From the Pentagon Papers to Watergate 1971-74
Join us on this episode of Explaining History, where we journey back to one of the most politically turbulent eras in American history. We're privileged to have Mary McNeil, a renowned historian and scholar, as our guide through the labyrinth of events that transpired from the release of the Pentagon Papers to the fall of the Nixon administration in the Watergate scandal.
Mary elucidates the critical roles that Daniel Ellsberg and John Dean played in these defining moments of the early 1970s. She sheds light on Ellsberg, the military analyst who risked everything to leak the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret study revealing government deception about the Vietnam War. On the other side of the equation, we delve into the actions of John Dean, White House Counsel under President Nixon, whose testimony about the Watergate cover-up contributed significantly to Nixon's resignation.
Our conversation delves deep into the crucial role the Washington Post played in these events, from their brave decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, to their dogged reporting on the Watergate scandal, which exemplifies the power of the press in holding the government accountable.
We further dissect the often complex relationships between journalists and their subjects, exploring the boundaries and responsibilities of the press. Our discussion challenges the traditional perception of journalism's role in political discourse and provides a fascinating exploration of how media can shape, influence, and ultimately, change the course of history.
Whether you're a history enthusiast, a journalism student, or simply a seeker of intriguing narratives, this episode promises a riveting deep dive into a critical period of American history and its enduring legacy on politics and media. Join us in this enlightening journey through the annals of investigative journalism and political accountability, where truth often proves stranger than fiction.
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Merze Tate - Groundbreaking scholar of colonialism and disarmament34:09In this episode of the Explaining History podcast, we turn our focus to the remarkable life and enduring legacy of Merze Tate, a groundbreaking intellectual whose contributions have left an indelible mark on the study of international relations, disarmament, colonialism and post colonialism, race, gender and injustice. Joining us for this exploration is esteemed Professor Barbara Savage, an expert in African American history and culture.Professor Savage guides us through the extraordinary journey of Merze Tate, the first African American woman to attend the University of Oxford and to earn a Ph.D. in government from Radcliffe College. We delve into Tate's remarkable achievements in a time of significant racial and gender barriers, highlighting her role as a pioneer in academia and diplomacy.The discussion illuminates Tate's influential work as a historian and political scientist, where she challenged conventional narratives and offered fresh perspectives on international relations and peace studies. Professor Savage shares insights into Tate's unique approach to scholarship and her impact on the field, particularly in understanding the dynamics of imperialism and disarmament.Listeners will gain a deeper appreciation for Tate's contributions, not only as a scholar but also as a role model and mentor to many. The episode also touches on the challenges Tate faced, including the racial and gender discrimination of her era, and how she navigated these obstacles with resilience.
Discussing Che Guevara34:12In this episode of the Explaining History podcast, we dive deep into the complex legacy of Che Guevara, the iconic revolutionary figure whose image has transcended generations. Our special guest, acclaimed author Otto English, joins us to discuss his new book, "Fake Heroes," which critically examines the myths and realities surrounding Che Guevara.English, known for his incisive analysis and engaging storytelling, sheds light on the lesser-known aspects of Guevara's life and the consequences of his actions. The episode navigates through Guevara's journey from a young idealist to a key figure in the Cuban Revolution, questioning the romanticized portrayal that often overshadows the more contentious aspects of his legacy.Listeners will be treated to a nuanced conversation that delves into how Guevara's image has been commodified and romanticized over the years, often at the expense of historical accuracy. English brings a fresh perspective, challenging the traditional narratives and exploring the dichotomy between Guevara's ideals and the methods he employed to achieve them.This episode is a must-listen for history enthusiasts and anyone interested in understanding the complexities of revolutionary icons. Join us as we unpack the myths, explore the controversies, and gain a deeper understanding of Che Guevara through the critical lens of Otto English's research and insights.
