Episode 50: Ambassador Jack Matlock on Diplomacy and US-Russian Relations

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

The Cold War that developed between the United States and the Soviet Union after World War II, defined the second half of the 20th century. In these years, the two so-called superpowers competed to win the hearts and minds of the world, all the while trying not to destroy all of humanity with the atomic weapons they had stockpiled en masse. Yet after decades of bitter confrontation, American President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev were able to bring the Cold War to an end in just a few years. Given that Moscow has once again emerged as a focal point in American politics, we’d be wise to learn what we can from the end of the Cold War. On this episode of The Road to Now, we are honored to share our interview with a man who was, in fact, in the room where it happened-  Ambassador Jack Matlock. 

Ambassador Jack Matlock began working for the US Foreign Service in 1956 and served as  Ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1981 to 1983, and to the Soviet Union from 1987 until his retirement in 1991. He is the author of multiple books on US-Russian relations and is currently a Rubenstein Fellow at Duke University, where he teaches classes that draw a connection between history and the current geopolitical climate. You can learn more about Ambassador Matlock and his work on his website: http://jackmatlock.com/

A special thanks to the Department of History and the Department of Political Science and International Relations at MTSU for supporting the live podcast, and to Susan Myers-Shirk and Kelle Knight for helping us make the event a success. We are also grateful to John Merchant of MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry and his students Colin Bell, Logan Eley, and Caleb King for recording the event.

This episode is brought to you with support from our sponsor, Ramseur Records.

This episode is brought to you with support from our sponsor, Ramseur Records.

Episode 49: Nicholas Carr on the Internet and Humanity

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

On Monday, March 27th Nicholas Carr will give the keynote lecture for Scholars Week at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN. The lecture begins at 7:00pm and is free/open to the public. For more details click here. 

The internet has revolutionized the human experience in the 21st century. Our ability to communicate with others, find locations in unfamiliar places, and access information from across the globe has never been easier, and new media like blogs and podcasts have connected voices with audiences in ways that were not possible just a few decades ago. Yet, despite all these incredible benefits, many of us are beginning to sense that all this connectivity is affecting the way we think and interact with one another. How is the internet affecting our brains, and should we be concerned about it? How is the internet different from other media technologies such as print, radio and television?  And is google making us stupid? In this episode of the Road to Now, we get the answer from New York Times Best Selling Author Nicholas Carr.

 

Nicholas Carr writes about technology and culture, and is the author of 5 books and numerous articles for major media outlets including The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. For more on Nicholas & his writings, check out his website in the links below. 

We would like to thank Susan Myers-Shirk of MTSU's Department of History for helping us arrange this interview as part of the university's 2017 Scholars Week. 

Links:
-Nicholas Carr's website
-Nicholas Carr on twitter
-Nicholas Carr, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?," The Atlantic, July/August, 2008.  
 

This episode is brought to you with support from our sponsor, Ramseur Records.  

This episode is brought to you with support from our sponsor, Ramseur Records.
 

Episode 48: John Avlon on George Washington's Farewell

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

George Washington is one of the most revered figures in American history. As Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Washington led his troops to one of the most unlikely and world-shaking victories in modern history, and his selection as President of both the Constitutional Convention and the new government designed that summer in Philadelphia, demonstrate the unmatched faith that the founders had in General Washington. Today, however, we tend to remember Washington more for the positions he held than for the personal qualities that made him a peerless member of the founding generation, but the wisdom left to us by our first President in his farewell address is perhaps more relevant today than ever before. In this episode of The Road to Now we explain why in our discussion with Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon about his book Washington’s Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations.  

                              John Avlon

                              John Avlon

Episode 47: Molly Worthen on Christianity in American History

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

Are faith and reason compatible? How do people of faith reconcile themselves to a secular world? These are difficult and complex questions that have shaped America long before the founding of the United States. On this episode of The Road to Now, we sit down with Molly Worthen to talk about the development of Christianity in the United States, and its impact on American society, culture and government.

                                                 Molly Worthen

                                                 Molly Worthen

Dr. Molly Worthen is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill whose research focuses on North American religious and intellectual history. Her most recent book, Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. Molly is also a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.

