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History Myths Buzzkilled

Gandhi, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Quote or No Quote?

It's been weeks and weeks since we looked at a Gandhi quotation. Given that he's probably the most misquoted person in human history after Windy Winston Churchill, it's about time that we examined another supposed Gandhi-ism. As you know, Gandhi was one of the leaders of the Indian Independence movement in the early 20th century, and is usually considered the spiritual leader of Indian nationalism. He spent the second half of his life seeking moral and religious meaning behind the fights against injustice and oppression. This led him to add a certain moral (sometimes moralistic) tone to his political [...]

Vietnam: War and History

Professor Phil Nash explains the history of Vietnam in the 20th century, and the very complicated ways in which it was torn apart by war and civil war throughout the mid-century. Along the way, we learn about the deep complications in the history of the Vietnam War that have allowed myths and misconceptions to solidify. In particular, we talk about how post-World War II wars in Vietnam become Americanized. Finally, we discuss the impact of the war in the United States, as well as its impact in Vietnam itself. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!   Buzzkill Bookshelf: George Herring, America's [...]

Woman Crush Wednesday! Stephanie Shirley

It's our first Woman Crush Wednesday! Professor Marie Hicks tells us the story of Stephanie Shirley, one of Britain's computer programming pioneers. Imagine starting your own company with just £6 (roughly $12) and building it into one of the most powerful programming companies in Europe. That was Stephanie Shirley did, starting in 1961. Later in life she went on to become one of Britain's leading philanthropists, and has donated most of her life to helping good causes, especially those close to her heart. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) by Queen [...]

Great October Revolution – 100th Anniversary

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was one of the most important events in the 20th century. Professor Nash joins us to untangle the extremely complicated history of Russian politics between 1905 and 1917. He tells us what happened and why. Why, for instance, were there so many revolutions (or "state coups") between the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and the October Revolution of 1917? Why did World War I have such an accelerating effect on the pace of changes in Russia? Why were there so many competing political parties in Russia, and how did the Bolsheviks eventually become paramount? Listen [...]

Programmed Inequality: Women and British Computing

Professor Marie Hicks joins us to talk about gender and employment in the emerging field of computing in Britain, and all the historical myths that surround them. In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. We examine why this happened in the tense post-war world, as Britain was losing its role as a global leader and innovator. Professor Hicks calls this a story of gendered technocracy, and it undercut Britain's flexibility in the technology age. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!   Buzzkill Bookshelf: Marie Hicks, Programmed Inequality: How Britain [...]

General Curtis LeMay, “Bomb the North Vietnamese Back to the Stone Age” Quote or No Quote?

  Many of you Buzzkillers have asked us to do shows about the Vietnam War, especially with the Ken Burns multi-part documentary that's finishing its run on PBS. And the quote we're going to examine today is one of the most well-known phrases supposedly to come out of that war. But there's another reason why we wanted to schedule it right after the Muhammad Ali "quote" about the Viet Cong. And that's because this is another example of a quote or phrase or saying becoming well-known in the culture of the time, but later being attributed [...]

Muhammad Ali: “No Viet Cong Ever Called Me Nigger.” Quote or No Quote?

  Muhammed Ali: No Vietcong Ever Called Me Nigger   Buzzkillers by the score have asked us here at the Institute for shows on the Vietnam War. The Ken Burns film on PBS, The Vietnam War, the 18-part, 10-hour interview-thon, is provoking many of you to ask questions about the war and about the protests against it. So today we're going to look at one of the most well-known quotes from the Vietnam era.   When asked about being drafted for the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers in history, as well as [...]

The Irish Slaves Myth

Ah, Buzzkillers, all of you know the depth of my love/hate relationship with the internet. On the one hand, I love the internet and the crazy history stories that fly around it via email and blog posts. They provide grist for the Buzzkill Institute mill, and, of course, keep us floated financially, as well as emotionally. And I hate the internet because, despite our heroic efforts, these crazy and wholly misinformed stories still seem to be convincing large sections of humanity. Some of these good folks are adults and actually have drivers licenses and may be responsible for the [...]

Chief Seattle “We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children.” Quote or No Quote?

Chief Seattle, "We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children" Quote or No Quote? It's probably a sin, Buzzkillers, to think of some historical figures as job security for me and for those who work at the Buzzkill Institute. But an avalanche of words and sentiments are mis-attributed to Chief Seattle, the 19th century Native American leader. His "words" appear on bumper stickers, yoga posters, and almost countless Twitter and Facebook accounts. Generally these are taken from highly disputed sources: an 1855 a letter to President Franklin Pierce; and [...]

Buzzkill Bookshelf

Philip Dray, There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America (2011).

In this stirring new history, Philip Dray shows us the vital accomplishments of organized labor and illuminates its central role in our social, political, economic, and cultural evolution. His epic, character-driven narrative not only restores to our collective memory the indelible story of American labor, it also demonstrates the importance of the fight for fairness and economic democracy, and why that effort remains so urgent today.

George Herring, America’s Longest War: the United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 (2013)

Respected for its thorough research, comprehensive coverage, and clear, readable style, America’s Longest War explores the origins of the thirty-year war for Vietnam. It seeks to explain how the United States became involved and the consequences of its actions for the Vietnamese as well as Americans.

Stephanie Shirley, Let It Go (2012)

This fascinating memoir charts Dame Stephanie's life from her time as a child in Germany and arrival in England as an unaccompanied Kindertransport refugee through to her retirement and dedication to charity.

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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