665 episodes

For history lovers who listen to podcasts, History Unplugged is the most comprehensive show of its kind. It's the only show that dedicates episodes to both interviewing experts and answering questions from its audience. First, it features a call-in show where you can ask our resident historian (Scott Rank, PhD) absolutely anything (What was it like to be a Turkish sultan with four wives and twelve concubines? If you were sent back in time, how would you kill Hitler?). Second, it features long-form interviews with best-selling authors who have written about everything. Topics include gruff World War II generals who flew with airmen on bombing raids, a war horse who gained the rank of sergeant, and presidents who gave their best speeches while drunk.

History Unplugged Podcast Parthenon

    • History
    • 4.3 • 3.1K Ratings

For history lovers who listen to podcasts, History Unplugged is the most comprehensive show of its kind. It's the only show that dedicates episodes to both interviewing experts and answering questions from its audience. First, it features a call-in show where you can ask our resident historian (Scott Rank, PhD) absolutely anything (What was it like to be a Turkish sultan with four wives and twelve concubines? If you were sent back in time, how would you kill Hitler?). Second, it features long-form interviews with best-selling authors who have written about everything. Topics include gruff World War II generals who flew with airmen on bombing raids, a war horse who gained the rank of sergeant, and presidents who gave their best speeches while drunk.

    Did Thomas Edison Murder The Real Inventor of the Motion Picture Camera and Steal His Invention?

    Did Thomas Edison Murder The Real Inventor of the Motion Picture Camera and Steal His Invention?

    In the late 1800s, there was an all-out sprint among inventors and tinkerers to create the first motion picture camera. The first across the finish line would get an incredibly valuable patent worth millions. The ultimate winner was an unassuming Frenchman named Louis Le Prince, who died before he could present his invention to the world, and some believe was murdered by Thomas Edison.
    n 1890, Louis Le Prince, before any of his competitors, was granted patents in four countries for his “taker” or “receiver” device, the product of years of furious, costly work. The device would capture ten to twelve images per second on film, a reproduction of reality that could be replayed limitlessly, shared with those on the other side of the planet with only a few days delay. But just a month before unveiling his invention to the world, he mysteriously disappeared. Three and a half years later, Le Prince’s invention was finally made public – by his rival, Thomas Edison, who claimed to have invented it himself.
    To unravel this mystery, I am joined by Paul Fischer, author of The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures: A True Tale of Obsession, Murder, and the Movies. Le Prince’s disappearance is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of cinema history, and Fischer discusses what he and other film theorists think might have happened to this famous inventor and creator of the motion picture. But most of all, we explore the impact Le Prince’s work has had on centuries of filmmakers, and why it is so important to restore Le Prince’s place in history.

    • 1 hr 21 min
    Cars Are the Id of the Countries that Built Them. What Do The Model T and Pontiac Aztek Tell Us About the US?

    Cars Are the Id of the Countries that Built Them. What Do The Model T and Pontiac Aztek Tell Us About the US?

    The earliest cars were nothing more than horse buggies with motors (the first Oldsmobile was a horseless carriage with a one-cylinder engine plunked in). But once sturdier cars were invented and mass production made them cheap, the 20th century was forever defined by the automobile. It was the first industry to use the assembly line. People had unimaginable levels of freedom and mobility. Whole new industries and services sprang up, including motels, amusement parks, restaurant franchises, and fast food.

    Today’s guest is Eddie Alterman, host of the new podcast Car Show. He thinks all cars are great - even the awful ones (such as the Pontiac Aztek). But some cars, he says, transcend their "car-ness." Some cars have a story to tell us because changed how we drive and live, whose significance lies outside the scope of horsepower or miles per gallon. Such models include the Model T, Porsche 911, and even the Lunar Rover. Because some cars are more than just a pile of metal, glass, and rubber. Some cars are rolling anthropology.

    • 41 min
    Making Sense of America’s Worst Moments: Jon Meacham on Understanding -- But Not Excusing -- Slavery and the Indian Removal Act

    Making Sense of America’s Worst Moments: Jon Meacham on Understanding -- But Not Excusing -- Slavery and the Indian Removal Act

    John F. Kennedy once told a presidential biographer that rating presidents from best to worst that it was impossible without a deep appreciation of the office. Perhaps even first-hand experience was necessary: "No one has a right to grade a president - even poor James Buchanan - who has not sat in his chair, examined the mail and information that came across his desk, and learned why he made his decisions.”
    While JFK’s view will never stop historians from ranking U.S. presidents from best to worst, he makes a good point that historical figures likely had good reasons for what they did, even if the end result was failure and their reputations were left in tatters. Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act or Thomas Jefferson’s failure to provide justice equally (even though he enshrined the equality of all in America’s founding documents) are explainable and understandable, even if they aren’t excusable.
    To explore this theme further is today’s guest is Jon Meacham, host of the new podcast, Reflections of History. Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, and several other biographies, presidential or otherwise.
    We discuss the lasting legacies of Jefferson, Jackson, and other presidents who rose or fell to the moment. We also discuss which historical figures should get greater recognition, whether the aftermath of the Titanic gives us ideas on how to mourn national tragedies, and the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century, including, but not limited to, NATO, vaccines, the Space Race, and Jackie Robinson breaking down baseball’s color barrier and accelerating the Civil Rights Movement.

