The Road to Now

By RTN Productions

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 Oct 7, 2019


 May 9, 2019

Description

The Road to Now is a series of conversations that trace the historical roots of today’s events. Hosted by Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers & Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University, this podcast brings exceptional guests to the table to answer pressing questions and explain how our shared and personal past shape the world today. A member of the Osiris Podcast Network. *

Episode Date
#210 Miss America’s Secret Past w/ Amy Argetsinger
01:02:44

The Miss America pageant has always had its critics, but the stories of the organization and those who participated in it are far more dynamic than most people recognize. In this episode, Bob & Ben speak with Amy Argetsinger whose new book There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America explains Miss America’s origins, how the pageant both shaped and was shaped by American society, and why it might be okay that the pageant’s significance in American culture has faded.

Bonus: Bob calls Miss USA “the confederacy of beauty pageants.” Listen to find out why that makes sense!

Amy Argetsinger is an editor for The Washington Post’s acclaimed Style section, where she has overseen coverage of media, popular culture, politics and society. Her new book There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America was published by Atria/One Signal Publishers in September of 2021. You can folly Amy on twitter at @AmyArgetsinger.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Oct 18, 2021
#209 The Corn Syrup Controversy w/ Benjamin Cohen
55:07

How did corn syrup get such a bad reputation? While there are certainly differences between this corn-based sweetener and the sugar that comes from beets & cane, the opinions many of us hold about what separates them are rooted in much more than the scant scientific evidence on their differing impact on human health. In this episode, Benjamin Cohen joins us to talk about the history behind the corn syrup controversy, the deep roots that lie beneath our understandings of food and purity, and how understanding this story might help us make better decision moving forward.

 

Dr. Benjamin R. Cohen is Associate Professor of Engineering Studies and Environmental Studies at Lafayette College and co-editor w/ Michael Kideckel & Anna Zeide of the new collection Acquired Tastes: Stories About the Origins of Modern Food (MIT Press, 2021). His previous book, Pure Adulteration: Cheating on Nature in the Age of Manufactured Food (University of Chicago Press, 2019), was the topic of his previous appearance in RTN #161 Food in The Era of Adulteration. Learn more about his work at his personal website or by following him on twitter at @BRCohen95.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Oct 11, 2021
A Frail League of Friendship: The Articles of Confederation w/ Greg Jackson (Expanded Rebroadcast)
01:07:55

In 1776, the US declared independence. Eleven years later, in 1787, delegates from 12 states (we’re looking at YOU Rhode Island) got together in Philadelphia and wrote the Constitution. In between those triumphant moments, there was the Articles of Confederation, that “firm league of friendship” that most Americans probably know as something they had to memorize for a history test.

HOWEVER

The Articles of Confederation, while certainly not a highlight of the American experiment, explain a lot about the American Revolution, the ideas that defined the founding generation, and the ways those ideas changed in the first years of independence. In fact, you can’t really understand the US Constitution unless you understand the Articles and why they failed.

THEREFORE

In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Greg Jackson about this very topic. Greg is Assistant Professor of Integrated Studies at Utah Valley University and host of the podcast History That Doesn’t Suck. We hope you enjoy our conversation on the Articles of Confederation!

AMENDED

This episode also includes all-new material from Ben’s appearance on Greg’s podcast History That Doesn’t Suck, in which Ben and Greg discuss the Gilded Age! You can find the full conversation in HTDS Episode #99, airing in full on October 11, 2021. (BTW there was no process for amending the Articles, which is just one of the many reasons they didn’t last!)

This is an expanded rebroadcast of RTN #128, which originally aired May 6, 2019).

Want to support The Road to Now and get extra episodes and other content? Join us on Patreon!

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Oct 04, 2021
#208 Monsanto’s Past, Our Future w/ Bart Elmore
01:07:13

The Monsanto Company officially ceased to exist when it was acquired by Bayer in 2018, but its legacy lives on in courtrooms, factory towns and farms across the globe. Today the company’s name is most associated with the herbicide Roundup and genetically modified seeds, but Monsanto also served as a leading producer of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, an essential supplier of caffeine and saccharin to Coca-Cola in Coke’s early years, and the sole US producer of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). In short, Monsanto’s history is one that will continue to shape the world well into the future.

In this episode, Bart Elmore joins Bob and Ben to talk about his new book Seed Money: Monsanto’s Past and Our Future (W.W. Norton, 2021), and how a small midwestern company founded in 1901 became an agricultural powerhouse by selling solutions to the problems it helped to create.

Dr. Bartow Elmore is Associate Professor of History at The Ohio State University where he specializes in Global Environmental History and the History of Capitalism. He is also the author of the award-winning book Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism (W. W. Norton, 2015). You can follow him on twitter at @BartElmore and find out more about his work at his website, BartElmore.com.

You can hear Bart’s first appearance on The Road To Now in episode #140:  Citizen Coke: The History of Coca-Cola w/ Bartow Elmore.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

For more on The Road to Now, visit our website, www.TheRoadToNow.com. (It’s great because it was designed by Seven Ages Design!)

Sep 27, 2021
This Episode Kills Fascists: Woody Guthrie's Life & Legacy w/ Deana McCloud
47:42

Most Americans know Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land”, but the song, much like the man who wrote it, is far more complex than many of us realize. Guthrie, who was born in Oklahoma in 1912, moved west during the Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s and witnessed the tragedy of the Great Depression first-hand. A self-proclaimed “common-ist,” Woody dedicated his life to documenting the experiences of his generation and using his platform to advocate for the common worker. In this episode, Bob & Ben speak with Woody Guthrie Center Executive Director Deana McCloud to learn more about Woody Guthrie, his music, and his legacy.

This episode was recorded at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, OK. If you’re ever in the area, we highly recommend you take the time to visit. A video of Bob's visit is available on our episode page and on The Road to Now's YouTube channel.

You can visit the Guthrie Center's website at woodyguthriecenter.org and follow on them at twitter at @WoodyGuthrieCtr. You can follow Deana McCloud on twitter at @DKMcCloud.

This episode is a rebroadcast of The Road to Now #94, which originally aired on May 1, 2018.

Sep 20, 2021
#207 Vigilantes
50:20

Bob & Ben catch up to talk about the state of political and social unrest in the US and where they see current events within recent history. They cover the recent turn to vigilantism in the US by both anti-mask protestors and the state of Texas, as well as their concern over a tyrannical minority shaping American institutions to maintain power. They also speculate about where all this might lead us…..

If you’re enjoying the Road to Now and want to support our work, join us on Patreon at Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is hosted by Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers/Press On Fund) & Dr. Ben Sawyer (MTSU History).

Sep 13, 2021
The History of Coffee w/ Mark Pendergrast
41:13

Most Americans drink coffee. 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: The History of Coffee & How It Changed the World 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.                       

This is a rebroadcast of RTN #81, which originally aired on December 11, 2017.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

 

Sep 06, 2021
#206 Telling History through Journalism with Julian Rubinstein
55:04

In this episode, Bob speaks with freelance journalist, Julian Rubenstein, author of The Holly: Five Bullets, One Gun, and the Struggle to Save an American Neighborhood (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021).

The book tells the story of anti-gang activist, Terrance Roberts, who shot a young gang member before a peace rally he organized. In telling the story of Terrance Roberts, Rubenstein also tells the history of black organizers from the civil rights era, the black power movement through to today’s black lives matter movement.

Rubenstein is a real journalist; he’s devoted many years of his life telling the story of Terrance and Denver’s North East Park Hill Neighborhood and he was the battle scars to prove it. In an age when so many people have trouble telling the difference between opinion journalism and objective journalism, the depth and scope of Julian’s tenacious reporting deserves recognition.

You can follow Julian Rubinstein on twitter at @Julian_Rubinste.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Aug 30, 2021
The Mignonette & Everything Else w/ Neil Hanson
34:25

Neil Hanson is one of the most interesting people we know. He’s written books on World War I, the Spanish Armada, and the fire that destroyed London in 1666. He once teamed up with history’s greatest treasure hunter to tell the story of retrieving over $100 million in gold from a sunken Soviet ship in the arctic. He’s been the owner of the highest Inn in all of Great Britain. And, in 1999 he published a book called The Custom of the Sea, which tells the story of a shipwrecked crew that was put on trial in London after resorting to cannibalism. Their ship, which fell victim to forty-foot waves off the coast of Africa in 1884, was named the Mignonette, and Hanson’s book was so good that in 2004 it inspired an album by an up-and-coming group of musicians called The Avett Brothers.

This is a rebroadcast of an episode that originally aired on April 24, 2017. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Aug 23, 2021
#205 The History of Student Debt w/ Ellie Shermer
01:16:05

According to the US Department of Education, 45 million Americans collectively owe $1.7 billion in total student loan debt. While the weight of student loans has increased substantially in the 21st century, the history of student debt and the institutions that facilitate it is a much longer story than you probably expect. Ellie Shermer joins us to talk about her new book Indentured Students: How Government-Guaranteed Loans Left Generations Drowning in Debt (Harvard, 2021), why student debt may be bad for all of us, and what we might do to alleviate student debt and fix higher education moving forward.

Dr. Elizabeth Tandy Shermer is Associate Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago. Her previous books include Sunbelt Capitalism: Phoenix and the Transformation of American Politics (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015). You can follow her on twitter at @ETShermer.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Aug 16, 2021
#204 Historical Narratives & Power
29:44

When two people look at the same set of facts and reach an entirely different conclusion, it’s often because of a difference in the way they understand their place in the world. In this episode (recorded when Bob began his graduate course in methodology in January 2019), Ben and Bob discuss the power of historical narratives, how they can change over time, and the ways that people in power seek to use history as a source of legitimacy.

If you enjoyed this episode, check out the others in our historical methodology series:

#119 Karl Marx & History

#121 Gender & History w/ Lisa Fine

#143 Research!

This episode originally aired on The Road to Now’s Patreon Feed on January 18, 2019. If you’d like to support our work and get access to exclusive content, please visit TheRoadToNow.com/Patreon. Thank you!

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer. The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Aug 09, 2021
#203 How to Talk to a Science Denier w/ Lee McIntyre
53:59

The rejection of scientific expertise has been one of the most consequential social trends of the 21st century and, for those of us who remain committed to the scientific method, it may also be the most frustrating. After years of being bombarded with evidence (and often having their intelligence insulted), science deniers seem even more committed to alternative explanations of the world and the leaders who promise to undermine science-based policy. How did we get here and how can we make things better? In this episode, we get answers to those questions from Dr. Lee McIntyre, who shares what he learned from studying the ways that science deniers see the world, how we can use those insights to fight that worldview, and why a little bit of good faith goes a long way in communicating with others.

Dr. Lee McIntyre is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University. His book How to Talk to a Science Denier: Conversations with Flat Earthers, Climate Deniers, and Others Who Defy Reason (MIT Press, 2021) hits shelves on August 17, 2021.

(You remember that study that said confronting people with evidence that disproved their position only made them more convinced of their beliefs? It didn’t hold up in subsequent experiments. There’s more on that in this episode.)

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Aug 02, 2021
Laughing at Stalin w/ Jon Waterlow
01:04:16

Bob and Ben speak with Jon Waterlow about his book It’s Only a Joke Comrade! Humor, Trust and Everyday Life Under Stalin and the role humor plays in helping humans make sense of the world in even the darkest times. Jon also shares his take on humor’s role in politics under Stalin and today, the process he went through to uncover these jokes, and how the artistic technique of crosshatching helps us understand what it was like to live under the Stalinist system. He also discusses his decision to forego publishing his book with an academic publisher and why he decided to leave a bright future in the academy to purse fulfillment elsewhere.

Dr. Jonathan Waterlow received his Doctorate in History from the University of Oxford and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Anthony’s College (Oxford) and the University of Toronto. He is also the cohost of the Voices in the Dark podcast, which is available anywhere you get The Road to Now.

This episode is a rebroadcast of The Road to Now #107 and was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 26, 2021
#202 A Tour Guide’s History of Los Angeles
01:06:32

Millions of people from across the globe visit Los Angeles every year, but only a lucky few have gotten a tour of the city from tour guides/stand up comics, Rivers Langley, Anna Valenzuela & Carter Glascock. In this episode, Ben speaks with Rivers, Carter and Anna about their favorite stories from Los Angeles’ history, what it’s like to work as a tour guide, and what makes a good (and bad) day at work.

For images and links to other material discussed in this episode, visit our website episode page: RTNpod.me/202.

Carter Glascock is stand up comic and co-host of The Goods From The Woods Podcast. His first album, The Crystal Pistol is available on Spotify and Apple Music. You can follow him on twitter at @carter_glascock.

Rivers Langley is a LA-based stand-up comedian and host of The Goods From The Woods Podcast. You can also find him announcing the matches at Wrestling Pro Wrestling. You can follow him on twitter at @RiversLangley.

Anna Valenzuela is a comic, writer and host of the podcast 12 Questions. whose appearances include Comedy Central’s Roast Battle.  You can follow her on twitter at @annavisfun.

This episode was mixed by Rivers Langley and edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jul 19, 2021
How the American Dream Became Temporary w/ Louis Hyman
50:23

Three generations ago, large American corporations offered their employees the stability of life-long employment and the promise of a pension-funded retirement. In the 21st Century, that model has given way to the "gig economy" in which people work multiple jobs. In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Cornell University’s Louis Hyman about the forces that led us from then to now, what it means for our daily lives, and  how we might structure the economy of the 21st century in a way that offers the freedom of the gig economy without the insecurity that so many face under our current institutions.

Dr. Louis Hyman is a historian of work and business at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, where he also directs the Institute for Workplace Studies in New York City. His book Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary was published by Viking in 2018.

This is a broadcast of an episode that originally aired on The Road to Now on August 20, 2018. This re-broadcast was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jul 12, 2021
#201 Game Show Archive w/ Bob Boden & Chris Bensch
56:03

Game shows have been featured in network lineups from the very beginning of television and, like all forms of entertainment, they tell us a lot about the culture in which they exist. Fortunately for us, The Strong Museum of Play recently announced the establishment of The National Archives of Game Show History to preserve this history and make it available to the public. In this episode Ben speaks with archive co-founder and veteran game show producer/executive Bob Boden (The Price is Right, $25,000 Pyramid, Funny You Should Ask!) and Strong Museum Vice President of Acquisitions, Chris Bensch, to learn more about their work to preserve this history and how an archive focused on game shows can be valuable for those looking to understand the past.

For more about The Strong Museum of Play, visit their website: MuseumOfPlay.org.

Check out Bob Boden’s current show, Funny You Should Ask! at FunnyYouShouldAsk.tv.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jul 05, 2021
Coffee with The Avett Brothers (Expanded Rebroadcast)
50:17

This is an expanded version of episode 72, which originally aired in September 2017.

In this episode of The Road to Now, we sit down for coffee and conversation with Bob’s bandmates in The Avett Brothers for a discussion about art, technology, and challenges of creativity. We cover the historic relationship between genius and madness, the ways one’s self is reflected in what we create, and the how they’ve adapted to the changes that have come their way since they began playing music. The Avett Brothers was the nexus that brought Bob and Ben together in creating The Road to Now, so we’re really excited to bring it all together and share this conversation with our listeners.

