For the third installment of our Music May series, Ben caught up with Tyler Mahan Coe whose podcast Cocaine & Rhinestones dives into some of the most famous stories in the history of country music. As a musician and son of country legend David Allan Coe, Tyler’s own history is part of that story, but his ability to take the best of his own experiences while remaining objective in the subjects he covers is outstanding. Tyler talks about the calling that drove him to make Cocaine & Rhinestones, the methodology he developed to cover the history of country music in a podcast, and why he thinks most people don’t have the story right when it comes to Merle Haggard’s Okie from Muskogee.Read More
We talk with Phish lyricist Tom Marshall to learn about the history of Phish, his friendship with Trey Anastasio, and the life experiences that inspired the lyrics for some of the band’s most well-known songs. We also set the record straight about Tom’s life, discuss his podcast Under the Scales and talk about Bob & Ben’s collaboration w/ Tom through the Osiris Podcast Network.Read More
On The Road to Now, we talk a lot about how understanding history is essential to making informed political decisions. In this episode, we talk with Patricia O’Toole, author of The Moralist: Woodrow Wilson and the World He Made (Simon & Schuster, 2018) to talk about what happened when a historian got control of the White House.Read More
In episode 53, we spoke with Sean Foley about Syria and the historic forces at work in the Syrian Civil War. A lot has changed since we first spoke with Sean in April of 2017, so we asked him to come back to catch us up on the Syrian Civil War, where Isis, Assad and other players currently stand, and the implications of Donald Trump’s sudden reversal on American intervention in the conflict.
Click here to visit the episode page for our first discussion with Sean Foley, which gives an in-depth history of Syria and the Middle East.
Dr. Sean Foley specializes in the contemporary history and politics of the Middle East and the wider Islamic world. He frequently visits Asia and the Middle East, follows events in both regions closely, and speaks Arabic and Bahasa Malaysian. He has published widely and has delivered public presentations to audiences around the world. He has also held Fulbright fellowships in Syria, Turkey, and Malaysia. From April 2013 until January 2014, he lived and traveled extensively in Saudi Arabia. You can learn more about Dr. Foley on his personal website and his MTSU profile page.
The Armenian genocide was one of the most tragic events in the 20th century. The Ottoman government’s deliberate attempt to purge Armenians during World War I led to the elimination of approximately 1.5 million of the 2 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire just a few years earlier. While some families were able to escape the country and emigrate elsewhere, approximately eight hundred thousand Armenians were put to death by the Ottoman government and its allies within the Empire. Yet despite overwhelming evidence of the scale and purpose of this event, many governments, including the United States, have yet to officially recognize the Armenian genocide.
In this episode of The Road to Now we speak with Ronald Grigor Suny, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on the history of the Armenian genocide. Ron explains the process that led the Ottoman government to turn on its Armenian subjects and the methods it used to carry out this atrocity. He also explains why, in spite of the evidence, recognizing this as genocide remains a political hotspot both internationally and within modern Turkey, and why it is important to remember tragedies even when doing so makes us uncomfortable.
Dr. Ronald Grigor Suny is the William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan, Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago, and Senior Researcher at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He is the author of numerous books, including “They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else:” A History of the Armenian Genocide (Princeton University Press, 2015).
In this episode of The Road to Now, Richard Samuel West joins Bob and Ben for a conversation on the history of political cartoons in the United States. West tells of how political cartoonists went from independent artists in the early 19th century who sold their work on the streets to become powerful actors in American politics just a few decades later. He also explains how technological and social forces led to the rise, and eventual fall, of political cartoons as a form of satire, and how one of America’s most powerful and corrupt crime bosses was brought down by a single artist and his drawings.
Richard Samuel West is the coauthor of What Fools These Mortals Be: The History of Puck (IDW Publishing, 2014 w/ forward by Bill Waterson) and the founder of Periodyssey, which specializes in “significant and unusual American paper.”
This episode is the first in a two-part series on taxation and the economy. For an alternative take on the GOP and Tax Policy, check out episode #89: The GOP and Tax Reform Revisited w/ Brian Reidl.
*Note: We are aware of the controversy surrounding this book and are working to ensure all voices are heard.
Native Americans are one of the most significant, yet overlooked, groups in American history. Their story challenges America’s often-prideful narrative of the United States as a force for good in the world, and even when Natives are included in this history, they are often defined in terms of their relationship to the US and its leaders. In this episode, we speak with John Sedgwick about the internal struggles that defined the Cherokee nation in the first century after American independence. His new book, Blood Moon: An American Epic of War and Splendor in the Cherokee Nation (Simon & Schuster, 2018), examines the rivalry between two Cherokee leaders and how it shaped the history of the Tribe and the United States as a whole.
April 4, 2018 marks 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In honor or Dr. King's legacy, this week we are re-airing our interview w/ Dr. Clayborne Carson.
