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The people of France tried to do just a little bit of revolution, but things got out of hand when their king didn't play along. Louis XVI's accusers needed to convict France's disgraced figurehead to cement the legitimacy of their own government. They just had one little problem: how do you prosecute a man who committed no crimes, because he was th…
 
The hunt for a spy within the French military went off the rails when an amateur graphologist fingered the wrong suspect. A closed military trial turned into an national scandal involving forged evidence, multiple moles, and two separate failed assassinations. Content warnings: Discussions of antisemitism, suicide, pogroms, and the origins of the Z…
 
Two women entered Kuala Lumpur International Airport to film a prank show. Their target: an unassuming business traveler. The result: the assassination of the former heir apparent of the North Korean government. How did two aspiring actresses end up caught in the middle of the biggest diplomatic incidents of the decade? And why did Kim Jong-nam go …
 
One man's quest for vengeance against Wells Fargo turned into a massive crime spree—with occasional poetry breaks. Returning guest Amanda Jean joins us to fall in love with Black Bart, the gentleman robber who bluffed his way through a criminal career with no horse, no accomplices, and no bullets. Show notes, sources, and guest information at this …
 
Welcome to the seedy underbelly of Pittsburgh, where the battle for control over the sex trade turned into an all-out gang war. Caught in the middle: A trans horse riding instructor who turned to a life of crime when he needed money to care for his ailing mother. S.A. Chant joins us today for a conversation about money laundering through paint-your…
 
One of Japan’s most famous murderesses took a very intimate souvenir from the lover she murdered. Was she the sex-crazed nymphomaniac portrayed in the media? Was she the symbol of female empowerment described by her supporters? Or was she an abuse victim who broke down after making one terrible mistake? Content notes for this episode: Sexual assaul…
 
If you want to tackle the crime problem, why not just get rid of all the laws? In this episode, a group of free thinkers take a utopian experiment to the extreme, and discover in the process that some laws exist for a reason. One of those reasons: preventing bears from eating everyone. Content note: This episode mentions several instances of libert…
 
While the United States was panicking about a communist conspiracy, the Soviet Union was in the middle of its own panic about a cabal of evil conspirators at the very heart of the communist party. Was Joseph Stalin really surrounded by secret fascists? Or did he perhaps have an ulterior motive for accusing his own party members of murder? Show note…
 
Our first episode about South America gives us a very different perspective on the American fight against Communism. Was promoting America's interests in the Cold War really worth propping up a brutal dictatorship? And why did the international attempt to bring Pinochet to justice involve British Law Lords, a fake case of dementia, and a law that g…
 
Take a tour around the swamp with America's favorite rascal. Florida Man's always making headlines for punching alligators, stealing meat, and fighting cops in the buff. But does Florida really deserve its reputation as the weirdest state in the union? And is our nation's most beloved rapscallion the villain of our story, or is he the victim of a l…
 
Meet the man who used his artistic talents to resist Nazi occupation, then planned an elaborate scheme to destroy a public records building by posing as a German official. In the occupied Netherlands, a group of artists fought the law with typography and tailoring. Why did Willem Arondeus go from a little-known WII resistance fighter to a hit with …
 
China’s last emperor ended up becoming one of history’s strangest political pawns, and ended his life as an avowed communist. How did a man born into unbelievable wealth end up penning a memoir about the evils of the landlord class? And was his disavowal of his privileged upbringing genuine, or was he the victim of a justice system that perfected t…
 
Meet Harry Allen, the sporty gentleman who scandalized Seattle by wooing ladies, biting cops, and making sure to give his side of the story to the press. Harry left an extraordinary legacy in the public record: He was a transgender man who talked directly to newspapers about his gender identity. But was he really the incorrigible hoodlum the papers…
 
This week, we explore a hapless revolutionary group's failed attempts to start the Communist revolution with pachinko ball bombs, a one-way flight to North Korea, and random attacks on civilians. Why did a group of Japanese students end up deciding that the best way to kick-start the revolution was getting involved in a war in the middle east? And …
 
Hey, is anyone having trouble concentrating this week? Maybe there's something in the news that might make it hard to focus on a deep dive into serious crimes? Well, we've got a episode that moves as fast as the news cycle. Take a quick spin through criminal history with us as we cover some short cases about cool bicycle tricks, nasty ponds, and th…
 
