Aural History Productions
Radio Archive ~ Recent Programs
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April 15, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Real to Reel ~ The 2014 Oscars Show" (2014).
Repeating last year's visit to the Oscars, Backstory returns again to a discussion of History in Holiwood, looking over this past year's Oscar nominees: "In this episode, BackStory explores how Hollywood takes on history, and the stories they choose to tell. Along with their guests, Ed, Peter, and Brian consider the political context of the original Solomon Northup slave narrative, and examine how certain kinds of narratives – like those dealing with captivity – show up again and again in American storytelling. And with several of this year’s movies looking to recent decades, they ask how factual accuracy weighs up against dramatic imperatives, and whether movies can tell larger truths about history.
Daniel Blake Smith, screenwriter and former University of Kentucky History professor, on adapting history for the silver screen;
Kristina Bross, Purdue University, on captivity narratives in American story-telling – from the colonial settlers held captive by Native Americans, to the modern-day story of Captain Phillips; Mary Mitchell, University of New Orleans, on the use of slave narratives like Solomon Northup’s 12 Years a Slave to aid the Abolitionist cause, and the various audiences at whom they were aimed; Mark King, AIDS activist, on the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and its representation in the movie Dallas Buyers Club; James Surowiecki, The New Yorker, history of America’s obsession with swindlers, like The Wolf of Wall Street’s Jordan Belfort.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" (LibriVox reading of original 1861 text).
Here is a LibriiVox reading of an edited selection from Harriet Jacobs' autobiography, originally written under the pseudonym Linda Brent and partially serialized in the New York Tribune. It was one of a half-dozen or so slave narratives written by former female slaves. Jacobs recounts her experiences as a slave in North Carolina and especially documents the sexual exploitation that plagued many enslaved black women. Though the Tribune found Jacobs' account of sexual violence and rape too explicit to run the full text, her narrative was indeed fully published in 1861 in book form. See https://librivox.org/incidents-in-the-life-of-a-slave-girl-by-harriet-jacobs/ for the full audio. The etxt version is available at: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11030.
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April 8, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Fair Wages ~ A History of Getting Paid" (2014).
From Backstory and the American History Guys, this week we focus on wages: "This episode of BackStory explores the history of American thinking about wage work. Along with their guests, Ed, Brian, and Peter discuss how slaves in the antebellum period could sometimes be brought into the wage economy, and how convict labor played havoc with wages in the wake of the Civil War. They discover why early 20th century feminists cheered the demise of state minimum wage legislation in the 1920s, and find out how the federal minimum wage came to be, a decade later.
Gregg Kimball, Library of Virginia, on the phenomenon of “hiring out” enslaved persons prior to the Civil War, and how this introduced some slaves to the world of wages;
Karin Shapiro, Duke University, on the convict leasing arrangements of the 1890s that led to labor disputes with free workers, and even sparked a violent conflict in Tennessee;
Dorothy Sue Cobble, Rutgers University, on the 1920s Supreme Court case that won greater equality for working women, but lost them the minimum wage; Risa Goluboff, University of Virginia, on the legal background to the federal minimum wage, established by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938." Go to http://backstoryradio.org/?p=12536 for more details on this segment and to access a transcript of the program.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "H. G. Wells' A Modern Utopia" 1905 (reading/selection).
Utopian and Science Fiction writers have often grappled with notions of fair wages and income equality. Here we bring you a selection from a LibriVox reading of Science Fiction writer H. G. Wells' ideas about reconstitutioning the wage system: "H. G. Wells' proposal for social reform was the formation of a world state, a concept that would increasingly preoccupy him throughout the remainder of his life. One of his most ambitious early attempts at portraying a world state was A Modern Utopia (1905). A Modern Utopia was intended as a hybrid between fiction and 'philosophical discussion'. Like most utopists, he has indicated a series of modifications which in his opinion would increase the aggregate of human happiness. Basically, Wells' idea of a perfect world would be if everyone were able to live a happy life. This book is written with an intimate knowledge of former ideal commonwealths and is a conscious attempt to describe a utopia that is not utopian." (Summary from Wikipedia).
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April 1, 2014
Segment 1 | "Against the Grain: French Intellectuals and Maoism" (2011; 2014).
From Against the Grain we bring you this segment focusing on French intellectuals and Maoism: "Womens' liberation, immigrants' and prisoners' rights, gay liberation and queer studies -- they're part of the enduring legacy of the 1960s and '70s. And as Richard Wolin argues, they're partially the inheritance of Maoism in France. Wolin explores the rise of Maoism in that country following the upheavals of 1968 and its impact on the thinking of intellectuals like Sartre and Foucault." Richard Wolin is the author of The Wind From the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution, and the Legacy of the 1960s (Princeton U. Press, 2010).
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Dick Cavett interview of Jean-Luc Godard" (selection, 1980).
Soon after the release of his film, "Every Man For Himself," in 1980, French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard appeared on the Dick Cavett show, broadcast on WNET in New York City. We bring you the first part of the two- part interview that Cavett conducted on two consecutive shows. For the full video version of the interview, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjiK5FfbCtE and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBFRZ-PLL-s. For a short biography of Godard, see: http://www.nytimes.com/movies/person/91804/Jean-Luc-Godard/biography.
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March 25, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: On the Money ~ A History of American Currency" (2014).
From Backstory with the American History Guys: "This episode of Backstory unpacks America's relationship with money, exploring the transformations of currency over the centuries. The Guys and their guests discuss the profusion of currencies in the past, considering how Americans decided which ones to trust -- and which were only flashes-in-the-pan. From Continental Dollars at the Founding, to Greenbacks and 'Greybacks' during the Civil War; from the gold and silver crises of the Gilded Age, to the new Federal Reserve notes of the 20th century -- this episode considers the many ways money has shaped, and been shaped by, America's politics, economy, and society.
Guests include: Stephen Mihm, University of Georgia, on why Bitcoin is going against the lessons of history -- which established the dominance of government-backed currency; Benjamin Irvin, University of Arizona, on the design of Continental currency, and how it sought to inspire confidence in the new United States; Ben Tarnoff, author, on counterfeiting the 'Greyback' during the Civil War, and the ways this undermined the Confederate war effort;
and Michael O'Malley, George Mason University, on the connections critics of Reconstruction drew between fiat currency on the one hand, and emancipation on the other.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "William Jennings Bryan 1896 Campiagn Song: No Crown of Thorns, No Cross of Gold" (Song by H. D. Pittman, 1896; sung by Peter Janovsky, 1980 Folkways recording).
