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History Myths Buzzkilled

ENCORE: Washington’s Birthday

George Washington, the general who won the American War of Independence and became the first President of the United States, is probably the most revered politician in American history. People generally consider him the wisest of the founding fathers. Not a heavy duty intellectual like Jefferson or Madison, and not a vote-counter like Hamilton, but a practical thinker capable of balancing ideals with reality. Americans have ascribed almost every political philosophy to him whenever they need an appeal to authority to bolster their arguments. What does that mean? It means that, like Gandhi and Churchill, quotes and ideas are [...]

Marilyn Monroe: Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History

Lots of people are credited with coining the great phrase, “well-behaved women rarely make history.” They include Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Roosevelt, Anne Boleyn, and our own Aunt Ginger from the Buzzkill Institute. Given time, any powerful woman with backbone and nerve will get credit for this phrase and sentiment. It’s a great quote, but we should credit its actual author. And we’re so happy that it came from an academic scholar, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, who is a professor of Early American history at Harvard. Academic historians rarely make history, but Professor Ulrich certainly has. [...]

Executive Orders

Huge numbers of listeners have flooded the Buzzkill Institute with emails, faxes, texts, and Tweets, asking about President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders. They’ve come so fast and furious! With a little help from Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan, we explain the nature and operation of Executive Orders, as well as the history behind this fascinating aspect of American history and government. Buzzkill Bookshelf

St. Valentine: “Your Valentine”

Valentine’s Day is here again, Buzzkillers, and you can be certain that we’re depleting the Buzzkill bank account at a rapid clip so that we can give Lady Buzzkill all the best tokens of love and affection befitting her rank and station. And it’s always around this time of year that people ask me about St. Valentine. Did he really pass a heart-shaped note to an admirer and sign it “Your Valentine”? Was this the first Valentine’s Day card? Despite the best attempts of the greeting card companies to tell us otherwise, there’s no real historical [...]

Special Episode: 84 Lumber Super Bowl Ad

This is a special episode, friends. As you’ve noticed, there was no intro music. There’ll be no outro music, and no sponsors’ ads. We’ve done it this way because this episode is somewhat personal. And the topic is prompted by what I saw the other night during the Super Bowl. All of you know that we like to say this podcast comes from an undisclosed location. This is because we have a strong streak of self-preservation, and we don’t want to be attacked by outraged listeners who might be overly-invested in believing historical myths. But most of you realize [...]

Vince Lombardi: Winning is the Only Thing

Buzzkilling isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. That’s the motivational quote that keeps my eyes on the prize, Buzzkillers. How about that? Two cliches within the first minute! That’s the kind of winning attitude that’s made me the best historian on the interwebs! It also reminds me of the legendary American football coach, Vince Lombardi, who was fond of telling his players the following. “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” He employed it many times to motivate them, as well having it posted all around the locker room. And he’s usually the person who gets [...]

The Marie Celeste

The Big Short is a great film about the drama leading up to the housing bubble and the financial crisis of 2007-2008. It also contains a reference to our myth du jour. In one scene, two financial analysts visit a real estate development where over-extended home-owners have stopped playing their mortgages. Touring a house abandoned by its owners, they find everything intact, as if the owners had just stepped out for a minute. One analyst says to the other, “It looks like the Marie Celeste.” The tragic story of the ship Marie Celeste has been told for over a [...]

Churchill Fighting for the Arts

The Churchill “quote” about fighting for the arts seems to be enjoying a revival in interest these days. Many Buzzkillers have have sent it to me over Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Here’s the standard version: At the height of World War II, the British people and British government finances were stretched to the limit. A journalist suggested to Winston Churchill that the government cut funding for the arts. The Prime Minister replied, “Then what are we fighting for?” You know how we are about Churchill quotes, Buzzkillers, especially the ones that fly around the internet. He [...]


German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel has gone down in history not only as a genius soldier and commander, but also as a military leader above politics, and a hero because he participated in the plot to kill Hitler. How much of this is true, and how much of this is myth? How much of the myth was generated by the German propaganda machine, and how much was boosted by British media buying into it? Professor Phil Nash joins us as we unravel The Rommel Myth. Buzzkill Bookshelf

Buzzkill Bookshelf

The Political Philosophy of George Washington

In the book, The Political Philosophy of George Washington (The Political Philosophy of the American Founders), Morrison analyzes the central aspects of Washington’s political thinking, without resorting to anachronisms and false deifying.

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History

The admired historian, and coiner of one of feminism's most popular slogans, explores what it means for women to make history in Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History.

With the Stroke of a Pen: Executive Orders and Presidential Power

With the Stroke of a Pen: Executive Orders and Presidential Power is one of the most important books on Presidential power published this century.

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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