887 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.

    Patton’s Tactician: Geoffrey Keys, “The Best Tactical Mind” of WWII

    Patton’s Tactician: Geoffrey Keys, “The Best Tactical Mind” of WWII

    Nineteen months after Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor and forced the United States to enter World War II, boats carrying the 7th US Army landed on the shores of southern Sicily. Dubbed Operation Husky, the campaign to establish an Allied foothold in Sicily was led by two of the most noted American tacticians of the twentieth century: George S. Patton Jr. and Geoffrey Keyes.

     While Patton is the subject of numerous books and films, Keyes's life and achievements have gone unrecognized, but his anonymity is by no means an accurate reflection of the value of his contributions and dedicated service in World War II and the succeeding cold war. 

    To look at this lacuna is today’s guest, James Holsinger, author of Patton's Tactician: The War Diary of Lieutenant General Geoffrey Keyes. His account begins in October 1942, prior to the invasion of French Morocco and Keyes's engagement in World War II and the Cold War. Holsinger has integrated a variety of related sources, including correspondence between Keyes, Patton, and Eisenhower. A day-to-day chronicle of Keyes's experiences in the World War II Mediterranean Theater and the early days of the Cold War in occupied Germany and Austria, Patton's Tactician is an invaluable primary source that offers readers a glimpse into the mind of one of America's most important World War II corps commanders.

    • 39 min
    The Seven Cleopatras Who Ruled Egypt

    The Seven Cleopatras Who Ruled Egypt

    Behind the legendary, singular figure of Cleopatra stood six other women who bore her name. The infamous Cleopatra we think we know was actually the seventh queen in a long line of powerful female rulers whose stories have been lost to history. The seven queens named Cleopatra, ruling from 192–30 BC, defied the stereotype of the nameless, faceless women of antiquity and instead challenged the norms of their time.

    Today’s guest, Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones unearths the lost stories of all seven monarchs in “The Cleopatras: The Forgotten Queens of Egypt.” Exploring a part of the Hellenistic World often neglected by historians, Llewellyn-Jones brings to life the complicated, tempestuous stories of the seven queens marrying the same man, sending armies into war, and plotting to overthrow their kings for sole rulership.

    While each Queen Cleopatra encountered a unique set of challenges and ruled with her own set of strengths, each generation influenced the next, culminating in a powerful dynastic line that ultimately transformed the imperial politics of their house into global politics.

    The Cleopatras shines a light on the six influential yet forgotten Queen Cleopatras and reveals how Cleopatra VII, whose real story disappears beneath the weight of all the stereotypes we pin on her, should be remembered as a consummate politician who learned from the generations of women before her.

    • 46 min
    Modern Black Ops Warfare Began with a British WW2 Operation to Steal Boats Off Africa’s Coast

    Modern Black Ops Warfare Began with a British WW2 Operation to Steal Boats Off Africa’s Coast

    When France fell to the Nazis in 1940, Churchill declared that Britain would resist the advance of the German army--alone if necessary. Churchill commanded the Special Operations Executive to secretly develop of a very special kind of military unit that would operate on their own initiative deep behind enemy lines. The units would be licensed to kill, fully deniable by the British government, and a ruthless force to meet the advancing Germans.

    The very first of these "butcher-and-bolt" units--the innocuously named Maid Honour Force--was led by Gus March-Phillipps, a wild British eccentric of high birth, and an aristocratic, handsome, and bloodthirsty young Danish warrior, Anders Lassen. Amped up on amphetamines, these assorted renegades and sociopaths undertook the very first of Churchill's special operations--a top-secret, high-stakes mission to seize Nazi shipping in the far-distant port of Fernando Po, in West Africa.

    Though few of these early desperadoes survived WWII, they took part in a series of fascinating, daring missions that changed the course of the war. It was the first stirrings of the modern special-ops team, and all of the men involved would be declared war heroes when it was all over.

    To discuss this unit, dubbed by Churchill “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” is today’s guest, Damien Lewis, author of the book by the same name.