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jun 28, 2021
#200 American History in Russia w/ Sean Guillory
01:02:20

Since establishing Sean’s Russia Blog in 2005, Sean Guillory has been one of the most prominent public-facing scholars in Russian and Soviet History. In this episode, Sean gives his insight on the gap between academic research and public perceptions, offers his take on why Cold War-era tropes continue to dominate US-Russia relations, and explains why some Americans left the US in search of a better life in the Soviet Union. Ben & Sean also discuss the ways that studying Americans in the USSR provides valuable insight into the history of the United States in the 20th Century.

Dr. Sean Guillory is Digital Scholarship Curator in the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Since 2015, he has hosted and produced the SRB Podcast, whose mission is to provide a space for experts to share their research with a wider public audience. You can follow Sean on twitter at @SeansRussiaBlog.

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jun 21, 2021
#199 Reaganland w/ Rick Perlstein
01:03:37

The Republican Party of today may look a lot different than it did just a decades ago, but it rests on many of the same organizations and ideologies that formed the modern conservative movement in the 1970s. In this episode, Rick Perlstein joins us for a conversation about his newest book Reaganland: America’s Right Turn, 1976-1980 and how Ronald Reagan, Orrin Hatch and other prominent Republicans were able to harness the social and political forces of the 1970s to form the modern GOP.

Rick Perlstein is the award-winning author of multiple New York Times bestsellers, including Reaganland (Simon & Schuster, 2020), Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (Scribner, 2009) and Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (Bold Type Books, 2009), as well as a board member at InTheseTimes.com. You can follow him on twitter at @RickPerlstein.

In this conversation we also discussed Rick’s recent article “This Is Us: Why the Trump Era Ended in Violence,” The New Republic, January 20, 2021.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jun 14, 2021
#198 Juneteenth w/ Annette Gordon-Reed
59:26

Juneteenth, which celebrates the emancipation of enslaved Americans at the end of the Civil War, has gone from a local holiday in Texas to a national day of celebration for many Americans. In this episode we speak with legal scholar and Pulitzer Prize winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed about her new book On Juneteenth and the ways that the holiday, her personal story and the history of the US can help us better understand the world today.

Annette Gordon-Reed is Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard University, where she is also the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and a professor of history in the university’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences. You can follow her on twitter at @Agordonreed.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jun 07, 2021
The History of the Harlem Globetrotters
36:02

The Harlem Globetrotters are one of those great parts of American culture that almost everyone knows and loves. For most of us today, the Globetrotters are outstanding entertainers. But did you know that in the mid-20th century the Globetrotters were probably the single best basketball team on the planet? Did you know that they did travel the globe as agents of the US Department of State during the Cold War, but that they are not, in fact, from Harlem? If you want to know how all of this happened (and how the Globetrotters saved the NBA), you’re going to love this interview with historian Ben Green on the History of the Harlem Globetrotters.

May 31, 2021
#197 Energy Crises: A Half-Century of Hard Choices w/ Jay Hakes
58:43

Since the OPEC oil embargo of 1973, policy makers have had to make hard choices to ensure that American citizens can access the cheap and plentiful energy to which we have become accustomed. Although the US has returned to a position of energy independence in recent years, a variety of problems, from climate change to cyberterrorism, mean the hard choices are far from over. In this episode, Bob & Ben speak with Dr. Jay Hakes about his new book Energy Crises: Nixon, Ford, Carter and Hard Choices in the 1970s (University of Oklahoma Press, 2021) and what the decisions of the past can teach us as we deal with the crises of today.

 

Dr. Jay Hakes is a Presidential & energy historian with a long history of working on energy issues, including as Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration during the Clinton administration and as Director for Research and Policy for President Obama’s BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Commission.  He also served for thirteen years as the Director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. For more about his life and work, visit his website: www.JayHakes.com

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

May 17, 2021
The 5th Anniversary Party
01:31:13

It’s the 5th anniversary of The Road to Now so Bob and Ben invited a brilliant lineup of past guests to answer one question: “What has been the most unexpected turn you’ve seen in the last 5 years and how has it changed the way you understand the past?”

 The lineup:

Senator John Hickenlooper

Heather Cox Richardson

Jefferson Cowie

Stacy Wood

Joe Kwon

Matt Negrin

Doug Heye

And, as you may expect, we covered more than just that question.

Thank you to all of you who have listened to our show and kept us going for 5 years!

This episode was edited by our Associate Producer, Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

May 03, 2021
#195 Fixing Elections w/ Louis Woods
54:09

Proponents of voting restrictions such as those recently enacted in Georgia have argued that these laws will restore voters’ faith in democracy. History, however, offers a long list of reasons to be skeptical. In this episode, Bob and Ben are joined by Ben’s MTSU history colleague Dr. Louis Woods for a conversation on the history of voting laws and the ways that ostensibly neutral changes have been used to exclude people of color, as well as the ways that new laws will likely impact access to voting in Georgia.

Dr. Louis Woods is an Associate Professor of African-American History and the Presidential Fellow for Social Justice and Equality at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). His previous contributions to The Road to Now include “#118 The GI Bill and the Legacy of Racial Discrimination” and “I Can’t Breathe: Surviving the Dual Pandemic of Racism & Covid 19,” which he produced independently for our podcast.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Apr 26, 2021
#194 The Rise and Fall of the American Suburbs w/ Kyle Kiismandel
01:01:54

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. His new book Neighborhood of Fear: The Suburban Crisis in American Culture, 1975-2001 was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2020. You can follow him on twitter at @AccusedWizard.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Apr 12, 2021
#193 Understanding the American Rescue Plan Act w/ Erlinda Doherty
43:30

The $1.9 billion stimulus plan that President Biden signed into law on March 11th has implications for everyone in the United States, but understanding it isn’t easy. In this episode we speak with Erlinda Doherty, who is Director of the Budgets and Revenue Committee at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) to find out more about how this plan is playing out at the state level and what it can tell us about American politics today.

 

The National Conference of State Legislatures is a non-partisal organization that represents the legislatures in the states, territories and commonwealths of the US. It’s mission is to advance the effectiveness, independence and integrity of legislatures and to foster interstate cooperation and facilitate the exchange of information among legislatures. For more on NCSL visit NCSL.org.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Mar 22, 2021
#192 The History of Financial Bubbles w/ William Quinn
01:00:31

Market bubbles can make and break fortunes, and which side of things you end up on has everything to do with what you’re holding when the bubble busts. But what separates a bubble from sensible investing? It’s always hard to tell in the moment, but history has some valuable lessons. In this episode, Ben talks with Dr. William Quinn, whose new book Boom and Bust lays out a brilliant formula for understanding the causes of financial bubbles and examines some of the biggest examples in history. The conversation covers the Great Depression, why some bubbles have limited effect and others bring down economies, and why both Ben and William have some concerns about Bitcoin.

William Quinn is a Lecturer in Finance at Queen's University Belfast Management School. His new book Boom and Bust: A Global History of Financial Bubbles (Cambridge University Press, 2020), which he coauthored with John D. Turner, was a Financial Times Book of the Year in 2020. You can follow William Quinn on twitter at @wquinn05

This episode was edited by Gary FLetcher

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network

Mar 15, 2021
Gerd Schroth's Road from Child of Nazi Germany to American Citizen
54:39

The Nazi regime that came to power in Germany in 1933 unleashed the most brutal and comprehensive war that humanity has ever seen. The horrors of the Nazis and the destruction they left behind is something most of us learned about in history class, but for Gerd Schroth it is the story of his childhood. Born in Germany in 1938, Gerd came of age on the scorched earth left behind by the German war machine. Gerd’s father had joined the Nazi party because he thought Hitler could restore Germany’s greatness, but he bequeathed to his children a world in ruins.

Seventy-six years after the end of World War II, Gerd is still writing the story of his life. He is now an American citizen, and his children were born in the United States. Gerd has moved on from the tragedy of his youth, but he has never forgotten it. He has thought a lot about how his parents’ generation and why they embraced the horrifying ideology of Nazism. He has found value in past traditions while abhorring the actions of his ancestors. And in doing this, he has built a much stronger legacy for future generations.

In this episode of The Road to Now, we revisit our 2017 episode in which Gerd shares his personal story of life as a child of Nazi Germany, refugee, immigrant, and now, American Citizen.

Mar 01, 2021
#191 A Conversation with Ken Burns
01:07:10

Ken Burns joins Bob and Ben for a conversation about American history and the themes he sees playing out in the US today. Ken shares his process for selecting subjects for his films and explains how his new 3-part film Hemingway (co-directed w/ Lynn Novick) highlights Ernest Hemingway’s individual genius while also revealing the universal aspects of life that we all share. We also discuss how our time and place influence the way we view the past, the importance of acknowledging both the light and dark in American history, and why Ken argues that much of life’s meaning comes from the struggle.

 

Ken Burns’ new film Hemingway, which he co-directed with Lynn Novick, premieres April 5-7 on PBS. For more on the series visit https://kenburns.com/hemingway/

 

UNUM is a new site by Ken Burns and PBS that allows users “a new way to explore American history through select scenes from across our over 40 films..” with the goal of “providing historical context for the conversations we are having today.” You can visit UNUM at: https://www.pbs.org/kenburns/unum

 

This episode was edited by our Associate Producer Gary Fletcher.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Feb 15, 2021
#190 American Militias w/ Amy Cooter
46:36

Bob and Ben talk with Dr. Amy Cooter, a sociologist at Vanderbilt University whose research examines American militias. Amy shares what she’s learned in the hundreds of hours she’s spent interviewing American militia members, how it can help us moving forward, and how different “nostalgic groups” have mobilized to defend their vision of America. She also helps us understand how Ruby Ridge, Waco and other moments in the 1990s relate to the more recent rise of domestic terrorism, and how listening can be an effective strategy in the struggle against extremism.


Dr. Amy Cooter is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Vanderbilt University, where her teaching and research interests include race & ethnicity, masculinity, nationalism and crime & deviance. You can read her dissertation and learn more about her work on her website, AmyCooter.com, and follow her on twitter at @AmyCooter.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Feb 08, 2021
#189 Space Lasers
37:53

Bob and Ben respond to feedback about their episode on the 1776 project, evaluate the “worst President ever” claim, and discuss the utopian vision of “unbiased history.” Ben tries to focus on asking Bob questions and doesn’t exactly pull it off. Ben learns about Marjorie Taylor Greene’s conspiracy theories for the first time from Bob and they contemplate how to deal with the proliferation of conspiracy theories. Ben spends the whole episode being happy that Bob’s back.

This episode was edited in an unspecified location by RTN Associate Producer Gary Fletcher. Follow him across the country at @GaryOffTheGrid on twitter and Instagram.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Feb 01, 2021
#188 Why the 1776 Report Still Matters w/ John Fea
01:17:59

One of Joe Biden’s first acts as President of the United States was to sign an executive order that disbanded his predecessor’s advisory committee to promote “patriotic education.” This came just two days after the so-called 1776 Commission had published its report, leading many critics to see the report as old news. In reality though, the 1776 report is indicative of social and political forces that transcend Trump’s time in office. In this episode Bob and Ben talk with historian John Fea about the content of the report, how it relates to the New York Times 1619 Project, and the many problems that come from setting out to write a “patriotic history.”

John Fea is a Professor of History at Messiah University and author of the blog/host of the podcast, The Way of Improvement Leads Home. You can follow him on twitter at @JohnFea1.

Hear Bob Crawford's first conversation w/ John Fea in RTN Theology #2: Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jan 25, 2021
#187 The Insurrection Episode
01:12:50

Bob Crawford is back, so he and Ben decided to take an episode to talk about recent political developments and where they (might) fit into our historical narrative.

Jan 18, 2021
#186 Dark Archives w/ Megan Rosenbloom
01:27:44

Megan Rosenbloom joins Ben and guest cohost Tanya Marsh for a discussion about Megan's new book Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020). Megan built a team of experts to test the validity of books claimed to be covered in human skin, and traveled the world to find out more about the people and processes that led to both real and debunked works of anthropodermic bibliopegy.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jan 04, 2021
#185 Pragmatic History w/ Bill Scher
01:10:04

Journalist Bill Scher joins Ben for a conversation about political pragmatism and the accomplishments that come from compromise and playing the long game when it comes to institutional change. Bill also talks about how his life as a journalist led him to create his new podcast, When America Worked, which focuses on the people whose achievements were accomplished through pragmatism. Episode 1 “He Saved the World: Edward R. Stettinius, Jr.” is out now and available anywhere you get The Road to Now and at www.Scherable.com. You can follow Bill Scher on twitter at @BillScher.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Dec 21, 2020
The History of Santa Claus and Christmas Culture w/ James Cooper (RTN #182 Rebroadcast)
40:34

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/

This is a rebroadcast of RTN #82, which originally aired in December of 2017.

Dec 07, 2020
#184 The President’s Cabinet w/ Lindsay Chervinsky
01:24:42

Presidential historian Lindsay Chervinsky joins us to talk about the origins of the President’s cabinet and how the decisions George Washington made have outlasted his time in office by more than 200 years. We also discuss the changing role of the executive and why delaying the transition between incoming and outgoing Presidential administrations can have serious consequences for national security.

Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky is scholar in residence at the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies, Senior Fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies. Her new book The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, was published by Belknap Press in 2020. You can follow her on Twitter at @lmchervinsky.

Our new website will be launching on the same day as this episode, so check out www.TheRoadToNow.com and then check out Seven Ages Design to find out what they can create for you and your work!

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Nov 23, 2020
#183 The History of the Lumbee Indians w/ Malinda Maynor Lowery
01:19:16

The Lumbee are the largest Indian tribe east of the Mississippi, and while few are familiar with their story, Lumbee history is remarkable both in itself and as a way to more richly understand the United States in general. In this episode we speak with Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery, whose life as a member of the Lumbee Tribe and a scholar who specializes in Native American history have made her a leading voice for the Lumbee community.

Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery is Professor of History and Director for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of multiple works on Native American history, the most recent of which is The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle (UNC Press, 2018). Her New York Times op-ed mentioned in this episode is “We Are the Original Southerners,” New York Times, May 22, 2018). You can follow her on twitter at @MalindaLowery.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Nov 09, 2020
Making the Call w/ Matt Negrin #1: Oh God What if He Claims Victory?!
42:40

Note: Episodes 2-4 of this series, featuring Sarah Mimms, Brian Karem & Josh Shapiro are currently available on our website at RTNpod.me/makingthecall.

In the first of his four part series on media coverage and election night 2020, Matt Negrin calls his former colleague Isaac Dovere, who covers Biden for The Atlantic, to talk about why Trump won’t concede, and what the Biden campaign is nervous about.

Making the Call is a RTN special series hosted by The Daily Show Senior Digital Producer Matt Negrin.

Oct 30, 2020
# 182 The Story of North Carolina Popular Music w/ David Menconi (ft. guest co-host Dolph Ramseur)
51:13

Journalist David Menconi has documented the people and sounds of North Carolina’s music scene for almost three decades. In this episode, Ben and guest co-host Dolph Ramseur speak with David about his new book Step It Up and Go: The Story of North Carolina Popular Music, from Blind Boy Fuller and Doc Watson to Nina Simone and Superchunk, and how the music of “The Old North State” is both reflected in, and a reflection of, its people.

