48 episodes

Historian and broadcaster Professor Adam Smith explores the America of today through the lens of the past. Is America - as Abraham Lincoln once claimed - the last best hope of Earth?
Produced by Oxford University’s world-leading Rothermere American Institute, each story-filled episode looks at the US from the outside in – delving into the political events, conflicts, speeches and songs that have shaped and embodied the soul of a nation.
From the bloody battlefields of Gettysburg to fake news and gun control, Professor Smith takes you back in time (and sometimes on location) to uncover fresh insights and commentary from award-winning academics and prominent public figures.
Join us as we ask: what does the US stand for – and what does this mean for us all? 

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

The Last Best Hope‪?‬ Adam Smith

    • History
    • 4.5 • 23 Ratings

Historian and broadcaster Professor Adam Smith explores the America of today through the lens of the past. Is America - as Abraham Lincoln once claimed - the last best hope of Earth?
Produced by Oxford University’s world-leading Rothermere American Institute, each story-filled episode looks at the US from the outside in – delving into the political events, conflicts, speeches and songs that have shaped and embodied the soul of a nation.
From the bloody battlefields of Gettysburg to fake news and gun control, Professor Smith takes you back in time (and sometimes on location) to uncover fresh insights and commentary from award-winning academics and prominent public figures.
Join us as we ask: what does the US stand for – and what does this mean for us all? 

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    A City on a Hill: The exceptional history of a powerful metaphor

    A City on a Hill: The exceptional history of a powerful metaphor

    It is one of America’s most powerful founding myths – the pilgrims on an errand into the wilderness to create a new model society– “we shall be like a city upon the hill,” Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor Winthrop was supposed to have said in 1630, “the eyes of the world upon us”. Separated, yet visible – just like the ark, the responsibilities of such a community were awesome, the prospect of failure terrifying. What does the enduring power of this phrase tell us about American political culture? Adam is joined by Sam Haselby, a historian of religion and American nationalism, and senior editor at Aeon, and David Frum, Atlantic columnist, senior editor at Atlantic, and former speechwriter for George W. Bush. 
    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 45 min
    America's role in Ukraine: a return to the last, best hope?

    America's role in Ukraine: a return to the last, best hope?

    What does the United States' support for Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion tell us about the state of America today? Former President Trump, who has a long track record of admiring Vladimir Putin, boasts he could end the war in a day, presumably not in a manner that would satisfy the Ukrainians. President Biden, and many Republican leaders, think that if America doesn't stand firm in opposition to militarised autocracy, then who will? Is this the latest manifestation of an old tension between a vision of America as engaged in the World, as “the last Best Hope” – or as a citadel apart from the world, the debate that roiled the US after the First World War? A debate about whether American freedom is best preserved by being isolated or involved? Adam talks to Phillips O’Brien, Professor of Strategic Studies at the University of St Andrews, one of the most influential analysts of the Russian invasion, and Julie Norman, Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for US Politics at UCL.
    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 43 min
    Was there a Culture War in nineteenth century America?

    Was there a Culture War in nineteenth century America?

    The country is deeply polarised. Each party believes the other not just to be wrong on public policy questions but a profound threat to the nation. At stake are the most fundamental of questions about the values that underpin society. The US today? But also the US in the 1850s. Culture Wars are nothing new. In this episode Adam talks to two historians who have broken the mould of how to think about the Civil War era by recognising how cultural issues like gender could shape every other political issue: Lauren Haumesser, author of The Democratic Collapse: How Gender Politics Broke a Party and a Nation, 1856-1861, and Mark Power Smith, a Research Fellow at the RAI, and the author of Young America: The Transformation of Nationalism before the Civil War. So, how do culture wars start, why are they fought... and how do they end?
    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 47 min
    Are there lessons for Biden from the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson?

    Are there lessons for Biden from the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson?

    In 1968, an elderly Democrat President, with major legislative achievements behind him, who had served as Vice President to younger, more charismatic man, decided he could not win a second election. What lessons are there for Joe Biden from the troubled, truncated presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson? Adam talks to Kevin Kruse, the eminent Princeton historian, author of many books on postwar US political history, including most recently Myth America and Mark Lawrence, the Director of the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas, and author of The End of Ambition: The US and the Third World. Together they discuss how LBJ's legacy should be assessed today, and why he decided -- unlike President Biden -- not to seek a second full term.
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    • 51 min
    The House Divided Episode

    The House Divided Episode

    The speech that triggered the Civil War? In a speech in the State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois, in 1858, Abraham Lincoln warned that a "house divided against itself cannot stand" and that the nation, like a house divided, could not remain "half slave and half free" but would have to become all one thing or all the other. The crisis had arrived; the choice was between complete freedom and complete slavery. Why did Lincoln say this, and what were the consequences? Adam travels to Springfield to find out. Featuring Professor Graham Peck, Distinguished Professor of Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois, Springfield, and Christian McWhirter, Lincoln Historian at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 47 min
    The Second Amendment Episode

    The Second Amendment Episode

    Why is gun control so hard to accomplish in American politics, despite the number of mass shootings now averaging one a week? Adam talks to Saul Cornell, the leading historian of the Second Amendment, about how the Constitution shapes the politics and culture of guns in the United States.
    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 40 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
23 Ratings

23 Ratings

Coleman Carnes ,

Please continue….

.

TheMatrix ,

Good take

On the Getty battle

clairebounds ,

Excellent history!

Wonderful view of American history from an academic and outsider point of view. It’s very helpful to see how American history is viewed from this perspective. Some things seem obvious from within the system look very odd from outside it.

Brilliant and insightful guests and a thoughtful, knowledgeable, and highly articulate host. Truly wonderful stuff.

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