Info

The Road to Now

In 2006, Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) & Dr. Benjamin Sawyer (MTSU History) sat down to talk history in a Detroit coffee shop. Their discussion lasted a couple hours, but the conversation kept going. Join them as they trace the road between past and present with the help of great thinkers from the academy, the media, politics, entertainment and more.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
The Road to Now
2021
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2020
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
June
May


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: Page 1
Sep 13, 2021

Bob & Ben catch up to talk about the state of political and social unrest in the US and where they see current events within recent history. They cover the recent turn to vigilantism in the US by both anti-mask protestors and the state of Texas, as well as their concern over a tyrannical minority shaping American institutions to maintain power. They also speculate about where all this might lead us…..

If you’re enjoying the Road to Now and want to support our work, join us on Patreon at Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is hosted by Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers/Press On Fund) & Dr. Ben Sawyer (MTSU History).

Sep 6, 2021

Most Americans drink coffee. Our love for coffee ties us to people and countries around the world, and to those who lived long before us. In this episode of The Road to Now, we speak with Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee & How It Changed the World and Beyond Fair Trade to find out coffee’s origins, its effects on global trade, and how a small cherry that originated on the other side of the planet became part of our daily life.                       

This is a rebroadcast of RTN #81, which originally aired on December 11, 2017.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

 

Aug 30, 2021

In this episode, Bob speaks with freelance journalist, Julian Rubenstein, author of The Holly: Five Bullets, One Gun, and the Struggle to Save an American Neighborhood (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021).

The book tells the story of anti-gang activist, Terrance Roberts, who shot a young gang member before a peace rally he organized. In telling the story of Terrance Roberts, Rubenstein also tells the history of black organizers from the civil rights era, the black power movement through to today’s black lives matter movement.

Rubenstein is a real journalist; he’s devoted many years of his life telling the story of Terrance and Denver’s North East Park Hill Neighborhood and he was the battle scars to prove it. In an age when so many people have trouble telling the difference between opinion journalism and objective journalism, the depth and scope of Julian’s tenacious reporting deserves recognition.

You can follow Julian Rubinstein on twitter at @Julian_Rubinste.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Aug 23, 2021

Neil Hanson is one of the most interesting people we know. He’s written books on World War I, the Spanish Armada, and the fire that destroyed London in 1666. He once teamed up with history’s greatest treasure hunter to tell the story of retrieving over $100 million in gold from a sunken Soviet ship in the arctic. He’s been the owner of the highest Inn in all of Great Britain. And, in 1999 he published a book called The Custom of the Sea, which tells the story of a shipwrecked crew that was put on trial in London after resorting to cannibalism. Their ship, which fell victim to forty-foot waves off the coast of Africa in 1884, was named the Mignonette, and Hanson’s book was so good that in 2004 it inspired an album by an up-and-coming group of musicians called The Avett Brothers.

This is a rebroadcast of an episode that originally aired on April 24, 2017. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Aug 16, 2021

According to the US Department of Education, 45 million Americans collectively owe $1.7 billion in total student loan debt. While the weight of student loans has increased substantially in the 21st century, the history of student debt and the institutions that facilitate it is a much longer story than you probably expect. Ellie Shermer joins us to talk about her new book Indentured Students: How Government-Guaranteed Loans Left Generations Drowning in Debt (Harvard, 2021), why student debt may be bad for all of us, and what we might do to alleviate student debt and fix higher education moving forward.

Dr. Elizabeth Tandy Shermer is Associate Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago. Her previous books include Sunbelt Capitalism: Phoenix and the Transformation of American Politics (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015). You can follow her on twitter at @ETShermer.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Aug 9, 2021

When two people look at the same set of facts and reach an entirely different conclusion, it’s often because of a difference in the way they understand their place in the world. In this episode (recorded when Bob began his graduate course in methodology in January 2019), Ben and Bob discuss the power of historical narratives, how they can change over time, and the ways that people in power seek to use history as a source of legitimacy.

If you enjoyed this episode, check out the others in our historical methodology series:

#119 Karl Marx & History

#121 Gender & History w/ Lisa Fine

#143 Research!

This episode originally aired on The Road to Now’s Patreon Feed on January 18, 2019. If you’d like to support our work and get access to exclusive content, please visit TheRoadToNow.com/Patreon. Thank you!

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer. The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Aug 2, 2021

The rejection of scientific expertise has been one of the most consequential social trends of the 21st century and, for those of us who remain committed to the scientific method, it may also be the most frustrating. After years of being bombarded with evidence (and often having their intelligence insulted), science deniers seem even more committed to alternative explanations of the world and the leaders who promise to undermine science-based policy. How did we get here and how can we make things better? In this episode, we get answers to those questions from Dr. Lee McIntyre, who shares what he learned from studying the ways that science deniers see the world, how we can use those insights to fight that worldview, and why a little bit of good faith goes a long way in communicating with others.

