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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: May, 2023
May 29, 2023

In the last few years, many on the left have been calling for a “Green New Deal,” but we might have already had that. Between 1933 and 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps enlisted more than three million young men in a project that planted two billion trees, slowed soil erosion on forty million acres of farmland, and enjoyed support across political and geographic divides. In this episode we talk with Neil Maher, author of Nature’s New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement (Oxford University Press, 2008) about how the CCC helped solidify FDR’s New Deal and spread the seeds of environmental activism for generations to come.

Dr. Neil Maher is a Professor of History and Master Teacher in the Federated History Department at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University-Newark. He is also the author of Apollo in the Age of Aquarius (Harvard University Press, 2017). You can find out more about his work at NeilMaher.com.  

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher

May 22, 2023

It’s been seven years since Ben & Bob launched the first episode of The Road to Now, so we invited two of our early guests – Doug Heye & Margaret Talev – to join us for a conversation about how things have changed since 2016 and the events of the preceding years that now appear to be most pivotal in creating those changes. Our conversation covers campaign finance reform, social media and the impact ai is already having on American politics.

Doug Heye is a political commentator who previously served as Communications Director for the Republican National Committee and Deputy Chief of Staff for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. You can follow him on twitter at @DougHeye.

Margaret Talev is Director of Syracuse University’s Institute for Democracy, Journalism & Citizenship and Senior Contributor at Axios. You can follow her on twitter at @MargaretTalev.

Enjoy this episode? Join us on Patreon to get the full unedited conversation from this episode and many others. Find out more at Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow. To our Patrons: thank you!

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

May 15, 2023

The “Amazon economy” seems like something new, but it rests on the physical and intellectual infrastructure built by those who came long before the age of the internet and leaves many of the same marks on the environment. Prominent in this story are five companies- Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Walmart, Bank of America, and FexEx-  all of which have global reach and southern roots. In this episode, Bart Elmore joins us to talk about his new book Country Capitalism: How Corporations from the American South Remade our Economy and the Planet (UNC Press, 2023), and how understanding the history of American business can help us address the environmental challenges that are undeniably facing humanity today.

Dr. Bartow Elmore is Associate Professor of History and a core faculty member of the Sustainability Institute at The Ohio State University. In addition to Country Capitalism, he is also the author of  Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism (W. W. Norton, 2015) and Seed Money: Monsanto's Past and Our Food Future (W. W. Norton, 2021). You can hear his discuss these books in RTN episode 140 and episode 208 respectively. Bart is also a 2022 winner of the Dan David Prize.

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer.  

May 8, 2023

Today's Republican party looks a lot different than it did just a few 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 is an edited rebroadcast of RTN #199, which originally aired on June 14, 2021. Both the original episode and this rebroadcast were edited by Gary Fletcher.

May 1, 2023

In 2021, Neil King Jr. threw a few basic items into a backpack and walked from his home in Washington, DC to New York City. Along the way he met new people, uncovered forgotten moments of history, and spent many days thinking about America. In this episode, Neil joins Ben and Bob to discuss his new book, American Ramble: A Walk of Memory and Renewal, and the lessons he learned along the way.

Before walking from his house in DC to New York City, Neil King Jr. worked as a journalist for outlets across the globe, including The Tampa Tribune, The Prague Post, and The Wall Street Journal. American Ramble is his first book, but we hope there are many more to come. You can follow Neil on twitter at @NKingofDC.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

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