9 episodes

The history show about how and why!

Decipher History Decipher Media

    • History
    • 5.0 • 7 Ratings

The history show about how and why!

    Titanic: rich people, bad luck, and ever-increasing hugenes w/ Joe

    Titanic: rich people, bad luck, and ever-increasing hugenes w/ Joe


    Costly! The costs of vising the wreck twelve times for research and footage, not to mention the cost of the film production overall. The extreme profitability of this film and James Cameron in general.


    First, second, and third class on the same ship. Titans of industry. Runaway capitalism. The class divide and point of view before The Great War. The modern “royalty” by virtue of their wealth.


    The pace of technological development in industries, especially intercontinental travel by steamship. Comparing the early 1900s to other periods of technological progress like the 1980s and 1990. Noting the nature of the automobiles in the film: literally the design of a “horseless carriage.” The cutting-edge wireless technology aboard the ship.

    The ship

    Three engines! Of two varieties. Steam-driven piston engines and steam-driven a turbine. Note: you cannot reverse a turbine. Peak power: 46,000 horsepower. 600 tons of coal daily. An anecdote about Mr. Diesel.

    A collection of small problems

    The nature of many disasters, probably including Titanic: a series of small problems, adding up to a catastrophic failure under the rigt (wrong) circumstances. Rich people hogging the Marconi wireless. Out of date lifeboat regulations. Loading lifeboats (badly). The reality of “women and children first.” Avoiding chaos until it’s too late.


    The inquiries from shortly after the event, and the great surprise you may experience when realizing that the company men consistently pushed blame back up the chain of command. Modern evidence changing our conception over time. Actually ultimately coming to the consensus that this particular ship on this particular voyage was mostly operated in a way that was totally normal in almost all respects and simply got very unlucky.

    All told, it does seem that Titanic was really really well-engineered and did remarkably well under the circumstances.

    [4K,60Fps,Colorized] Titanic, First and Last Voyage, April 1912 AI Recovery, added sound: YouTube

    RMS Titanic Survivors True Accounts of The Sinking: YouTube

    RMS Titanic: Fascinating Engineering Facts by the Engingeering Guy: YouTube

    Titanic - Alternate Ending: YouTube

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    • 1 hr 39 min
    1917: trenches, trench rats, and modern war w/ Josh

    1917: trenches, trench rats, and modern war w/ Josh

    The movie

    It was really good! One-shot gimmicks of the past and appreciating the technical complexity of what was done here.


    The demographic makeup of the British military. Young average infantryman age. “Pals battalions” and serving alongside your friends.

    The Great War

    The scale of WWI versus what came before. Rising contemporary appreciation for the study of this conflict. How much was the war a “modern war” and how much did it help usher in the modern world? Horses and tanks.

    Trench warfare

    The shovel as a tool of war for millenia. How do we wind up with stalemate trench warfare? A hint of trench warfare in the American Civil War. Really impressive trench engineering. Tanks, tech, strategy, and the eventual end of trench warfare. Rats - yuck! Rats in the trenches.


    Barbed wire. Mechanized warfare. Horses in WWI and WWII. Tanks! Really slow and not very great tanks. Radio reliability. Hard-line comms. Sending messages by foot, radio, or… dropping it out of a plane? Medical infrastructure and what modern medicine owes to WWI.

    A Prussian Landwehrmann tanning rat skins in a dugout, WWI: Reddit

    Josh's show's on LSG Media: The X-Files Podcast (always)Science Fiction Film Podcast (sometimes)

    Gallipoli: Prime VideoiTunes

    They Shall Not Grow Old: iTunesAmazonYouTube

    They Shall Not Grow Old: film restoration, persistance of vision, and vfx: Decipher SciFi

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    Alexander: succession, 'The Great,' and sooo many Alexandrias w/ Ryan Stitt

    Alexander: succession, 'The Great,' and sooo many Alexandrias w/ Ryan Stitt


    Versions! So many versions. The best version of the film: The Ultimate Cut.

    Setting the scene

    Ancient Greece after 300. The Peloponnesian War (which Ryan is in the middle of on his show!). The rise of Philip. Olympias.


    Putting Macedon at center stage in ancient Greece. Technical and logistical innovations. Planning the invasion of Persia right before his suspiciously untimely death.

    The purge

    Alexander and Olypmias. Purging royal competition in the ancient world. Plutarch and gossip about “powerful women” in antiquity.


    The loss of contemporary sources and the reliability of what remains. Plutarch’s gossip column.

    “The Great”

    What makes an historical figure “The Great,” instead of “The Terrible” or just forgotten? So many Alexandrias! Conquest, culture, and Hellenization.

    Manly love

    “Homosexuality” in the ancient world and different norms of power and masulinity. Alexander and Hephaestion. Achilles and Patroclas.


    Heavy Macedonian drinking and Alexander’s downward spiral. Conflicting reports and also modern interpretations of possible causes of death. Indeterminate succession. Alexander’s body floating around for centuries.

    Ryan's Show!: The History of Ancient Greece Podcast

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    The Patriot: heroism, invisible slavery, and cutting-edge chair technology

    The Patriot: heroism, invisible slavery, and cutting-edge chair technology


    Roland Emmerich and Mel Gibson and historical rigor (or lack thereof).

    Period technologies

    Rocking chairs! Pushing the edge of period chair technology. Actually a relatively new thing, so you could see why Mel might have been having some trouble. Smooth-bore firearms and the eventual transition to Longrifles. Militias vs armies and the frequency of rifled weapons between them. Reload times. Minié balls, loading speed, and rifle accuracy.

    Banistre Tarleton

    Maybe the name was too deliciously posh and British? So they changed it to William Tavington. Maybe kind of a jerk, but clearly not the caricature we see in the film. Blowing your inheritence on women and gambling vs buying hundreds of horses. Buying your military commissions whether you deserve it or not.