    • 52 min
    The 7 Wonders of the Ancient World Were Colossal, Prone to Destruction, and Not All May Have Existed

    The 7 Wonders of the Ancient World Were Colossal, Prone to Destruction, and Not All May Have Existed

    For millennia, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World have been known for their aesthetic sublimity, ingenious engineering, and sheer, audacious magnitude: The Great Pyramids of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis, the Statue of Zeus, the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse at Alexandria. Echoing down time, each of these persists in our imagination as an emblem of the glory of antiquity, but beneath the familiar images is a surprising, revelatory history.

    Guiding us through it is today’s guest, Bettany Hughes, author of “The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.” She has traveled to each of the sites to uncover the latest archaeological discoveries and bring these monuments and the distinct cultures that built them back to life.

    • 46 min
    Being the Ultimate Constitutional Originalist in 2024 Means Donning a Tricorn Hat and Applying to Practice Piracy

    Being the Ultimate Constitutional Originalist in 2024 Means Donning a Tricorn Hat and Applying to Practice Piracy

    Many decisions impacting the lives of Americans today adhere to a set of rules established over 200 years ago. The Constitution is in the news more than ever as politicians and Supreme Court justices battle over how literally it should be taken.  Did the framers intend for Americans to follow their instructions as written for eternity?  Or did they want to offer a set of guidelines that would evolve as time marched on?  These are the questions today’s guest, A.J. Jacobs, author of the Year of Living Constitutionally, set out to answer.

    For one year, he committed to living as the original originalist, expressing his constitutional rights using the tools, lifestyle and mindset of when they were written in 1787. He bore muskets. He wrote pamphlets with a goose quill by candlelight. He quartered soldiers. He tried to pay for goods and services with gold. He applied for a letter of marque from Congress, which would make him a legal pirate (a practice that the U.S. government sanctioned during the Revolutionary War). He gave his friends the same gift that George Washington did: a lock of his own hair. This year-long project was Jacobs’ humble attempt to figure out how to interpret the Constitution and whether we can improve the American experiment.

    • 46 min
    The Last Time Humanity Believed in Unstoppable Progress: Paris in the Belle Époque (1871-1914)

    The Last Time Humanity Believed in Unstoppable Progress: Paris in the Belle Époque (1871-1914)

    Many of the specific features we associate with Paris today – impressive sites like the Eiffel Tower and Sacré Coeur, French cinemas, and even the distinguished Art Nouveau Metro entrances – were born out the period of the Belle Époque. This era, which lasted from the later 19th century up to the beginning of World War I, is oft characterized as one of pleasure, wealth, and beauty.

    But it was also an era riven by political unrest, plagued by many of the issues the contemporary world contends with today, with the rise of radical political factions that resorted to extreme protests and violence to achieve their This can be seen in the construction of the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur, symbol of reactionary French Catholicism, and the Eiffel Tower, centerpiece for the Universal Exposition of 1889—both of which were the result of significant technological progress. That progress also brought electricity (Paris became “the city of light”) as well as industrial displacement, already underway with the other construction projects of Baron Georges Haussmann.

    To explore these themes is today’s guest, Mike Rappaport, author of “City of Light, City of Shadows, Paris in the Belle Époque.”  We explore social pressure from both right and left to address the deepening sense of social injustice and inequalities in the form of violent anarchism and syndicalism.

    • 46 min

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5
3.6K Ratings

3.6K Ratings

Wardo Ky.Boy ,

15 hr workweek

I do like the podcast a lot. From time to time it goes a little left for me in revisionist history, CSA for example.

Well, nice educated Englishman seems to make some good well-rounded points but seriously an ancient 15 hr. work week is ridiculous. Has he ever been camping / survival trek like the Indias did for Brave initiation, alone with limited supplies or no food. It’s sunup to sundown work.

Utopian & socialist academic stuff.

However, great point on effective tasks being focused, done quickly in one fell swoop. Yes indeed. Agree, being in an office tower at a desk for 9 hrs. is not healthy for us.

Sunset_watcher ,

Slow down please

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

Scot2944 ,

Originalist

What is going on with this podcast? This is the second podcast in short order that is steered off the rails. This is not history. This is pure speculation come on guys get back to what you knew. Best give us history.

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