William Jennings Bryan ran for President of the U.S. three times under the banner of the Democratic party -- in 1896, 1900, and 1908 (and lost all three times). During the first of his campaigns he delivered one of the more powerful speeches in U.S political history -- his famous "Cross of Gold" speech -- delivered at the National Democratic Convention in Chicagonin 1896. "No crown of thorns, no cross of Gold" soon became one of the central rallying cries of the Bryan campaign during that election. It also became the basis of this H. D. Pittman campaiign song, an excerpt of which we offer you here (a modern rendition, at least). Though Bryan lost his bids for President, he nonetheless had a distinguised political and legal career, as a Representative from Nebraska, as Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson from 1913-15, and as a lawyer (most famous for his role in the 1925 Scopes "monkey Trial"). This excerpt of "No Crown of Thorms, No Cross of Gold" comes from the Smithsonian Folkways collection of campaign songs, Winners & Losers: Campaign Songs from the Critical Elections in American History, Volume 2-1896-1996, sung by Peter Janovsky. For the excellent liner notes that came with the album, see: http://media.smithsonianfolkways.org/liner_notes/folkways/FW37261.pdf. The full version of "No Cross of Gold, No Crown of Thorns" and other classic campaing songs are available from Smithsonian Folkways. See: http://www.folkways.si.edu/TrackDetails.aspx?itemid=34531.
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March 18, 2014
Segment 1 | "Hindsight: Bukhara and the Silk Road" (2014).
From ABC's Hindsight, we bring you this look back at the silk road region of Central Asia. It "has a history that stretches back for millenia. This part of the Moslem world had played a vital part in Islam's Golden Age, that period that saw a great flowering in science, mathematics, medicine, and the arts. The city of Bukhara, in modern day Uzbekistan, had been a major centre of learning, culture, and spiritual endeavour.
For much of the 20th century Central Asia was part of the Soviet Union. In 1991, after the break-up of the USSR, the former Central Asian Soviet republics - the 'stans' - opened up to the world for the first time in generations.
The region that's now made up of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan was once know to the West as Turkestan.
In the 19th and 20th centuries only a few westerners made the long journey there. In Journeys into Bukhara we hear the voice of of three of these rare travellers, each very different to the other, and travelling in very different times. But all three visited and wrote about the ancient city of Bukhara." Guests on the program include:
Dr Kirill Nourzhanov,
Centre for Arabic and Islamic Studies, Australian National University;
Dr Marrianne Kamp,
Dept of History, University of Wyoming, USA;
Professor David Chioni Moore,
Depts of International Studies & English, Macalaster University, Minnesota, USA.
For more information on this segment, see: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/journeys-to-bukhara/5222916.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Benjamin Franklin and the Abolition of Slavery" (1790).
Here's a reading from LibriVox of an important letter Bejamin Franklin wrote. Back in February 12, 1790, the U.S. House of Representatives received a petition from Benjamin Franklin and the Pennsylvania Abolition Society requesting that the federal government move forward toward the gradual abolition of slavery and an early termination of the slave trade (before the year specificed by the Constitution -- 1807 -- as the earliest for introducing legislation to prohibit the latter). The petition led to an intense debate in the House, covered by various newspapers. During this debae, a congressman from Georgia, James Jackson, offered one of the most impassioned defenses of slavery in the South; he argued that slavery was not only sanctioned by the Bible, but that whites and blacks could never live together in equality and that the labor of slaves was asbsolutely necessary to sustain the Southern plantation economy. Benjamin Franklin addressed Jackson's arguments in parody. He submitted a letter, under the pseudonym Historicus, to the Federal Gazette (it appeared in the March 23, 1790 edition). In it he suggested an ironic parallel between Jackson's defense of slavery and the justifications of an Algerian pirate named Sidi Mehmet Ibrahim for the enslavement of Christians.
Franklin died the month after his letter was published. See the following for more d on the 1790 slavery debate and this incident: http://www.everydaycitizen.com/2010/06/benjamin_franklin_and_his_figh.html
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March 11, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Sweet Talk ~ A History of Sugar" (2014).
In this episode, BackStory explores how sugar has shaped, and sometimes sweetened, American history. The Sugar Act of 1764 helped feed colonial resentment of Great Britain, paving the way for protests and, ultimately, the American Revolution. But for much of our history, sugar was intimately linked to a lack of freedom for many Americans. Quakers in the 1790s boycotted slave-produced sugar in a stand against the “peculiar institution,” and free blacks took up the cause in the 1830s. But even after the Civil War, the production of sugar was tied to work arrangements that seemed far from voluntary. So where does sugar fit into labor history in the US? How has this tasty cash crop affected our environment and our economy? And how far have we been willing to go to satisfy our craving?
◦ Peter Andreas, Brown University, on how sugar – and smuggling – shaped early America, and helped fuel the Revolution.
◦ Alan Taylor, University of Virginia, on the 18th Century search for a sweetener untainted by slavery.
◦ Moon-Ho Jung, University of Washington, on the Chinese labor that flowed into the Louisiana sugar fields after the Civil War, and the questions it raised about new forms of slavery.
◦ Carolyn de la Peña, University of California – Davis, on the 20th Century rise of artificial sweeteners from unhealthy “adulterants” to the dieter’s best friend.
Steve Almond, writer, on the personal obsession that led him to write Candy Freak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America (2004).
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "'Sugar' as Metaphor: Mike Jagger's Brown Sugar" (1971).
Mick Jagger's Brown Sugar, a lyrically complex and controversial song, offers us an example of "sugar" used as a metaphor -- for heroin, slavery, racial and sexual exploitation, sexual temptation and indulgance, and guilty pleasure. Its lyrics are:
Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields / Sold in a market down in new orleans /
Scarred old slaver know he’s doin’ alright./
Hear him whip the women just around midnight.
/ Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good
(a-ha) / brown sugar, just like a young girl should
/Drums beating, cold english blood runs hot,
/ Lady of the house wond’rin where it’s gonna stop.
/ House boy knows that he’s doin’ alright. /
You should a heard him just around midnight.
/ Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good
(a-ha) / brown sugar, just like a black girl should
/ I bet your mama was a tent show queen, / and all her boy
Friends were sweet sixteen./
I’m no schoolboy but I know what I like,
/ You should have heard me just around midnight.
/ Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good
(a-ha) / brown sugar, just like a young girl should.
/ I said yeah, I said yeah, I said yeah, / I said
Oh just like a, just like a black girl should.
/ I said yeah, I said yeah, I said yeah, I said
/ Oh just like, just like a black girl should.
