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The Road to Now

Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) & Dr. Ben Sawyer (MTSU History) share conversations with great thinkers from a variety of backgrounds – historians, artists, legal scholars, political figures and more –who help us uncover the many roads that run between past and present. For more information, visit TheRoadToNow.com If you'd like to support our work, join us on Patreon: Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow
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Now displaying: April, 2017
Apr 24, 2017

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. The 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.

How could someone turn a gruesome tale of cannibalism into an inspirational work of history? How do you track down the sources that allow you to answer so many questions about history? And how does one individual accomplish so much in one life? In this episode of The Road to Now, we get the answers in our conversation with Neil Hanson.

Find out more about this episode of The Road to Now at our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

 

Apr 17, 2017

“Who is James K. Polk?” If you’re asking this question to yourself right now, you’re not alone. In fact, “Who is James K. Polk?” was a slogan Polk’s political rivals used to mock him in the 1844 Presidential election. This made sense at the time; despite serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1835 to 1839 and Governor of Tennessee from 1839 to 1841, Polk lacked the type of dynamic personality that defines many of America’s great Presidents. Yet a late compromise in the Democratic Party and the changing mood of the American people thrust Polk from a failed Gubernatorial candidate in Tennessee to the White House in less than a year.

 Who is James K. Polk? He’s America’s first dark horse President. He’s the Commander-in-Chief who oversaw the annexation of the southern portion of the Oregon territory, the admission of Texas into the United States, and the invasion of Mexico that forced the Mexican government to cede about half of its territory to the United States in 1848 (you know New Mexico? It used to be part of old Mexico). He’s the man who may have done more to transform the United States in a single term than any other President in American history.

And, strangely enough, he’s also the man whose corpse has been dug out of the ground more times than any other President. His current resting spot in Nashville is Polk’s third grave, but he may be moving again in the near future.

So how did Polk go from relative obscurity to President of the United States in such a short period of time? Why does his place in Americans’ minds fall so far short of his impact on American history? And why are lawmakers in Tennessee considering moving Polk’s body for a fourth time more than 150 years after his death? In this episode of The Road to Now we answer these questions and more in our conversation with the Curator of the James K. Polk Home & Museum, Tom Price.

Find out more about this and all other episodes of The Road to Now at our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

Apr 13, 2017

The Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, has been one of the most tragic events in recent history. The implications of the situation in Syria stretch far beyond the borders of the country, and the UN estimates that more than 5 million people have fled the country to escape the violence that has claimed that lives of more than 400,000 Syrians. But how did the conflict start? What is at stake for the various factions at war in Syria? And how have foreign countries such as Russia and the United States influenced Syria? In this special edition of The Road to Now, we answer these questions and more in our conversation with Dr. Sean Foley.

Dr. Foley specializes in the contemporary history and politics of the Middle East and the wider Islamic world. He frequently visits Asia and the Middle East, follows events in both regions closely, and speaks Arabic and Bahasa Malaysian. He has published widely and has delivered public presentations to audiences around the world.  He has also held Fulbright fellowships in Syria, Turkey, and Malaysia. From April 2013 until January 2014, he lived and traveled extensively in Saudi Arabia.

For more on this episode and any others, please visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

 

Apr 10, 2017

The 1960s was a decade of individualism, and few individuals from this era are as iconic as Bob Dylan and John F. Kennedy. For Dylan, the 60s was just the beginning of a half-century career that has included over 2,500 shows, 38 studio albums, 13 Grammys and the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. Kennedy, on the other hand, like so many of the decade’s giants, was taken from us too soon, leaving us to wonder what he may have accomplished if not for his tragic assassination in 1963. In this episode of The Road to Now we talk about the life, times, and cultural influence of Bob Dylan and John F. Kennedy with award-winning historian, Dr. Douglas Brinkley.

For more on this episode and all others, please visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

Apr 3, 2017

Throughout the latter part of the 20th century the perception of Golf in popular culture was that of a sport for wealthy white men who gathered at their exclusive country clubs to make business deals over 18 holes of golf, all the while smoking expensive cigars and drinking martinis (you know, like in CaddyShack?). But then, seemingly from out of nowhere, Tiger Woods burst onto the scene, changing the look and style of the sport forever.

It turns out, however, that most Americans’ perception of the sport is does not quite fit the reality. The truth behind golf’s history is much more complicated and a bit more noble. And today, Golf raises more money for charity than all other major sports combined. For example, since 1970 the FedEx St Jude Classic Golf tournament has raised over 33 million dollars for the hospital. In this episode of the Road to Now we get the story straight in our conversation on the history of golf with Dr. Tony Parker of the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Augustine, Florida.

For more on this and all other episodes of The Road to Now, please visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

 

 

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