Historically Speaking Podcast

Rebecca Robbins & Kim Kimmel

Uncommon history with an unconventional pair. Join married hosts Rebecca Robbins (a Broadway actress) and Kim Kimmel (her college history instructor) as they delve into topics that run the historical gambit. A gifted storyteller, Kim taught history at the collegiate level for 29 years while as a student, Rebecca always sat in the front row of his Western Civilizations class soaking up every word he said. For the record, she made an A in his class. She went on to pursue a Broadway career (The Phantom of The Opera, A Tale of Two Cities) while he continued to teach at her alma mater (Curtis Institute of Music). Though you couldn't get more different than these two with their 23-year age difference, together they bring history to life with their unique perspectives, entertaining banter, and shared love of the past. Sometimes quirky, sometimes obscure, this is the kind of history you’ll actually want to remember. Now in our Second Season. New episodes bi-weekly on Wednesday mornings.

All Episodes

There are a handful of people in history who seem to have had an uncanny ability to escape death. Whether evading a lone assassin, dodging friendly fire during the heat of battle, or simply defying the laws of nature by smoking over 200 cigarettes a day, these four historical figures featured in Episode 34 proved they were all Hard to Kill. Books:The Reign of Elizabeth by J.B. BlackWashington: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner King Zog: Self-Made Monarch of Albania by James TomesThe Double Life of Fidel Castro by Juan Reinaldo Sanchez & Alex Gyldén  Film:Elizabeth I and Her Enemies (2017) DocumentaryWashington (2020) DocumentaryThe Fidel Castro Tapes (2014) Documentary

Nov 24

32 min 3 sec

The Restoration period is known as probably the most bawdy era in English history. And who was it that ushered in this remarkable age? Why, the Merry Monarch himself, Charles II. In addition to having a great fondness for the ladies and the good life, Charles had many remarkable qualities. Here in our first episode of Season 2, we take a closer look at this loveable rogue and the times in which he lived.Episode Edits:Charles had a stroke not months before his death but only about a week before his death.The William Penn Statue on top of City Hall in Philadelphia is the largest freestanding statue atop any building in the world.Books:The Later Stuarts by Sir George ClarkRoyal Charles by Antonia FraserThe Columbia Companion to British History by Juliet Gardiner & Neil WenbornThe Pageant of Stuart England by Elizabeth Burton Film:Charles II: The Power and the Passion (2003) with Rufus SewellForever Amber (1947) with George Sanders and Linda Darnell 

Nov 3

45 min 32 sec

The years 1692-1693 were some of the darkest times in American history. They were the years when mass hysteria ruled the land and young girls were inexplicably stricken with fits of screaming, barking, shaking, and crying. It was a group of roughly 9 girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, who were taken at their fantastical word of being physically tormented by certain members of their own village which eventually led to over 200 people being accused of witchcraft. Nineteen of those accused were hung and one was pressed to death. Here in our last episode of our first season, we take an in-depth look at the fascinating yet heart-breaking time in our history known as The Salem Witch Trials.  Books:A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft by Rev. John HaleThe Salem Witch Trials: A Reference Guide by K. David GossSalem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692 by Bernard RosenthalA Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience by Emerson W. BakerFilms:Three Sovereigns for Sarah (1986) with Vanessa RedgraveThe Crucible (1996) with Daniel Day Lewis and Winona Ryder

Oct 20

35 min 21 sec

During the late summer and fall of 1888, a district in East London was being terrorized by an unknown Victorian serial killer. In a September 25th letter addressed to the Central News Agency, the yet to be identified murderer boasted of his recent killings and signed the letter “Jack the Ripper”. That name has endured for over 133 years, and the case remains open to this day. Why are we still fascinated by this case? With over 100 suspects, why was it never solved? Here in Episode 31, we walk you through the facts of what is known about the most notorious murderer the world has ever known.   Books:Jack the Ripper: The Definitive Casebook by Richard Whittington-EganThe Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper by Maxim JakubowskiThe Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Philip SugdenThe Complete Jack the Ripper by Donald RumbelowFilm/Documentary:Jack the Ripper (1988) with Michael Caine and Jane SeymourJack the Ripper: Tabloid Killer (2015) DocumentaryJack the Ripper (2017) Documentary with Trevor Marriott

Oct 6

39 min 8 sec

Everyone has their favorite holiday, but do you know how your favorite holiday came into being? The answers may surprise you. For instance, in 12th century England, New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25th, but the ancient Celts celebrated their New Year (Sumhain) on November 1st. So why do we now celebrate the New Year on January 1st? And why do we now use the Gregorian Calendar as opposed to the Julian Calendar? Also, did the Druids really use human sacrifices during their celebrations? And why would shepherds be tending their flocks in the middle of December? Did slavery still exist after June 19, 1865? Here in our 30th episode we answer every single one of those questions and much more!Episode Notes:King Numa Pompilius (c. 700 BC) is credited with adding January and February to the old 10-month Roman calendar, but March 1st remained New Year’s Day for Romans until the Julian calendar was developed around 45 BC.President Abraham Lincoln did not, in August of 1862, write to Horatio Seymour, former and future Governor of New York, about slavery and the Union, but rather to Horace Greeley, editor of The New York Tribune.  As promised, here is Rebecca’s Spotify playlist, “October Songs”. Books:A Brief History of the Calendar by David Harper, PhD, FRASNew Year’s Day Wikipedia articleThe Civil War Day by Day by E.B. LongLincoln by David Herbert DonaldHalloween by Ruth Edna KelleyA Brief History of the Druids by Peter Berresford EllisThe Christmas Encyclopedia by William CrumpHistorical Dictionary of Catholicism by William J. CollingeFilm:The Wicker Man (1973) – with Edward Woodward, Diane Cilento

