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History Myths Buzzkilled

Churchill Born in a Closet

We love myths about Churchill. Legends about him are so numerous that they are, more or less, job security for the researchers here at the Buzzkill Institute. Good old Winston seems to attract myths and misquotes like a magnet. Spend any time in Oxfordshire in England and you’re bound to be told to visit Blenheim Palace in the lovely village of Woodstock. Winston Churchill was born there and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear one of the many versions of the legendary circumstances of his birth. Or you may have read it in one of the endless number [...]

Marco Polo

Marco Polo was a Venetian Merchant who left Europe in 1271 at age 17, traveled all around the Mongol Empire in the time of Genghis’ grandson Kublai Khan, and then came back to Europe in 1295, age 41. But did he really go on this trip, or are the stories that he made it all up true? Professor John Giebfried enlightens us, Buzzkillers! Buzzkill Bookshelf

The Winchester Rifle

Laura Trevelyan from the BBC joins us to discuss to her new book, Winchester: the Rifle that Built an American Dynasty. She busts myths about the famous rifle and family, and explains its importance in American history. Recorded live in Georgetown, Washingtong DC! The first Buzzkiller who emails us - - gets a signed copy of the book! Buzzkill Bookshelf

Kennedy-Nixon Debates in the Election of 1960

Almost every presidential election of my buzzkilling lifetime has included a debate between the main candidates. And practically every time the debates roll around, the question of style over substance rears its overly made-up face. Do the debates inform voters about the candidates’ stand on the issues of the day, or are they just political beauty contests to see who “looks more presidential”? The larger question always seems to be: has television turned presidential campaigns into little more than content-free pageants for the office? And nearly every time the style-over-substance-in-the-media-age issue comes up, commentators point to the Kennedy-Nixon debates [...]

White House Painted White after War of 1812

One of the more obvious and visible effects of the War of 1812 was the damage caused during the British attack on Washington on 24 August 1814, two years into the war. After defeating American forces at the Battle of Bladensburg, the British marched on defenseless Washington DC, and sacked and burned it. The Capitol Building and the White House were more or less gutted. Although the walls remained, they were heavily stained and blackened by the destructive fire. One of the common historical myths about the White House is that it was painted white for the first time [...]

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 [...]

Buzzkill Bookshelf

Churchill: A Biography

Churchill: A Biography Roy Jenkins provides a comprehensive portrait of Winston Churchill from his childhood to the critical World War II period and beyond in a single, definitive volume.

The Travels of Marco Polo

Marco Polo’s travels provide a fascinating glimpse of the different societies he encountered: their religions, customs, ceremonies and way of life. Learn more in the book, The Travels of Marco Polo.

The Winchester: The Gun That Built an American Dynasty

The Winchester Repeating Rifle was sought after by a cast of characters ranging from the settlers of the American West to the Ottoman Empire’s Army. In the book, The Winchester: The Gun That Built an American Dynasty, Laura Trevelyan explores the evolution of an iconic, paradigm-changing weapon that has become a part of American culture.

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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