Where history and epic collide--"History on Fire" is a podcast by author and university professor Daniele Bolelli. For more, go to LuminaryPodcasts.com
EPISODE 67 Ripples of History
“If I knew the way, I would take you home.” From the song Ripple by the Grateful Dead
“The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” Bertrand Russell
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Michael Jordan
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Tao Te Ching
In most fields, we are taught that people in your same profession are your competitors, and you need to do whatever you can to prevent them from rising above you. In podcasting I found the opposite attitude—people helping each other out and doing whatever possible to facilitate things for other podcasters in the same field. In this spirit, today we’ll do something unique: six history podcasters cooperating, with each one tackling a segment, to create a super-episode together. As the host, yours truly will get the ball rolling setting the theme and offering some examples of ‘historical ripples’—events that end up having unforeseen consequences years, or decades, or centuries after they take place. Alexander Rader Von Sternberg (History Impossible) will chat about how a man who died feeling like he had failed to make his mark in history ended up—possibly more than any other—shaping the culture of several Asian civilizations. CJ Killmer (Dangerous History) will tackle the Bacon’s Rebellion and its ramifications. Sebastian Major (Our Fake History) will play with the myth and lasting impact of Homer’s telling of the Trojan War. Sam Davis (Inward Empire) will be discussing the impact of Henry David Thoreau’s essay Civil Disobedience on the Civil Rights Movement about a century later. And Darryl Cooper (Martyrmade) will make a case for the Japanese origin for suicide bombings in the Middle East.
EPISODE 53 The Punk Rocker of Ancient Greece
“A Socrates gone mad.” Plato referring to Diogenes
“Had I not been Alexander, I would have liked to have been Diogenes.” Alexander the Great
"If I wasn't Diogenes, I would be wishing to be Diogenes too." Diogenes
“There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers… To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically.” Henry David Thoreau
“I am a citizen of the world.” Diogenes
“Free from what? As if that mattered. . . . But your eyes should tell me brightly: free for what?” Friedrich Nietzsche
“He maintained, moreover, that nothing in life has any chance of succeeding without strenuous practice, which is capable of overcoming any obstacles.” Diogenes Laertius
2,400 years ago, long before punk rock was created, there was a man in ancient Greece who embodied the spirit of punk as much as anyone ever did. He was known as Diogenes The Dog. And Sid Vicious had nothing on him.
Between the end of the Peloponnesian War, the bloody reign of the Thirty Tyrants, Socrates’ death… the times he lived in were wild ones, but Diogenes was considerably wilder than his historical context. As a master of frugality, he lived on the streets as a homeless philosopher inviting people to stop being slaves of their possessions. In this episode, we’ll see him clashing with the father of Western philosophy, getting busted for manipulating the currency, being the recipient of the good graces of celebrity sex workers, planting the seeds at the roots of Stoicism, defying Alexander the Great, getting kidnapped by pirates, rejecting nationalism, and pushing forward ideas that were as outlandish in Ancient Greece as they are today. The Amazons, the Oracle at Delphi, Game of Thrones, The Clash, The Temptations, The Princess Bride, and Nicki Minaj also make an appearance in this episode. And before we wrap things up, we’ll consider the limitations of punk as a worldview.
BONUS: Dan Carlin’s “The End Is Always Near”
“That is the nicest guilt trip anybody has ever given me in my entire life.” Dan Carlin
Dan Carlin is one of my all time favorite human beings, and on top of that an incredible podcaster. He’s now a published author as well. In this episode we chat about his new book, The End is Always Near. The conversation covers more than should theoretically be possible to cover in little over an hour—from Dan’s understanding for Thanos’ plight to the collapse of civilizations, the concept of Gross National Happiness, the delusion of infinite growth in a finite system, Jared Diamond, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, meteors, nuclear weapons, James Burke, the need for nuance, the future of Common Sense, what to do when people can’t agree on basic evidence, social media, incredibly fast historical changes, and the nicest guilt trip in Dan’s life.