    • 37 min
    Parthenon Roundtable: Which Single Event Would You Eliminate From History

    Parthenon Roundtable: Which Single Event Would You Eliminate From History

    All of us have terrible regrets. Accepting that job that became dead-end. Marry someone from high school who ended up being a kleptomaniac with halitosis. Emptying out our life savings to invest in Logan and Jake Paul’s NFT collections Don’t you wish you could take it all back?
    While we can’t help you with your personal problems, we are pleased to let you know that the hosts of the history programs that make up Parthenon Podcasts are here to get rid of some of the worst events in history and cleaning up our timeline. In just one hour, we will do the following:

    •Prevent the Civil War and Emancipate all U.S. slaves in 1861
    •Prevent Saddam Hussein from seizing power in Iraq, thus prevent the Iran-Iraq War and both Gulf Wars
    •Prevent half a century’s worth of conspiracy theories that sprung up in the wake of the JFK assassination
    •Accelerate the invention of the printing press by 1,500 years by stopping the Bronze Age Collapse
    Hope you enjoy this talk with James Early from Key Battles of American History, Josh Cohen from Eyewitness History, Steve Guerra from History of the Papacy and Beyond the Big Screen, Richard Lim from This American President, and yours truly from History Unplugged.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    The Worst Movie Ever Made Cast John Wayne as Genghis Khan and Exposed the Cast to Nuclear Radiation

    The Worst Movie Ever Made Cast John Wayne as Genghis Khan and Exposed the Cast to Nuclear Radiation

    John Wayne’s 1956 film The Conqueror was a historical biopic about Genghis Khan far worse than you can imagine. The All-American legend was in full Fu Manchu make-up and depicted the Great Khan as a Mongol madman. He was given Shakespear-esque dialogue that was as grandiose as it was misapplied to the Duke loose way of speaking (one example: “I feel this Tartar woman is for me, and my blood says, take her.”) It was a film so embarrassing that it disappeared from print for over a quarter century. Worse yet, half its cast and crew met their demise bringing the film to life by being exposed to nuclear radiation while on set.
    To get into this story is today’s guest Ryan Uytdewilligen, author of “Killing John Wayne, the Making of the Conqueror. Filmed during the dark underbelly of the 1950s—the Cold War—when nuclear testing in desolate southwestern landscapes was a must for survival, the very same landscapes were where exotic stories set in faraway lands could be made. Just 153 miles from the St. George, Utah, set, nuclear bombs were detonated regularly at Yucca Flat and Frenchman Flat in Nevada, providing a bizarre and possibly deadly background to an already surreal moment in cinema history.
    We discuss the story of the making of The Conqueror, its ignominious aftermath, and the radiation induced cancer that may have killed John Wayne and many others.

    • 46 min
    The Arsenal of Democracy: How the Revolver and Repeating Rifle Democratized Gun Ownership and Armed the United States

    The Arsenal of Democracy: How the Revolver and Repeating Rifle Democratized Gun Ownership and Armed the United States

    The United States is the most heavily armed nation in the world, with an estimated 400 million guns in private hands. But few know that this legacy can be directly traced back to a handful of gunmakers who worked in the Springfield Armory of Massachusetts in the early 1800s. Their names became synonymous with American guns—Colt, Smith, Wesson, Winchester, and Remington among them – and they made firearms portable, powerful, rapid firing, and distinctly American. They also created the nation’s industrial base by making guns out of interchangeable parts, becoming early adopters of the assembly line process.
    Today’s guest is John Bainbridge, Jr., author of Gun Barons: The Weapons That Transformed America and the Men Who Invented Them. More than just keen inventors and wily businessmen, these iconic gun barons were among the founding fathers of American industry. Their visionary work in the development of rapid-fire weaponry helped propel the U.S. into the forefront of the world’s industrial powers in the mid-nineteenth century.

    • 58 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
3.1K Ratings

3.1K Ratings

λητhθηγ ,

Good

This podcast is pretty good but can you have more ww2 episodes? Other than that it’s amazing

Tallmanwalking ,

Keep up the great work!

Excellent podcast!!!
Scott is fantastic and asks insightful questions that get to the substance of a topic. Great guests. Among others, I loved the 1619 Project episode. So refreshing to get insights that are well researched, factual and substantive and not just flavor of the month history. Love this! Thank you!

Ccstx ,

Great history podcast

I’ve listened to several of these now. The host has people with many points of view on. On one he specifically mentioned that he did not necessarily agree with all of the guest’s views.
Today I’m listening to the interview with Jon Meacham. It’s a very good discussion. I have been introduced to many other interesting podcasts through this one.

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