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History Unplugged Podcast

Scott Rank, PhD

959
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9.6K
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History Unplugged Podcast

History Unplugged Podcast

Scott Rank, PhD

959
Followers
9.6K
Plays
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About Us

For history lovers who listen to podcasts, History Unplugged is the most comprehensive show of its kind. It's the only show that dedicates episodes to both interviewing experts and answering questions from its audience. First, it features a call-in show where you can ask our resident historian (Scott Rank, PhD) absolutely anything (What was it like to be a Turkish sultan with four wives and twelve concubines? If you were sent back in time, how would you kill Hitler?). Second, it features long-form interviews with best-selling authors who have written about everything. Topics include gruff World War II generals who flew with airmen on bombing raids, a war horse who gained the rank of sergeant, and presidents who gave their best speeches while drunk.

Latest Episodes

George Washington’s Team of Rivals: How His Cabinet Forefathered One of America’s Most Powerful Institutions

The U.S. Constitution never established a presidential cabinet—the delegates to the Constitutional Convention explicitly rejected the idea. So how did George Washington create one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government?On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries—Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph—for the first cabinet meeting. Why did he wait two and a half years into his presidency to call his cabinet? Because the U.S. Constitution did not create or provide for such a body. Washington was on his own.Faced with diplomatic crises, domestic insurrections, and constitutional challenges—and finding congressional help lacking—Washington decided he needed a group of advisors he could turn to. He modeled his new cabinet on the councils of war he had led as commander of the Continental Army. In the early days, the cabinet served at the president’s pleasure. Washington tinkered with its structure througho...

42 MIN2 h ago
Comments
George Washington’s Team of Rivals: How His Cabinet Forefathered One of America’s Most Powerful Institutions

Lessons From James Monroe, Who Defeated a Pandemic and Overcame Partisanship

James Monroe, America’s fifth president and the last chief executive of the Founding Father generation, lived a life defined by revolutions. From the battlefields of the War for Independence, to his ambassadorship in Paris in the days of the guillotine, to his own role in the creation of Congress's partisan divide, he was a man who embodied the restless spirit of the age. He was never one to back down from a fight, whether it be with Alexander Hamilton, with whom he nearly engaged in a duel (prevented, ironically, by Aaron Burr), or George Washington, his hero turned political opponent. Today’s guest, Tim McGrath, author of James Monroe: A life, discusses the epic sweep of Monroe’s life: his near-death wounding at Trenton and a brutal winter at Valley Forge; his pivotal negotiations with France over the Louisiana Purchase; his deep, complex friendships with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison; his valiant leadership when the British ransacked the nation’s capital and burned down the Executive Mansion; and Monroe’s lifelong struggle to reckon with his own complicity in slavery. Elected the fifth president of the United States in 1816, this fiercest of partisans sought to bridge divisions and sow unity, calming turbulent political seas and inheriting Washington's mantle of placing country above party. Over his two terms, Monroe transformed the nation, strengthening American power both at home and abroad.

31 MIN2 d ago
Comments
Lessons From James Monroe, Who Defeated a Pandemic and Overcame Partisanship

Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men’s Epic Duel to Rule the World

At the dawn of the twentieth century, when human flight was still considered an impossibility, Germany's Count von Zeppelin vied with the Wright Brothers to build the world's first successful flying machine. As the Wrights labored to invent the airplane, Zeppelin fathered the wondrous airship, sparking a bitter rivalry between the two types of aircraft and their innovators that would last for decades in the quest to control one of humanity's most inspiring achievements. And it was the airship--not the airplane--that would lead the way. In the glittery 1920s, the count's brilliant protégé, Hugo Eckener, achieved undreamt-of feats of daring and skill, including the extraordinary round-the-world voyage of the Graf Zeppelin. What Charles Lindbergh almost died doing--crossing the Atlantic in 1927--Eckener effortlessly accomplished three years before the Spirit of St. Louis even took off.I'm talking to Alexander Rose, author of the new book “Empires of the Sky,” which gets into this s...

76 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men’s Epic Duel to Rule the World

Nazis Nearly Assassinated Stalin, Churchill, and FDR in 1943. What If They Had Succeeded?