SAS raids in Italy 1943-4531:31Description:In this episode of the Explaining History podcast, we delve into the clandestine world of the Special Air Service (SAS) during its critical missions in Italy from 1943 to 1945. Joining us is n historian and author Damien Lewis, an expert on the SAS, whose new book "Forged in Hell" meticulously chronicles this intriguing chapter of World War II history.Lewis provides captivating insights into the daring and audacious raids carried out by the SAS, shedding light on the unwavering bravery and unique military ethos that defined this elite unit. We explore how these soldiers operated deep behind enemy lines, facing not only the relentless threats from the Axis forces but also the uncertainty of their future due to the scepticism and opposition from senior figures within their own military ranks.Throughout the episode, we unravel the tactics, challenges, and triumphs of the SAS, understanding their pivotal role in the broader context of the war. Lewis shares anecdotes and stories, many of which are untold until now, bringing to life the sheer determination and ingenuity of these soldiers.Whether you're a military history enthusiast, a fan of untold war stories, or simply intrigued by the SAS's legendary reputation, this episode promises to be a captivating journey into the heart of covert operations and unyielding courage. Don't miss this deep dive into history with Damien Lewis, as we uncover the legacy and indomitable spirit of the SAS in Italy during World War II.So, tune in, and prepare to be transported back in time to the treacherous terrains of Italy, where the SAS fought not just for victory, but for their very existence and recognition.You can buy the book hereAnd if you've enjoyed today's podcast and would like to support with a one off donation, you can do so here
Interwar Espionage and the rising threat of Nazism35:11Winthrop Bell is probably the most important spy you've never heard of. In this episode of the Explaining History podcast we hear about his life and exploits and his attempts during the 1930s to draw attention to the growing threat that Nazism posed. Academic and author Jason Bell joins us on the podcast to discuss the life, career and legacy of Winthrop Bell and his new book Cracking the Nazi Code. You can order a copy of the book here
Amazing Grace: The history of an anti slavery hymn and civil rights anthem30:01In this episode of Explaining History, we delve deep into the origins and enduring impact of one of the world's most powerful hymns: "Amazing Grace." A song that has transcended boundaries of religion, race, and nation, it has served as an anthem for both the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement in the United States.Joining us for this exploration is the esteemed Professor Emeritus James Walvin, an expert in the history of slavery and abolition. Professor Walvin traces the hymn's beginnings with John Newton, a former slave trader turned abolitionist. We uncover the layers of meaning the song acquired as it traveled through history, especially during tumultuous periods of societal upheaval and transformation during the civil rights struggles of the 19th and 20th Centuries.Hear stories of how "Amazing Grace" provided hope to enslaved Africans, galvanized abolitionists, and later inspired civil rights leaders. Learn how a simple hymn could evoke such powerful emotions, bridging the gap between generations, cultures, and political movements. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a music lover, or someone curious about the intertwining of art and social change, this episode promises a harmonious blend of historical insight and emotional resonance.---**Highlights:** - The transformative journey of John Newton from a slave trader to a clergyman and abolitionist.- The early influences and iterations of "Amazing Grace."- The hymn's role in the American abolitionist movement.- The resurgence of "Amazing Grace" during the Civil Rights Movement.- Personal anecdotes from Professor Walvin on the hymn's influence in contemporary times.---James Walvin’s published work has been largely in the field of slavery and modern British Social History. In 2019-20 he held the position of Distinguished Fellow in the History and Culture of the Americas, at the Huntington Library. He previously held fellowships at Yale University, The University of the West Indies, the Australian National University and the University of Edinburgh.For twenty years he co-edited the journal Slavery and Abolition.---
The Great Defiance: In conversation with David Veevers31:49In this thought-provoking episode, we sit down with esteemed historian David Veevers to discuss his latest work, "The Great Defiance." Beyond the usual tales of empire-building and domination, Veevers sheds light on the often overlooked stories of those who stood up, resisted, and defied the might of English and later British colonizers throughout the early modern period. Together, we delve deep into the rich tapestry of histories that highlight the resilience, courage, and tenacity of communities across the globe. Through "Defiant Empire," Veevers challenges traditional narratives, pushing listeners to reconsider what they thought they knew about colonization. Join us as we embark on a journey that re-centers the experiences and voices of the defiant, and offers a fresh perspective on a chapter of history too crucial to be forgotten.
Discussing W.E.B. Du Bois with Chad Williams34:54In this episode of the Explaining History podcast, I'm joined by Professor Chad Williams to explore the life and thought of W.E.B. Du Bois, the foremost intellectual of the civil rights movement. We discuss his complex and often difficult relationship with the First World War and its aftermath and his unfinished work, African Americans and the Wounded World. This is a fascinating discussion of Du Bois's life, his intellectual journey and his significance. If you like this episode, remember so subscribe through the platform you're using to get weekly episodes and interviews. The Explaining History podcast is sustained by the generosity of its listeners (and a tiny trickle of ad revenue, but it's mainly you guys) - if you can support the podcast with a one off donation, you can do so here
The modern right in Spain, from the Partido Popular to Vox32:28In this episode, I've had the pleasure of talking with a good friend of the podcast, Alvaro Gomez Velasco, our eyewitness on contemporary politics in Spain. We explore the recent rise of right wing populism across Europe and the growth of the Vox movement in Spain. Examining the legacy of Franco, the suppression of the Catalan independence movement and the issue of immigration, we explore the reasons for a resurgence of the right in Spain and the prospects for the left in the future.
The origins of global free markets 1840-200131:07Description:In this episode of the Explaining History podcast, we embark on a journey through modern economic history, tracing the evolution of global free markets from the height of Victorian Britain to the transformative concepts of Francis Fukuyama's "End of History." Drawing insights from the seminal work "False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism" by renowned scholar John Gray, we delve deep into the intricate web of economic, political, and social forces that have shaped our world.This episode guides us through a narrative that illuminates the critical junctures, key figures, and paradigm-shifting events that have defined the trajectory of global capitalism. With a keen focus on historical context and nuanced analysis, we examine the rise of free markets during the 19th century, their role in the world wars, and their triumph during the late 20th century.John Gray's incisive critique serves as our compass, challenging us to reconsider the assumptions that underpin the global capitalist system. As we explore the promises and pitfalls of unrestricted markets, we question whether Fukuyama's vision of "The End of History" has truly come to pass or if it remains an elusive goal.Whether you're a history enthusiast, an economics buff, or simply curious about the forces that have shaped our modern world, this episode offers a captivating exploration of global free markets' tumultuous journey, underpinned by the invaluable insights of John Gray's "False Dawn." Join us on this intellectual odyssey as we navigate the complex terrain of capitalism's evolution and its enduring impact on our lives.Here's a link to the Explaining History Buy me a coffee page, any and all donations gratefully accepted.