Professor Buzzkill History Podcast
Professor Buzzkill is an exciting new blog & podcast that explores history myths in an illuminating, entertaining, and humorous way.
info_outline #305 - Man Crush Monday: Umrao Singh 04/22/2019
#305 - Man Crush Monday: Umrao Singh Umrao Singh was one of thirty-one British Indian Army soldiers awarded the Victoria Cross during WWII, and was the only NCO in Royal Artillery or Royal Indian Artillery to receive a VC during WWII. On the night of 15-16 Dec 1944, Singh commanded a field gun detachment close to front. His defense of his position and his counter-attack on Japanese forces was heroic and has become legendary. But listen to our Man Crush Monday to get the full story!
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #221 - The KKK: History and Myth 04/19/2019
*Flashback Friday* #221 - The KKK: History and Myth Practically nothing in the history of the United States has suffered from myth-making and misunderstanding as much as the history of race relations and racist violence. The history Ku Klux Klan is no exception. This is ironic. In its various incarnations, the KKK was supposed to be a secret organization. But historians know a great deal about it, and have analyzed it deeply. We explain the three periods of KKK, how each version of the Klan was different, but also how each version had one crucial thing in common -- hate. Listen, learn, and contemplate.
info_outline #304 - Truman Assassination Attempt 04/16/2019
#304 - Truman Assassination Attempt Puerto Rican nationalists tried to assassinate President Harry Truman in 1950. Then, in 1954, different Puerto Rican Nationalists opened fire in the House of Representatives, wounding Congressmen. Professor Perry Blatz joins us to explain the background to Puerto Rican nationalism and its impact on US political life in the mid-20th century. Listen and learn!
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #232 - Programmed Inequality: Women and British Computing 04/12/2019
*Flashback Friday* #232 - Programmed Inequality: Women and British Computing Professor Marie Hicks joins us to talk about gender and employment in the emerging field of computing in Britain, and all the historical myths that surround them. In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. We examine why this happened in the tense post-war world, as Britain was losing its role as a global leader and innovator. Professor Hicks calls this a story of gendered technocracy, and it undercut Britain's flexibility in the technology age. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!
info_outline #303 - Quote or No Quote: "The pen is mighter than the sword." 04/09/2019
#303 - Quote or No Quote: "The pen is mighter than the sword." Many of you have written in to ask me to trace the origins of the phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”. Was it Shakespeare, Voltaire, or Thomas Jefferson? Some of you have even seen it attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and that famous magnet for all quotations, Winston Churchill. Well, we explain it all in this Quote or No Quote episode!
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #135 - Mini-Myth: Bridge on the River Kwai 04/05/2019
*Flashback Friday* #135 - Mini-Myth: Bridge on the River Kwai In the Academy Award-winning film, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Colonel Nicholson is portrayed as a man who willingly betrays his country and his men for an easier ride as prisoner of war. He collaborates with his captors in order to build a railway bridge that is key to Japan's war efforts in Burma and Thailand. While the men under his command are initially intent on sabotaging the bridge, Nicholson convinces them otherwise, ostensibly in order to maintain troop morale, and to show that British engineering is superior to that of the Japanese. The only problem, Dear Buzzkillers, is that the real commanding British Colonel on the River Kwai was was nothing like the character portrayed in the movie.
info_outline #302 - Income Tax and Inequality in US History 04/02/2019
#302 - Income Tax and Inequality in US History Income tax is a troubling issue in American politics and history. We explain its long and complicated history, and delve into the even more complicated history of how personal income tax has related to the question of equality and inequality in US society. Professor Nash tells us how the American government has raised funds for peacetime needs and, of course, times of war. It’s not a simple tale of taxes rising as the country grew and the US government grew. Taxation is perhaps the most difficult thing to explain in American governmental history, but we make it easy to understand.
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #209 - The Age of Charisma 03/29/2019
*Flashback Friday* #209 - The Age of Charisma Professor Jeremy Young joins us to discuss the Age of Charisma (1870-1940). It was an exciting period in US history: industrialization was in high gear; railroads and telegraph lines were spreading widely; mass media was born; and increased concentration on charisma, magnetism, and emotion in politics, religion, and social reform. Styles of public speaking changed and founded the phenomenon of personality politics.
info_outline #301 - Woman Crush Wednesday: Qiu Jin 03/27/2019
#301 - Woman Crush Wednesday: Qiu Jin It’s a rare thing indeed to find someone in history who stands up and rebels against almost all the things she finds oppressive in society. Such a woman was Qiu Jin, the Chinese revolutionary whose short but dramatic life has led her to be called “China’s Joan of Arc.” She rebelled not only against the strictures placed on her as an individual, but also against the broader restrictions and repression against women in Chinese society in politics and society in the early 20th century. A great woman for a Woman Crush Wednesday!