Sep 22

36 min 51 sec

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a fascinating figure- resourceful, brave, insightful, reflective, but it’s his inordinate ambition that leads to his downfall. Can the same be said of Scotland’s real Macbeth? Here in Episode 29, we unpack the characters in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth alongside their historical (or mythical) counterparts including Banquo, Malcolm, McDuff, even the witches. We also let you in on a few theatre traditions involving “The Scottish Play” as well as why you can never say the word Macbeth in a theatre. Episode Notes:The word Bard means poet and because William Shakespeare was from the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, he was known as the Bard of Avon. Even though the title was never officially bestowed, in 1769 the Shakespearean actor David Garrick is credited with organizing the Shakespeare Jubilee for which he wrote a song referring to Shakespeare as the Warwickshire Bard which seems to have eventually morphed into The Bard of Avon. Here is a link to Garrick's original song, https://www.bartleby.com/333/77.htmlSir Laurence Olivier played the title role in Macbeth at the Old Vic Theatre in London in 1937.Books:Macbeth by William ShakespeareHolinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland by Raphael HolinshedScotland: The Story of a Nation by Magnus MagnussonThe Reign of Elizabeth 1556-1603 by J.B. BlackThe History of Scotland by Sir Walter ScottFilm:Macbeth (1948) Directed by and starring Orson WellesThe Tragedy of Macbeth (1971) Directed by Roman Polanski, starring John FinchThe Tragedy of Macbeth (2021) Directed by Joel Cohen, starring Denzel Washington 

Sep 8

31 min 50 sec

Almost six centuries have come and gone and we’re still talking about an illiterate peasant girl who only lived to be nineteen years old. Why? Not only did she inspire her nation by leading thousands of men into battle, but she also ushered in the end of the Hundred’s Year War thus saving her nation of France from English rule. Was she divinely inspired or was she a schizophrenic who heard the voices of martyred saints in her head? We may never know the answer to that question, but here in Episode 28 we unpack a lot about Joan of Arc.Episode Edit: In the interest of accuracy and fairness, in 1450, almost twenty years after Joan's death, King Charles VII did himself have a retrial of Joan which vindicated her. This was before Pope Calixtus III (1455-1458) also had a retrial. To Charles' credit, he couldn't have the retrial until he did because it wasn't until late 1449 that he and French forces were able to take Rouen where Joan's trial and burning occurred and where all the papers and documents related to the trial were located.Books: The Hundred Years War by Edouard Perroy (translated from the French) Joan: The Mysterious Life of The Heretic Who Became a Saint by Donald Spoto  The Life of Joan of Arc by Anatole France (translated from the French)The Fifteenth Century 1399-1485 by E.F. Jacob Joan of Arc: A Military Leader by Kelly DeVries Film:The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) silent film with Renée Falconetti  Joan of Arc (1948) with Ingrid Bergman

Aug 25

31 min

In October of 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on an island in the Caribbean Sea and christened it “Juana” in honor of Prince Don Juan, son of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. From there, Cuba would remain under Spanish rule for over 400 years. Eventually, the United States would help the Cuban people overthrow their colonial rulers just as America had done a century before. Thus began a long and contentious relationship between America and Cuba. Ironically, it was America who also assisted a young Cuban revolutionary named Fidel Castro to overthrow a corrupt government and set up his own government. That was 1959 and Castro would remain in power for over 50 years while surviving more than 600 assassination attempts and outlasting 11 American presidents. With his death in 2016 and the resignation of his brother, Raul, in April of 2021, there have been new rumblings in Cuba. Will the Cuban people finally demand freedom, or will they continue under Communist rule? Will America once again involve herself in Cuban affairs? It seems there is more Cuban history yet to be written.BOOKSCuba: A History by Hugh ThomasThe History of Cuba by Clifford StatenThirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis by Robert KennedyModern Times by Paul JohnsonAmerica: A Narrative History by George Tindall and David Shi FILMCuban Missile Crisis: Three Men Go to War (2012) DocumentaryJFK: A President Betrayed (2013) Documentary with Morgan Freeman narratingFidel (1971) DocumentaryThe Fidel Castro Tapes (2014) Documentary

