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History Myths Buzzkilled

Quote or No Quote: “The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword”

Ah, I’m a Romantic at heart. And, apart from seeing the sunlight glinting through Lady Buzzkill’s golden tresses, the thing I like best in this world is hearing from you, dear listeners. And I’ve certainly heard from a lot of you recently. We did a Woman Crush Wednesday show on the great Chinese revolutionary writer, Qiu Jin, and I ended the episode wondering whether her life showed that the pen was indeed mightier than the sword. Many of you wrote in asking me to trace that very phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword” for a Quote or No Quote episode. Was it Shakespeare, Voltaire, or Thomas Jefferson? Some of you have even seen it attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and that famous [...]

Income Tax and Inequality in US History

Income Tax and Inequality in US History Income tax is a troubling issue in American politics and history. We explain its long and complicated history, and delve into the even more complicated history of how personal income tax has related to the question of equality and inequality in US society. Professor Nash tells us how the American government has raised funds for peacetime needs and, of course, times of war. It’s not a simple tale of taxes rising as the country grew and the US government grew. Taxation is perhaps the most difficult thing to explain in American governmental history, but we make it easy to understand. --- Buzzkill Bookshelf W. Elliot Brownlee, Federal Taxation in America: A History This authoritative and readable survey is [...]

Woman Crush Wednesday! Qiu Jin

It’s a rare thing indeed to find someone in history who stands up and rebels against almost all the things she finds oppressive in society. Such a woman was Qiu Jin [Cho Jeen], the Chinese revolutionary whose short but dramatic life has led her to be called “China’s Joan of Arc.” Born in 1875 or 1877 (experts disagree on the exact date), Qiu Jin grew up in a fairly traditional Chinese household, had her feet bound as a young woman, was placed in an arranged marriage, and had two children in quick succession. As a young woman, however, she was able to study Chinese literature, as well as martial arts. She not only studied both (and celebrated Chinese heroes from the past), she became active [...]

Jesse James and the Civil War

Was Jesse James a famous “western outlaw” or is the story more complicated than that? Listen as Professor Nash takes us through James’ life and explains the centrality of the Civil War, and how the bitterness enhanced by the civil war motivated his post-war life of crime. And how about Jesse James as a modern-day Robin Hood? We explore that myth and how the celebration of Frank and Jesse James has been based on hype, hatred, and histrionics.  --- Buzzkill Bookshelf T.J. Stiles, Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War In this brilliant biography T. J. Stiles offers a new understanding of the legendary outlaw Jesse James. Although he has often been portrayed as a Robin Hood of the old west, in this ground-breaking [...]

Irish Things that are Actually British

It’s getting to be mid-March, and all good Buzzkillers’ minds turn towards things Irish. We have done shows before on St. Patrick and on the Irish Slaves Myth, which, of course, were quite serious and brought up important historical issues and themes. But this March we thought we’d be a little more light-hearted, yet probably generate more comment and hate-mail than our other Irish episodes. That’s because I want to bring up an intriguing aspect of Irish history -- the nature of Irish identity, and the strength of the belief in Irish identity. So I should apologize in advance to the entire Irish side of the Buzzkill Dynasty, to all of Irish America, and to many of my favorite Buzzkillers in Ireland, especially Farmer Michael [...]

Making of the Non-Smoker

The “Non-Smoker” as a category of person seems obvious in the 21st century. But it wasn’t always this way. Professor Sarah Milov gives the history of the non-smoking movement, including the medical, legal, and political battles that eventually led to smoke-free public places. Hear about pressure groups like GASP, ASH, and the countless local movements that helped clear the air. Check out Professor Milov's book "The Cigarette: A Political History" here. --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Allan Brandt, The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product That Defined America From agriculture to big business, from medicine to politics, The Cigarette Century is the definitive account of how smoking came to be so deeply implicated in our culture, science, policy, and law. No product [...]

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American History, British History, and World History Myths Busted by Professor Buzzkill
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