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History Myths Buzzkilled

Venus de Milo

It's all fun and games until someone loses their arms It’s the 8th of April 1820. On the Greek Aegean island of Milos, a man named Yorgos Kentrotas was collecting stones from an ancient ruin near his farm. He came across a small niche in a wall in that ruin. It caught his attention because it seemed to be concealing something. He removed some of the stones in the wall and found that the thing that was being concealed was a statue of a woman. A French naval officer and amateur archaeologist, Olivier Voutier, whose ship was docked at [...]

Amelia Earhart

The accomplishments of Earhart & other female aviators Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) was one of the most famous Americans of the twentieth century. Most of you know the basic outlines of her career. She was a very important aviator, and she set all kinds of records for solo flying, and for being the “first female aviator” to accomplish feats. She was exciting, innovative, attractive, and shy in a way that made people like her even more. She also became famous at a time when movie newsreels were becoming popular and the “star making” apparatus that sprung up around her certainly [...]

The Truth Behind Summer Break

Thought it was so kids could help out on the farm? Think again. It’s the middle of summer, Buzzkillers, and thank goodness the kids are home from school, helping out on the farm. They’re working here at the Buzzkill Institute, too, mowing the lawn and doing other laborious tasks that are essential to our success as as think tank. As you know, the school year runs from the fall until the end of spring (at least here in the United States). And, like most people, you probably think it’s a long tradition based on having kids available to work [...]

Molly Pitcher

An ode to Revolutionary War camp followers The more we study the American Revolutionary period and the stories that are told about it, the more we realize that many of those stories are really about 1876, rather than 1776. In other words, a lot of our perceptions about the American Revolution come from stories crafted to celebrate and boost the centennial observations in 1876. One of those stories is about Molly Pitcher, the heroine of the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. “Molly” was the legendary wife of a continental soldier, and a water carrier who kept the Continental soldiers [...]

The Liberty Bell

Examining the source of the crack   It’s a dramatic and poignant story, Buzzkillers. July 4, 1776: the Second Continental Congress had been meeting in Philadelphia for over a year, trying to hammer out how to win the Revolutionary War and establish an independent nation. On that day they agreed to adopt the Declaration of Independence. The news spread quickly across the city, and an aged bell-ringer at the Pennsylvania State House decided to ring the Liberty Bell long and loud to proclaim independence. The old man was so invigorated by the news that he found the strength to pull [...]

The Bombing of Dresden

Was it a war crime? The bombing of Dresden on February 13-14, 1945 was one of the most destructive of the Allies’ late-war bombing campaigns over Germany. Somewhere between 22,000 and 25,000 people were killed and a famously beautiful city was leveled. It’s been called an Allied war crime, and Kurt Vonnegut’s famous novel "Slaughterhouse 5" reinforced that idea in the public mind for at least a generation. But was it a war crime? Was it unnecessary? Listen in, Buzzkillers, as Professor Phil Nash enlightens us!

The Star Spangled Banner

  There are so many aspects of American history and patriotism that we think originated in the revolutionary period of the 1770s, but are actually products of a hundred years later, in the waning decades of the 19th century, and sometimes are products of the 20th century. The national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, is perhaps the most representative example of these. The original poem was written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, after he had seen Fort McHenry in Baltimore heavily bombed by the British during the War of 1812. He was inspired when he saw the American [...]

The Life of Douglas MacArthur

  The five-star American general Douglas MacArthur is one of the most famous and celebrated generals in American history. Along with Patton, however, he’s one of the most misunderstood and most mythologized. Born in the 19th century, MacArthur served in both World Wars, the Korean War, and other, less extensive US military actions. Yet he is also considered another attention hound (like Patton), sometimes overly-dramatic, and often letting his over-inflated view of his own abilities and destiny get in the way of sound judgement. In this episode we look at his early life and his career through World [...]

The Hitler Jig

Hitler didn't dance that jig  France fell to Nazi Germany in June 1940. The Germans stage managed it so that Hitler would receive the French surrender in the same railroad car that the Germans had signed their surrender that ended World War I. Hitler stepped out of the railway car while the surrender documents were being read out loud and talked with some of his generals waiting outside. While chatting, Hitler took a step forwards, but he did it in kind of odd and stilted manner, raising his right knee up high as he did so. It was as [...]

Buzzkill Bookshelf

Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo

Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo is the most complete history of the Venus de Milo, and is a pleasure to read.

East to the Dawn: the Life of Amelia Earhart

East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart is the most authoritative and comprehensively researched biography of Amelia Earhart.

School’s In: The History of Summer Education in American Public Schools (2002)

Professor Gold's research in School's In: The History of Summer Education in American Public Schools (History of Schools and Schooling, V. 25) shows that many aspects of American public education, including the school calendar, was fluid and evolving right up until World War I.

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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