Dr. Lee McIntyre is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University. His book How to Talk to a Science Denier: Conversations with Flat Earthers, Climate Deniers, and Others Who Defy Reason (MIT Press, 2021) hits shelves on August 17, 2021.

(You remember that study that said confronting people with evidence that disproved their position only made them more convinced of their beliefs? It didn’t hold up in subsequent experiments. There’s more on that in this episode.)

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jul 26, 2021

Bob and Ben speak with Jon Waterlow about his book It’s Only a Joke Comrade! Humor, Trust and Everyday Life Under Stalin and the role humor plays in helping humans make sense of the world in even the darkest times. Jon also shares his take on humor’s role in politics under Stalin and today, the process he went through to uncover these jokes, and how the artistic technique of crosshatching helps us understand what it was like to live under the Stalinist system. He also discusses his decision to forego publishing his book with an academic publisher and why he decided to leave a bright future in the academy to purse fulfillment elsewhere.

Dr. Jonathan Waterlow received his Doctorate in History from the University of Oxford and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Anthony’s College (Oxford) and the University of Toronto. He is also the cohost of the Voices in the Dark podcast, which is available anywhere you get The Road to Now.

This episode is a rebroadcast of The Road to Now #107 and was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 19, 2021

Millions of people from across the globe visit Los Angeles every year, but only a lucky few have gotten a tour of the city from tour guides/stand up comics, Rivers Langley, Anna Valenzuela & Carter Glascock. In this episode, Ben speaks with Rivers, Carter and Anna about their favorite stories from Los Angeles’ history, what it’s like to work as a tour guide, and what makes a good (and bad) day at work.

For images and links to other material discussed in this episode, visit our website episode page: RTNpod.me/202.

Carter Glascock is stand up comic and co-host of The Goods From The Woods Podcast. His first album, The Crystal Pistol is available on Spotify and Apple Music. You can follow him on twitter at @carter_glascock.

Rivers Langley is a LA-based stand-up comedian and host of The Goods From The Woods Podcast. You can also find him announcing the matches at Wrestling Pro Wrestling. You can follow him on twitter at @RiversLangley.

Anna Valenzuela is a comic, writer and host of the podcast 12 Questions. whose appearances include Comedy Central’s Roast Battle.  You can follow her on twitter at @annavisfun.

This episode was mixed by Rivers Langley and edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jul 12, 2021

Three generations ago, large American corporations offered their employees the stability of life-long employment and the promise of a pension-funded retirement. In the 21st Century, that model has given way to the "gig economy" in which people work multiple jobs. In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Cornell University’s Louis Hyman about the forces that led us from then to now, what it means for our daily lives, and  how we might structure the economy of the 21st century in a way that offers the freedom of the gig economy without the insecurity that so many face under our current institutions.

Dr. Louis Hyman is a historian of work and business at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, where he also directs the Institute for Workplace Studies in New York City. His book Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary was published by Viking in 2018.

This is a broadcast of an episode that originally aired on The Road to Now on August 20, 2018. This re-broadcast was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jul 5, 2021

Game shows have been featured in network lineups from the very beginning of television and, like all forms of entertainment, they tell us a lot about the culture in which they exist. Fortunately for us, The Strong Museum of Play recently announced the establishment of The National Archives of Game Show History to preserve this history and make it available to the public. In this episode Ben speaks with archive co-founder and veteran game show producer/executive Bob Boden (The Price is Right, $25,000 Pyramid, Funny You Should Ask!) and Strong Museum Vice President of Acquisitions, Chris Bensch, to learn more about their work to preserve this history and how an archive focused on game shows can be valuable for those looking to understand the past.

For more about The Strong Museum of Play, visit their website: MuseumOfPlay.org.

Check out Bob Boden’s current show, Funny You Should Ask! at FunnyYouShouldAsk.tv.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jun 28, 2021

This is an expanded version of episode 72, which originally aired in September 2017.

In this episode of The Road to Now, we sit down for coffee and conversation with Bob’s bandmates in The Avett Brothers for a discussion about art, technology, and challenges of creativity. We cover the historic relationship between genius and madness, the ways one’s self is reflected in what we create, and the how they’ve adapted to the changes that have come their way since they began playing music. The Avett Brothers was the nexus that brought Bob and Ben together in creating The Road to Now, so we’re really excited to bring it all together and share this conversation with our listeners.

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jun 21, 2021

Since establishing Sean’s Russia Blog in 2005, Sean Guillory has been one of the most prominent public-facing scholars in Russian and Soviet History. In this episode, Sean gives his insight on the gap between academic research and public perceptions, offers his take on why Cold War-era tropes continue to dominate US-Russia relations, and explains why some Americans left the US in search of a better life in the Soviet Union. Ben & Sean also discuss the ways that studying Americans in the USSR provides valuable insight into the history of the United States in the 20th Century.

