feet of Lt. General James Longstreet, who was hours late to a battle because of faulty intelligence delivered to him by Captain Samuel Johnston. Longstreet’s countermarch and Samuel Johnston’s morning reconnaissance are two of the most enigmatic events of the Battle of Gettysburg. Both have been viewed as major factors in the Confederacy’s loss of the battle and, in turn, the war. Yet much of it lies shrouded in mystery. To explore this event, and determine whether or not the war was really lost in one day, is today’s guest Allen Thompson, author of In the Shadow of the Round Tops. Though the Battle of Gettysburg is one of the most well-documented events in history, the vast majority of knowledge comes from the objective words and memories of the veterans and civilians who experienced it. In the Shadow of the Round Tops focuses on individual memory, rather than collective memory. It takes a personal psychological approach to history, trying to understand the people and explain why the historiography happened the way it did with new research from previously unused sources.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
53:41 27/07/2023
Alexander the Great’s Final Battle Nearly Killed Him with Drowning and War Elephants
In the years that followed Alexander the Great’s victory at Gaugamela on October 1, 331 BC, his Macedonian and Greek army fought a truly ‘Herculean’ series of campaigns in what is today Iran, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. But it was in the Indus Valley, on the banks of the Hydaspes River (known today as the Jhelum) in 326 BC that Alexander would fight his last major battle against King Poros.Alexander used feints and deception to transport a select force from his army across the swollen River Hydaspes without attracting the enemy’s attention, allowing his troops the crucial element of surprise. There was a fascinating array of forces that clashed in the battle, including Indian war elephants and chariots, and horse archers and phalanx formations. Although a tactical masterpiece, the Hydaspes was the closest that Alexander the Great came to defeat, and was one of the costliest battles fought by his near- exhausted army. To examine this battle is today’s guest, Nic Fields, author of “The Hydaspes 326 BC: The Limit of Alexander the Great’s Conquests.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
65:23 25/07/2023
In 1938, America Underwent a 7-Year Transformation From an Weak, Pacifist Nation to the Arsenal of Democracy
Nobody would have thought that the United States could fight in a world war in 1938, let alone be a major reason for victory. That year, it was so politically isolationist and pacifist that its defense forces were smaller than Portugal’s, and Charles Lindbergh was so forceful in his public praise of Nazi air power that Göring decorated him with the German. But while this was going on, Franklin Roosevelt ordered the federal government to spark a dramatic expansion in domestic airplane production, and this minor effort — three years before Pearl Harbor — would in time become the arsenal of democracy, the full-throttle unleashing of American enterprise that was the secret weapon for victory in World War II. Combined with Roosevelt’s public fight with Lindbergh -- known as the Great Debate — victory at land and sea and air across the globe began at home in America. Today’s guest is Craig Nelson, author of “V is for Victory: Franklin Roosevelt’s American Revolution and the Triumph of World War II.” Revealing an era when Detroit was Silicon Valley, Ford was Apple, and Sears Roebuck was Amazon, we see how during the war years, America built 2.5 million trucks, 500k jeeps, 286k aircraft, 86k tanks, and 2.6 million machine guns. More importantly, Roosevelt said that it wasn’t these weapons that were the real arsenal of democracy, but the American people themselves.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
37:29 20/07/2023
Exploring the Aztec Empire and Indigenous Mexico
This is a preview of Mark Vinet's "History of North America." Explore one of the most glorious Mesoamerican societies and encounter the Pre-Hispanic Mexico ancient culture & civilization that was the Aztec Empire with this special episode from the History of North America podcast, hosted by Mark Vinet. Subscribe to History of North America: Apple Podcasts: Spotify: Discover more episodes of History of North America: Deep Timeline of USA, Canada and Mexico: / Dinosaur Extinction to the Arrival of Humans: / Did China Discover America in 1421?: / Sir Ferdinando Gorges: / show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
08:53 19/07/2023
The First War on Terror: How Europe Fought Anarchist Suicide Attacks, From 1850 to WW1
At the end of the nineteenth century, the world came to know and fear terrorism. Much like today, this was a time of progress and dread, in which breakthroughs in communications and weapons were made, political reforms were implemented, and immigration waves bolstered the populations of ever-expanding cities. This era also simmered with political rage and social inequalities, which drove nationalists, nihilists, anarchists and republicans to dynamite cities and discharge pistols into the bodies of presidents, police chiefs and emperors. The most notorious incidents were Tsar Alexander II’s murder by the People’s Will in 1881, and the dynamiting of the Café Terminus in Paris in 1894, specifically targeting innocents.This wave of terrorism was seized upon by an outrage-hungry press that peddled hysteria, conspiracy theories and, sometimes, fake news in response, convincing many a reader that they were living through the end of days. Against the backdrop of this world of fear and disorder, today’s guest, James Crossland, author of “The Rise of Devils,” discusses the journeys of the men and women who evoked this panic and created modern terrorism “revolutionary” philosophers, cult leaders, criminals and charlatans, as well the paranoid police chiefs and unscrupulous spies who tried to thwart them. We examine how radicals once thought just in their causes became, as Pope Pius IX denounced them, little more than “devils risen up from Hell”.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