For one interpretation of the song, see: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2007/sep/13/2.
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March 4, 2014
Segment 1 | "Against the Grain: The Harvard Psychedelic Club: Leary, Weil, Smith, and Ram Dass" (2014).
From Pacifica's Against the Grain: "Four men who would have a profound impact on U.S. culture converged at Harvard in the early 1960s. In The Harvard Psychedelic Club, Don Lattin tells the story of what Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Andrew Weil, and Huston Smith did, how they interacted, and how they influenced the psychedelic and countercultural and spiritual and holistic-health movements of the 1960s and '70s and way beyond." For more information, see: Don Lattin, The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America (HarperOne, 2010).
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Sherlock Holmes, Cocaine, and Scandal in Bohemia" (1891; contemporary LibiVox reading).
Published in 1891, A Scandal in Bohemia" was Arthur Canon Doyle's first short story focusing on Sherlock Holmes and published in The Strand Magazine. Like many of Doyle's other works focusing on Holmes, it acknowledged the main character's cocaine drug habit.
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February 25, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Outed ~ A History of Sexual Identity in America" (2014).
"As the Winter Olympics in Sochi approach, countries around the world have expressed concerns over Russian legislation outlawing LGBTQ 'propaganda.' The Obama administration called the law offensive, and the president pointedly chose several openly gay athletes for the US Olympic delegation. But recent Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage have highlighted our own internal debate on sexuality and its expression in the public sphere. So in this episode, we explore the often hidden stories of sexuality in American history.
We ask how and why Americans have distinguished between 'normal' and 'deviant' sexual behavior, and look at changes in those distinctions through the centuries. How have those categories been policed -- and challenged? When and why did Americans begin to think of homosexuality and heterosexuality as distinct identities? And how do historians reconstruct histories that were often purposely kept secret? From colonial courts to 19th Century 'intimate friendships,' to a federal government crackdown on gay and lesbian life in the mid-20th Century, we explore the many ways that Americans have understood -- and broken -- the sexual status quo."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Petronius's Satyricon" (Original, 1st century A.D.; contemporary LibiVox reading).
Here is a reading (from LibriVox) of a short segment from Gaius Petronius' fragmentary comic novel, Satyricon, an early Roman work from the 1st century A.D. that blends prose and poetry. The Satyricon -- particulary the portion that has survived (discovered in the 17th century) offers a satirical view of Rome's emergent economic elite and deals explicitly with early Roman sexual practices. It is the tale of Encolpius and his sixteen-year old boy lover; the young man, apparently, is always lured into sexual liasons with others. For a short introduction to Petronius and his Satyricon, see: http://community.middlebury.edu/~harris/LatinAuthors/Petronius.html.
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February 18, 2014
Segment 1 | "Against the Grain: Adam Hochschild on the Spanish Civil War and George Orwell" (2014).
From our friends at AGAINST THE GRAIN (ATG), we bring you this conversation between ATG host C. S. Soong and Adam Hochschild focusing on the Spanish Civil War and George Orwell's involvement in that conflict. Hochschild is the author of King Leopold's Ghost, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, Bury the Chains, The Mirror at Midnight, and The Unquiet Ghost. Hochschild is currently working on a book focusing on the Spanish Civil War. The two explore: "Was what happened in Spain beginning in 1936 a civil war or a workers' revolution? It's called the Spanish Civil War, and it did pit Francisco Franco's forces against a democratically elected government, but what George Orwell discovered when he arrived in Spain was 'a revolution in full swing'. Adam Hochschild talks about the conflicts, their international context, and Orwell's Homage to Catalonia."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Robert Capa on The Falling Soldier" (1947).
This is a short edited selection from "Robert Capa Tells of Photographic Experiences Abroad" -- a radio interview originally broadcast on October 20, 1947 on the early morning radio show Hi! Jinx that focused on the life and work of one of the most famous photojournalists of the 20th century. The edited section of the interview we feature here deals with the background behind Capa's iconic photograph, "The Falling Soldier," probably one fo the best recognized photos that came out of the Spanish Civil War. For the full recording and more information on Capa, go to: http://www.icp.org/robert-capa-100.
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February 11, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Border Crossings ~ A History of US-Mexico Relations" (2014).
From Backstory and the American History Guys: "Twenty years ago, NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement — removed barriers to trade between the United States and Mexico, marking a more cooperative phase in what has often been a contentious relationship over the centuries. In this episode, Peter, Ed, and Brian delve into the complexities of that relationship and offer a broader take on American history that looks beyond our national boundaries.
In terms of national identity, territory, and citizenship, the United States has often defined itself in opposition to its southern neighbor. But the Guys uncover moments of convergence too: like the twin crises in 1861 – Confederate secession in the US and European invasion in Mexico – which sparked talk of American “sister republics,” united in opposition to despotism. So how have these two countries shaped each other – whether in conflict and cooperation? What kinds of borders – political, cultural, or economic — have been built and dismantled and rebuilt over the years? And where does the US-Mexico relationship stand today?" For more on Backstory, go to: http://backstoryradio.org.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Selection from Viva Zapata!" (1952).
Here is a selection (audio only) from the 1952 film, Viva Zapata! -- a fictionalized account of the life and struggles of Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919), the famed Mexican revolutionary who took on the Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz and struggled on behalf of Mexican peasants for radical land reforms. Marlon Brando played the title role of Emiliano Zapata. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and the screenplay was written by John Steinbeck. Anthony Quinn won an Oscar for his portrayal of Zapata's brother. For more information on Zapata, see: http://www.pbs.org/itvs/storm-that-swept-mexico/the-revolution/faces-revolution/emiliano-zapata/.
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February 4, 2014
Segment 1 | "Pete Seeger: How Can I Keep From Singing, Part 1 ~ Origins" (2008; Re-broadcast).
Producer and Seeger biographer, David Dunaway (Across the Tracks: A Route 66 Story; Writing the Southwest), produced this acclaimed documentary, Pete Seeger: How Can I Keep From Singing?, in 2008. We bring it back to the air this year -- at least the first of the original three hours -- in paying tribute to the Seeger who died last week. Dunaway tackles the question of "How did a Harvard-educated boy become a radical, hitchhiking, banjo-playing, political activist? This proram explores Seeger's youth and America's folk revival of the 1930s and '40s. For more on Seeger and his legacy, see the New York Times obituary at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/29/arts/music/pete-seeger-songwriter-and-champion-of-folk-music-dies-at-94.html?_r=0.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Pete Seeger at Camp Woodland" (1948).
