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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: July, 2023
Jul 31, 2023

Slavery was an integral part of the American republic from the moment of independence until the abolition of the so-called “peculiar institution” with the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865. The social and economic impact of the slave system, however, are much larger in terms of both time and geography. In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Edward Baptist about slavery’s origins, its evolution, and how enslaved people’s work laid the foundation for modern capitalism. He also shares stories of the people who suffered under- and those who profited from- the inhumane system of American slavery.

Dr. Edward E. Baptist is Professor of History at Cornell University and author of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (Basic Books, 2014), which won the 2015 Avery O. Craven Prize from the Organization of American Historians and the 2015 Sidney Hillman Prize.

This is an enhanced rebroadcast of RTN #117, which originally aired on January 14, 2019. This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer.

Jul 24, 2023

George Carlin had a comedy career that spanned half a century, and his take on the US remains relevant more than a decade after his death in 2008. The new HBO documentary George Carlin’s American Dream tells Carlin’s story as he evolved from a clean-cut comic in the 1950s into the edgy critic who remains one of the most influential comedians of all time. In this episode, Michael Bonfiglio, who directed the film (along with Judd Apatow) and Kliph Nesteroff, a historian of comedy who is featured in the film, join Bob & Ben for a conversation about the life and times of George Carlin.

If you enjoy this episode, check out our previous conversation w/ Michael Bonfiglio in RTN #174 Direction w/ Michael Bonfiglio.

This is a rebroadcast of RTN #237. This rebroadcast was edited by Bob Crawford. 

Jul 17, 2023

Roger McNamee has spent decades helping American tech companies secure financing. In the last few years, however, he’s become well-known for helping American citizens secure themselves against tech companies. After helping convince Mark Zuckerberg to retain control over Facebook, Roger documented social media’s role in amplifying social division in his 2019 New York Times Best Seller Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe. Recently he’s turned his attention to AI, and he has a warning for us: don’t believe the hype.

In this conversation Roger joins Bob and Ben to discuss Artificial Intelligence, why he says it’s far from the disruptor its proponents have claimed it to be, and how our current assessment of AI actually causes many of the problems that will likely come from this new technology. Roger also shares his solution to better tech regulation, why he’s more hopeful about the future of the US than he has been in decades, and his second career in his band Moonalice (click here for music and tour dates). 

If you enjoy this conversation, you can hear our uncut conversation, which includes almost 30 minutes of additional audio, but joining us on Patreon at Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow. Already a Patron? Click here to listen to the uncut episode!

You can hear our previous conversation w/ Roger in RTN #178 “The Facebook Catastrophe w/ Roger McNamee.” 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 10, 2023

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 and Director of the Graduate Program in American Studies. His book Neighborhood of Fear: The Suburban Crisis in American Culture, 1975-2001 was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2020.

This is a rebroadcast of RTN #194, which originally aired on April 12, 2021.

This episode was oroginally edited by Gary Fletcher. This reair was edited by Ben Sawyer.

 

Jul 3, 2023

It’s difficult to fathom how Benjamin Franklin accomplished so much in a single lifetime. It’s equally difficult to imagine how to take such an incredible life and consolidate it into four hours of documentary film. In this episode, we cover both feats with writer Dayton Duncan and producer David Schmidt, two of the great minds behind Ken Burns' documentary on Benjamin Franklin. Dayton and David discuss Franklin’s life, the work that goes into creating a historical documentary film, and their process for deciding the best way to tell an American icon’s story in a pair of two-hour episodes.

If you enjoy this episode, check out Ben and Bob’s conversation with Ken Burns in episode #191.

If you want to learn more about American indepenence and the July 4th holiday, check out Ben's curated list on Hark audio!

If you want to catch Bob or Ben live, check out The Avett Brothers tour dates here and Ben's standup comedy schedule here!

This is a rebroadcast of RTN #229, which originally aired on April 4, 2022. 

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