44:22 18/07/2023
The Italian Squad: A Group of 1920s NYPD Immigrant Detectives Who Fought the Rise of the Mafia
The story begins in Sicily, on Friday, March 12th, 1909. Three gunshots thundered in the night, and then a fourth. Two men fled, and investigators soon discovered who they had killed: Giuseppe Petrosino, the legendary American detective whose exploits in New York were celebrated even in Italy. He was part of the “Italian Squad,” a group of immigrant NYPD members who battled increasingly powerful gangsters and crooked politicians in the early 20th century. They were famous for meting out tough justice to criminals who comprised the “Black Hand,” an international extortion ring. Beyond trying to prevent horrific crimes—nighttime bombings in crowded tenements, kidnappings that targeted children at play, gangland shootings that killed innocent bystanders—the Italian Squad commanders hoped to persuade society of what they knew for themselves: that their fellow immigrant Italians, so often maligned, would make good American citizens. Today’s guest is Paul Moses, author of “The Italian Squad: The True Story of the Immigrant Cops Who Fought the Rise of the Mafia.”This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
28:06 13/07/2023
Conspiracy Theories Haunt the Assassination of MLK 55 Years After His Death
Doubts about James Earl Ray, Dr. Martin Luther King’s lone assassin, arose almost immediately after the civil rights leader was fatally shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. From the start, his aides voiced suspicions that a conspiracy was responsible for their leader’s death. Over time many Americans became convinced the government investigations covered up the truth about the alleged assassin. Exactly what led Ray to kill King continues to be a source of debate, as does his role in the murder.However, today’s guest, Mel Ayton, believe the answers to the many intriguing questions about Ray and how conspiracy ideas flourished can now be fully understood. Missing from the wild speculations over the past fifty-two years has been a thorough investigation of the character of King’s assassin. Additionally, the author examines exactly how the conspiracy notions came about and the falsehoods that led to their promulgation.Mel is the author of The Man Who Killed Martin Luther King, the first full account of the life of James Earl Ray based on scores of interviews provided to government and non-government investigators and from the FBI’s and Scotland Yard’s files, plus the recently released Tennessee Department of Corrections prison record on Ray.In the short-lived freedom he acquired after escaping from the Missouri State Penitentiary in 1967, following being sentenced to twenty years in prison for repeated offenses, he traveled to Los Angeles and decided to seek notoriety as the one who would stalk and kill Dr. King, who he had come to hate vehemently.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
28:52 11/07/2023
Early 1800s Newspaperman William Hunter Was a British Soldier’s Son Who Built Early America
In June 1798, President John Adams signed the now infamous Alien & Sedition Acts to suppress political dissent. Facing imminent personal risks, a gutsy Kentucky newspaper editor ran the first editorial denouncing the law's attempt to stifle the freedom of the press. Almost immediately, government lawyers recommended his arrest and prosecution. That editor was William Hunter, amazingly, the son of a British soldier. Witnessing first-hand the terrors of combat and twice experiencing capture, Hunter wrote the only surviving account written by a child of a British soldier during the American Revolution. Previously unknown, the journal is one of the most important document discoveries in recent years. William Hunter represents a previously underappreciated community leader who made essential contributions to developing democratic and civic institutions in Early America. To discuss Hunter is today’s guest, Gene Procknow, author of William Hunter: Finding Free Speech.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
43:08 06/07/2023
Long Before Seabiscuit, a Civil War-era Racehorse Smashed Records and Sired Thousands of Colts
