DiscoverHistory Does You
History Does You

History Does You

Author: Riley Callahan

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History Does You is a podcast that explores the idea that history always is relevant to today. We also cover topics in current events, foreign policy, and international relations. Through interviews with historians, journalists, authors, and former government officials, we answer the question, “How is History relevant today?”. Previous guests have included NYT Bestselling authors, James Bradley, Roger Crowley, Dr. Andrew Bacevich, Michael Isikoff and Pulitzer Prize winners Dr. John Gaddis, Joby Warrick, and Dr. Martin Sherwin
46 Episodes
After his disastrous campaign in Russia, Napoleon rebuilt his armies hell bent on reclaiming dominance of Europe. What followed was a fierce-fast moving campaign covering most of Germany with multiple armies fighting on multiple fronts. The campaign culminated in the battle of Leipzig which was the largest land battle up to that point in history involving over 650,000 troops from 11 nations. To help explain the course of the campaign we interview Dr. Michael Leggiere who is a professor of History and Deputy Director of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas. He is also a leading historian of the Napoleonic wars having written several books on the subject including a 1400-page, two volume series: Napoleon and the Struggle for Germany as well as Blücher: Scourge of Napoleon which was a Winner of the Society for Military History's 2015 Distinguished Book Award.
Nuclear Weapons are the most destructive invention ever created in human society but they only have been used twice in armed conflict. The global threat of these weapons has only deepened in the following decades as more advanced weapons, aggressive strategies, and new nuclear powers emerged. We explore how the Cold War initially shaped the policies regarding Nuclear Weapons as well as the Nuclear era after the Cold War. To help explain we interview Dr. Francis Gavin who is the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. In 2013, he was appointed the first Frank Stanton Chair in Nuclear Security Policy Studies and Professor of Political Science at MIT. Before joining MIT, he was the Tom Slick Professor of International Affairs and the Director of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas. He has written numerous books including Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age and Nuclear Weapons and American Grand Strategy.
As the United States steadily expanded west acquiring new territory by buying it and war, the overarching question regarding slavery in these territories sowed the seeds of the civil war. When the south seceded and war broke out, fighting was not limited to the Eastern and Western theatres, but even in the territories of present day Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Native American tribes that had been steadily pushed westward tried to navigate the messy politics of North and South in order to preserve their lands. To help explain this complicated theatre of the war, we interview Dr. Megan Kate Nelson, she received her BA in History and Literature from Harvard University and her PhD in American Studies from the University of Iowa. She has taught U.S. history and American Studies at Texas Tech University, Cal State Fullerton, Harvard, and Brown before leaving academia to write full-time in 2014. She has written several articles and books including The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West and is currently writing This Strange Country: Yellowstone and the Reconstruction of America which will be published in 2022. 
As Rome headed into the 1st Century BC, its power continued to expand, they had destroyed its rival in the Mediterranean, the Carthaginian Empire and various Greek Warlords who attempted to keep their independence. But with tremendous success came costs as a series of civil wars and unrest transformed the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. But Rome had a well functioning representative democracy for centuries, so how did it all come to an end? To help explain we interview Dr. Edward Watts; he is a professor of History at UC San Diego focusing on the intellectual and religious history of the Roman Empire and the early Byzantine Empire. He has written several books including City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria, Riot in Alexandria: Historical Debate in Pagan and Christian Communities which was a 2010 PROSE Award Honorable Mention. He also wrote The Final Pagan Generation which was awarded the 2015 Phi Alpha Theta Best Subsequent Book Prize and Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny. We also explore how the Roman government function and how Roman society was transformed as a result of this transition. 
