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History Myths Buzzkilled

Benjamin Lay, Quakerism, and Anti-Slavery

We interview Professor Marcus Rediker about his new book, Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist. Benjamin Lay was one of the most famous anti-slavery protesters in colonial Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. He agitated against slavery and the slave trade in very unusual ways, and was eventually kicked out of his church, the Quakers, for his actions. He was also one of the pioneers of political boycotting of certain consumer goods. Professor Rediker tells the story of one of the most interesting men of the early 18th century, and learn why he deserves more [...]

WCW Alison Palmer

It's a Woman Crush Wednesday! Alison Palmer was a pioneer in gaining increased women's rights and human rights in the American State Department. While working there in the 1950s and 1960s, Palmer ran up against the glass ceiling when trying to advance in the civil service at the State Department. She found it almost impossible to become a foreign service officer, and was forced to remain in the clerical ranks until she sued the Department. She spent years in court, and wasn't fully vindicated until the mid-1970s. But the story's even more complicated than that. Listen and learn! ---- [...]

The Pentagon Papers

The Pentagon Papers Professor Phil Nash helps us explain the complicated and much-mythologized history of the Pentagon Papers, which is shorthand for the government-funded study of US involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. According to New York Times in 1996, the Pentagon Papers showed that the government had, "systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress." That secrecy and lying included hiding the expansion of US-led military action in south-east Asia to include Cambodia and Laos. Once leaked by Daniel Ellsberg and others, American newspapers, led by the New York Times, printed significant extracts from [...]

Computer Dating

Professor Marie Hicks joins us again, this time to discuss the yummy history of computer dating. Did it start with Operation Match at Harvard? Or was it a young entrepreneur in London? What were their reasons for thinking that computers could match people better than people could match people? And was the early history of computer dating as neat and clean as a computer punch card? Perhaps not! If you don't want Professor Buzzkill to fill in your profile for you, you'd better give this episode a listen!   --- Buzzkill Bookshelf   Joan Ball, Just Me (2014).   Joan [...]

Impeachment, Presidential Removal and Replacement

Impeachment? The 25th Amendment? Resignation? How do the American people remove a president from office? Why is it so complicated, and what's the history behind each way to get a dangerous, criminal, or just plain crazy chief executive out of the highest office in the land? Join Professor Buzzkill and Professor Nash as they work through all the possibilities, and illuminate all the history and politics behind the various processes. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers! --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Charles Black Jr., Impeachment: A Handbook (1998). Black's survey is a dispassionate, invaluable beam of light.This everyman's guide to impeachment outlines the [...]

Electricity in American Life 1882-1952

Electricity in American Life From 1876, when the first effective dynamo/generator that produced a steady current of electricity was invented, Americans reacted to this new phenomenon of electricity in many different ways. Professor Jennifer Lieberman is one of the first academics to study that reaction, especially how it appeared in popular literature, both fiction and non-fiction. And in doing so, she raises a lot of very important questions about our relationships with technology and the natural world. We interview her about the cultural reactions to electricity as a new technology is the topic of this episode. Listen and be [...]

Man Crush Monday! Varian Fry

You'll often hear the phrase that there's "a special place in hell (or a special circle of hell, or special level of hell) reserved for…" which then proceeds on to a quip about a relatively minor social infraction ("those who waste good whiskey," "those who split infinitives"). Obviously, it's also used to refer to the appropriate place for the especially evil (Hitler, Pol Pot). It's a way to remind us that we need constantly to remember how evil they were, and to be on guard for more like them. It's not as common to hear of a "special place [...]

The Pizza Effect

Yes, it's me, your favorite professor, here to get you back on the straight and narrow. Today I'm going to talk about something called "the pizza effect," but it's not the effect that pizza has on our collective waistlines. The pizza effect is something that affects our thinking about the history and origins of foods, traditions, and practices of different cultures. It's about what qualifies as culturally "authentic" in a culture, and how some of the history of different cultures has affected our perceptions of cultural attributes. Ask anybody where pizza was invented, and they will almost invariably reply [...]

Admiral Yamamoto, “I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant.” Quote or No Quote?

As we awake on December 7th, I am reminded of the supposed reaction of the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto when their attack on Pearl Harbor was completed. Pondering the reports of the successful attack, Yamamoto is reputed to have said, "I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with terrible resolve." Like so many dramatic quotes during times of war, however, this one is the product of dramatic scriptwriting, not a thoughtful leader's sobering analysis of wartime prospects. You see, the residue of the "awaken a sleeping giant" quote smells strongly of the [...]

Buzzkill Bookshelf

Paul Kendall, Armistice 1918: Voices From The Past (2017).

The story of the efforts to bring the war to a conclusion, and those final days and hours of the First World War, are told in the words of the politicians, soldiers and newspaper columnists who were there at the time.

Matthew D Hockenos, Then They Came for Me: Martin Niemöller, the Pastor Who Defied the Nazis (2018).

A nuanced portrait of courage in the face of evil, Then They Came for Me puts the question to us today: What would I have done?

Mamie Till-Mobley and Christopher Benson, Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America (2004).

The mother of Emmett Till recounts the story of her life, her son’s tragic death, and the dawn of the civil rights movement—with a foreword by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

John Sayle Watterson, College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy (2002).

Shows how college football in more than one hundred years has evolved from a simple game played by college students into a lucrative, semi-professional enterprise. With a historian's grasp of the context and a novelist's eye for the telling detail, Watterson presents a compelling portrait rich in anecdotes, colorful personalities, and troubling patterns.

Yashka: My Life as a Peasant, Exile and Soldier; A Biography and History of Russia in WW1, and the Bolshevik Revolution

Yashka is the autobiography of Maria Botchkareva, a young Russian woman who bravely took up arms first against the Germans in World War One, and then opposed the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution of 1917.

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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