HISTORY This Week

By HISTORY

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This week, something momentous happened. Whether or not it made the textbooks, it most certainly made history. Join HISTORY This Week as we turn back the clock to meet the people, visit the places and witness the moments that led us to where we are today.


Episode Date
The Deadliest Pandemic in Modern History
00:20:23

April 5, 1918. The first mention of a new influenza outbreak in Kansas appears in a public health report. That strain, later called the Spanish Flu, would go on to kill at least 50 million people worldwide. In a time before widespread global travel, how did this disease spread so far, so fast? And what does it teach us about fighting pandemics today?


Special thanks to Dr. Jeremy Brown, author of Influenza: The 100-Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History.

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Mar 30, 2020
When Basketball Meets Jim Crow
00:20:48

March 28, 1939. Two teams are facing off for the final game of World Professional Basketball Tournament in Chicago, the first professional tournament to feature both white and black basketball teams. This is several years before the start of the NBA, and Jim Crow segregation was still the law of the land in many parts of the country. The New York Rens, an all-black team, have made it to this championship, but their road to the top was anything but easy. Who were the Rens? And how did they fight segregation and change the history of basketball?


Special thanks to Susan Rayl, African American Sports Historian & Associate Professor at the State University of New York at Cortland.

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Mar 23, 2020
How Lady Luck Saved Vegas
00:20:34

March 19, 1931. Las Vegas is a small, desert town of a few thousand. And it’s not doing so well. In fact, people are worried it might turn into a ghost town. But then something big happens: Nevada decides to legalize gambling. And the ground begins to shift beneath the city...but no one notices, at least not at first. So, how did Vegas become Vegas?


Special thanks to our guest Professor Michael Green from UNLV's Department of History.

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Mar 16, 2020
The Real Assassination of Caesar
00:18:46

The Ides of March, 44 BC. Ancient Rome’s most powerful dictator, Julius Caesar, is running late to a senate meeting. When he arrives, senators surround him and stab him 23 times. The assassination of Caesar has been told and re-told for centuries, but the facts are wilder than the legend. What really happened on the Ides of March? And why do we tell this story over and over?

 

Special thanks to Professor Barry Strauss, historian and author of The Death of Caesar and Ten Caesars.

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Mar 09, 2020
Lionel, Stevie and Tina Walk into a Studio…
00:23:36

March 7th, 1985. “We Are the World” hits the shelves. It's an instant hit, breaking the top of the charts and making music history. This one song has the star power of 45 of the biggest singers of the era: Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan - just to name a few. And with their power combined, the song raised millions of dollars to help combat a devastating famine in Ethiopia and Sudan. What did it take to bring all these icons together, and did this song actually make a difference?


Special thanks to our Guests: Ken Kragen, creator and organizer of "We Are the World" and USA For Africa

Alex de Waal, Executive Director, World Peace Foundation at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

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Mar 02, 2020
The DNA Debate
00:18:52

February 28, 1953. Two scientists, James Watson and Francis Crick, burst into a bar and exclaim that they have discovered the secret of life. But there was another person involved in the discovery of DNA’s double helix, a scientist named Rosalind Franklin. Why didn’t she get any credit, and what does her story tell us about the politics of discovery itself?


Special thanks to Michelle Gibbons, Ph.D., author of "Reassessing Discovery: Rosalind Franklin, Scientific Visualization, and the Structure of DNA".

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Feb 24, 2020
A Mole in the CIA
00:21:37

February 21, 1994. Early in the morning, FBI agents assemble near the home of Aldrich Ames. They wait for him to leave his house and then they pounce, arresting one of the deadliest double agents in CIA history. He received almost $2 million from the KGB, selling CIA secrets and lethally betraying undercover agents for years. Who is the real Aldrich Ames? And why does a spy turn on their own country?


Thank you to our guest, Pete Earley, author of "Confessions of a Spy: The Real Story of Aldrich Ames". Find it here: https://amzn.to/31SYUfd

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Feb 17, 2020
The Legacy of an Oscar
00:21:36

February 11, 1940. Hattie McDaniel becomes the first-ever African American to be nominated for, and then win, an Oscar. Her legacy is complicated. And the Oscar itself has been missing, mysteriously, for almost fifty years. What did it take for McDaniel to win? And, 80 Oscar ceremonies later, how do we understand her legacy today?


Thank you to our guest, Professor Emeritus of Law, W. Burlette Carter. You can read her article about searching for the missing Oscar here: https://bit.ly/2OF5cts

Thank you also to Hattie McDaniel's biographer, Jill Watts for speaking with us for this episode.

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Feb 10, 2020
When Black Men Won the Vote
00:18:38

February 3, 1870. The 15th Amendment is ratified, which establishes the right to vote for black men in America. While Jim Crow laws would grip the south by 1877, there was a brief, seven-year window of opportunity. Half a million black voters turned out at the polls, and 2,000 black officials are estimated to have been elected during this time. What did this moment of progress look like? And how do those votes still impact our lives 150 years later?


Special thanks to our guest, historian and professor Yohuru Williams.

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Feb 02, 2020
Surviving Auschwitz
00:26:24

January 27, 1945. This week, we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, one of Nazi Germany's largest concentration and extermination camps. Auschwitz has since become a symbol for the Holocaust itself, but what did liberation actually mean for its survivors - and is the full story being forgotten?


Thank you to Mindu Hornick and Bill Harvey for sharing their personal story of surviving Auschwitz and to Fulwell 73 for helping make it happen. Thank you to Jeremy Dronfield, author of the Boy Who Followed his Father into Auschwitz, and to the work of Robert Jan Van Pelt, curator for the international exhibit, "Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away."


Archival material accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of The Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archives of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, gift of Thomas P. Headen.

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Jan 26, 2020
The Apple Ad That Changed the World
00:17:14

January 22, 1984. Apple launches the first Macintosh computer, with a showstopping Super Bowl commercial. The ad itself was revolutionary, but the product it launched almost single-handedly brought computers into the mainstream, changing the world as we know it.


Special thanks to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author and producer of the “Making the Macintosh” digital archive.

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Jan 20, 2020
The Great Boston Molasses Flood
00:16:58

January 15, 1919. Boston PD receives a call: “Send all available rescue personnel...there's a wave of molasses coming down Commercial Street." The bizarre flood decimated Boston's North End. How did it happen? And why does it still affect us all today?


Special thanks to our guest, Stephen Puleo, author of Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919.

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Jan 13, 2020
Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined...
00:20:50

January 11th, 1964. The US Surgeon General announces: smoking is killing us. It’s an announcement that changed the course of American public health – and took years to finally come out. But it was only the beginning of an uphill battle to take down an all-American pastime. This week we ask: why did it take so long for the public to learn this deadly truth? And why has it taken even longer for us to accept it?


Special thanks to our guests, Dr. Boris Lushniak, 2014 Acting U.S. Surgeon General, and Dr. Mike Cummings from the Medical University of South Carolina.

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Jan 10, 2020
Introducing: HISTORY This Week
00:01:19

This week, something momentous happened. Whether or not it made the textbooks, it most certainly made history. Join HISTORY This Week as we turn back the clock to meet the people, visit the places and witness the moments that led us to where we are today.


New episodes every Monday, starting January 2020.

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Jan 02, 2020