David Menconi spent 28 years writing for the Raleigh News & Observer and was Piedmont Laureate in 2019. His other works include Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown" (University of Texas Press, 2012); "Comin’ Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, or, the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel. (co-written with Ray Benson, University of Texas Press, 2015). You can follow him on twitter at @NCDavidMenconi.

Guest co-host Dolph Ramseur is the founder of Ramseur Records and a member of the North Carolina Hall of Fame.

If you’re enjoying The Road to Now, please consider joining us on Patreon, giving us a 5 star rating/review on Apple podcasts and sharing this episode with a friend who might also enjoy it. Thank you!

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is a member of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Oct 19, 2020
Washington's Farewell Revisited w/ John Avlon
34:31

This episode is a reair of RTN #48 (with an updated intro).

George Washington is one of the most revered figures in American history. As Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Washington led his troops to one of the most unlikely and world-shaking victories in modern history, and his selection as President of both the Constitutional Convention and the new government designed that summer in Philadelphia, demonstrate the unmatched faith that the founders had in General Washington. Today, however, we tend to remember Washington more for the positions he held than for the personal qualities that made him a peerless member of the founding generation, but the wisdom left to us by our first President in his farewell address is perhaps more relevant today than ever before. In this episode of The Road to Now we explain why in our discussion with Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon about his book Washington’s Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations.  

Oct 05, 2020
#181 More Questions than Answers
45:15

2020 has been “eventful” so Bob & Ben decided to take an episode to sit back and cover what’s been happening lately and answer questions from our Patrons. We discuss Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the state of politics in the US and major developments in the 2020 election. Ben also gives a rundown of the recent White House Conference on American History (read his twitter thread here) and what appears to be the agenda behind Trump’s announcement of the 1776 commission to “Promote Patriotic Education.

In other words, there’s a lot here. Thank you for listening.

This episode was recorded live via zoom webinar. If you’d like to be in the zoom room for our upcoming live conversations, join us on Patreon: Patreon.com/TheRoadtoNow

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Sep 21, 2020
#180 The Transformation of American Policing w/ Stuart Schrader
01:45:44

The confrontations between demonstrators and police that have taken place in the last few months have resulted in a national debate about law enforcement. The expanded use of Federal officers in American cities and the use of unmarked vehicles to detain citizens are concerning recent developments, but some scholars have pointed out that these tactics bear striking similarities to the strategies pursued by the US abroad. In this episode, Ben & guest co-host Alex Galarza speak w/ Johns Hopkins’ Stuart Schrader about the ways that US counterinsurgency abroad came to transform American policing from the 20th century to today.

Dr. Stuart Schrader is Lecturer/Assistant Research Scientist in Sociology and the Associate Director of the Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Badges Without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing (University of California Press, 2019) and has contributed to several major media outlets, including The Washington Post, The Nation & American Quarterly. You can follow him on twitter at @stschrader1.

This week’s guest co-host Alex Galarza is Digital Scholarship Librarian at the University of Delaware. He is a specialist on Latin American history with a focus on the history of sport. Alex also appeared in RTN #99 The History & Politics of the World Cup w/ Alex Galarza & Matt Negrin. You can follow Alex on twitter at @galarzaalex.

This episode was edited by Aaron Weber. The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Sep 07, 2020
#179 The Pursuit of Happiness w/ Ravi Patel
01:36:27

Ravi Patel has been a lot of things– an investment banker, an actor, the co-founder of an organization that benefits undernourished children– but in recent years, he’s set out to find the answers to life’s big questions and to share what he finds with others. In this episode, Ravi joins Bob and Ben for a conversation about family, friends and what he discovered from traveling the world for his new series Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness, which premieres August 24th on HBO MAX.

Ravi Patel has appeared as an actor in several hit television shows, including Scrubs, Master of None and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and received multiple awards for his documentary, Meet The Patels, which he co-directed with his sister, Geeta. In 2013, he co-founded This Saves Lives w/ fellow actors Kirsten Bell, Ryan Devlin & Todd Grinnell to help alleviate child malnutrition around the world. And did we mention that his new show Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness premieres August 24th on HBO MAX (seriously, it’s fantastic- we hope you’ll watch it!).

Love audiobooks? Want to support your local bookstore and The Road to Now while you listen? Then check out our sponsor, Libro.fm. Click here to check out a playlist of books by our recent guests and use promo code RTN to get 2 books for just $15!

This episode was edited by Aaron Weber.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Aug 24, 2020
#178 The Facebook Catastrophe w/ Roger McNamee
01:11:55

In 2006, Roger McNamee played a crucial role in convincing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg not to sell his company to Yahoo!. A couple of years later, he helped bring Sheryl Sandberg in as Facebook’s COO. Yet despite this personal connection, and his role as an early investor in the company, Roger now believes that Facebook has become a threat to democracy. In this episode, Bob and Ben talk with Roger about his book Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, the role Facebook has played in spreading disinformation, and the steps he believes we should take to regain control over the tech giants of the modern world.

Roger McNamee is Managing Director of Elevation Partners, which he co-founded in 2004 with U2’s Bono. Roger is also a member of the band Moonalice, which plays live stream every day at 4:20pm.

Aug 10, 2020
#177 How the South Won the Civil War w/ Heather Cox Richardson
01:48:24

The military engagements of the US Civil War came to an end in 1865, but the ideology of the confederacy was not so easily defeated. In this episode we speak with Dr. Heather Cox Richardson about her new book How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America and how the worldview of antebellum southern elites came to be embraced by the “movement conservatives” who are at the helm of the modern Republican party. Heather also talks about how she’s able to make history relatable to a general audience, her writing process, and why she is fearful, but optimistic, about the future of democracy in the United States.

Dr. Heather Cox Richardson is Professor of History at Boston College and the author of six books on US history. Her “Letters from An American” are published almost every day on her facebook page and on substack, where you can subscribe to support her work. You can follow her on twitter at @HC_Richardson

The full unedited video of this conversation is available on our Patreon page.

For more on Dr. Richardson’s work, check out The Road to Now #38 The History of the Republican Party from Abraham Lincoln to Donald Trump w/ Heather Cox Richardson.

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jul 27, 2020
#176 Musical Chairs w/ Joe Kwon
01:20:24

Cellist Joe Kwon joins Bob & Ben to talk about his journey from aspiring classical musician to Bob’s bandmate in The Avett Brothers. Joe shares his experiences as a Korean immigrant growing up in North Carolina, why he decided to become a cellist, and where he learned to play the cello standing up. Joe and Bob also discuss how they first met, Joe's first show with the band, and why Joe has such a deep appreciation and passion for cooking and food.

For more on Joe, check out his website KwonKwon.com, designed by Charles and Destiny Crossingham at Seven Ages Design.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris podcast network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 13, 2020
I Can’t Breathe: Surviving the Dual Pandemics of Racism and Covid-19 w/ Louis Woods
02:00:02

As Americans grapple with the devastation wrought by the dual pandemics of racism and Covid-19, it is critically important to understand the vast racial disparities Covid-19 has exposed within the African American community (specifically), but communities of color (generally). The legacies of housing policies sponsoring residential segregation, and the associated racial gaps in wealth, educational achievement, health inequities, and lethal police encounters resonate nationally, but global white supremacy and migration patterns have contributed to powerful displays of international solidarity.

In this episode, Dr. Louis Woods speaks with experts in multiple fields to examine how the sudden shock of the Covid-19 pandemic has illuminated the centuries-old pandemic of racism in western culture, and particularly in the United States. Sociologist Dr. Tony Brown discusses underlying health disparities. Dr. Terah Venzant Chambers describes educational funding discrepancies contributing to racial achievement gaps. Dr. Sharita Jacobs-Thompson explores the invaluable contribution her co-taught “History of Policing” class has made to DC Metropolitan veteran officers and police cadets. Dr. Michelle Stevens examines the link between PTSD and trauma in the black community and emphasizes the critical importance of self-care. Dr. Glenn Chambers provides international contexts to the global protest movement associated with murder of George Floyd. Dr. Louis Woods then concludes with an analysis of historical housing policy and the generational impacts witnessed today.

It took the world stopping, for a critical mass of white Americans to hear, in many instances for the first time, the legitimate outcries of police brutality made generationally by African Americans. This podcast episode provides a holistic exploration to the tragedies that made this latest iteration of white police terror both a national and an international movement.

This episode is part of RTN’s Pass The Mic Project. This episode was recorded by, and remains the property of, Dr. Louis Woods.

Jun 29, 2020
#175 The Death of Expertise w/ Tom Nichols
01:30:42

Tom Nichols is University Professor at the Naval War College, where he specializes in international affairs, and a respected commentator on US politics and international security. A former Republican, Tom broke from the party during the Trump administration and has since been a vocal critic of the current administration. In this episode Bob and Ben speak with Tom about the current state of American politics and his book The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters, (Oxford University Press, 2017). You can follow Tom Nichols on Twitter at @RadioFreeTom

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jun 22, 2020
#174 Direction w/ Michael Bonfiglio
01:21:30

Michael Bonfiglio is an award-winning filmmaker whose work as a director and producer includes May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers (2017), the ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries You Don’t Know Bo: The Legend of Bo Jackson (2012) and Doc & Darryl (2016), and From the Ashes (2017). Mike joins Ben & Bob to talk about the art of making documentary films, how his work engages with the historical narrative, and how the coronavirus epidemic has changed filmmakers work.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jun 15, 2020
#173 The South w/ Trae Crowder
01:23:36

Since going viral with his Liberal Redneck videos in 2016, comedian Trae Crowder has become well-known for sharing a perspective that is southern in origin, but not quite what most people expect. In this episode, Trae joins Bob and Ben for a conversation about southern culture, the south’s bizarre embrace of Donald Trump, and how his work helped a lot of southerners with less conservative viewpoints to ‘come out of the closet.’ We also talk about how Trae’s family and education helped to shape his understanding of the world, and what it’s like when you have your work suddenly go viral.

For more on Trae, visit the WellRED Comedy Tour's website and subscribe to The WellRed Podcast, w/ Trae Crowder, Corey Ryan Forrester, and Drew Morgan. 

We also announce that this summer, The Road to Now will be going to a bi-weekly schedule. We've got some great guests lined up, and you can join us for the recordings by supporting us on Patreon! For details: Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jun 01, 2020
#172 Fourth Anniversary Party
58:21

There was a lot happening when Bob and Ben launched the first episode of The Road to Now on May 19th, 2016. It was the year of a Presidential election, there was an intense feeling of partisanship in the air, and people were everywhere- at concerts, in classes, on the sidewalk….

Four years later, Bob and Ben are still going strong, so we decided to make this year’s anniversary episode a party and to invite our Patrons. It’s not a typical episode of RTN, but we hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to everyone who has supported us on Patreon, attended a live show, bought our merch, told a friend about our work, or even just taken the time to listen to an episode. RTN matters to us because it matters to you.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

May 18, 2020
#171 Baseball in Context w/ Jayson Stark
01:34:54

Baseball is part of America’s cultural fabric, and few people know the game and its place in society as well as Jayson Stark. As a celebrated sportswriter, Jayson has witnessed baseball’s transformation for more than four decades, and has had a front-row seat to some of the biggest moments in the sport’s history. In this episode, Bob & Ben talk with Jayson about baseball’s place in American culture, how the scandals in the sport reflect moments in American history, and how Major League Baseball has persevered through some of our country’s hardest times. Jayson also talks about his path from beat writer covering the Phillies to award-winning sportswriter, what he considers important when casting his vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and why nobody wants to visit the National Baseball Hall of Purity.

Jayson Stark covers Major League Baseball for The Athletic. In 2019 he received the 2019 J.G. Taylor Spink Award, for which he was honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is the author of three books on baseball, has won an Emmy for his work on Baseball Tonight and is a two-time winner of the Pennsylvania sportswriter-of-the-year award. He’s so good at covering baseball that Topps honored him with his own baseball card in 2017.

Thank you to everyone on Patreon who joined us for our live zoom recording!

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

May 11, 2020
#170 Soviet Soldiers and the Red Army in World War II w/ Brandon Schechter
01:02:17

On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany launched an attack on the USSR that caught Soviet leaders completely off guard. Over the next four years, the Red Army was transformed, as were the lives of more than 34 million men and women who served in its ranks. In this episode, Ben speaks with Brandon Schechter about his new book The Stuff of Soldiers: A History of the Red Army in World War II Through Objects (Cornell University Press, 2019) and how examining the objects used during World War II- from rifles, to shovels, to spoons- can give us a deeper understanding of soldiers’ lives and the war as a whole.

Dr. Brandon Schechter is Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Columbia University, where he specializes in the history of the Soviet Union and material culture.  

The images discussed in this episode can be seen on our website at http://www.theroadtonow.com/episodes/e170.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

May 04, 2020
# 169 The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached w/ Mark Doyle
01:00:22

The Kinks are one of the great rock bands of the 20th century, and like all artists, they reflect the times and places they’ve inhabited. In this episode, we speak with Mark Doyle about his excellent new book The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached (Reaktion Books, 2020) and how the band, their origins, and Ray Davies’ lyrics can teach us a lot about both the real and imagined spaces of mid-20th Century England.

Dr. Mark Doyle is Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University, where he specializes in the history of the British Empire. His research and teaching have won him numerous awards including the Stansky Book Prize (co-winner, 2017) and MTSU’s Outstanding Teacher Award (2014-15). Ben once described him as “the Patton Oswalt of academic twitter,” so we recommend you follow him there at @DrMarkDoyle.  

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Apr 27, 2020
Technology and the Mind w/ Nicholas Carr
42:08

This is a rebroadcast of an episode that originally aired on March 20, 2017

Note: Given that we are relying more than ever on technology to communicate and work during this epidemic, we thought it was a good time to share our interview w/ Nicholas Carr.

The internet has revolutionized the human experience in the 21st century. Our ability to communicate with others, find locations in unfamiliar places, and access information from across the globe has never been easier, and new media like blogs and podcasts have connected voices with audiences in ways that were not possible just a few decades ago. Yet, despite all these incredible benefits, many of us are beginning to sense that all this connectivity is affecting the way we think and interact with one another. How is the internet affecting our brains, and should we be concerned about it? How is the internet different from other media technologies such as print, radio and television? And is google making us stupid? In this episode of the Road to Now, we get the answer from New York Times Best Selling Author Nicholas Carr.

A special thank you to Middle Tennessee State University and Dr. Susan Myers-Shirk for arranging this interview as part of MTSU's Scholars' Week Talk. 

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

This episode of the Road to Now is a re-air of episode #149 The History of Technology w/ Nicholas Carr. You can get the other episodes in our history of energy series by supporting us on Patreon.

Apr 20, 2020
#168 Breaking Down the 5G Conspiracy w/ Stacy Wood
56:04

As people try to make sense of the Coronavirus epidemic, some have unfortunately turned to conspiracy theories linking Covid-19 to the installation of 5G networks. In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Stacy Wood about her research on conspiracy theories, the past conspiracy theories that have converged in the 5G theory, and the reasons some people are willing to accept these explanations of the world in spite of strong evidence to the contrary.

