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Aural History Productions


Talking History, based at the University at Albany, State University of New York, is a production, distribution, and instructional center for all forms of "aural" history. Our mission is to provide teachers, students, researchers and the general public with as broad and outstanding a collection of audio documentaries, speeches, debates, oral histories, conference sessions, commentaries, archival audio sources, and other aural history resources as is available anywhere. We hope to expand our understanding of history by exploring the audio dimensions of our past, and we hope to enlarge the tools and venues of historical research and publication by promoting production of radio documentaries and other forms of aural history. In addition to our weekly radio program, we are engaged in numerous educational efforts, from running and sponsoring workshops to offering full-semester courses on radio production and oral history. Some of the most talented radio producers and engineers currently working in public and non-commercial radio now contribute to Talking History—both to our programming and to our educational efforts through production workshops. Here, you'll also find digital archives of their enormously creative and captivating works. Our weekly broadcast/internet radio program, Talking History, focuses on all aspects of history. Follow the link to the left, "The Radio Show," for more information on the program and to access the live WWW broadcast. Below you will find our latest archived shows; use the drop-down menu to the left to access to our full radio archive.

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December 16, 2014
Segment 1 | Open Source: "Capitalism and Slavery" (2014).
 Download: MP3


From Open Source: "We're continuing our series on capitalism by going back to its unspeakable origins. A new wave of historians say that the "peculiar institution" of slavery explains more about the present than we'd care to admit: not just how the West got wealthy, but the way that global capitalism evolved in the first place. . . . It was the global slave trade that helped make America rich, and yet no part of our history was more brutally unequal, more lucrative and less regulated than the slave-and-cotton empire." Guests include: Sven Beckert, Laird Bell professor of history at Harvard, chair of Harvard's Program on the Study of Capitalism, and author of the forthcoming book, Empire of Cotton; Craig Steven Wilder professor of American history at MIT, and author of Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Vol. 1(selection from ch. 31)." (LibriVox reading of 1867 classic).
 Download: MP3



This is an edited selection (focusing on slavery and capitalism) from Karl Marx's first volume of his 3-volume classic, Capital, published in 1867. Here and elsewhere Marx offered an throrough analysis of the evolution, structure, and sources of instability of capitalism as it evolved from the late Middle Ages through the latter decades of the 19th centiry.) Volume 1 was the only one of his three volumes to actually be published during Marx's life. For the full text, see: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/. For the full LibRiVox reading, see https://librivox.org/capital-volume-1-by-karl-marx/
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December 9, 2014
Segment 1 | Backstory: "Let's Make Up: Reconciliation and Its Limits " (2014)
 Download: MP3


From Backstory: "Twenty-five years ago this November, East and West Berliners began chipping away at the iconic wall that had kept them apart for three decades, and symbolized the deep divisions that the Cold War had inflicted on the world at large. As this piece of history crumbled, the Western press was almost euphoric: Freedom, we were told, had triumphed over political repression and cultural imprisonment. But the fall of the Berlin Wall also set in motion a long and difficult process of reconciliation among German citizens. And, indeed, of reconciling the First and Second Worlds -- a process still fraught with tension and uncertainty. On this episode, the Guys dig up buried hatchets to help us explore some of our own best and worst efforts at making amends. How have Americans tried to restore ties and move beyond strain and strife? When does it work? And what are the limits of reconciliation? Guests Include: Rebecca Brannon, James Madison University; Clifton Truman Daniel, grandson of President Harry S. Truman; Benjy Melendez, Founder of the Ghetto Brothers; Shigeko Sasamori, Hiroshima survivor; Orin Starn, Duke University; Karen Van Lengen, University of Virginia; Julian Voloj, author of Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Desmund Tutu on Truth and Reconciliation." (1998)
 Download: MP3



On November 5th and 6th, 1998,the University of Virginia and the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Asian Democracy hosted the Nobel Peace Laureates Conference. Nine Laureates presented on a variety of topics related to their areas of recogniton. One of them was 1984 Nobl Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Here we present an excerpt from his talk, "Reconciliation in Post-Apartheir South Africa: Experiences of the Truth Commission." You can read the full transcript of his presentation at this University of Virginia Web site: http://www.virginia.edu/nobel/transcript/tutu.html. The Web site also contains a short biography of Tutu, available here: http://www.virginia.edu/nobel/laureates/bios/tutu_bio.html.