In the middle of World War II, Nazi military intelligence discovered a seemingly easy way to win the war for Adolf Hitler. The three heads of the Allied forces—Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin—were planning to meet in Iran in October 1943. Under Hitler's personal direction, the Nazis launched “Operation Long Jump,” an intricate plan to track the Allied leaders in Tehran and assassinate all three men at the same time. “I suppose it would make a pretty good haul if they could get all three of us,” Roosevelt later said. The plan failed, but what if it had succeeded?Perhaps some good could have come out of it, namely a less brutal Soviet premier who killed millions. But many frightening scenarios also emerge, such as an American-Soviet pact against Europe, or a Cold War that goes hot in the 1950s. In the infinite alternate timelines that include a successful assassination of theBig Three, most of them are bad.

38 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Nazis Nearly Assassinated Stalin, Churchill, and FDR in 1943. What If They Had Succeeded?

In the 1850s, A Mormon Renegade Started a Massive Pirate Colony in Michigan

In the summer of 1843, James Strang, a charismatic young lawyer and avowed atheist, vanished from a rural town in New York. Months later he reappeared on the Midwestern frontier and converted to a burgeoning religious movement known as Mormonism. In the wake of the murder of the sect’s leader, Joseph Smith, Strang unveiled a letter purportedly from the prophet naming him successor, and persuaded hundreds of fellow converts to follow him to an island in Lake Michigan, where he declared himself a divine king. From this stronghold he controlled a fourth of the state of Michigan, establishing a pirate colony where he practiced plural marriage and perpetrated thefts, corruption, and frauds of all kinds. Eventually, having run afoul of powerful enemies, including the American president, Strang was assassinated, an event that was frontpage news across the country. Today’s guest is Miles Harvey, author of “The King of Confidence.” Centering his narrative on this charlatan’s turbulent twelve years in power, Strang’s story gets into a crucial period of antebellum history and an account of one of the country’s boldest con men and the boisterous era that allowed him to thrive.

51 MIN2 w ago
Comments
In the 1850s, A Mormon Renegade Started a Massive Pirate Colony in Michigan

The Good Assassin: A Mossad Agent's Hunt For WW2’s “Butcher of Latvia”

Before World War II, Herbert Cukurs was a famous figure in his small Latvian city, the “Charles Lindbergh of his country.” But by 1945, he was the Butcher of Latvia, a man who murdered some thirty thousand Latvian Jews. Somehow, he dodged the Nuremberg trials, fleeing to South America after war’s end. By 1965, as a statute of limitations on all Nazi war crimes threatened to expire, Germany sought to welcome previous concentration camp commanders, pogrom leaders, and executioners, as citizens. The global pursuit of Nazi criminals escalated to beat the looming deadline, and Mossad, the Israeli national intelligence agency, joined the cause. Yaakov Meidad, the brilliant Mossad agent who had kidnapped Adolf Eichmann three years earlier, led the mission to assassinate Cukurs in a desperate bid to block the amnesty. In a thrilling undercover operation unrivaled by even the most ambitious spy novels, Meidad traveled to Brazil in an elaborate disguise, befriended Cukurs and earned his trust, while negotiations over the Nazi pardon neared a boiling point. Today’s guest, Stephan Talty, is author of The Good Assassin, which uncovers this little-known chapter of Holocaust history and the undercover operation that brought Cukurs to justice.

25 MIN2 w ago
Comments
The Good Assassin: A Mossad Agent's Hunt For WW2’s “Butcher of Latvia”

Death From Above - How Paratroopers Evolved From a WW1 Pipe Dream To A Key Part of Combined-Arms Assault

“Paratroopers are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it were some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts to ungentlemanly lengths, worshiping their units almost as if they were a God, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages... [but] generally speaking, the United States Paratroopers I’ve come in contact with are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”This unattributed quote sums up the unique role that paratroopers have played in the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries. With the invention of the airplane, military strategists imaged troops clinging to the wings of Wright Bros. flyers and landing in enemy trenches. Such plans never came to fruition, but technical advances made it possible to drops thousands of soldiers with reasonable safety and accuracy. During ...

