44 episodes

Drafting the Past is a podcast devoted to the craft of writing history. Each episode features an interview with a historian about the joys and challenges of their work as a writer.

Drafting the Past Kate Carpenter

    • History
    • 4.9 • 40 Ratings

Drafting the Past is a podcast devoted to the craft of writing history. Each episode features an interview with a historian about the joys and challenges of their work as a writer.

    Margaret O'Mara Starts with the People

    Margaret O'Mara Starts with the People

    For this episode Kate Carpenter interviews Dr. Margaret O’Mara. Margaret is a professor of modern American history at the University of Washington, and the author of multiple books, including Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley and Pivotal Tuesdays: Four Elections that Shaped the Twentieth Century. Her most recent book is The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America. I was a huge fan of this book and have recommended it to so many people, so I was thrilled to get to ask about what went into writing it. Margaret has also co-authored a history textbook, written many pieces for places including The New York Times, WIRED, and many more, and is an active public speaker. We talked about how she keeps track of so many different projects, the way her past work in the Clinton administration affects her writing, and much more.

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Kimberly Harper Didn't Know She Could Be a Writer

    Kimberly Harper Didn't Know She Could Be a Writer

    In this episode, I was thrilled to welcome historian—and fellow Missourian—Kimberly Harper to the show. I am especially delighted by this episode because I get many requests to feature guests who have written history books while off of the tenure track or outside of academia, and Kim is a great example of that. I find guests for the show in a lot different ways – sometimes they are people I am a longtime fan of, other times I see books getting some press, or they pitch themselves for the show or other people suggest them. But I also scan catalogs of upcoming books to make sure I’m catching things that might otherwise get overlooked, and that’s how I first learned about Kimberly Harper. I spotted her new book, Men of No Reputation: Robert Boatright, the Buckfoot Gang, and the Fleecing of Middle America in the University of Arkansas Press catalog, and got to read an early copy. I was so impressed by the research and storytelling that I knew I had to reach out right away, and lucky for us, Kim agreed to come on the show. Kimberly Harper earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Arkansas, and she is an editor for the Missouri Historical Review. Her first book, White Man’s Heaven: The Lynching and Expulsion of Blacks in the Southern Ozarks, 1894-1909, came out in 2010, and it received the Missouri Humanities Council’s Distinguished Achievement in Literature award. Kim and I spoke about how some key mentors helped her find her way as a historian and writer, how she is learning to balance her day job, writing, and family life, and how you deal with sources for a book in which everyone is lying. Enjoy my conversation with Kimberly Harper.

    • 31 min
    Nathan Perl-Rosenthal Doesn't Want to Let Go

    Nathan Perl-Rosenthal Doesn't Want to Let Go

    In this episode, Kate welcomes historian Dr. Nathan Perl-Rosenthal. Nathan is a professor history at the University of Southern California. His first book, Citizen Sailors: Becoming American in the Age of Revolution, came out in 2015. His new book just came out this month, February 2024, from Basic Books. It’s called The Age of Revolutions and the Generations Who Made It, and it tells the history of the revolutionary era from 1760 to 1825 across multiple nations and many individual lives. Nathan and Kate talked about the merits of messy outlines, how historians could borrow the techniques of fiction writers, and why his new book was a bit like making cheese – you’ll just have to listen to find out what that’s all about.

    • 52 min
    Grace Elizabeth Hale is Undisciplined

    Grace Elizabeth Hale is Undisciplined

    For Episode 40, Kate Carpenter is joined by Dr. Grace Elizabeth Hale. Grace is the Commonwealth Professor of American Studies and History at the University of Virginia, and the author of four books. Her two most recent are Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture, which was published by UNC Press in 2020, and In the Pines: A Lynching, a Lie, a Reckoning, published by Little Brown in 2023. In the Pines is a remarkable book that combines Grace’s investigation into her own family’s history and her expertise as a scholar of white supremacy to investigate the pervasive racial terror of the Jim Crow South and its lasting impact. Grace joined me to talk about how she put the book together, the joy of great editing, and much more. Please enjoy my conversation with Dr. Grace Elizabeth Hale.

    • 59 min
    Benjamin Park Stays Rooted

    Benjamin Park Stays Rooted

    Welcome back to the third season of Drafting the Past! I’m thrilled about the lineup of historians that I’ll get to bring to you this year. I know you’re going to love them. That includes today’s guest, Dr. Benjamin Park. Ben is an associate professor of history at Sam Houston State University, and the author of three books. His first two were American Nationalisms: Imagining Union in the Age of Revolutions, and Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier. His newest book, which came out just this month, is called American Zion: A New History of Mormonism. I was excited to have the chance to talk with Ben about how he tackled a book with such an impressive scope, how he stays disciplined about what to leave in and what two cut, and two pieces of really excellent, practical writing advice from his editors. You’ll have to listen until the end for those.

    • 42 min
    The Best History Books You Read This Year

    The Best History Books You Read This Year

    At the end of the year, a flurry of “best books of the year books hit publications. For the last episode of 2023, I wanted to try something a little different on Drafting the Past. Rather than come up with my own best books list, I asked listeners to call in and leave a message with the best history book they read in 2023 (it didn’t have to be published this year). I loved hearing about the books you guys have been reading, and I hope you enjoy these reading recommendations, too. Should we make it an annual tradition?

    • 17 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
40 Ratings

40 Ratings

Astor Lynn ,

Love at first listen

This is the podcast of my dreams. Thank you for bringing us into conversation with so many great writers about the craft of writing history well. I now have a long reading list filled with titles I never knew I’d be so excited to read!

public historian ,

Amazing questions and great guests

Kate Carpenter manages to ask the most interesting questions and elicit the best responses from the historians that she has as guests on the show. It’s a real treat to listen to every episode.

Pignoli ,

Inspiring and interesting!

I am not writing history but am loving every episode of this podcast as I write my dissertation. I enjoy learning a bit about each guest’s research while also hearing how they approach their work both technically and socially. I highly recommend this podcast to academics in a variety of disciplines, as well as writers of other forms.

Top Podcasts In History

The Rest Is History
Goalhanger Podcasts
American Scandal
Wondery
Throughline
NPR
You're Wrong About
Sarah Marshall
American History Tellers
Wondery
The Curious History of Your Home
NOISER

You Might Also Like

Longform
Longform
On the Media
WNYC Studios
Letters from an American
Heather Cox Richardson
Throughline
NPR
Is This Democracy
Lilliana Mason and Thomas Zimmer
The Critic and Her Publics
Merve Emre