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #12 - Rosa Parks 03/22/2019
*Flashback Friday* #12 - Rosa Parks Meek and mild Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in 1950s Alabama because she was just tired after a long day at work. That’s mostly myth, and it obscures all the work that Mrs. Parks did, as well as over-simplifying the complicated politics of the civil rights movement. Join us as we interview Professor Jeanne Theoharis, author of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.
info_outline #300 - Jesse James and the Civil War 03/19/2019
#300 - Jesse James and the Civil War Was Jesse James a famous “western outlaw” or is the story more complicated than that? Listen as Professor Nash takes us through James’ life and explains the centrality of the Civil War, and how the bitterness enhanced by the civil war motivated his post-war life of crime. And how about Jesse James as a modern-day Robin Hood? We explore that myth and how the celebration of Frank and Jesse James has been based on hype, hatred, and histrionics.
info_outline *Encore Episode* #93 - Mini-Myth: St. Patrick's Day 03/17/2019
*Encore Episode* #93 - Mini-Myth: St. Patrick's Day What can possibly be wrong with St. Patrick’s Day? Not much, except that there’s very little historical basis behind stories about St. Patrick. And there’s certainly no historical basis for excess drinking, green beer, and the Chicago River turned green. Or is there? The Professor becomes more open minded right before our very ears!
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #229 - Irish Slaves Myth 03/15/2019
*Flashback Friday* #229 - Irish Slaves Myth The Irish slaves myth claims that Irish people were enslaved by the British and sent to the Americas (especially the Caribbean) to work on plantations. This myth primarily appears in emails and Facebook posts, and goes like this: Irish people were enslaved in greater numbers than people enslaved from Africa, and treated worse than African slaves. Irish slave women were forcibly bred with African slaves in order to produce valuable mulatto children slaves. The history of Irish slaves has been buried by our politically-correct world, so the myth goes, and has been replaced by an over-emphasis on the enslavement of Africans in the New World. But is there any truth to it, Buzzkillers? Listen and learn.
info_outline #299 - Irish Things That Are Actually British 03/12/2019
#299 - Irish Things That Are Actually British The Professor seems to want to make enemies in this episode. He shows that many things central to Irish culture and identity are actually British in origin -- St. Patrick, “the craic,” and “Danny Boy” come under his withering analytical gaze. But he may surprise you with the ultimate conclusions he reaches. Maybe he’s not that much of a buzzkill after all.
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #138 - Hitler's Early Years 03/08/2019
*Flashback Friday* #138 - Hitler's Early Years Super Buzzkiller Prof Philip Nash joins us to examine some of the zillion myths surrounding Adolf Hitler and his early years. We discuss the myth of his brutal childhood and youthful poverty, the complicated story of his service in World War I (and the ways in which he wrote about it later in Mein Kampf), and the myths surrounding his early political career and political activism. It’s very deep and complicated, Buzzkillers!
info_outline #298 - Making of the Non-Smoker 03/05/2019
#298 - Making of the Non-Smoker The “Non-Smoker” as a category of persons seems obvious in the 21st century. But it wasn’t always this way. Professor Sarah Milov gives the history of the non-smoking movement, including the medical, legal, and political battles that eventually led to smoke-free public places. Hear about pressure groups like GASP, ASH, and the countless local movements that helped clear the air.
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #180 - Executive Orders 03/01/2019
*Flashback Friday* #180 - Executive Orders Huge numbers of listeners have flooded the Buzzkill Institute with emails, faxes, texts, and Tweets, asking about President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders. They’ve come so fast and furious! With a little help from Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan, we explain the nature and operation of Executive Orders, as well as the history behind this fascinating aspect of American history and government.
info_outline Green Book Encore: Traveling While Black 02/26/2019
Green Book Encore: Traveling While Black 20th century automobile travel was supposed to represent freedom, but what else did it represent? Professor Cotten Seiler from Dickinson College joins us to discuss the difficulties and hazards of traveling in the United States faced by African-American motorists in the 20th Century, especially during the height of segregation and Jim Crow. Specifically, we learn how important guides like the Negro Motorist Green Book and the popular Travelguide: Vacation and Recreation Without Humiliation were to the reality of “traveling while black.”
info_outline #297 - Man Crush Monday: Ignaz Semmelweis 02/25/2019
#297 - Man Crush Monday: Ignaz Semmelweis Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis became known as the “savior of mothers” due to his pioneering work in antiseptic procedures during childbirth. His clinical and laboratory research proved that hand disinfection for doctors was essential in preventing infections and complications for mothers and newborn infants. Shunned and ridiculed by the medical establishment at the time, Semmelweis fought valiantly to have his new procedures adopted in delivery rooms and maternity wards. He was the pioneer of antiseptic treatment that Louis Pasteur and Thomas Lister later turned into standard medical practice.
