Info

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
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
The Road to Now
2024
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2023
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2022
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2021
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2020
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: Page 4
Dec 26, 2022

In 1848, New England ships crossed the Bering Strait in pursuit of the bowhead whales that provided their income. In the years since, the activity of outsiders- from hunters, to government bureaucrats from the US and Russia / Soviet Union, to consumers of energy who never set foot in the region- has had a deep impact on the region, but the environment of Beringia has made the place itself an active participant in this process.

About a century and a half after New England whalers crossed the Bering Strait, Bathsheba Demuth graduated High School in Iowa and moved north of the Arctic Circle in the Yukon. She later earned a PhD in history, and is currently Associate Professor of History at Brown University. In this episode, Bathsheba joins Ben for a conversation about her research, how her fascination with the arctic led her to dedicate much of her life to understanding Beringia, and the ways that an environmental perspective allows us to better understand our place in the world and that of others. Bathsheba’s new book, Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait was published by W.W. Norton & Co in 2019. It is a masterpiece.

For more on Dr. Bathsheba Demuth, visit her website- www.brdemuth.com- and follow her on instagram at @brdemuth.

This is a reair of RTN Episode #153, which originally aired on December 2, 2019. This rebroadcast was edited by Ben Sawyer.

Dec 19, 2022

Bob & Ben speak w/ historian Carson Hudson, whose program “Uncivil Christmas” tells of life in Williamsburg, Virginia during the years of the Civil War. Carson explains the politics and culture of the era, the major role that music played in uniting (and dividing) Americans during the war, the challenges of understanding how people in the past experienced war, and the ways that the Civil War still looms large in American culture today.

Carson Hudson is Educational Program Developer at Colonial Williamsburg and a specialist in the history of war and music history. He is the author of multiple books on Williamsburg history, including Hidden History of Civil War Williamsburg (The History Press, 2019). To attend one of Carson’s site tours, visit www.Colonial Williamsburg.com.

This is a rebroadcast of episode #155, which originally aired on December 23, 2019. The original episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. This reair was edited by Ben Sawyer.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Dec 12, 2022

Lyndon B. Johnson’s Presidency is bookended by the tragedies of JFK’s assassination and the escalation of the Vietnam war, but his career in politics and the policies he championed transcend his time in the Oval Office. In this episode, two of the foremost experts on LBJ, Mark Updegrove and Mark A. Lawrence, join Bob & Ben to discuss Johnson’s life and legacy.

Mark Updegrove is the President & CEO of the LBJ Foundation in Austin, TX, the presidential historian for ABC News, and the author of multiple books on Presidential History, including Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency.

Dr. Mark Atwood Lawrence  is Director of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum and Associate Professor of History at UT-Austin. He is the author of multiple books on US history including The Vietnam War:  A Concise International History.

If you enjoy The Road to Now, make sure to check out their podcast, With the Bark Off, which offers a critical examination of the 45 men who have served as President of the United States and is available on your favorite podcast player.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Dec 5, 2022

On July 4, 1964, Alabama Governor George Wallace decried the passing of “ [a] law that is going to destroy individual freedom and liberty in this country.” That law was the Civil Rights act of 1964, which struck down many of the Jim Crow laws that relegated black Americans to second-class citizens. How could Wallace and so many like him throughout American history see no irony in decrying the federal government for taking away their freedom to deny freedom to others? In this episode, we take that question up with Jefferson Cowie whose new book, Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power (Basic Books, 2022), explores the meaning of freedom as understood by the white residents of one county in southern Alabama in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Dr. Jefferson Cowie is James G. Stahlman Professor of History at Vanderbilt University, where he teaches social and political history. You can hear our previous conversations with Jeff in episode #24 The Great Exception: The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order and in episode #115 The 1970s.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Nov 28, 2022

Christmas expert James Cooper joins Bob and Ben to explain how Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and other Christmas traditions made their way into popular culture. He also shares stories of lesser known traditions, such as setting fire to the giant Swedish straw goat known as the Gävlebocken!

