For history lovers who listen to podcasts, History Unplugged is the most comprehensive show of its kind. It's the only show that dedicates episodes to both interviewing experts and answering questions from its audience. First, it features a call-in show where you can ask our resident historian (Scott Rank, PhD) absolutely anything (What was it like to be a Turkish sultan with four wives and twelve concubines? If you were sent back in time, how would you kill Hitler?). Second, it features long-form interviews with best-selling authors who have written about everything. Topics include gruff World War II generals who flew with airmen on bombing raids, a war horse who gained the rank of sergeant, and presidents who gave their best speeches while drunk.
How This Union General Who Executed Guerrillas and Imprisoned Political Foes Became the Most Hated Man in Kentucky
For the last third of the nineteenth century, Union General Stephen Gano Burbridge, also known as the “Butcher of Kentucky,” enjoyed the unenviable distinction of being the most hated man in Kentucky. From mid-1864, just months into his reign as the military commander of the state, until his death in December 1894, the mere mention of his name triggered a firestorm of curses from editorialists and politicians. By the end of Burbridge’s tenure, Governor Thomas E. Bramlette concluded that he was an “imbecile commander” whose actions represented nothing but the “blundering of a weak intellect and an overwhelming vanity.”
Part of what earned him this reputation was his heavy handedness to suppress attacks on Union citizens. On July 16, 1864, Burbridge issued Order No. 59 which declared: "Whenever an unarmed Union citizen is murdered, four guerrillas will be selected from the prison and publicly shot to death at the most convenient place near the scene of the outrages." He was also hated for extreme measures to ensure re-election of Lincoln by suppressing support in Kentucky for Democratic candidate George McClellan. His actions included arresting prominent persons favoring the candidate, including the Lieutenant Governor, whom he deported.
Today’s guest is Brad Asher, author of a new biography on Burbridge. We discuss how he earned his infamous reputation and adds an important new layer to the ongoing reexamination of Kentucky during and after the Civil War. As both a Kentuckian and the local architect of the destruction of slavery, he became the scapegoat for white Kentuckians, including many in the Unionist political elite, who were unshakably opposed to emancipation. Beyond successfully recalibrating history’s understanding of Burbridge, Asher’s biography adds administrative and military context to the state’s reaction to emancipation and sheds new light on its postwar pro-Confederacy shift.
The Escape of Jack the Ripper: History’s Most Infamous Serial Killer, and the Cover-up to Protect His Identity
He was young, handsome, highly educated in the best English schools, a respected professional, and a first-class amateur athlete. He was also a serial killer, the Victorian equivalent of the modern-day Ted Bundy. His name was Montague Druitt—also known as “Jack the Ripper.”
Druitt’s handiwork included the slaughter of at least five women of ill repute in the East End of London—an urban hell where women sold themselves for a stale crust of bread. But mysteries still remain about Druit – including his thinking behind the murders, the man behind the moniker, and the circumstances behind his demise. Exploring these questions are today’s guests Jonathan Hainsworth and researcher Christine Ward-Agius, authors of The Escape of Jack the Ripper: The Truth about the Cover-up and His Flight from Justice.
How a blood-stained Druitt was arrested yet bluffed his way to freedom by pretending to be a medical student helping the poor
How Druitt confessed to his cousin, an Anglican priest
How Druitt’s family placed him in a private, expensive asylum in France, only for him to flee when a nurse blew the whistle
How Druitt’s identity was concealed by his well-connected friends and family, thus hatching the mystery of Jack the Ripper
Two Revolutions and the Constitution
The United States is fraught with angst, fear, anger, and divisiveness due to our current political climate. How did we get here? And where are we headed?
Before the American Revolutionary period, Americans thought that the British constitution was the best in the world. Under the British system and their colonial charters, free Americans already enjoyed greater liberties and opportunities than any other people, including those in Britain.
Once they declared independence in 1776, the former British colonies in America needed their own rules for a new system of government. They drafted and adopted State constitutions. They needed cooperation between the States to fight the British, so the new States tried a confederation. It was too weak, so eleven years after declaring independence, the Framers devised a revolutionary federal and national constitution—the first major written constitution of the modern world.
The new State and federal constitutions and the system of law were deeply influenced by the British system, but with brilliant and revolutionary changes.