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December 2, 2014
Segment 1 | Open Source: "WWI: The Shock of the New ~ James Joyce's Ulysses and Post-WWI Modernism" (2014)
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From Open Source and Christoper Lydon: "Out of the mire and death of World War One, even before the shooting stops, comes the strangest thing: the novel of the century. It's James Joyce’s Ulysses, transposing the wily warrior of Greek myth into the buried consciousness of a single day in Dublin in 1904. The global war was only part of the nightmare from which Joyce was trying to awake. From his teens, he'd set himself against every orthodoxy of provincial Ireland, against the pieties of family, church and Empire. Even before pre-publication, Ulysses became the fighting flag of Modernism: a sort of cracked 'true realism,' an anti-violent anarchism in prose, poetry and painting, too. Do you still hear the rebellious voice in the modernist masterpieces: Mrs. Dalloway, The Waste-Land? Have you made it through Ulysses? Is history a nightmare we're still sleeping through? Guests include Kevin Birmingham, author of The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses; Howard Eiland, Modernist scholar, editor of the modernist philosopher, Walter Benjamin, and author of the biography Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life; Eve Sorun, Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, currently writing a book on empathy and elegy in British modernism.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "T.S. Elliot's The Waste Land ("What the Thunder Said")." (1992)
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Here is the last part of one of the best know 20th century modernist poems, by T. S. Elliot -- The Waste Land -- read by Elliot himself. For more readings by Elliot, go to: http://www.eliotsociety.org.uk/?page_id=95. For a short biography of Elliot, see: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/eliot/life.htm
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November 25, 2014
Segment 1 | Backstory: "Imagined Nations ~ Depictions of American Indians (2014)
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From Backstory and the American History Guys: "Is redskin a racial slur? The U.S. Patent Office says so. So do many Native Americans who have protested the use of the term by that team. Activists say the team's name and its logo -- the image of a generic Indian man in profile, with braids and long feathers -- celebrate negative stereotypes about America's indigenous people. On this show, we're taking a long look at how Native peoples have been represented -- and misrepresented -- in U.S. history. We'll also ask how American Indians themselves have challenged and reinvented those depictions. We have stories about art in the early days of European conquest, dioramas in America's museums of 'natural history,' and a 19th century football team that was actually made up entirely of American Indian players." Guests Include: David Wallace Adams, emeritus, Cleveland State University; Joyce Chaplin, Harvard University; Frederick Hoxie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Christian McMillen, University of Virginia; Barbara Meek, University of Michigan; Veronica Pasfield, American Studies scholar and member of the Bay Mills Indian Community; Martha Sandweiss, Princeton University .

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Buffy Sainte Marie and Bury My Heart in Wounded Knee." (1992)
 Download: MP3



Canadian-American Cree folksinger and songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie (1941-) wrote this song to commemorate an event that by the early 1990s symbolized the exploitation and abuse of native Americans throughout America's history: the abortive 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota by 300 Oglala Lakota and supporters -- organized by the Oglala Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) and the American Indian Movement (AIM). For more information on the event see the papers of the Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee held at the Minnesota Historical Society. The following is drawn from the finding aid to that collection (:http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/00229.xml):