In October of 1962, US spy planes discovered evidence of Soviet Missiles on the Island of Cuba. What came next was a thirteen days of confusion, backchannel diplomacy, and the threat of Nuclear War. But to understand the leadup to the crisis, one must look back at the making of the Atomic Bombs and the decision to use them against Nagasaki and Hiroshima which brought World War II to an end. It set the Soviet Union and the United States on a collision course over who could use the weapon most effectively. To help explain the crisis and the policies that led to it, we interview Dr. Martin Sherwin who is an author and historian specializing in the development of atomic weapons and nuclear policy. Along with Kai Bird, he co-wrote American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of Robert Oppenheimer, which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2006. In addition, Sherwin has advised a number of documentaries and television series relating to the Manhattan Project, including The Day after Trinity: A History of Nuclear Strategy, and War and Peace in the Nuclear Age. He also recently wrote, Gambling with Armageddon: Nuclear Roulette from Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis
By 1914 the great powers of Europe were sliding inexorably toward war, and they pulled the Middle East along with them into one of the most destructive conflicts in human history. No region experienced more change as a result of the war than the Middle East. The Ottoman empire ceased to exist after dominating the region for more than four centuries and borders were redrawn piecemeal by the victorious allies. This set the stage for the modern Middle East and all of the conflict that will follow, much of which continues to this day. To help explain we interview Dr. Eugen Rogan who is a Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at Oxford and a Fellow of St Antony's College. He is the author of several books on the Middle East including The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, which was An International Bestseller and Economist Best Book of the Year. His other work includes The Arabs: A History and Outside In: On the Margins of the Modern Middle East
The Battle of Manila was fought by forces from both the United States and the Philippines against Japanese troops in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. The month-long battle, which resulted in the death of over 100,000 civilians and the complete devastation of the city, was the scene of the worst urban fighting in the Pacific Theater. Japanese forces committed mass murderer against Filipino civilians during the battle. Along with massive loss of life, the battle also destroyed architectural and cultural heritage dating back to the city's founding, and Manila became one of the most devastated capital cities during the entire war. To explain we interview James Scott, a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard, is the author of Rampage, which was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by the editors at Amazon, Kirkus and Military Times and was chosen as a finalist for the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History by the New York Historical Society. His other works include Target Tokyo, a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist in history, he also write the The War Below and The Attack on the Liberty, which won the Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison Award.
We tend to think of the United States as a country promoting democracy and international liberalism across the globe, but in the grand scheme of American history, the U.S. has preferred to stay isolated avoiding alliances and only fighting  wars in the interest of domestic economics.  We highlight the various episodes and events that have shaped American Foreign Policy and Diplomacy. To help explain, we interview Charles Kupchan who is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor of international affairs at Georgetown University. From 2014 to 2017, he served as special assistant to the president and senior director for European affairs on the staff of the National Security Council (NSC) in the Obama administration. He was also director for European affairs on the NSC during the first Clinton administration. Before joining the Clinton NSC, he worked in the U.S. Department of State on the policy planning staff. He is also the author of  several books including No One's World: The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn (2012), How Enemies Become Friends: The Sources of Stable Peace (2010) and Isolationism: A History of America's Efforts to Shield Itself From the World (2020)
With Allied soldiers penned in at Anzio, the need to breakthrough past Monte Cassino became the priority. Between January and May of 1944, American, British, French, New Zealand, Indian, and Polish soldiers attempted to take Monte Cassino and the surrounding area.  By the time the battle ended with a breakthrough to Rome, there had been almost 350,000 casualties on both sides and one of the few battles where every major Allied nation participated in some capacity. We interview Mathew Parker who is the author of several history books including Hells Gorge, The Battle of Britain and Monte Cassino which well be talking about today. His most recent book, published in August, tells the extraordinary story of Willoughbyland, the forgotten seventeenth-century English colony in Surinam that was exchanged with the Dutch for New York. He was also recently elected to be a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. This is the final part of our series on the War in Italy during World War II
The four-month-long 1944 battle on Italy's coast, south of Rome, was one of World War II's longest and bloodiest battles. Surrounded by Nazi Germany's most fanatical troops, American and British amphibious forces endured relentless mortar and artillery barrages, aerial bombardments, and human-wave attacks by infantry with panzers. Through it all, despite tremendous casualties, Allied soldiers held their ground, fighting with, as Winston Churchill said, "desperate valour." So intense and heroic was the fighting that British soldiers were awarded two Victoria Crosses, while American soldiers received twenty-six Medals of Honor--ten of them awarded posthumously. On todays episode we welcome on Flint Whitlock, he is the editor of the WWII Quarterly magazine. He is the author of several books including “Desperate Valor” which was part of the Military Book Club’s Featured Selection. He has also written several books including “The Rock of Anzio”, “The Fighting First”, and “Given Up for Dead”. He is a resident of Denver, CO and graduated from the University of Illinois.