EPISODE 52 The Lady and Her Gun
“It's just incredible that this little hand has killed Nazis, has scythed them down by the hundreds, without missing…” Charlie Chaplin
“Miss Pavlichenko's well known to fame,
Russia's your country, fighting is your game,
Your smile shines as bright as any new morning sun,
But more than three hundred Nazi dogs fell by your gun.” Woody Guthrie
“Charging together, we would dash into battle and forget about everything else in the world.” Lyudmila Pavlichenko
“Gentlemen, I am 25 years old and I have already managed to kill 309 of the fascist invaders. Do you not think, gentlemen, that you have now been hiding behind my back for rather too long?” Lyudmila Pavlichenko
During WW II, women in the Soviet Union had many reasons to fear German soldiers. But in some cases it was the German soldiers’ turn to be the targets of Soviet ladies. Among the many women who would fight tooth and nail and send quite a few Axis soldiers to a premature death, one stood out among the rest. Germans would know her by name, and would grow to fear her. And they had good reasons to fear her since it was by killing 309 of them that she would become the most deadly female sniper in history. Legends about her would grow both among her own comrades and among the terrified Nazi soldiers who heard rumors about this vengeful female demon who seemed to have made it her personal mission to make them pay for any outrage committed by anyone wearing their same uniform had ever. Some told stories about how a witch in some village near Odessa had cast a spell deflecting enemy bullets away from her. Others swore that she was followed by the lord of the forest himself—a wood sprite with a huge tree-like body who protected her, made her invisible and gave her the supernatural ability to move through the forest without making a sound, to know what was happening a mile away, and to see in complete darkness as well as normal people see in daylight. She was Lyudmila Pavlichenko aka Lady Death.
Among other things, in this episode: Operation Barbarossa, caught between vicious dictators, Stalin (even better than Nazis at killing his own people), Nazi guns in front of you and Soviet guns pointed at your back, a song by Woody Guthrie, Charlie Chaplin kissing her hand, Lyudmila disappoints Yoda, bringing Belgian chocolates as a gift for your girlfriend (after looting them from a corpse), love found & love lost, bloody revenge, hanging out with the American First Lady.
A Special Announcement from History on Fire
EPISODE 47 Give Me Back My Legions! (Part 1)
“Bits of weapons and horses' limbs lay about, and human heads fixed to tree-trunks. In groves nearby were barbaric altars, where the Germans had laid the tribunes and senior centurions and sacrificed them.” Tacitus
“It stands on record that armies already wavering and on the point of collapse have been rallied by the women, pleading heroically with their men, thrusting forward their bared breasts…” Tacitus
“They are not so easily convinced to plough the land and wait patiently for harvest as to challenge an enemy and run the risk to be wounded. They think it is weak and spiritless to earn by sweat what they might purchase with blood.” Tacitus
A little over 2,000 years ago, Rome was a well-oiled war machine crushing everything in its path. At that time, the Roman legions were the most deadly military force in the Western world, and possibly in the whole world. Every year, they conquered new peoples and pushed the boundaries of their empire. Rape and pillage was the name of the game, and they were masters at it. But in the year 9 CE, something happened in the forests of Germany that was going to have a profound impact on the destiny of the world. Some historians go so far as to suggest that both the German and English languages may not exist as we know them, had things gone differently. News arriving from Germany, along with a severed head delivered by courier, threw Emperor Augustus in a deep depression.
In this first of two parts about the clash between Rome’s power with Germanic tribesmen, we’ll look at what we know about Germanic tribal cultures from those days, walk among the grisly remnants of a battlefield with Roman general Germanicus, and consider how Tacitus’ work was fuel to the fire of Nazi ideology 2,000 years later. Also, in this episode: Europe’s pre-Christian religions, naked tribesmen snowboarding on their shields, the dramatic encounter between Gaius Marius with Cimbri & Teutones, Gaius Julius Caesar making a larger-than-life entrance into Germany, Drusus’ campaign beyond the Rhine, racing on horseback for 200 miles to see one’s brother, slavery with golden chains, and much more as we set the stage for part 2, when the big showdown will take place.