You can find out more about the history of Santa Claus and Christmas at James Cooper’s website WhyChristmas.com

This is a rebroadcast of RTN #82, which originally aired on December 18, 2017 and has since become a RTN Holiday Classic Episode. This reair was edited by Ben Sawyer. 

Nov 24, 2022

On February 4, 1962, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opened its doors in Memphis, TN with a promise to help victims of childhood cancer regardless of race, religion, or national origin. Since then the hospital has treated thousands of children from all over the world, and has played a vital role in increasing the survival rate of children diagnosed with cancer to more than 80%. And in more than five decades of operation, St. Jude has provided its services to children and their families for free.

As the CEO of St. Jude’s fundraising arm (ALSAC) and the son of one of its founders, Richard Shadyac knows a thing or two about the past and present of St. Jude Hospital. In our conversation he explains the positive impact that St. Jude Hospital has had across the world and how actor Danny Thomas’ promise to the patron saint of lost causes became a reality.

This is a rebroadcast of RTN #31, which originally aired on November 23, 2016. This rebroadcast was edited by Ben Sawyer.

Nov 14, 2022

This week on the Road to Now, Bob welcomes leadership consultant, author, and speaker Dov Baron. Inc. Magazine has named Dov one of the top 100 leadership speakers in the country and his Curiosity Bites podcast the number one leadership podcast. For over two decades Dov has advised business leaders, politicians, entertainers, scientists, and musicians, about how to discover their emotional source code.

In this episode we get to meet Dov and hear him work his magic with his newest client: America. You don’t want to miss this unique episode of The Road to Now.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Nov 7, 2022

The Netflix series The Last Czars and HBO’s Chernobyl have (in very different ways) brought Russian & Soviet history to televisions across the world. In this episode, Ben sits down with fellow Russian historians Dr. Philippa Hetherington and Dr. Jonathan Waterlow to discuss their opinions on the two series, what they think they got right, and ways that producers and scholars might benefit most from collaboration on future projects. Philippa, who is a featured scholar in The Last Czars, shares her experience being interviewed, her impression of the show after seeing it, and her work to correct historical errors that viewers identified after release.

This episode is a rebroadcast of RTN #141, which originally aired on Sept. 2, 2019. Tragically, Philippa Heatherington passed away on November 5, 2022 after a long fight with cancer. She was a brilliant scholar, an advocate for those living with cancer, and a genuinely delightful human being. You can learn more about her work at PhilippaHeatherington.com.

This reair was edited by Ben Sawyer.  

Oct 31, 2022

Death is something that we all have in common, but what happens to our remains can vary. In this episode, RTN favorite Tanya Marsh breaks down the origins, legal peculiarities and cultural specificities of the American death care system, and how recent developments in the industry are leading many of us to reimagine the afterlife of our physical remains.  

Tanya Marsh is Professor of Law at Wake Forest University and one of the foremost experts on Mortuary Law and the history of cemeteries in the United States. She has published three books in her field of expertise, including The Law of Human Remains (2015) & Cemetery Law: The Common Law of Burying Grounds in the United States (Co-authored w/ Daniel Gibson, 2015). You can follow her on twitter at @TMAR22.

If you enjoyed this episode, check our first conversation w/ Tanya in episode #76 and Tanya’s special guest host appearance in episode 148 The Bizarre Life of American Death w/ Caitlin Doughty.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Oct 24, 2022

Pete Souza has spent more time inside the ‘Presidential bubble’ than almost anyone. The more than thirteen years he spent photographing Ronald Reagan (1983-1989) and Barack Obama (2009-2017) gave him a singular view into the executive branch that he has captured and shared with the public through his photography. In this episode, Pete joins Bob & Ben to discuss his new book The West Wing & Beyond: What I Saw Inside the Presidency, which looks beyond the Presidents themselves and to the people and spaces that define the office of the US President.

You can learn more about Pete Souza’s work at his website, petesouza.com, and by following him on twitter and Instagram at @petesouza. You can also check out the documentary film The Way I See It (Focus Features, 2020) which tells the story of Pete’s work inside the White House (and features a brief cameo by Bob & Ben).

