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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: March, 2022
Mar 28, 2022

The Russian Revolution that began with the fall of Tsar Nicholas II in February of 1917 and continued into a second revolution the following October, is unquestionably one of the most significant events in modern history. The October Revolution brought Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Party from relative obscurity to the leaders of the first communist nation, later called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and the economic and ideological system espoused by Soviet leaders transformed Russia from an underdeveloped nation on the periphery of Europe into a global super power in just a few decades. In this episode we speak with Russian history expert (and Ben’s former dissertation advisor) Lewis Siegelbaum to discuss the series of events that led to the Russian Revolution and the establishment of the Soviet Union, and why he tells his students that ignoring the Soviet Union in 20th century is like “clapping with one hand.”

Dr. Lewis Siegelbaum is the Jack & Margaret Sweet Professor of History at Michigan State University, and one of the most prolific historians on the history of the Soviet era. He has published and edited twelve books, the most recent of which are Cars for Comrades: The Life of the Soviet Automobile (Cornell University Press, 2008) and Broad is My Native Land: Repertoires and Regimes of Migration in Russia’s Twentieth Century (Cornell, 2014), which he co-wrote w Leslie Page Moch. His most recent book is Stuck on Communism: Memoir of a Russian Historian (NIU Press, 2019).

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer and is a rebroadcast of episode 79, which originally aired on November 16, 2017.

Mar 21, 2022

For the past year, Bob has been working on an audio docu-series that traces musicians’ activism for human rights through benefit concerts from the 1970s to the 1990s. That series, Concerts of Change: The Soundtrack of Human Rights, airs Tuesday, March 22 on Siriux/XM’s Volume Channel (106), so in this episode, Bob and Ben mark the occasion by discussion Bob’s work on the series, how studying and speaking with musicians who inspired him helped Bob reflect upon his own role as a musician, and what he learned from his conversations with those involved in Live Aid, Band Aid, and other musicians’ efforts to use their talents to help improve the lives of others.

Concerts of Change: The Soundtrack of Human Rights begins on March 22 at 1 p.m. ET and will air bi-weekly on SiriusXM’s Volume channel 106. Extended bonus content with longer interviews and outtakes will be available exclusively on the SiriusXM app beginning March 22. Click here to sign up for SiriusXM so you can keep up with Concerts of Change!

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Mar 14, 2022

The Russian government recently made moves to nationalize the property of foreign owned firms that ceased operation in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Ben’s research is all about the history of foreign investment in Russia/the Soviet Union, so he and Bob sit down for a discussion about the very severe consequences that nationalization has had for Russia in the past and how this decision may do damage that far outlast sanctions.

For more on Singer Sewing Machines in Russia, check out Ben's article "Manufacturing Germans: Singer Manufacturing Company and American Capitalism in the Russian Imagination during World War I.: (Enterprise & Society, Vol. 17, No. 2 (June 2016) pp 301-323.)

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer.

Mar 7, 2022

Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a brutal invasion of Ukraine has sparked a coordinated wave of sanctions from the US and members of the European Union. This may be the most comprehensive set of sanctions that Moscow has seen, but it is certainly not the first. In this episode, Bob & Ben speak with Kristy Ironside, who specializes in the history of the Russian & Soviet economy, for a conversation about the long history of western sanctions against Russia, the Ruble’s tenuous position in the global economy, and how Russia’s long-term economic isolation has, and may continue to, impact people around the world. Although things remain uncertain, it is our hope that these sanctions help to bring an end to the tragedy that Vladimir Putin has unleashed against the people of Ukraine.

Dr. Kristy Ironside is Assistant Professor of Russian, Soviet & International History at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and the author of A Full-Value Ruble: The Promise of Prosperity in the Postwar Soviet Union, 1945-1964 (Harvard University Press, 2021). You can follow her on twitter at @Kristy_Ironside.

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer.

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