Uncommon history with an unconventional pair. Join married hosts Rebecca Robbins (a Broadway actress) and Kim Kimmel (her college history instructor) as they delve into topics that run the historical gambit. A gifted storyteller, Kim taught history at the collegiate level for 29 years while as a student, Rebecca always sat in the front row of his Western Civilizations class soaking up every word he said. For the record, she made an A in his class. She went on to pursue a Broadway career (The Phantom of The Opera, A Tale of Two Cities) while he continued to teach at her alma mater (Curtis Institute of Music). Though you couldn't get more different than these two with their 23-year age difference, together they bring history to life with their unique perspectives, entertaining banter, and shared love of the past. Sometimes quirky, sometimes obscure, this is the kind of history you’ll actually want to remember. Now in our Second Season. New episodes bi-weekly on Wednesday mornings.
Arthur: The Man and The Legend
Legend has it that there once was a King named Arthur who allegedly lived in the late 5th and early 6th centuries and who, with his many companions, successfully fought off numerous enemies in Britain. But was there actually an historical Arthur of real flesh and blood? The Arthurian stories are arguably the greatest legends in Western history, and here in our 50th Episode we explore how the fabled Arthur compares with the historical one.
De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae by Gildas Historia Brittonum by NenniusThe New Arthurian Encyclopedia Edited by Norris LacyHistoria Regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of MomouthLe Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas MaloryAnglo-Saxon England by Sir Frank Stenton Film:
Excalibur (1981) with Nigel Terry and Helen MirrenMonty Python and The Holy Grail (1975) with John Cleese and Eric IdleCamelot (1967) with Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave
The Dreyfus Affair
It was a political scandal that rocked France to its core and proved to be a watershed event for European antisemitism. A French officer, Alfred Dreyfus, was accused of passing military secrets to the Germans. He was found guilty by a military tribunal and sent to Devil’s Island, one of the most notorious penal colonies in the world. What happened next will shock and appall you as it did not only France but the entire world. Here in Episode 49, we explore just how far the French military went to cover up their colossal mistake in what would become known as The Dreyfus Affair.
Five years of My Life: 1894-1899 by Alfred DreyfusThe Man on Devil’s Island: Alfred Dreyfus and the Affair That Divided France by Ruth HarrisThe Dreyfus Affair: “J’Accuse and Other Writings of Emile ZolaThe Dreyfus Affair: The Scandal That Tore France in Two by Piers Paul ReadThe Collapse of The Third Republic by William ShireFilm:
I Accuse (1958) with José Ferrer as Captain Alfred DreyfusPapillon (1973) with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman
Some of History's Greatest Imposters
There have been many impostors throughout history and in this 48th episode we deal with six of them, two related to English history and four related to Russian history. All at one time or another had many who believed in them (or at least tried to use them for advantage). All six went a long way to pulling off their ruse and we discuss many of the details in this episode.
Ivan IV (the Terrible) was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 to 1547 and Czar of Russia from 1547 to 1584.Books:
The Earlier Tudors by J.D. MackieHenry VII and the Tudor Pretenders by Nathen AminA Short History of Russia's First Civil War: The Time of Troubles of and the Founding of the Romanov Dynasty by Chester S.L. DunningA History of Russia by Nicholas V. Riasanovsky A Romanov Fantasy: Life at the Court of Anna Anderson by Frances WelchFilm:
Ivan the Terrible (2014) DocumentaryAnastasia (1956) Starring Ingrid Bergman
Hannibal Barca: Rome's Most Dangerous Enemy
After a six-week hiatus, we’re back and with a fast-paced adventure story that rivals even the best of Hollywood. It’s the story of Hannibal Barca. When outnumbered by the Roman military two to one, this fearless Carthaginian general, complete with eye patch and riding atop a black stallion, defied all odds in one of the bloodiest battles in all of antiquity, thus becoming one of the greatest military commanders the world has ever known. Join us as we delve into the life and times of this extraordinary man.
The immediate predecessor of Hannibal in Spain was his brother-in-law, Hasdrubal the Fair (not to be confused with Hannibal's brother, Hasdrubal), who ruled from 229-221 BC., after which Hannibal in 221 at the age of 26 took over Carthaginian Spain.According to some ancient sources, Hannibal did marry an Iberian woman named Imilce and they had a son, but we do not know this for certain. Books:
The Punic Wars by Adrian GoldsworthyA History of Rome by Michael GrantHannibal: The Military Biography of Rome’s Greatest Enemy by Richard GabrielThe Histories by PolybiusA History of Warfare by John KeeganFilm:
Hannibal (2006) BBC FilmHannibal: A March on Rome (2018) DocumentaryHannibal in the Alps (2018) PBS Documentary
Cheating The Hangman
Imagine being hung three times… unsuccessfully. That’s exactly what happened to Englishman, John “Babbacombe” Lee in 1885. Or in the case of Herman Göring, being slipped a cyanide pill just hours before you were scheduled to be hung. Or foiling your pursuers by killing yourself first and being laid out in full regalia upon their arrival. Here in Episode 46, we explore seven individuals who cheated the hangman one way or another.
Antony and Cleopatra by Adrian GoldsworthyQueen Elizabeth I by J.E. NealeValiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick"Babbacombe" Lee: The Man They Could Not Hang by John LeeJack the Ripper: The Definitive Casebook by Richard Wittington EganInside the Third Reich by Albert SpeerFilm:
Cleopatra (1963) with Elizabeth TaylorBenedict Arnold: Hero Betrayed (2021) DocumentaryJack the Ripper (2017) Documentary with Trevor MarriottJudgement at Nuremburg (1961) with an all-star castDownfall (2005) with Bruno Ganz as Hitler
Caligula and The Julio-Claudian Dynasty
“Let them hate me, so they but fear me.” ~ Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (aka Caligula)
Caligula, the third Julio-Claudian emperor of the great Roman Empire, was known as a cruel, erratic, sex-crazed and delusional tyrant. Not only did he decree that his horse was a Roman consul, but he also marched his troops all the way to the English Channel only to have them pick up seashells, and he’s also said to have committed incest with all three of his sisters. Was he a madman or a victim of an undiagnosed medical condition? Here in Episode 45, we take an in-depth look at not only Caligula, but all five of the emperors who reigned during the Julio-Claudian Dynasty, including Claudius and the famed Nero.
From the Gracchi to Nero: A History of Rome from 133 BC to AD 68 by H.H. ScullardHistory of Rome by Michael GrantThe Twelve Caesars by SuetoniusRoman History by Dio CassiusFilm:
I, Claudius (1976) 12 Episodes by BBCCaligula (1979) terrible cult film, but incredible cast including Peter O’Toole, Helen Mirren & Malcolm McDowell
I love reading and listening to history. This is one of the best
I wish he was my history teacher. History comes alive the way he tells it!
History Teacher Extraordinaire!
These episodes are the conversations you would have over the dinner table with a knowledgable friend. And the history professor I wish I had had. She asks the questions you would, and he seems to know everything! I love the unscripted style and have learned so much! Bravo