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The Road to Now

In 2006, Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) & Dr. Benjamin Sawyer (MTSU History) sat down to talk history in a Detroit coffee shop. Their discussion lasted a couple hours, but the conversation kept going. Join them as they trace the road between past and present with the help of great thinkers from the academy, the media, politics, entertainment and more.
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Now displaying: Page 6
Apr 16, 2018

In this episode of The Road to Now, Richard Samuel West joins Bob and Ben for a conversation on the history of political cartoons in the United States. West tells of how political cartoonists went from independent artists in the early 19th century who sold their work on the streets to become powerful actors in American politics just a few decades later. He also explains how technological and social forces led to the rise, and eventual fall, of political cartoons as a form of satire, and how one of America’s most powerful and corrupt crime bosses was brought down by a single artist and his drawings.

Richard Samuel West is the coauthor of What Fools These Mortals Be: The History of Puck (IDW Publishing, 2014 w/ forward by Bill Waterson) and the founder of Periodyssey, which specializes in “significant and unusual American paper.”

Apr 9, 2018

Note: We are aware of the controversy surrounding this book and are currently working to bring voices to the table to discuss this further.

Native Americans are one of the most significant, yet overlooked, groups in American history. Their story challenges America’s often-prideful narrative of the United States as a force for good in the world, and even when Natives are included in this history, they are often defined in terms of their relationship to the US and its leaders. In this episode, we speak with John Sedgwick about the internal struggles that defined the Cherokee nation in the first century after American independence. His new book, Blood Moon: An American Epic of War and Splendor in the Cherokee Nation (Simon & Schuster, 2018), examines the rivalry between two Cherokee leaders and how it shaped the history of the Tribe and the United States as a whole.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on this and all other episodes of our podcast, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

Apr 9, 2018

Note: We are aware of the controversy surrounding this book and are currently working to bring voices to the table to discuss this further.

Native Americans are one of the most significant, yet overlooked, groups in American history. Their story challenges America’s often-prideful narrative of the United States as a force for good in the world, and even when Natives are included in this history, they are often defined in terms of their relationship to the US and its leaders. In this episode, we speak with John Sedgwick about the internal struggles that defined the Cherokee nation in the first century after American independence. His new book, Blood Moon: An American Epic of War and Splendor in the Cherokee Nation (Simon & Schuster, 2018), examines the rivalry between two Cherokee leaders and how it shaped the history of the Tribe and the United States as a whole.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on this and all other episodes of our podcast, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

Apr 2, 2018

April 4, 2018 marks 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In honor or Dr. King's legacy, this week we are re-airing our interview w/ Dr. Clayborne Carson.

On August 28th, 1963 Clayborne Carson was a 19 year-old attending his first civil rights demonstration. That demonstration was the historic March on Washington, and what he remembers most about that day isn't Dr. King's historic speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, but the people he met. Hitchhiking back home to Los Alamos, New Mexico, Carson couldn't have known that 22 years later Dr. King's widow, Coretta Scott King, would ask him to edit her husband’s papers.

Today Dr. Clayborne Carson is Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History and Ronnie Lott Founding Director of the Martin Luther King Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, where he has taught since 1975. As someone whose life and research are intertwined with the work and legacy of Dr. King, Dr. Carson is uniquely qualified to explain the importance of King’s leadership and his place within the greater struggle for justice in the US and abroad. We are thus honored to have Dr. Carson as our guest on The Road to Now as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on this and all other episodes of our podcast, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

(Our interview w/ Dr. Carson originally aired on January 16, 2017. This episode includes a new intro and some improvements to audio quality.)

Mar 26, 2018

RTN Theology now is now on its own podcast feed! Subscribe anywhere you get The Road to Now for RTN Theology episodes 12-19 and more!

Chris Breslin recently invited Bob to be part of a live conversation with Kate Bowler to talk about the history of Christianity, their faith, and how the crisis of cancer has affected their relationships with God. Kate Bowler is Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School and author of the New York Times Best Selling Book Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved (Random House, 2018) and Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Oxford University Press, 2013). She also hosts the podcast Everything Happens.

This episode was recorded live on February 25, 2018 at Oak Church in Durham, NC.

For more on this and other episodes of The Road to Now, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

Mar 26, 2018

Chris Breslin recently invited Bob to be part of a live conversation with Kate Bowler to talk about the history of Christianity, their faith, and how the crisis of cancer has affected their relationships with God. Kate Bowler is Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School and author of the New York Times Best Selling Book Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved (Random House, 2018) and Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Oxford University Press, 2013). She also hosts the podcast Everything Happens.

This episode was recorded live on February 25, 2018 at Oak Church in Durham, NC.