On August 28th, 1963 Clayborne Carson was a 19 year-old attending his first civil rights demonstration. That demonstration was the historic March on Washington, and what he remembers most about that day isn't Dr. King's historic speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, but the people he met.
Hitchhiking back home to Los Alamos, New Mexico, Carson couldn't have known that 22 years later Dr. King's widow, Coretta Scott King, would ask him to edit her husband’s papers.
Today Dr. Clayborne Carson is Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History and Ronnie Lott Founding Director of the Martin Luther King Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, where he has taught since 1975.
As someone whose life and research are intertwined with the work and legacy of Dr. King, Dr. Carson is uniquely qualified to explain the importance of King’s leadership and his place within the greater struggle for justice in the US and abroad. We are thus honored to have Dr. Carson as our guest on The Road to Now as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King.
-Clayborne Carson's bio
-Clayborne Carson on twitter
-Clayborne Carson, Martin's Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014).
-The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University
Chris Breslin recently invited Bob to be part of a live conversation with Kate Bowler to talk about the history of Christianity, their faith, and how the crisis of cancer has affected their relationships with God. Kate Bowler is Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School and author of the New York Times Best Selling Book Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved (Random House, 2018) and Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Oxford University Press, 2013). She also hosts the podcast Everything Happens.
This episode was recorded live on February 25, 2018 at Oak Church in Durham, NC.
The debate over taxation and the economy is an argument that is as old as the nation itself. In our previous episode, historian Robert McElvaine argued that the tax reform of 2017 reflected the types of conservative policies that helped bring about the Great Depression. In this episode, we turn to the Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl to get a different perspective on taxation and its role in the economy since the 20th Century. Riedl explains the evidence that led him to advocate for small government, and breaks down why the 2017 tax reform is not quite as conservative as some commentators have suggested.
Brian Riedl is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a member of MI's Economics21, focusing on budget, tax, and economic policy. Previously, he worked for six years as chief economist to Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and as staff director of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth. He also served as a director of budget and spending policy for Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign and was the lead architect of the ten-year deficit-reduction plan for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Taxes are a controversial topic in the United States. Some Americans see taxation as a penalty on hard work, while others see it as a way to alleviate social ills and discourage activity they deem undesirable. And because taxation is inseparable from the question of government’s role in people’s lives, it is one of the issues that most divides the two major parties in modern America. In today’s episode, Bob and Ben speak with Robert McElvaine, an expert on the history of the Great Depression, to get his take on what the past can teach us about tax policy and the economy. McElvaine explains why he thinks that history has disproven the Republican principle of supply side economics, and why he sees the recent GOP-backed tax reform as reminiscent of the policies that led the US into the Great Depression.
Dr. Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts and Letters and Professor of History at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. He is the author of seven books and the editor of three, including The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941 (Times Books/Random House, 1984, 1993; 25th anniversary edition, 2009). He also pinned an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled “I’m a Depression Historian. The GOP Tax Bill is Straight Out of 1929” (Nov. 30, 2017).
This episode is the first in a two-part series on taxation and the economy. For an alternative take on the GOP and Tax Policy, check out episode #89: The GOP and Tax Reform Revisited w/ Brian Reidl.
During a recent tour with The Avett Brothers, Bob caught up with historian Douglas Brinkley to talk about history and the state of American politics. Brinkley shared his thoughts on the current state of Donald Trump’s Presidency, its parallels with Nixon, and what he thinks it would take for the GOP to turn on the current Commander-in-Chief. They also talk about Hunter S. Thompson, working with the Nixon tapes, and (of course), Martin Van Buren.
Dr. Douglas Brinkley is Professor of History at Rice University and Fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. He has authored more than 20 books, including Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America (HarperCollins, 2016) and Cronkite (HarperCollins, 2012). Dr. Brinkley is the CNN Presidential Historian and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Audubon.
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In the second installment of RTN Theology, Bob speaks with Messiah College’s John Fea about Christianity in Early America and the ways that the founders viewed the relationship between faith and politics. Fea outlines the “5 Cs” of history, the importance of approaching history with an open mind, and explains why he thinks the title of his book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? may not be the question in approaching Christianity’s role in the establishment of the United States. Ian Skotte also contributes his thoughts on Christian relics and why he sees authenticity as less important than faith in people’s relationship to material objects.
John Fea is Professor of American History and Chair of the Department of History at Messiah College and host of the podcast The Way of Improvement Leads Home. He is the author or editor of four books, including Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction (Westminster/ John Knox Press, 2011) & Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past (Baker Academic, 2013) and his essays and reviews have appeared in a variety of scholarly and popular venues.
The Republican Party has changed a lot since a few former Whigs started the party in the 1850s. Today, the party’s legacy is usually defined in terms of well-known figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, but author Robert Merry thinks William McKinley deserves a lot more credit than historians and modern politicians have given him. In this Presidents’ Day 2018 episode of The Road to Now, we talk with Robert Merry to learn more about McKinley’s impact on the reconfiguration of the GOP in the late 19th century, and what it might teach us about the current transformation happening under Donald Trump.