Links:

-Molly Worthen's faculty page at UNC Chapel Hill

- Molly Worthen, Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism (Oxford University Press, 2013)

-Molly Worthen's writings at the New York Times. 

-Molly Worthen on twitter. 

Episode 46: Mark Cheathem on Martin Van Buren and the Age of Jackson

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

These days, Martin Van Buren is mostly known as the balding nineteenth century President with muttonchops and a funny name. But spend some time talking with Dr. Mark Cheathem, professor of history at Cumberland University and Project Director of the Martin Van Buren Papers, and you will come to appreciate that not only did Van Buren pull together the coalitions that formed the Democratic Party, he was also the architect of the modern American party system.

                      Dr. Mark Cheathem

                      Dr. Mark Cheathem

And we should also add that Martin Van Buren is Bob Crawford’s favorite President. Here's a pardon signed by Van Buren for Arther Dasheil on March 18, 1839, which hangs in the Crawford home. 

Episode 45: Bruce Carlson on Presidential History

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

On April 30, 1789, George Washington stood on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City and took the first Presidential oath of office. The words he spoke that day were those written clearly in Article 2 of the new Constitution, which established the executive branch of the Federal Government. The rest of Article 2, however, is not so clear, and Washington became the first of many Presidents accused of unconstitutional behavior. But what makes one person a “strong president” and another guilty of “executive overreach?” Which Presidents have done the most to reshape the Presidency? And have we given some Presidents too much credit, while forgetting the important contributions of others?

On our first Presidents Day Episode of the Road to Now, we get the answer to these questions and more in our conversation with one of our favorites- the host of “My History Can Beat Up Your Politics” podcast, Bruce Carlson. 

Links:
-My History Can Beat Up Your Politics website
-My History Can Beat Up Your Politics on facebook
-Bruce Carlson on twitter
-The Road to Now #28: Bruce Carlson on the History of Presidential Elections

 

Episode 44: Kyle Petty on the History of NASCAR

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

When Bill France Sr. founded NASCAR in 1948, his goal was to turn stock car racing from an activity associated with bootlegging roughnecks into a successful spectator sport. To say he accomplished that goal would be an understatement, as the once-regional sport has become one of the most popular in the United States.  How did this happen? And how did a competition once associated with outlaws and rogues become one of the most family-friendly sports in modern America? Anyone who knows NASCAR history will tell you that you can’t answer these questions without talking a lot about the Petty Family, and in this episode we do just that. Ladies and gentlemen, in episode #44 of The Road to Now, we talk the history of NASCAR with NASCAR icon Kyle Petty.

                              Kyle Petty        (From www.kylepettycharityride.com)

                              Kyle Petty
       (From www.kylepettycharityride.com)

Kyle Petty is an American Stock Car racer who earned 173 top-ten finishes and 8 wins in his three decades behind the wheel in NASCAR. The Petty family, which also includes Kyle’s grandfather Lee, his father Richard, and his son, Adam, is unquestionably one of the most significant families in the history of NASCAR. Since retiring in 2008, Kyle began working as a race analyst for top networks, and currently works on pre- and post-race coverage for NBC. Kyle is also the founder of the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, which has raised over $17 million to benefit children’s charities. Since 2004, the ride has benefitted Victory Junction, which was founded to enrich the lives of children suffering from chronic or life-threatening illnesses. Victory Junction was founded by the Petty Family in honor of Kyle’s son Adam, who died tragically on the racetrack in 2000.

Links:
-Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America
-Victory Junction
-Kyle Petty on twitter
-Kyle Petty Bio from NBC Sports
-Daniel S. Pierce, Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay and Big Bill France, (UNC Press, 2010).

 

 

Episode 43: Bruce Schulman on the History of the Democratic Party from Andrew Jackson to ?

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

As the Democratic Party recovers from an unexpected defeat in the 2016 election, it finds itself in search of new leaders who can bring the party through this time of crisis. History shows that parties can withstand hard times, but how did the oldest active political party in American history find itself on the verge of irrelevance? And are there historic precedents for where the party finds itself today? In this episode of The Road to Now, Dr. Bruce Schulman guides us through the history of the Democratic Party to help us answer these questions and more.