Dr. Sean Guillory is Digital Scholarship Curator in the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Since 2015, he has hosted and produced the SRB Podcast, whose mission is to provide a space for experts to share their research with a wider public audience. You can follow Sean on twitter at @SeansRussiaBlog.

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jun 14, 2021

The Republican Party of today may look a lot different than it did just a decades ago, but it rests on many of the same organizations and ideologies that formed the modern conservative movement in the 1970s. In this episode, Rick Perlstein joins us for a conversation about his newest book Reaganland: America’s Right Turn, 1976-1980 and how Ronald Reagan, Orrin Hatch and other prominent Republicans were able to harness the social and political forces of the 1970s to form the modern GOP.

Rick Perlstein is the award-winning author of multiple New York Times bestsellers, including Reaganland (Simon & Schuster, 2020), Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (Scribner, 2009) and Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (Bold Type Books, 2009), as well as a board member at InTheseTimes.com. You can follow him on twitter at @RickPerlstein.

In this conversation we also discussed Rick’s recent article “This Is Us: Why the Trump Era Ended in Violence,” The New Republic, January 20, 2021.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jun 7, 2021

Juneteenth, which celebrates the emancipation of enslaved Americans at the end of the Civil War, has gone from a local holiday in Texas to a national day of celebration for many Americans. In this episode we speak with legal scholar and Pulitzer Prize winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed about her new book On Juneteenth and the ways that the holiday, her personal story and the history of the US can help us better understand the world today.

Annette Gordon-Reed is Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard University, where she is also the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and a professor of history in the university’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences. You can follow her on twitter at @Agordonreed.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

May 31, 2021

The Harlem Globetrotters are one of those great parts of American culture that almost everyone knows and loves. For most of us today, the Globetrotters are outstanding entertainers. But did you know that in the mid-20th century the Globetrotters were probably the single best basketball team on the planet? Did you know that they did travel the globe as agents of the US Department of State during the Cold War, but that they are not, in fact, from Harlem? If you want to know how all of this happened (and how the Globetrotters saved the NBA), you’re going to love this interview with historian Ben Green on the History of the Harlem Globetrotters.

May 17, 2021

Since the OPEC oil embargo of 1973, policy makers have had to make hard choices to ensure that American citizens can access the cheap and plentiful energy to which we have become accustomed. Although the US has returned to a position of energy independence in recent years, a variety of problems, from climate change to cyberterrorism, mean the hard choices are far from over. In this episode, Bob & Ben speak with Dr. Jay Hakes about his new book Energy Crises: Nixon, Ford, Carter and Hard Choices in the 1970s (University of Oklahoma Press, 2021) and what the decisions of the past can teach us as we deal with the crises of today.

 

Dr. Jay Hakes is a Presidential & energy historian with a long history of working on energy issues, including as Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration during the Clinton administration and as Director for Research and Policy for President Obama’s BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Commission.  He also served for thirteen years as the Director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. For more about his life and work, visit his website: www.JayHakes.com

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

May 3, 2021

It’s the 5th anniversary of The Road to Now so Bob and Ben invited a brilliant lineup of past guests to answer one question: “What has been the most unexpected turn you’ve seen in the last 5 years and how has it changed the way you understand the past?”

 The lineup:

Senator John Hickenlooper

Heather Cox Richardson

Jefferson Cowie

Stacy Wood

Joe Kwon

Matt Negrin

Doug Heye

And, as you may expect, we covered more than just that question.

Thank you to all of you who have listened to our show and kept us going for 5 years!

This episode was edited by our Associate Producer, Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Apr 26, 2021

Proponents of voting restrictions such as those recently enacted in Georgia have argued that these laws will restore voters’ faith in democracy. History, however, offers a long list of reasons to be skeptical. In this episode, Bob and Ben are joined by Ben’s MTSU history colleague Dr. Louis Woods for a conversation on the history of voting laws and the ways that ostensibly neutral changes have been used to exclude people of color, as well as the ways that new laws will likely impact access to voting in Georgia.

Dr. Louis Woods is an Associate Professor of African-American History and the Presidential Fellow for Social Justice and Equality at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). His previous contributions to The Road to Now include “#118 The GI Bill and the Legacy of Racial Discrimination” and “I Can’t Breathe: Surviving the Dual Pandemic of Racism & Covid 19,” which he produced independently for our podcast.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Apr 12, 2021

In the years after World War II, Americans moved to the suburbs in search of the peace and safety that many came to equate with the “American Dream.” By the end of the 1970s, however, suburbanites had come sense that their privileged was under siege from satanic cults, drug dealers and kidnappers. In this episode, Bob and Ben talk w/ Kyle Riismandel whose new book Neighborhood of Fear examines how Americans responded to the real and perceived threats of suburban life and in doing so, shaped American society and politics in the late-20th Century and beyond.

