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History Myths Buzzkilled

Hitler in Power

Super Buzzkiller Prof Philip Nash joins us to examine the many myths surrounding Adolf Hitler’s rise from Chancellor to the outbreak of World War II. These include: how Nazi Germany functioned; the myth of purely tyrannical dictatorship; and the myth of an efficient, orderly dictatorship. We also explore Hitler’s genuine popularity, and explain the destructive power of Hitler’s diplomacy and expansionism. It’s very deep and complicated, Buzzkillers! Buzzkill Bookshelf

General Hooker’s Hookers

Civil War Buzzkillers have been after me for months and months to put this commonly-heard legend to rest. To put it to bed, so to speak! So here goes. Union General Joseph (“Fightin’ Joe”) Hooker was one of the most fascinating generals of the American Civil War. (And that was a war with some real characters, Buzzkillers.) He had a reputation (almost certainly exaggerated) as a hard drinker with a fondness for partying with women, even around military encampments. And he was also reportedly very popular with his men because he didn’t crack the whip in terms of discipline [...]

Genghis Khan

So you think you know all about Genghis Khan, the 13th century Mongol who built an enormous empire by slaughtering millions? But much of what you know is either exaggerated or just plain untrue. He was unmistakably brutal, but not as brutal as you may think. Listen to our interview with Professor John Giebfried, an expert on this period! Buzzkill Bookshelf

Issac Newton and the Apple

Hello again, Buzzkillers. In this week’s mini-myth, we tackle Isaac Newton’s famous apple – an object we all heard about in grade school that allegedly hit Sir Isaac Newton on the head some time in 1666, causing him to have a sudden epiphany about the universal law of gravitation. So, did Sir Isaac really discover the secrets of the heavens because of a sudden, concussive insight under an apple tree, or is this just a fruity story, embellished over time by overzealous Newtonians? As it turns out, there is to this day an apple tree growing just outside Isaac [...]

Hitler’s Early Years

Super Buzzkiller Prof Philip Nash joins us to examine some of the zillion myths surrounding Adolf Hitler and his early years. We discuss the myth of his brutal childhood and youthful poverty, the complicated story of his service in World War I (and the ways in which he wrote about it later in Mein Kampf), and the myths surrounding his early political career and political activism. It’s very deep and complicated, Buzzkillers! Buzzkill Bookshelf

Michelangelo Painting the Sistine Chapel

There is no denying that Michelangelo's frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome are masterpieces, but did the great artist actually paint the ceiling while lying on his back on a scaffold high in the air? Well no, Buzzkillers, but this is one case where the truth is actually more amazing than the myth. Pope Julius II ordered Michelangelo to perform a real miracle – or in any case, to perform an artistic feat at the borderline between the possible and the impossible. The Sistine Chapel had been built between 1477 and 1480, and it was [...]

Ring Around the Rosie

“Ring Around the Rosie” has been a popular nursery rhyme for a very long time. Many of us learned it when we were children. But we often hear people claim that the rhyme is traceable to the time of the Black Death, and that each line is a morbid reminder of the horrors of Bubonic Plague. For example, a ring around the rosie is said to refer to skin lesions that were symptomatic of plague infection, and a pocketful of posies is said to refer to flowers whose scent many people believed could prevent them from becoming sick. Finally, [...]

Bridge on the River Kwai

The Academy Award-winning film, The Bridge on the River Kwai, is about British prisoners of war during World War II who are forced by their Japanese captors to help build a railway bridge connecting Burma and Siam. One of the characters in the film is a British officer named Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson (played by Alec Guinness) who, instead of joining his troops in sabotaging the bridge, uses thin rationalizations about troop morale as an excuse for collaborating with the Japanese. Unfortunately, Nicholson is based upon a real person named Philip Toosey, and Toosey’s real background and personality could not [...]

JFK Hatless at Inauguration

In our day, the silk top hat is associated almost exclusively with cartoonish caricatures of hackneyed old magicians and robber baron Monopoly men, but through the late 18th to mid 20th centuries, the top hat was common headwear for pretty much all well-heeled gentlemen. Fashion trends come and go, but this one lasted for at least a century and a half. So how did this once-prominent adornment become so...well, old-hat? Page through the annals of American folklore and you’ll eventually come to the mostly-uncharted intersection of politics and retail. There you’ll find the oft-repeated claim that President John F. [...]

Buzzkill Bookshelf

Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939

In Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939, Volker Ullrich reveals the man behind the public persona, from Hitler’s childhood to his failures as a young man in Vienna to his experiences during the First World War to his rise as a far-right party leader.

City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex

In his book, City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920, Timothy J. Gilfoyle describes an intricate and compelling analysis of capitalism, social customs, and sex in nineteenth-century New York City.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

From the story of his rise through the tribal culture to the explosion of civilization that the Mongol Empire unleashed, this brilliant work (Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford) of revisionist history is nothing less than the epic story of how the modern world was made.

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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