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #104 - Mini-Myth: Bra Burning 02/22/2019
*Flashback Friday* #104 - Mini-Myth: Bra Burning Did women’s rights protesters go so far as to burn their bras in public in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in the same way that anti-war protesters burned their draft cards? Well, no, Buzzkillers. They did throw them in “freedom trash cans,” along with girdles, high-heeled shoes, and cosmetics. Not as dramatic as burning them, but a whole more sensible, from a public safety point of view, wouldn’t you say?
info_outline #296 - “Nazi” “Socialist”: What’s in a Name? 02/20/2019
#296 - “Nazi” “Socialist”: What’s in a Name? Why was Hitler’s fascist party named the “National-Socialist German Workers' Party”? “Socialist” and “Fascist” usually have totally different, indeed opposite, meanings. How did they get combined and what did the “National Socialist” label mean in the 1930s and 1940s? And why are democratic socialists nowadays tarred with the “Nazi” brush by the talk radio circus clowns? Professor Nash helps us understand it all. Listen and learn!
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #152 - Mini-Myth: 1965 Blackout Increased Births 02/15/2019
*Flashback Friday* #152 - Mini-Myth: 1965 Blackout Increased Births The blackout of November 1965 was a big event in the north-east of the United States and in Ontario. But did it result in an increase in babies born nine months later? When deprived of other “entertainments,” did people divert themselves with love? Snuggle up with the Professor, Buzzkillers, and hear the full story.
info_outline *Encore Episode* #179 - Quote or No Quote: St. Valentine | "Your Valentine" 02/14/2019
*Encore Episode* #179 - Quote or No Quote: St. Valentine | "Your Valentine" Valentine’s Day is here again, Buzzkillers, and you can be certain that we’re depleting the Buzzkill bank account at a rapid clip so that we can give Lady Buzzkill all the best tokens of love and affection befitting her rank and station. And it’s always around this time of year that people ask me about St. Valentine. Did he really pass a heart-shaped note to an admirer and sign it “Your Valentine”? Was this the first Valentine’s Day card? Listen and learn!
info_outline #295 - Border Walls in History: Why Were They Built? Did They Work? 02/12/2019
#295 - Border Walls in History: Why Were They Built? Did They Work? Border walls have long been a feature in history. But why were they built? Was it for protection, as imposing symbols, to regulate trade and migration? Did they work, and for how long? Despite what you may hear in contemporary political debates, the answers from history are murky and complicated. But listen as the Professor explains it all for you.
info_outline #294 - Woman Crush Wednesday: Irene Gut Opdyke 02/06/2019
#294 - Woman Crush Wednesday: Irene Gut Opdyke Seeing a German soldier killing an infant in 1942 was a transformative moment for Irene Gut, a young Polish nurse. She dedicated the rest of her wartime life to rescuing and hiding Jews, despite the some of the most harrowing circumstances imaginable. Listen to Professor Nash explain the life of a woman who truly deserves to be called “Righteous Among the Nations.”
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #111 - Workers Entombed in Concrete 02/01/2019
*Flashback Friday* #111 - Workers Entombed in Concrete It’s a story that drives tour guides and historians of engineering crazy. A worker falls into a pool of wet concrete that’s being poured as part of a major construction project. Before he can be saved, his body slips beneath the surface and he drowns in the thick soup of the concrete. It’s too difficult to extract the body and the construction bosses don’t want to stop the “concrete pour,” so he gets entombed in the concrete pillars of the bridge, or the concrete walls of the dam, or whatever it is they’re building. Were bosses that cold? Was the march of progress so heartless? Find out, Buzzkillers.
info_outline #293 - Birthright Citizenship 01/29/2019
#293 - Birthright Citizenship Becoming a citizen by being born in a country is an topic that flares up whenever there are controversies about immigration and immigrants. This episode explains birthright citizenship and how it developed in the United States and the western hemisphere. And, of course, it explains the complicated history of the tradition, especially how it was applied to Native Americans and freed slaves. It wasn’t as simple as you might have thought. Listen and learn!
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #109 - St Francis of Assisi 01/25/2019
*Flashback Friday* #109 - St Francis of Assisi St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most popular saints in the Christian religion. He’s known as a lover of animals, the first eco-warrior, and a peace-negotiator during the crusades. How much of this is true, and how much is myth? “Make me the instrument of your buzzkilling!”
info_outline #292 - New Map of Empire in British North America 01/21/2019
#292 - New Map of Empire in British North America After the Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years’ War in 1763, British America stretched from Hudson Bay to the Florida Keys, from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River, and across new islands in the West Indies. To better rule these vast dominions, Britain set out to map its new territories with unprecedented rigor and precision. Max Edelson’s The New Map of Empire pictures the contested geography of the British Atlantic world and offers new explanations of the causes and consequences of Britain’s imperial ambitions in the generation before the American Revolution. Listen and learn!
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #198 - Watergate Myths 01/18/2019
*Flashback Friday* #198 - Watergate Myths Is Watergate the story of heroic journalists working against all odds and in great danger to get at the truth of presidential corruption? Is it more complicated than that? How accurate was All the President's Men? Who really brought the Nixon presidency down? Professor Buzzkill's new episode explains all!