By May of 1943, the Allies had thrown out the German and Italian forces in North Africa, but what to do next. The Soviet Union was facing the bulk of the German army on the Eastern front and the political pressure to open up led to the decision to invade Sicily and mainland Italy.  After fierce landings at Sicily and at Salerno, the Allies became bogged down along several German defensive lines. To break the stalemate, General Bernard Montgomery directed the 1st Canadian Infantry Division to take the island resort town of Ortona. What followed was some of the fiercest urban fighting of the war, eventually, the battle would earn the nickname, "mini-Stalingrad". To help explain the course of the battle and the previous events we interview Dr. Mark Zuehlke. He is an award-winning author generally considered to be Canada’s foremost military historian. His Canadian Battle Series is the most exhaustive recounting of the battles and campaigns fought by any nation during World War II to have been written by a single author. In recognition of his contribution to Canadian history, he was awarded the 2014 Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media: The Pierre Berton Award. In 2007, his book, For Honour’s Sake: The War of 1812 and the Brokering of an Uneasy Peace won the Canadian Author’s Association Lela Common Award for Canadian History. The Canadian Battle Series book, Holding Juno captured the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize in 2006.
Out of the turbulence of the Vietnam War and Watergate, Jimmy Carter was elected president, but after four years, his administration was floundering, confounded by inflation at home and foreign policy failures abroad. The Democrats, desperate to keep power and yearning to resurrect former glory, turned to Ted Kennedy, a member of the legendary political dynasty. And so, 1980 became a civil war. It was the last time an American president received a serious reelection challenge from inside his own party. The Primary would be an all out fight and had serious repercussions on the Democratic Party and American Politics. We interview Jon Ward who is the senior political correspondent for Yahoo News and host of the Long Game Podcast. He has covered American Politics and culture for two decades. He has been published in the Washington Post, the New Republic, Politico, Vanity Fair, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Times. He recently wrote Camelot’s End which documents the 1980 Democratic Primary and what well be talking about today.
Hegemonic States have been at the center of International Systems for centuries. They dictate politics, economics, and military policy. But what happens when another state rises to challenge the status quo? Usually, it ends in war, rarely do we see peaceful transitions between hegemonic systems. Today, we examine the transition between Great Britain and the United States which experienced a peaceful transition in the late 19th century and one of the few cases where this occurred. To help explain this unique relationship, we interview Dr. Kori Schake who the director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Before joining AEI, Dr. Schake was the deputy director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. She has had a distinguished career in government, working at the US State Department, the US Department of Defense, and the National Security Council at the White House under the Bush Administration. She has also taught at Stanford, West Point, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, National Defense University, and the University of Maryland. She has been widely published in policy journals and the popular press, including in CNN, Foreign Affairs, Politico, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. She is also a contributing writer at The Atlantic and War on the Rocks.  An interesting episode about a critical time in American History and Foreign Policy. 
On the morning of January 21, Marines at Khe Sanh Combat Base realized they were surrounded by the North Vietnamese Army and the only road leading to the base was cut off. Over the next 4 months, Marines would fend off multiple attacks in the various outposts surrounding the area and the base itself. By the time soldiers from the First Cavalry Division broke the siege, Over 100,000 tons of bombs were dropped by US aircraft and over 158,000 artillery rounds were fired in defense of the base. To explain the significance of the battle and its impact on the Vietnam War, we interview Gregg Jones who is an award-winning investigative journalist and international news correspondent. He has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a fellow at the Kluge Center and Black Mountain Institute, and a Botstiber Foundation grant recipient. He is the author of three acclaimed nonfiction books. Honor in the Dust: Theodore Roosevelt, War in the Philippines, and The Rise and Fall of America's Imperial Dream which was a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. Last Stand at Khe Sanh received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation's General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award for Distinguished Nonfiction.
President Richard Nixon won the presidency on the promise to end the war in Vietnam and bring 'law and order'.  Instead Nixon expanded the war by invading Cambodia and bombing Laos reviving the anti-war movement. In the Spring of 1971 a series of protests were conducted in Washington DC bring a wide variety of groups and people all with the goal of ending the war in Vietnam. To learn more we interview Lawrence Roberts who has been an editor of investigative journalism for most of his career. He’s worked at ProPublica, the Washington Post, Bloomberg News, and the Hartford Courant, and was executive editor of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund. He’s been a leader on teams honored with three Pulitzer Prizes. These include the 1991 Courant investigation into how and why the Hubble Space Telescope was launched with a crippling flaw; and at the Post, a series of 2005 stories that exposed corruption among lobbyists and lawmakers, and a 2007 project delving into the exercise of power by Vice President Dick Cheney. Mayday 1971 is his first book and link is below!