49 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Death From Above - How Paratroopers Evolved From a WW1 Pipe Dream To A Key Part of Combined-Arms Assault

Want to Star Your Own Nation? That's What a Family Did in 1967 When it Created "Sealand"

In 1967, a retired army major and self-made millionaire named Paddy Roy Bates cemented his family's place in history when he inaugurated himself ruler of the Principality of Sealand, a tiny dominion of the high seas. And so began the peculiar story of the world's most stubborn micronation on a World War II anti-aircraft gun platform off the British coast.Today’s guest, Dylan Taylor-Lehman tells us the story of Sealand, a raucous tale of how a rogue adventurer seized the disused Maunsell Sea Fort from pirate radio broadcasters, settled his eccentric family on it, and defended their tiny kingdom from UK government officials and armed mercenaries for half a century. There were battles and schemes as Roy and his crew engaged with diplomats, entertained purveyors of pirate radio and TV, and even thwarted an attempted coup that saw the Prince Regent taken hostage. Incredibly, more than fifty years later, the self-proclaimed independent nation still stands--replete with its own constitution, national flag and anthem, currency, and passports.But Sealand is more than a quirky story. It hearkens back to the conquistadors who wanted to carve out their own sovereign nations and looks to the future of libertarian billionaires who want to build their own floating micronation of their own.

38 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Want to Star Your Own Nation? That's What a Family Did in 1967 When it Created "Sealand"

Introducing Truth vs Hollywood

Introducing the newest Audioboom original podcast, Truth vs Hollywood. Join Film lovers David Chen and Joanna Robinson as they do a deep dive into well-known films and discuss how similar they are to the actual story. Truth vs Hollywood premieres 6/12. Subscribe to Truth vs Hollywood on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/truth-vs-hollywood/id1510582080

12 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Introducing Truth vs Hollywood

Why the Galileo Affair is One of History's Most Misunderstood Events

One of the most misconstrued events in history is the Galileo affair. It is commonly understood as a black-and-white morality play of science vs. religion. Galileo proves the Sun is the center of the solar system but the reactionary medieval Catholic Church is scandalized by somebody questioning their geocentric model. They imprison and torture the “heretic.” Other scientists are afraid to speak up against this oppressive regime.The real story is much more complicated. There were churchmen on both sides of the geocentric/heliocentric debate. Galileo did not conclusively prove the heliocentric model (that didn’t come until long after his death). And much of the reason that the Catholic Church ordered his house imprisonment (not torture) was that Galileo slyly made fun of the pope in one of his writings.Today’s guest is astrophysicist Mario Livio, author of the book “Galileo and the Science Deniers.” We get into the trial, the immediate aftermath, and the legacy that the trial has today. Livio began researching the life, ideas, and actions of Galileo; his life is filled with lessons relevant for today—whether with respect to trusting the advice given by scientists in relation to COVID-19 or any other matter of public importance.

47 MINJUN 11
Comments
Why the Galileo Affair is One of History's Most Misunderstood Events

Latest Episodes

George Washington’s Team of Rivals: How His Cabinet Forefathered One of America’s Most Powerful Institutions

The U.S. Constitution never established a presidential cabinet—the delegates to the Constitutional Convention explicitly rejected the idea. So how did George Washington create one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government?On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries—Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph—for the first cabinet meeting. Why did he wait two and a half years into his presidency to call his cabinet? Because the U.S. Constitution did not create or provide for such a body. Washington was on his own.Faced with diplomatic crises, domestic insurrections, and constitutional challenges—and finding congressional help lacking—Washington decided he needed a group of advisors he could turn to. He modeled his new cabinet on the councils of war he had led as commander of the Continental Army. In the early days, the cabinet served at the president’s pleasure. Washington tinkered with its structure througho...

42 MIN2 h ago
Comments
George Washington’s Team of Rivals: How His Cabinet Forefathered One of America’s Most Powerful Institutions

Lessons From James Monroe, Who Defeated a Pandemic and Overcame Partisanship

James Monroe, America’s fifth president and the last chief executive of the Founding Father generation, lived a life defined by revolutions. From the battlefields of the War for Independence, to his ambassadorship in Paris in the days of the guillotine, to his own role in the creation of Congress's partisan divide, he was a man who embodied the restless spirit of the age. He was never one to back down from a fight, whether it be with Alexander Hamilton, with whom he nearly engaged in a duel (prevented, ironically, by Aaron Burr), or George Washington, his hero turned political opponent. Today’s guest, Tim McGrath, author of James Monroe: A life, discusses the epic sweep of Monroe’s life: his near-death wounding at Trenton and a brutal winter at Valley Forge; his pivotal negotiations with France over the Louisiana Purchase; his deep, complex friendships with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison; his valiant leadership when the British ransacked the nation’s capital and burned down the Executive Mansion; and Monroe’s lifelong struggle to reckon with his own complicity in slavery. Elected the fifth president of the United States in 1816, this fiercest of partisans sought to bridge divisions and sow unity, calming turbulent political seas and inheriting Washington's mantle of placing country above party. Over his two terms, Monroe transformed the nation, strengthening American power both at home and abroad.

