57 episodes

Can't Make This Up: A History Podcast features interviews with authors of unusual and unbelievable history ranging from academic historians to Pulitzer Prize winning journalists.

Can't Make This U‪p‬ Can't Make This Up

    • History
    • 4.7 • 29 Ratings

Can't Make This Up: A History Podcast features interviews with authors of unusual and unbelievable history ranging from academic historians to Pulitzer Prize winning journalists.

    Lincoln's Mentors with Michael Gerhardt

    Lincoln's Mentors with Michael Gerhardt

    In national polling among presidential historians (as well as among the general public), Abraham Lincoln consistently ranks in the top two greatest presidents in American history. As his leadership preserved the Union during its most pressing hour, this praise is well deserved. But how did Lincoln become such a good leader? Was he simply born that way or was it something he learned?
    My guest today is Michael Gerhardt is the Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law. One of the nation's most respected authorities on the Constitution, Michael has been called upon to testify before both chambers of Congress to offer his expertise on constitutional issues, including the impeachment proceedings for Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as during the nomination hearings for several Supreme Court Justices. He is the author of the brand new book "Lincoln's Mentors: The Education of a Leader" in which he argues that it was Lincoln's dispassionate ability to learn from other people in his life that built him into the great president history remembers today. In this episode, Michael and I walk through five prominent figures from Abraham Lincoln's life, ranging from political figures to personal friends, whom Lincoln seemed to learn a great deal from and allowed to influence his leadership style.
    Please consider supporting the podcast by becoming a Patron and gain access to bonus content - www.patreon.com/CMTUHistory.
    Twitter -  Facebook - Instagram
    This podcast is part of Straight Up Strange Productions. Check out www.straightupstrange.com for more shows like this one. 

    • 37 min
    Chicago's Great Fire with Carl Smith

    Chicago's Great Fire with Carl Smith

    You have likely heard the story before: "Mrs. O'Leary's cow knocked over a lantern and started the Great Chicago Fire." While the Great Fire was a real disaster that occurred in October, 1871, we remember it much like a quaint American folk tale. To add a little clarity to this famous event, I am joined by Carl Smith, Emeritus Professor of History, English, and American Studies at Northwestern University, to talk about his recent book, "Chicago's Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City." During our time together, Carl and I discuss what made Chicago one of America's largest cities in the 19th century, the status of fire safety in urban areas at the time, the tragic events that unfolded over a three day period in 1871, and how Chicago's resolve led to the city being resurrected.
    Please consider supporting the podcast by becoming a Patron and gain access to bonus content - www.patreon.com/CMTUHistory.
    Twitter -  Facebook - Instagram
    This podcast is part of Straight Up Strange Productions. Check out www.straightupstrange.com for more shows like this one. 

    • 40 min
    On Her Own Ground with A'Lelia Bundles

    On Her Own Ground with A'Lelia Bundles

    In 1867, Sarah Breedlove was the first in her family to be born into freedom after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation had abolished slavery four years earlier. It is doubtful that any of her family could have guessed the remarkable course her life would take. Sarah came of age working as a domestic servant and a washerwoman. But she had far grander dreams and was determined her young daughter would receive a formal education. So she became an entrepreneur and developed her own haircare product. Ultimately, she became Madam C.J. Walker, owner of a successful company that employed thousands of women, a philanthropist, a social activist, and the first woman to become a millionaire.   
    Today, I am joined by Madam C.J. Walker's biographer and great-great-granddaughter, A'Lelia Bundles to discuss her book, "On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker." Before becoming a historian, A'Lelia had a 30-year career in journalism as an Emmy Award-winning producer for ABC News and NBC News. "On her Own Ground" has received numerous awards since its publication in 2001 and was adapted into the 4-part fictionalized miniseries by Netflix in 2020 titled "Self-Made" starring Octavia Spencer. Today, A'Lelia and I discuss what made her great-great-grandmother such a successful businesswoman, how she engaged with her contemporaries in the emerging civil rights movement like Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and Ida B. Wells, and how her legacy is remembered today.
    For more information about A'Lelia Bundles' research visit: www.aleliabundles.com and www.madamcjwalker.com
    Please consider supporting the podcast by becoming a Patron and gain access to bonus content - www.patreon.com/CMTUHistory.
    This podcast is part of Straight Up Strange Productions. Check out www.straightupstrange.com for more shows like this one. 