For more on this and other episodes of The Road to Now, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

Mar 19, 2018

The debate over taxation and the economy is an argument that is as old as the nation itself. In our previous episode, historian Robert McElvaine argued that the tax reform of 2017 reflected the types of conservative policies that helped bring about the Great Depression. In this episode, we turn to the Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl to get a different perspective on taxation and its role in the economy since the 20th Century. Riedl explains the evidence that led him to advocate for small government, and breaks down why the 2017 tax reform is not quite as conservative as some commentators have suggested.

Brian Riedl is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a member of MI's Economics21, focusing on budget, tax, and economic policy. Previously, he worked for six years as chief economist to Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and as staff director of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth. He also served as a director of budget and spending policy for Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign and was the lead architect of the ten-year deficit-reduction plan for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on this and all other episodes of our podcast, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

Mar 19, 2018

The debate over taxation and the economy is an argument that is as old as the nation itself. In our previous episode, historian Robert McElvaine argued that the tax reform of 2017 reflected the types of conservative policies that helped bring about the Great Depression. In this episode, we turn to the Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl to get a different perspective on taxation and its role in the economy since the 20th Century. Riedl explains the evidence that led him to advocate for small government, and breaks down why the 2017 tax reform is not quite as conservative as some commentators have suggested.

Brian Riedl is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a member of MI's Economics21, focusing on budget, tax, and economic policy. Previously, he worked for six years as chief economist to Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and as staff director of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth. He also served as a director of budget and spending policy for Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign and was the lead architect of the ten-year deficit-reduction plan for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on this and all other episodes of our podcast, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

Mar 12, 2018

Taxation is a controversial topic in the United States. Some Americans see taxation as a penalty on hard work, while others see it as a way to alleviate social ills and discourage activity they deem undesirable. And because taxation is inseparable from the question of government's role in people's lives, it is one of the issues that most divides the two major parties in modern America. In today's episode, Bob and Ben speak with Robert McElvaine, an expert on the history of the Great Depression, to get his take on what the past can teach us about tax policy and the economy. McElvaine explains why he thinks that history has disproven the Republican principle of supply side economics, and why he sees the recent GOP-backed tax reform as reminiscent of the policies that led the US into the Great Depression.

Dr. Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts and Letters and Professor of History at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. He is the author of seven books and the editor of three, including The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941 (Times Books/Random House, 1984, 1993; 25th anniversary edition, 2009). He also pinned an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled "I'm a Depression Historian. The GOP Tax Bill is Straight Out of 1929" (Nov. 30, 2017).

This episode is the first in a two-part series on taxation and the economy. The second installment, a conversation with the Manhattan Institute's Brian Reidl, will offer a conservative perspective on tax policy, and will be released on Monday, March 18.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. You can learn more about this episode and browse others at TheRoadToNow.com

Mar 12, 2018

Taxation is a controversial topic in the United States. Some Americans see taxation as a penalty on hard work, while others see it as a way to alleviate social ills and discourage activity they deem undesirable. And because taxation is inseparable from the question of government's role in people's lives, it is one of the issues that most divides the two major parties in modern America. In today's episode, Bob and Ben speak with Robert McElvaine, an expert on the history of the Great Depression, to get his take on what the past can teach us about tax policy and the economy. McElvaine explains why he thinks that history has disproven the Republican principle of supply side economics, and why he sees the recent GOP-backed tax reform as reminiscent of the policies that led the US into the Great Depression.

Dr. Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts and Letters and Professor of History at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. He is the author of seven books and the editor of three, including The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941 (Times Books/Random House, 1984, 1993; 25th anniversary edition, 2009). He also pinned an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled "I'm a Depression Historian. The GOP Tax Bill is Straight Out of 1929" (Nov. 30, 2017).

This episode is the first in a two-part series on taxation and the economy. The second installment, a conversation with the Manhattan Institute's Brian Reidl, will offer a conservative perspective on tax policy, and will be released on Monday, March 18.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. You can learn more about this episode and browse others at TheRoadToNow.com

Mar 5, 2018

During a recent tour with The Avett Brothers, Bob caught up with historian Douglas Brinkley to talk about history and the state of American politics. Brinkley shared his thoughts on the current state of Donald Trump’s Presidency, its parallels with Nixon, and what he thinks it would take for the GOP to turn on the current Commander-in-Chief. They also talk about Hunter S. Thompson, working with the Nixon tapes, and (of course), Martin Van Buren.

Dr. Douglas Brinkley is Professor of History at Rice University and Fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. He has authored more than 20 books, including Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America (HarperCollins, 2016) and Cronkite (HarperCollins, 2012). Dr. Brinkley is the CNN Presidential Historian and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Audubon. 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. You can learn more about this episode and browse other episodes at TheRoadToNow.com

For more content and other extras, become a patron of The Road to Now on Patreon. 

Feb 26, 2018

RTN Theology now is now on its own podcast feed! Subscribe anywhere you get The Road to Now for RTN Theology episodes 12-19 and more!