In 1939, progressive educator Norman Studer along with Rose Sydney, Regine Dicker (Ferber), Sara Abelson (Abramson), and Hannah Studer, founded Camp Woodland in Phoenicia, New York, located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains. According to Dale Johnson, "Camp Woodland strove to create a democratic environment where children of varying religions, socioeconomic, and ethnic backgrounds from the New York City area could steep in the rich ecology of the Catskill region for two months each summer.
The curriculum and experience of Camp Woodland were deeply rooted in the folklore and folk culture of the Catskill Mountains. Throughout his career as an educator and administrator, Studer championed cultural and racial integration in the educational environment." Pete seeger was a frequent visitor, performer, and music teacher at Camp Woodland. Here we present an excerpt from one of his many camp performances, recorded on August 21, 1948, at the 8th Annual Folk Festival (an annual festival at Camp Woodland). The recording comes from the Norman Studer collection, now housed at the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Albany, SUNY. For more information on the collection, which contains more than 200 rare recording from the camp, see: http://library.albany.edu/speccoll/findaids/apap116.htm For more information about Camp woodland, see Dale W. Johnson's article on the camp in Voices, the journal of hte New Yokr Florlore Society: http://www.nyfolklore.org/pubs/voicjl28-1-2/campwood.html.
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January 28, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Heaven on Earth: A History of American Utopias" (2014).
In this episode from BACKSTORY with the American History Guys, " Ed, Brian, and Peter discover the utopian yearnings in the American past, and the ways they still resonate today. Whether based in religious conviction or a secular vision of social progress, attempts to build model communities have been a recurring feature in American life. What allows some utopian communities to endure for decades, while others collapse within months? How have mainstream Americans viewed their utopian-minded brethren? And is America itself a utopian project?
Carl Guarneri, St. Mary's College, on the French proto-Socialist thinker Charles Fourier, the young American who popularized his ideas, and the efforts to implement them across the United States;
Richard Francis, independent scholar, on how tensions over the nature of family life ultimately sank the Transcendental community “Fruitlands”; and
Jane Baxter, DePaul University, on one of the first company towns – Pullman – and the search for a capitalist utopia in the late 19th Century."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "The Republic of Plato (a LibriVox reading" | 380 BC original text).
Written some time around 380 B.C., Plato's Republic presents what many consider the first expression of a utopian society in literature. Though hardly the utopia that most contemporary cititizens would yearn for, Plato's hierarchical, aristocratic ideal state places truth and reason at the center of an ideal society. In Plato's rendition of an ideal state, individuals are ranked and assigned social, political, and economic roles based on an evaluation of their suitability for these roles (through a process of examination). The ideal society for Plato is an "aristocracy" -- a polis ruled by the "best") -- and not a democracy. Here we present a LibriVox reading of the beginning of Book 4 of the Republic. Book 4 deals with an exploration of "Justice" and happiness, and especially as they appy to the guardians -- the philosopher-kings, or rulers -- of Kallipolis, the Greek name of Plato's ideal state. For the full text of The Republic, see: http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html.
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January 21, 2014 [NEW SCHEDULE BEGINS; NOW EVERY TUESDAY MORNING]
Segment 1 | "State of the Reunion - Rewriting Black History" (2013).
State of the Reunion host Al Letson examines the state of Black History today: "During a month selected to celebrate 'history,' we certainly are treated to a lot of the same familiar stories: the battles won for Civil Rights, the glory of Martin Luther King Jr's words, the hardships endured by slaves. And as important as those narratives are for us to collectively remember, many others get lost in trumpeting the same heroic tales. In this hour, State of the Reunion zeroes in some of those alternate narratives, ones edited out of the mainstream imagining of Black History, deconstructing the popular perception of certain celebrated moments. From a more complicated understanding of the impact of the Civil Rights Act of '64 on Jackson, Mississippi . . . to a city in Oklahoma still trying to figure out how to tell the history of one particular race riot . . . to one woman's wrangling with her own personal racial history."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: The Quest of the Silver Fleece (LibriVox reading | 1911 novel).
W. E. B. Du Bois explored the systemic and personal dimensions of the cotton industry in his first novel, published in 1911. The novel offers a range of sociological and economic critiques as it weaves together the lives of Blessed "Bles" Alwyn, a young man seeking to better himself in the post-Reconstruction era through education, and Zora, a strong and independent woman who lives in a mysterious Alabama swamp. Exploring themes of racial equality, economic speculation and exploitation, political power, and love -- Du Bois brings to his novel many of his observations about American society previously published in his nonfiction works, like The Souls of Black Folk. For more about the book, including links to reviews and the the complete text, see: http://www.webdubois.org/wdb-quest.html.
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January 16, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Wall of Separation: Church and State in America" (2013).
In this episode of BackStory, the American History Guys delve into the history of the relationship of church and state in America. The explore "the meaning of 'freedom of religion' and find out why Baptists in 1802 actually pleaded for Thomas Jefferson's 'wall of separation.' We'll learn why the dramatic wartime deaths of three ministers -- each of different faiths -- shaped public ideas about American religion during the 1940s and 50s. And we'll explore how legal decisions about the relationship of church and state have shaped how Americans understand faith and what it means to have 'a religion.'
David Sehat, Georgia State University, on the ways liberals and conservatives look to the Founders to bolster their arguments about religious freedom in America, and how both sides get it wrong;
Adam Jortner, Auburn University, on the election of 1832 and one of the first religious 'wedge issues' -- as presidential aspirants sparred over whether the government should intervene in a cholera epidemic…with prayer;
Sarah Barringer Gordon, University of Pennsylvania Law School, on the 19th Century showdown over the meaning of marriage and the scope of religious 'free exercise' -- when Mormons took their case for polygamy to the Supreme Court; Tisa Wenger, Yale University, on the Pueblo Indian dance controversy of the 1920s, and how church-state jurisprudence shaped the ways Pueblos thought about their own forms of worship;
Kevin Schultz, University of Illinois at Chicago, on the cross-faith coalitions that emerged in the mid-20th Century, and how they inadvertently helped to foster the spread of secularism." For more on Backstory, go to: http://backstoryradio.org.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: Abington v. Schempp (Oyez audio selection, 1962)
In June 1963, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that organized Bible reading and prayer recitation in public schools was a violation of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The decision was based on two suits that had worked themselves up to the nation's highest court, one from Baltimore, Maryland (Murray v. Curlett), and the second from Abington, Pennsylvania (Abington v. Schempp). The audio selection we present here comes from Abington v. Schempp; the original recording comes from Record Group 267: Records of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1772 - 1990, available at the National Archives' Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Records LICON, Special Media Archives Services Division, College Park, MD. Digital recordings of this and many other Supreme Court cases can be accessed through the The Oyez Project at www.oyez.org. For recordings and transcripts of the entire Abington case, see http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1962/1962_142.
