Today’s episode is special! It’s an interview I gave to Colin Woodward from the American Rambler podcast. Among other things, we talk about how I started doing the show, and about the nature of historical myths and how damaging they can be. Colin even drags a few personal things out of me! Lady Buzzkill will be horrified!
Hitler storming out of the stadium after Jesse Owens won the 100-meter dash in the 1936 Berlin Olympics is one of most enduring images we have of the tumultuous history of Nazi Germany. Hitler famously “snubbed” Jesse Owens and all African-American athletes because of his ideas of Aryan racial superiority. But did it actually happen? And did it happen the way we usually think? Find out, Buzzkillers!
Umrao Singh was one of thirty-one British Indian Army soldiers awarded the Victoria Cross during WWII, and was the only NCO in Royal Artillery or Royal Indian Artillery to receive a VC during WWII. On the night of 15-16 Dec 1944, Singh commanded a field gun detachment close to front. His defense of his position and his counter-attack on Japanese forces was heroic and has become legendary. But listen to our Man Crush Monday to get the full story!
Practically nothing in the history of the United States has suffered from myth-making and misunderstanding as much as the history of race relations and racist violence. The history Ku Klux Klan is no exception. This is ironic. In its various incarnations, the KKK was supposed to be a secret organization. But historians know a great deal about it, and have analyzed it deeply. We explain the three periods of KKK, how each version of the Klan was different, but also how each version had one crucial thing in common -- hate. Listen, learn, and contemplate.
Puerto Rican nationalists tried to assassinate President Harry Truman in 1950. Then, in 1954, different Puerto Rican Nationalists opened fire in the House of Representatives, wounding Congressmen. Professor Perry Blatz joins us to explain the background to Puerto Rican nationalism and its impact on US political life in the mid-20th century. Listen and learn!
Professor Marie Hicks joins us to talk about gender and employment in the emerging field of computing in Britain, and all the historical myths that surround them. In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. We examine why this happened in the tense post-war world, as Britain was losing its role as a global leader and innovator. Professor Hicks calls this a story of gendered technocracy, and it undercut Britain's flexibility in the technology age. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!
Many of you have written in to ask me to trace the origins of the phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”. Was it Shakespeare, Voltaire, or Thomas Jefferson? Some of you have even seen it attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and that famous magnet for all quotations, Winston Churchill. Well, we explain it all in this Quote or No Quote episode!
In the Academy Award-winning film, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Colonel Nicholson is portrayed as a man who willingly betrays his country and his men for an easier ride as prisoner of war. He collaborates with his captors in order to build a railway bridge that is key to Japan's war efforts in Burma and Thailand. While the men under his command are initially intent on sabotaging the bridge, Nicholson convinces them otherwise, ostensibly in order to maintain troop morale, and to show that British engineering is superior to that of the Japanese. The only problem, Dear Buzzkillers, is that the real commanding British Colonel on the River Kwai was was nothing like the character portrayed in the movie.
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.