 

Dr. Stacy Wood is Assistant Professor at the School of Computing and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a critical scholar of archives, information policy and information studies who engages with the legal and cultural aspects of records and technology. You can find out more about her at her personal website, StacyEWood.com and follow her on twitter at @StacyEWood. You can also hear Stacy in RTN episodes #12 and #146.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Apr 13, 2020
#167 The Outbreak Narrative w/ Priscilla Wald
51:45

When we think of epidemics, we often imagine the central struggle as between microbe and epidemiologist. But as the coronavirus outbreak has reminded us, our individual actions can compound in ways that have a very real implications for any epidemic. The narrative we adopt to understand these events- ie the story we tell ourselves about who is responsible, who can save us, and what power we have in that struggle- shapes our decisions, and therefore shapes the outcome of these tragic moments. In this episode we speak with Dr. Priscilla Wald about her research on what she calls the “outbreak narrative” and how understanding it might help us respond better in the present.

Dr. Priscilla Wald is R. Florence Brinkley Distinguished Professor of English at Duke University and the author of Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative, (Duke University Press, 2008).

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Apr 06, 2020
#166 Everything’s Going To Be Okay
43:45

Based on what you’ve told us on social media, it’s time for a break from the outbreak. So in this episode, Bob and Ben talk about the French Revolution, nationalism and colonization (aka the books assigned for Bob’s Graduate European History Seminar). They also talk about the art of teaching and Ben’s approach to transitioning to teaching his history classes online (which he recently had to do for an unspecified reason).

 

And, admittedly, they did slip up a couple of times and mention a particular epidemic, but mostly in a positive way. (It’s mostly at the end.)

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. 

Mar 30, 2020
#165 Saving America’s Cities w/ Lizabeth Cohen
01:05:26

Note: Bob and Ben start off talking about the Covid-19 outbreak and plans for upcoming episodes of this podcast. We shift to our discussion with Dr. Cohen at about 10:30.

The suburbanization of the American landscape after World War II left the country’s older urban centers in crisis. Revitalizing cities was no easy task, and many of the most inspiring plans for reconstructing America’s urban space went unfulfilled. These visions may have never come to fruition, but Lizabeth Cohen says there is much to learn from the visionaries. In this episode Dr. Cohen joins us for a conversation about post-WWII America, the pros and cons of biography, and her new book Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age, which recently won her a second Bancroft Prize for American History.

Dr. Lizabeth Cohen is Lizabeth Cohen is the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies and a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of History at Harvard. Cohen’s previous books include Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939, winner of the Bancroft Prize and a finalist for the Pulitzer, and A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America.

Note: Bob and Ben start off talking about the Covid-19 outbreak and plans for upcoming episodes of this podcast. We shift to our discussion with Dr. Cohen at about 10:30.

 The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.  

Mar 23, 2020
#164 What('s) A Disaster
33:11

Disasters abound, and what comes next is all about making good decisions. Ben talks about the Nashville tornado of 1998, the Nashville tornado of 2020, and the coronavirus, and Dr. Andy Bruno shares his expertise on the origins of natural disasters and what we can learn from studying them in history.

Mar 16, 2020
The History of Coal w/ Chuck Keeney
36:56

Bob and Ben speak with Dr. Chuck Keeney about the history of coal in the United States. Chuck explains the ways that the coal industry has shaped not only the physical landscape of mining towns, but also, through lobbying efforts and information campaigns, the way we understand our nation’s history. Chuck is uniquely qualified to tell the story of coal; not only does he hold a PhD in history from West Virginia University, he is the great-grandson of coal miner and labor organizer Frank Keeney, who was part of The Battle of Blair Mountain.

(The Battle of Blair Mountain was a 1921 shootout between coal miners and the coal companies that was the largest domestic insurrection since the Civil War. If you want to know more, it’s all in this episode. Or you could stop by the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum where Chuck Keeney is on the Board of Directors).

Chuck Keeney was featured in the 2017 NatGeo Documentary From the Ashes, which was directed by Michael Bonfiglio. We highly recommend you take the time to watch!Chuck Keeney was featured in the 2017 NatGeo Documentary From the Ashes, which was directed by Michael Bonfiglio. We highly recommend you take the time to watch!

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

This is a reair of RTN #61, which originally aired on July 19, 2017. You can get the other episodes in our history of energy series by supporting us on Patreon.

Mar 09, 2020
#163 The Avett Brothers Archive w/ Tim Mossberger
49:14

For many years now, Tim Mossberger has been building an incredible collection of material objects, music, and information on Bob’s band The Avett Brothers. In this episode, Bob and Ben talk with Tim about how he became the Avett Archivist, where he gets his rare items, and how he processes, preserves, and organizes the massive amount of material he’s acquired over the years. Bob and Tim also talk about the history of The Avett Brothers & the turning points that helped the band bring their music to a wider audience.

The Avett Archives are open and available to the public at http://www.asmylifeturnstoasong.com/. You can follow Tim on twitter at @AvettArchivist.

We’ve also posted some of Tim’s deep cuts on the page for this episode, available by clicking here.

Bob and Ben are taking the show on the road and we’ll be hitting towns across the US this year. Click here for show dates and tickets!

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited Gary Fletcher.

Feb 24, 2020
#162 The Presidents’ Day Rundown
43:22

The Road to Now is celebrating our fourth Presidents’ Day by launching our first Presidents’ Day episode! To mark this momentous occasion, Bob and Ben both sat down with a list of three significant moments in presidential history and discussed how they changed the country. Are there Roosevelts? Yes. Are there presidents born in three different centuries? Yes. Should you listen instead of asking any more question? Yes! We hope you enjoy the episode!

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network

Bob and Ben are taking the show on the road! See our calendar of events by clicking here.

Feb 17, 2020
#161 Food in the Era of Adulteration w/ Benjamin Cohen
55:59

When it comes to food, knowing what you’re getting can be tricky. On the surface, words such as “pure” and “natural” seem straightforward, yet defining them in the modern world has required experts, laws, and administrative structures. In this episode, Bob & Ben speak with Lafayette College’s Benjamin Cohen about the pure food crusades of the late nineteenth century, the origins of the Pure Food Act of 1906 and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and the lessons this era offers us as we seek to make decisions about food policy in the 21st century.

Dr. Benjamin R. Cohen is Associate Professor of Engineering Studies and Environmental Studies at Lafayette College and the author of Pure Adulteration: Cheating on Nature in the Age of Manufactured Food (University of Chicago Press, 2019). Learn more about his work at his personal website or by following him on twitter at @BRCohen95.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Join Bob & Ben for a live podcast recording! Click here for dates and ticket links.

Feb 10, 2020
#160 NASCAR and Moonshine w/ Kyle Petty and Dan Pierce (Recorded Live at the McGlohon Theater in Charlotte, NC)
45:28

In the last few decades, NASCAR has taken stock car racing from a regional sport anchored in the south, to the national level. Though NASCAR has a reputation as a family-friendly organization, its history is inseparable from the moonshining and bootlegging of the prohibition era. And while the cars on today’s tracks have little in common with their mid-20th century predecessors, many of the sports traditions have endured. In this conversation, recorded as the second part of RTN Live in Charlotte, Bob and Ben talk with third-generation racer Kyle Petty and Dr. Dan Pierce of UNC-Asheville to find out more about the history of stock car racing and the changes that have transformed the sport in the 21st Century.

Kyle Petty spent three decades as a professional stock car racer and is currently an analyst for NASCAR on NBC (NBC Sports). He is also the founder of the charity Victory Junction, which enriches the lives of children with serious illnesses by providing them with life-changing camping experiences at no cost to the children of their families. Victory Junction was inspired by Kyle’s son Adam, who tragically died in a racing accident in 2004. For more on Victory Junction, visit their website: https://victoryjunction.org/

Dan Pierce is Professor of History at UNC-Asheville and the author of Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France (UNC Press, 2010). His newest book Tar Heel Lightnin’: How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World was published by UNC Press in October 2019.

Our show opens with an original song by Kyle Petty, performed live w/ David Childers and Bob Crawford.

This episode is the second of two episodes recorded live in Charlotte at the McGlohon Theater on January 24, 2020. A full list of our upcoming live shows is available at http://www.theroadtonow.com/live-events.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Feb 06, 2020
#159 The History of Charlotte, NC w/ Thomas Hanchett & Pam Kelley (Recorded Live at the McGlohon Theater in Charlotte, NC)
48:43

Charlotte, NC has grown tremendously in the last half-century, yet it still lacks a clear national identity. While many know it today for its professional sports franchises or its prominence as a banking hub, the city was once recognized for its leadership in school integration following the 1971 Supreme Court ruling in Swann vs Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. Bob and Ben both spent pivotal years of their lives in the Queen City, so they dedicated the first portion of RTN Live in Charlotte to a conversation on the city and its history with two people who know it best: historian Tom Hanchett & journalist Pam Kelley.

Dr. Thomas Hanchett served as Staff Historian for 16 years at Levine Museum where he curated the permanent exhibition Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers (named best in the Southeast by the South East Museums Conference), and a string of national-award-winning temporary exhibitions including COURAGE about the Carolina roots of the Brown v Board Civil Rights case. The second edition of his book, Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class & Urban Development in Charlotte, 1875-1975 (UNC Press) will be available for purchase on February 3rd, 2020 (the very same day this episode launches!).

Pam Kelley is a freelance journalist who spent 35 years covering Charlotte for The Charlotte Observer. Her book Money Rock: A Family's Story of Cocaine, Race, and Ambition in the New South (New Press, 2018) tells Charlotte’s history through the life of Belton Lamont Platt, aka Money Rock, who went from one of Charlotte’s most successful cocaine dealers to a redeemed man who now inspires others to change. “Money Rock is a deeply American story, one that will leave readers reflecting on the near impossibility of making lasting change, in our lives and as a society, until we reckon with the sins of our past.”

Our show opens with a song by musical guest David Childers, whose new album Interstate Lullaby is now available streaming or through his website- www.DavidChilders.com.

Feb 03, 2020
#158 Live in Carrboro, NC- Charisma in American Politics & Society w/ Molly Worthen, Doug Heye & Rufus Edmisten (Recorded at Cat’s Cradle)
01:21:57

Dr. Molly Worthen (Department of History, UNC-Chapel Hill), Doug Heye (CNN/former RNC Communication Director) & Rufus Edmisten (Deputy Chief Council, Senate Watergate Committee/ former NC Secretary of State & Attorney General) join Bob & Ben for a conversation about charisma in American politics and society. Recorded live at the legendary Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC on January 25, 2020.

Our gratitude to everyone who attended this sold out show! If you’d like to join us for a future recording, check out our calendar of live events by clicking here.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.  

Jan 27, 2020
#157 The State of the Union w/ Matt Negrin
48:26

After our last episode on the separation of powers in the Constitution, we heard from several listeners who said they wished we’d spent more time on the topic. The people have spoken, so we’re following up with another episode on modern politics and the Constitution with special guest, RTN-favorite Matt Negrin!

Matt Negrin holds the record for most appearances on RTN. He is also Senior Producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. You can hear him as host of “Slowbama,” on the The Daily Show Podcast Universe, available on apple podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you get The Road to Now. You can follow Matt on twitter at @MattNegrin.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jan 20, 2020
#156 Executive Boundaries
37:25

2020 begins with an Impeachment Trial in the Senate and will end with a Presidential election, so Bob and Ben are kicking off the year discussing the relationship between the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government. Their conversation covers the articles of impeachment against Trump, the gap between the modern Presidency and the Executive imagined by the founders, and the problems that might be solved by changing our expectations of Presidents moving forward.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jan 13, 2020
#155 Uncivil Christmas w/ Carson Hudson
59:58

In our final episode of 2019, 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 episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. A special thanks to Melanie Crawford for encouraging us to interview Carson on RTN.

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

Dec 23, 2019
#154 America's First War on Christmas w/ Bruce Carlson
01:09:17

On December 25, 1776, George Washington and his men celebrated their first post-Declaration of Independence Christmas by crossing a freezing river to mount a surprise attack against their enemies. The plan worked, but almost 250 years later the story of Washington crossing the Delaware might surprise you too. In this episode, RTN favorite Bruce Carlson of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics joins Bob & Ben for a conversation about one of the US’s most recognized, yet little-known battles and how it affected the course of the Revolutionary War.

If you enjoy this episode, check out My History Can Beat Up Your Politics, available anywhere you get The Road to Now. You can also hear Bruce in RTN Episode 85: The History of US-Mexican Relations w/ Bruce Carlson, recorded live from Avetts at the Beach in 2018.  

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Dec 16, 2019
#153 Floating Coast: The Environmental History of the Bering Strait w/ Bathsheba Demuth
56:14

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, 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 Assistant 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 twitter at @brdemuth.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Dec 02, 2019
#152 Building Community and Breaking Barriers w/ Digital Humanities (Recorded Live at ASEEES 2019)
01:02:04

In this episode, recorded live from the 2019 convention of the Association of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in San Francisco, Ben chairs a panel featuring scholars who are working on new, exciting and very important digital humanities projects that bring together scholars from different fields, and connect those inside the university to communities outside of academia.

 

Our guests Anasttasia Bonch-Osmolovskaya (Russian Higher School of Economics) and Mikhail Melnichenko are Russian scholars currently working on Prozhito, which collects and digitizes diaries and other personal primary sources from the Soviet period, many of which were previously unavailable to anyone except family members and other holders of these sources. Our other guest Kelly O’Neill, oversees The Imperiia Project at Harvard University, which creates maps that connect people to history by creating a visual record of the lives and events of those who otherwise left few visual records of their own. Collectively, these scholars are breaking new ground, creating new and innovative ways of engaging others, and providing the sources that historians of the future can use to understand the past, so we are excited to share this work with our listeners.

A special thanks to Andy Janco (who joins Ben in the intro) and Svetlana Rasmussen for the many hours of work that they invested to make this roundtable a success. We are also grateful to ASEEES for allowing us to record this panel and share this important work with our listeners.

Links:
The Imperiia Project

-The Imperiia Project at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

-Link to the map Kelly O’Neill discusses in this episode

-The Imperiia Project on Twitter

Prozhitto

Prozhito’s website (in Russian)

Slavic DH on twitter

Nov 25, 2019
#151 Live in Chicago w/ Pete Souza & Erin Welsh (recorded at Beverly Arts Center)
01:11:47

Pete Souza (photographer for Barack Obama/Ronald Reagan) and Erin Welsh (epidemiologist/cohost of This Podcast Will Kill You) joined Bob and Ben for a live episode in Chicago to discuss history, photography, politics, and what their fields have to teach each other.

The images that we discussed in this episode are available on our episode page- click here to see them.

If you enjoy this episode and want to hear more, you can hear another 16 minutes of Q&A w/ Pete & Erin, by supporting us on Patreon. Click here to join!

Thanks to everyone who came to our live show and to the good people at Beverly Arts Center for their help in making this event happen!

Tickets are on sale for our upcoming shows in Charlotte (Jan 24) and Carrboro, NC (Jan 25)! For tickets to these and all future live shows are available at our website by clicking here.

 

Pete Souza’s Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents and all of his other books are available at his website: www.PeteSouza.com.

