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History on Fire

Author: Daniele Bolelli

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Where history and epic collide--"History on Fire" is a podcast by author and university professor Daniele Bolelli. For more, go to LuminaryPodcasts.com

52 Episodes
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“That is the nicest guilt trip anybody has ever given me in my entire life.” Dan Carlin Dan Carlin is one of my all time favorite human beings, and on top of that an incredible podcaster. He’s now a published author as well. In this episode we chat about his new book, The End is Always Near. The conversation covers more than should theoretically be possible to cover in little over an hour—from Dan’s understanding for Thanos’ plight to the collapse of civilizations, the concept of Gross National Happiness, the delusion of infinite growth in a finite system, Jared Diamond, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, meteors, nuclear weapons, James Burke, the need for nuance, the future of Common Sense, what to do when people can’t agree on basic evidence, social media, incredibly fast historical changes, and the nicest guilt trip in Dan’s life.
“It's just incredible that this little hand has killed Nazis, has scythed them down by the hundreds, without missing…” Charlie Chaplin “Miss Pavlichenko's well known to fame, Russia's your country, fighting is your game, Your smile shines as bright as any new morning sun, But more than three hundred Nazi dogs fell by your gun.” Woody Guthrie “Charging together, we would dash into battle and forget about everything else in the world.” Lyudmila Pavlichenko“Gentlemen, I am 25 years old and I have already managed to kill 309 of the fascist invaders. Do you not think, gentlemen, that you have now been hiding behind my back for rather too long?” Lyudmila PavlichenkoDuring WW II, women in the Soviet Union had many reasons to fear German soldiers. But in some cases it was the German soldiers’ turn to be the targets of Soviet ladies. Among the many women who would fight tooth and nail and send quite a few Axis soldiers to a premature death, one stood out among the rest. Germans would know her by name, and would grow to fear her. And they had good reasons to fear her since it was by killing 309 of them that she would become the most deadly female sniper in history. Legends about her would grow both among her own comrades and among the terrified Nazi soldiers who heard rumors about this vengeful female demon who seemed to have made it her personal mission to make them pay for any outrage committed by anyone wearing their same uniform had ever. Some told stories about how a witch in some village near Odessa had cast a spell deflecting enemy bullets away from her. Others swore that she was followed by the lord of the forest himself—a wood sprite with a huge tree-like body who protected her, made her invisible and gave her the supernatural ability to move through the forest without making a sound, to know what was happening a mile away, and to see in complete darkness as well as normal people see in daylight. She was Lyudmila Pavlichenko aka Lady Death.  Among other things, in this episode: Operation Barbarossa, caught between vicious dictators, Stalin (even better than Nazis at killing his own people), Nazi guns in front of you and Soviet guns pointed at your back, a song by Woody Guthrie, Charlie Chaplin kissing her hand, Lyudmila disappoints Yoda, bringing Belgian chocolates as a gift for your girlfriend (after looting them from a corpse), love found & love lost, bloody revenge, hanging out with the American First Lady.
“Bits of weapons and horses' limbs lay about, and human heads fixed to tree-trunks. In groves nearby were barbaric altars, where the Germans had laid the tribunes and senior centurions and sacrificed them.” Tacitus “It stands on record that armies already wavering and on the point of collapse have been rallied by the women, pleading heroically with their men, thrusting forward their bared breasts…” Tacitus“They are not so easily convinced to plough the land and wait patiently for harvest as to challenge an enemy and run the risk to be wounded. They think it is weak and spiritless to earn by sweat what they might purchase with blood.” Tacitus A little over 2,000 years ago, Rome was a well-oiled war machine crushing everything in its path. At that time, the Roman legions were the most deadly military force in the Western world, and possibly in the whole world. Every year, they conquered new peoples and pushed the boundaries of their empire. Rape and pillage was the name of the game, and they were masters at it. But in the year 9 CE, something happened in the forests of Germany that was going to have a profound impact on the destiny of the world. Some historians go so far as to suggest that both the German and English languages may not exist as we know them, had things gone differently. News arriving from Germany, along with a severed head delivered by courier, threw Emperor Augustus in a deep depression. In this first of two parts about the clash between Rome’s power with Germanic tribesmen, we’ll look at what we know about Germanic tribal cultures from those days, walk among the grisly remnants of a battlefield with Roman general Germanicus, and consider how Tacitus’ work was fuel to the fire of Nazi ideology 2,000 years later. Also, in this episode: Europe’s pre-Christian religions, naked tribesmen snowboarding on their shields, the dramatic encounter between Gaius Marius with Cimbri & Teutones, Gaius Julius Caesar making a larger-than-life entrance into Germany, Drusus’ campaign beyond the Rhine, racing on horseback for 200 miles to see one’s brother, slavery with golden chains, and much more as we set the stage for part 2, when the big showdown will take place.
So many History on Fire episodes feature incredibly violent pages from humanity’s past. This is not one of those episodes. The hero of our tale was too busy enjoying life in 15th century Japan to join the civil wars raging around him or to go around killing people. As the illegitimate son of the Emperor of Japan, Ikkyu Sojun experienced the harsh side of life from the moment he was born, but always looked for a way not to let it spoil his good mood. His main passions (in no particular order) were Zen Buddhism, sex and drinking. And in the midst of the endless party that was in life, he managed to have a tremendously powerful impact on Japanese culture. In this episode, we see Ikkyu’s wanderings taking him through torrid love affairs, friendships with pirate-merchants, and clashes with the Zen establishment. Living in an age of shoguns being assassinated, peasant uprisings, and the fury of the Onin War, Ikkyu found the time to save very Zen temple he had criticized throughout his life, and to launch an artistic renaissance that would have a lasting impact on Japanese history. In the course of our journey, we’ll find out how Ikkyu affected the creation of tea ceremony, how he and Lady Mori shared the greatest love story in Japanese history, and Ikkyu can teach about finding joy in the midst of suffering
So many History on Fire episodes feature incredibly violent pages from humanity’s past. This is not one of those episodes. The hero of our tale was too busy enjoying life in 15th century Japan to join the civil wars raging around him or to go around killing people. As the illegitimate son of the Emperor of Japan, Ikkyu Sojun experienced the harsh side of life from the moment he was born, but always looked for a way not to let it spoil his good mood. His main passions (in no particular order) were Zen Buddhism, sex and drinking. And in the midst of the endless party that was in life, he managed to have a tremendously powerful impact on Japanese culture. In this episode, we will tackle the odd phenomenon of people being more comfortable with warfare and violence than sex, how Tom Robbins introduced me to Ikkyu, Sovannahry’s Ikkyu painting (the first thing I see every morning), the odd circumstances of Ikkyu’s birth, a history of Zen, Ikkyu’s training and attempted suicide, Ikkyu’s burning of his ‘certificate of enlightenment’, his clashes with the Zen establishment, Jack London’s Call of the Wild, becoming ‘the Crazy Cloud’, Drukpa Kunley and his… ehm… ‘flaming thunderbolt of wisdom’…
EPISODE 44 Dan Carlin

