Professor Buzzkill History Podcast | History Myths and Misconceptions Buzzkilled!2021-07-27T10:35:12-04:00

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History Myths Buzzkilled

Household Gods: the Religious Lives of the Adams Family

Reflecting on his past, President John Adams mused that it was religion that had shaped his family's fortunes and young America's future. For the nineteenth century's first family, the Adamses of Massachusetts, the history of how they lived religion was dynamic and well-documented. Christianity supplied the language that Abigail used to interpret husband John's political setbacks. Scripture armed their son John Quincy to act as father, statesman, and antislavery advocate. Unitarianism gave Abigail's Victorian grandson, Charles Francis, the religious confidence to persevere in political battles on the Civil War homefront. By contrast, his son Henry found religion hollow and repellent compared to the purity of modern science. A renewal of faith led Abigail's great-grandson Brooks, a Gilded Age critic of capitalism, to prophesy [...]

Charlie Brown’s America: the Popular Politics of Peanuts

Professor Blake Scott Ball discusses his new book on the history of the Peanuts comic strip! Despite--or perhaps because of--its huge popular culture status, Peanuts enabled cartoonist Charles Schulz to offer political commentary on the most controversial topics of postwar American culture through the voices of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the whole Peanuts gang. Episode 423. You can find Dr. Blake Scott Ball’s Medium blog here: Blake Scott Ball, Charlie Brown's America: The Popular Politics of Peanuts Despite--or because of--its huge popular culture status, Peanuts enabled cartoonist Charles Schulz to offer political commentary on the most controversial topics of postwar American culture through the voices of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the Peanuts gang. In postwar America, there was no newspaper comic strip [...]

History of the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail has a long and winding place in American history and culture. Professor Philip D’Anieri takes us on a hike through the significant aspects of its history and explains what the trail's construction and development have meant for the country. Episode 422 Link to the Appalachian Trail Conference: --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Philip D'Anieri, The Appalachian Trail: A Biography The Appalachian Trail is America’s most beloved trek, with millions of hikers setting foot on it every year. Yet few are aware of the fascinating backstory of the dreamers and builders who helped bring it to life over the past century. The conception and building of the Appalachian Trail is a story of unforgettable characters who explored it, defined it, and captured [...]

The Filibuster in the United States Senate

The filibuster, and the practice of filibustering in the United States Senate, is a raging topic in American politics these days. And, of course, the abuse of history has been rampant when current politicians attack or defend the filibuster. Professor Sarah Binder (_the_ expert!) explains it to you Buzzkillers! Episode 421 --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Sarah A. Binder and Steven S. Smith, Politics or Principle: Filibustering in the United States Senate Is American democracy being derailed by the United States Senate filibuster? Is the filibuster an important right that improves the political process or an increasingly partisan tool that delays legislation and thwarts the will of the majority? Are century-old procedures in the Senate hampering the institution from fulfilling its role on the eve [...]

Abraham Lincoln “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people…” Quote or No Quote?

Voting rights are being taken away in 2021. So we should listen again to Honest Abe. Right? But did he actually say, "...government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth"? Was it his phrase originally? The background of the quote will fascinate you. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers! Episode 420 —- Original Blog Post Ah, Buzzkillers, I have so much in common with Abraham Lincoln. Height (well, almost), a refusal to suffer fools (hence the founding of the Buzzkill Institute), we're both excellent wordsmiths, and we have a healthy man-crush on the 19th century Unitarian theologian Theodore Parker. (More on him later.) I must be getting soft in my old age, Buzzkillers. I've been rolling out [...]

“Nazi” “Socialist”: What’s in a Name?

Marjorie Taylor Greene has brought up the Nazi-Socialist thing to defame certain left-wing American politicians in 2021. Obviously, she doesn't know history. But why was Hitler’s fascist party named the “National-Socialist German Workers' Party”? “Socialist” and “Fascist” usually have totally different, indeed opposite, meanings. How did they get combined and what did the “National Socialist” label mean in the 1930s and 1940s? And why are some Democrats (even President Biden) tarred with the “Nazi” brush by political circus clowns nowadays? Professor Nash helps us understand it all. Listen and learn! Episode 419 --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them By uncovering disturbing patterns that are as prevalent today as ever, Stanley reveals that the stuff of [...]

