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Throughline

Author: NPR

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The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world.
146 Episodes
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The Supreme Court (2020)

The Supreme Court (2020)

2021-09-2301:00:551

When, why, and how did the Supreme Court get the final say in the law of the land? The question of the Court's role, and whether its decisions should reign above all the other branches of government, has been hotly debated for centuries. And that's resulted in a Supreme Court more powerful than anything the Founding Fathers could have imagined possible.
How did a small group of Islamic students go from local vigilantes to one of the most infamous and enigmatic forces in the world? The Taliban is a name that has haunted the American imagination since 2001. The scenes of the group's brutality repeatedly played in the Western media, while true, perhaps obscure our ability to see the complex origins of the Taliban and how they impact the lives of Afghans. It's a shadow that reaches across the vast ancient Afghan homeland, the reputation of the modern state, and throughout global politics. At the end of the US war in Afghanistan we go back to the end of the Soviet Occupation and the start of the Afghan civil war to look at the rise of the Taliban. Their story concludes Throughline's two-episode investigation on the past, present, and future of the country that was once called "the center of the world."
Afghanistan has, for centuries, been at the center of the world. Long before the U.S. invasion - before the U.S. was even a nation - countless civilizations intersected there, weaving together a colorful tapestry of foods, languages, ethnicities and visions of what Afghanistan was and could be. The story of Afghanistan is too often told from the perspective of outsiders who tried to invade it (and always failed) earning it the nickname "Graveyard of Empires." In this episode, we're shifting the perspective. We'll journey through the centuries alongside Afghan mystical poets. We'll turn the radio dial to hear songs of love and liberation. We'll meet the queen who built the first primary school for girls in the country. And we'll take a closer look at Afghanistan's centuries-long experiment to create a unified nation.
What happens after everything falls apart? The end of the Bronze Age was a moment when an entire network of ancient civilizations collapsed, leaving behind only clues to what happened. Today, scholars have pieced together a story where everything from climate change to mass migration to natural disasters played a role. What the end of the Bronze Age can teach us about avoiding catastrophe and what comes after collapse.
Octavia Butler's alternate realities and 'speculative fiction' reveal striking, and often devastating parallels to the world we live in today. She was a deep observer of the human condition, perplexed and inspired by our propensity towards self-destruction. Butler was also fascinated by the cyclical nature of history, and often looked to the past when writing about the future. Along with her warning is her message of hope - a hope conjured by centuries of survival and persistence. For every society that perishes in her books comes a story of rebuilding, of repair.
Venezuela is facing an economic and humanitarian crisis as extreme poverty and violence have forced many to flee the country in recent years. How did a country once wealthy with oil resources fall into such turmoil? Through the lives of two revolutionaries turned authoritarian leaders separated by two centuries, we look back at the rise and fall of Venezuela.
The Great Depression was a revolutionary spark for all kinds of things — health insurance, social safety nets, big government — all of which were in response to a national crisis. Through the personal accounts of four people who lived during the Great Depression, we look back at what life was like back then and what those stories can teach us about the last time the U.S. went through a national economic cataclysm. This is the second episode of our summer series "Movies for Your Mind." Summer movies like you've never heard before.
You've been looking at screens for what feels like forever. Now it's time to sit back, close your eyes, and come with us to worlds you've never seen, and histories you've never imagined. This is the first episode of our summer series "Movies for Your Mind."What happens when teenagers are shipwrecked on a deserted island? Can you find the fingerprint of God in warzones? Why was the concept of zero so revolutionary for humanity? More than a year into a pandemic that has completely upended the lives of people around the world, we look at how we cope with chaos, how we're primed to make order out of randomness, and why the stories we're taught to believe about our propensities for self-destruction may not actually be true.
Grenada: Nobody's Backyard