Do you think Canada is just America's conflict-adverse northern neighbor? Think again! This week, we go on a journey through some of Canada's strangest history, including a territory governed by an employee handbook, a polite uprising derailed by one rude man, and an exiled politician whose very understandable quest for a fairer legal system spiral…
 
Han van Meegeren might not have been loved by art critics, but his descent into the world of art forgery accidentally turned him into one of his country's least likely heroes. Join us for the twisted tale of an expert art forger, a high-ranking Nazi art thief, and a Jewish Dutch resistance hero whose espionage investigation turned into a friendship…
 
As we gear up for one of America’s most momentous presidential elections, we look back on the man so bad at politics that he changed the way our country's elections worked forever. Meet Aaron Burr, the guy who caused so much chaos that America not only had to amend its own constitution to stop his shenanigans, it had to set its legal definition of …
 
This week, we're joined by Nikki Brueggeman for a discussion of two horrific hate crimes in early 20th century America. As we discuss the deaths of Mary Turner and Jesse Washington, we look at the way the NAACP worked to publicize the horrific injustice of lynchings, the reason we tell these stories with a focus on the victims first, and the way mo…
 
This Italian family's secret recipe requires a special ingredient: a fatal dose of arsenic. Join us for a story of murder most foul, corrupt priests, saleswomen with pockets full of poison, secret cabal of witches moving through European courts, a ceiling alligator, and Santa Claus's special bone juice. Show notes and sources at this link…
 
Did an ancient Greek party girl get off on a capital charge because she flashed the judge? Or was this story just an excuse for artists to get away with painting bare breasts? This week, we dig into trial records, archeological evidence, and ancient gossip to try to get a sense of the woman behind the legend. Content note: This episode is about a h…
 
You've heard of Rosa Parks—but do you actually know the full story? This week, we dig into the brutal history of segregation in the United States, the difficult work of activism, and the way black civil rights leaders' stories are often taught as part of a whitewashed narrative that minimizes their agency and fails to engage with their actual polit…
 
It's Pride month, and you know what that means: It's time for a deep dive into the structural oppression of queer people in America, the exploitative underbelly of New York's mob-owned gay bars, and the night those tensions boiled over in 1969. What exactly was banned by sodomy laws and other laws used to target queer New Yorkers? Why was the mafia…
 
This week, we cover one of the most shameful war crimes in American history--and the shockingly light sentence of the only man successfully convicted for it. What happens when business tactics are applied to warfare? Why did it take so long for William Calley's crimes to come to light? And why did so many Americans, including the president, believe…
 
This week, we bring you a story about a suspicious suicide, a vengeful spirit, and the wrath of the emperor. Why was a ghostly accountant out for revenge? How good was the Qing dynasty CSI team? And how did one of the most regimented legal systems in history end up with such a weird, orientalist misrepresentation in the English-speaking world? Show…
 
In our first court case from the Islamic world, we meet one of history's greatest bureaucrats. Midhat Pasha was fantastic at taking control of troubled territories and coming up with grand new legal ideas, but he wasn't so great at playing politics. Meet the scholar who rose to be the Grand Vizier of an empire before he became the defendant in an u…
 
Meet the woman who claimed to be a German princess, scammed a handful of husbands, palled around with pirates, and played her scandalous self on the stage. Why were so many English men so easy to dupe when a stranger showed up claiming noble heritage? How did a con artist become a celebrity? How much do we really know about Mary as a person, and ho…
 
This week, we're covering the strange, sad case of Mary Mallon, one of America's most notorious killers—who never technically committed a crime. When is it illegal to spread a disease? Why did the Health Department have the power to detain people indefinitely? Does Mary deserve her infamy, or was she a victim of a system that was stacked against he…
 
This week, Isaac and Demetria talk about a workplace mass shooting and its relationship to employment in America. Expect a conversation ranging from gun regulation to the tenure system and beyond. (Content note: This episode contains discussion of a mass shooting in a workplace, an attempted bombing, and a shooting in a private home) Show notes and…
 
This week (and somewhat late), Isaac and Demetria talk about the trials (literally) and tribulations of the great American comedian Lenny Bruce, whose boundary-pushing comedy landed him in hot water on charges of obscenity around the United States. Show notes are linked here (Content note: While there's no visual material at the link that is sexual…
 
This week, journey back to the first murder case in recorded history (at least that we were able to find). Who killed a temple functionary in the city of Nippur? Why was it definitely these three guys? Why are we putting the dead guy's wife on trial too? Partial answers to some of these questions, plus lots of complaining about the lack of user-fri…
 
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