EPISODE 44 Dan Carlin

2019-02-1801:59:3631

Dan Carlin is the undisputed king of historical podcasting, and one of my favorite human beings. Today we sit down to chat about the differences between Nazism and Socialism, the right-wing vs. left-wing paradigm, our favorite past U.S. presidents, the feeling you have when witnessing slow moving historical catastrophes, and much more.
In the midst of The Peloponnesian War (431-401 BCE), the Athenians paid a visit to the inhabitants of the island of Melos and tried to make them an offer they couldn’t refuse. The dialogue that emerged from their negotiations is a classic in political philosophy, and raises fascinating questions about the nature of morality in history. In this episode, Darryl Cooper (from “The Martyrmade Podcast”) and I tackle them all, and leave no stones unturned.
By 1429, the heir to the French throne was about to give up and flee in exile. The English and their Burgundian allies controlled huge parts of the country. With Orleans likely to fall in a not too distant future, the path was open for the English to conquer the rest of France. It looked like the game was up for him. As much as he tried, he couldn’t see any logical path to victory. But little did he know that help was on its way—a kind of help that didn’t seem to be logical, reasonable or likely. Help was coming in the form of an illiterate teenage peasant—a female at that—who was going to change his fortunes; a young woman who through sheer willpower would radically change the course of the war. She arrived at the royal court during France’s darkest hour with news that God had sent her to lift the siege of Orleans, and make sure the heir to the throne would be crowned King of France.
By 1429, the heir to the French throne was about to give up and flee in exile. The English and their Burgundian allies controlled huge parts of the country. With Orleans likely to fall in a not too distant future, the path was open for the English to conquer the rest of France. It looked like the game was up for him. As much as he tried, he couldn’t see any logical path to victory. But little did he know that help was on its way—a kind of help that didn’t seem to be logical, reasonable or likely. Help was coming in the form of an illiterate teenage peasant—a female at that—who was going to change his fortunes; a young woman who through sheer willpower would radically change the course of the war. She arrived at the royal court during France’s darkest hour with news that God had sent her to lift the siege of Orleans, and make sure the heir to the throne would be crowned King of France.
By 1429, the heir to the French throne was about to give up and flee in exile. The English and their Burgundian allies controlled huge parts of the country. With Orleans likely to fall in a not too distant future, the path was open for the English to conquer the rest of France. It looked like the game was up for him. As much as he tried, he couldn’t see any logical path to victory. But little did he know that help was on its way—a kind of help that didn’t seem to be logical, reasonable or likely. Help was coming in the form of an illiterate teenage peasant—a female at that—who was going to change his fortunes; a young woman who through sheer willpower would radically change the course of the war. She arrived at the royal court during France’s darkest hour with news that God had sent her to lift the siege of Orleans, and make sure the heir to the throne would be crowned King of France.The young woman was Joan of Arc, and she was one of the most unusual individuals in history.
By 1429, the heir to the French throne was about to give up and flee in exile. The English and their Burgundian allies controlled huge parts of the country. With Orleans likely to fall in a not too distant future, the path was open for the English to conquer the rest of France. It looked like the game was up for him. As much as he tried, he couldn’t see any logical path to victory. But little did he know that help was on its way—a kind of help that didn’t seem to be logical, reasonable or likely. Help was coming in the form of an illiterate teenage peasant—a female at that—who was going to change his fortunes; a young woman who through sheer willpower would radically change the course of the war. She arrived at the royal court during France’s darkest hour with news that God had sent her to lift the siege of Orleans, and make sure the heir to the throne would be crowned King of France.The young woman was Joan of Arc, and she was one of the most unusual individuals in history.
What I am going to tell you is one of the craziest serial killer stories that you have never heard of. And there are very good reason why most people have never heard of this. In 1942, Death stalked London. Death came from the sky in the form of German bombs. And on the ground it came in the form of the blackout ripper—this is the name by which the monster came to be known. But publicizing the infamous activities of the Blackout Ripper is not something that was in the best interest of the nation at that time. The reaction of the citizens of London in the face of the German Blitz, the bombing campaign unleashed by the German Luftwaffe, has always been portrayed in heroic terms. The traditional version tells us that tough British people took the bombing in strides. They’d get bombed all night only to emerge with a smile in the morning ready to go to work as if nothing had happened. In part this was certainly true, many British people displayed incredible courage and resilience in the face of the German attacks. And this was a great propaganda weapon for the British government. It allowed them to tell Germany ‘your bombs can’t shake our resolve. They are having no effect on us, so feel free to stop any time you want and spare yourself further embarrassment.’ There clearly is something powerful in the ability to take your enemy’s best shot and smile back at them. It discourages them, and forces them to reconsider their strategy. So, of course, the last thing you want is to let them know that their strikes are hurting you. If you were to admit that the blackout is giving rise to a huge black market, if you were to talk too loudly about the doubling of the murder rate in your city, if you were to discuss how the bombing campaign indirectly gave a perfect cover for an incredibly brutal serial killer, then it’d be like admitting that bombs were working in opening fissures in British society. And if you were to admit that, then you could be sure that the bombs would keep on falling. And thousands would keep on dying. So, the Blackout Ripper was not just any other serial killer. He was a potential propaganda weapon in the hands of the enemy. For this reason, he had to be stopped, and stopped quickly. And better yet, he should be talked about as little as humanly possible. So, if you are wondering why his Ripper-colleague, Jack the Ripper, is pretty much a household name, whereas few have heard of the Blackout Ripper, you don’t have to wonder no more. The context of WWII made burying this tale a wartime necessity. This is simply not a story that anyone in Britain at the time had any interest in publicizing.
The tale of the 47 Ronin is one of the most renowned revenge tales to ever come out of Japan. It is the subject of countless books, plays, and movies. It is also a story that has ignited never-ending debates. Some people argue that the 47 Ronin were paragons of virtue—perfect embodiments of the loyalty and honor that should be expected from the samurai. They offered the answer to the riddle that was plaguing the samurai at the beginning of the 1700s: what does being a member of a warrior class at a time of enduring peace? Other people instead look at the same story and walk away feeling like the 47 Ronin were violent thugs animated by questionable motives. In this two-part series of History on Fire, we dive deep into legend & history to find answers. In this episode:-A crash course in Japanese history-The transformation of the status of the samurai -The curious institution of seppuku -Ritual disembowelment as a way to say ‘sorry’-Death poems -The ‘Kaishakunin’—a pal who would cut your head off to spare you the prolonged agonies of ritual disembowelment -The “Dog Shogun”-Asano Naganori: “Given to pleasure in preference of the sober business of government.”-The consequences of pulling a blade inside the Shogun’s palace-Bonus revenge story: two angry sisters against a samurai
The tale of the 47 Ronin is one of the most renowned revenge tales to ever come out of Japan. It is the subject of countless books, plays, and movies. It is also a story that has ignited never-ending debates. Some people argue that the 47 Ronin were paragons of virtue—perfect embodiments of the loyalty and honor that should be expected from the samurai. They offered the answer to the riddle that was plaguing the samurai at the beginning of the 1700s: what does being a member of a warrior class at a time of enduring peace? Other people instead look at the same story and walk away feeling like the 47 Ronin were violent thugs animated by questionable motives. In this two-part series of History on Fire, we dive deep into legend & history to find answers. In this episode:-A crash course in Japanese history-The transformation of the status of the samurai -The curious institution of seppuku -Ritual disembowelment as a way to say ‘sorry’-Death poems -The ‘Kaishakunin’—a pal who would cut your head off to spare you the prolonged agonies of ritual disembowelment -The “Dog Shogun”-Asano Naganori: “Given to pleasure in preference of the sober business of government.”-The consequences of pulling a blade inside the Shogun’s palace-Bonus revenge story: two angry sisters against a samurai
This series is about the rise of a street gang that took over Rome in the 1970s and 1980s. The Magliana gang was not just one of many criminal organizations who operated in Italy. Among their business partners, they counted Italy’s most important politicians, bankers, secret services, and possibly the Vatican itself. The gang left an indelible mark on Italian history. The story of their rise to power and of the heyday of their rule truly is stranger than fiction. It’s the kind of story that makes you think that the Godfather 3 perhaps was a documentary after all. There are lots of books and documentaries about this story but they are nearly all in Italian, so it looks like I’m your man if you wanna hear this story in English—or whatever approximation of English I speak.
This series is about the rise of a street gang that took over Rome in the 1970s and 1980s. The Magliana gang was not just one of many criminal organizations who operated in Italy.
What makes seemingly normal men commit horrific acts against civilians during war? What allows some people to act heroically in the darkest circumstances and what makes others turn into monsters? How does training and leadership play into this? After discussing the stories of Sand Creek and My Lai in Episodes 32A and 32B, in this episode Darryl Cooper (The Martyrmade Podcast) and I sit down with retired Navy Seal, author and podcaster Jocko Willink (The Jocko Podcast) to tackle these questions.
In part B, I hand the microphone to my friend and master podcaster Darryl Cooper (from The Martyrmade Podcast.) Darryl explores the context of the Cold War in order to come to terms with what happened at My Lai, in Vietnam, in 1968. Horror abounds, but if you are looking for heroes in the midst of the horror, you can do a lot worse than hear about the story of Hugh Thompson.
I’m not going to lie. This is one of the darkest episodes of History on Fire. But there are reasons for this journey into the heart of darkness. The stories of Sand Creek and My Lai offer an opportunity to explore human agency, the choices separating good and evil, and how some individuals can choose to become sources of light even in the most horrible circumstances. In this first part, we will explore the events that in Colorado in the late 1850s and early 1860s led to a dramatic clash between the Cheyenne tribe and the United States. Within the context of this painfully ugly story, 26-year-old Captain Silas Soule offers a shining example of heroism.
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Comments (154)

