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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Sally Rand Was America's Sex Symbol, From the Roaring 20s to the Apollo Era
She would be arrested six times in one day for indecency. She would be immortalized in the final scene of The Right Stuff, cartoons, popular culture, and live on as the iconic symbol of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933. She would pave the way for every sex symbol to follow from Marilyn Monroe to Lady Gaga. She would die penniless and in debt. In the end, Sammy Davis Jr. would write her a $10,000 check when she had nothing left. Her name was Sally Rand. Until now, there has not been a biography of Sally Rand. Today's guest, William Hazelgrove, has set out to follow her life in his new book "Sally Rand: American Sex Symbol."
You can draw a line from her to Lana Turner, Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch, Ann Margret, Madonna, and Lady Gaga. She broke the mold in 1933, by proclaiming the female body as something beautiful and taking it out of the strip club with her ethereal fan dance. She was a poor girl from the Ozarks who ran away with a carnival, then joined the circus, and finally made it to Hollywood where Cecil B Demille set her on the road to fame with silent movies. When the talkies came her career collapsed, and she ended up in Chicago, broke, sleeping in alleys. Two ostrich feathers in a second-hand store rescued her from obscurity.
Overall, Sally Rand is a testament to endless resourcefulness, tenacity, and never giving up.
Customer ReviewsSee All
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.
all of them
I love this site. I could just listen to music but here I actually learn something. the 2 presenters are great together and are never boring. boring can be a problem with history. they bring in interesting side topics and are light hearted in their approach.
One thing I would like to have anwered is what happened to Teddy Roosevelt when a cowboy in a bar threated him? This podcast cut off with an ad before it finished and I am left with no answer.
I like this podcast because it’s in depth without being dry. Scott is qualified to teach especially on the Ottoman Empire. He has interesting guests and I always look forward to listening to this podcast.