    • 45 min
    Tombstone with Tom Clavin

    Tombstone with Tom Clavin

    There is something about the Old West that calls to the American heart. There is something about life on the wild frontier that is still compelling a century and a half later.  Maybe its all the Louis L'Amour novels and Clint Eastwood movies that romanticize the cowboy era in popular culture. 
    One legendary town that has become synonymous with the Old West is Tombstone. My guest today is bestselling author Tom Clavin who joins me talk about his book "Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride from Hell." Today Tom and I unpack the story of a frontier boomtown that is so much more than its famous shootout at the O.K. Corral. We discuss the first settlement of Arizona Territory, the lives of the Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday, what frontier law looked like, and how Tombstone was caught up in the transition from the chaotic Old West to the more orderly New West. 
    Please consider supporting the podcast by becoming a Patron and gain access to bonus content - www.patreon.com/CMTUHistory.
    This podcast is part of Straight Up Strange Productions. Check out www.straightupstrange.com for more shows like this one. 

    • 46 min
    First Principles with Thomas E. Ricks

    First Principles with Thomas E. Ricks

    After what has definitely become an election for the history books, ideas like the peaceful transfer of power, the Constitution, democracy, voting rights, representation, and the separation of powers are on everyone's minds. These are the fundamentals that form our government and they were placed there by our nation's Founders. Well, where did the Founders get these ideas? What books were they reading? What were they thinking about? What were they discussing amongst themselves as they decided to forge a new country?
    My guest today has immersed himself in the intellectual world of the late 18th century in order to think long and hard about these questions. Thomas E. Ricks was a journalist for twenty years during which time his reporting won two Pulitzer Prizes. Tom joins me to discuss his new, timely book, "First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Roman and How That Shaped Our Country." Tom and I discuss how George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison were well versed in the political and philosophical ideas of the Ancient Greece and Rome and built those concepts into the framework of the American government.  
     
    Please consider supporting the podcast by becoming a Patron and gain access to bonus content - www.patreon.com/CMTUHistory.
    This podcast is part of Straight Up Strange Productions. Check out www.straightupstrange.com for more shows like this one. 

    • 41 min
    High Tension with John A. Riggs

    High Tension with John A. Riggs

    Take a look at the nearest lightbulb. Odds are that light will keep on shining until you flip the switch. Electricity is something we take totally for granted today, but as soon as that power goes out, everything about our modern society grinds to a screeching halt. Some listeners may even remember the infamous 2003 Blackout that left most of New England without electricity for six hours on a 90-degree day in August.
    Have you ever thought about where your electricity came from? Sure, it comes from the "grid," but where did the grid come from? Today, my guest and I discuss how the nation became electrified. John Riggs studied history at Swarthmore College before beginning a 30 year career working on energy policy in Washington, D.C. His brand new book "High Tension: FDR's Battle to Power America" is an engrossing tale about how President Franklin D. Roosevelt made it his mission to reform an electrical system that benefited less than half the country and was dominated by a few incredibly powerful monopolies. John and I discuss the first wave of electrification in the late 19th century, FDR's efforts to pass legislation to regulate power holding companies, and the Roosevelt administration's New Deal electricity programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority and Rural Electrification Administration. 
    For more information on John's research, visit his website - www.hightensionfdrbook.com
    Please consider supporting the podcast by becoming a Patron and gain access to bonus content - www.patreon.com/CMTUHistory.
    This podcast is part of Straight Up Strange Productions. Check out www.straightupstrange.com for more shows like this one. 

    • 53 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
29 Ratings

29 Ratings

1GrumpyGal ,

Great

Enjoy it

podcaster204 ,

Love this podcast!

I absolutely love history, so I was extremely happy to find a show that treats history in such a unique, entertaining way! Interesting guests and great quality. Keep up the good work!!

Tamara tilthebreakof Dawn ,

Very intriguing

I listened to episode 43 it was super interesting to hear the guest host share his insight on “life”. He seemed pretty knowledgeable and the cohosts had great chemistry

Top Podcasts In History

Listeners Also Subscribed To