#97 Songs of Social Justice w/ Governor Martin O’Malley

In this episode of The Road to Now, recorded live at Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, Governor Martin O’Malley join Bob & Ben for a conversation about history, music and politics. We discuss the history of immigration, how Gov. O’Malley’s Catholic faith influenced his political views, and Gov. O’Malley shares (and plays) some of the songs that have had the strongest impact on his life.

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#96 Tyler Mahan Coe on Podcasting the History of Country Music

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.

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#95 Tom Marshall on Writing Phish and Everything Else

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.

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Catching Up: Sean Foley on Syria and the Middle East

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.

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#92 The History of the Armenian Genocide w/ Ronald Suny

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.  

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#91: The History of Satire and the American Political Cartoon w/ Richard Samuel West

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.

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#90 The History of the Cherokee Nation w/ John Sedgwick

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.

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

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.

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Episode 88: Taxation, the Great Depression, and the GOP Tax Reform w/ Robert McElvaine

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.

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Episode 87: All Roads Lead to Douglas Brinkley

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.

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Episode 86: William McKinley and the Republican Party with Robert Merry

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. Bob & Ben speak to 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.

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Episode 85: The History of US-Mexican Relations w/ Bruce Carlson (Recorded Live in Riviera Maya, Mexico)

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.

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Episode 83: Foreign Policy in American History w/ Joyce Kaufman

 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.

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