Latest Podcast Episode
236 Piracy in the South China Sea with Rita Chang-Eppig
By all reasonable metrics Shek Yeung, who raided the South China Sea in the early 1800s, is one of the most successful pirates of all time. In her new novel Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea author Rita […]
235 Shakespeare Versus Hedgehogs
William Shakespeare seems to have hated hedgehogs. We don’t quite know why, but it could have something to do with how the tiny animal is depicted by the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder. Special Thanks to Jamie Jeffers of The […]
Before Valentine’s Day, ancient Romans celebrated a festival of fertility in the shadow of the Palatine Hill. Lupercalia was a popular holiday that featured blood, goat sacrifice, and getting whipped by naked guys.
233 The Golden Fortress with Bill Lascher
During the Dust Bowl city officials in Los Angeles, fueled by anti-communist paranoia and xenophobia, were determined to keep migrants out of California. To that end, they dispatched the LAPD to remote border crossing points far outside the city in […]
232 Navigating the Asian Maritime World with Eric Tagliacozzo
Eric Tagliacozzo is a professor of history at Cornell University, and his new book In Asian Waters: Oceanic Worlds From Yemen to Yokohama outlines five centuries of maritime history in the Asian world. In this wide-ranging interview, we discussed how […]
231 The History of Archaeology with Ann R. Williams
Archaeology has changed considerably over the past century. In this episode, we spoke with Ann R. Williams of National Geographic about the new book Lost Cities Ancient Tombs, significant discoveries from the past century, and what it means to dig […]
230 The Adventures of Mussolini’s Corpse
After his death in 1945, Mussolini’s corpse was autopsied and thrown into a pauper’s grave. But, that was just the beginning of the cadaver’s posthumous career. Eventually the body was stolen by neofascists, hidden away for over a decade, and […]
229 Douglas Wolk on All of the Marvels
The Marvel Universe is massive. Marvel comics go back well over half a century, and span thousands upon thousands of pages. Reading all of them would be a Herculean undertaking. And one man, Douglas Wolk, did exactly that, and wrote […]
228 The Mustache Strike
In 1907 French waiters went on strike, and won the right to wear facial hair.
227 The Rasputin Disclaimer
Nearly every English-language movie has a disclaimer in the credits that says something like “This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.” Obviously this isn’t true. Historical epics, […]
226 Sara and Jack Gorman on Denying to the Grave
Covid-19 has killed and sickened hundreds of thousands of people, and transformed our economy, how we work, and how we relate to each other. Even in the midst of this world-historic crisis, though, people deny it. Conspiracy theorists and naysayers […]
225 Los San Patricios
The Mexican-American War was not fought for good reasons. The war was one of imperial and expansionist ambition and territorial expansion, and even in the 1840s many Americans at the time knew they were on the wrong side of history. […]
224 Carlton F.W. Larson on Treason in the U.S.
Treason is the only crime specifically defined in the U.S. Constitution, and talk of treason has been in the air for the last four years. Carlton F.W. Larson is a professor of constitutional law at University of California at Davis, […]
223 Grand Guignol Part Two: Tales of Terror!
It’s not enough to just talk about the history of the Grand Guignol. We also want to bring you a little bit of what it was like to take in a night of horror there. On this special Halloween episode, […]
222 Grand Guignol Part One: Theater of Horror!
The Grand Guignol was a small Parisian theater which regularly produced original works of horror. The theater, which operated from 1897 until 1962, showcased short plays about murder, insanity, dismemberment, disease, and other horrors, much to the delight of regulars […]
221 Sasha Abramsky on Lottie Dod
Sasha Abramsky is a journalist and author whose new book Little Wonder tells the story of Lottie Dod, the modern world’s first female sporting celebrity. Dod came to prominence as a tennis prodigy and later excelled in other sports like […]
220 Michel Paradis on Last Mission to Tokyo
Today’s show is a conversation with Michel Paradis, attorney and author of Last Mission to Tokyo. Early in WWII the U.S. launched the Doolittle Raids against Japan, attacking the Japanese mainland for the first time. Most of the raiders were […]
219 Patient Zero
In 1987 journalist Randy Shilts chronicled the early years of AIDS in North America in his book And the Band Played On. Shilts’ reporting was mostly concerned with the failures of the U.S. government and healthcare infrastructure to respond to […]
Slavery in the United States did not end all at once. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in 1863, the last enslaved persons in the United States didn’t know they were legally free until June 19th, 1865 when […]
217 The War of 1812 Part Two: Other Causes
British impressment of American sailors and restrictions on maritime trade are only part of the story in the run-up to the War of 1812. Another major factor was American expansionism. The British, at the time, were supplying munitions to Native […]