    Dr. Bruce Schulman

    Dr. Bruce Schulman


Dr. Bruce J. Schulman is the William E. Huntington Professor of History at Boston University. He is the author of multiple books on modern American history, including From Cotton Belt to Sunbelt (Oxford, 1991), Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism (St. Martin’s, 1994) and The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics (Free Press, 1991) which was named a 2001 New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Dr. Schulman is also a contributor to several major media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, & the Christian Science Monitor, and has served as expert consultant in productions by The History Channel & PBS.

Links:
-Bruce Schulman's faculty page at Boston University
-Bruce Schulman on twitter

 

 

 

Episode 42: Jon Jarvis on the National Park Service

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

For over 100 years, the National Park Service has maintained and protected some of America’s greatest treasures. Since its founding in 1916, the service has enjoyed broad support from the public as well as elected officials from both parties. Recently, however, the Trump administration has turned on the service for what it alleges are attempts to undermine the President, but its move to silence NPS may have inadvertently made park employees into early leaders in the resistance to the new President. Was NPS attempting to provoke Trump with its social media, or was it simply following a course set long before? And is the current President’s animosity toward NPS an entirely new development, or have we seen similar moments in the past? In this episode of The Road to Now we speak with former National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis to find out.

              Jon Jarvis

              Jon Jarvis

Episode 41: Melissa Thomasson on Health Insurance in the United States

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

Fixing the American healthcare system has been one of the most difficult and divisive problems in modern US history. The Affordable Care Act has helped more Americans than ever gain insurance, yet the remaining problems have led the Republican-controlled Congress to put “repeal and replace” at the top of their legislative agenda in 2017. Why has health insurance been such a tricky issue in the United States? Why did our insurance model develop differently than in other industrialized countries, and how can understanding this help us overcome the problems we face today?

In this episode of The Road to Now, Dr. Melissa Thomasson helps us answer these questions by taking us through the history of the American health insurance system. We also offer up another installment of Path to the Present (the podcast within a podcast) in which Matt Negrin and Alex Trowbridge provide a concise history of the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act. Believe me- this episode is YOUGE!

      Dr. Melissa Thomasson

      Dr. Melissa Thomasson

Melissa Thomasson is Julian Lange Professor of Economics at the University of Miami and an expert on the economic history of the American health care system.

Links:
-Melissa Thomasson's faculty page at Miami University  
-Melissa Thomasson on twitter
-
Matt Negrin on twitter 
-Alex Trowbridge on twitter

Episode 40: Clayborne Carson on the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

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.

                   Dr. Clayborne Carson

                   Dr. Clayborne Carson

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.

Links:
-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
 

Episode 39: Molly McKew on Vladimir Putin's Long Game

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

For the first time since the Cold War, America’s relationship with Russia has become a focal point in American politics. How did the promising relationship between Moscow and Washington turn into a standoff that some are calling a new Cold War? And what can American policy makers do to prevent further conflict? In November, we spoke with Dr. Arch Getty of UCLA to get his insight on these question. Today, we get a different perspective from Molly McKew.

Molly K. McKew is a lobbyist and founder of Fianna Strategies, which has worked on behalf of former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and former Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat. She has previously worked for the Podesta Group and the American Enterprise Institute.

Links:
-Molly McKew, "Putin's Real Long Game," Politico, Jan. 1, 2017. 
-Molly McKew on twitter
-Arch Getty on Vladimir Putin and Russian History (The Road to Now #29)

Episode 38: Heather Cox Richardson on the History of the Republican Party from Abraham Lincoln to Donald Trump

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

Most people agree that the 2016 election marked a turning point for the Republican Party. Whatever the impact of this election in the long term, the changes we’re seeing today are part of a longer historical trajectory that took the GOP from the party of Abraham Lincoln to the party of Donald Trump. So how did this happen? How did a party that was despised in the American south in the 1940s come to dominate the region a few decades later? And where do great Presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan fit within this story. In today’s episode, we’re joined by Dr. Heather Cox Richardson to get the answer.

       Heather Cox Richardson

       Heather Cox Richardson

Heather Cox Richardson is a Professor of History at Boston College and co-editor at We're History. Her most recent book, To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party, was published by Basic Books in 2014.

