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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: January, 2022
Jan 31, 2022

Ukraine has gotten a lot of intermittent attention in the US over the last few years, but the stories we hear are usually about the US and Russia. To counter that tendency, we offer you a story about Ukraine that is actually about Ukraine. In this episode, historian Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon joins Ben to talk about the key historical events that have shaped Ukraine and its place in the world today.

Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon holds a MA in Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies from Harvard University and is currently a doctoral student in history at the University of Pennsylvania. You can learn more about her at her website www.kstjulianvarnon.com and follow her on twitter at @KSVarnon.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jan 29, 2022

Today we’ve got a little something special for you- something we’re calling “Crossroads.” From time to time, on weekends, Bob and I will be sharing episodes of podcasts that we think our audience might enjoy, and our first ever featured podcast is History Daily.

History Daily is hosted by our friend and podcaster extraordinaire, Lindsay Graham. You might know Lindsay from some of the biggest podcasts in the country, including American Scandal and American History Tellers. Lindsay’s newest endeavor, History Daily, drops new episodes every weekday featuring stories of events that happened on that date in the past. The episodes run about 20 minutes and are well produced, so they’re interesting gateways into bigger topics in history and they’re pleasant listens.

For today’s episode, Ben picked wpisodes that work well together- the story of Laika the Soviet space dog’s Nov. 3, 1957 launch into space and the story of Apollo 8- which sent the first crewed spacecraft to orbit the moon on Dec. 21, 1968. They’re both great on their own, but together they illustrate the firm lead that the Soviets had early in the space race, and the incredible effort NASA put into surpassing the Soviets by the end of the 1960s.

 

If you enjoy these episodes, you can follow History Daily anywhere you get the Road to Now.

Jan 24, 2022

Jon Grinspan is a curator of political history at the Smithsonian Museum of American History and a frequent contributor to The New York Times. In this episode, Jon explains how his work with historical objects has informed his understanding of the past, the reasons he thinks that American politics in recent years is less of an aberration than many of us would like to believe, and his thoughts on the many ways Americans might look back on the January 6th insurrection in the future. Jon also shares the process he and his colleagues at The Smithsonian follow in selecting objects from today that will be preserved for future generations.

Dr. Jon Grinspan’s newest book is The Age of Acrimony: How Americans Fought to Fix Their Democracy, 1865-1915 (Bloomsbury, 2021). For more on his work, visit his bio page at the Smithsonian or link directly to one of the articles listed below.

Jon Grinspan & Peter Manseau, “It’s 2086. This is What American History Could Look Like.” The New York Times, Jan. 6, 2022.

Jon Grinspan, “What We Did the Last Time We Broke America,” The New York Times, Oct. 29, 2021.

Jon Grinspan, “How to Steal An Election,” The New York Times, Oct. 24, 2020.

For Bob and Ben’s conversation in the aftermath of the January 6, 2021 attack on the capitol, check out RTN #187 The Insurrection Episode.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jan 17, 2022

On January 9, the new musical Swept Away, which is based on the music of Bob’s band The Avett Brothers, premiered at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. In this episode, the musical’s writer, John Logan (Any Given Sunday, Skyfall, Red) and lead actor, John Gallagher Jr. (American Idiot, The Newsroom) join Bob and Ben for a discussion about how the music became a musical, their sources of creativity, and why they decided to make such a deep investment in developing and performing Swept Away.

Swept Away runs until March 6, 2022 at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in Berkeley, CA. For more information and tickets visit the Berkeley Rep’s website.

You can also follow Swept Away on Instagram by clicking here.

 Click here to hear John Gallagher Jr. performing “The Once and Future Carpenter” from Swept Away.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.  

Jan 10, 2022

In 1998, as part of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, the biggest US tobacco companies agreed to open their archives to the public. Inside company documents was a story of tobacco executives who understood that cigarettes killed smokers yet expended vast amounts of time and money to keep that information from the public. In this episode, Ben speaks with Louis Kyriakoudes, an expert who has applied his academic research on the history of cigarettes as an expert witness in tobacco cases and as a speaker to medical groups seeking to better understand the history of the industry.

Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes is Professor of History and Director of the Albert Gore Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University. He has served as expert witness in tobacco litigation in multiple state and federal courts and served as an international consultant on the topic.

For a list of sources, visit our episode page at RTNpod.me/218.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jan 3, 2022

Bob & Ben catch up for a conversation about 2021 and what may await us in the New Year. They discuss free speech on college campuses, the state of the workforce, and little bit about a lot of other topics. Happy New Year!

We're excited to announce that we've collaborated with Hark Audio to make Harklists of our favorite RTN moments from 2021! Hear Bob & Ben's clips and why they chose them at the following links:

The Road to Now – Bob Crawford’s 2021 Highlights

The Road to Now – Ben Sawyer’s 2021 Highlights

 

Sources Mentioned in this episode:

Harvard Youth Poll, 42nd edition, 2021.

Michael Graber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Melville House, 2011.

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