Aug 11

43 min 13 sec

Spy: (noun) “A person employed by one nation to secretly convey classified information of strategic importance to another nation.” When someone says the word spy, the image that pops into most people’s minds is James Bond (for us here at Historically Speaking that would be Sean Connery, the original,) but the father of modern-day espionage can be traced all the way back to the court of Queen Elizabeth I. But no matter what century you are playing your deadly game, spying often times isn’t as glamorous as it seems. Yes, you may be hobnobbing with the elites of society, but in order to not reveal your cover you have to be tough enough to survive some extraordinarily perilous circumstances, while at the same time being clever enough to convince your adversaries that you’re truly on their side. John le Carré, Ian Fleming and Frederick Forsyth had to base their novels on someone, could it possibly be one of these three gentlemen that we discuss here in Episode 26? We’ll let you decide.BOOKSSir Francis Walsingham:The Reign of Elizabeth: 1558-1603 by J. B. BlackQueen Elizabeth I by J.E. NealeElizabeth’s Spymaster: Francis Walsingham and the Secret War That Saved England by Robert Hutchinson Wilhelm Canaris:Canaris: The Life and Death of Hitler’s Spymaster by Michael MuellerThe Secret War: Spies, Ciphers and Guerrillas, 1939-1945 by Max Hastings  Richard Sorge:An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent by Owen MatthewsStalin’s Spy: Richard Sorge and the Tokyo Espionage Ring by Robert WhymantThe Oxford Companion to World War II FILMRichard Sorge: Master Spy (2019) – Russian miniseries 12 episodes

Jul 28

48 min 9 sec

Imagine being the most renowned woman in the world only to face a French firing squad for simply repeating the latest gossip, or having every one of your toenails ripped out one by one at the hands of a demonic Nazi interrogator, or filing down your own teeth in order to change your appearance so you could operate as a harmless old woman and pass Allied secrets right under the Nazis’ noses. Hard to imagine, right? Well, the trio of women featured in Episode 25 did exactly that and more. Three fearless, extraordinary women who operated in a world of war, espionage, and men. Were they effective? Did they change the course of history? Tune in and find out.  Books:Mata Hari: Eye of the Day by Charles RammelkampFemme Fatale: Love, Lies and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari by Pat ShipmanHall of Mirrors: Virginia Hall: America’s Greatest Spy of WWII by Craig GralleyA Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win WWII by Sonia PurnellOdette: World War Two’s Darling Spy by Penny StarnsCode Name: Lise by Larry Loftis Film/Documentary:Mata Hari The Naked Spy (2019) – DocumentaryA Call to Spy (2020) – with Sarah Megan Thomas as Virginia Hall 

Jul 14

38 min 12 sec

You may have heard the phrase, “Marxism in theory has a lot of merit,” or “True Marxism has never really been tried.” Well, here in Episode 24, we break it all down as we explore the 6 principals of Marxism laid out by Karl Marx himself. We also delve into the life of Karl Marx along with his friend and co-author of the Communist Manifesto, Friedrich Engels, and take a closer look at the rise of the Frankfurt School and Critical Theory. Get ready, we packed a lot into this 36-minute episode.Episode Edits:When referring to Felix Weil, who funded the Institute of Social Research, we incorrectly called him Max Weil.  Books:The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich EngelsDas Kapital (3 vol.) by Karl MarxThe Condition of The Working Class in England by Friedrich EngelsThe Practice and Theory of Bolshevism by Bertrand RussellThe Critique of Pure Tolerance by Herbert Marcuse, Robert Wolff, Barrington MooreThe Penguin Dictionary of Modern History, 1789-1945 by A.W. Palmer

Jun 30

36 min 11 sec

“Keep Cool with Coolidge” was one of the presidential campaign slogans for the 1924 election. What was so cool about Coolidge? Here in Episode 23, we give you our reasons why Calvin Coolidge gets our vote for the most underrated president in American history. Here’s a few teasers – he was the first president to appoint a woman to the Federal Judiciary, he extended American citizenship to Native Americans, he proposed the first federal anti-lynching laws, he was the last president to pay down the national debt, and so much more. A man of very few words (a.k.a. Silent Cal,) who experienced heartbreaking personal tragedy while in office, Coolidge is the only president to be sworn into office by his own father and the only one to be sworn in at 3 o’clock in the morning. Books: The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge by Calvin CoolidgeWhy Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America’s Most Underrated President by Charles C. JohnsonA Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge by William Allen WhiteCoolidge: An American Enigma by Robert SobelA History of the American People by Paul Johnson

Jun 16

38 min 18 sec

The Korean War is the fifth most deadly war in American history, and it ranks among the top ten of any war in human history for the most casualties. So why is it called the Forgotten War? Technically, it wasn’t a war at all, but rather a U.N. “police action” which involved 1.8 million American soldiers and lasted from 1950-1953. Officially, the Korean War never ended, but rather an armistice was signed in 1953 ensuring a complete cessation of hostilities. Today, the only thing standing between Communist North Korea and Democratic South Korea is a thin, red dividing line located around the 38th Parallel and the hope that Kim Jong-un doesn’t repeat the same mistakes his grandfather did. BooksAmerican Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964 by William ManchesterEncyclopedia of Military History from 3500 B.C. to The Present by Richard Ernest Dupuy & Trevor N. DupuyModern Times by Paul JohnsonA History of the Twentieth Century by Martin Gilbert FilmMacArthur (1977) with Gregory PeckUnforgettable: The Korean War - Documentary 