Newt Gingrich and the Burning Down of American Politics

There’s so much talk these days about the radicalism of the Republican Party. Politics has often been nasty in American history, but when did this particular style of Republican extremism start? Professor Julian Zelizer from Princeton University shows us how Newt Gingrich helped create the new Republican party, and in the process, burned down American politics. Episode 418. --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Julian E. Zelizer, Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich and the Rise of the New Republican Party The story of how Newt Gingrich and his allies tainted American politics, launching an enduring era of brutal partisan warfare When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, President Obama observed that Trump “is not an outlier; he is a culmination, a logical conclusion of [...]

Evangelical Influence on Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Relations

Dr. Lauren Turek gives us the history of American Christian evangelical influence on foreign affairs, as well as their direct efforts to change American foreign policy. It’s all so much deeper and more interesting than most people think! Listen to her explain their “evangelizing” in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe in the late twentieth century. Episode 417. --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Lauren Frances Turek, To Bring the Good News to All Nations: Evangelical Influence on Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Relations When American evangelicals flocked to Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe in the late twentieth century to fulfill their Biblical mandate for global evangelism, their experiences abroad led them to engage more deeply in foreign policy activism at home. Lauren [...]

Ronald Reagan “Most Terrifying Words – ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Quote or No Quote?

At a press conference on August 12th, 1986, US President Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” So many short statements, quotes, and even off-hand phrases and jokes become engraved in stone as wisdom when they’re uttered by someone whom a large part of society already considers a hero or sage. Even the most facile and simple utterances become maxims when they happen to have come out of the mouths of Gandhi, Churchill, Lincoln, Einstein, and Mark Twain. I think this cultural habit is already extreme, problematic, and sometimes dangerous, as I’ve explained in many of these Quote or No Quote shows. But this societal tendency seems to [...]

Otto and Elise Hampel: “Ordinary” Resisters to Hitler’s Regime

Otto and Elise Hampel were a working-class German couple who wrote postcards denouncing Hitler's government and left them in public places around Berlin during World War II. Professor Philip Nash explains their significance in a combined Man Crush Monday/Woman Crush Wednesday! Episode 415 --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Hans Fallada, Alone in Berlin Alone in Berlin takes place during World War II in 1940. It conveys the omnipresent fear and suspicion engulfing Germany at the time caused by the constant threat of arrest, imprisonment, torture, and death. Even those not at risk of any of those punishments could be ostracized and unable to find work. Escherich, a Gestapo inspector, must find the source of hundreds of postcards encouraging Germans to resist Adolf Hitler and the [...]

The Historical Novels of Anna Lee Huber – Fiction Friday!

Historical novelist Anna Lee Huber gives us a glimpse of what it's like to be a historical novelist. She discusses her famous Verity Kent series (set in Britain during the WWI period) and her Lady Derby series (set in 1830s Britain). It's a Fiction Friday and let's have fun!! Episode 414 --- Buzzkill Bookshelf: Check out Anna Lee Huber’s Novels at:

Mary Ware Dennett – Woman Crush Wednesday!

Mary Ware Dennett was an American women's rights activist, pacifist, and pioneer in the areas of birth control, sex education, and women's suffrage. Yet, she is largely unknown to the general public. So, she’s our Woman Crush Wednesday this week! Listen as historian Sharon Spaulding explains Mary’s important life and work! Episode 413. Click here for more info about Mary Ware Dennett and about Sharon Spaulding: --- Buzzkill Bookshelf: Constance M. Chen, The Sex Side of Life: Mary Ware Dennett's Pioneering Battle for Birth Control and Sex Education Suffragist, pacifist in WWI, artisan in America's Arts and Crafts movement, mother, advocate of sex education, Mary Ware Dennett (1872-1947) launched the nation's first birth control organization, the National Birth Control League, in 1915. [...]


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