On February 27, 1973, approximately 300 Indians on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, led by members of the Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) and the American Indian Movement (AIM), occupied the village of Wounded Knee. During the 71-day siege, the occupants established the Independent Oglala Nation and demanded the U.S. Government's recognition of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with the Sioux Nation, the removal of the Oglala Sioux tribal council, and new elections. In March 1973, under the guidance of AIM, seventeen lawyers and legal workers from across the country established the Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee (WKLD/OC) in Rapid City, South Dakota. As outlined in a proposal submitted at the time, the committee's objectives were to provide an adequate defense for those charged with crimes in or about Wounded Knee, to encourage the return of the rule of law to the area surrounding Wounded Knee, to permit residents to return to their homes, to prohibit federal agents from making further illegal arrests, and to make the facts about Wounded Knee known to the American public. While pursuing these objectives WKLD/OC became an active participant in the negotiations that led to the end of the siege and the stand-down on May 8, 1973. Over 400 people were arrested at Wounded Knee resulting in 275 cases in federal, state, and tribal courts. WKLD/OC represented all defendants in the federal and tribal Wounded Knee cases. The Wounded Knee federal cases included 7 defendants charged with major conspiracy (so-called leadership cases) and 127 defendants faced with charges involving breaking and entering, larceny, conspiracy, and interfering with federal marshals (Consolidated Wounded Knee Cases). The 97 persons tried in the tribal courts of the Oglala Sioux Tribe were charged almost exclusively with either riot or unlawful assembly as defined in the tribal code. The Committee also handled related cases arising from events prior to the occupation and afterwards including protests at Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and Custer, Rapid City, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In addition to its efforts at providing an adequate defense, WKLD/OC undertook several offensive actions, bringing about a dozen civil suits against several authorities, including the Oglala Sioux tribal council and its president, Dick Wilson, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Due to a determination that it would be impossible to obtain a fair trial in South Dakota, the federal leadership trials were moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the consolidated cases to Lincoln, Nebraska, Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Bismarck, North Dakota.

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November 18, 2014
Segment 1 | Hindsight: "War and Peace" (2014)
 Download: MP3


From Hindsight and Radio National (Australia), this is part four of a 4-part series ("The Long Shadow") marking the centenary of World War I: "In his great novel, War and Peace, set during the Napoleonic era, Leo Tolstoy gives a cameo role to a Prussian officer serving with the Russian army. Carl von Clausewitz, like many of Tolstoy’s characters, was a real person and probably the best-known philosopher of modern war. In War and Peace, Tolstoy uses Clausewitz to make a point about the moral emptiness of reducing war to a series of rational actions. For Tolstoy, war was fundamentally chaotic and uncontrollable. For Clausewitz, while war was certainly subject to the vagaries of chance, it was also an instrument of the state – war, in his famous aphorism, was “policy by other means”. Clausewitz published his treatise On War in 1832. The book had a great influence on military planning in the late 19th and early 20th century, particularly on German strategy up to 1914. Tolstoy in his later years developed a pacifism which opposed both war and the state, and which influenced the conscientious objector movement which flourished throughout World War One. Together, these two great thinkers enrich our understanding of both war and peace." Guests include: Professor Sir Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor of The History of War at All Soul’s College, the University of Oxford; David E. Kaiser, historian, former Professor in the Strategy and Policy Department of the United States Naval War College; Hugh Smith, Associate Professor of Politics at the Australian Defence Force Academy; Donna Tussing Orwin, Professor of Russian Literature at the University of Toronto; Colm McKeogh, Senior Lecturer in Political Science & Public Policy at the University of Waikato; Rosamund Bartlett, Author and translator, and a specialist in Russian Literature.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "George Kennan on the U.S., the Soviet Union, and the Atomic Bomb" (1957; short selection)
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Here is a short selection from a recorded talk by US diplomat and historian George F Kennan -- the intellectual architect of the U.S. Cold War policy of "containment" -- delivered on December 1, 1957. Kennan "discusses the military tensions between Russia and the West in the fourth lecture in his Reith Lectures series 'Russia, the Atom and the West'. He considers how atomic weapons have changed the relationship between East and West, and confronts the problem of the 'mutually assured destruction' doctrine." For the trasncript of the entire talk, see: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/rmhttp/radio4/transcripts/1957_reith4.pdf. To access the full recording go to the BBC site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/rla48/all.