Grenada: Nobody's Backyard

2021-07-2901:00:3810

A Marxist revolution, a Cold War proxy battle, and a dream of a Black utopia. In 1983, Ronald Reagan ordered the U.S. military to invade the island of Grenada. Almost four decades later, many Americans don't remember why — or that it even happened. This week, Martine Powers, from Post Reports, brings us a story of revolution, invasion, and the aftermath of unresolved history.
The Olympics originated in Ancient Greece, and were resurrected in the 1890's after a 1,500 year ban. Since then, the International Olympic Committee has been behind every Olympic Games. In this episode, we explore the story of how the IOC turned the Olympics into a huge commercial success and whether the cities that host the games end up winning or losing.
Home/Front: Marla's War

Home/Front: Marla's War

2021-07-2037:293

What do we owe innocent civilians who are killed or injured in war? This is one of the thorniest ethical questions that any military faces, but it was not abstract for anti-war activist Marla Ruzicka. From Rough Translation's new series Home/Front.
The Most Sacred Right (2020)

The Most Sacred Right (2020)

2021-07-1501:05:168

Frederick Douglass dreamed of a country where all people could vote and he did everything in his power to make that dream a reality. In the face of slavery, the Civil War and the violence of Jim Crow, he fought his entire life for what he believed was a sacred, natural right that should be available to all people - voting.
This week we're featuring an episode from Code Switch, Do The Golden Arches Bend Toward Justice?. Calls for racial justice are met with a lot of different proposals, but one of the loudest and most enduring is to invest in Black businesses. But can "buying Black" actually do anything to mitigate racism? To find out, they taking a look at the surprising link between Black capitalism and McDonald's.
In the New Testament, Jesus says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. In the United States today, many Christians believe in something radically different. In what's known as the prosperity gospel, wealth is a sign of virtue and God's favor. The effects of this belief can be seen throughout American life from business to politics to social policy.
What's the role of government in society? What do we mean when we talk about individual responsibility? What makes us free? 'Neoliberalism' might feel like a squishy term that's hard to define and understand. But this ideology, founded by a group of men in the Swiss Alps, is a political project that has dominated our economic system for decades. In the name of free market fundamentals, the forces behind neoliberalism act like an invisible hand, shaping almost every aspect of our lives.
This week we're featuring an episode from Radiolab's latest new series, The Vanishing of Harry Pace. Harry Pace founded the first major Black-owned record label in the U.S., ushering in a new wave of American music. But it's also a mystery story, because one day, Harry Pace just disappeared. The Vanishing of Harry Pace is a series about the phenomenal but forgotten man who changed the music scene in the United States. It's a story about betrayal, family, hidden identities, and a time like no other.
Capitalism: What Is It?

Capitalism: What Is It?

2021-06-2459:1933

What do we mean when we talk about capitalism? Our economic system might seem inevitable, but it's a construction project hundreds of years in the making and no part of it is natural or left to chance. This week, we kick off our series on the past, present and future of capitalism with Kristen Ghodsee, Vivek Chibber, and Bryan Caplan, who debate how an economic system became an all-encompassing force that rules our lives and our minds.
Before Stonewall (2019)

Before Stonewall (2019)

2021-06-1743:167

In 1969, a gay bar in New York City called The Stonewall Inn was raided by police. It was a common form of harassment in those days but what followed, days of rebellion as patrons fought back, was anything but ordinary. Today, that event is seen as the start of the gay civil rights movement, but gay activists and organizations were standing up to harassment and discrimination years before. On this episode from our archives, the fight for gay rights before Stonewall.
Who is NPR (For)?

Who is NPR (For)?

2021-06-1039:024

Who is the media meant to serve? And why does it matter today, arguably, more than ever? 50 years ago, National Public Radio began as a small, scrappy news organization with big ideals and a very small footprint. Over the subsequent years of coverage and programming, NPR has grown and evolved into a mainstream media outlet, with a mission of serving audiences that reflect America. This week, Michel Martin, host of Weekend All Things Considered, talks to us about her time at NPR and the importance of representing all voices in news.
The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court

2021-06-0301:01:097

When, why, and how did the Supreme Court get the final say in the law of the land? The question of the Court's role, and whether its decisions should reign above all the other branches of government, has been hotly debated for centuries. And that's resulted in a Supreme Court more powerful than anything the Founding Fathers could have imagined possible.
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Comments (262)

Torrance Damgaard

Brian is a dumbass. How is he even credible to be having this conversation? Everything he says to contradict them, is just metaphorical and doesn't have any real meaning. Speaks like a politician. Smh

Sep 14th
Reply

New Jawn

My dad and mom grew up as children during the Depression. They forever saw money and security so differently than those born afterward.