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January 9, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Grassy Knolls ~ Conspiracy Thinking in American History" (2013).
Here's another production from Backstory (http://backstoryradio.org) and the American History Guys: "This episode of BackStory explores why alternative theories for the Kennedy assassination have proven so resilient over the years, and finds a long tradition of American conspiracy thinking -- stretching all the way back to the Founding. From a political party formed to combat the secretive power of Freemasons, to whispers of a "slave power" conspiracy in the 19th Century, to an outcry over a criminal network fostering "white slavery" in the early 20th Century, and, of course, an abundance of Communist conspiracies during the Cold War -- the Guys and their guests discover that while conspiracy theorists might sometimes be on the fringes of American society, conspiracy thinking has always been mainstream.
Jefferson Morley, journalist and founder of the website JFKfacts.org, on the conspiracy theories that still swirl around the Kennedy assassination; Ron Formisano, University of Kentucky, on the perceived power of Freemasons in the early Republic, and the political backlash it inspired; Jesse Walker, journalist and author of The United States of Paranoia (2013), on the "slave power conspiracy" of the 19th Century, and its alleged links to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln; Mara Keire, University of Oxford, on the "white slavery" panic of the early 20th Century – and the criminal conspiracy that supposedly lay behind it;
Andrew Case, Lyman Briggs College, Michigan State University, on the supposed Communist conspiracy that lay behind the fluoridation of water in the mid-20th Century."
Segment 2 | Conspiracies in Cold War Era Films: "The Manchurian Candidate." (Audio selection, 1962)
Here's a short audio track selection from a classic Cold-War era "conspiracy film" based on the 1959 novel by Richard Condon: The Manchurian Candidate. The film, released in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, was directed by John Frankenheimer and featured Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva, and James Gregory. The core plot of the film and novel focuses on the communist brainwashing during the Korean War of the stepson of a prominent right-wing senator (a fictive mirror of Joseph McCarthy), who is psychologically transformed into a political assassin. For more information on the film, see: http://www.filmsite.org/manc.html. For a brief examination of other Cold-War era films, see: http://www.jacknilan.com/senatorjoe/index.html.
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December 26, 1913 - January 2, 2014
Vacation break. Check out our previous broadcasts available here and through the drop-down menu on the upper left of this page.
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December 19, 2013
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Shocked and Appalled ~ A History of Scandal" (2013).
From Backstory (http://backstoryradio.org) and the American History Guys: "the Guys and their guests rediscover some of the scandals that captured earlier generations' 'imaginations - like a lurid tale of adultery and infanticide at a 1790s Virginia plantation called (no joke) 'Bizarre." Or the 19th century Beecher-Tilton trial, in which a celebrity preacher was accused of seducing his best friend's wife. And in more recent years, the serious congressman whose affair with an exotic dancer helped end his career, and helped change Washington too. Along the way, they consider what has constituted a scandal in American history and how public attitudes toward them have evolved.
Julian Zelizer, Princeton University, on the sex scandal that brought down Wilbur Mills -- one of the most powerful congressman of the 1970s -- and how it changed the Congress for good;
Debby Applegate, independent scholar, on the adultery trial of famous 19th Century preacher Henry Ward Beecher, and the fears of a wider societal breakdown it generated;
Christopher Doyle, Watkinson School, Hartford, CT, on the alleged murder of an illegitimate baby that scandalized Virginia high society in the early Republic; and John Hellerman, crisis communications specialist, whotakes a look back on some historical scandals and gives those involved a little retrospective advice (pro bono, of course)."
Segment 2 | "An Avoided Scandal: Strom Thurmond and Essie Mae Washington." (Interview, 1978)
Here's a short selection from an oral history interview with former South Carolina senator and Dixicrat presidential candidate Strom Thurmond conducted in 1978. It comes to us from the Southern Oral History Program Collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The full interview is available on line at: http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/A-0334/menu.html. Thurmond, an avid supporter of racial segregation and states' rights for much of his political life, nonetheless -- while a young man -- had a sexual relationship with his family's black 16-year-old maid and fathered a mixed-race daughter, Essie Mae Washington-Williams. This part of his scandalous past was the subject of rumour during his life but never publicly acknowledged or revealed -- at least not until his death in 2003. Essie Mae Washington-Williams recalled in her autobiography: "In a way, my life began at 78, at least my life as who I really was." For more on Thurmond and Essie Mae Washington-Williams' relationship in the years after her birth, see: Essie Mae Washington-Williams and William Stadiem, Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond (Regan Books, 2005) and http://www.cbsnews.com/news/essie-mae-on-strom-thurmond/.
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December 12, 2013
Segment 1 | "The Mandela Tapes" (2013).
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio program, IDEAS, was given full access to a remarkable set of recordings of Nelson Mandela: "The man chosen to record Mandela's life story was Rick Stengel, a young reporter working in South Africa for Rolling Stone magazine. From 1992 to 1996, Stengel shadowed Mandela, using his small cassette machine to record the stories which would help in the writing of Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. The two other key voices in the documentary are the current managing editor of Time Magazine, Rick Stengel, and freelance radio producer Robin Benger.
This was first broadcast on CBC Radio in May 2013. It was updated for the death of Nelson Mandela. For more information about The Mandela Tapes, see: http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/themandelatapes/. For more information about Mandela, see: http://www.nelsonmandela.org/content/page/biography.
Segment 2 | "Don Pinnock interview of Joe Slovo [UWC/Robben Island Mayibuye Archive] (1992).
Here's a short excerpt from an interview conducted by Don Pinnock in 1992 with Joe Slovo, former head of the South African Comunist Party. The recording is part of a series carried out at Grahamstown University. and held at the UWC/Robben Island Mayibuye Archive. Much of the interview focuses on Ruth First, Slovo's first wife who -- like Slovo -- was an active South African member of the militant anti-Apartheid movement in exile. First was a journalist, Communist, and scholar; she was killed in 1982 by a parcel bomb in Mozambique -- planted by the South African police. For the full interview, go to: http://www.ruthfirstpapers.org.uk/content/407. For a short summary of Ruth First's life, see: http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/ruth-herloise-first; on Joe Slovo: http://www.sacp.org.za/main.php?ID=2310. For an excellent book on Joe Slovo and Ruth First, see Alan Wieder, Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the War against Apartheid (Monthly Review Press, 2013) [http://monthlyreview.org/press/books/pb3560/].