In the second installment of RTN Theology, Bob speaks with Messiah College’s John Fea about Christianity in Early America and the ways that the founders viewed the relationship between faith and politics. Fea outlines the “5 Cs” of history, the importance of approaching history with an open mind, and explains why he thinks the title of his book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? may not be the question in approaching Christianity’s role in the establishment of the United States. Ian Skotte also contributes his thoughts on Christian relics and why he sees authenticity as less important than faith in people’s relationship to material objects.

John Fea is Professor of American History and Chair of the Department of History at Messiah College and host of the podcast The Way of Improvement Leads Home. He is the author or editor of four books, including Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction (Westminster/ John Knox Press, 2011) & Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past (Baker Academic, 2013) and his essays and reviews have appeared in a variety of scholarly and popular venues.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on our podcast and this episode, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

Feb 19, 2018

The Republican Party has changed a lot since a few former Whigs started the party in the 1850s. Today, the party’s legacy is usually defined in terms of well-known figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, but author Robert Merry thinks William McKinley deserves a lot more credit than historians and modern politicians have given him. In this Presidents’ Day 2018 episode of The Road to Now, we talk with Robert Merry to learn more about McKinley’s impact on the reconfiguration of the GOP in the late 19th century, and what it might teach us about the current transformation happening under Donald Trump. 

Robert W. Merry is the editor of The National Interest and author of several books on American history, including President McKinley: Architect of the American Century (Simon & Schuster, 2017) and James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent (Simon & Schuster, 2010).

We’re also excited to announce that we’re a joining the Osiris Podcast Network, which is launching this week! Osiris’ co-founders RJ Bee (CEO, host of Helping Friendly Podcast) and Tom Marshall (COO; lyricist & songwriter for Phish; host of Under the Scales podcast), have brought together a team of podcasts focused on music, art and culture, and we’re excited to be part of it!

 For more on this episode and The Road to Now, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

Feb 5, 2018

The Road to Now was lucky enough to be part of The Avett Brothers at the Beach music festival, so we invited our friend Bruce Carlson of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics to join us for a discussion of some key moments in the relationship between the United States and Mexico. We cover the US annexation of Texas and the Mexican-American War, as well as the ways that the US and Mexico have contributed to each other’s development. We couldn’t hit everything, but we hope this discussion shows that despite a tumultuous past, both countries stand to gain a lot from cooperation with one another.

We’d like to thank everyone who came out to the live recording. We hope to see you on the road again soon!

For more on this episode and others, check out www.theroadtonow.com

 

 

Jan 22, 2018

The War of 1812 isn’t an event most of us get excited about. The conflict between the US and Great Britain lasted almost 3 years, but like a lot of sequels, it didn’t live up to the original. When the war was over, little had changed for either country’s place in the world, and most of the grievances that began the war remained unsettled. So aside from the burning of the White House and Congress, the rise of Andrew Jackson as an American icon, the writing of the national anthem, and the demise of the first American political party system, not a lot happened. In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Don Hickey of Wayne State College to talk about the war of 1812, its impact on the US, and why so few people today remember such a significant moment in American history.

Dr. Don Hickey is Professor of History at Wayne State College. Called “the Dean of 1812 scholarship” by The New Yorker, he has written 10 books and over a hundred articles on the War of 1812, including The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict, Bicentennial Edition (University of Illinois Press, 2012).  

For more on this and any other episode of The Road to Now, visit our website: www.theroadtonow.com.

 

Jan 8, 2018

There is no question that Donald Trump’s approach to foreign affairs is nothing we’ve seen from the Presidents who preceded him.  In a recent New York Times Op-Ed, Mark Landler argued that the Trump Administration has broken a 70-year tradition in America’s foreign policy. Whether this is an abrogation of America’s responsibility to the globe or a necessary change for the good of the country requires knowledge of what came before, so Bob & Ben caught up with Whittier College’s Joyce Kaufman to learn about the origins of American diplomacy and the reasons that the US became so heavily involved abroad. It turns out America’s approach to foreign relations in 2018 may have a lot in common with earlier periods of American history.

                                

Dr. Joyce Kaufman is an expert on International Relations in the Department of Political Science at at Whittier College, where she has taught for more than 3 decades. She is the author of multiple books, including A Concise History of US Foreign Policy (4th edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). She previously served as a Foreign Affairs Specialist in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs at the Department of Defense (1977-79). Visit Dr. Kaufman’s faculty page for more on her work and publications.

For more on this episode or others, visit www.TheRoadToNow.com

 

Dec 18, 2017

Christmas is just a week away, so Ben and Bob caught up with Christmas expert James Cooper to find out the origins of Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and all the other parts of Christmas that most of us take for granted. James explains how Santa Claus and Christmas traditions evolved around the world, and how a man who lived almost 2,000 years ago became one of the most recognizable characters in American culture.