Jun 2

41 min 41 sec

In 1932, a newly minted phrase was on the lips of most Americans… “The New Deal.” It was first uttered by Franklin D. Roosevelt to an audience in Chicago during his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for President. It would soon become an American phenomenon and the largest governmental spending plan to date. Its intention – to put Americans back to work and revive the economy following a depression unleashed by the stock market crash of 1929. It was hailed as a huge success and won FDR the Presidency in 1932, 1936, 1940 and 1944. But, was it really as successful as everyone lauded it to be? Did it really pull America out of the Great Depression? History is somewhat divided on this topic, after all, hindsight is 2020. So, why is history repeating itself in 2021 with Covid Relief which is now the largest government spending/American bailout plan to date? We discuss it here in Episode 21 so you can decide for yourself. BooksThe Age of Roosevelt (3 Vols.) by Arthur Schlesinger, JrFranklin D. Roosevelt and The New Deal by William E. LeuchtenburgFDR’s Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression by Jim PowellA History of the American People by Paul Johnson DocumentaryThe Roosevelts (2014) by Ken Burns

May 19

35 min 18 sec

Economic depression, social unrest, a general discontent among the population – these are just a few of the reasons why Hitler happened. Charisma, personal drive, and bigger than life ideas for a better future for the country and the world at large – these are just a few of the reasons why it was Hitler. They said his eyes could draw you in, his persona was magnetic, and when he promised you something, you believed him. Instead of using his innate talents for good, Hitler chose to use them for evil, dominating not only his nation, but most of Europe. Why wasn’t he stopped sooner? Why didn’t anyone see him coming? How do we keep this from ever happening again? Here in Episode 20, which is Part II of "How Hitler Happened", we explore these questions and many more.  BooksThe Rise and Fall of The Third Reich by William L. ShirerInside The Third Reich by Albert SpeerModern Times by Paul Johnson FilmThe King’s Choice (2017) in Norwegian with subtitlesDownfall (2005) with Bruno Ganz as HitlerPatton (1970) George C. Scott’s Oscar winning performance as General PattonJudgement at Nuremburg (1961) with an all-star cast

Apr 28

48 min 44 sec

Lately, there have been headlines and comments among celebrities, news commentators and politicians to the effect – “This is how Hitler got into power!” or “This is why Nazism took over Germany!” So where is the truth? Are there analogies to be made between modern day America and the rise of Nazism? Can socialism and democracy co-exist? Is the term democratic socialist an oxymoron? Get ready for a deep dive into some cold, hard historical facts as we explore the answers to these difficult questions and most important, how Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, or Nazi Party, rose to power.BooksThe Rise and Fall of The Third Reich by William L. ShirerMein Kampf (My Struggle) by Adolf HitlerModern Times by Paul Johnson DocumentariesHitler (2016) The Life of Adolf Hitler (2014) Weimar FilmsThe Blue Angel (1929 in German) with Marlena DietrichMetropolis (1927 Silent) directed by Fritz LangThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920 Silent) with Conrad Veidt

Apr 14

38 min 8 sec

Tet: a word which has two very different meanings depending on who you ask. To the Vietnamese, it means the festival celebrating the Lunar New Year. To the American GI, it means hell and the turning point for America in the Vietnam War. On January 31, 1968, over 100 cities and villages in south Vietnam were attacked by the communist Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese People’s Army of Vietnam. By the end of 1968, over 14,000 American soldiers were dead as well as hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. The Tet Offensive was considered a devastating military failure for the communists, however, today Vietnam is a communist country, ruled by The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. So, who really won?Episode Edits: This is our 18th episode, not our 19th as was erroneously put forward in this episode. We are, however, taking ideas for our upcoming 20th episode (after we do the 19th, of course,) so, please reach out either through our website, historicallyspeakingpodcast.com or at historicallyspeakinghosts@gmail.com For clarity, 5,000 American soldiers died in the first phase of the Tet Offensive. The number of 14,000+ includes the entire year of 1968 and all three phases of the Tet. Books: America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 by George HerringThe Best and The Brightest by David HalberstamThe Politically Incorrect Guide to the Vietnam War by Phillip JenningsVietnam: A History by Stanley KarnowThe Oxford Companion to American Military History edited by John Whiteclay Chambers II Film:Battlefield – Vietnam TET (2010) – Narration by Gavin McFayden, with war footage. The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick (2017) 10 Episodes.

