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Episode 166: G. J. Meyer

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Release Date: 02/18/2020

Episode 204: Blake Scott Ball show art Episode 204: Blake Scott Ball

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

A native of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Blake Ball originally wanted to be a musician. Then he got the history bug. He has a new book out and it's his first, Charlie Brown's America: The Popular Politics of Peanuts. He's also the head of the history department at Huntingdon College in Alabama. When you think of Peanuts, you probably don't think of politics. But given the enormous popularity of the comic and TV shows, Charles Schulz felt obligated to address some of the major issues of the day, from civil rights to the women's movement and the Vietnam War. Schulz, however, often approached these...

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Episode 203: Joshua D. Rothman show art Episode 203: Joshua D. Rothman

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Josh Rothman has gone native. Originally from New York, he has lived in Alabama for a while, where he is the head of the history department at the University of Alabama. He has a new book, The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America. Josh began his career as a historian at Cornell University, where he completed a B.A. under the guidance of political historian Joel Silbey. He then went on to the University of Virginia, where he studied under (previous podcast guest) Ed Ayers. The Ledger and the Chain builds upon a career dedicated to southern racial and social history....

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Episode 202: Edward Packard show art Episode 202: Edward Packard

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Edward Packard knows about choices. He went to Columbia Law School, but he never really wanted to be an attorney. He admits he was often "sleepwalking" through life before landing on an innovative idea for young readers. He eventually began writing full time, and many 80s kids (like Colin) can thank him for that. Edward created and wrote for the popular "Choose Your Own Adventure" series of paperbacks. Edward's idea was so successful that it inspired spin-offs (including his own Space Hawks series) and imitators. The series began in 1969 as a book called Sugarcane Island that Edward wrote for...

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Episode 201: Colin Woodard show art Episode 201: Colin Woodard

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Colin often gets confused with Colin. And by that, we mean the author of Marching Masters is often thought of as an author of books about Maine and pirates. To clear things up, Colin Woodard is the Maine author and historian behind Republic of Pirates, The Lobster Coast, American Nations, and the recent book, Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood (2020).  A writer his whole life, Colin came into journalism "accidentally." He studied history as an undergraduate at Tufts and began as a correspondent in post-communist Europe, spending long stretches in Hungary....

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Episode 200: Michael Bellesiles show art Episode 200: Michael Bellesiles

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Recorded on St. Patrick's Day, Colin talks with historian Michael Bellesiles about our country reckoning with major issues such as gun violence, citizenship, and equality.  Michael is best known for his controversial book Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture, published in 2000. The book was the subject of an intense and prolonged campaign by NRA members and other right wing individuals to demolish its thesis and discredit Dr. Bellesiles's scholarship and integrity. The publicity surrounding the book was intense, and the fallout for Michael's career was severe. But he has...

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Episode 199: Episode 199: "The NRA: The Unauthorized History"

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

In part two of Colin's talk with journalist Frank Smyth, Frank talks about his 2020 book, The NRA: The Unauthorized History. The history of the National Rifle Association begins in New York City in 1871 as a group made up of Union veterans and those interested in target shooting. Founded on the model of the British National Rifle Association, the American NRA was a pro-government, pro-military organization seeking to train men for the next major war. As Frank's book shows, the NRA started to take a hard turn to the Right in the late 1970s at what has been called the "Cincinnati Revolt." Today,...

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Episode 198: Frank Smyth: Central America and the Mid-East show art Episode 198: Frank Smyth: Central America and the Mid-East

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Frank Smyth is a journalist with a long and impressive career covering war-torn places such as Central America and the Mid-East. His resume includes articles and stories for The Village Voice, The Nation, and The Washington Post. He is also the author of The NRA: The Unauthorized History (2020), the subject of the next American Rambler podcast. You can find Frank's writings at and . In part one of Frank and Colin's conversation, Frank talks about how he went from a student at Boston College and Johns Hopkins to covering the complicated and often brutal war in El Salvador in the mid-1980s,...

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Episode 197: Dan Gullotta show art Episode 197: Dan Gullotta

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Dan Gullotta is the host of the popular Age of Jackson history podcast. A relatively recent arrival in the U.S. by way of Australia, Dan is a Ph.D. student of religious studies at Stanford University, though he is currently residing in Kansas. Dan is working on a dissertation that focuses on 19th century religion and how it influenced the development of the second party system in America.  Dan talks with Colin about why he wanted to do a podcast, his love of his new homeland, and where America stands in terms of its historical consciousness. He also discusses what he doesn't like about...

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Episode 196: The Kid Detective with Michael Scott show art Episode 196: The Kid Detective with Michael Scott

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Movie detectives are as old as movies themselves. So what could a 2020 film add to the genre? Michael Scott, co-host of cinema podcast The Dana Buckler Show and his own film podcast Adkins Undisputed returns to American Rambler to discuss the recent crime noir/comedy/thriller The Kid Detective. It's a detective movie, but in addition to having a subtle comedic sense, it packs an emotional punch. The Kid Detective stars Adam Brody (of TV's The O.C. and Smallville) as Abe Applebaum, an early-30s, down-on-his-luck private investigator who gets his biggest case in years involving the murder of a...

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Episode 195: James Oakes show art Episode 195: James Oakes

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

James Oakes is a two time winner of the Lincoln Prize for Civil War studies. But as he tells Colin, he initially went to college for business. An English teacher at Baruch College wisely turned him away from the world of international finance. Since then, he has made a name for himself as a scholar of 19th century history. Jim ended up attending Berkeley for graduate school during an astounding period in the department's history. He studied with Kenneth Stampp, whose book The Peculiar Institution Jim had read when he was still in high school. Also there at the time was Winthrop Jordan,...

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He lives in England now, but historian G. J. Meyer is a native of St. Louis, who developed his journalism chops at newspapers in the mid-west. Jerry rose in the ranks at the St. Louis Dispatch, and his writing won him a Neiman fellowship at Harvard. He published a book on a Memphis serial killer in 1974, but he eventually left journalism to work in corporate America, which became the basis for his second book, Executive Blues. He returned to writing full-time once he landed in New York and found a publisher for World Undone, a tour de force history of World War I.

In part one of his two part talk with Colin, Jerry discusses his winding path to becoming a full-time writer. He also talks about how World Undone was different from other books on the Great War, and how that tragic conflict changed the global landscape.