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History Myths Buzzkilled

Slavery, Race, and the Confederate Army

Professor Colin Woodward joins us to discuss the importance of slavery in the minds of Confederate soldiers, as well as its effects on military policy and decision making. He tells us about the Rebels’ persistent belief in the need to defend slavery and deploy it militarily as the war raged on. Slavery proved essential to the Confederate war machine, and Rebels strove to protect it just as they did Southern cities, towns, and railroads. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers! ---- Colin Woodward, Marching Masters: Slavery, Race, and the Confederate Army during the Civil War (2014). In Marching Masters Colin Woodward [...]

“May You Live in Interesting Times” – Quote or No Quote?

Are we cursed to be living in interesting times? Would a boring era be easier on the Buzzkill blood pressure? And is “may you live in interesting times” actually an old Chinese curse, or is the history of the saying more complicated? We take you from Chinese folks tales in 1627 to 20th century British politicians in this episode of Quote or No Quote, trying to track down who said what when. Listen and learn! ---- Buzzkill Bookshelf: Feng Menglong, Stories to Awaken the World: A Ming Dynasty Collection, Volume 3, Shuhui Yang (Translator), Yunqin Yang (Translator) (2014). This [...]

Why Was World Was II So Bad?

All wars are bad. But why was World War II so extreme? Coming less than 20 years after World War I (the most extreme war up until that time), the Second World War’s death toll is _conservatively_ calculated at 60 million people. And some estimates are higher than that. Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain why the death and destruction were so severe, and to give us grim statistics on some overlooked facts. These include: the number of civilian deaths outweighing military deaths, and the number of Allied deaths far exceeding Axis deaths. If this episode doesn’t bring [...]

Henrietta Lacks – Woman Crush Wednesday!

You may think it odd that I’m about to give you a Woman Crush Wednesday episode on someone who’s had a best-selling book written about her, a highway in Maryland named after her, who is the subject of academic conferences and articles, who’s had a high school named in her honor, and has a small planet that bears her name. And perhaps most notable of all, in our media-obsessed age, a 2017 Oprah Winfrey film made about her story. After all, these Woman Crush Wednesday shows are usually about women from history who should be better known, whose lives [...]

Coming Close to Nuclear War

How close has the world come to nuclear war in the past several decades? How many accidents, miscommunications, and misunderstandings have brought us to the brink of annihilation? Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain how many times we’ve been on the brink of nuclear war, what happened in these incidents, and what mistakes were made. You’ll be very surprised (and made uneasy) at how many times simple human error brought the world close to nuclear war. Take a deep breath, Buzzkillers, and listen with the lights on! ---- Buzzkill Bookshelf Eric Schlosser, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the [...]

Melvin Purvis – Man Crush Monday!

Melvin Purvis, head of the Chicago Division of the young FBI, is usually overshadowed by the character of J. Edgar Hoover. But who did the real work of capturing or killing Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger. Professor Nash joins us to discuss G-Man Melvin Purvis and where he belongs in the history of American law enforcement. Listen in! Buzzkill Bookshelf Alston Purvis, The Vendetta: Special Agent Melvin Purvis, John Dillinger, and Hoover's FBI in the Age of Gangsters (2009). Alston Purvis recounts the story of his father, Melvin Purvis, the iconic G-man and public hero made famous by [...]

Canadians Burning the White House, 1814

Canadians Burning the White House Oh Canada, you ransacked through the town searching for a Timmy’s you burned the White House down Yes indeedy, it’s July 1st — Canada Day! The day that celebrates that glorious time in 1867, when the various provinces of Canada became a confederation in the British Empire. It was later called Dominion Day, and then officially Canada Day in 1982. But it’s an especially yummy day to talk about Canada and Canadians here at the Buzzkill Institute. That’s because, during a recent discussion with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Trump responded to Trudeau’s [...]

WWII Internment in the United States

Government internment of “enemy aliens” during World War II has been a controversial topic ever since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Not only is the history much more complicated than is popularly known, the various policies applied at the time were very complicated, and often contradictory. In this episode we talk about how Japanese-Americans, Italian-Americans, and German-Americans were treated during the 20th Century’s darkest years. Here are some resources about Internment: Dorothea Lange's Photographs of Japanese-American Internees: Japanese-American Internment: Italian-American Internment: Stephen Fox, The Unknown Internment: An Oral History of [...]

Immigration to the United States

The history of immigration to the United States is very complicated, Buzzkillers! Millions of people came from all over the world to the United States, and there are almost as many myths about immigration as there were immigrants. What did it mean to come to the United States "legally" during the high points of the history of immigration to the United States? When did the government try to restrict immigration and how did they do that? Professor Buzzkill's new episode explains all!

Buzzkill Bookshelf

Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health (1964).

Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service On January 11, 1964, Luther L. Terry, M.D., Surgeon General of the United States, released Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee of the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service. This was the first in the series that is now generally referred to as the Surgeon General’s reports.

“If You Don’t have Anything Nice to Say … ” Decorative Pillow.

A nice replica of Alice Roosevelt's throw pillow. Liven up your parties and literary salons with your wit!

Recapturing the Oval Office

Several generations of historians figuratively abandoned the Oval Office as the bastion of out-of-fashion stories of great men. And now, decades later, the historical analysis of the American presidency remains on the outskirts of historical scholarship, even as policy and political history have rebounded.

Andrew J. Huebner, Love and Death in the Great War (2018).

Tracks ideas of redemptive war across public and private spaces, policy and implementation, home and front, popular culture and personal correspondence. In beautifully rendered prose, Andrew J. Huebner merges untold stories of ordinary men and women with a history of wartime culture.

Max Brooks and Caanan White, The Harlem Hellfighters (2014).

From bestselling author Max Brooks, the riveting story of the highly decorated, barrier-breaking, historic black regiment—the Harlem Hellfighters!

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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