 

Erin Welsh’s This Podcast Will Kill You is available anywhere you get this podcast, or at their website: www.ThisPodcastWillKillYou.com.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Nov 18, 2019
#150 Life on the Road
45:39

It’s our sesquicentennial episode, so Bob and Ben thought it was time to catch up and talk about all the great things that have been happening in the last few months. The conversation covers The Avett Brothers’ new album, the books they’ve been reading, and the questions about history that have kept them going. They also talk about the upcoming RTN live recordings and the plans they’ve laid out for the shows (hope to see you there)!

We really appreciate everyone who has listened and showed us the love that has gotten RTN all the way to episode 150. Thank you for joining us on the road!

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Nov 11, 2019
#149 The History of Hong Kong w/ Mindy Smith
46:24

The protests that swept through the streets of Hong Kong beginning in the summer of 2019 highlighted the tension that exists between the residents of the region and China’s political leadership. The politics of the region have also made their way into American popular culture through public disputes within the NBA, controversy over Blizzard’s decision to ban a prominent Hong Kong gamer, and a South Park episode critical of Chinese censorship that led to the series being completely banned in the country.

In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Mindy Smith to learn about the history of Hong Kong, its special status as a distinct region within China, and the forces that pushed the people of Hong Kong into the streets. We also talk about how Hong Kong’s distinct history has led to a clash in historical narratives, and what US policy toward the region can tell us about US foreign policy under recent presidents.

Dr. Aminda Smith is an Associate Professor of History at Michigan State University who specializes in modern Chinese history with a particular interest in the social and cultural history of Chinese Communism. Her first book, Thought Reform and China's Dangerous Classes: Reeducation, Resistance, and the People was published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2012. She also serves as co-director of the PRC History Group and editor for H-PRC. You can follow her on twitter at @AmindaASmith.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Nov 04, 2019
# 148 The Bizarre Life of American Death w/ Caitlin Doughty
56:06

Death is something that everyone has in common, yet most of us spend our lives trying not to think about it. Even as we buy our decorations and costumes for Halloween, we rarely consider that witches, skeleton and other symbols associated with the holiday have their own histories. In this episode, Caitlin Doughty takes Ben, Bob & Guest co-host Tanya Marsh on a conversational haunted trail that covers the history of witch hunts, the disposal of dead bodies, and how social norms surrounding death have come to shape the world around us.

Caitlin Doughty is a Los Angeles-based mortician, activist, and funeral industry rabble-rouser. Her books Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity were both New York Times bestsellers. Her newest book Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death was released in September 2019. For more on Caitlin, check out caitlindoughty.com and visit her YouTube channel, Ask a Mortician.  

All three of Caitlin’s books (read by Caitlin herself!) are available on audiobook through Libro.fm. Click here and use promo code RTN to get 3 months of Libro.fm membership for just $15!

 This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is hosted by Ben Sawyer and Bob Crawford. A member of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Oct 28, 2019
#147 How to Remove a Confederate Monument w/ Adam Swensek
01:06:04

In 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate monuments from the city. Immediately following that vote, the monuments’ defenders sought to use the courts to prevent their removal. In the end, the city prevailed, and the last of the monuments came down in May of 2017. In this episode, Ben and guest co-host Tanya Marsh speak with lawyer Adam Swensek, who led the New Orleans City Council’s legal team as they defended the city’s right to remove these public monuments. The conversation covers the history of the monuments, the arguments that both sides used in court, and what monuments can (and can’t) tell us about the history.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Oct 21, 2019
#146 Keeping Government Secrets w/ Stacy Wood
01:17:43

With the current impeachment inquiry underway, there has been a lot of talk about government information, where it is stored, and who has the right to access these records. In this episode, Ben speaks with archive and information policy expert Stacy Woods, to get the answers to a lot of the questions surrounding impeachment past and present. They also discuss Presidential authority regarding documents, the state of government transparency, and the relationship of government secrecy to conspiracy theories.

Dr. Stacy Wood is Assistant Professor at the School of Computing and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a critical scholar of archives, information policy and information studies who engages with the legal and cultural aspects of records and technology. You can find out more about her at her personal website, StacyEWood.com and follow her on twitter at @StacyEWood.

To hear our first interview w/ Stacy Wood in RTN #12, join us on Patreon. You’ll get episodes 1-75, extra episodes, bonus content and more, and you’ll be an essential part of keeping The Road to Now going!  Click here to join!

The Road to Now is a member of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Oct 14, 2019
#145 The Opioid Crisis w/ Beth Macy
48:10

Right now an average of one person dies about every 11 minutes from an opioid overdose in the United States. The staggering number of lives ruined by opioid addiction has finally gotten public attention in recent years, but the origins of the crisis goes back to 1996, when Purdue Pharma began selling Oxycontin through a misleading marketing campaign that claimed it was unlikely to cause addiction. In this episode, Ben speaks with journalist Beth Macy, who chronicled the lives of those affected by opioid addiction in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and across the country. Her book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America tells the history of the opioid crisis through the deeply intimate stories of the people and communities that were hit hard by addiction, but never stopped fighting the companies who placed profit over humanity.

Beth Macy is a journalist and author of three books, the most recent of which, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America (Little, Brown & Company, 2018), was an instant NY Times Best Seller. Her audio documentary Finding Tess: A Mother’s Search for Answers in a Dopesick America was released on October 3, 2019 is and is available by clicking here. For more on Beth Macy, visit her personal website- intrepidpapergirl.com- and follow her on twitter at @papergirlmacy.

You can get Dopesick and two additional audiobooks for just $15 from Libro.fm. Just click here and enter promo code RTN at checkout!

The Road to Now is a member of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

 

Oct 07, 2019
The Seriousness of Being Funny w/ Tom Shadyac (Rebroadcast)
01:07:12

Tom Shadyac will be our guest for a live recording at TPAC’s Polk Theater as part of the Nashville Comedy Festival on April 18th, 2020! Click here for tickets!

This is a rebroadcast of RTN #34 with an update on Tom's work since we spoke with him in December of 2016.

Tom Shadyac has probably made you laugh. He was the youngest ever staff joke writer for Bob Hope and he directed some of the biggest comedy films in recent memory, including Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Nutty Professor. A lot of people would say Tom has “made it.” Tom would disagree.

Tom joins Ben and Bob for a conversation about his life and the path that led him to abandon the pursuit of fame and material abundance to focus on helping others. He tells of his 11-year period of unemployment as he struggled to find success in the Los Angeles comedy scene, his relationship with Jim Carrey and how following his own passions led him to take a risk with Ace Ventura. Tom also talks of his approach to teaching film, and explains why he defines success as a state of mind. Other topics of conversation include the LA comedy scene, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Tom’s deep commitment to the people of Memphis.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This rebroadcast was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Sep 30, 2019
#144 Saudi Arabia and the Middle East w/ Sean Foley
50:53

The recent drone strike on Saudi oil fields has implications for the entire world, but we remain uncertain who is responsible for the attack. Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility, but Trump claims it was actually Iran. There’s a lot at stake here, so Ben sat down with his MTSU colleague Sean Foley to learn about the history of the conflict and how that might inform policy moving forward.

In the second part of the episode, Bob and Ben talk about Bob’s research and what he’s learned about Monsanto since our last episode. We also share an exciting announcement about upcoming plans for the podcast!

Dr. Sean Foley is a 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. He frequently visits Asia and the Middle East, follows events in both regions closely, and speaks Arabic and Bahasa Malaysian. Dr. Foley has held Fulbright fellowships in Syria, Turkey, and Malaysia, and lived in Saudi Arabia from April 2013 until January 2014. His most recent book is Changing Saudi Arabia: Art, Culture, and Society in the Kingdom (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2019). You can follow him on twitter at @foleyse.

Sep 23, 2019
#143 Research!
35:34

Bob and Ben talk about some of the incredible resources that are now available electronically and how they have opened up new opportunities for historians. Bob talks about how his research on Monsanto, which he’s conducting for his US business history seminar, is adding to his greater project on the history of the Research Triangle Park and Apex, NC. Ben also talks about some of his interesting finds working in Russian archives and how publicly-accessible databases have provided some valuable material for his work.

Sep 16, 2019
#142 How Talk Radio Took Over the Republican Party w/ Brian Rosenwald
01:09:58

Brian Rosenwald joins Ben and Bob to discuss his new book Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over A Party That Took Over the United States, which traces the emergence of talk radio as a major powerhouse in shaping the Republican Party. Brian explains how conservative talk radio and hosts such as Rush Limbaugh came to have tremendous influence over the GOP’s policy agenda, ultimately laying the groundwork for Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 Republican Primary. Brian also discusses how his conclusions have changed since his first appearance on RTN in November 2016.

Dr. Brian Rosenwald is a scholar in residence at the Partnership for Effective Public Administration and Leadership Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and an instructor at Penn. He also conducts research for the Slate podcast Whistlestop, and serves as one of the two Editors-In-Chief of Made By History, a Washington Post history section. You can follow him on twitter at @Brianros1.

Want to hear our first conversation with Brian Rosenwald? You can get it and the other first seventy-five episodes of RTN, along with Patereon exclusive episodes and other bonus material, by supporting The Road to Now on Patreon for as little as $5 a month! Click here to find out more.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Sep 09, 2019
#141 The Last Czars, Chernobyl, and the Pros & Cons of Dramatizing History w/ Philippa Hetherington & Jon Waterlow
57:25

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 Philippa Hetherington and 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.

Dr. Philippa Hetherington is a Lecturer in Modern Eurasian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. Her research focuses on the legal history of imperial Russia and the early Soviet Union in global and transnational context. You can follow Philippa on twitter at @philippahether.

Dr. Jonathan Waterlow is the author of It’s Only a Joke Comrade! Humor, Trust and Everyday Life Under Stalin, and cohost of the Voices in the Dark podcast. He received his Doctorate in History from the University of Oxford and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Anthony’s College (Oxford) and the University of Toronto. For more on It’s Only a Joke Comrade!, check out RTN #107 Laughing at Stalin: The Politics of Humor w/ Jon Waterlow or pick up a copy by clicking here. You can follow Jon on twitter at @JonWaterlow.

 The Road to Now is part of The Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Sep 02, 2019
#140 Citizen Coke: The History of Coca-Cola w/ Bartow Elmore
01:05:31

Coca-Cola is one of the most well-known products on planet earth, but did you ever wonder how a brown fizzy drink fueled the rise of a corporate juggernaut? The answer, says Ohio State historian Bartow Elmore, has everything to do with its business structure. In this episode, Bart offers his take on how Coke went from Atlanta soda parlors in the late 19th century to markets across the globe in less than a century, all along reaping tremendous benefits from public infrastructure while passing the bulk of its environmental costs on to others.  Bart also talks about the difficulties of doing research on powerful corporations, why he thinks we should care about environmental history, and the meaning of what he calls “Coca-Cola Capitalism.”

Dr. Bartow Elmore is Associate Professor of History at The Ohio State University. His book, Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism (W.W. Norton, 2015) won the Axiom Business Book Award for best business commentary in 2015 and the Council of Graduate Schools 2016 Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities. He is currently researching the history of Monsanto. You can follow him on twitter at @BartElmore.

You can get Citizen Coke on audiobook at libro.fm. Click here & enter promo code RTN at checkout to get this book & 3 more for just $15!

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Aug 26, 2019
# 139 Healthcare, the Law and the Future(s) of Privacy w/ Roy Wyman
01:11:49

Technology is transforming the production & availability of knowledge. Many experts predict AI & nanotechnology will soon bring about a fundamental change in the ways we work, relate to one another, and are known, while skeptics point to the industrial revolution to dismiss these concerns. In this episode Ben speaks with Roy Wyman, who specializes in healthcare law and the relationship of technology to medicine, to find out how recent innovations are already affecting our lives, and where the future may take us.

Roy Wyman is Partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, where he is co-chair of the firm’s Privacy & Security Industry Group and a member of the firm's healthcare regulatory and litigation team. You can read his articles on healthcare, security and technology by clicking here. He also designed and is the lead attorney for HIPAA2Z, an automated HIPAA privacy and security compliance tool offered by Nelson Mullins.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. 

Aug 19, 2019
#138 The Power of Story (Live from NCSL's 2019 Legislative Summit)
01:03:04

We make sense of our place in the world through stories. Our history as individuals & communities is always present, but the parts of the story we emphasize, as well as those we forget, are crucial in understanding the world today and in shaping the decisions we make going forward. In this episode, Bob, Ben and professional storyteller Donna Washington speak about the power of story and its potential for helping inspire action in a live forum hosted by National Conference for State Legislatures’ Executive Director Tim Storey as part of NCSL’s Legislative Summit held in Nashville, TN on August 7, 2019.

A special thanks to Tim Storey and everyone at NCSL for the invitation to participate in the summit, and to Donna Washington for sharing her wisdom with us and the crowd. We’re also grateful to all those who attended the panel and took the time to speak with us afterward.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on the podcast, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com. This episode was recorded by NCSL and edited by Gary Fletcher.

Aug 12, 2019
RTN Theology #11 The Character of Virtue w/ Stanley Hauerwas
01:21:42

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!

RTN Theology #11 features “America’s Best Theologian” (according to Time Magazine), Stanley Hauerwas. Chris Breslin brings an intimate conversation from Dr. Hauerwas’ office at Duke Divinity School that touches on the recent passing of his friend, Jean Vanier, the life of the church in the era of Trump, and what it means to become people of virtue and character. Professor and author, Dave Fitch chimes in with some of his favorite Hauerwasisms and the ways that Dr. Hauerwas has shaped his life and work. He also shares his most recent book project, The Church of Us vs. Them. We’re also treated to a special reading of a chapter on the virtue of Justice by Stanley Hauerwas from his recent book of letters written to his Godson. Throughout the episode are selections from Deeper Well Music Collective’s (Portland, OR) new release, Volume III.

For more on this episode and a full bibliography on the essential Hauerwas, check out our episode page by clicking here.

The Road to Now is Part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jul 29, 2019
# 137 Making Fun of History: Creating Serious Games w/ Ben Sawyer
56:45

Creating games that are both fun and educational takes a lot of work, but Digitalmill’s Ben Sawyer has been doing it successfully for more than two decades. In this episode we speak with Ben about the art of creating serious games and his work on the American Revolution-based game “Revolutionary Choices.”

Just to clarify: Yes, there are two Ben Sawyers on this episode. People have confused them before, which is how they met. But we promise you’ll be able to tell them apart on this episode.

To find out more about Revolutionary Choices, check out the game’s website: www.RevChoicesGame.org.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 22, 2019
#136 The City of the Future: Apex, North Carolina

When the city of Apex, NC was founded in 1873, it was little more than a railroad stop with a tiny rural population. In the last half-century, however, the development of the Research Triangle Park has thrust the town into the 21st century with tremendous force, with the population increasing more than tenfold in the last three decades. In spite of all this change, Apex has retained its historic beauty and continues to be a highly-desirable place to live. In this episode, Bob talks about his research on Apex, which he conducted as part of his graduate coursework at Arizona State University.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 15, 2019
#136 The City of the Future: Apex, North Carolina
39:53

When the city of Apex, NC was founded in 1873, it was little more than a railroad stop with a tiny rural population. In the last half-century, however, the development of the Research Triangle Park has thrust the town into the 21st century with tremendous force, with the population increasing more than tenfold in the last three decades. In spite of all this change, Apex has retained its historic beauty and continues to be a highly-desirable place to live. In this episode, Bob talks about his research on Apex, which he conducted as part of his graduate coursework at Arizona State University.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 15, 2019
#135 Surrender in the American Civil War w/ David Silkenat
45:30

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. In fact, 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 three books, the most recent of which is Waving the White Flag: How Surrender Defined the American Civil War (UNC Press, 2019). He is also the cohost of The Whiskey Rebel podcast. You can follow David on twitter at @davidsilkenat.

