300 episodes

We believe that when people think historically, they are engaging in a disciplined way of thinking about the world and its past. We believe it gives thinkers a knack for recognizing nonsense; and that it cultivates not only intellectual curiosity and rigor, but also intellectual humility. Join Al Zambone, author of Daniel Morgan: A Revolutionary Life, as he talks with historians and other professionals who cultivate the craft of historical thinking.

Historically Thinking Al Zambone

    • History
    • 4.9 • 81 Ratings

We believe that when people think historically, they are engaging in a disciplined way of thinking about the world and its past. We believe it gives thinkers a knack for recognizing nonsense; and that it cultivates not only intellectual curiosity and rigor, but also intellectual humility. Join Al Zambone, author of Daniel Morgan: A Revolutionary Life, as he talks with historians and other professionals who cultivate the craft of historical thinking.

    Episode 363: Flying Saucers

    Episode 363: Flying Saucers

    On June 24th, 1947, a private pilot and fire suppression equipment manufacturer named Kenneth Arnold was flying south of Mount Rainier, bound for Yakima, Washington. At about 3 PM he saw a flash of light in the air to the north of the mountain, and subsequently he saw a long chain of flying objects passing in front of the mountain. He described them as having convex shapes, and this was soon changed to the term “flying saucer".

    Arnold’s was in fact not the first UFO sighting following the Second World War; nor was it even part of the first wave of sightings of strange things in the sky. Yet something unprecedented did happen after 1947, not only in the United States, but around the world–not necessarily involving aliens, but very much involving humans. As Greg Egighian observes in his new book After the Flying Saucers Came: A Global History of the UFO Phenomenon, UFO sightings “have made people wonder, fret, question, probe, and argue. In that regard, they have revealed more about human beings than about alien worlds. And that is a story worth investigating.”

    Greg Eghigian is a Professor of History and Bioethics at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of The Corrigible and the Incorrigible: Science, Medicine, and the Convict in Twentieth Century Germany and the editor of The Routledge History of Madness and Mental Health, among other works.

    For Further Investigation


    Greg Egighian suggests the following books for your UFO history reading list:

    Matthew Bowman, The Abduction of Betty and Barney Hill

    David Clarke, How UFOs Conquered the World: The History of a Modern Myth

    D.W. Pasulka, American Cosmic

    Sarah Scoles, They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers

    Garrett M. Graff, a href="https://www.amazon.

    • 54 min
    Episode 362: Out of One, Many

    Episode 362: Out of One, Many

    Sometime around two and half millennia ago, a cluster of cities and states around the northeastern Mediterranean began to do amazing things. For some reason they began to spread out, establishing towns and outposts around the fringe of both the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. And as they sailed and traded in the outer world, they also began to explore with ever-increasing rigor their inner world, with a series of big questions which remain important to us even to this day. All the while, they competed feverishly with one another: in athletics, in war, in trade, in sex, in the arts, and in all the varieties of social life.

    These were the people we call the Greeks. But how did such a diversity of people gain a common title, or come to represent a common culture? Amongst their commonalities, what were their differences? And despite their often uncanny ability to think and act in ways that still make us feel a deep connection to them, how were they very different from us, and very similar to others of their own world?

    With me to survey the unities and diversities of the ancient Greeks is Jennifer Roberts, Professor of classics and history at the City College of New York and the City University of New York Graduate Center. Her many books include The Plague of War: Athens, Sparta, and the Struggle for Ancient Greece and Herodotus: A Very Short Introduction, both of which were the subject of previous conversations on this podcast. Her most recent book is Out of One, Many: Ancient Greek Ways of Thought and Culture, which is the subject of our conversation today.

    For Further Investigation

    * Jennifer Roberts previous episodes were on the Peloponnesian War, and on the historian Herodotus.

    * We've done a lot of episodes on Ancient Greece, enough for a mini-curriculum. Here is Paul Cartledge on Thebes; Andrew Bayliss on Sparta; and Bruce Clark on Athens (though admittedly little of that conversation was about ancient Athens).

    * Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color

    * I referred to my two conversations with Tom Holland, the first one concerning his book Dominion, and the second and most recent conversation about his book PAX.

    * Hunter Rawlings, classicist and expert on Thucydides

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Episode 361: Book Makers

    Episode 361: Book Makers

    Books have been made for over 530 years. That is, they have been created from raw materials– sometimes lovingly, sometimes not–printed, bound, and sold, only then to be read. When we think only of what is written in books, we ignore much of the history of the book. So ubiquitous is the book, so commonplace is the book, that we often neglect it both as a brilliant technology; the product of multiple technologies; and as an art.

    My guest has written the  story of how books have been made over that long half millennium by focusing on the individuals who have created the different aspects of the book that we now take for granted. It is a history of the physical printed book for a world that is increasing online–but a word which, curiously enough, the sale of ebooks  is down, and that of printed books is up.

    Adam Smyth is Professor of English literature and the history of the book at Balliol College in the University of Oxford. He is also one of the members of 39 Steps Press, “a small and unusual printing collective” that is housed in an old stables in Elsfield, Oxfordshire. His most recent book is The Book Makers: A History of the Book in 18 Lives, which is the subject of our conversation today. 

    For Further Investigation

    * Previous conversations that relates to this one are: Episode 251, with Tom Misa, in which he discussed printing as beginning as a "courtly technology"; Episode 271, with Martin Clagget, in which among other things we discussed the marvelous place that Birmingham was in the eighteenth century

    * An introduction to Baskerville's typographical art, with fine examples of the uppercase Q and the lower-case g, presented by A Type Supreme, a website that proclaims itself to be "a love letter to typography". Of course you can get a poster of the Baskerville Q, and I must say that I'm tempted.

    * And Zuzana Licko's beautiful creation, Mrs Eaves

    * Here is Sonnet 126, as printed by 39 Steps Press.

    * Another guest, Kelsey Jackson-Williams who featured in Episode 162, has also experimented with printing. He's a member of the Pathfoot Press at the University of Stirling.

    • 57 min
    Intellectual Humility and Historical Thinking: Joseph Manning

    Intellectual Humility and Historical Thinking: Joseph Manning

    This is another of our series of conversations on intellectual humility and historical thinking. 

    With me today is Joseph Manning. He is the William K. and Marilyn Milton Simpson Professor of Classics and History, Professor in the Yale School of the Environment, and Senior Research Scholar in Law. 

    Manning has a specialized historical focus on Hellenistic history, with particular focus on the legal and economic history of Ptolemaic Egypt. His research focus over the last ten years has concentrated on historical climate change and its impact on premodern societies more widely. He is the principal investigator of the US National Science foundation project:  “Volcanism, Hydrology and Social Conflict: Lessons from Hellenistic and Roman-Era Egypt and Mesopotamia.” He is also on the editorial boards of Studia Hellenistica (Leuven) and the Palgrave Studies in Ancient Economies.

    He has coedited several volumes, and is the author of numerous monographs, the most recent of which is The Open Sea: The Economic Life of the Ancient Mediterranean World from the Iron Age to the Rise of Rome (Princeton University Press, 2018), which was the subject of a conversation in Episode 164 of Historically Thinking. He is now at work on a major new work on historic climate change and its impact since the last Ice Age.

    • 24 min
    Episode 360: City of Light, City of Darkness

    Episode 360: City of Light, City of Darkness

    The Paris of the Belle Époque was a city divided by new and old conflicts–the tensions of modernity, and the schisms which had divided France since 1789. Modernity, which the city both exemplified and advanced, could be both celebrated and the source of anxiety–sometimes by the same person at more or less the same time, certainly by the same person at different times. 