The early days of American horse racing in the pre-Civil War era were grueling. Four-mile races, run two or three times in succession, were the norm, rewarding horses who brandished the ideal combination of stamina and speed. The stallion Lexington, named after the city in Kentucky where he was born, possessed these winning qualities, which pioneering Americans prized.Lexington shattered the world speed record for a four-mile race. He would continue his winning career until deteriorating eyesight forced his retirement in 1855. But once his groundbreaking achievements as a racehorse ended, his role as a sire began. Horses from his bloodline won more money than the offspring of any other Thoroughbred—an annual success that led Lexington to be named America’s leading sire an unprecedented sixteen times. Yet with the Civil War raging, Lexington’s years at a Kentucky stud farm were far from idyllic. Confederate soldiers ran amok, looting freely and kidnapping horses from the top stables. They soon focused on the prized Lexington and his valuable progeny.  Kim Wickens, a lawyer and dressage rider, became fascinated by this legendary horse when she learned that twelve of Thoroughbred racing’s thirteen Triple Crown winners descended from Lexington – plus the first seventeen winners of the Kentucky Derby. She is the author of the book “Lexington” and presents an account of the raucous beginning of American horse racing and introduces them to the stallion at its heart. We see what happens to Lexington and how he and his progeny has entered the bloodline of nearly every horse who ran after him.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
42:56 04/07/2023
How the 1910 Return of Halley's Comet (Almost) Destroyed Civilization
Halley’s Comet visits the earth every seventy-five years. Since the dawn of civilization, humans had believed comets were evil portents. In 1705, Edmond Halley liberated humanity from these primordial superstitions (or so it was thought), proving that Newtonian mechanics rather than the will of the gods brought comets into our celestial neighborhood. Despite this scientific advance, when Halley’s Comet returned in 1910 and astronomers announced that our planet would pass through its poisonous tail, newspapers gleefully provoked a global hysteria that unfolded with tragic consequences. In “Comet Madness: How the 1910 Return of Halley's Comet (Almost) Destroyed Civilization,” Richard J. Goodrich examines the 1910 appearance of Halley’s Comet and the ensuing frenzy sparked by media manipulation, bogus science, and outright deception. The result is a fascinating and illuminating narrative history that underscores how we behave in the face of potential calamity – then and now. As the comet neared Earth, scientists and journalists alike scrambled to get the story straight as citizens the world over panicked. Popular astronomer Camille Flammarion attempted to allay fears in a newspaper article, but the media ignored his true position that passage would be harmless; weather prophet Irl Hicks, publisher of an annual, pseudo-scientific almanac, announced that the comet would disrupt the world’s weather; religious leaders thumbed the Bible’s Book of Revelation and wondered if the comet presaged the apocalypse. Newspapers, confident that there was gold in these alternate theories, gave every crackpot a megaphone, increasing circulation and stoking international hysteria. As a result, workmen shelved their tools, farmers refused to plant crops they would never harvest, and formerly reliable people stopped paying their creditors. More opportunistic citizens opened “comet insurance” plans. Others suffered mental breakdowns, and some took their own lives. We will see how humans confront the unknown, how scientists learn about the world we inhabit, and how certain people—from outright hucksters to opportunistic journalists—harness fear to produce a profit.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
48:18 29/06/2023
The Coronation of Charles III and the Meaning Behind His Vestments, 5-Pound Crown, and the "Sovereign Orb"
Charles III was crowned king of England on May 6, 2023, the first of its kind in 70 years. He wore regalia that look straight out of a portrait of Charlemagne: the St. Edward’s Crown, which wegiths five pounds and has 444 gemstones; the “Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross,” a three-foot gold rod set with the largest stone cut from the largest diamond ever discovered; and The “Sovereign’s Orb,” a huge sphere that represent his command of the known world. We look the incredibly thick symbolism of this event and compare-and-contrast it to Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years ago.To explain the significance of these ceremonies is Jennifer Robson, author of “Coronation Year,” a historical fiction book set in 1953, when Elizabeth is about to be crowned.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
52:57 27/06/2023
Why Did WW2 Advance Civil Rights When WW1 Reversed Them? Here's What WEB DuBois Said
Many of us think that we know all there is to know about W.E.B Du Bois was the early 20th century’s most significant thinker, writer, and philosopher of the U.S. civil rights movement. He saw an extraordinary opportunity during World War 1 to advance the rights of black Americans. He encouraged them to “close ranks” and support the Allied cause in World War 1, enlisting to fight in the war. This decision would haunt him for the rest of his life. Seeking both intellectual clarity and personal atonement, for over two decades, Du Bois attempted to write the definitive history of black participation in World War 1. His book, however, remained unpublished. Today’s guest is Chad Williams, author of “The Wounded World,” an account of Du Bois’s efforts to complete what would have been one of his most significant works of history. He reveals Du Bois’s struggles to reckon with both the history and troubling memory of the war, along with the broader meanings of race and democracy for black people in the 20th century. He also addresses larger questions of why lynchings against black Americans spiked following the war.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at
30:21 22/06/2023