The Road to Now is hosted and produced by Bob Crawford of The Avett Brothers and Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

A proud member of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jul 08, 2019
#134 The American Empire w/ Daniel Immerwahr
01:04:13

Is the United States an empire? US citizens have struggled with this question for a long time. Though our historical narrative traces our origins to the war for independence against the British Empire, we often forget that the US has presided over territories since the very beginning. Today about 4 million people in the territories of American Samoa, the Northern Marinara Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are subject to the US government, yet cannot vote for President and have only symbolic representation in congress. At the same time, the US maintains a global network of about 800 military bases in 80 countries.

For these reasons and more, Daniel Immerwahr says the United States is definitely an empire. In this episode, Daniel explains how this happened, the ways that US citizens have debates their country’s role in the world, and how a country born of an anti-imperialist revolution became the thing it professed (and still professes) to despise. He also shares some fascinating stories about how the US military helped make The Beatles, why some people claimed John McCain was not eligible to be President, and how citizens of the United States of America began referring to their country as simply “America.”

Daniel Immerwahr is Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University, and author of the book How To Hide An Empire: A History of the Greater United States (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019). You can follow him on twitter at @dimmerwahr.

How To Hide An Empire is available on audiobook from libro.fm. Click here and use promo code RTN at checkout to get this book and two more for just $15!

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 01, 2019
RTN Theology 10: The Life & Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
01:04:30

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

This episode of RTN Theology centers on the life, thought, and legacy of German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bob Crawford talks with professor Stephen Haynes, author of The Battle for Bonhoeffer about how Bonhoeffer has become a cultural Rorschach test, often coopted and reflecting his interpreters, but also how his life and work can be relevant and transformative for  today. New co-host and co-producer, Chris Breslin explores some of the ways Bonhoeffer continues to influence by interviewing Pastor José Humphreys (Seeing Jesus in East Harlem) about ministry in Harlem after Bonhoeffer and then reflects on Bifrost Art’s Bonhoeffer’s Prayer by Bifrost Arts.

Jun 24, 2019
Life, Beer & Politics w/ Gov. John Hickenlooper (Rebroadcast)
45:14

This is a rebroadcast of episode #6, which originally aired in July of 2016.

In this episode of The Road to Now, we speak with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper about his new memoir The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics and the ways that his peculiar & fascinating life interact with the greater history of our country.

Gov. Hickenlooper shares his family history, which he traces back to the earliest settlers of the Pennsylvania colony in the 1680s, and talks about a wide variety of fascinating topics including the urban/rural split in Colorado, the Grateful Dead, and his friendship with Kurt Vonnegut. Gov. Hickenlooper also talks about his years as a geologist, working in real estate, opening Denver's first brew pub, and the value that comes from hanging a light on one's weaknesses in the pursuit of excellence. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we enjoyed our time with Gov. Hickenlooper.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. 

Jun 21, 2019
#133 Bonnaroo Past & Present w/ festival co-founder Ashley Capps (live from Bonnaroo)
51:27

In 2002, Ashley Capps took a gamble- he rented hundreds of acres in rural Tennessee and put on a music festival. Coming on the heels of the infamous Lollapalooza ’99 and an unsuccessful festival at the same site two years earlier, few thought Ashley could pull it off. As you (and the 80,000 people who attended the festival this year) know, Ashley and his partners proved the doubters wrong and created one of the most iconic festivals in modern America.

Bob and Ben caught up with Ashley Capps back stage at Bonnaroo to talk about the history of Bonnaroo, how Ashley selected Manchester, TN, and the changes in the live music industry that have happened since he began working in live music decades ago. He also shares his insight on building the relationships that make a major festival sustainable. Bob also shares his experiences playing Bonnaroo with the Avett Brothers from the small stage in 2006 to the main stage in 2019.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. 

Jun 16, 2019
#132 In the Footsteps of Lafayette w/ Julien Icher
52:11

On August 15, 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette arrived in the United States to say farewell to the country whose independence he helped secure more than four decades earlier. Over the next 15 months, Lafayette visited all 24 states, meeting with old friends and attending celebrations hosted by Americans who flocked to see the last-living Major General of the Revolutionary War whose close friendship with George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson Jefferson shaped both the American and French Revolutions.

Since 2017, Julien Icher has been working to document the 5,000 mile journey that Lafayette took during his farewell visit. Icher, himself a Frenchman, has a remarkable skill set that combines the best of primary source-based research with the technical knowledge required for digital mapping. The result is The Lafayette Trail- a publicly accessible map that allows users to see Lafayette’s physical route, as well as the people, places and events he encountered along the way.

In this episode, Ben speaks with Julien Icher about Lafayette’s contribution to American Independence, his life after returning to France, and the farewell tour that inspired Julien to create The Lafayette Trail. We also speak about the history of Franco-American friendship and why both countries are better when we work together.

Julien Icher is the Founder and Executive Director of The Lafayette Trail, which he established in March 2017 at the Consulate General of France in Boston. Julien is in the process of raising funds for phase two of the Lafayette trail, which is a roadside historical marker program to commemorate the legacy of Lafayette's visit to dozens of communities across the United States. If you would like to contribute to, or learn more about this project, visit his GoFundMe page by clicking here.

The Road to Now is a proud member of the Osiris Podcast Network.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jun 10, 2019
#131 Photographing the President w/ Pete Souza
47:09

As the person responsible for documenting the Obama Administration, Pete Souza spent more time with Barack Obama than almost anyone else, which left him with some deep in sights on Obama and the office of the Presidency. In this episode, Pete joins Bob for a conversation about his work as Chief Official White House Photographer, the state of American politics, and the power of photography. Pete’s most recent book, Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents (Little, Brown, & Co, 2018) uses photography to contrast the stark differences between the Presidency of Barack Obama and that of Donald Trump.

This episode is the third in our "Wolftrap Series" recorded during The Avett Brothers' three night run at Wolftrap in Vienna, VA. Click here for our conversation w/ Robert Costa and click here to become a Patron and get the "Maycember in Wolftrap" Patreon Extra episode. 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher and Bob Crawford.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jun 03, 2019
#130 Sources, Methods & Music w/ Robert Costa
58:32

Bob speaks with The Washington Post’s Robert Costa about the methods used by reporters covering the White House and Capitol Hill. Costa talks about how journalists build and maintain trust with confidential sources inside of the White House, how an article is constructed when multiple reporters share a byline, and everything else that goes into writing the first draft of history. Bob and Robert also talk about music, Robert’s early years working in the music industry, and their shared love of Phish.

 

Robert Costa covers politics for the Washington Post, is an analyst for MSNBC and NBC News, and is the moderator for Washington Week, which airs Friday nights at 8 on PBS.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

May 28, 2019
#129 RTN Third Anniversary Party w/ Matt Negrin
38:07

On May 18 2016, Ben and Bob launched the first three episodes of their new podcast called The Road To Now. One of the guests in those episodes was a young journalist named Matt Negrin, who Bob met during a visit to the set of Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect. In the three years since, Matt Negrin has moved from Bloomberg Politics to Comedy Central, where he is currently Senior Producer at The Daily Show. Even more impressive, Matt has become the all-time record holder for appearances on RTN and has become one of our good friends. In this episode, we celebrate RTN’s Third Anniversary by welcoming Matt back to the show.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us keep this podcast going for three years! If you want to support The Road To Now, join us on Patreon where you'll get lots of extras to say thank you for your patronage. Click here to support RTN on Patreon!

Matt was a writer and content producer on the The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library Book- you can get a copy at The Daily Show’s website by clicking here. You can follow Matt on twitter at @MattNegrin.

This episode was edited by the fantastic Gary Fletcher.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.  

May 20, 2019
#128 A Frail League of Friendship: The Articles of Confederation w/ Greg Jackson
01:00:13

In 1776, the US declared independence. Eleven years later, in 1787, delegates from 12 states (we’re looking at YOU Rhode Island) got together in Philadelphia and wrote the Constitution. In between those triumphant moments, there was the Articles of Confederation, that “firm league of friendship” that most Americans probably know primarily as something they had to memorize for a history test.

HOWEVER

The Articles of Confederation, while certainly not a highlight of the American experiment, explain a lot about the American Revolution, the ideas that defined the founding generation, and the ways those ideas changed in the first years of independence. In fact, you can’t really understand the US Constitution unless you understand the Articles and why they failed.

SO

In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Greg Jackson about this very topic. Greg is Assistant Professor of Integrated Studies at Utah Valley University and host of the podcast History That Doesn’t Suck. We hope you enjoy our conversation on the Articles of Confederation!

Speaking of great history- why not get an audiobook from libro.fm? You can get three months of membership, which includes one book a month, for just $14.99 with promo code RTN.

 

The Road to Now is a proud founding member of the Osiris Podcast Network.

May 06, 2019
RTN Theology #9: Burying White Privilege: Resurrecting a Badass Christianity w/ Miguel De La Torre
36:56

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 this episode of RTN Theology, Bob talks with Christian social ethicist-activist, author, and Professor at Iliff School of Theology, Dr. Miguel De La Torre. Bob and Miguel discuss liberation theology and the connection between the theology shared by slaveholders during the antebellum and Civil War periods with the theology professed by many prominent evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr. Del La Torre’s 36th book, Burying White Privilege, was based on his article  November 2017 article, “The Death of Christianity in the US,” which went viral after it appeared in Baptist News Global. De La Torre does not mince words as he takes on white Evangelicals, Catholics, and Protestants, who he believes have made a Faustian bargain, trading the gospel for political influence.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Apr 29, 2019
#127 The History of Privacy in Modern America w/ Sarah Igo
51:52

The data collection practices of companies such as facebook, google and amazon have led many Americans to wonder if privacy is dead. Though these companies are relatively new, this is far from the first time that Americans have felt their privacy to be under attack. In this episode, we speak with Vanderbilt University’s Sarah Igo to learn about the ways that Americans have understood privacy from the advent of “instant photography” in the 1890s to the rise of the internet in the 21st century. 

Dr. Sarah E. Igo is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Program in American Studies, as well as the inaugural Faculty Director of E. Bronson Ingram College at Vanderbilt University. Her book, The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America was published by Harvard university Press in 2018.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. 

Apr 22, 2019
#126 The Origins of American Immigration Policy w/ Hidetaka Hirota
47:37

Hidetaka Hirota joins Bob and Ben for a conversation about the history of immigration law in the United States and the ways that government officials have decided who could and could not enter the United States. Hidetaka discusses the creation of Federal immigration law and the ways that looking at state immigration policies in the early to mid-19th century can help us understand the Immigration and Chinese Exclusion Acts of 1882.

 

Dr. Hidetaka Hirota is Assistant Professor of History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan). His book Expelling the Poor: Atlantic Seaboard States and the Nineteenth-Century Origins of American Immigration Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017) has won multiple awards.

 

Want to support The Road to Now and get extra episodes and other content? Join us on Patreon!

 

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

Apr 08, 2019
RTN Voices #1: The Life & Times of Rufus Allan Sevier (RTN April Fools Episode)
24:46

This episode launched April 1, 2019. It's an April Fools trick, but we hope you enjoy it anyway!

Rufus Allan Sevier was born on December 7, 1916 in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. More than a century later Rufus is in incredible health and is one of the few people alive today who vividly remembers life before the Great Depression. His personal story, however, diverges in significant ways from the historical narrative most of us learned in history class, and provides new insights into American history that have thus far been hidden from view. In the first episode of our RTN Voices series, Bob & Ben speak with Rufus about his life and the ways that outside forces have worked to bury the stories that he has kept alive for a century.

 RTN Voices is a series that documents the history of the United States through the unique stories of Americans who personally experienced the times and events that few of us today can remember.  The conversations are unedited to reflect the lived experience. We hope that in documenting these voices, we can recover lost stories and alternative perspectives on our nation’s past.

The Road to Now is a member of the Osiris Podcast Network. 

Apr 01, 2019
RTN Theology #8 Elizabeth Seton and Catholics in Early America w/ Catherine O'Donnell
01:01:14

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!

Bob speaks with Arizona State University Associate Professor of History Catherine O’Donnell about the prejudice Catholics endured in the years leading up to the American Revolution and how they gained the respect of George Washington as he sought French assistance in the cause. Catherine also discusses her recent work Elizabeth Seton: American Saint (Cornell University Press, 2018) and how Seaton went from Catholic convert to the first American Saint.

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

Mar 25, 2019
#125 When the Irish Invaded Canada w/ Chris Klein
46:37

In 1866, the Fenian Brotherhood, comprised primarily of Irish Civil War veterans, led a series of attacks on Canadian provinces just across the border from the United States. Their goal: seize Canadian territory and exchange it for Irish independence. Similar raids continued until 1871, and although they were ultimately unsuccessful, they are part of a greater story of the American Civil War, Irish Independence, and trans-Atlantic immigration to the United States in the mid-19th Century. In this episode, Bob & Ben speak with Christopher Klein about his new book When the Irish Invaded America: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedom (Doubleday, 2019).

Want to read When the Irish Invaded Canada while also supporting The Road to Now AND your local bookstore, AND getting three books for the price of one? Get your copy on libro.fm and use promo code RTN at checkout!

Christopher Klein is an author and freelance writer specializing in history. He writes stories about the past that inform us about the present and guide us to the future. He is the author of four books, including Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero, and a frequent contributor to history.com and many other media outlets.

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

Mar 18, 2019
#124 Political Coalitions from 1990 to 2019 w/ Amy Walter
55:50

Amy Walter has been covering Congress and Congressional races since the early 1990s. In this episode, Amy joins Bob to talk about the political issues and strategies that took us from the era of Bill Clinton & Newt Gingrich to today, the reasons that modern politics is so divisive, and the potential coalitions that could impact the 2020 elections and beyond. Bob and then follow up with a conversation about what Amy taught them and what they see as the biggest issues that our leaders need to address moving forward. (Bob & Ben’s conversation begins at 32:30)

Amy Walter is the National Editor of The Cook Political Report where she provides analysis of the issues, trends and events that shape the political environment. Her weekly column appears on cookpolitical.com. She is also the host of WNYC's The Takeaway (Politics with Amy Walter), and a regular contributor to the PBS NewsHour, where she offers her perspective weekly on "Politics Monday."

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

Mar 11, 2019
#123 How to Tell a Good Story w/ Jakob Lewis
01:16:41

Jakob Lewis knows how to tell a good story. As the host and producer of the podcast Neighbors, Jakob built a nation-wide audience by talking to those around him and turning them into compelling stories that captured the essence of daily life. In his newest venture, Vox Familia, he is taking his skills to help families tell their own stories. In this episode of The Road to Now, Ben sits down with Jakob to talk about what he’s learned about the ways that the personal narrative intersects with the bigger picture and what elements make for a great story.