Today’s guest is James D.R. Philip, author of the book “Two Revolutions and the Constitutuion.” He describes how Americans removed the British monarch and entrenched their freedoms in an innovative scheme that was tyrant-proof and uniquely American. It was built on the sovereignty of the American people rather than the sovereignty of a king or queen.
So, as well as describing the American Revolution and the development of the American constitutions that came before the final Constitution, we discuss the revolutionary development of the English system of law and government that was a foundation of the American system.
Alfred Hubbard Was a 1920s Inventor, Bootlegger, and Psychedelic Pioneer Who Became the Patron Saint of Silicon Valley
Not many people have heard about Alfred Hubbard but he was one of the most intriguing people from the 20th Century. His story begins in 1919 when he made his first newspaper appearance with the exciting announcement that he had created a perpetual-motion machine that harnessed energy from the Earth's atmosphere. He would soon publicly demonstrate this device by using it to power a boat on Seattle's Lake Union, though, at the time, heavy suspicions were cast about the legitimacy of his claims. From there, he joined forces with Seattle’s top bootlegger and, together, they built one of Seattle’s first radio stations. He was then involved in a top secret WWII operation, and even played a role in the Manhattan Project.
In the 1950s, he was one of the first people to try a new drug by the name of LSD, and helped pioneer psychedelic therapy. He was known as “The Johnny Appleseed of LSD,” as he introduced the drug to everyone from Aldous Huxley to early computer engineers in what is now known as Silicon Valley. He was a fraud, to be sure, but may have also been a genius. Famous California psychiatrist Oscar Janiger once said, "Nothing of substance has ever been written about Al Hubbard, and probably nothing ever should." And yet, there is little dispute regarding the fascinating scope of his adventurous life.
To explore his story is Brad Holden, author of the book “Seattle Mystic: Alfred Hubbard – Inventor, Bootlegger, and Psychedelic Pioneer”.
The Normans: A History of Conquest
The Norman’s conquering of the known world was a phenomenon unlike anything Europe had seen up to that point in history. Although best known for the 1066 Conquest of England, they have left behind a far larger legacy.
They emerged early in the tenth century but had disappeared from world affairs by the mid-thirteenth century. Yet in that time they had conquered England, Ireland, much of Wales and parts of Scotland. They also founded a new Mediterranean kingdom in southern Italy and Sicily, as well as a Crusader state in the Holy Land and in North Africa. Moreover, they had an extraordinary ability to adapt as time and place dictated, taking on the role of Norse invaders to Frankish crusaders, from Byzantine overlords to feudal monarchs.
Today’s guest, Trevor Rowley, author of The Normans: A History of Conquest, offers a comprehensive picture of the Normans and argues that despite the short time span of Norman ascendancy, it is clear that they were responsible for a permanent cultural and political legacy.
Electric City: Ford and Edison’s Vision of Creating a Steampunk Utopia
During the roaring twenties, two of the most revered and influential men in American business proposed to transform one of the country’s poorest regions into a dream technological metropolis, a shining paradise of small farms, giant factories, and sparkling laboratories. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s “Detroit of the South” would be ten times the size of Manhattan, powered by renewable energy, and free of air pollution. And it would reshape American society, introducing mass commuting by car, use a new kind of currency called “energy dollars,” and have the added benefit (from Ford and Edison's view) of crippling the growth of socialism.
New cities – St. Petersburg; Ankara; Nev-Sehir; Cancún; Acapulco; Huatulco; Norilsk; Vladivostok; Fritz Lang’s Metropolis
The whole audacious scheme almost came off, with Southerners rallying to support what became known as the Ford Plan. But while some saw it as a way to conjure the future and reinvent the South, others saw it as one of the biggest land swindles of all time. They were all true.
To tell the story of this audacious plan is Thomas Hager, author of the new book “Electric City: The Lost History of Ford and Edison’s American Utopia. He offers a fresh look at the lives of the two men who almost saw the project to fruition, the forces that came to oppose them, and what rose in its stead: a new kind of public corporation called the Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the greatest achievements of the New Deal.
This is so good u could use it for all different types of things schooled and more
telling me to read animal farm to understand the russian revolution like i’m 11 years old
Glib, casual, light on facts and entirely derivative.