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On January 30, 1933, German President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as the Chancellor of Germany. Occurring simultaneously with Franklin Roosevelt's "One Hundred Days", Hitler's first one hundred days were even more dramatic and consequential–the most sudden change, Peter Fritzsche writes, in all of German history. "A very partisan and…
 
Storytelling, writes my guest Jonathan Gottschall, is the way in which people have for thousands of years not only bound themselves together into communities, but the art which built civilization. But story-telling is also the best way of forcing people apart, for manipulating one another, for destroying the capacity to think rationally. Behind our…
 
This is the first in a new series of podcasts. Long time listeners will remember that when my book Daniel Morgan: A Revolutionary Life was published, I did a number of podcasts with experts delving into aspects of Daniel Morgan’s life—from the place where he lived, to how he was flogged, to the rifles that he carried. But I thought that this was un…
 
In a eulogy to Abraham Lincoln delivered on June 1, 1865, Frederick Douglass posed the question “what was Lincoln to the colored people or they to him?” His answer was that Lincoln was “emphatically the black man’s President, the first to show any respect for the rights of a black man, or to acknowledge that he had any rights the white man ought to…
 
In February, 1853, Augustus De Morgan, Professor of Mathematics at University College London, drew the last of a series of diagrams illustrating logical syllogisms. A the center of this one was a face, writes Joan L. Richards, of “a calmly alert being… For [De Morgan] this image of the human and the divine meeting in logical space was…an expression…
 
So what does research mean to you? Does it mean looking for someone somewhere on the internet who agrees with you?Then you should really listen to this podcast.This is another of our continuing series on the “moves” of historical thinking, or what I like to think of as “what historical thinking can do for you.” For if history is a way of seeing the…
 
In 1914, at the start of the Great War, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire called for a “Great Jihad” against France, Russia, and Great Britain. It was a logical conclusion to over fity years of conflict between European and indigenous powers in the Middle East and North Africa, a conflict that eventually became a radical Islamic insurgency supportin…
 
This is one of the last in our year-long series about the skills of historical thinking, and today our focus is on one of simplest, but perhaps also the most contentious. It is Change and Causality. Defined in the form of a question it’s to ask “What has changed, and why?” Among other things, it’s the skill that allows us to recognize and sometimes…
 
At about 8 in the morning on March 22, 1622, warriors of the chiefdoms making up the Powhatan confederacy attacked the settlements of the colony of Virginia. By nightfall, the devastating attacks had killed between a quarter and a third of the English settlers, destroyed many settlements and farms—including their food supplies, and forced the survi…
 
Great podcast title, right? Those words still trigger a sort of survival reflex in me, based upon experience with an eminent professor. When he said those very words, you could bet that he would be talking for at least the next ten minutes, seemingly without commas, certainly without periods. By minute five you began to wonder if it was really poss…
 
Sometimes, Higher Ed can feel like a battle. But not because of COVID, or CRT, or POTUS, or FL GOV...it's because someone in the administration asked the faculty if they might be so kind as to fill in for cafeteria staff.Now that's going too far. That makes Hulk want to smash. For Further Investigation Historically Thinking's Higher Ed: A Guide for…
 
If there’s one thing Americans know about James Madison, it might be that he was the shortest American President, ever–just 5’4”, or that he was married to Dolley Madison, who was not only a first lady but the baker of snack cakes. If they know a little bit more about James, then they know that he is remarkably, even dangerously, contradictory: an …
 
“We seek an order of things in which all the base and cruel passions are enchained, all the beneficent and generous passions are awakened by the laws; where ambition becomes the desire to merit glory and to serve our country; where distinctions are born only of equality itself; where the citizen is subject to the magistrate, the magistrate to the p…
 
Each year millions and millions of whatever currency you’d care to have are spent explaining generations to one another. Inherent in that expensive explantation is the idea that people born at about the same time are basically alike, and very different from people born at other times.But, as Bobby Duffy explains in his book The Generation Myth: Why…
 
In 1924 the eminent nerve-specialist Sir Roderick Glossop urged Bertie Wooster and his friend Charles “Biffy” Biffen to attend the British Empire Exhibition being held at Wembley. “It is the most supremely absorbing and educational collection of objects,” Glossop enthused, “both animate and inanimate, gathered from the four corners of the Empire th…
 
This is another episode in our year-long series about the skills of historical thinking, and today our focus is on multiple perspectives. Putting it in the form of a question, it’s when a historian asks herself How might others plausibly interpret this evidence differently? To do that, we must consider more than one point of view, and then either r…
 
When people speak of “the Amish” they are using a very simple term that covers over rather than reveals. It’s a term that applies to forty affliations or subgroups, each with a distinctive way of life—from dress and carriages, to technological and cultural choices. And within those forty affiliations are 2,600 church districts, with different relig…
 
Alumni of the University of Virginia enjoy pointing out that while Thomas Jefferson’s tombstone declares his foundation of that university as his third great achievement, it does not so much as mention his presidency of the United States. Jefferson had a vision of what a great university could and should be, and the political talent and allies to s…
 
Joseph Wright, a native of the West Riding of Yorkshire, started working in a factory at the age of 6. He did not learn to read until he was 15, inspired to do so by a workmate who read news bulletins about the Franco-Prussian War. Wright was taught by another worker who used the Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress as texts. He then attended night school,…
 
In the last days of 1358, thousands of French villagers across northern France revolted against a faltering regime, from Normandy in the west, to Picardy and Champagne in the east. Castles and manor houses were burned and looted, noblemen and the families were assaulted, murdered, and possibly raped. Enraged nobles counterattacked, executing rebels…
 
Go into an American bookshop, and you’ll get the impression that the only two most important events that ever happened in all of human history were the American Civil War and the Second World War. In England, it's all very different. There the two most important events in human history are the Tudors (Henry VIII, Good Queen Bess, the Spanish Armada…
 
Sometimes Americans are pretty sure that they know a few things about the British soldiers who fought in the American Revolution. A list of them probably is something like this: They were the scum of the earth, scraped from the London gutter and the prisons to unwillingly serve in America They were stupid, so stupid that they obligingly wore red co…
 
Historians are always interested in how things change over time, and it helps for the survival of the profession that most things do. But there are certain moments in history when things don't just change, they change so radically that it feels like going over a waterfall in a kayak.How do these moments of change come about? How can an entire socia…
 
Denali, the mountain formerly sometimes known (but not by Alaskans) as Mt. McKinley, is one of the most impressive mountains in the entire world. It is not only the highest mountain in North America, it is the highest northern-most mountain. That means that the weather at its summit is ferocious and ever-changing. It's height is so great that when …
 
The wrong food can kill you. The right kind of food can help you live longer. Additives are unnatural. Unnatural food is unhealthy food. These are assumptions that many or most of us have today about the things we eat. That we believe eating to be a matter of life or death is in part due to a man most of us have never heard of, Harvey Wiley. Head o…
 
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