Chatter

Share

Gone with the Wind, Hitler, and America First with Sarah Churchwell

Season 1, Ep. 44

Gone with the Wind--the top-grossing movie of all time, adjusted for inflation--remains an iconic influence in American culture, despite its deeply troubling portrayal of social and political dynamics in the South during and after the Civil War. The continued popularity of the film points to a need to examine its influence on nearly a century's worth of American race relations, fascistic movements, and denialism in the United States. And why did Adolf Hitler reportedly love it so much?


David Priess spoke with cultural and literary historian Sarah Churchwell of the University of London, author of The Wrath To Come, a book that dives deeply into the film, how it reflects a mythologized "Lost Cause" version of the Old South, and its connection with today's increasing political violence. They discuss the popularity of the movie, its differences from the book it was based on, some of the challenges for filmmaker David O. Selznick and for the film's actors, the "Lost Cause" theme that the movie conveys, its intersection with fascist thinking in America and with modern racism, why it attracted Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders, its links to various iterations of the Klan and "America First" campaigns, and how even disturbing movies like this can spur social progress.


Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.


Among the works discussed in this episode:


The movie Gone with the Wind


The book Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell


The book The Wrath To Come: Gone with the Wind and the Lies America Tells by Sarah Churchwell


The article "Agglutination Test for Americanos" by Leslie L. Jones, The Smart Set magazine, May-Aug 1922.


The book Behold, America: The Entangled History of "America First" and "the American Dream" by Sarah Churchwell


More Episodes

9/29/2022

Hurricanes and Governmental Response with Eric Jay Dolin

Season 1, Ep. 50
Every year, the eastern United States faces the prospect--and, too often, the reality--of major hurricanes that cause extensive physical and financial damage. This year is no exception; even as Hurricane Ian approaches the Gulf Coast, more storms are likely in the coming weeks.David Priess chatted with author Eric Jay Dolin about the history of Atlantic hurricanes, with a special focus on such storms' influence on U.S. national security. They spoke about the devastating 2017 hurricane season, how tropical systems are covered in the media, Ben Franklin's role in hurricane science, the role of Caribbean hurricanes in the American Revolution and the Spanish-American War, the evolution of the federal government's storm forecasting and crisis response efforts, hurricane hunter flights, attempts to use technology to disrupt massive storms, Hurricane Andrew (1992), the effects of climate change on tropical systems and their impact, viewing hurricanes as national security threats, how humans assess risk, and films about hurricanes.Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. Among the works mentioned in this episode:The book A Furious Sky by Eric Jay DolinOther books by Eric Jay DolinThe film The Day After TomorrowThe film The Perfect StormThe film Violent Earth: New England's Killer Hurricane of 1938The film Titanic
9/22/2022

Josephine Baker, Singer and Spy, with Damien Lewis

Season 1, Ep. 49
In her day, Josephine Baker was one of the most famous women in the world. Fans recognized the superstar singer, actress, and dancer everywhere she went, particularly on the streets of Paris, where she often walked a pet cheetah on a diamond leash. Why would anyone think such a conspicuous person might make the perfect spy? Author Damien Lewis set out to answer that question in his latest book, “Agent Josephine: American Beauty, French Hero, British Spy.” It chronicles Baker’s remarkable career as an agent for French counterintelligence during WWII. Baker participated in numerous clandestine missions, and her work informed British and U.S. intelligence as well. Baker left the United States in the Jim Crow era and was embraced by French audiences. But she became a target of Nazi propagandists. When Germany invaded France, Baker devoted herself to the Resistance and the Allies’ cause. It turned out that her performing talents were well suited to work as an intelligence agent. Baker used her connections to get close to Axis VIPs, including in the Italian government, who didn’t know she was passing valuable details from their conversations back to her French compatriots. She used her extraordinary fame as a cover, at times hiding secret documents practically in plain sight while on tour. Lewis and Shane Harris discussed Baker’s remarkable and little known espionage career, which reveals much about the inner life of one of the 20th Century’s biggest stars. Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.Among the works mentioned in this episode:Damien Lewis’ book, “Agent Josephine:” https://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/titles/damien-lewis/agent-josephine/9781541700666/ Lewis’ other books” https://damienlewis.com/books/ Lewis on Twitter: https://twitter.com/authordlewis Baker and Lewis in The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/08/15/josephine-baker-was-the-star-france-wanted-and-the-spy-it-needed-damien-lewis-agent-josephine Baker inducted into the Pantheon: https://www.npr.org/2021/11/30/1059776777/josephine-baker-france-pantheon 
9/15/2022

CIA Paramilitary Ops in Reality and Fiction

Season 1, Ep. 48
Of all of the Central Intelligence Agency's activities, paramilitary operations might remain the least understood. This, in part, is both a cause and a consequence of inaccurate portrayals of such work in prominent movies; it's also because fewer memoirs come from the CIA's Special Activities Division than from traditional human intelligence collectors and from analysts. David Priess chatted with former CIA officer Ric Prado about the fiction and the reality of CIA paramilitary operations, including stories Ric tells in his book Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior. They spoke about what Hollywood gets wrong about intelligence work, Ric's escape as a child from Castro's Cuba, his path to a CIA career, differences between paramilitary operations and intelligence collection, his years of work with the Contras in Central America, the Counterterrorist Center (CTC) at CIA before and on 9/11, the work ethic in CTC after 9/11, why his book has substantial chunks of redacted text, and who he thinks played the best James Bond.Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by David Priess with Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo, with additional editing by Cara Shillenn. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. Among the works mentioned in this episode:The book Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior by Ric PradoThe film ArgoThe film Three Days of the CondorThe Jason Bourne filmsThe film True LiesThe Mission Impossible filmsThe James Bond films