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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: April, 2018
Apr 30, 2018

On The Road to Now, we talk a lot about how understanding history is essential to making informed political decisions. In today’s episode, Patricia O’Toole joins us to talk about what happened when a historian got control of the White House.

O’Toole’s new biography The Moralist: Woodrow Wilson and the World He Made (Simon & Schuster, 2018) examines the life of a President whose policy was guided by his personal sense of morality. From today’s perspective, Woodrow Wilson’s time in the White House (1913-1921) seems full of contradictions. He supported a constitutional amendment to ensure women’s suffrage, but oversaw the re-segregation of America’s civil service. He championed national self-determination for the people of Europe, but readily deployed US soldiers to intervene in Latin America. And he won re-election with the slogan “He Kept Us Out Of War,” yet called for America’s entry into World War I just a little over a month after his second inauguration. In spite of this, O’Toole says that a close examination of Wilson’s thought and policy reveals a consistent world view that binds these seemingly contradictory actions together.

Patricia O’Toole is the author of five books, including The Five of Hearts: An Intimate Portrait of Henry Adams (Simon & Schuster, 2006), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She previously taught in the School of the Arts at Columbia University was a fellow of the Society of American Historians. Her new biography of Woodrow Wilson The Moralist was released on April 24, 2018.

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

Apr 27, 2018

In episode 53, we spoke with Sean Foley about Syria and the historic forces at work in the Syrian Civil War. A lot has changed since we first spoke with Sean in April of 2017, so we asked him to come back to catch us up on the Syrian Civil War, where Isis, Assad and other players currently stand, and the implications of Donald Trump’s sudden reversal on American intervention in the conflict.

The live map of Syria that Sean mentions in this episode can be found at https://syria.liveuamap.com/

Check out the Road to Now #53 for an in-depth history of Syria and the Middle East.

Dr. Sean Foley is an Associate Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University, where he specializes in the contemporary history and politics of the Middle East and the wider Islamic world. You can learn more about Dr. Foley on his personal website and his MTSU profile page.

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 27, 2018

In episode 53, we spoke with Sean Foley about Syria and the historic forces at work in the Syrian Civil War. A lot has changed since we first spoke with Sean in April of 2017, so we asked him to come back to catch us up on the Syrian Civil War, where Isis, Assad and other players currently stand, and the implications of Donald Trump’s sudden reversal on American intervention in the conflict.

The live map of Syria that Sean mentions in this episode can be found at https://syria.liveuamap.com/

Check out the Road to Now #53 for an in-depth history of Syria and the Middle East.

Dr. Sean Foley is an Associate Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University, where he specializes in the contemporary history and politics of the Middle East and the wider Islamic world. You can learn more about Dr. Foley on his personal website and his MTSU profile page.

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 23, 2018

The Armenian genocide was one of the most tragic events in the 20th century. The Ottoman government’s deliberate attempt to purge Armenians during World War I led to the elimination of approximately 1.5 million of the 2 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire just a few years earlier. While some families were able to escape the country and emigrate elsewhere, approximately eight hundred thousand Armenians were put to death by the Ottoman government and its allies within the Empire. Yet despite overwhelming evidence of the scale and purpose of this event, many governments, including the United States, have yet to officially recognize the Armenian genocide.

In this episode of The Road to Now we speak with Ronald Suny, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on the history of the Armenian genocide. Ron explains the process that led the Ottoman government to turn on its Armenian subjects and the methods it used to carry out this atrocity. He also explains why, in spite of the evidence, recognizing this as genocide remains a political hotspot both internationally and within modern Turkey, and why it is important to remember tragedies even when doing so makes us uncomfortable.

Dr. Ronald Grigor Suny is the William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan, Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago, and Senior Researcher at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He is the author of numerous books, including “They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else:” A History of the Armenian Genocide (Princeton University Press, 2015).

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 23, 2018

The Armenian genocide was one of the most tragic events in the 20th century. The Ottoman government’s deliberate attempt to purge Armenians during World War I led to the elimination of approximately 1.5 million of the 2 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire just a few years earlier. While some families were able to escape the country and emigrate elsewhere, approximately eight hundred thousand Armenians were put to death by the Ottoman government and its allies within the Empire. Yet despite overwhelming evidence of the scale and purpose of this event, many governments, including the United States, have yet to officially recognize the Armenian genocide.

In this episode of The Road to Now we speak with Ronald Suny, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on the history of the Armenian genocide. Ron explains the process that led the Ottoman government to turn on its Armenian subjects and the methods it used to carry out this atrocity. He also explains why, in spite of the evidence, recognizing this as genocide remains a political hotspot both internationally and within modern Turkey, and why it is important to remember tragedies even when doing so makes us uncomfortable.

Dr. Ronald Grigor Suny is the William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan, Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago, and Senior Researcher at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He is the author of numerous books, including “They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else:” A History of the Armenian Genocide (Princeton University Press, 2015).

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 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 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.)

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