Mar 31

48 min 53 sec

What do John Ford, Moe Berg, Julia Child and Nelson Eddy have in common? They all stepped away from their respective careers during WWII and joined a newly formed organization called The Office of Strategic Services a.k.a. the OSS. In short, they were spies for a group that was the forerunner to both the CIA and the Army’s Special Forces. From Julia’s special recipe for shark repellent, to John Ford’s undercover training films for secret agents, to Moe’s training of Slavic-American recruits to go on parachute drops into Yugoslavia, and Nelson Eddy’s “singing tour” of the Middle East, these extraordinary individuals risked their lives and their careers to secretly serve their country during its time of crisis.  But for the OSS, would the Allies have even won the war?  It's certainly a question worth asking and a great reason to dig a little deeper into this secret organization that only officially existed during WWII.BooksOperatives, Spies, and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of World War II's OSS by Patrick K. O’DonnellOSS: The Secret History of America’s First Central Intelligence Agency by Richard Harris SmithThe OSS and Ho Chi Minh: Unexpected Allies in the War against Japan by Dixee Bartholomew-Feis James Bond: Original Series (14 Books) by Ian FlemingFilmCasablanca (1943) with Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains & Paul HenreidThe Conspirators (1944) with Hedy Lamarr, Paul Henreid & Peter Lorre

Mar 17

38 min 42 sec

The Supreme Court agrees to hear about 100-150 of the more than 7,000 cases that it is asked to review each year. Decisions made by the 9 Justices that sit on the Court are considered final… unless overturned by a subsequent decision. For many seeking justice, it is their last hope. From Dred Scott to Brown vs Board of Education to Obergefell vs Hodges, here in Episode 16, we take a look at a handful of Supreme Court decisions that, for better or worse, changed America. Episode EditsDred Scott was inherited by Dr. John Emerson's widow, not his sister. Books Black’s Law Dictionary 11th EditionAmerica: A Narrative History 11th Edition by David Emory ShiThe Supreme Court 13th Edition by Lawrence BaumWithout Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times by Joel Richard Paul The Oxford Companion to The Supreme Court of The United States by Kermit L. Hall

Mar 3

37 min 51 sec

Alcoholism, depression, suicide… you think you know the Adams family? There’s a few details about this family that you may not have heard in history class. Here in episode 15, we explore four generations of Adams from our second US President to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Henry Brooks Adams. With their extraordinary intellect and iron resolve, these men (and the women behind them) made immeasurable contributions not only to the founding of this country, but also to international relations and to the abolishment of slavery. In spite of heart-breaking personal tragedies that plagued every generation of Adams, this family is a fascinating study in patience and perseverance.  Episode Edits:Technically, the United Kingdom did not exist until 1801. From 1707-1801 the correct term is Great Britain.There are several illustrations depicting the collapse of John Quincy Adams in Congress on February 21, 1848. One engraving hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in DC and another, by Nathaniel Currier, resides in the Library of Congress.  Episode Resources: Books:John Adams by David McCulloughJohn Quincy Adams: American Visionary by Fred KaplanThe Education of Henry Adams by Henry AdamsThe Last American Aristocrat by David S. Brown Movies:John Adams (2008) starring Paul Giamatti and Laura LinneyAmistad (1997) starring Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins and Matthew McConaughey

Feb 17

33 min 47 sec

Do you know which president holds the record for presidential pardons? The answer may not be as clear cut as you might think. How about which president signed almost as many executive orders as all his predecessors combined? And just for the record, do you know which President implemented the most proclamations? Presidential powers are complex and fascinating; some are enumerated in the Constitution while some are not. Here in Episode 14, we take you on a whirlwind tour of the powers wielded by the Executive branch of our government.  Episode Edits:Muhammad Ali was convicted of avoiding the draft in 1967 but did not go to jail due to the appeal process. His conviction was overturned in 1971 by the Supreme Court. Episode Resources:Books: The Black Frontiersman: The Memoirs of Henry O. Flipper by Theodore D. HarrisMy Life in the Ring and Out by Jack JohnsonThe Presidential Pardon Power by Jeffrey P. CrouchExecutive Order 9066 by Charles River EditorsThe Life of Samuel A. Mudd by Nettie Mudd31 Days: Gerald Ford, the Nixon Pardon and a Government in Crisis by Barry Werth Film:The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936) – Directed by John FordUnforgiveable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2005) – PBS DocumentaryThe Last American Hero (1973) – Jeff Bridges plays Junior Johnson, the NASCAR driver pardoned by Ronald Reagan.

Feb 3

38 min 59 sec

Maverick: (noun) an unorthodox or independent minded person. Most people know him as our 26th president and the man who uttered the phrase, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” but there’s far more to Theodore Roosevelt than meets the eye. From sickly, asthmatic child to conservationist, cowboy, boxer, explorer, author, orator, and perpetual adventure seeker, here in Episode 13, we take a closer look, not just at “President” Roosevelt, but the Renaissance man who stirred an entire nation to patriotism and the maverick who inspired many people’s favorite childhood friend, the Teddy Bear.  Episode Resources Books About Theodore Roosevelt:The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (book 1 of 3) by Edmund MorrisTheodore Rex (book 2 of 3) by Edmund MorrisColonel Roosevelt (book 3 of 3) by Edmund MorrisThe River of Doubt by Candice MillerAmerica: A Narrative History by George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi Books By Theodore Roosevelt:The Naval War of 1812Ranch Life and The Hunting TrailThomas Hart BentonThe Winning of The West (4 Volumes)Oliver Cromwell Documentaries:The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt (1983) Narrated by George C. ScottKen Burns: The Roosevelts – An Intimate History (2014)