    Should we even try to approach the legitimacy of the “hero?” Humans: always flawed through some lens and operating within their time and experience.


    Militias vs armies. The problem in modern armies of humans not really wanting to kill other humans.

    War crimes

    Ungentlemanly conduct. Continental congress early investigations for propaganda. Zero documented mass-slaughter church-burnings.


    Do not be misled: it was happening during this period. Especially in South Carolina. Promises (lies) of post-war freedom. Numbers on the British and Patriot sides.

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    Gangs of New York: history of The Five Points, immigration, and archaic criminal lingo

    Gangs of New York: history of The Five Points, immigration, and archaic criminal lingo


    Creating the dialects, idolects, and accents of the five points. Historical Language sleuthing. Daniel Day Lewis’ vocal performance.


    “A drama, not a documentary.” The overstatements of the loose source book “The Gangs of New York.” Compressed timeframes. Framing the story of the “gangs of New York” through the lens of the Italian mobs of the early 20th century.


    “The Great Famine” and “The Potato Famine.” Blight: not a fungus! Actually non-photosynthetic algae. Living on only potatoes: pretty doable! How the blight was delivered from America and was able to flourish under the seasoncal conditions in Ireland.

    Coming to America

    Migration of Irish into (mostly) New York City. Staying where you land because you lack the resources to move on. The conditions on the long boat ride over.

    Old New York

    New York: like now, but smaller and mostly woods and marshes etc. Draining and filling the stinky sewage lake to make a place for the five points. American growth and the spoilage of nature.

    The Five Points

    Not as crimey as you heard! But, maybe just as grimey. Discerning quality of life in the five points from archaeology, correspondences, censuces, bank records, and other sources. Common people, eating meat; for every meal! Chain immigration.


    Using the Irish vote. Competitive firefighting. Tweed’s truly impressive corruption.


    Bill the Butcher. 19th century gang names. The dueling origin stories of the “Dead Rabbits.” Inter-linguistic phono-semantic matching.

    Draft riot

    History washing over local squabbles. Lynchings. Violently protesting the purchasability of draft vexceptions. Thge New York Times offices and machine guns and molten lead.

    The Gangs of New York by Herbert Asburt: Internet Archive

    The Rogue's Lexicon by George Matsell: Project Gutenberg

    Five Points and 19th Century New York: YouTube

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    The Last Samurai: Bushido, European influence, and howizters w/ Isaac Meyer

    The Last Samurai: Bushido, European influence, and howizters w/ Isaac Meyer

    Isaac Meyer’s History of Japan Podcast!!

    Japan post-isolation

    Tokugawa rule. Can historical economics be interesting? The introduction of tightly-controlled Dutch trade in Japan preceeding the Meiji restoration. Western opposition. Fighting over western presence and figuring out how much Western influence Japan can tolerate while still being Japanese. The return of the Emperor.

    Europeans in Japan

    Recognizing the relative militrary reputations of Britain, France, Germany, and the US at the time. French military advisors in irl Japan during the Meiji restoration. Jules Brunet as the closest real-life analogue to Tom Cruise’s Algren. Spheres of influence.


    War basically between and within the Samurai class. Samurai with side jobs. Disbanding the social class with the swords. Samurai civil war armor and its increasing disutility as firearms improve. The point of the elaborate headpieces.

    Samurai with a Katana c. 1860

    Felice Beato, public domain

    Saigō Takamori

    The irl analogue for Ken Watanabe’s character. Trying to fight Korea. Accidentally creating revolutionaries. Takamori’s last stand after his forces ran out of bullets. “The Last Samurai” and the ease of Japanese punning.

    Saigo Takamori before 1877

    Edoardo Chiossone, public domain

    Foreign samurai

    English-born “Samurai” and how/whether a foreigner could actually become a real samurai. The (probably) African-born “samurai” Yasuke, working as personal bodyguard for daimyō Nobunaga.


    Creating your warrior narrative after your period of real marshall utility. Analogy with European chivalry. The carrying of Bushido culture from Samurai time into WWII Japan. The circumstances where ritual suicide begins to seem like a reasonable option.


    Arqebuses all over the joint before the period of the film. Samurai gun-kata. Wooden cannons, howitzers, and artillery classification.

    The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori by Mark Ravina: iTunesAmazon

    Stand Up For Your Rights by History of Japan Podcast: Part 1Part 2

    Bushido Blade: Wikipedia

    Japanese Milk Bread: NYT Cooking via Google page cache

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Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
7 Ratings

7 Ratings

dlouismartin ,

Christopher & Lee Do It Again!

These guys know how to run a show and it is clear to me that they are dedicated to their craft. The best 'movie' podcasts use films as a launching point for excellent conversation, and that is exactly what these guys do. It's neer boring, it doesn't over-stay its welcome, and it is entertaining and educational -- two huge pieces in holding your attention. Then you have the chemistry. These guys are comfortable with each other. Their back and forth is great and there are genuine moments of dry humor (which I love) that will catch you off guard. Subscribe! Do it! Do it now!

JayBru0302 ,

Get smarter, laugh harder.

Decipher SciFi has been one of my absolute favorite podcasts and now that they've branched into history, it's even closer to home for me. Chris and Lee (as well as an impressive assortment of guests with backgrounds lined up with each subject matter covered) do an exceptional job of taking a movie and exploring historical subjects associated with it. They do a lot of work on research and you are going to learn something or many things every episode but more than that you will be constantly entertained along the way. Can't recommend this podcast strongly enough!

AlanHeartsSupes ,


Without Chris and Lee, I would’ve never known what a German Shelf toilet was. Knowledge!

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