515 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 Scott Rank, PhD

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.3 • 2.3K 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.

    How 9 Former Slaves Started a Proto University in Alabama in 1867

    How 9 Former Slaves Started a Proto University in Alabama in 1867

    Alabama State University is well known as a historically black university and for the involvement of its faculty and students in the civil rights movement. Less attention has been paid to the school's remarkable origins, having begun as the Lincoln Normal School in Marion, Alabama, founded by nine former slaves. These men are rightly considered the progenitors of Alabama State University, as they had the drive and perseverance to face the challenges posed by a racial and political culture bent on preventing the establishment of black schools and universities. It is thanks to the actions of the Marion Nine that Alabama's rural Black Belt produces a disproportionate number of African American Ph.D. recipients, a testament to the vision of the Lincoln Normal School's founders.

    Today's guest is Joseph Caver, author of the book "From Marion to Montgomery: The Early Years of Alabama State University, 1867-1925." He discusses the story of the Lincoln Normal School's transformation into the legendary Alabama State University, including the school's move to Montgomery in 1887 and evolution from Normal School to junior college to full-fledged four-year university. It's a story of visionary leadership, endless tenacity, and a true belief in the value of education.

    • 52 min
    The Pen or the Sword? How Lincoln and John Brown Disagreed on Achieving Emancipation

    The Pen or the Sword? How Lincoln and John Brown Disagreed on Achieving Emancipation

    John Brown was a charismatic and deeply religious man who heard the God of the Old Testament speaking to him, telling him to destroy slavery by any means. When Congress opened Kansas territory to slavery in 1854, Brown raised a band of followers to wage war. His men tore pro-slavery settlers from their homes and hacked them to death with broadswords. Three years later, Brown and his men assaulted the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, hoping to arm slaves with weapons for a race war that would cleanse the nation of slavery. He wasn't the only one using strong methods to free slaves, but many questioned his violent methods.

    Today's Guest, H.W. Brand, is author of the book "The Zealot and the Emancipator," an account of how two American giants shaped the war for freedom.

    Brown’s violence pointed ambitious Illinois lawyer and former officeholder Abraham Lincoln toward a different solution to slavery: politics. Lincoln spoke cautiously and dreamed big, plotting his path back to Washington and perhaps to the White House. Yet his caution could not protect him from the vortex of violence Brown had set in motion. After Brown’s arrest, his righteous dignity on the way to the gallows led many in the North to see him as a martyr to liberty. Southerners responded with anger and horror to a terrorist being made into a saint. Lincoln shrewdly threaded the needle between the opposing voices of the fractured nation and won election as president. But the time for moderation had passed, and Lincoln’s fervent belief that democracy could resolve its moral crises peacefully faced its ultimate test.

    • 1 hr 11 min
    How States Got Their Shapes

    How States Got Their Shapes

    Why do Midwestern and Rocky Mountain states share a boxy, sharp-edged shape while East Coast state borders look like the fever dream of an impressionist painter? Much of it has to do with when these states came into existence, and whether their borders were set by an 18th century land surveyor, a 19th century committee that wanted to balance the size of free states and slave states, or a 20th century government panel basing their decisions on aerial photography.

    • 29 min
    Great News! Frequent Guest James Early Has Launched His Own Podcast - Key Battles of American History.

    Great News! Frequent Guest James Early Has Launched His Own Podcast - Key Battles of American History.

    Frequent History Unplugged guest James Early (co-host of Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WW1, and Presidential Fight Club) now has his own podcast! It's called Key Battles of American History, and you can find it by going to keybattlesofamericanhistory.com. This episode has a short snipped of one of his most recent episodes on the great WW1 film "All Quiet on the Western Front." Check it out on the podcast player of your choice.

    • 22 min
    When to Let the Past Die: The Case of Obersalzberg and Denazification

    When to Let the Past Die: The Case of Obersalzberg and Denazification

    In this episode, we’ll look at Obersalzberg--a region that became a secret headquarters for the Nazi Party in WW2 that was later completely destroyed by the Allies and Germany to denazify it--and what it means to cleanse a region from its past. For example, Is it right to destroy monuments or should they be kept no matter what, even if they celebrate a regrettable history?

    • 27 min
    The Mountain Man Was Once Considered To Be The Purest Distillation of the American Spirit

    The Mountain Man Was Once Considered To Be The Purest Distillation of the American Spirit

    For a 100-year period, from the 1880s to 1980s, if you asked an American which profession was the purest expression of the nation's spirit, they wouldn't answer with soldier, baseball player, or astronaut. Rather, they would answer with "mountain man." That's because American history taught that the nation's identity developed from the friction between civilization and the frontier. And nobody did more to conquer the frontier then mountain men, a group of trappers who went out into th American wilderness after the Lewis and Clark expedition, but before it was settled by pioneers in the 1830s. In this episode we look at the background of these mountain men and why they play such an outsized role in American History.

    • 30 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
2.3K Ratings

2.3K Ratings

getgas ,

Very good subject matter, often times poor audio

I have enjoyed the subjects and the interesting portrayal of history presented by this show. I have listened on and off for a few years, always hoping that the clarity of words and sentences would improve. Some parts of some shows I find myself replaying the segment, sometimes several times, in order to understand what was said and it is not because I don’t understand midwest or western US English dialect. I listen to many shows across the internet and I find this show to be more difficult to understand than most. And I keep coming back to listen to the good history lessons until I get tired of the replaying.

Jake_Plymale ,

Scott Rank is the man

I thoroughly enjoy listening to this podcast. Scott and his guests do an amazing job at putting you in the story. After listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History I had a hard time finding historical podcasts until now.

rmjapan ,

Key Battles series

I like the content but not the presentation. James, especially, is irritating, repetitive, wandering, and sometimes contradictory and/or simply wrong. (He recently claimed that the British victory in the French and Indian war "completely wiped out the French presence in North America. Has he never heard of Quebec? There are others that slip my mind. VERY annoying!) He also spends 40 seconds aplogizing/explaining every time he attempts a French or German word. James, just shut up with that and stick to the story!

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