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States was trying to manage a growing economy, population, and international reputation. In a world of competing powers, the U.S. was attempting to find its place in the world order. This came to fruition during the Spanish-American War which started as a war of liberation but was the first step in building the American "Empire". Under Charismatic leaders such as Teddy Roosevelt, the Spanish-American War signaled to the world the rising influence and power of the United States. We had on Clay Risen who is a Political editor at The New York Times. Risen has written widely about spirits for newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Forbes, The Atlantic, and the Washington Post. Some of his work includes the spirits bestseller American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit. He is also the author of several popular American histories, including A Nation on Fire: America in the Wake of the King Assassination, The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act, and the The Crowded Hour: Teddy Roosevelt, the Rough Riders and the Dawn of the American Century which was a NYT notable book of 2019.
Limited Warfare is defined as, "one in which the belligerents do not expend all of the resources at their disposal, whether human, industrial, agricultural, military, natural, technological, or otherwise in a specific conflict". This doctrine developed during the Korean War has influenced American Foreign Policy in many ways with tragic consequences. To help us understand the origin of this we interview Dr. Donald Stoker who is a senior fellow at the Atlas Organization. Before that he was Professor of Strategy and Policy for the US Naval War College’s Monterey Program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, from 1999 until 2017. In 2016, he was a Fellow of the Changing Character of War Programme at the University of Oxford’s Pembroke College. In 2017-2018, he was a Visiting Fellow and Distinguished Diplomatic Academy Fulbright Professor of Political Science at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, Austria. The author or editor of 11 books, including a biography of Carl von Clausewitz: His Life and Work (Oxford University Press, 2014),  which is on the British Army professional reading list. His The Grand Design: Strategy and the US Civil War, 1861-1865 (Oxford University Press, 2010), won the prestigious Fletcher Pratt Award, was a Main Selection of the History Book Club, and is on the US Army Chief of Staff’s reading list.  Understanding the root of term and its usage is critical to understanding the way the United States has waged war for the last 70 years. 
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has been attempting to revive its power and influence throughout the world. After U.S.-Russia relations soured under the Bush and Obama Administrations, President Vladimir Putin moved to reassert Russian strength on the global stage, Moscow trained its best hackers and trolls on U.S. political targets and exploited WikiLeaks to disseminate damaging information that could affect the 2016 election. To understand this we interview Michael Isikoff who is the chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, where he is also editor at large for reporting and investigations. He digs into national security, money in politics,. Previously, he was an investigative correspondent for NBC as well as a staff writer for Newsweek and the Washington Post. Isikoff has written three New York Times best-sellers, "Uncovering Clinton" and (with David Corn) "Hubris," about the selling of the Iraq War and “Russian Roulette” which documents the inside story of Russian interference into the 2016 election.
ISIS shocked many when it rose to prominence in 2014 announcing a caliphate in Syria and Iraq. It took years to defeat them but understanding the rise of the organization goes many years back. To help us understand the origins of ISIS, we interview Joby Warrick who is a National security reporter for the Washington Post covering terrorism, rogue states, weapons proliferation. He is the author of two books, including 2015’s “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS,” which was awarded a 2016 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. His first book, “The Triple Agent,” recounts the 2009 suicide attack by an al-Qaeda informant on a CIA base at Khost, Afghanistan, that killed seven U.S. intelligence operatives. Before joining The Post, he covered the fall of communism in Eastern Europe as a UPI correspondent and worked as a reporter at the Delaware County (Pa.) Daily Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. We examine the organizations origin, its leaders, and how it rose to prominence and shocked many across the world. 
The Pacific theater in the second world war saw some of the worst fighting on land and at sea. It was one of the most complex logistical challenges a military has faced. From naval battles in the Philippine seas to landings at small islands in the central Pacific, the theater stretched almost half the globe. We interviewed Dr. Marc Gallicchio Chairperson and Professor at the Department of History at Villanova University. He was also a Fulbright Visiting lecturer in Japan from 1998-1999 and 2004-2005. Some of his work includes The Unpredictability of the Past: Memories of the Asia-Pacific War in U.S.-East Asian Relations, The Scramble for Asia: U.S. Military Power in the Aftermath of the Pacific War and Implacable Foes: War in the Pacific, 1944-1945 which was the winner of the Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy in 2018.  We look at the Grand Strategy of both sides, its impact on the war, and the legacy it left in Asia.
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