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December 5, 2013
Segment 1 | "Trey Kay's The Long Game: Texas' Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom" (2013).
In 2011, Trey Kay won the prestigeous duPont-Columbia Award radio journalism for his eploration of a 1974 conflict in West Virginia over multiculturalism and textbooks. This year, he completed another excellent piece on cultural war in education. Our show today showcases that piece:
"For more than a half a century, citizens of the Lone Star State have had intense, emotional battles over what children should and shouldn’t be taught in public school classrooms. While there have been fights over just about every academic subject, debates over history, evolution, God and country generate the most heat. In many ways, Texans are stuck. Some believe teachers should lay out relevant facts before students and have them draw their own conclusions. Others believe there should be particular values —perhaps absolute values— added into the mix to help guide students.
For “Long Game,” Trey Kay (producer of the Peabody, Murrow and DuPont honored “Great Textbook War”) spent nearly two years gathering interviews and acquiring archival audio in Texas. During this process, he was present to capture a new controversy that erupted over a Texas-generated curriculum system known as CSCOPE. Tea Party parents were outraged when they discovered there were CSCOPE lessons that equated Boston Tea Party participants to terrorists and encouraged students to design a flag for a new communist country. These parents were also troubled by lessons that taught the fundamental principals of Islam. When they asked to see more of their children’s lessons, they were told that CSCOPE material was protected by a non-disclosure agreement and that parents couldn’t have access. The controversy reached critical mass after conservative talk show host Glenn Beck began speaking to his national audience about CSCOPE as a form of leftist indoctrination that was running rampant in Texas and could potentially appear in public schools in other states. After about six months of intense media and political pressure, the lesson plan wing of CSCOPE – used in over 70% of Texas schools – was disbanded. Kay’s report also examines Texas’ perennial battle over science standards and in particular, how the state chooses to teach all things related to the origins of the universe and theory of evolution. This fall (2013), the Texas Board of Education is selecting biology textbooks for use by high school students over the next decade. The panel responsible for reviewing submissions from publishers has stirred controversy because a number of its members do not accept evolution and climate change as scientific truth."
Segment 2 | "A Banned Book: D. H. Lawrence's The Rainbow".
D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow, was published in 1915 and almost immediately censored for its sexual content. The book is a family chronicle -- tracing three generations of the Brangwen family living near Marsh Farm in the East Midlands of England near Nottingham. The novel explores the impact of power, repression, and desire on several members of the family: [From Wikipedia: "The book spans a period of roughly 65 years from the 1840s to 1905, and shows how the love relationships of the Brangwens change against the backdrop of the increasing industrialisation of Britain. The first central character, Tom Brangwen, is a labourer whose experience of the world does not stretch beyond Nottinghamshire; while the last, Ursula, his granddaughter, studies at University and becomes a teacher in the progressively urbanised, capitalist and industrial world that would become our modern experience.
The book starts with a description of the Brangwen dynasty, then deals with how Tom Brangwen, one of several brothers, fell in love with a Polish refugee, Lydia. The next part of the book deals with Lydia's daughter by her first husband, Anna, and her destructive, battle-riven relationship with her husband, Will, the son of one of Tom's brothers. The last and most extended part of the book, and also probably the most famous, then deals with Will and Anna's daughter, Ursula, and her struggle to find fulfilment for her passionate, spiritual and sensual nature against the confines of the increasingly materialist and conformist society around her. She experiences a lesbian relationship with a teacher, and a passionate but ultimately doomed love affair with Anton Skrebensky, a British soldier of Polish ancestry. At the end of the book, having failed to find her fulfilment in Skrebensky, she has a vision of a rainbow towering over the Earth, promising a new dawn for humanity:
"She saw in the rainbow the earth's new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven.] The book is available on line at: https://archive.org/details/rainbowlawrence00lawrrich.
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November 28, 2013
No broadcast today. Check out our previous broadcasts available here and through the drop-down menu on the upper left of this page.
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November 21, 2013
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Talk of the Nation ~ Oratory in America" (2013).
In this episode of BackStory (http://backstoryradio.org), the American History Guys examine the importance of public discourse in American history: "From the fiery sermons of traveling preachers in the 18th century to the teleprompted prime-time addresses of presidents today, this episode of BackStory explores the changing nature of American oratory. It looks look at how audiences’ expectations of orators have shifted, and asks why some speeches loom so much larger — or smaller — in our memory than they did in their own times.
Harold Holzer, scholar and chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, on the delivery of the Gettysburg Address in 1863;
Gordon Stewart, former speechwriter to President Jimmy Carter, on the “crisis of confidence” or “malaise” speech of 1979;
Lisa Tetrault, Carnegie Mellon University, on the rise of women orators in the Lyceum movement of the late 19th Century;
Carolyn Eastman, Virginia Commonwealth University, on the emphasis placed upon Native American speeches in the early Republic, and the search for a corpus of truly “American” oratory."
Segment 2 | "Thucydides: Pericles' Funeral Oration" (LibriVox Reading).
Pericles' Funeral Oration, delivered during the first year of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) and paraphrased in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, is one of the most famous orations in history; it shaped public pronouncements at public war memorials for millennia to come. It even influencing the structure of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, according to Garry Wills in Lincoln at Gettysburg (1992). Pericles, as one of Athens' most prominent politicians, was called upon to deliver the oration during the annual public funeral for the city's war dead. For the full text, as paraphrased by Thucydides, can be found in this on-line version of abou the oration, see Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War at: http://classics.mit.edu/Thucydides/pelopwar.html.
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November 14, 2013
Segment 1 | "Hindsight: Return to Inexpressible Island" (2013).
Here's a piece from ABC/Radio National's Hindsight: "The Antarctic Winter of 1912 has become known as one of the worst on record.
It was the winter that Robert Falcon Scott's Polar expedition perished after having being beaten to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen; and it was the same winter that a lesser known group, the Northern Party, was stranded on a desolate snow drift. Tony Fleming, grandson of the youngest member of Scott's Northern Party, retraces the group's incredible journey." For more, see: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/return-to-inexpressible-island/5020014
Segment 2 | "Frances Flaherty on Robert Flaherty and His Docuentary Films" (1960).