Jan 20

40 min 10 sec

Don’t take candy from strangers! That phrase came into being in 1874 because little Charley Ross, age 4, took candy from two men in a horse-drawn carriage and was never seen again. The kidnapping case of Charles Lindbergh, Jr. took the entire nation by storm in 1932 and became known as the crime of the century leading to the execution of German immigrant, Bruno Richard Hauptman. Here in Episode 12, we take a closer look into these cases as well as three other high profile kidnapping cases. Episode Resources BooksThe Father’s Story of Charley Ross, The Kidnapped Child by Christian Kunkel RossCemetery John: The Undiscovered Mastermind of the Lindbergh Kidnapping by Robert ZornLindbergh by A. Scott BergFrank Sinatra: An American Legend by Nancy SinatraKidnapped: The Tragic Life of J. Paul Getty III by Charles FoxAmerican Heiress: The Wild Sage of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey ToobinPatty Hearst: Her Own Story by Patricia Campbell Hearst and Alvin Moscow FilmThe Lindbergh Kidnapping Case (1976) Made for TV Movie with Anthony HopkinsStealing Sinatra (2004) with David Arquette and William H. MacyAll The Money in the World (2017) with Mark Walberg, Christopher Plummer & Michelle WillimasTrust (2018) FX Series with Harris Dickinson, Donald Sutherland & Hillary SwankGuerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (2004) Documentary

Jan 6

41 min 36 sec

When a German Zeppelin burst into flames over Lakehurst, New Jersey, speculation began almost immediately that it was sabotage, but was it?  How is it possible for 5,000 men to simply disappear in a country the size of South Carolina with their only trace being a stone inscription dated 108 AD? Why would a captain and his crew abandon a perfectly sound ship that contained 6 months of food and supplies? These are some of the unexplained historical events that baffle historians to this day. Here in Episode 11, we take a closer look into these fascinating mysteries.Episode EditsHadrian's Wall measures 73 miles in length.Episode ResourcesBooksHindenburg: An Illustrated History by Rick Archbold and Ken MarschallEmpires of The Sky by Alexander RoseJ. Habakuk Jephson's Statement by Arthur Conan DoyleGhost Ship by Brian HicksA Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke by James HornSet Fair for Roanoke by David Beers QuinnProfessor Galindez: Disappearing From Earth by Stuart A. McKeeverTrujillo: The Death of a Dictator by Bernard DeiderichThe Fate of The Ninth by Duncan B. Campbell A History of Roman Britain by Peter Salway FilmThe Hindenburg (1975) with George C. Scott and Anne BancroftMystery of the Mary Celeste (1936) with Bela LugosiThe True Story of The Mary Celeste (2007) DocumentaryThe Eagle (2011) with Channing Tatum and Donald Sutherland

Dec 2020

42 min 21 sec

History is full of winners and losers, but rarely do you come across an individual who is a winner 100% of the time. Sometimes faced with insurmountable odds, these five military leaders always found a way to win. Whether facing Hannibal’s elephants in Zama, battling across the breadth of a river in Worcester or commencing a battle at 11pm to take their Ottoman enemies by surprise, these military geniuses of the Western world were the original action heroes not just of their time, but throughout the ages.   Episode Resources: BooksThe Campaigns of Alexander by ArrianThe Age of Alexander by PlutarchScipio Africanus: Soldier and Politician by H.H. ScullardScipio Africanus: Greater Than Napoleon by Sir Basil Henry Liddell HartThe History of Rome by Michael GrantPlutarch’s Lives: Life of Julius Caesar by Plutarch, John Dryden (Translator) Battles That Changed History by DK and Smithsonian Institution Cromwell, Our Chief of Men by Lady Antonia FraserGod’s Executioner Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland by Michael SiochruThe Reader’s Companion to Military History by Robert Cowley and Geoffrey ParkerEagles Over The Alps: Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland by Christopher Duffy FilmAlexander Revisited: The (Unrated) Final Cut (2016) Directed by Oliver Stone Julius Caesar (1953) Shakespeare’s version with Marlon Brando, directed by MankiewiczRome (2005) HBO SeriesCromwell (1970) with Richard Harris and Alec GuinnessPatton (1970) with George C. Scott 