Aug 12th
Reply (1)

Andrew H.

The sound design is so good here. I felt myself getting tense during the scene setting sound bytes.

Aug 5th
Reply

Drew Anderson

I'm sure they thought it was a really cool idea, but 15 seconds of silence is not a great choice for effect on a podcast lol

Aug 2nd
Reply

Wimarshana Wijesuriya

This is definitely the best podcast out there!!!! Huge fan from Sri-Lanka of all places.

Jul 31st
Reply

Drew Anderson

interestingly enough, Romero never intended for Night of the living dead to have racial commentary. The part of Ben was written with no particular race in mind, and the actor who played him simply had the best acting chops of the men who auditioned.

Jul 24th
Reply

Andre D'Elena

Is it just me or are free market capitalists all delusional twats? Love the guy who walks up to someone who's just been shot in the leg and is all like, hey, you are sooooo lucky! It could've been right between the eyes!

Jul 21st
Reply

Lori C.

This pandemic started about 18 months ago and this episode was really early. it was just said that this pandemic could pull people together. too bad it did nothing of the kind in the USA. if it had, who knows how different the outcome could have been.

Jul 12th
Reply

Collier Brooks

Brian has no intention of a genuine debate, he just wants to try to make himself seem smart and belittle the others. He keeps pulling random hypotheticals that prove nothing. It was infuriating hearing him speak! I was trying to keep an open mind but I would have loved to have heard from a capitalist who wasn't such a d-bag in the way he speaks.

Jul 9th
Reply (1)

Kate

God BRYAN!!! What an absolute doofus.

Jul 9th
Reply

David Graber

started out good. then became more propaganda than history.

Jul 3rd
Reply (1)

Rebecca Boyd

Brian is verbally abusive. I might be able to see his point but every time he insulted the other two I shut off

Jun 29th
Reply

Sara Leapley

Bryan seems so out of touch, that he only seemed to serve the purpose of stirring up the pot. How do you have a logical discussion with someone who says Socialism was the cause of WW2, and can't seem to tell the difference between socialism and communism? He even goes so far as to say the Soviets were socialists! 🤦What a douche.

Jun 28th
Reply

Sara Leapley

Ugh, Bryan is such a douche! Talk about out of touch.

Jun 28th
Reply

Able Fable

can you interview people who've escaped! socialist countries? Venezuela, cuba , Russia, north Korea, the people of Taiwan?

Jun 25th
Reply (1)

Mary Mccarthy

Thought provoking pod cast with great modeling from the three roundtable presenters for having a discussion when there are diverse opinions about a topic. I was trying not to dismiss positions that I disagree with but think about what we've learned from the past to guide us towards the future. I'm looking forward to the next posting. Thanks for taking the risk to do something different. I intend to share this podcast with others to continue the conversation.

Jun 24th
Reply

Anna Clay

Excellent episode. Bryan Caplan treats this stuff as a thought exercise with no regard for the human impact, and he's a condescending jerk.

Jun 24th
Reply (1)

AJB

Way better explanation is in the autobiography of the son of the founder of Hamas ("Son of Hamas")

May 30th
Reply (2)

Alexis Moore

Does this presenter know what the letter 'T' is? Irritating listening

May 14th
Reply

Lori Lavender Luz

For more on the China-Uyghur situation, check out this podcast that reveals evidence of organ harvesting on the Jordan Harbinger Show. https://castbox.fm/episode/497%3A-David-Kilgour-%7C-The-Heartless-Art-of-Forced-Organ-Harvesting-id1168806-id374820951?country=us

May 13th
Reply
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