    “The glories of the Belle Epoque were real enough,” writes my guest, “like many myths and cliches, they contain an element of truth–but they tell only one side of the story. The era was also riven by political conflict, crackling with social tension, and fraught with cultural friction. And, of course, it ended with the industrialised carnage of the First World War in 1914.”

    Michael Rapport is Reader in Modern European History at the University of Glasgow. He has previously written about topics related to the age of the French Revolution, and the revolution of 1848. His most recent book is City of Light, City of Shadows: Paris in the Belle Époque, which is the subject of our conversation today.

    For Further Investigation

    * Michael Rapport has also written 1848: Year of Revolution; The Napoleonic Wars: A Very Short Introduction; and The Unruly City: Paris, London, and New York in the Age of Revolution, which is a fine companion read to Episode 350, Episode 281, and Episode 176

    * Urban Insider's guide to the Paris Metro

    * A guide to Montmartre

    * And a walk through Montmartre

    * A guide to Art Nouveau in Paris

    * A collection of Zola reading lists: his novels in their written order; his suggested way to read through his novels; a five-novel list; a ten-novel list; and a twenty-novel list

    • 1 hr 13 min
    Episode 359: Damascus Events

    Episode 359: Damascus Events

    At 2 PM on July 9, 1860, a mob attacked the Christian quarter of Damascus. For over a week, shops, churches, houses, and monasteries were attacked, looted, and burned. Men were killed, women raped and abducted, children taken from their families. Some 5000 Christians were ultimately killed, about half of them refugees who had fled to the city from Mount Lebanon during an earlier outbreak of violence there, the others all native Damascenes—about 15% of the Christian population of Damascus. These eight days of terror became known as “the Damascus events.”

    In his new book my guest Eugene Rogan describes the external and internal pressures which led to the Damascus events; the immediate precipitation of the events; the eight days of violence; how the violence was ended; and finally how the Christian population was reintegrated into the Damascus community.

    Eugene Rogan is professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of Oxford, where he is also the Director of the Middle East Center at Saint Anthony College, Oxford. Author of numerous books, his most recent is The Damascus Events: The 1860 Massacre and the Making of the Modern Middle East.

    For Further Investigation

    * We haven't had that many podcasts on the Ottoman Empire: in fact, hitherto we have had precisely one, a conversation with Kaya Şahín in Episode 314 about Suleyman, one of the greatest Ottoman monarchs.

    * We haven't had that many podcasts on the modern Middle East, either. The closest would be one of the most popular podcasts we've done, this conversation with the late Neil Faulkner in Episode 240, which dealt with the British Empire's attempts to cope with revolutionary Islamic movements in late nineteenth century Africa and Arabia.



    • 1 hr 10 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
81 Ratings

81 Ratings

DesiAnn74 ,

Wonderful, insightful, enjoyable!

I came to this podcast through a friend and am glad I did! I’m not an expert on history, nor am I an historian. But I do enjoy learning about history and different perspectives and lessons we can learn about ourselves and our present through history. I am impressed by Mr. Zambone’s depth of knowledge and insight and have learned so much from this podcast. Highly recommend!

orthoagnostic ,

A Window more people need to look through

Brings the past to life and reveals complexities, subtleties, and understandings that broad brushes almost always miss.

IkeM96 ,

Thoughtful and Interesting

This is a really interesting podcast. Hosted by a historian, it is a great resource for anyone wanting to engage in history on a deeper level. As a high school history teacher, I have learned a great deal not just about particular topics but about how to think and ask questions like a historian. Highly recommended.

Top Podcasts In History

Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra
Rachel Maddow, MSNBC
The Rest Is History
Goalhanger Podcasts
American Scandal
Everything Everywhere Daily
Gary Arndt | Glassbox Media
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History
Dan Carlin
American History Tellers

You Might Also Like

Goalhanger & Global Enduring Disorder Ltd
In Our Time
BBC Radio 4
Goalhanger Podcasts
History Extra podcast
Immediate Media
Ones and Tooze
Foreign Policy
These Times