If you're looking for a great story, visit libro.fm and start enjoying audiobooks while you support your favorite independent bookstore. Use promo code RTN for 3 months of membership for the price of one!

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

Mar 04, 2019
#122 The Arctic w/ Heidi Bohaker & Alison Smith
01:01:36

When most of us think of the earth, we imagine going “north” as going “up.” Modern maps, however, obscure many geographic realities, including the existence of an Arctic world, which unites the US, Canada, Russia, Norway, Greenland and other countries into a distinct geographic sphere. In this episode, Bob and Ben are joined by historians Heidi Bohaker and Alison Smith to discuss their work developing a course on the history of the Arctic at the University of Toronto. The conversation covers the diversity of indigenous groups in the region, the conquest of the Arctic by modern states, and the many ways that climate change may impact the world. As it turns out, there’s a lot to learn from a “top down” history of the earth.

Dr. Heidi Bohaker is Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto, whose specialties are Native American history and digital history. She has a broad interest in the types of archives and categories of information both states and non-state societies kept and keep about their people.

Dr. Alison Smith is Professor History at the University of Toronto and a specialist in the history of the Russian Empire. She has published several articles and two books, the most recent of which is For the Common Good and Their Own Well-Being: Social Estates in Imperial Russia(Oxford University Press: 2014). You can read her series of blog posts on "The Case of the Dead Cheese Master" at the Russian History Blog.

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

Feb 25, 2019
RTN Theology #7 Remembering Walter B. Jones: Living by Faith and by Truth
52:13

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 this episode of RTN Theology hosts Bob Crawford and Keith Larson share personal reflections on the life of North Carolina 3rd District Congressman Walter B. Jones who passed away on February 10th, 2019.

Jones served Eastern North Carolina in Congress and the State Legislature for over 34 years. He became a household name in the run up to the war in Iraq when he led a campaign to change the name of French fries to Freedom Fries. A couple of years into the war, he attended a funeral for a fallen soldier and had a spiritual conversion, becoming the first Republican in Congress to come out against the war. A fiercely independent politician and a devout Catholic, Jones' faith framed the way he viewed issues.

Bob and Keith both shared a personal relationship with the Congressman. Keith interviewed Jones many times over the years as a radio host at WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina. Bob and Walter B. Jones first became friends through conversations about politics, but their friendship grew much deeper following Bob’s daughter’s illness.

Feb 18, 2019
#121 Gender and History w/ Lisa Fine
01:00:53

Bob and Ben talk with Lisa Fine about the ways that viewing history through the lens of gender can help us understand the past. Lisa explains the origins of women’s history, the impact that gender theory had on the field of history, and why it’s important to think about both masculinity and femininity when considering gender. This is the third installment in our methodology series, which also includes RTN #119 Karl Marx and History and Historical Narratives and Power (available on our Patreon page).

Dr. Lisa Fine is Professor of History at Michigan State University who specializes in US Labor, Working Class, and Women’s and Gender History. She is the author of several articles and two books, the most recent of which, *The Story of Reo Joe: Work, Kin, and Community in Autotown, USA*, (Temple University Press, 2004) received multiple awards. She was also one of Ben’s mentors at Michigan State and, many years ago, provided Bob with a reading list of good books to help direct his love of history.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on this and all episodes, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Feb 11, 2019
#120 The History of Influenza w/ John Barry
51:53

The influenza strain that hit the world in 1918 killed between 50 and 100 million people. It was not the first flu to have such an impact on humanity, and it also may not be the last. In this episode we talk with John Barry about his research on the history of influenza, the current state of preparedness, and the unexpected ways that influenza has shaped modern history.

John Barry is the author of multiple award-winning books including the New York Times Best Seller The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History (Penguin, 2005).

Click here to get The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History as an audio book on libro.fm. Road to Now listeners can go to libro.fm & get a 3-month membership for the price of one (3 audiobooks for just $14.95) w/ promo code RTN. You can also check out our libro.fm playlist, which features books by past RTN guests!

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

Feb 04, 2019
#119 Karl Marx and History
44:26

When Americans think of Karl Marx, they probably think of the self-proclaimed Marxist governments whose rivalry with the US & Western Europe defined the 20th Century. Marx, however, formulated a theory of historical change and social relationships under capitalism that was more productive than the Communist governments of the 20th Century. In this episode, Bob and Ben talk about how Marx viewed history, what we can learn from it, and the ways Marx’s theory has both contributed to, and limited, historical research.

This is part of an ongoing conversation between Bob and Ben on history and methodology that began on our Patreon page. To get our episode on Historical Narratives & Power and many others, as well some Road to Now swag, click here and become a Patron!

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

Jan 28, 2019
#118 The GI Bill and the Legacy of Racial Discrimination w/ Louis Woods
01:21:08

Most Americans grow up learning about the civil rights movement from a very young age, but the stories we tell about the March on Washington, Dr. King’s speeches, and the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964-65 leave out the very real ways that the Jim Crow system continues to shape our world today. In this episode of The Road to Now, Ben’s friend and colleague Louis Woods joins us to explain how federal policies in the 20th century, and particularly the GI Bill, excluded Black Americans from some of the most important sources of wealth acquisition in American history. We also talk about how the legacy of racism lives on in today's economy, society, and even in the way we teach music.

Dr. Louis Lee Woods, II, is Associate Professor of African-American History and Director of the Africana Studies Program at Middle Tennessee State University. His research pays particular attention to the connection between discriminatory historical federal housing policies and contemporary racial wealth, health and educational disparities. Links to the articles discussed in this episode are available on his MTSU faculty page.

For more on the history of racial discrimination in housing, including map overlays of many American cities, check out the website “Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America.”

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

Jan 21, 2019
#117 American Slavery w/ Edward Baptist
57:22

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.

The Half Has Never Been Told is available as an audio book on libro.fm. Road to Now listeners can go to libro.fm & get a 3-month membership for the price of one (3 audiobooks for just $14.95) w/ promo code RTN. Click here to get The Half Has Never Been Told or get started by checking out our libro.fm playlist, which features books by past RTN guests.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

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

Jan 14, 2019
#116 What is the Middle Class? w/ Scott Wasserman
47:38

Most Americans identify themselves as middle class. But what does that mean? Bob & Ben talk with The Bell Policy Center’s Scott Wasserman to talk about the challenges facing American workers, the difference between “middle class” and “working class,” and the differences between the economy today and that of the 20th century.

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

Jan 07, 2019
#115 The 1970s w/ Jefferson Cowie
01:07:12

The 1970s was a pivotal decade in American history. In a ten-year span, the United States admitted defeat in Vietnam, saw a President resign in shame, and came face to face with many of the atrocities it had committed abroad. American citizens also faced a score of economic problems, including “stagflation,” an energy crisis, and the realization that many of them would end the decade worse off than they had been when it began. In today’s episode we reflect on what happened in the 1970s, and what we can learn from it, in a conversation with RTN favorite, Vanderbilt University’s Jefferson Cowie.

Dr. Jefferson Cowie is James G. Stahlman Professor of History at Vanderbilt University and the author of Stayin Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working (The New Press, 2010) and several other award-winning books on American history. Check out his other appearances on RTN in episode 24 and episode 70. You can find out more about Jefferson Cowie and his work at his website by clicking here.

Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class will be released on audiobook on December 18, 2018, and libro.fm is the place to get it! Click here and use promo code RTN to get three audiobooks for just $15 as a new libro.fm member. You can support The Road to Now, Jefferson Cowie, and your local bookstore, all while you learn more about the past!

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Dec 17, 2018
#114 Making the Government Talk: US Covert Operations and Freedom of Information w/ Peter Kornbluh
56:43

Peter Kornbluh has spent his life working to shed light on US covert operations abroad. Along with his colleagues at the National Security Archive, Peter has helped to declassify documents related to the Bay of Pigs (1961) and Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), the coup against Chile’s democratically elected government (1973) and the Iran-Contra Scandal (1980s). As it turns out, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives and many prominent politicians have a lot to hide.

In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Peter Kornbluh about the National Security Archive and how he and others have used the Freedom of Information Act to ensure that citizens have access to information about their government. Peter also explains the impact that these documents have had on modern politics at home and abroad, the difference between his work and that of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange (Wikileaks), and why he believes that access to government documents is essential to a strong democracy. He also shares one of the greatest “how I got here” stories we’ve ever heard on The Road to Now!

Peter Kornbluh has worked at the Archive since April 1986. He currently directs the Archive's Cuba and Chile Documentation Projects. He was co-director of the Iran-Contra documentation project and director of the Archive's project on U.S. policy toward Nicaragua. He is the author of multiple books, the most recent of which, Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana (w/ William M. LeoGrande; UNC Press, 2014), received multiple honors and was a Foreign Affairs Best Book of the Year.

You can get Back Channel to Cuba on audiobook through libro.fm! Click here and use promo code RTN to get three audiobooks for just $15 as a new libro.fm member. You can support The Road to Now, our guest, and your local bookstore, all while you learn more about the past!

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

Dec 10, 2018
#113 War on the Banana Skin
37:37

Bob and Ben sit down to talk about the current events and historical questions that have been on their mind lately. They cover the GI bill delays that student veterans are currently facing, the one war that Teddy Roosevelt didn’t win, the tragedy of the 1970s and why Ronald Reagan is the Godfather of punk rock. They also talk about all the times and places that they’ve seen J. Mascis.

For more on the GI Bill delays, check out this piece by WPLN’s Sergio Martinez-Beltran on how missed payments are affecting students at Ben’s home university, MTSU. Bob and Ben encourage you to contact your elected officials and ask that they do what it takes to ensure that those who have served our country get the education they’ve earned.

We’re also excited to announce a new partnership with Libro.fm, which lets you purchase audiobooks directly from your favorite local bookstore. You get the same audiobooks, at the same price as the other one (you know which one), but you’ll be part of a much different story, one that supports community. Road to Now listeners can get a 3-month membership for the price of one (3 audiobooks for just $14.95) w/ promo code RTN. Get started by checking out our libro.fm playlist, which features books by past RTN guests!

To see the articles and pictures discussed in this episode, check out our episode page.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Dec 03, 2018
#112 The Ottoman Empire and the Rise of the Modern Middle East w/ Eugene Rogan
01:01:55

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/ Dr. Eugene Rogan to learn more about why the Ottoman Empire was divided, how that process explains a lot about the region today, and how this history can help us make better decisions today.

Dr. Eugene Rogan is Director of the Middle East Centre 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.

We'd also like to say a special thanks to the family of Roscoe L. Strickland Jr. for providing the support that brought Dr. Rogan to MTSU for our annual Strickland Scholars Program. For more on the Strickland program, click here. Additional thanks goes to Dr. Susan Myers-Shirk for her work in arranging for MTSU's Strickland Scholars to appear on our podcast.

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

Nov 19, 2018
#23.2 Felon Disfranchisement and Citizenship in the US w/ Pippa Holloway (w/ update)
54:15

On November 6, 2018, the people of Florida voted to amend their state’s constitution to restore voting rights to an estimated one and a half million citizens who had lost this right due to a prior felony conviction. In recognition of this significant restoration of rights, we’re re-airing our interview w/ Pippa Holloway on the history of felon disfranchisement and citizenship in America (originally aired Oct. 10, 2016) along with an additional interview w/ Pippa recorded Nov. 10, 2018 on the Florida amendment’s implications and the path to ratification. Bob and Ben support the voters of Florida, and believe that understanding the history of felon disfranchisement laws is an important step in restoring voting rights to the more than 4 million citizens in other states who have fulfilled their debt to society yet continue to be denied their right to vote.

To better understand the origins of felon disfranchisement laws, we invited Dr. Pippa Holloway of Middle Tennessee State University's Department of History to join us for a discussion about her most recent book Living in Infamy: Felon Disfranchisement and the History of American Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2013). Pippa explains the ways that these laws were developed as a strategy to prevent black Americans from voting in the post-Civil War-era. This strategy was later exported to other states such as Idaho and Hawaii for the purpose of excluding groups whose interests were in opposition to the ruling party. Pippa also discusses the current impediments to Americans’ right to vote, and offers suggestions to ensure that Americans are not denied a voice in our political process.

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

Nov 12, 2018
#111 Dvořák in America w/ Matt Negrin
55:56

What does it mean to be American? This isn't just a question for us in 2018 -- it was an unanswered question for the country in the late 19th century when it came to musical identity. And of all the people to try to answer it, it may have been the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak who came closest, while living in New York City and a small town in Iowa during the 1890s. Dvorak harnessed what he experienced -- African-American folk tunes, Native American culture, sounds of nature -- and worked them into four pieces including his most famous, the symphony "From the New World." In this episode, Bob Crawford and Matt Negrin (neither of whom are experts on Dvorak but who did play viola like Dvorak) sit in the Russian Tea Room next to Carnegie Hall where the New World symphony debuted to discuss their favorite classical music composer, and what it must have been like to be Dvorak in America.

Nov 05, 2018
#110 Gerry Adams and the Global Road to Peace
44:48

Note: Gerry Adams will be giving a public talk in the Civil Rights Room of the Nashville Public Library on Saturday, November 3rd at 10:00am. The talk is open to the public and Gerry invites you to come say hello! For more information, contact Greg O’Loughlin at 615-887-7547 or oloughlin@gmail.com.

Gerry Adams has dedicated most of his life to finding an end to the conflict that has engulfed Northern Ireland since his youth. As the President of Sinn Féin, he played a crucial role in facilitating the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which brought about an end to a three decade-long period of violence known as “The Troubles.” In doing so, he built connections with civil rights leaders from around the world, including Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela, and learned some valuable lessons about the humanity that connects all people regardless of their race, religion or national origins. In this episode of The Road to Now, Gerry shares his story of struggle and how he found a road to peace at a time when few believed it was possible.

Also joining us on today’s episode is Ben’s friend and colleague, Dr. Mark Doyle, who was kind enough to help explain the history of Northern Ireland and why Gerry Adams was such a crucial figure in that country’s history. Mark specializes in Irish history at Middle Tennessee State. His most recent book, Communal Violence in the British Empire: Disturbing the Pax (Bloomsbury, 2016) was joint winner of the 2017 Stansky Book Prize for the best book on British Studies since 1800.

To learn more about Gerry Adams, pick up his autobiography, Before the Dawn. His new book of recipes, The Negotiators Cookbook, is out soon, and you’ll know why it’s worth picking up when you listen to the episode!

A special thanks goes to Greg O’Loughlin for putting us in touch with Gerry and facilitating this interview!

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on this episode, including links to more information on Gerry Adams and Mark Doyle, visit our episode page.

Oct 29, 2018
RTN Theology #6 The Road to Hope? The Challenges of Faith in Politics
01:28:46

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!

Discussing the relationship between faith and the public sphere has been a part of America’s story since its beginning. Over the past decade, the presence of Christian faith in public policy and politics has been questioned and challenged in new and unique ways. How are citizens, Christian and non-Christian alike, to respond to issues of faith in politics? Join former Obama staffer Michael Wear and Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities at Duke University Farr Curlin for a conversation moderated by musician and The Road to Now podcast host Bob Crawford to hear Christian perspectives on these enduring questions.

Recorded live at the Center for Christianity and Scholarship at Duke University in collaboration with the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy.