Robert W. Merry is the editor of The National Interest and author of several books on American history, including President McKinley: Architect of the American Century (Simon & Schuster, 2017) and James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent (Simon & Schuster, 2010).
We’re also excited to announce that we’re a joining the Osiris Podcast Network, which is launching this week! Osiris’ co-founders RJ Bee (CEO, host of Helping Friendly Podcast) and Tom Marshall (COO; lyricist & songwriter for Phish; host of Under the Scales podcast), have brought together a team of podcasts focused on music, art and culture, and we’re excited to be part of it!
The Road to Now was lucky enough to be part of The Avett Brothers at the Beach music festival, so we invited our friend Bruce Carlson of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics to join us for a discussion of some key moments in the relationship between the United States and Mexico. We cover the US annexation of Texas and the Mexican-American War, as well as the ways that the US and Mexico have contributed to each other’s development. We couldn’t hit everything, but we hope this discussion shows that despite a tumultuous past, both countries stand to gain a lot from cooperation with one another.
We’d like to thank everyone who came out to the live recording. We hope to see you on the road again soon!
The War of 1812 isn’t an event most of us get excited about. The conflict between the US and Great Britain lasted almost 3 years, but like a lot of sequels, it didn’t live up to the original. When the war was over, little had changed for either country’s place in the world, and most of the grievances that began the war remained unsettled. So aside from the burning of the White House and Congress, the rise of Andrew Jackson as an American icon, the writing of the national anthem, and the demise of the first American political party system, not a lot happened. In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Don Hickey of Wayne State College to talk about the war of 1812, its impact on the US, and why so few people today remember such a significant moment in American history.
Dr. Don Hickey is Professor of History at Wayne State College. Called “the Dean of 1812 scholarship” by The New Yorker, he has written 10 books and over a hundred articles on the War of 1812, including The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict, Bicentennial Edition (University of Illinois Press, 2012).
There is no question that Donald Trump’s approach to foreign affairs is nothing we’ve seen from the Presidents who preceded him. In a recent New York Times Op-Ed, Mark Landler argued that the Trump Administration has broken a 70-year tradition in America’s foreign policy. Whether this is an abrogation of America’s responsibility to the globe or a necessary change for the good of the country requires knowledge of what came before, so Bob & Ben caught up with Whittier College’s Joyce Kaufman to learn about the origins of American diplomacy and the reasons that the US became so heavily involved abroad. It turns out America’s approach to foreign relations in 2018 may have a lot in common with earlier periods of American history.
Dr. Joyce Kaufman is an expert on International Relations in the Department of Political Science at at Whittier College, where she has taught for more than 3 decades. She is the author of multiple books, including A Concise History of US Foreign Policy (4th edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). She previously served as a Foreign Affairs Specialist in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs at the Department of Defense (1977-79). Visit Dr. Kaufman’s faculty page for more on her work and publications.
Dr. Joyce Kaufman is an expert on International Relations in the Department of Political Science at at Whittier College, where she has taught for more than 3 decades. She previously served as a Foreign Affairs Specialist in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs at the Department of Defense (1977-79). Visit Dr. Kaufman’s faculty page for more on her work and publications.
Christmas is just a week away, so Ben and Bob caught up with Christmas expert James Cooper to find out the origins of Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and all the other parts of Christmas that most of us take for granted. James explains how Santa Claus and Christmas traditions evolved around the world, and how a man who lived almost 2,000 years ago became one of the most recognizable characters in American culture.
You can find out more about the history of Santa Claus and Christmas at James Cooper's website- https://www.whychristmas.com/
Americans love coffee. According to recent statistics, more than 60% of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee every day, and the market research firm Mintel predicts that coffee shops will take in more than $23 billion dollars in 2017. Our love for coffee ties us to people and countries around the world, and to those who lived long before us. In this episode of The Road to Now, we speak with Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds and Beyond Fair Trade to find out coffee’s origins, its effects on global trade, and how a small cherry that originated on the other side of the planet became part of our daily life.
We’re also excited to welcome our newest sponsor, La Cosecha Coffee Roasters. La Cosecha is dedicated to connecting people together by offering fresh-roasted coffee grown in a sustainable manner where the farmer is given a fair price. You can visit their coffee bar in Maplewood, Missouri, or order online and have their coffee shipped directly to your home. We’re happy to have such a great business supporting The Road to Now, so we hope you’ll show them some love!
Mark Pendergrast's books have been published in 15 languages. He has appeared on dozens of television shows, including the Today Show, CBS This Morning, and CNN, and has been interviewed on over 100 radio programs, including All Things Considered, Marketplace, and many other public radio shows. Aside from his books on coffee, his book For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It (Basic Books) was named a notable book of the year by the New York Times and is currently in its 3rd edition.