You can find out more about the history of Santa Claus and Christmas at James Cooper's website- https://www.whychristmas.com/

 

Dec 11, 2017

Americans love coffee. According to recent statistics, more than 60% of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee every day, and the market research firm Mintel predicts that coffee shops will take in more than $23 billion dollars in 2017. Our love for coffee ties us to people and countries around the world, and to those who lived long before us. In this episode of The Road to Now, we speak with Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds and Beyond Fair Trade to find out coffee’s origins, its effects on global trade, and how a small cherry that originated on the other side of the planet became part of our daily life.                       

We’re also excited to welcome our newest sponsor, La Cosecha Coffee Roasters. La Cosecha is dedicated to connecting people together by offering fresh-roasted coffee grown in a sustainable manner where the farmer is given a fair price. You can visit their coffee bar in Maplewood, Missouri, or order online and have their coffee shipped directly to your home. We’re happy to have such a great business supporting The Road to Now, so we hope you’ll show them some love!

For links and more on our podcast, visit our website- www.TheRoadToNow.com

 

Dec 7, 2017

RTN Theology now is now on its own podcast feed! Subscribe anywhere you get The Road to Now for RTN Theology episodes 12-19 and more!

In the premier episode of our theology subseries, RTN Theology we welcome Christian philosopher James K.A. Smith to discuss the intersection of Christianity and culture in the United States. We also chat about his illuminating Op-Ed that appeared in the Thanksgiving edition of the Washington Post, which looks at ‘love of country’ from a religious perspective. Smith penned “Awaiting the King,” a new book that studies secularism and its impact on modern day religion.

Ian Skotte tracked down the Swedish textile archeologist who believes she may have discovered a link between Viking and Muslim cultures from the ninth century. However, not everyone is convinced of these findings. 

Finally, singer/songwriter David Childers rounds out our show. It just seemed appropriate to take time out during the Christmas holiday and spend time with our good friend. We discuss his take on gospel music and songs of the season as only David Childers can.

For links related to this episode, please visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

 

Nov 30, 2017

A few days ago, President Donald Trump welcomed the Navajo Code Talkers to the White House. Instead of focusing solely on the veterans’ contributions during World War II, he used the event to take shots at Senator Elizabeth Warren, who he mocked as “Pocahontas” for her alleged unsubstantiated claims of Native American ancestry. He also held the ceremony in front of a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, who is a controversial figure for his policies toward Native Americans. In this episode of The Road to Now we speak with Dr. Ashley Riley Sousa, a specialist on Native American history at Middle Tennessee State University, to talk about the Navajo Code Talkers, Pocahontas, and the often overlooked and unappreciated place that Native Americans have held in American history.  

For more on this episode, visit www.theroadtonow.com

Nov 23, 2017

Are faith and reason compatible? How do people of faith reconcile themselves to a secular world? These are difficult and complex questions that have shaped America long before the founding of the United States. On this episode of The Road to Now, we sit down with Molly Worthen to talk about the development of Christianity in the United States, and its impact on American society, culture and government.

For more on this episode and many others, please visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

This episode originally launched on March 6, 2017, and features a new introduction by Bob Crawford recorded for Thanksgiving 2017. 

Nov 16, 2017

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 University Press, 2014), which he co-wrote with Leslie Page Moch.

For more on The Road to Now and this episode, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

 

                                                                                                           

Nov 9, 2017

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, who is an expert on the history of the French Revolution at the University of Melbourne (Australia). Peter explains the ways that geography, religion, and the French effort to fundamentally redefine society, shaped the complex course of the French Revolution. As Peter does well to show, 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!)

Oct 30, 2017

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther delivered his 95 Theses to the Catholic Church. We don’t know for sure if Luther actually nailed them to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, but we do know that his work changed the world.

In recognition of the five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s Theses, Bob and Ben are joined by Church Historian Dr. Donald Fortson. Dr. Fortson explains the reasons Luther chose to issue his Theses, the context in which he wrote them, and how a devout member of the Catholic Church became a reluctant revolutionary in reforming western Christianity.

For more on this episode and others, visit www.TheRoadToNow.com

Oct 23, 2017

Death is something that all humans have in common. How we dealt with death is not. The cemeteries that occupy prominent places in the American landscape, as well as the twenty-one thousand funeral homes in operation across the country, are products of the time and place in which they emerged. In this episode, we speak with Wake Forest’s Tanya Marsh, to learn about the historic forces at work in the creation of America’s death care industry. If you’ve ever wondered why we embalm our dead, whether or not it’s legal to be buried in your own back yard, or what happened to the bodies of slain Civil War soldiers, you’ll get your answers here.

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).

For more info on this, or any other episode of The Road to Now, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

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