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37Episodes
History

Pulling back the curtain on all the great debates and controversies of American History.

Episodes

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On Episode 35 of American History Toowe're joined by the University of Hull's Rachel Williams to discuss the role that religion played in the American Civil War.  

Rachel guides us through the evolution of religion from the founding years through to the antebellum era and the effect it had on the emerging country. What effect did relgion have in justifying slavery in the South? Has religion in the US benefitted from not having a predetermined state religion? And what was the effect of the Second Great Awakening?

We then discuss how religion shaped the experience of the Civil War and how it impacted both the Northern and Southern cause. Finally, Rachel reflects on how the Civil War experience impacted upon religion going forward and offers us a sneak preview of next month's episode.

We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did.

Cheers,

Mark and Malcolm

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On Episode 34 of American History Too! we're joined by the University of Birmingham's James West (@ejwestuk) to discuss the history of Black History Month and the debates that surround BHM.

Over the course of the hour we get stuck into the legacy of the Civil Rights movement, the origins of Black History Month and whether it is viewed in a positive light by black Americans. Finally, James offers us a fascinating insight into how corporations have advertised during BHM, and whether their efforts are cynical or genuine.  

Our apologies for the recording quality on one of the microphones for this episode - snowstorms and internet connections don't go well!

Cheers,

Mark and Malcolm

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On Episode 33 we turn our attentions back to the CIA and pick up where we left off in Episode 31.

Joined by the University of Reading’s Dafydd Townley, we whizz through the CIA’s successes and failures in the 1950s and 1960s, when the agency was given free rein by Congress to do as it pleased without questioning.

With the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal fuelling public distrust in American institutions, however, it was only logical that the CIA – for so long shrouded in mystery – would come under the microscope. In 1975, three separate investigations were launched into the CIA, with the notable being the Church Committee, that raised new and troubling questions about the nation’s premier intelligence gathering vehicle.

In this episode of American History Too! we investigate the Committee’s findings and dig deeper into what would become known as the ‘Year of Intelligence’.

We’ll be back next month with an episode that will overlap with Black History Month.

Until then, thanks for again listening!

Mark and Malcolm

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In 1942, GIs who were being deployed to Britain were presented with a clear set of official instructions which warned them what they could expect to find when they reached wartime Britain:

‘‘You are coming to Britain from a country where your home is still safe, food is still plentiful, and lights are still burning. So it is doubly important for you to remember that their British soldiers and civilians have been living under a tremendous strain. It is always impolite to criticize your hosts. It is militarily stupid to insult your allies.’ – Instructions for American Servicemen (1942)

Equally, in December 1943, the novelist George Orwell wrote in the Tribune that ‘It is difficult to go anywhere in London without having the feeling that London is now occupied territory.’

Both extracts give a sense of uneasy alliance between two nations which have all too often been portrayed as locked together in a ‘special relationship’ for seventy odd years. But like all relationships, alliance warfare between the US and the UK underwent periods of severe strain as well as harmonious efficiency. In this podcast, with the help of Dr Frances Houghton (University of Manchester) we’ll be discussing the extent to which the 3 million US personnel who passed through Britain between 1942-45 were really perceived as ‘overpaid, over-fed, over-sexed, and over here’ in wartime Britain.

A huge thanks from both of us for tuning in for another year. We can't wait to get back to podcasting in the New Year, and we've already got many esteemed guests lined up for 2017 to discuss more fascinating topics in American History.

Cheers,

Mark and Malcolm

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World War II is over, the Cold War is just beginning, and the United States is set on winning hearts and minds - and foreign elections - by any means necessary. On episode 31 of American History Too! we travel back to the mid-1940s and tell the story behind the creation of the CIA's covert operations programme. From tales of Jesus to a disaster in Bogota, the programme's birth was an interesting one to say the least.

Thanks again for listening and we'll be back next month to discuss the experience of American and British soldiers during World War II.  

Cheers,

Mark and Malcolm 

 

Scholarship

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, The CIA and American Democracy, 2nd edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998)

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, Cloak and Dollar: A History of American Secret Intelligence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002)

Steven Long, The CIA and the Soviet Bloc: Political Warfare, the Origins of the CIA and Countering Communism in Europe (London: I.B. Tauris, 2014)

Kaeten Mistry, The United States, Italy and the Origins of Cold War: Waging Political Warfare 1945–1950 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Christopher Moran, Company Confessions: Revealing CIA Secrets (London: Biteback, 2015)

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What it says in the title. It's over and in an attempt to process Trump's shock victory we break down the 2016 election into historical perspective. To do so, we're joined once more by Paddy Andelic (@pkandelic). We discuss why Trump won, why Clinton lost, where the parties stand, and what history suggests we're in store for from a Trump presidency. Finally, we answer an eerily prescient listener question.