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November 11, 2014
Segment 1 | Against the Grain: "Imperial Suburb" (2014)
 Download: MP3


From Against the Grain, we bring you this exploration of the early hisory of the CIA: "In the early days of the CIA, Allen Dulles moved the agency from Washington, D.C. to the suburbs, spawning a complex of government and private entities in the service of US empire. Scholar Andrew Friedman unearths the significance of the national security state's base in Northern Virginia. He examines the imperial ties and intimate connections between agents -- such as well-known female science fiction writer James Tiptree -- and their collaborators in Africa, Vietnam, Iran, Central America, and elsewhere." Andrew Friedman is the author of Covert Capital: Landscapes of Denial and the Making of U.S. Empire in the Suburbs of Northern Virginia (UC Press, 2014).

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "OSS Training Film Soundtrack" (1942)
 Download: MP3



The OSS -- the Office of Strategic Services -- was the US intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency. Here is an excerpt from the audio track of one of many training films that they produced during World War II. For the full film (in video), see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy1ZAMTENTI.

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November 4, 2014
Segment 1 | Backstory: "American Apparel: A History of Fashion" (2014)
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From Backstory and the American History Guys, an exploration of fashion in history: "...what Americans wear reflects so much more than the weather. In this episode, an examinaiton of what our self-presentation can say about our society and culture, and what fashions reflect about moments and movements in American history. Can fashion statements be political statements? How does fashion evolve, or does it revolve? And does the United States have a unique style?"

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "the Emperor's New Clothes"
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From Librivox, a reading of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes," published in Copenhagen in 1837 in the third installment of Fairy Tales for Children. More on Andersen and the influence of an earlier Spanish folktale on his story, at The Hans Christian Andersen Center.

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October 21, 2014
Segment 1 | Hindsight: "A History of Forgetting - From Shellshock to PTSD" (2014)
 Download: MP3



Here's an exploration of the impact of warfare on soldiers' minds, from ABC Radio National's Hindsight, starting off with an Australian story and expanding it into a broader look at PTSD: "Australia may well hold the record for rescuing the most shell-shocked ANZAC soldier from the front in World War One. His amnesia was total. He couldn't even remember his own name. 'George Brown' became famous in the newspapers of 192'’s as the Unknown Patient of Callan Park, the mental hospital in Sydney. Hundreds turned up to look at him, hoping he was their missing son, brother or husband, finally returned from the trenches. In this program, we tell George's story. The Great War was the first time the world experienced trauma on such a massive scale. But the world was ill-equipped to know what to do about it. Historians are now looking through repatriation files to see the extent of the damage. The medical records of returned servicemen offer a forgotten history, which runs parallel to the public story of the brave men of the ANZAC legend. Incredibly brave they were, but many were deeply troubled and in desperate need of help. Millions of returned servicemen took their troubles home, where they were encouraged to forget and move on. From World War One right up until 1980, psychiatrists were predominantly of the view that some men were 'predisposed' to suffer trauma because of their inherent individual weakness. 'Malingering' was of great concern to the military in its administration of war pensions. In 1980, after lessons learned from the Vietnam War, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was first recognised in the DSM -- the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. PTSD acknowledged that trauma was created by a catastrophic event outside the range of usual human experience. For the first time, soldiers were not to blame for their own distress. 'The history of forgetting' charts the uneasy relationship between the military, psychiatry and the men and women who've fought those wars."

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1929; 1930 film and reading - excerpts).
 Download: MP3



Here are a couple of excerpt from Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front -- first from the 1930 sound film that won Academy Award for Best Picture, and then a very short excerpt from a reading from the original novel (narrator Frank Muller; full version available from Audible Audio Edition). The 1929 novel was one of the most powerful anti-war novels of the 20th century, describing in detail the traumatic impact of war on soldiers' bodies and minds. It was condemned and denounced by the Nazi government in the 1930s and later banned.