Back in 1960, Robert Gardner, then from Harvard's Peabody's Museum, interviewed the widow of documentary filmmaking pioneer Robert Flaherty about her husband's -- and Frances Flaherty's -- approach to documentary filmmaking (Frances worked closely with her husband). Here we present an edited excerpt from that interview. You can view the video interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvzxu3syq_A. Flaherty's classic, Nanook of the North, is also available on line. here's the link to it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6PNSf1XJbw.
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November 7, 2013
Segment 1 | "Action Speaks! - "Betting on Hedonism" ~ The Birth of Las Vegas in 1941 (2013).
Here's a piece that comes to us from Providence, Rhode Island and "Action Speaks Radio" [http://actionspeaksradio.org]. This taped panel discussion focuses on the birth of the Las Vegas ‘Strip’ when the first casino/hotel, "El Rancho Vegas" opened in 1941. Panelists include Larry Gragg, author of Bright Light City: Las Vegas in Popular Culture, Larry Gragg; Natasha Schüll, cultural anthropologis and Associate Professor of Science & Technology at MIT -- and author of Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas; and David Konstan, classics professor at NYU whose research focuses on beauty and materialism.
Segment 2 | "Fyodor Dostoevsky and The Gambler" (1867 / LibriVox reading).
Here's a selection from a reading of one of Fyodor Dostoevsky's early novella's, The Gambler. It's a novel about gambling addiction, a problem that Doestoevsky was very familiar with -- since he suffered from it for many years. For the text of the entire novel, see: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2197. For the full audio reading of the novel, see: http://librivox.org/the-gambler-by-fyodor-dostoyevsky/.
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October 31, 2013
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Splintered Parties ~ A History of Political Factions" (2013).
"In this episode of BackStory, Peter, Ed, and Brian peer into the parties themselves, and explore some of the influential factions that have left a mark on the American political landscape – from the Radical Republicans after the Civil War, to the Dixiecrats after World War II. Plus, they look back to the early Republic and a time before the formation of parties, when 'faction' was the only game in town.
Joanne Freeman, Yale University, on factional strife in the Early Republic, and why parties themselves were universally despised;
Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard University, on the Republican Party’s own civil war over radicalism and Reconstruction;
Joseph Crespino, Emory University, on the Democratic conflict that led to the Dixiecrat Bolt of 1948 and its lasting legacy in American politics." Backstory segment page: http://backstoryradio.org/?p=11300.
Segment 2 | "James Madison and Federalist #10" (1787 ~ LibriVox reading).
During the debates over the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton wrote a series of supportive essays that collectively came to be known as the "Federalist Papers." Federalist No. 10 is perhaps one of the best known and regarded of the Federalist essays. Written by Madison, it deals with the issue of political factions. Madison felt that factions are better controlled in larger political units than in smaller ones. Here we present a LibriVox reading of Madison's famous essay (see: http://librivox.org/the-federalist-papers-by-alexander-hamilton-john-jay-and-james-madison/ for readings of ALL of the Federalist Papers).
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October 24, 2013
Segment 1 | "Against the Grain: What Missionaries Provoked" (2013).
This week we air a recent segment from Against the Grain -- a conversation with Heather Sharkey, Associate Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) at the University of Pennsylvania. Sharkey is the editor of Cultural Conversions: Unexpected Consequences of Christian Missionary Encounters in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (Syracuse U. Press, 2013) and the author of American Evangelicals in Egypt: Missionary Encounters in an Age of Empire (Princeton U. Press, 2008). Summary: "Christian missionaries operating in foreign lands did convert many people, but their activities, asserts Heather Sharkey, were also intrinsically political. Sharkey describes how missionaries provoked local resistance and galvanized nationalist and ethnic (including Islamic) sentiment and organizing."
Segment 2 | "The Book of Mormon (selection from The Book of Enos)"
One of the most active missionary groups today is The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints (LDS) -- the Mormons. The Book of Mormon offers many stories that encourage Church members to spread their faith among unbelievers. See the Book of Enos, part of the Book of Mormon, for examples. SOURCE: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/enos/1?lang=eng
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October 17, 2013
Segment 1 | "Backstory: 1492 ~ The Discover of America and the Memory of Columbus (2013).
From Backstory: . This episode of BackStory looks into the contested memory of Columbus and his significance: "Christopher Columbus remains a central figure in American history: his name has been worked into numerous cities across the United States, ships, universities – even a space shuttle. And from an early age, schoolchildren learn about the voyages of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María. But many Americans have also questioned Columbus’ legacy - should we venerate a man who symbolizes European colonization, and began the decimation of native American populations that would continue for centuries? With another Columbus Day upon us, this episode of BackStory looks back at the controversial Columbian legacy. When and why did Americans begin to revere the Italian explorer? Who has seized on his legacy, and who has contested it?
Tony Horwitz, author, A Voyage Long and Strange (2008), on his search for the “real” Christopher Columbus;
Rolena Adorno, Yale University, on Washington Irving’s massive biography of Columbus, published in 1828, and its role in creating the heroic Columbus myth.
Joanne Mancini, NUI Maynooth, on an alternative 'discovery' story promoted by Norwegian-Americans in the 19th Century, and the battle for 'Leif Erikson Day.'
Ellen Berg, University of Maryland, on the symbolic figure of 'Columbia' and her popularity in American history. See www.backstoryradio.org for more details on this and other programs produced by Backstory.
Segment 2 | "Declaring Thanksgiving: George Washington's Declaration of Thanksgiving as a National Day of Celebration" (1789; modern LibriVox reading)
President George Washington proclaimed the creation of the first national Thanksgiving Day on October 3rd, 1789, Here we present a LibriVox reading of Washington;s's proclamation. For more information on the origins of Thanksgiving, see: http://www.randomhistory.com/2008/10/23_thanksgiving.html. For the LibriVox source, see: http://librivox.org/short-nonfiction-collection-vol-015/.
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October 10, 2013
Segment 1 | "Against the Grain: Prof. Robin D. G. Kelley on Aimé Fernand David Césaire (2013).
From Against the Grain, we present this examinationg of an important Cariibbean Francophone literary and political figure: "Colonialism in both its traditional and contemporary versions is not just about power and coercion: it's about how the 'other' is thought and talked about. Aimé Césaire took a radical anticolonial stance inflected with surrealist and Marxist notions. Robin D. G. Kelley discusses Césaire's ideas and their relevance for today." For more information about Césaire, see: http://postcolonialstudies.emory.edu/aime-cesaire/.
