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42Episodes
History

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

Episodes

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For Episode 40 of American History Too! we've fired up the Translatlantic cables to chat to Dixie State University's Jeremy Young (@jeremycyoung) about his work on the 'Age of Charisma' between 1870 and 1940.

Jeremy guides through what it meant to be a charismatic leader and, indeed, a charismatic follower during this era.

Why were these leaders both appealing and yet simulatanously destined to lose in presidential elections? Why did they die out from 1940 onwards? And who was the first ever radio star in the United States? (hint: it's not who you think it is!)

We touch on all these issues and much more.

Thanks again for listening and we'll be back next month.

Cheers,

Mark and Malcolm

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50 years on from the 'long, hot summer' of 1967 we look back at the race riots that became a common feature of the 1960s landscape in the United States. Should we call them riots? Why did they happen in the same decade in which African-Americans achieved the greatest legislative progress in 100 years? How did politicians responded to America's burning cities? And do they hold any lessons for modern America? These are just some of the questions we seek to answer about the riots.

The podcast begins with an NBC broadcast you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hOoW0U6g_E

Thanks again for listening.

Cheers,

Mark and Malcolm

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On this month's episode we're joined by Fraser McCallum to discuss the paranoid cinema of the 1970s that emerged in the midst of assassinations, Watergate, and an array of government misdeeds that had been exposed in the previous decade.

In particular we examine The Conversation (the trailer for which begins this episode, 1974), The Parallax View (1974), Three Days of the Condor (1975), and - of course - All the President's Men (1976).

We discuss why these films emerged, what they say about the United States during this era, and consider whether we might see a reemergence of the genre in the wake of Trump.

n.b. There is a slight issue with one of the microphones that crops up ever now and again, but it shouldn't be too distracting.

Thanks again for listening and we'll be back in a few weeks with an episode looking at the 'long, hot summer' of race rioting in 1967.

Cheers,
Mark and Malcolm

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On Episode 37 of American History Too! we look at a man and an organisation who encapsulated much of what 19th century America was about: immigration, westward expansion, big business, labour relations, war, and politics. We examine Allan Pinkerton and the ‘eye that never sleeps’, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

 

Scholarship

Christopher Andrew, For the President’s Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency, from Washington to Bush (New York: HarperCollins, 1995)

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, The FBI: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007)

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, We Know All About You: The Story of Surveillance in Britain and America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017)

Frank Morn, The Eye That Never Sleeps: A History of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982)

S. Paul O’Hara, Inventing the Pinkertons; or, Spies, Sleuths, Mercenaries, and Thugs (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016)

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The 16th President of the United States, unlike so many of his fellow nineteenth century White House occupants, has not been lost to History.

Indeed, his name lives on as the Capitol of Nebraska, as a popular car brand, and as a name for one of America’s two political parties. Beyond the United States, his legacy also has a powerful reach. Here in Scotland, there is statue of him in Edinburgh, while in 2009, the Rwandan government saw fit to issue a stamp bearing his face. And that face, which he took great pleasure in mocking for its ugly features, has been included at one time or another on the 1, 5, 10, 20, 100, and 500 dollar bill. It is sculpted on Mount Rushmore along with Washington, Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt.

And, perched high upon a grand seat and surrounded by Roman columns and his most famous words, he gazes across the National Mall at the Congress of the United States, acting as a symbolic conscience of the nation.

We are, of course, talking about Abraham Lincoln.

Today, on American History Too!, joined by the University of Edinburgh's Cat Bateson we ask whether the so-called Great Emancipator deserves such lofty and widespread recognition, and we also examine the uses and abuses of Honest Abe’s legacy since his assassination on Good Friday in 1865.

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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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