 

If you enjoy this episode, check out Pete’s previous appearances on The Road to Now in episode #131 and episode #151.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Oct 17, 2022

Although he passed away a decade ago, Levon Helm is still the voice of Americana music. Always will be, in my opinion. Levon was drummer for The Band, collaborator with Bob Dylan, actor, husband, father, and friend. In his new book, Levon Helm: Rock, Roll, Ramble, author John Barry gives a first-hand account of Levon’s struggles with cancer and financial ruin that led to the legendary Midnight Rambles concerts at his home in Woodstock, New York.

In this episode of the Road to Now, Bob celebrates the life of Levon Helm with John, and musician and producer Larry Campbell who has worked with Levon, as well as Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, K.D. Lang, and Willie Nelson. This is an episode you don’t want to miss.­

This episode was edited by Bob Crawford & Gary Fletcher

Oct 10, 2022

Libertarianism has had a tremendous influence on American politics, but according to Andrew Koppelman, its most prominent adherents have stripped libertarian philosophy of its more humane intentions. In this episode, Andrew joins Bob and Ben for a discussion about his new book, Burning Down the House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted by Delusion and Greed (St. Martin’s Press, 2022) and why he contends that libertarian philosophers such as Friedrich Hayek have been stripped of their original intent by those who have ulterior motives.

Dr. Andrew Koppelman is John Paul Stevens Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University. You can learn more about his work at AndrewKoppelman.com and follow him on twitter at @AndrewKoppelman.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Oct 3, 2022

Bill Plante was a remarkable reporter. He spent four tours as a CBS correspondent in Vietnam, he interviewed Martin Luther King Jr in 1965, and he served as CBS’ White House Correspondent from 1976 until his retirement in 2016. On September 28, 2022, Bill Plante passed away. To honor him and his work, we are reairing our 2018 conversation w/ Bill and The Washington Post’s Olivier Knox.

You can read Bill’s CBS News obituary here and his Washington Post obituary by Emily Langer here.

You can watch the video of this conversation on our YouTube channel here.

This episode originally aired as episode #104 on August 22, 2018. This reair was edited by Ben Sawyer.

Sep 26, 2022

Armenia and Azerbaijan were once fellow Republics within the USSR, but in the Soviet Union’s last days tension between them led to bloodshed and animosity that continues today. For decades, Russia played the role of peacekeeper in the region, but Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has opened the door for a new wave of Azerbaijani attacks on Armenia and both sides say the other is to blame. Laurence Broers has spent the last twenty years working as a scholar and peacemaker in the region, and has built relationships with leaders in both countries. In this episode, Laurence joins Ben for a conversation about the history of the conflict, the state of affairs today, and the impact that the international community has (and can) have on the people and politics of the region.

Dr. Laurence Broers is Associate Fellow at the Russia-Eurasia Program at Chatham House, and the author of the book Armenia and Azerbaijan: Anatomy of a Rivalry. You can follow him on twitter at @LaurenceBroers.

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer.

Sep 19, 2022

The FBI has been the subject of criticism and concern since it was founded in 1908, but it has nevertheless become one of the most powerful, stable, and mythologized branches of the Executive Branch of the US government. In this episode, Steve Underhill joins us to discuss the origins of the FBI, the role J. Edgar Hoover played in making the modern Brueau, and how that greater history of the FBI can help us understand how they’ve approached their seizure of documents from Mar-a-Lago and the subsequent attack from Donald Trump.

 

Dr. Stephen M. Underhill is Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at Marshall University, where he studies the rhetoric of law enforcement. His book The Manufacture of Consent: J. Edgar Hoover and the Rhetorical Rise of the FBI was published in 2020.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Looking for a new shirt that fits well, looks good, and feels fantastic? Go to Criquetshirts.com and use promo code RoadToNow for 20% off your first order from Criquet. Ben and Bob both love these shirts!

 

Sep 12, 2022

The New Deal policies of the 1930s never brought an end to the Great Depression, but by establishing Social Security, ending child labor, and establishing a federal minimum wage, Franklin Roosevelt’s administration and their allies in Congress laid the framework for the widespread prosperity of the post-World War II-era. As the gap between the richest and poorest Americans continues to widen at remarkable speed, politicians on the left have called for a return to the New Deal. But it might be better to look elsewhere.

