58 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 • 30 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.

    Come Fly the World with Julia Cooke

    Come Fly the World with Julia Cooke

    My guest today is Julia Cooke who joins me to discuss her new book Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan-Am.


    "Required to have a college education, speak two languages, and possess the political savvy of a Foreign Service officer, a jet-age stewardess serving on iconic Pan Am between 1966 and 1975 also had to be between 5′3" and 5′9", between 105 and 140 pounds, and under 26 years of age at the time of hire. Cooke’s intimate storytelling weaves together the real-life stories of a memorable cast of characters, from small-town girl Lynne Totten, a science major who decided life in a lab was not for her, to Hazel Bowie, one of the relatively few Black stewardesses of the era, as they embraced the liberation of their new jet-set life. Cooke brings to light the story of Pan Am stewardesses’ role in the Vietnam War, as the airline added runs from Saigon to Hong Kong for planeloads of weary young soldiers straight from the battlefields, who were off for five days of R&R, and then flown back to war. Finally, with Operation Babylift—the dramatic evacuation of 2,000 children during the fall of Saigon—the book’s special cast of stewardesses unites to play an extraordinary role on the world stage."


    Julia Cooke's essays have been published in A Public Space, Salon, The Threepenny Review, Smithsonian, Tin House, and Virginia Quarterly Review, where she is a contributing editor. She holds an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and an MFA from Columbia University. Come Fly the World is her second book.


    Please consider supporting the podcast by becoming a Patron and gain access to bonus content - www.patreon.com/CMTUHistory.


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    This podcast is part of Straight Up Strange Productions. Check out www.straightupstrange.com for more shows like this one. 

    • 37 min
    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.


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    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

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
30 Ratings

30 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

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