September 4: The Great Fire of London

One of the earliest and most significant human achievements, and one which continues to set us apart from all other animals, is the ability to create and make use of fire. In Greek mythology, fire was a gift from the titan Prometheus which elevated humanity out of both a literal and metaphorical darkness, and wasContinue reading “September 4: The Great Fire of London”

August 28: The Fall of the Western Empire

Prophets of doom are almost always around us, but in the past several years it seems that more and more are coming out of the woodwork. Predictions of the coming end of America, and perhaps even the end of the world, are gradually becoming less the realm of the haggard homeless men with cardboard signsContinue reading “August 28: The Fall of the Western Empire”

August 21: Sir Francis Drake (Part 2)

Two weeks ago, we got our first introduction to one of the most interesting men of the Elizabethan Era. Francis Drake’s expedition to the Caribbean, his failed raid on Nombre de Dios, and his return to England with ships laden with gold and silver made him the talk of England in spite of his relativeContinue reading “August 21: Sir Francis Drake (Part 2)”

August 14: The Historical Macbeth

Some of our favorite stories from history are about people, like Sir Francis Drake from last episode and about whom we’ll be hearing more a week from today, who seem almost larger than life. Such characters become the stuff of legend as much as history, and often enough the actual history and the legend becomeContinue reading “August 14: The Historical Macbeth”

August 7: Sir Francis Drake (Part 1)

We have already had reason on this podcast to discuss the fact that people as a rule like simple stories. This is particularly true of our retellings and rememberings of our history. We have a strong tendency to mythologize the figures of the past, making them larger than life–grand heroes or despicable villains. What isContinue reading “August 7: Sir Francis Drake (Part 1)”

July 17: The Fourth Crusade

There are few cities in the world which have had a longer, more complex, or more turbulent history than the city we today know as Istanbul, Turkey. One hint of this can be found in the number of names it has carried over the centuries; the Greeks first called it Lygos, then Byzantion, the RomansContinue reading “July 17: The Fourth Crusade”

July 10: Nikola Tesla

The march of human technological progress over the past centuries has been remarkable. From where we stand today, it’s hard even to imagine a world without the iPhone, let alone the internet, let alone the personal computer; yet all of these technologies are younger than some of the people listening to this podcast. Such rapidContinue reading “July 10: Nikola Tesla”

July 3: The Gettysburg Reunion

Around the nation, a complicated dialogue is ongoing about how America ought to remember and think about its mottled past. Nowhere is that dialogue more raw and pointed then when it comes to the historic institution of slavery in America, and of the American Civil War, which was fought in large part if not inContinue reading “July 3: The Gettysburg Reunion”

June 26: Emperor Tiberius

Leadership is a perennial concern in all human cultures and civilizations. What makes a good leader? What makes a bad one? What skills ought we to teach our children so that they can become effective leaders for tomorrow? These questions are the subject of extensive debate, whether around the dinner table, on the public politicalContinue reading “June 26: Emperor Tiberius”

June 19: Juneteenth and Civil Rights

America is in the midst of an identity crisis with regard to the issue of race, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, and others by police officers, with protests still ongoing throughout the nation. Black Lives Matter and other groups are making demands for police reform and legislation to reduceContinue reading “June 19: Juneteenth and Civil Rights”