61 episodes

Historian and broadcaster Professor Adam Smith explores the America of today through the lens of the past. Is America - as Abraham Lincoln once claimed - the last best hope of Earth?
Produced by Oxford University’s world-leading Rothermere American Institute, each story-filled episode looks at the US from the outside in – delving into the political events, conflicts, speeches and songs that have shaped and embodied the soul of a nation.
From the bloody battlefields of Gettysburg to fake news and gun control, Professor Smith takes you back in time (and sometimes on location) to uncover fresh insights and commentary from award-winning academics and prominent public figures.
Join us as we ask: what does the US stand for – and what does this mean for us all? 

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

The Last Best Hope‪?‬ Adam Smith

    • History
    • 4.7 • 64 Ratings

Historian and broadcaster Professor Adam Smith explores the America of today through the lens of the past. Is America - as Abraham Lincoln once claimed - the last best hope of Earth?
Produced by Oxford University’s world-leading Rothermere American Institute, each story-filled episode looks at the US from the outside in – delving into the political events, conflicts, speeches and songs that have shaped and embodied the soul of a nation.
From the bloody battlefields of Gettysburg to fake news and gun control, Professor Smith takes you back in time (and sometimes on location) to uncover fresh insights and commentary from award-winning academics and prominent public figures.
Join us as we ask: what does the US stand for – and what does this mean for us all? 

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    The Black Founders, America and the Claim of Equality

    The Black Founders, America and the Claim of Equality

    At the heart of the "promise" of the American Revolution and the new republic's claim to be the last, best hope of earth, is the assertion in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal". How did Black Americans react to the Declaration? How did they seek to shape the character of the new Republic? And what was the relationship between the Black struggle for freedom and equality and the American Revolution? To examine this once-hidden history of Black Americans in the founding era, Adam is joined by Professor James Basker, the President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Richard Gilder Professor of Literary History at Barnard College. Jim is the editor, with Nicole Seary, of a remarkable new collection published by the Library of America called “Black Writers of the Founding Era” which contains texts – most previously unpublished – by more than 120 Black Americans.
    Readings in this episode were performed by Chelsi Campbell and Darius Jackson. Producer: Emily Williams. Presenter: Adam Smith.

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    • 52 min
    Morning Again in America: The 1984 Election forty years on.

    Morning Again in America: The 1984 Election forty years on.

    Forty years ago, a twinkly-eyed incumbent president ran for re-election despite concerns about his age. He did so by running a campaign steeped in the idea that America was the last, best hope of earth. Ronald Reagan was no Joe Biden, and no one today expects a landslide victory. Yet there are echoes in today's divided politics in the 1984 election, especially within the Democratic Party, which, back then, just as now, was struggling to keep together its warring constituencies. And might there be lessons for today's fractious politics from Reagan's famous campaign ad, "It’s morning again in America"? Adam talks to Bruce Schulman, William E. Huntington Professor at Boston University who was the Harmsworth Professor of American history at Oxford last year and the author of many books on twentieth-century America including a forthcoming volume of the Oxford History of the United States – and Dan Rowe, lecturer in American history at the Rothermere American Institute and the author of the forthcoming, State of Development: Preserving the American Economic Century in an Era of Anxious Capitalism to be published by Columbia University Press.
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    • 55 min
    The strange death and curious rebirth of American cricket

    The strange death and curious rebirth of American cricket

    Cricket was once the most popular summer game in the United States – the first ever international match was played not, as you might expect between England and one of its colonies, but between Canada and the United States, in 1844. The first overseas England tour was to the US in 1859. The professional players earned the unheard-of sum of 90 pounds – America then, just as now, was an El Dorado of sporting riches. Yet just ten years later, after four years of civil war and the rebirth of a newly consolidated United States, the new sport of baseball had all but erased cricket from the New York sporting press. The prize money and betting markets that were once drawn to the cricket field now turned to the baseball diamond. As one old American cricketer sadly observed in his memoirs, “We had a large number of good young men playing the game up to the time when the war fever took hold of them. When hostility between North and South broke out, away went our players to the front and the cricket field was deserted. Those that returned from the war never took up the game again.” So, what went wrong? How can we explain the strange death of American cricket, and how should we explain its present-day partial revival?  Adam talks to Ed Smith, former England cricketer and an award-winning journalist and to Joe Lynn Curator at The C. Christopher Morris Cricket Library at Haverford College.


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    • 49 min
    How have presidential primaries shaped modern US politics?

    How have presidential primaries shaped modern US politics?

    Presidential primaries – the circus that has traditionally wended its way from Iowa to New Hampshire and beyond every four years -- is one of the most distinctive features of American political life. From the insurgent campaigns of Jimmy Carter in 1976 to Barack Obama in 2008 and even Donald Trump in 2016, primaries have enabled the rise of politicians who could never have succeeded under the old boss-controlled system. US political parties are private organisations albeit without the formal membership of parties in other countries, yet their candidate nomination process is regulated by state law. So, how, why, and when did US political parties come to choose their presidential candidates in this way? How have primaries shaped elections and the trajectory of politics? And in a year in which both parties appear set to nominate unpopular candidates, does this reflect the failure of this system for presidential candidate selection? Adam talks about these issues with the leading historian of modern US politics, Professor Julian Zelizer of Princeton University, a CNN contributor and author or editor of fifteen books on political history.
     

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    • 57 min
    How are Latino voters changing America?

    How are Latino voters changing America?

    Today, Mexicans and people from Latin America make up about half of the total immigrant population and Latinos are now the single largest “non-white” block in the electorate – if, that is, they can be considered a coherent “block” at all. In the early years of the twenty-first century one of the axioms of American politics was that the ever-rising share of Latinos in the electorate would deliver Democratic majorities. That’s not exactly how things have panned out. So, who are we really talking about when we talk about Latino voters, what binds these 60 million people who are from, such different experience and such different histories together? How has their vote mattered in the past and how does it matter now? Joining Adam to discuss these issues are Jason Casellas of the University of Houston, currently Winant Professor of American government at Oxford, and Anna Sampaio, Santa Clara University.
    The Last Best Hope? is the podcast of the Rothermere American Insitute at the University of Oxford. Presenter: Adam Smith. Producer: Emily Williams.

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    • 46 min
    American Fascism

    American Fascism

    In 1930s America, fascism was on the march – not just right-wing politicians who might be pejoratively described like that, but actual fascists who embraced the title. And the core claim they made was that fascism was as American as motherhood, apple pie, and George Washington himself. Yet the US eventually entered the war against Naziism because fascism and Americanism were antithetical. To explore the fraught relationship and enduring appeal of fascist ideas in America, Adam talks to Sarah Churchwell, author of Behold America: A History of America First, and Will Hitchcock, host of the Democracy in Danger podcast who’s working on a book on the fascist threat and America’s path to World War II.
    The Last Best Hope? is the podcast of the Rothermere American Insitute at the University of Oxford. Presenter: Adam Smith. Producer: Emily Williams.

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    • 57 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
64 Ratings

64 Ratings

ipaul321 ,

Top Notch

A first class podcast. Informed, thoughtful and tells you the things that you don’t already know or hear from mainstream media.

Great to have a historian of Smith’s stature sharing such insights.

One of the very best.

HistorywillsaveUS ,

A superb podcast

A must for anyone interested in the history of the United States and indeed it’s future.

GloucesterRugbySupporter ,

Exploratory, thoughtful, insightful

A House Divided…..an excellent exploration….so Lincoln was in a political battle for the soul of the Republican Party, and entry-ism had taken place to push slave-owning into a wider USA? How interesting…so many parallels with today. In the word of the USA….cool!

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