Dec 2020

36 min 19 sec

Imagine being uninvited to perform at a presidential inauguration because of whom you just married or buying a baby carriage for an infant who, 21 years later, would become your spouse, or how about finding out the person you just married wasn’t actually divorced from their previous spouse. Without a doubt, history is full of sensational marriages and here, in episode 9, we explore a handful of them. Get ready, these are some unusual and fascinating stories. Episode Edits:  Any background noise you may hear in this episode is actually an excavator being used by our neighbors. Many apologies if you find it distracting. Geoffrey Rush was an Academy Award nominee for best supporting actor for The King’s Speech. Colin Firth, who played King George VI, won the Academy Award for best actor. Episode Resources: BooksJustinian and Theodora (Annotated) by William Gordon HolmesHistory of the Byzantine State by George OstrogorskyAmerican Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon MechamGrover Cleveland by Henry F. GraffFrank: The Story of Frances Folsom Cleveland, America’s Youngest First Lady by Annette B. DunlapKing Edward VIII: A Biography by Philip ZieglerWallis in Love by Andrew MortonYes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis Jr by Sammy Davis Jr & Jane & Burt Boyar FilmsThe President’s Lady (1953) with Susan Hayward & Charlton Heston The King’s Speech (2010) with Colin Firth & Geoffrey RushSammy Davis Jr. – I’ve Gotta Be Me (2019) DocumentaryOcean’s 11 (1960) with Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin  Robin And The 7 Hoods (1964) with Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean MartinOldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994) Miniseries

Dec 2020

42 min 20 sec

Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum was invented by one of Hollywood’s greatest beauties. An Associate Justice of the Minnesota State Supreme Court was also known by millions as a Purple People Eater. A record 11 Academy Awards were given to a film based on a book written by a Civil War general. Who were these people? In this episode, we explore 6 individuals who had surprising hidden talents that were wildly different from what they were ultimately known for.Episode Edits: Alan Page played in the NFL for 14 seasons. 11 years with the Minnesota Vikings and 3 years with the Chicago Bears. Ben-Hur was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won 11. Episode Resources: Books Hedy’s Folly by Richard Rhodes Ecstasy and Me: My Life as a Woman by Hedy Lamarr Painting as a Pastime by Winston Churchill Sir Winston Churchill: His Life and His Paintings by David Coombs and Minnie Churchill Lewis Carroll: A Biography by Morton N. Cohen Alice in Wonderland: All Four Books by Lewis Carroll All Rise: The Remarkable Journey of Alan Page by Bill McGrane Hirohito: A Life From Beginning to End by Hourly History The Sword and The Pen: A Life of Lew Wallace by Ray E. Boomhower Ben-Hur: A Tale of The Christ by Lew Wallace Film Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story Samson and Delilah (1949) – with Hedy LamarrAlice in Wonderland (2010) – Tim Burton Version Ben-Hur (1959) - with Charlton Heston

Dec 2020

30 min 5 sec

Warren G. Harding did what in a White House Closet? Who was FDR with when he died? JKF had how many women while he was president? These are just a few of the questions that get answered in this week’s episode as we delve into secrets that could have brought down political careers, administrations, and even entire governments (and some secrets that actually did!) This may be our best episode yet, and who doesn’t love an intriguing, salacious scandal or two?  Episode Edits: John Profumo resigned in June of 1963, not July as stated in the episode. In 1975, John Profumo was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire which he received personally from Queen Elizabeth II. Episode Resources: Books Modern Times: The World From the 20’s to the 90’s by Paul Johnson Florence Harding: The First Lady, The Jazz Age, and The Death of the Most Scandalous President by Carl Sferrazza Anthony Eleanor and Franklin by Joseph P. Lash Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond by Essie Mae Washington-Williams The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour M. Hersh A Thousand Days by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Secrets and Lies: The Autobiography by Christine Keller Films/Documentaries The Maltese Falcon with Humphry Bogart The Bride of Frankenstein with Valerie Hobson (John Profumo’s wife) Kind Hearts and Coronets with Valerie Hobson Ken Burns: The Roosevelts – An Intimate History - Documentary The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt - Documentary Scandal – the film about the Profumo Affair

Dec 2020

42 min 9 sec

From the very founding of the United States to the Whisky Rebellion to John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry, Americans have always had a voracious drive to fight for what they believe – even if that means treason. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, "We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." What galvanizes people to fight for their cause even if it means the hangman’s noose? Here we explore some of America’s earliest rebellions from Fries Rebellion over taxes to Aaron Burr’s insatiable quest for power to the treasonous plot to kidnap Abraham Lincoln. Episode Edits:Colonel Robert E. Lee was commissioned by President James Buchanan to lead the forces against John Brown at Harper’s Ferry. Episode Resources:Shays' Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle by Leonard L. RichardsThe Whisky Rebellion by Thomas P. SlaughterThe Impending Crisis – America Before the Civil War 1848-1861 by David PotterBurr: A Novel by Gore Vidal My Theodosia: A Novel by Anya SetonTo Purge This Land with Blood: A Biography of John Brown by Stephen Oates John Brown by Frederick DouglasRalph Waldo Emerson Praises John BrownFrederick Douglas: Autobiographies by Frederick DouglasUncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher StoweKilling Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever by Bill O'ReillyThe Conspirator – 2011 film about the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln.The Good Lord Bird – 2020 series starring Ethan Hawke as John Brown 