 

Dr. Kyle Riismandel is Senior University Lecturer and Interim Director of the Law, Technology, and Culture Program in the Federated Department of History at the New Jersey Institute of Technology/Rutgers-Newark. His new book Neighborhood of Fear: The Suburban Crisis in American Culture, 1975-2001 was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2020. You can follow him on twitter at @AccusedWizard.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Mar 22, 2021

The $1.9 billion stimulus plan that President Biden signed into law on March 11th has implications for everyone in the United States, but understanding it isn’t easy. In this episode we speak with Erlinda Doherty, who is Director of the Budgets and Revenue Committee at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) to find out more about how this plan is playing out at the state level and what it can tell us about American politics today.

 

The National Conference of State Legislatures is a non-partisal organization that represents the legislatures in the states, territories and commonwealths of the US. It’s mission is to advance the effectiveness, independence and integrity of legislatures and to foster interstate cooperation and facilitate the exchange of information among legislatures. For more on NCSL visit NCSL.org.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Mar 15, 2021

Market bubbles can make and break fortunes, and which side of things you end up on has everything to do with what you’re holding when the bubble busts. But what separates a bubble from sensible investing? It’s always hard to tell in the moment, but history has some valuable lessons. In this episode, Ben talks with Dr. William Quinn, whose new book Boom and Bust lays out a brilliant formula for understanding the causes of financial bubbles and examines some of the biggest examples in history. The conversation covers the Great Depression, why some bubbles have limited effect and others bring down economies, and why both Ben and William have some concerns about Bitcoin.

William Quinn is a Lecturer in Finance at Queen's University Belfast Management School. His new book Boom and Bust: A Global History of Financial Bubbles (Cambridge University Press, 2020), which he coauthored with John D. Turner, was a Financial Times Book of the Year in 2020. You can follow William Quinn on twitter at @wquinn05

This episode was edited by Gary FLetcher

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network

Mar 1, 2021

The Nazi regime that came to power in Germany in 1933 unleashed the most brutal and comprehensive war that humanity has ever seen. The horrors of the Nazis and the destruction they left behind is something most of us learned about in history class, but for Gerd Schroth it is the story of his childhood. Born in Germany in 1938, Gerd came of age on the scorched earth left behind by the German war machine. Gerd’s father had joined the Nazi party because he thought Hitler could restore Germany’s greatness, but he bequeathed to his children a world in ruins.

Seventy-six years after the end of World War II, Gerd is still writing the story of his life. He is now an American citizen, and his children were born in the United States. Gerd has moved on from the tragedy of his youth, but he has never forgotten it. He has thought a lot about how his parents’ generation and why they embraced the horrifying ideology of Nazism. He has found value in past traditions while abhorring the actions of his ancestors. And in doing this, he has built a much stronger legacy for future generations.

In this episode of The Road to Now, we revisit our 2017 episode in which Gerd shares his personal story of life as a child of Nazi Germany, refugee, immigrant, and now, American Citizen.

Feb 15, 2021

Ken Burns joins Bob and Ben for a conversation about American history and the themes he sees playing out in the US today. Ken shares his process for selecting subjects for his films and explains how his new 3-part film Hemingway (co-directed w/ Lynn Novick) highlights Ernest Hemingway’s individual genius while also revealing the universal aspects of life that we all share. We also discuss how our time and place influence the way we view the past, the importance of acknowledging both the light and dark in American history, and why Ken argues that much of life’s meaning comes from the struggle.

 

Ken Burns’ new film Hemingway, which he co-directed with Lynn Novick, premieres April 5-7 on PBS. For more on the series visit https://kenburns.com/hemingway/

 

UNUM is a new site by Ken Burns and PBS that allows users “a new way to explore American history through select scenes from across our over 40 films..” with the goal of “providing historical context for the conversations we are having today.” You can visit UNUM at: https://www.pbs.org/kenburns/unum

 

This episode was edited by our Associate Producer Gary Fletcher.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Feb 8, 2021

Bob and Ben talk with Dr. Amy Cooter, a sociologist at Vanderbilt University whose research examines American militias. Amy shares what she’s learned in the hundreds of hours she’s spent interviewing American militia members, how it can help us moving forward, and how different “nostalgic groups” have mobilized to defend their vision of America. She also helps us understand how Ruby Ridge, Waco and other moments in the 1990s relate to the more recent rise of domestic terrorism, and how listening can be an effective strategy in the struggle against extremism.


Dr. Amy Cooter is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Vanderbilt University, where her teaching and research interests include race & ethnicity, masculinity, nationalism and crime & deviance. You can read her dissertation and learn more about her work on her website, AmyCooter.com, and follow her on twitter at @AmyCooter.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next » 10