877 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
    • 4.2 • 3.6K 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.

    Why America Could Have a Presidential Succession Crisis

    Why America Could Have a Presidential Succession Crisis

    America has an unmatched record when it comes to the peaceful transfer of power. According to legal scholar Roy E. Brownell II, however, our country is not that far off from a presidential succession crisis.

    In this preview of an episode of "This American President," hosted by Richard Lim, Brownell covers the history of presidential succession and the flaws in the current system.

    • 20 min
    Dunkirk from the German Perspective

    Dunkirk from the German Perspective

    The British evacuation from the beaches of the small French port town of Dunkirk is one of the iconic moments of military history. The battle has captured the popular imagination through LIFE magazine photo spreads, the fiction of Ian McEwan and, of course, Christopher Nolan's hugely successful Hollywood blockbuster. But what is the German view of this stunning Allied escape? We are exploring that with today’s guest, Robert Kershaw, author of Dünkirchen 1940: The German View of Dunkirk. We look at what went wrong for the Germans at Dunkirk.

    As supreme military commander, Hitler had seemingly achieved a miracle after the swift capitulation of Holland and Belgium, but with just seven kilometers before the panzers captured Dunkirk – the only port through which the trapped British Expeditionary force might escape – they came to a shuddering stop. Only a detailed interpretation of the German perspective – historically lacking to date – can provide answers as to why.

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    • 39 min
    The Global Manhunt For The Confederate Ship That Sunk Union Supply Vessels, From the Caribbean to the South Pacific

    The Global Manhunt For The Confederate Ship That Sunk Union Supply Vessels, From the Caribbean to the South Pacific

    Naval warfare is an overlooked factor of the Civil War, but it was a vitally important part of overall strategy for North and South, especially from the perspective of the Union, which used naval blockages from the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River to deny critical resources to the Confederacy, forcing them the ultimately surrender.

    But the naval war was about much more than blockages. One Confederate ship managed to harass Union supply lines around the globe and sink dozens of merchant vessels. Its fate was sealed on June 19, 1864, after a fourteen-month chase that culminated in one of the most dramatic naval battles in history.

    The dreaded Confederate raider Alabama faced the Union warship Kearsarge in an all-or-nothing fight to the death, and the outcome would effectively end the threat of the Confederacy on the high seas. To talk about this story is historian Tom Clavin, author of the new book To the Uttermost Ends of the Earth: The Epic Hunt for the South's Most Feared Ship―and the Greatest Sea Battle of the Civil War.

    We look at historically overlooked Civil War players, including John Winslow, captain of the USS Kearsarge, as well as Raphael Semmes, captain of the CSS Alabama. Readers will sail aboard the Kearsarge as Winslow embarks for Europe with a set of simple orders from the secretary of the navy: "Travel to the uttermost ends of the earth, if necessary, to find and destroy the Alabama." Winslow pursued Semmes in a spectacular fourteen-month chase over international waters, culminating in what would become the climactic sea battle of the Civil War.


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    • 39 min
    Which Statues Should We Take Down? How To Fairly Judge Historical Figures by Today’s Standards

    Which Statues Should We Take Down? How To Fairly Judge Historical Figures by Today’s Standards

    In the United States, questions of how we celebrate – or condemn – leaders in the past have never been more contentious. In 2017, a statue of Robert E. Lee was removed – leading to a race riot and terrorist attack. But in 2020, statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, and even Ulysses S. Grant were defaced or toppled. All of this comes to the question of how we judge the past. When are the morals and ethics of people born centuries earlier excusable for the conditions of their birth, and when are they universally condemnable? What separates a Thomas Jefferson from an Emperor Nero?
    To discuss this incredibly challenging topic is someone perhaps nobody better qualified: Dr. Victor Davis Hanson. He is an emeritus classics professor and author of books on the Peloponnesian War or assessing the ancient world’s best military leader. He was also awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and was a presidential appointee in 2007–2008 on the American Battle Monuments Commission.