We'll be back next week with our regular podcast so look out for that, and thanks again for listening.  

Cheers,

Mark and Malcolm

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On Episode 30 of American History Too! we take a deep dive into the history of music and presidential campaigns in the United States. Joined by the Imperial War Museum's Fraser McCallum we discuss the rise of campaign music from the nineteenth century to the current 2016 election, including all the great love affairs and spats that have existed between politicians and musicians. 

Following our discussion of music, we then delve into a debate on whether the politics as entertainment - a theme so evident in this year's campaign - is a new phenomenon or whether it's been around since the beginning of mass democracy.  

We'll be back next month with a podcast on the history of the CIA. Until then, have a great election!

Cheers,
Mark and Malcolm
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In London on May 22nd 1846, the great anti-slavery campaigner and orator Frederick Douglass - who himself was a former slave – stood before a large audience and related to them the reasons why he was there: 


“Why do I not confine my efforts to the United States? My answer first, that slavery is the common enemy of mankind and it should be made acquainted with its abominable character. Slavery is a system of wrong, so blinding to all around, so hardening to the heart, so corrupting to the morals, so deleterious to religion, so sapping to all the principles of justice, in its immediate vicinity, that the community surrounding it lacks the moral stamina necessary to its removal. It is a system of such gigantic evils, so strong, so overwhelming in its power, that no one nation is equal to its removal. I want the slaveholder surrounded, by a wall of anti-slavery fire, so that he may see the condemnation of himself and his system glaring down in letters of light. I want him to feel that he has no sympathy in England, Scotland, and Ireland, that he has none in Canada, none in Mexico, none among the poor wild Indians…”

On this episode of American History Too! we're joined by University College London's Matt Griffin (@mattrgriffin) to explore the fascinating who, what, and why of trans-Atlantic anti-slavery campaigns in the mid-nineteenth century.

Cheers,

Mark & Malcolm

Reading List

R. J. M. Blackett, Building an Antislavery Wall: Black Americans in the Atlantic Abolitionist Movement, 1830-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana University Press, 1983)

David Brion Davis, ‘Looking at Slavery from Broader Perspectives’, The American Historical Review 105:2 (Apr., 2000), 452-466

Don H. Doyle, The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War (New York: Basic Books, 2015)

Amanda Foreman, World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War (London: Penguin, 2011)

Van Gosse, ‘“As a Nation, the English Are Our Friends": The Emergence of African American Politics in the British Atlantic World, 1772-1861’, The American Historical Review
113:4 (Oct., 2008), 1003-1028

Caleb McDaniel, The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform (Baton Rouge: Louisiana University Press, 2013)
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In 1921, the influential magazine Literary Digest speculated on the morality and nature of the modern young woman:

Is the “old fashioned girl”, with all that she stands for in sweetness, modesty, and innocence, in danger of becoming extinct? Or was she really no better nor worse than the “up to date” girl, who in turn will become the “old fashioned girl” to a later generation? Is it even possible as a small, but impressive, minority would have us believe that the girl of today has certain new virtues of “frankness, sincerity, seriousness of purpose”, lives on a “higher level of morality” and is on the whole “more clean minded and clean lived” than her predecessors?

The Roaring Twenties in America are – in popular culture at least – seen as the era of the liberated flapper, Daisy Buchanan, and all night jazz. But is this really an accurate portrayal of womanhood, femininity, and beauty in the decade of “return to normalcy”? Today on American History Too!, we’re joined by the University of Strathclyde's Rachael Alexander to discuss how femininity and beauty were perceived in 1920s America, and what role mass-market women’s magazines had in reinforcing and changing stereotypes.

Thanks, as always, for listening!

Cheers,
Mark & Malcolm
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With the Republican convention in Cleveland complete, all eyes turn now to Philadelphia where the Democrats will gather to nominate the first ever woman to head a major party ticket in US history. 

Joined once more by the University of Oxford's Paddy Andelic (@pkandelic) we take a deep dive into the recent history of the Democratic party and travel the road to Hillary Clinton. Beginning amid the chaos of the 1968 convention in Chicago, we talk through Humphrey, McGovern, Watergate Babies, Carter, Ted Kennedy, Tip O'Neill, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.  

Thanks again for listening. Next month we'll be back turning our focus to cultural history, but look out for an election special before November!

Cheers,
Mark and Malcolm
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