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October 14, 2014
Segment 1 | Hindsight: "Little Feet ~ Children Starting Over in America" (2014).
 Download: MP3



From Backstory and the American History Guys: "Stories about the surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S./Mexico border filled news pages this summer. It's often been referred to as an immigration 'crisis.' But American history is replete with stories of children leaving their families to start new lives in America. On this week's episode, BackStory delves into some of these, including first-hand accounts of European children sent to America during WWII and of New York orphans who were put on trains out West a generation earlier. And the American History Guys consider the complexities of 'humanitarian' efforts to save children from Communism during the Cold War, as well as from their own Native American pasts. Guests include: Kate Reen, program supervisor at Northern Virginia Family Services talks about the legal, emotional, and practical challenges that accompany children who cross the border on their own; BackStory editor Robert Armengol explores the legacy of Operation Pedro Pan, a plan to save Cuban children from communist indoctrination by leaving their families and resettling in the United States; Historian Tsianina Lomawaima talks about the enduring legacy of Indian boarding schools, which sought to forcibly integrate tribal children into white society; Siblings Sheila and Malcolm Barlow, who were sent from wartime London to rural Pennsylvania to escape the danger of German air raids, tell their story; Historian Kristen Lashua tells host Peter Onuf about a wave of kidnappings in 17th century London, where children were abducted specifically to be sold to plantation owners in the New World as indentured servants; some of the last generation of orphan train riders -- children from the orphanages of New York and other cities who were shipped west to families in the West who needed farm labor -- share their stories."

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Charles Lindbergh in Des Moines, Sept. 11, 1941 Speech."
 Download: MP3



Charles A. Lindbergh delivered this speech at an America First Committee meeting in Des Moines, Iowa on September 11, 1941. His address summarized the reasons why he believed the U.S. should not enter the war in Europe. His continuing vocal opposition-- in 1940 and 1941 -- to U.S. involvement in the growing conflict in Europe greatly alienated him from Franklin Roosevelt and many Americans who were starting to recognize the threat of Fascism. Lindbergh was awarded the Medal of Honor for his historic 1927 trans-Atlantic flight from Long Island to Paris; in 1932, his infant child was kidnapped and murdered. Lindbergh reversed his position on U.S. involvement in WWII after the attack on Pearl Harbor. For more information on Lindbergh, see: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/lindbergh/index.html.

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October 7, 2014
Segment 1 | Hindsight: "Wheelwork of Nature: Tesla and the 21st Century"
 Download: MP3



From ABC Radio National's Hindsight, here's a creative theatrical documenary on the life and work of electrical engineer Nikola Tesla: "He’s been called a poet of science, modern Prometheus, creator of the 20th century and has been likened, in his polymath genius, to Leonardo da Vinci. Nikola Tesla is known for the many inventions he gave to the world. He’s also remembered for his eccentricities and some apparently extraordinary, even crazy, claims about discovering different ways of providing energy. But these ideas have proved to be prescient and he’s now seen by some as the first ecologist, a prophet of the 21st century. This program draws on Nikola Tesla's autobiography, to enter into the complex, charged world inside his head, and across a life fused by the rhythmic beat of a fierce imagination, and a thirst for knowledge and meaning. Alongside, some differing perceptions of Tesla are offered, with interpretations of his life and work, and the legacy he’s left to us and to future generations."

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "George Wise on Charles Proteus Steinmetz."
 Download: MP3



Historian of science and technology George Wise explores the early career of another electrical engineer, Charles Proteus Steinmetz. Steinmetz pioneered in the study of AC current and electrical motor efficiency and helped found General Electric's first corporate laboratory in Schenectady, New York. For more information on Steinmetz (and the full video of Wise's comments), see: http://edisontechcenter.org/CharlesProteusSteinmetz.html.

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