    We discuss the following:

    •Times when American’s feared the removal of Jefferson or Theodore Roosevelt statues in 2021 (or their toppling in riots). But we have also celebrated statue removal, such as the removal of Saddam Hussein’s statues after the fall of his regime in 2003 or the removal of Marx/Lenin Statues in Eastern Europe in 1991. What is the difference?
    •The criteria for a community to remove a statue in a healthy way
    •How we judge those of the past and determine that some character flaws are due to their times of birth, while other character flaws are universally condemnable – Essentially, what makes a slave-owning Jefferson a product of his time while, say, a Nero, is universally understood as cruel
    •The dangers of canceling anyone who doesn’t meet our 21st century standards; conversely, the dangers of slavish worship of them
    •Who deserves more statues today

    • 39 min
    The 160-Minute Race to Save the Titanic

    The 160-Minute Race to Save the Titanic

    One hundred and sixty minutes. That is all the time rescuers would have before the largest ship in the world slipped beneath the icy Atlantic. There was amazing heroism and astounding incompetence against the backdrop of the most advanced ship in history sinking by inches with luminaries from all over the world. It is a story of a network of wireless operators on land and sea who desperately sent messages back and forth across the dark frozen North Atlantic to mount a rescue mission. More than twenty-eight ships would be involved in the rescue of Titanic survivors along with four different countries.

    At the heart of the rescue are two young Marconi operators, Jack Phillips 25 and Harold Bride 22, tapping furiously and sending electromagnetic waves into the black night as the room they sat in slanted toward the icy depths and not stopping until the bone numbing water was around their ankles. Then they plunged into the water after coordinating the largest rescue operation the maritime world had ever seen and thereby saving 710 people by their efforts.

    The race to save the largest ship in the world from certain death would reveal both heroes and villains. It would begin at 11:40 PM on April 14, when the iceberg was struck and would end at 2:20 AM April 15, when her lights blinked out and left 1500 people thrashing in 25-degree water. Although the race to save Titanic survivors would stretch on beyond this, most people in the water would die, but the amazing thing is that of the 2229 people, 710 did not and this was the success of the Titanic rescue effort.

    We see the Titanic as a great tragedy but a third of the people were rescued and the only reason every man, woman, and child did not succumb to the cold depths is due to Jack Phillips and Harold McBride in an insulated telegraph room known as the Silent Room. These two men tapping out CQD and SOS distress codes while the ship took on water at the rate of 400 tons per minute from a three-hundred-foot gash would inaugurate the most extensive rescue operation in maritime history using the cutting-edge technology of the time, wireless.

    To talk about this race against time is frequent guest Bill Hazelgrove, author of the new book One Hundred and Sixty Minutes: The Race to Save the RMS Titanic.

    • 49 min
    Vikings Went Everywhere in the Middle Ages, From Baghdad to Constantinople to….. Oklahoma?

    Vikings Went Everywhere in the Middle Ages, From Baghdad to Constantinople to….. Oklahoma?

    Scandinavia has always been a world apart. For millennia Norwegians, Danes, Finns, and Swedes lived a remote and rugged existence among the fjords and peaks of the land of the midnight sun. But when they finally left their homeland in search of opportunity, these wanderers—including the most famous, the Vikings—would reshape Europe and beyond. Their ingenuity, daring, resiliency, and loyalty to family and community would propel them to the gates of Rome, the steppes of Russia, the courts of Constantinople, and the castles of England and Ireland. But nowhere would they leave a deeper mark than across the Atlantic, where the Vikings’ legacy would become the American Dream.

    Today’s guest Arthur Herman, author of The Viking Heart, discusses this historical narrative but matches it with cutting-edge archaeological discoveries and DNA research to trace the epic story of this remarkable and diverse people (despite myths of racial purity misappropriated by groups like Nazi ethnographers). He shows how the Scandinavian experience has universal meaning, and how we can still be inspired by their indomitable spirit and the strength of their community bonds, much needed in our deeply polarized society today.

    • 42 min

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5
3.6K Ratings

3.6K Ratings

Sunset_watcher ,

Slow down please

I enjoy listening but agree with other reviews that you speak too fast!

Rudy7200 ,

Excellent

I got hooked on this a few weeks ago with the series that they did on the Revolutionary War. It’s an excellent podcast that gives nuanced perspectives that are needed when reporting and analyzing history.

elvanp ,

Worst Music

Worst background music on the entire internet.
Plus the background music is playing behind the host’s introduction, obscuring everything he is saying. Sounds like a Yankees game instead of a podcast

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