In this episode we speak with Jefferson Cowie about his books Capital Moves: RCA’s Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor, (Cornell University Press, 1999) & The Great Exception: The New Deal & The Limits of American Politics, (Princeton University Press, 2016).

Dr. Jefferson Cowie is James G. Stahlman Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. You can learn more about him and his work at his website, jeffersoncowie.info.

This episode originally aired on October 17, 2016 as RTN #24 The New Deal and It’s Legacy w/ Jefferson Cowie. This reair was edited by Ben Sawyer.

Sep 5, 2022

On August 4, 1789, the National Assembly of France adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which asserted the Enlightenment ideals of universal rights and democracy. Though the French Declaration shared a common ideological lineage with the American Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution took a very different path: fifteen years after their founding revolutionary documents, the US had George Washington and France had Napoleon.

In this episode of The Road to Now we talk to Dr. Peter McPhee, an expert on the history of the French Revolution at the University of Melbourne (Australia) to learn how geography, religion, and the French effort to fundamentally redefine society, shaped the complex course of the French Revolution. Peter explains how the French Revolution changed the world and left a legacy that is all around us today. (And for all you Hamilton fans- if you ever wondered what happened to the Marquis de Lafayette after Hamilton died, Dr. McPhee has the answer!)

This is a rebroadcast of episode 78, which originally aired on November 9, 2017. This rebroadcast was edited by Ben Sawyer.

Aug 29, 2022

Could the structure of elections in the US be feeding the polarization in modern politics? Currently only about twenty percent of voters show up to the polls for what are often closed primaries, meaning that the general election is often a showdown between candidates who have appealed to the most extreme elements of their party’s base. This is far from an optimal outcome in a country where few voters identify with political extremes.

Most voting experts believe that the way to reduce the influence of the most extreme voices in our political system would be through open primaries in which voters can choose any candidate regardless of party affiliation. This system would favor candidates who speak to a broader swath of the American public and give voters a more representative general election ballot.

In this episode, Bob welcomes back to the show his former Political Statistics Professor, Dr. Scott Huffmon, to discuss Rank choice voting and the 2022 election primaries. Dr. Huffmon is a professor of political science as well as the founder and director of the Center for Public Opinion & Policy Research (CPOPR) at Winthrop. Dr. Huffmon also directs the Winthrop Poll initiative, which is the most important poll focusing on the south. You can follow him on twitter at @HuffmonPolitics.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

 

Aug 22, 2022

When Bitcoin launched in January 2009, few people took it seriously and even fewer had the means to mine, buy or spend it. By the end of 2021, the Pew Research Center reported that 16% of Americans had held cryptocurrency and 86% had heard of it. Despite all of this, many of us remain perplexed by the topic, so Ben and Bob invited Yahoo! Finance’s David Hollerith to join us for a conversation about the origins and potential of crypto. We hope this helps!

David Hollerith is a senior reporter at Yahoo! Finance who covers cryptocurrency. To keep up on his reporting, make sure to follow him on twitter at @DsHollers. You can check out his suggested reading on the topic at the episode page on our website.

If you enjoy this episode, check out #192 The History of Financial Bubbles w/ William Quinn.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Aug 15, 2022

Political rhetoric has become increasingly divisive in the 21st century, but many of the themes and rhetorical strategies we see today have deep roots in American history. In this episode, Ben and Bruce Carlson (My History Can Beat Up Your Politics) discuss the impact that technology, society and other factors have had on Presidential rhetoric from the 1932 contest between Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt to the election of 2020. A lot has changed since the Great Depression, but the similarities between then and now might surprise you.

Bruce Carlson is the host of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics. For more on his podcast, follow @myhist on twitter, check out his website here and subscribe to MHCBUYP anywhere you get The Road to Now.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Aug 8, 2022

Partisanship in politics has become increasingly tense in the 21st century, and while many Americans lament this polarization, few seem convinced that a rapprochement is possible. Yet history is full of proclaimed enemies striking mutually beneficial deals even in the toughest conditions. In this episode, NCSL Director Curt Stedron explains how a deep examination of the Christmas truce struck between Entente and Allied powers during World War I can reveal some core lessons for finding common ground in even the most horrific conditions.