Nov 2020

40 min 22 sec

Since its very inception, America has always had to be on the lookout for spies not just from foreign adversaries, but also from its own citizens. Alger Hiss, along with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, all American citizens, were former members of the Communist Party (a party that still exists in America today.) They were all accused of passing American secrets to the U.S.S.R. in the 1940’s and were brought to trial in the early 1950’s. In this episode, we take a deep dive into what those three were accused of, what they were found guilty of, and what their ultimate sentence was. Episode Edits:While most federal crimes have a five-year statute of limitations, acts of espionage generally carry a 10-year statute of limitations.Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were married in 1939, the same year Julius graduated from City College of New York.Julius Rosenberg was fired from the Army Signal Corps in 1945 because they found out he was a Communist. Episode Resources: Alger Hiss (1904-1996) Witness by Whittaker ChambersSecrecy: The American Experience by Daniel Patrick MoynihanAlger Hiss: Why He Chose Treason by Christina SheltonInterview with Christina Shelton – video by Simon & Schuster Books (She spent twenty-two years working as a Soviet analyst and a Counterintelligence Branch Chief at the Defense Intelligence Agency.)Hiss and Chambers Face to Face in 1948 – actual video footageAlger Hiss Interview 1970 – video by British Pathé Episode Resources: Julius Rosenberg (1918-1953) and Ethel Rosenberg (1915-1953)The Rosenberg Trial by Jake Kobrick (Research Historian, Federal Judicial History Office, Federal Judicial Center) This is the motherload of reference material.Final Verdict by Walter and Miriam Schneir the rebuttal to their own 1965 book.Invitation to an Inquest by Walter and Miriam SchneirHeir to an Execution: A Granddaughter’s Story – Film DocumentaryExcerpt from David Greenglass obituary in NY Times by Robert D. McFadden Rebuttal to Greenglass obituary in the NY Times 

Nov 2020

39 min 46 sec

You can find quotes in most places these days, on cards, shirts, magnets, hanging in offices or you may even have one hanging over your fire place. In this episode, we explore some of the most famous historical quotes from "Let them eat cake!" to "When going through hell, keep going." and we also do some fact checking as to whether the famous people they're attributed to actually said them.  We also take a look into the times and circumstances in which they may (or may not) have been said because in the words of Yogi Berra, "I really didn't say everything I said." Episode Resources:Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric by Ward FarnsworthMarie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia FraserFart Proudly: A Letter to a Royal Academy by Benjamin FranklinChurchill By Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations by Richard LangworthAll About Eve starring Bette DavisBette Davis on The Sexes - Interview with Shirley EderQuote Investigator - Website by Garson O'Toole

Nov 2020

39 min 48 sec

Everyone knows the Hollywood Cleopatra, but what about the woman trying to preserve her family’s 275-year-old dynasty, the woman trying to keep Egypt safe from the ever-reaching grasp of Roman rule? Were her bedroom alliances with Caesar and Mark Anthony done out of love for these powerful Roman men or to save herself and her country? Would her first-born child by Caesar be strong enough to continue the Ptolemaic Dynasty and ally himself with Rome? This episode is jam packed with fascinating facts about Cleopatra and the times in which she lived.  Episode Edit: *The comment regarding chess and checkers mentioned at about 8 minutes into the episode is purely satirical. As far as we can tell, neither of those games were around in the 1st century BC. Episode Resources: Anthony and Cleopatra by Adrian Goldsworthy From Gracchi to Nero by H. H. Scullard Plutarch’s Lives (Volume I and II) Clues to Cleopatra’s Tomb Discovery (Travel & Leisure Magazine) Cleopatra’s Real Appearance (Express UK) Gal Godot’s New Cleopatra Movie (BBC)  Cleopatra (1963 film with Elizabeth Taylor) Cleopatra (1934 film with Claudette Colbert)

Nov 2020

31 min 52 sec

If you think politics has never been as controversial as it is today, wait until you hear this episode. For example, in the 1876 election 20 electoral votes were in dispute, Tilden needed only one of those votes and Hayes needed all 20. Guess who became president? We cover 4 different types of elections from America’s past to try to shed some light on the possibilities that may be just around the corner.  Episode Edits:  * Bush won the 2000 election by 537 votes, not the 567 mentioned in the episode. The percentage remains unchanged at .009%.Episode Resources:Modern Times by Paul JohnsonTruman by David McCulloughAlexander Hamilton by Ron ChernowJefferson and His Time by Dumas Malone (6 Volumes)Hamilton Broadway Cast RecordingDewey defeats Truman Photo 

Oct 2020

34 min 13 sec

Oliver Cromwell died on September 3, 1658, but his head didn't reach its final resting place until March 25, 1960. Where was it during that 302 year stretch in between? In this episode we not only cover Cromwell, but also Mary Queen of Scotts and Lord Nelson in addition to exploring the various peregrinations of the bodies of Eva Peron and Charlie Chaplin. Who they were, why they died and what happened to their corpse - all in time for Halloween!* Cromwell's head was placed on a spike and displayed above Westminster Hall.Link to Mary Queen of Scots (Biography by Antonia Frasier)Link to Oliver (Biography of Oliver Cromwell by Antonia Frasier)Link to Nelson's Trafalger: The Battle That Changed The World (by Roy Adkins)Link to Evita (the Original Broadway Cast Album)Link to The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin Film)

Oct 2020

32 min 34 sec