#129 RTN Third Anniversary Party w/ Matt Negrin

On May 18 2016, Ben and Bob launched the first three episodes of The Road To Now. One of the guests in those episodes was a young journalist named Matt Negrin, who Bob met during a visit to the set of Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect. In the three years since, Matt Negrin has moved from Bloomberg Politics to Comedy Central, where he is currently Senior Producer at The Daily Show. Even more impressive, Matt has become the all-time record holder for appearances on RTN and has become one of our good friends. In this episode, we celebrate RTN’s Third Anniversary by welcoming Matt back to the show.

Read More

#128 A Frail League of Friendship: The Articles of Confederation w/ Greg Jackson

The Articles of Confederation, while certainly not a highlight of the American experiment, explain a lot about the American Revolution, the ideas that defined the founding generation, and the ways those ideas changed in the first years of American independence. In fact, you can’t really understand the US Constitution unless you understand the Articles and why they failed. In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Greg Jackson about this very topic. Greg is Assistant Professor of Integrated Studies at Utah Valley University and host of the podcast History That Doesn’t Suck.

Read More

RTN Theology #9: Burying White Privilege: Resurrecting a Badass Christianity w/ Miguel De La Torre

Bob talks with Christian social ethicist-activist, author, and Professor at Iliff School of Theology, Dr. Miguel De La Torre. Bob and Miguel discuss liberation theology and the connection between the theology shared by slaveholders during the antebellum and Civil War periods with the theology professed by many prominent evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr.

Read More

#127 The History of Privacy in Modern America w/ Sarah Igo

The data collection practices of companies such as facebook, google and amazon have led many Americans to wonder if privacy is dead. Though these companies are relatively new, this is far from the first time that Americans have felt their privacy to be under attack. In this episode, we speak with Vanderbilt University’s Sarah Igo to learn about the ways that Americans have understood privacy from the advent of “instant photography” in the 1890s to the rise of the internet in the 21st century. 

Read More

#126 The Origins of American Immigration Policy w/ Hidetaka Hirota

Hidetaka Hirota joins Bob and Ben for a conversation about the history of immigration law in the United States and the ways that government officials have decided who could and could not enter the United States. Hidetaka discusses the creation of Federal immigration law and the ways that looking at state immigration policies in the early to mid-19th century can help us understand the Immigration and Chinese Exclusion Acts of 1882.

Read More

RTN Voices #1: The Life & Times of Rufus Allan Sevier

Rufus Allan Sevier was born on December 7, 1916 in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. More than a century later Rufus is in incredible health and is one of the few people alive today who vividly remembers life before the Great Depression. His personal story, however, diverges in significant ways from the historical narrative most of us learned in history class, and provides new insights into American history that have thus far been hidden from view. In the first episode of our RTN Voices series, Bob & Ben speak with Rufus about his life and the ways that outside forces have worked to bury the stories that he has kept alive for a century.

Read More

RTN Theology #8 Elizabeth Seton and Catholics in Early America w/ Catherine O’Donnell

Bob speaks with Arizona State University Associate Professor of History Catherine O’Donnell about the prejudice Catholics endured in the years leading up to the American Revolution and how they gained the respect of George Washington as he sought French assistance in the cause. Catherine also discusses her recent work Elizabeth Seton: American Saint (Cornell University Press, 2018) and how Seaton went from Catholic convert to the first American Saint.

Read More

#125 When the Irish Invaded Canada w/ Chris Klein

In 1866, the Fenian Brotherhood, comprised primarily of Irish Civil War veterans, led a series of attacks on Canadian provinces just across the border from the United States. Their goal: seize Canadian territory and exchange it for Irish independence. Similar raids continued until 1871, and although they were ultimately unsuccessful, they are part of a greater story of the American Civil War, Irish Independence, and trans-Atlantic immigration to the United States in the mid-19th Century. In this episode, Bob & Ben speak with Christopher Klein about his new book When the Irish Invaded America: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedom (Doubleday, 2019).

Read More

#124 Political Coalitions from 1990 to 2019 w/ Amy Walter

Amy Walter has been covering Congress and Congressional races since the early 1990s. In this episode, Amy joins Bob to talk about the political issues and strategies that took us from the era of Bill Clinton & Newt Gingrich to today, the reasons that modern politics is so divisive, and the potential coalitions that could impact the 2020 elections and beyond. Bob and then follow up with a conversation about what Amy taught them and what they see as the biggest issues that our leaders need to address moving forward.

Read More

#123 How to Tell a Good Story w/ Jakob Lewis

Jakob Lewis knows how to tell a good story. As the host and producer of the podcast Neighbors, Jakob built a nation-wide audience by talking to those around him and turning them into compelling stories that captured the essence of daily life. In his newest venture, Vox Familia, he is taking his skills to help families tell their own stories. In this episode of The Road to Now, Ben sits down with Jakob to talk about what he’s learned about the ways that the personal narrative intersects with the bigger picture and what elements make for a great story.

Read More

#122 The Arctic w/ Heidi Bohaker & Alison Smith

When most of us think of the earth, we imagine going “north” as going “up.” Modern maps, however, obscure many geographic realities, including the existence of an Arctic world, which unites the US, Canada, Russia, Norway, Greenland and other countries into a distinct geographic sphere. In this episode, Bob and Ben are joined by historians Heidi Bohaker and Alison Smith to discuss their work developing a course on the history of the Arctic at the University of Toronto. The conversation covers the diversity of indigenous groups in the region, the conquest of the Arctic by modern states, and the many ways that climate change may impact the world. As it turns out, there’s a lot to learn from a “top down” history of the earth.

Read More

#120 The History of Influenza w/ John Barry

The influenza strain that hit the world in 1918 killed between 50 and 100 million people. It was not the first flu to have such an impact on humanity, and it also may not be the last. In this episode we talk with John Barry about his research on the history of influenza, the current state of preparedness, and the unexpected ways that influenza has shaped modern history.

Read More

#119 Karl Marx & History

When Americans think of Karl Marx, they probably think of the self-proclaimed Marxist governments whose rivalry with the US & Western Europe defined the 20th Century. Marx, however, formulated a theory of historical change and social relationships under capitalism that was more productive than the Communist governments who ruled in his name. In this episode, Bob and Ben talk about how Marx viewed history, what we can learn from it, and the ways Marx’s theory has both contributed to, and limited, historical research.

Read More

#115 The 1970s w/ Jefferson Cowie

The 1970s was a pivotal decade in American history. In a ten-year span, the United States admitted defeat in Vietnam, saw a President resign in shame, and came face to face with many of the atrocities it had committed abroad. American citizens also faced a score of economic problems, including “stagflation,” an energy crisis, and the realization that many of them would end the decade worse off than they had been when it began. In today’s episode we reflect on what happened in the 1970s, and what we can learn from it, in a conversation with RTN favorite, Vanderbilt University’s Jefferson Cowie.

Read More

#114 Making the Government Talk: US Covert Operations and Freedom of Information w/ Peter Kornbluh

In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with National Security Archives' Senior Analyst Peter Kornbluh about the National Security Archive and how he and others have used the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to the records of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other formerly classified US operations abroad. Peter explains the impact that these documents have had on modern politics at home and abroad, the difference between his work and that of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange (Wikileaks), and why he believes that access to government documents is essential to a strong democracy. He also shares one of the greatest “how I got here” stories we’ve ever heard on The Road to Now!

Read More