Links: 
-Heather Cox Richardson's page at Boston College
-Heather Cox Richardson on twitter
-Heather Cox Richardson, To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party (Basic Books, 2014). 
-We're History (Serious History for Regular People) 

Episode 37: NASA, Warren G. Harding, Daylight Saving, & Political Parties (Listener Q&A)

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

In the last few weeks, our listeners have submitted some great questions about the history of NASA, Presidential corruption, daylight saving time, & more. We’ve been working hard to get you the answers to these questions, so to kick off 2017, we offer you a Q & A extravaganza with an all-star team of historians featuring Heather Cox Richardson of Boston College, Bruce Carlson of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics, & Brian Odom of NASA!

Thanks to everyone who sent us the questions for today’s episode. Please keep sending your questions to roadtonowcast@gmail.com and we’ll continue to answer them as they come in!

Contributors to this Episode
Heather Cox Richardson is a Professor of History at Boston College. She has published numerous books on American history, most recently To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party (Basic Books, 2014.) You can follow her her on twitter by clicking here. 

Bruce Carlson is the host of the history podcast My History Can Beat Up Your PoliticsHe also joined us for a discussion about the History of Presidential Elections in Episode 28 of The Road to Now. You can follow him on twitter by clicking here. 

Brian Odom is a Historian at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL, and a Doctoral  Candidate in the Department of History at Middle Tennessee State University.  You can follow him on twitter by clicking here. 

Episode 36: Turner Simkins on Family, History, and Possibilities

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

In episode 36 of The Road to Now, Bob and guest co-host Keith Larson speak with Turner Simkins about his new book Possibilities. Turner tells of the struggles his family went through after his son Brennan was diagnosed with a rare subtype of Leukemia on his 7th birthday, and what they learned as Brennan went from a dismal prognosis to a remarkable recovery. Turner also explains how the inspiration that Brennan took from Band of Brothers inspired him to wake up every day with the will to fight, and shows how the lessons of history can be a powerful force in our everyday lives.

Episode 35: Nancy Mitchell on Reassessing Jimmy Carter and Presidential Foreign Policy

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

Jimmy Carter’s Presidency is one few Americans remember fondly. In a 2013 ranking created by statistician Nate Silver, Carter took the #26 spot, right between William Howard Taft and Calvin Coolidge. The economic crises Carter inherited upon taking office in 1977 plagued his administration, and his perceived weakness in fighting the Cold War only added to the sense of unease created by America’s loss in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. But is it possible that Americans’ perceptions of Carter don’t match the reality?

                  Dr. Nancy Mitchell

                  Dr. Nancy Mitchell

Dr. Nancy Mitchell says that’s the case, and she joins Bob and Ben to explain why. She explains Jimmy Carter’s Presidency through the lens of his foreign policy in Africa, and argues that Carter was not an ideologue, but a full-fledged Cold Warrior who was committed to maintaining US influence abroad. Nancy also discusses the legacy of Carter’s Presidency today, and applies her expertise on US Foreign Policy to assess Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s approach to diplomacy.

Dr. Nancy Mitchell is a Professor of US Diplomatic History at North Carolina State University. She has published extensively in her field of expertise, and her most recent book, Jimmy Carter in Africa: Race and the Cold War (Stanford University Press, 2016) recently won the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Douglas Dillon Award for Distinction on the Practice of American Diplomacy.

Links:
-Nancy Mitchell's faculty page at North Carolina State University
-Nancy Mitchell, Jimmy Carter in Africa: Race and the Cold War (Stanford University Press, 2016)
-The American Academy of Diplomacy Douglas Dillon Award
-Nancy Mitchell, video introduction from NCSU

 

Episode 34: Tom Shadyac on the Seriousness of Being Funny

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

Tom Shadyac has probably made you laugh. He was the youngest ever staff joke writer for Bob Hope and he directed some of the biggest comedy films in recent memory, including Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Nutty Professor. A lot of people would say Tom has “made it.” Tom would disagree.