Curt Stedron is Director on the Legislative Training Institute at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a non-partisan organization whose mission is “to advance the effectiveness, independence and integrity of legislatures and to foster interstate cooperation.” He is a graduate of West Point and previously served as an Officer in the US Army. This conversation grew out of his talk “Lessons in Trust: The Christmas Truce of 1914,” which he delivered at the 2022 NCSL Legislative Summit and can be viewed via NCSL’s linkedIn page here.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Aug 1, 2022

At the beginning of the 20th century, most of the territory that we call the Middle East- including Syria, Iraq, Israel and Turkey- were part of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman alliance w/ Germany and Austria-Hungary during World War I provided Britain and France w/ the opportunity to divide the once-great empire into many states based on European imperial ambitions. In this episode Bob and Ben speak w/ Eugene Rogan to learn more about why the Ottoman Empire was divided, how that process shaped the Middle East, and how this history helps us understand the world today.

Dr. Eugene Rogan is a Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. He is author of The Arabs: A History (Penguin, 2009, 3rd edition 2018), which has been translated in 18 languages and was named one of the best books of 2009 by The Economist, The Financial Times, and The Atlantic Monthly. His new book, The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920, was published in February 2015.

This is a rebroadcast of episode 112 which originally aired on November 19th, 2018. This rebroadcast was edited by Ben Sawyer.

Jul 25, 2022

You might know Bushwick Bill as a member of the iconic Houston rap group The Geto Boys, but his contributions to rap music, his role in the debates over free speech in the 1990s, and his overall influence are far more substantial than you probably realize. In this episode, we welcome Charles Hughes back to the show to discuss his new book Why Bushwick Bill Matters (Univ. of Texas Press) and to get a better understanding of the challenges and triumphs that shaped one of rap history’s most influential artists.

Dr. Charles Hughes is the Director of the Lynne and Henry Turley Memphis Center at Rhodes College. His previous books include  Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South which Rolling Stone named one of the Best Music Books of 2015. You can hear our previous conversation with Charles in episode #25 The History of Country and Soul Music in the American South w/ Charles Hughes. You can follow Charles on twitter at @CharlesLHughes2.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 18, 2022

Ben tells Bob how Thai food became so prominent in the US and shares the story of the bizarre origins and sudden demolition of the Georgia Guidestones. Ben also gives an update on Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn’s (of 1776 Commission fame) recent comments that teachers come from “the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country” and that he wants to “demonstrate that you don’t have to be an expert educate a child because basically anybody can do it” (all of which he said as Tennessee Governor Bill Lee sat quietly next to him.)

Sources and Relevant Material

Phil Williams, “REVEALED: Teachers come from ‘dumbest parts of dumbest colleges,’’ Tenn. Governor’s education advisor tells him.” News Channel 5 Nashville, June 30, 2022.

The Goods from the Woods podcast #337 “Zagnut Factory w/ Ben Sawyer” (July 13, 2022).

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 11, 2022

Robert E. Lee’s surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865 marked the end of the American Civil War, but it was just one of many times that officers and soldiers faced the reality of surrender. Throughout the four years of the war, approximately one in four soldiers surrendered to the opposing army. In this episode, David Silkenat explains how looking at surrender as both an experience and a set of codes offers a new and insightful perspective on the Civil War and those who lived through it.

Dr. David Silkenat is Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Edinburgh and author of four books, including Waving the White Flag: How Surrender Defined the American Civil War (UNC Press, 2019). He is also the cohost of The Whiskey Rebellion podcast alongside Frank Cogliano. You can follow David on twitter at @davidsilkenat.

This episode is a rebroadcast of RTN #135, which originally aired on July 8th 2019.

This episode was originally edited by Gary Fletcher. This rebroadcast was edited by Ben Sawyer.

1 « Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next » 16