31 MIN2 d ago
Comments
Lessons From James Monroe, Who Defeated a Pandemic and Overcame Partisanship

Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men’s Epic Duel to Rule the World

At the dawn of the twentieth century, when human flight was still considered an impossibility, Germany's Count von Zeppelin vied with the Wright Brothers to build the world's first successful flying machine. As the Wrights labored to invent the airplane, Zeppelin fathered the wondrous airship, sparking a bitter rivalry between the two types of aircraft and their innovators that would last for decades in the quest to control one of humanity's most inspiring achievements. And it was the airship--not the airplane--that would lead the way. In the glittery 1920s, the count's brilliant protégé, Hugo Eckener, achieved undreamt-of feats of daring and skill, including the extraordinary round-the-world voyage of the Graf Zeppelin. What Charles Lindbergh almost died doing--crossing the Atlantic in 1927--Eckener effortlessly accomplished three years before the Spirit of St. Louis even took off.I'm talking to Alexander Rose, author of the new book “Empires of the Sky,” which gets into this s...

76 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men’s Epic Duel to Rule the World

Nazis Nearly Assassinated Stalin, Churchill, and FDR in 1943. What If They Had Succeeded?

In the middle of World War II, Nazi military intelligence discovered a seemingly easy way to win the war for Adolf Hitler. The three heads of the Allied forces—Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin—were planning to meet in Iran in October 1943. Under Hitler's personal direction, the Nazis launched “Operation Long Jump,” an intricate plan to track the Allied leaders in Tehran and assassinate all three men at the same time. “I suppose it would make a pretty good haul if they could get all three of us,” Roosevelt later said. The plan failed, but what if it had succeeded?Perhaps some good could have come out of it, namely a less brutal Soviet premier who killed millions. But many frightening scenarios also emerge, such as an American-Soviet pact against Europe, or a Cold War that goes hot in the 1950s. In the infinite alternate timelines that include a successful assassination of theBig Three, most of them are bad.

38 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Nazis Nearly Assassinated Stalin, Churchill, and FDR in 1943. What If They Had Succeeded?

In the 1850s, A Mormon Renegade Started a Massive Pirate Colony in Michigan

In the summer of 1843, James Strang, a charismatic young lawyer and avowed atheist, vanished from a rural town in New York. Months later he reappeared on the Midwestern frontier and converted to a burgeoning religious movement known as Mormonism. In the wake of the murder of the sect’s leader, Joseph Smith, Strang unveiled a letter purportedly from the prophet naming him successor, and persuaded hundreds of fellow converts to follow him to an island in Lake Michigan, where he declared himself a divine king. From this stronghold he controlled a fourth of the state of Michigan, establishing a pirate colony where he practiced plural marriage and perpetrated thefts, corruption, and frauds of all kinds. Eventually, having run afoul of powerful enemies, including the American president, Strang was assassinated, an event that was frontpage news across the country. Today’s guest is Miles Harvey, author of “The King of Confidence.” Centering his narrative on this charlatan’s turbulent twelve years in power, Strang’s story gets into a crucial period of antebellum history and an account of one of the country’s boldest con men and the boisterous era that allowed him to thrive.

51 MIN2 w ago
Comments
In the 1850s, A Mormon Renegade Started a Massive Pirate Colony in Michigan

The Good Assassin: A Mossad Agent's Hunt For WW2’s “Butcher of Latvia”

Before World War II, Herbert Cukurs was a famous figure in his small Latvian city, the “Charles Lindbergh of his country.” But by 1945, he was the Butcher of Latvia, a man who murdered some thirty thousand Latvian Jews. Somehow, he dodged the Nuremberg trials, fleeing to South America after war’s end. By 1965, as a statute of limitations on all Nazi war crimes threatened to expire, Germany sought to welcome previous concentration camp commanders, pogrom leaders, and executioners, as citizens. The global pursuit of Nazi criminals escalated to beat the looming deadline, and Mossad, the Israeli national intelligence agency, joined the cause. Yaakov Meidad, the brilliant Mossad agent who had kidnapped Adolf Eichmann three years earlier, led the mission to assassinate Cukurs in a desperate bid to block the amnesty. In a thrilling undercover operation unrivaled by even the most ambitious spy novels, Meidad traveled to Brazil in an elaborate disguise, befriended Cukurs and earned his trust, while negotiations over the Nazi pardon neared a boiling point. Today’s guest, Stephan Talty, is author of The Good Assassin, which uncovers this little-known chapter of Holocaust history and the undercover operation that brought Cukurs to justice.

