Professor Phil Nash explains how the myths and misconceptions about the Vietnam War started, grew, and have plagued our historical consciousness since the late 1950s. Among other things, the large number of myths about the Vietnam War shows us that our understanding of even relatively recent historical events can be twisted. From the "JFK wouldn't have Americanized the war" to the "POW-MIA" myth, the true history of American involvement in South-East Asia has often been obscured by myths and myth-making. It's one of our very best episodes, and we hope you find it enlightening.
It’s June 12th! Loving Day! Loving Day is being celebrated world-wide. You might think that Loving Day is Valentine’s Day, February 14th, but it’s not, it’s today, June 12th. If you don’t know what Loving Day is, listen to the story we tell you in this brief, special episode. And go to lovingday.org to find out more!
The Professor calls for social and fiscal revolution! Harriet Tubman’s portrait was supposed to replace Andrew Jackson’s on the US $20 bill, but that’s been delayed yet again. In this episode, we explain why change is actually the tradition in the history of American currency, and we insist on more change in the years to come! Of course, our suggestions for changed imagery and design are the best! Listen and join the movement!
Professor Phil Nash explains the history of Vietnam in the 20th century, and the very complicated ways in which it was torn apart by war and civil war throughout the mid-century. Along the way, we learn about the deep complications in the history of the Vietnam War that have allowed myths and misconceptions to solidify. In particular, we talk about how post-World War II wars in Vietnam become Americanized. Finally, we discuss the impact of the war in the United States, as well as its impact in Vietnam itself. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!
D-Day, June 6, 1944, is one of the most well-known events of World War II. Why did it happen the way it did and why did it succeed? Was it the turning point in the war in Europe? How many other military operations were going on at the same time in Europe that might explain victory in Europe? There are so many complications to the story that you need the Buzzkill Institute to help explain it all!
Prof Craig Hammond joins us to discuss the violence used in maintaining slavery, both on the farm/plantation, and in broader society before the Civil War. The violence and terror inflicted on slaves is horrific by our 21st standards. Yet, slave-owners did not consider themselves sadistic torturers. But how did they justify the punishments inflicted on insubordinate slaves, or on slaves suspected of rebellion?
Tommy Flowers was a very important British scientist and engineer during the first half of the 20th century. Not only did he do essential work in cracking secret German codes during World War II, he is usually credited with inventing (and building) the world’s first programmable electronic computer, the Colossus. He’s not as famous as Alan Turing, but he’s at least as important to history. Listen to our Man Crush Monday!
We usually hear that surgery and medical treatment during the Civil War was backward butchery. But was it? Historian Nic Hoffman from Kennesaw State University tells us how complicated it really was. We discuss: medical care before the war; the shock of Civil War carnage and how medics initially reacted; and changes in medical treatment and surgery because of the War. Listen and learn!
Dr. Keri Leigh Merritt joins us to argue for a new documentary series about the US Civil War. It’s been nearly 30 years since PBS aired the famous series. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of that classic series, as well as why PBS’s new series on Reconstruction might serve as a template for a new Civil War documentary. Dr. Merritt schools old Professor Buzzkill about the possibilities of new media and new media venues for dynamic historians. Listen and Learn!
PBS’s Reconstruction Series may be found on-line at: https://www.pbs.org/show/reconstruction-america-after-civil-war/
Professor Merritt’s website is: kerileighmerritt.com
“If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain” is always bandied about when discussing political differences, particularly during election season. But who said it, and what did they mean? Was it George Bernard Shaw, François Guizot, Benjamin Disraeli, Otto von Bismarck, or Mark Twain? Or perhaps it was that massive, rotund planet in the quotation universe -- Winston Churchill. Find out!
FDR became governor of New York and later President for four terms despite having contracted polio. Professor Matthew Pressman from Seton Hall University joins us to discuss how the press and the American public were told about his disability, and how they reacted. We also learn how the Roosevelt campaign and administration tried to control public knowledge of FDR's condition by managing how information was obtained and used. We examine whether the famous "gentlemen's agreement" between the FDR administration and the press to suppress information about the president's condition was true. A fascinating episode about a complex historical issue.
In this Encore Episode, Professor Marie Hicks joins PB 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!
It’s Tuesday, and this is a combined Man Crush Monday and Woman Crush Wednesday! Today we’re going to look at a couple, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who were a driving creative force behind perhaps the biggest popular music revolution in American history in the 1950s. Often called the first professional songwriters in Nashville, the Byants wrote songs for The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and nearly every aspiring singing act of the 1950s.
The "pizza effect" helps explain why assumptions about the history and development of certain cultural practices and traditions are among the strongest historical myths out there, how they are self-reinforcing, and how they can build up mistaken images and misunderstandings about cultural identity. Along the way, we'll learn about such things as the "pizza renaissance" in Italy, the "Hindu renaissance across India, the "Cornish pasty renaissance" in south-west England, and the "Clancy Brothers" or "traditional music renaissance" in Ireland! Listen and let it all sink in!
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!
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.