Segment 2 | "Mark Twain's Anti-Imperialism: The War Prayer." (1916; Reading)
The Spanish American War, which began in April of 1898, was a very short war; it ended only months after it began -- with Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines transformed into American protectorates and territorial possessions. The war soon followed by another one -- a protracted colonial war against Filipino rebels led by Emilio Aguinaldo who demanded independence. When it became clear that America's war with Spain and Aguinaldo was all about developing an American empire, a vocal protest movement emerged in the U.S. One of the most outspoken groups that sought to roll back colonialism and imperialism was the American Anti-Imperialist League, which was established in June of 1898. Among its members were William Jennings Bryan, Moorfield Storey, Andrew Carnegie, Samuel Gompers, and Mark Twain. Twain was one of the best-known member of the League; he served as vice president of the organization from 1901 till his death in 1910. Twain became an outspoken speaker and writer against war, colonialism, and imperialism. Here, we present a reading of one of Twain's most compelling antiwar writings -- a short story called "The War Prayer" -- a work considered too radical to be published in his lifetime. "I don't think the prayer will be published in my time," Twain said. "None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth." Twain wrote The War Prayer in 1904; it wasn't published till 1916. This reading of Twain's The War Prayer comes from archive.org. It was originally broadcast as a radio radio drama, produced and directed by W.D. Sherman Olson and starring Abbie Williams and folk singer/song writer Billy Krause. For the full version of the radio production, see: http://archive.org/details/MarkTwainsTheWarPrayer. For more information on the American Anti-Imperialist League, see: http://teachersites.schoolworld.com/webpages/ASchulzki/files/the%20antiimperialist%20movement1.pdf
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October 3, 2013
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Green Acres ~ A History of Farming in America" (2013).
"In the 18th Century, Thomas Jefferson saw farmers as ideal citizens, whose agricultural lifestyle would uphold a virtuous republic. Just 2% of Americans live on farms today, however, yet the republic persists -- however virtuous -- and farmers still loom large in the national consciousness. In this episode of BackStory, Peter, Brian, and Ed consider why the ideal of the self-sufficient, independent American farmer is still so powerful -- even as the reality has changed dramatically -- and who has invoked that ideal over time. From railroad companies to anti-imperialists, the image of the 'yeoman farmer' has served many different ends over the years, and served to anchor one of the most successful government lobbies in history, as the Guys and their guests explore.
Adam Sheingate, Johns Hopkins University, on how the struggling American farmer turned into the farm lobby -- one of the most powerful interest groups in American politics.
Sergei Khrushchev , Brown University, and Liz Garst, on the unlikely friendship between their father and grandfather -- Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev and Iowa farmer Roswell Garst -- and the agricultural diplomacy they waged in the 1950s.
Kathleen Mapes, University of Illinois, on agriculture and anti-imperialism -- as American sugar beet farmers industry attacked U.S. acquisition of new (sugar-producing) colonies at the turn of the 20th Century.
Andy Piasecki, independent scholar, on the massive PR campaign launched by the railroads in the late 19th Century, presenting an ideal of American farming to attract Europeans to the Midwest." See more on Backstory at: http://backstoryradio.org/.
Segment 2 | "Vernon Dalhart: 'Farm Relief Song" (1929).
The Great Depression hit farmers and rural areas earlier than it did the rest of the country. Their desperate need for reform and relief was expressed in this Vernon Dalhart song, recorded in 1929. For more information on Dalhart, see: http://countrymusichalloffame.org/full-list-of-inductees/view/vernon-dalhart.
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September 26, 2013
Segment 1 | Backstory: "Responsibility to Protect ~ A History of Humanitarian Interventions" (2013).
The American History Guys from Backstory explore the history of U.S. military interventions -- particularly those justified by humanitarian claims: "With President Obama making the case for military action against Syria, BackStory takes on the history of humanitarian intervention. In 1898, President McKinley called for war with Spain to liberate Cuba from the 'barbarities, bloodshed, starvation, and horrible miseries now existing there' -- offering the kind of humanitarian rhetoric that has come up time and time again in American history, justifying numerous interventions around the world -- from Haiti in 1915 to Libya in 2011. But where does the idea of a humanitarian obligation originate? When and why has the US felt justified to intervene in other nations' affairs? And how have these interventions shaped Americans' attitudes toward the world -- and the world's attitudes toward us? These are the questions that Brian, Ed, and Peter explore in this episode, looking to history to help us make sense of America's international role, and understand the deep roots of current debates over Syria. Guests on this show include: Daniel Feller, University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Ann Marie Wilson, Leiden University College; Timothy M. Roberts, Western Illinois University; David Koren, Participant in the Biafran Airlift. You can find more details and information about Backstory at: http://backstoryradio.org/.
Segment 2 | "Ronald Reagan Speech on Lebanon and Grenada" (October 27, 1983).
On October 27, 1983, President Ronald Reagan spoke at 8 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House about U.S. interventions in Lebanon and Grenada. The address was broadcast live on nationwide radio and television. Here, we bring you his speech. You can also find a full transcription of the speech at this Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Web site: http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1983/102783b.htm.
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September 19, 2013
Segment 1 | "Raoul Wallenberg" (2013).
Here's another piece from ABC/Radio National's Hindsight: the story of Swedish diplomat and war hero Raoul Wallenberg, who saved the lives of an estimated 100,000 people during the Holocaust. "Wallenberg's story also contains a deep and tragic mystery. He was groomed to be a star of a Swedish financial empire, but the Second World War saw Wallenberg's life take a very different turn, one which would see him disappear forever inside a Russian prison.
This program features the memories of Raoul Wallenberg's sister, and the experiences of those Australians who owe their lives to his actions." For more details, go directly to the Hindsight Web site: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/an-honourable-citizen-raoul-wallenberg/4838708.
Segment 2 | "Mein Kampf and Hitler's Contempt for Parliamentary Democracy" (1925; contemporary reading).
Behind the Holocaust were hundreds of years of evolving arian racial ideas and ideologies and a growing contempt for democractic institutions -- coming to a head and given exceptional potency by the diabolical genius of Adolph Hitler and his followers. Here we present a short excerpt of a reading of Hitler's Mein Kampf (1925-26), a two volume autobiographical account of Hitler's life and ideas about Jews, Germany, parliamentary democracy, and much more. The excerpt focuses on Hitler's contemp for the Austrian parliament and democracy in general (the latter he considered the necessary foundation for European Marxism). The full text of Mein Kampf is widely available in print and in audio editions. See: http://archive.org/details/MeinKampf_472 and http://archive.org/details/AdolfHitlersMeinKampf-CompleteAudioBookMp3.
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