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History Myths Buzzkilled

Churchill, “Blood, Sweat, and Tears.” Quote or No Quote?

With the popular film, The Darkest Hour, getting even more attention now because Gary Oldman won the Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Winston Churchill, I have even more reason than usual to point out bogus Churchill quotes. But I thought I'd talk about something that Churchill actually said, and that was a well-known saying in his day, to show how certain phrases that were certainly commonplace in the late 19th century and early 20th century, have been Churchill-ized by people after World War II. On the 13th of May 1940, Churchill gave first speech to the [...]

Benjamin Lay, Quakerism, and Anti-Slavery

We interview Professor Marcus Rediker about his new book, Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist. Benjamin Lay was one of the most famous anti-slavery protesters in colonial Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. He agitated against slavery and the slave trade in very unusual ways, and was eventually kicked out of his church, the Quakers, for his actions. He was also one of the pioneers of political boycotting of certain consumer goods. Professor Rediker tells the story of one of the most interesting men of the early 18th century, and learn why he deserves more [...]

WCW Alison Palmer

It's a Woman Crush Wednesday! Alison Palmer was a pioneer in gaining increased women's rights and human rights in the American State Department. While working there in the 1950s and 1960s, Palmer ran up against the glass ceiling when trying to advance in the civil service at the State Department. She found it almost impossible to become a foreign service officer, and was forced to remain in the clerical ranks until she sued the Department. She spent years in court, and wasn't fully vindicated until the mid-1970s. But the story's even more complicated than that. Listen and learn! ---- [...]

The Pentagon Papers

The Pentagon Papers Professor Phil Nash helps us explain the complicated and much-mythologized history of the Pentagon Papers, which is shorthand for the government-funded study of US involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. According to New York Times in 1996, the Pentagon Papers showed that the government had, "systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress." That secrecy and lying included hiding the expansion of US-led military action in south-east Asia to include Cambodia and Laos. Once leaked by Daniel Ellsberg and others, American newspapers, led by the New York Times, printed significant extracts from [...]

Computer Dating

Professor Marie Hicks joins us again, this time to discuss the yummy history of computer dating. Did it start with Operation Match at Harvard? Or was it a young entrepreneur in London? What were their reasons for thinking that computers could match people better than people could match people? And was the early history of computer dating as neat and clean as a computer punch card? Perhaps not! If you don't want Professor Buzzkill to fill in your profile for you, you'd better give this episode a listen!   --- Buzzkill Bookshelf   Joan Ball, Just Me (2014).   Joan [...]

Impeachment, Presidential Removal and Replacement

Impeachment? The 25th Amendment? Resignation? How do the American people remove a president from office? Why is it so complicated, and what's the history behind each way to get a dangerous, criminal, or just plain crazy chief executive out of the highest office in the land? Join Professor Buzzkill and Professor Nash as they work through all the possibilities, and illuminate all the history and politics behind the various processes. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers! --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Charles Black Jr., Impeachment: A Handbook (1998). Black's survey is a dispassionate, invaluable beam of light.This everyman's guide to impeachment outlines the [...]

Electricity in American Life 1882-1952

Electricity in American Life From 1876, when the first effective dynamo/generator that produced a steady current of electricity was invented, Americans reacted to this new phenomenon of electricity in many different ways. Professor Jennifer Lieberman is one of the first academics to study that reaction, especially how it appeared in popular literature, both fiction and non-fiction. And in doing so, she raises a lot of very important questions about our relationships with technology and the natural world. We interview her about the cultural reactions to electricity as a new technology is the topic of this episode. Listen and be [...]

Man Crush Monday! Varian Fry

You'll often hear the phrase that there's "a special place in hell (or a special circle of hell, or special level of hell) reserved for…" which then proceeds on to a quip about a relatively minor social infraction ("those who waste good whiskey," "those who split infinitives"). Obviously, it's also used to refer to the appropriate place for the especially evil (Hitler, Pol Pot). It's a way to remind us that we need constantly to remember how evil they were, and to be on guard for more like them. It's not as common to hear of a "special place [...]

The Pizza Effect

Yes, it's me, your favorite professor, here to get you back on the straight and narrow. Today I'm going to talk about something called "the pizza effect," but it's not the effect that pizza has on our collective waistlines. The pizza effect is something that affects our thinking about the history and origins of foods, traditions, and practices of different cultures. It's about what qualifies as culturally "authentic" in a culture, and how some of the history of different cultures has affected our perceptions of cultural attributes. Ask anybody where pizza was invented, and they will almost invariably reply [...]

Buzzkill Bookshelf

Richard Langworth (ed.), Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations (2011).

Churchill by Himself is the first fully annotated and attributed collection of Churchill sayings that captures Churchill's wit in its entirety. Edited by longtime Churchill scholar Richard M. Langworth, it is also authorized by the Churchill estate.

Marcus Rediker, The Fearless Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist (2017).

Marcus Rediker chronicles the transatlantic life and times of a singular man—a Quaker dwarf who demanded the total, unconditional emancipation of all enslaved Africans around the world. Mocked and scorned by his contemporaries, Lay was unflinching in his opposition to slavery, often performing colorful guerrilla theater to shame slave masters, insisting that human bondage violated the fundamental principles of Christianity. He drew on his ideals to create a revolutionary way of life, one that embodied [...]

Alison Palmer, Diplomat and Priest (2015).

Diplomat and Priest chronicles the half century that Alison Palmer spent fighting for her rights and the rights of other women. Her bravery and tenacity resulted in improvements in policies and practices at both the US Department of State and in the Anglican Communion, benefiting thousands of women and changing the face of both state and church.

Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets: a Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (2003)

In this remarkable memoir, Ellsberg describes in dramatic detail the two years he spent in Vietnam as a U.S. State Department observer, and how he came to risk his career and freedom to expose the deceptions and delusions that shaped three decades of American foreign policy.

Joan Ball, Just me (1998).

Joan's autobiography of her extraordinary life -- the first person to set up a computer dating service, a successful business-woman, as well as the youngest mayor in British history.

Buzzkill Book Shelf

Buzzkillers! Here are the books that we have featured on certain episodes. We highly recommend them!

American History, British History, and World History Myths Busted by Professor Buzzkill

Don’t forget to check-in every week for new history myths being busted.

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