Shawn Dennis

Love how Joe Rogan does the opening

Nov 26th
Reply (1)

steve boheimer

Yesssssss

Nov 20th
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Tyeson Rogers

What a bad ass the woman was!

Nov 19th
Reply (1)

Cliston Mott

This country has always been at odds internally with beliefs but it is our founding principles of freedom of speech that always creates an open discussion that pushes us forward I would say your ending thoughts were pessimistic at best and not looking at this fully. I still very much enjoyed the greek history conversation.

Nov 2nd
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Itzick Binder

It's amazing how boring this podcast is. Such an interesting subject but you can fall asleep while listening Absolutely how

Oct 31st
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steve boheimer

I hope this means he's coming back next year. I can't afford luminare. if anything I'd rather send the podcaster money directly

Oct 16th
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PaidHero1

Great episode. I'm a huge fan. looks like I'll have to get a subscription on luminary.

Oct 15th
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mattters

hell yesssssss

Oct 14th
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Frank Stein

Yes yes yes

Oct 12th
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Jonathan Kolbinsky

I've never been more excited to see a new podcast notification

Oct 12th
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Joanne Pizel

Really really enjoyed learning about Crazy Horse. Previously it was just a name to me. Loving your podcasts so so much! Thankyou ❤️

Sep 23rd
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Pogla

Well, I'm hooked. Looking forward to the rest of the series

Sep 13th
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Jeffery Gray

And the library of alexander burns.

Aug 29th
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calmfocustruth

6 mins in and this guy is cool! 'a Dan Calin homage', 'Joe Rogan inspired' and ... 'it's morally wrong to eliminate something appreciated by the ladies,..my accent'. Love it

Aug 25th
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listener like you

game of thrones talk? hard pass

Aug 22nd
Reply (1)

Lysis Myrna

I understand you need to do what's right for you. I'm on disability though, so I won't be able to support you (food has to come first). I wish you the best of luck in your future.

Jul 12th
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Damien Miller

This was the podcast Daniele was born to do. Probably the best History on Fire episode

Jul 7th
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Moose Wisdom

nice episode

Jul 6th
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Michael Lach

Historians usually give the best most collected take on current politics

Jul 3rd
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Michael Lach

Great fun story I enjoyed. But I don't remember any of the names

Jul 3rd
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