25 MIN2 w ago
Comments
The Good Assassin: A Mossad Agent's Hunt For WW2’s “Butcher of Latvia”

Death From Above - How Paratroopers Evolved From a WW1 Pipe Dream To A Key Part of Combined-Arms Assault

“Paratroopers are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it were some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts to ungentlemanly lengths, worshiping their units almost as if they were a God, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages... [but] generally speaking, the United States Paratroopers I’ve come in contact with are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”This unattributed quote sums up the unique role that paratroopers have played in the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries. With the invention of the airplane, military strategists imaged troops clinging to the wings of Wright Bros. flyers and landing in enemy trenches. Such plans never came to fruition, but technical advances made it possible to drops thousands of soldiers with reasonable safety and accuracy. During ...

49 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Death From Above - How Paratroopers Evolved From a WW1 Pipe Dream To A Key Part of Combined-Arms Assault

Want to Star Your Own Nation? That's What a Family Did in 1967 When it Created "Sealand"

In 1967, a retired army major and self-made millionaire named Paddy Roy Bates cemented his family's place in history when he inaugurated himself ruler of the Principality of Sealand, a tiny dominion of the high seas. And so began the peculiar story of the world's most stubborn micronation on a World War II anti-aircraft gun platform off the British coast.Today’s guest, Dylan Taylor-Lehman tells us the story of Sealand, a raucous tale of how a rogue adventurer seized the disused Maunsell Sea Fort from pirate radio broadcasters, settled his eccentric family on it, and defended their tiny kingdom from UK government officials and armed mercenaries for half a century. There were battles and schemes as Roy and his crew engaged with diplomats, entertained purveyors of pirate radio and TV, and even thwarted an attempted coup that saw the Prince Regent taken hostage. Incredibly, more than fifty years later, the self-proclaimed independent nation still stands--replete with its own constitution, national flag and anthem, currency, and passports.But Sealand is more than a quirky story. It hearkens back to the conquistadors who wanted to carve out their own sovereign nations and looks to the future of libertarian billionaires who want to build their own floating micronation of their own.

38 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Want to Star Your Own Nation? That's What a Family Did in 1967 When it Created "Sealand"

Introducing Truth vs Hollywood

Introducing the newest Audioboom original podcast, Truth vs Hollywood. Join Film lovers David Chen and Joanna Robinson as they do a deep dive into well-known films and discuss how similar they are to the actual story. Truth vs Hollywood premieres 6/12. Subscribe to Truth vs Hollywood on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/truth-vs-hollywood/id1510582080

12 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Introducing Truth vs Hollywood

Why the Galileo Affair is One of History's Most Misunderstood Events

One of the most misconstrued events in history is the Galileo affair. It is commonly understood as a black-and-white morality play of science vs. religion. Galileo proves the Sun is the center of the solar system but the reactionary medieval Catholic Church is scandalized by somebody questioning their geocentric model. They imprison and torture the “heretic.” Other scientists are afraid to speak up against this oppressive regime.The real story is much more complicated. There were churchmen on both sides of the geocentric/heliocentric debate. Galileo did not conclusively prove the heliocentric model (that didn’t come until long after his death). And much of the reason that the Catholic Church ordered his house imprisonment (not torture) was that Galileo slyly made fun of the pope in one of his writings.Today’s guest is astrophysicist Mario Livio, author of the book “Galileo and the Science Deniers.” We get into the trial, the immediate aftermath, and the legacy that the trial has today. Livio began researching the life, ideas, and actions of Galileo; his life is filled with lessons relevant for today—whether with respect to trusting the advice given by scientists in relation to COVID-19 or any other matter of public importance.

47 MINJUN 11
Comments
Why the Galileo Affair is One of History's Most Misunderstood Events
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