                     Tom Shadyac

                     Tom Shadyac

Tom joins Ben and Bob for a conversation about his life and the path that led him to abandon the pursuit of fame and material abundance to focus on helping others. He tells of his 11 year period of unemployment as he struggled to find success in the Los Angeles comedy scene, his relationship with Jim Carrey and how following his own passions led him to take a risk with Ace Ventura. Tom also talks of his approach to teaching film, and explains why he defines success as a state of mind. 

You can find out more about Tom's story and philosophy in his book Life's Operating Manual and his documentary film I Am (which we highly recommend!).

Links: 
-Tom Shadyac on IMDB
-Tom Shadyac on twitter
-I Am Documentary Website
-Tom Shadyac, Life's Operating Manual: With the Fear and Truth Dialogues (Hay House, 2013)

Episode 33: Jim Cornette on the History of Professional Wrestling

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

There’s a good chance you don’t appreciate how engrained professional wrestling is in American history and culture, and this episode is about to change that. We didn’t know all this either until wrestling legend Jim Cornette was kind enough to spend an hour taking us from wrestling’s origins in the late 19th century up to the sport as it exists today. Jim knows the sport like no other- he’s been part of the professional wrestling scene since the 1970s, and currently hosts the tremendously popular podcast The Jim Cornette Experience. Jim has also been ringside (and sometimes in the ring) for some of wrestling’s greatest moments, including the April 5, 1982 showdown between Andy Kaufman & Jerry “The King” Lawler (that was his first time on national television), and his storytelling is second-to-none.

This episode also features wrestling aficionado Jon Burr making a special appearance as guest co-host. Jon is the host of the NBA podcast Fastbreak Breakfast, the front man for the band How I Became the Bomb, and Ben’s friend & neighbor. 

Links:
-Jim Cornette's website
-Jim Cornette on twitter
-The Jim Cornette Experience on MLW Radio 
-Jon Burr on twitter

-Fastbreak Breakfast podcast
-How I Became the Bomb band website

Episode 32: Jimmy Williams on Tolerance and Faith in American Politics

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

American politics has changed a lot in the last few decades. Jimmy Williams has observed this from inside the beltway, and has made a few changes himself. When he first arrived in DC in 1992, he was a Republican working for the George H.W. Bush’s reelection campaign. A few years later he was a Democrat working on the staff of Democratic Senator Dick Durban. Since then he has been a lobbyist, a contributor at MSNBC, the founder of his own online media outlet and, most recently, the host of the political podcast Decode DC.

                       Jimmy Williams

                       Jimmy Williams

In our interview, Jimmy tells Bob and Ben of the road that led him through all of these career changes, and the path that led him from a Republican to a self-professed “progressive Democrat who owns guns.” Jimmy discusses his experience of coming out as gay in the 1990s and the ways his faith have informed his political views. We also discuss HB2 in North Carolina and the greater history of discrimination and inclusion in American politics.

Jimmy Williams is a political commentator and the host of the Decode DC podcast, which explains how politics in Washington, DC affects Americans’ daily lives. 

Episode 31: Richard Shadyac on the History of St. Jude Children's Hospital

You can download this episode and others by subscribing to The Road to Now on iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

On February 4, 1962, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opened its doors in Memphis, TN  with a promise to help victims of childhood cancer regardless of race, religion, or national origin. Since then the hospital has treated thousands of children from all over the world, and has played a vital role in increasing the survival rate of children diagnosed with cancer to more than 80%. And in more than five decades of operation, St. Jude has provided its services to children and their families for free.

As the CEO of St. Jude’s fundraising arm (ALSAC) and the son of one of its founders, Richard Shadyac knows a thing or two about the past and present of St. Jude Hospital. In our conversation he explains the positive impact that St. Jude Hospital has had across the world and how actor Danny Thomas’ promise to the patron saint of lost causes became a reality.

We decided to launch this episode so close to Thanksgiving because we are thankful for the love and generosity shown by the people who established St. Jude in 1962, as well as those who continue to help the hospital thrive in 2016. We are also grateful to all of our listeners, whose support and feedback have helped make The Road to Now a successful endeavor. We hope that you all have a great Thanksgiving holiday.

Links:
-
Richard Shadyac's profile on St. Jude website
-"Our History" from St. Jude website
-Richard Shadyac on twitter