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

Oct 22, 2018
#109 Presidential Impeachment w/ Jeffrey Engel
01:19:48

Bob and Ben speak with Jeffrey Engel about the history of Presidential impeachment and how understanding the past can inform the debates surrounding the impeachment of current and future Presidents. Jeff explains the reasons the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 chose to enshrine impeachment in the Constitution, how the process works, and what they meant by “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” (it turns out that last part isn’t as vague as you might think). He also talks about the reasons for the impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, why Richard Nixon was so close to being removed from office when he resigned on August 9, 1974, and why Nixon and Clinton’s decisions in the face of impeachment might have a lasting effect on American politics today. Jeff’s new book Impeachment: An American History, which he co-authored w/ Peter Baker, Jon Meacham, and Timothy Naftali is out from Modern Library on October 16, 2018.

Dr. Jeffrey A. Engel is an award-winning American history scholar and director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. He is an expert on the U.S. presidency and American diplomatic history. You can follow him on twitter at @JeffreyAEngel.

This episode was recorded on October 9, 2018 and was edited by Gary Fletcher. A special thanks to Dr. Brandon Miller of SMU’s Department of History for connecting us with Jeffrey Engel.

Oct 15, 2018
#108 From Scunthorpe to Brooklyn w/ The Ruen Brothers

Henry & Rupert Stansall (aka The Ruen Brothers) began their musical careers playing in the Working Men’s clubs of Scunthorpe in Northern England at a time in life when most of us were only beginning to discover music. In the almost two decades since, their road has led them to London, Los Angeles, and finally to Brooklyn, NY, where they currently reside. In between, the duo now known as The Ruen Brothers has covered thousands of miles, playing for tens of thousands of people. Along the way, they’ve been celebrated by the BBC, signed by Dolphus Ramseur, and recorded an album with famed producer Rick Rubin. In today’s episode, Ben Sawyer speaks with Henry and Rupert about how they discovered the music that influenced their sound, the victories and losses that come with abandoning the security of home for the uncertainty of the outside world, and the lesson they’ve learned about what matters in building a successful career in music.

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

Oct 08, 2018
#107 Laughing at Stalin: The Politics of Humor w/ Jon Waterlow
01:25:32

Bob and Ben speak with Jon Waterlow about his new book It’s Only a Joke Comrade! Humor, Trust and Everyday Life Under Stalin and the role humor plays in helping humans make sense of the world in even the darkest times. Jon also shares his take on humor’s role in politics under Stalin and today, the process he went through to uncover these jokes, and how the artistic technique of crosshatching helps us understand what it was like to live under the Stalinist system. He also discusses his decision to forego publishing his book with an academic publisher and why he decided to leave a bright future in the academy to purse fulfillment elsewhere.

Dr. Jonathan Waterlow received his Doctorate in History from the University of Oxford and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Anthony’s College (Oxford) and the University of Toronto. He is also the cohost of the Voices in the Dark podcast, which is available anywhere you get The Road to Now.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. Our intro also features Solomon Sawyer's world podcast debut. Solomon is Ben Sawyer's son. He is 3 years old.

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

Oct 01, 2018
#106 Why You Should Vote w/ Andy Bernstein

National Voter Registration Day is Tuesday, September 25th, and Bob and Ben are doing their part to get the word out. In this episode we speak with HeadCount Executive Director Andy Bernstein to talk about the work HeadCount has been doing to get people registered to vote, the importance of staying on top of local and national politics, and why your vote counts. Since 2004, HeadCount has registered more than half a million voters by working with bands (including The Avett Brothers) to use their concerts as a forum for reaching out to young voters.

If you’re not registered to vote, go to HeadCount.org and learn how to make sure your voice is heard in the 2018 elections and beyond!

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

Sep 24, 2018
RTN Theology #5 Jeremy Begbie on Theology Of And Through the Arts

This week Bob and Pastor Chris Breslin of Oak Church in Durham, NC sit down with Duke University, Thomas A. Langford Distinguished Professor of Theology Jeremy Begbie for a discussion about how we can see God’s presence in our own creative expression. Begbie uses music to try and explain hard to grasp theological concepts like the trinity, as described in his 2018 Eerdmans release, Redeeming Transcendence in the Arts.

This episode was recorded by Jeff Crawford at Arbor Ridge Studios in Chapel Hill, NC and also features the music of Alanna Boudreau and the poetry of Malcom Guite.

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

Sep 17, 2018
#105 Charlie Cook on the 2018 Midterm Elections

This week we take a deep dive into the upcoming Midterm Elections with Editor and Publisher of The Cook Political Report, and NBC News political analyst, Charlie Cook. Since 1984 Charlie has been the preeminent election forecaster for politicians, pundits, and political junkies alike. This week Charlie joins Bob for a one on one interview and helps to bring a historical perspective to the current state of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on this or any other episode of our website, check out our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

Sep 10, 2018
#104 Bill Plante & Olivier Knox on Journalism and Politics (live at Glover Park Group)

Veteran journalists Bill Plante & Olivier Knox join Bob & Ben for a conversation about the press and how journalism has changed in recent years. Bill Plante covered politics for CBS News from 1964 until 2016, and had a front row seat to some of the most significant events in the last half century, including the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement. Olivier Knox is the President of the White House Correspondents Association and the Chief Washington Correspondent for SiriusXM, and has covered American politics for more than two decades. Their conversation covers the relationship between journalism and politics, the role of a free press in a democracy, and the responsibility that journalists have to the public.

A special thanks to Halle Mayes, Michelle Soho, Sanjay Bhutiani and everyone at Glover Park Group for their help and generosity in hosting this conversation as a live event at their office on August 15, 2018.

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

Aug 22, 2018
#103 How the American Dream Became Temporary w/ Louis Hyman

“Make American Great Again” is not a precise slogan, but it did capture the sense of anxiety many Americans feel about work in the 21st century. The “gig economy,” in which more and more American workers rely on multiple jobs, is certainly different from the job market just three generations ago, when employers offered the stability of life-long employment and the promise of a pension-funded retirement. In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Cornell University’s Louis Hyman about the origins of the so-called “good job” in the mid-20th century, and the forces that led us from there to what he calls the “second industrious revolution.” He also explains how we might structure the economy of the 21st century in a way that offers the freedom of the gig economy without the insecurity that so many face under our current institutions.

Dr. Louis Hyman is a historian of work and business at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, where he also directs the Institute for Workplace Studies in New York City. His book Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary (Viking) will be released on August 21, 2018. “Make American Great Again” is not a precise slogan, but it did capture the sense of anxiety many Americans feel about work in the 21st century. The “gig economy,” in which more and more American workers rely on multiple jobs, is certainly different from the job market just three generations ago, when employers offered the stability of life-long employment and the promise of a pension-funded retirement. In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Cornell University’s Louis Hyman about the origins of the so-called “good job” in the mid-20th century, and the forces that led us from there to what he calls the “second industrious revolution.” He also explains how we might structure the economy of the 21st century in a way that offers the freedom of the gig economy without the insecurity that so many face under our current institutions.

Dr. Louis Hyman is a historian of work and business at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, where he also directs the Institute for Workplace Studies in New York City. His book Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary (Viking) will be released on August 21, 2018.

The Road to Now is produced by Bob Crawford and Dr. Benjamin Sawyer. For more on this an all our other episodes, visit www.TheRoadToNow.com

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Aug 20, 2018
#102 Stand Up Comedy and Los Angeles w/ Pat Reilly

Ben talks with Sociologist Pat Reilly, whose research examines the organization and economics of stand up comedy in Los Angeles. Pat explains what makes stand up a unique form of entertainment, the ways stand up has changed since it began, and how comics deal with issues such as joke theft. Ben and Pat also talk about their own experiences as stand up comics, and the challenges of joining, being part of, and leaving a comedy scene.

Pat Reilly is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine and cohost of The Goods from the Woods comedy podcast. You can hear Ben Sawyer’s appearance on The Goods from the Woods in episode #203 “Redneck Pompeii.”

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

Aug 13, 2018
#101 Nativism in American Politics w/ David Bennett

Bob & Ben speak with Syracuse University’s Dr. David Bennett to learn more about the history of nativism in the United States. Dr. Bennett discusses his book The Party of Fear: From Nativist Movements to the New Right in American History (Penguin, 1995, 2nd ed.), and how that book might look if a new edition were published today.

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

Jul 30, 2018
#100 RTN One Hundred

A lot has changed since the first episode of The Road to Now launched in May 2016, so Bob and Ben decided to spend some time reflecting on the podcast, the state of politics, and what they’ve learned about history. Bob explains what he thinks most people get wrong about history and the way that hosting RTN and beginning graduate studies have changed his relationship to history, Ben gives his insight on the current state of the US-Russian relationship and why he thinks nostalgia is a big part of the problem in today’s politics, and both say thank you to everyone for helping us turn an idea into a successful podcast. We are grateful for your support, and look forward to then next hundred episodes!

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: TheRoadToNow.com

The Road to Now is produced and hosted by Bob Crawford of The Avett Brothers and Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University.

Jul 23, 2018
RTN Theology #4: Kutter Callaway on Reconstructing Our Cultural and Spiritual Norms

In this episode of RTN Theology, Bob talks to Fuller Theological Seminary Assistant Professor Kutter Callaway about his new book, Breaking the Marriage Idol: Reconstructing Our Cultural and Spiritual Norms (InterVarsity Press, 2018) and the need to change the existing perceptions of single life and marriage in the church. They also discuss theology, the arts, and the Paul Schrader film, First Reformed.

The Road to Now is Part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on The Road to Now, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

Jul 16, 2018
BONUS: Elvis Presley & America (from My History Can Beat Up Your Politics)
49:19

Last fall, our good friend and fellow podcaster Bruce Carlson invited Ben to join him for a conversation about Elvis Presley and his impact on American society. During the conversation, Bob told an epic story about his Elvis Presley t-shirt that has never been told on The Road to Now.....until now (and Ben thinks it's one of the best stories Bob's ever told)!

We'll be back next week with an all-new RTN Theology!

This episode originally aired on My History Can Beat Up Your Politics on August 15, 2017. If you like The Road to Now, we highly recommend you check it out!

The Road to Now is a member of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on The Road to Now, check out our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

Jul 09, 2018
#99 The History & Politics of the World Cup w/ Alex Galarza & Matt Negrin

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is underway in Russia, so Ben sat down with soccer historian Alex Galarza and RTN favorite Matt Negrin to talk about the history of the World Cup. We discuss the corruption that has plagued FIFA, the controversy surrounding FIFA’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar, and what factors helped propel soccer into the world’s most popular sport. We also share some of our favorite experiences at soccer matches abroad and celebrate the recent announcement that the United States, Canada and Mexico will jointly host the 2026 World Cup.

Dr. Alex Galarza is a Post-Doctoral researcher at Haverford College and former Fulbright scholar in Argentina whose specialty is the history of sport in Latin America and digital history.

Matt Negrin is a Digital Producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and former freelance journalist who covered soccer around the world. Most importantly though, he is the record holder for “Most Appearances on The Road to Now (non-Bob & Ben category)”.

Bob & Ben are going to take a few weeks off, but we'll be back with new episodes in July. In the meantime, you can see Bob play music with The Avett Brothers and catch Ben on the road at a comedy show. Thank you so much for your support!

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

Jun 18, 2018
#33 Jim Cornette on the History of Professional Wrestling

There’s a good chance you don’t appreciate how engrained professional wrestling is in American history and culture, and this episode is about to change that. We didn’t know all this either until wrestling legend Jim Cornette was kind enough to spend an hour taking us from wrestling’s origins in the late 19th century up to the sport as it exists today. Jim knows the sport like no other- he’s been part of the professional wrestling scene since the 1970s, and currently hosts the tremendously popular podcast The Jim Cornette Experience. Jim has also been ringside (and sometimes in the ring) for some of wrestling’s greatest moments, including the April 5, 1982 showdown between Andy Kaufman & Jerry “The King” Lawler (that was his first time on national television), and his storytelling is second-to-none.

This episode also features wrestling aficionado Jon Burr making a special appearance as guest co-host. Jon is the host of the NBA podcast The Fastbreak Breakfast, the front man for the band How I Became the Bomb, and Ben’s friend & neighbor.

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

Jun 11, 2018
#98 Dwight Eisenhower & US Foreign Intervention in the 1950s w/ William Hitchcock

The world we live in today has Dwight Eisenhower’s fingerprints all over it. When Dwight Eisenhower gave his farewell address on January 17, 1960, he warned the American people of the growing influence of a “military-industrial complex.” What few people remember is that it was Eisenhower who oversaw the transformation of the American military into the large-scale force that spans the globe. “Ike” also helped facilitate the ceasefire in Korea that remains in place over six decades later, and his administration’s use of the CIA and covert operations to install regimes friendly to US interests continues to haunt America’s foreign relations with countries such as Iran today. In this episode, Bob & Ben speak with the University of Virginia’s William Hitchcock to talk about Dwight Eisenhower and the ways his eight years in the Oval Office can still be felt more than half a century later. Along the way, we discuss how Eisenhower's experience as a General during World War II shaped his world view, and where Eisenhower fits within the history of the Republican Party and the greater history of American Presidents. 

Dr. William Hitchcock is Professor of History at the University of Virginia and the Randolph P. Compton Professor at UVa's Miller Center. He is the author of six books, the most recent of which The Age of Eisenhower: American and the World in the 1950s was published by Simon & Schuster in March of 2018.

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

Jun 04, 2018
#97 Songs of Social Justice w/ Governor Martin O’Malley
36:44

In this episode of The Road to Now, recorded live at Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, Governor Martin O’Malley join Bob & Ben for a conversation about history, music and politics. We discuss the history of immigration, how Gov. O’Malley’s Catholic faith influenced his political views, and Gov. O’Malley shares (and plays) some of the songs that have had the strongest impact on his life.

Martin O’Malley has served as Governor of Maryland (2007-2015), Mayor of Baltimore (1999-2007) and Maryland City Councilman (1991-1999).

This episode was recorded live on October 27, 2016 at Georgetown University. Special thanks to Mo Elleithee and everyone at the Institute of Politics and Public Service for supporting this event and for all the hospitality they showed us during our visit.

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

May 28, 2018
#96 Tyler Mahan Coe on Podcasting the History of Country Music

For the third installment of our Music May series, Ben caught up with Tyler Mahan Coe whose podcast Cocaine & Rhinestones dives into some of the most famous stories in the history of country music. As a musician and son of country legend David Allan Coe, Tyler’s own history is part of that story, but his ability to take the best of his own experiences while remaining objective in the subjects he covers is outstanding. Tyler talks about the calling that drove him to make Cocaine & Rhinestones, the methodology he developed to cover the history of country music in a podcast, and why he thinks most people don’t have the story right when it comes to Merle Haggard’s Okie from Muskogee.

A special shout out to Dr. Kelly Kolar for recommending Tyler as a guest for our music series and for joining us for the interview.

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

May 21, 2018
#95 Tom Marshall on Writing Phish and Everything Else
01:08:05

You may have heard Tom Marshall’s words even if you’ve never heard him speak. For the last four decades Tom has been the chief lyricist for the band Phish, which is one of the most successful touring bands in the world. Tom, however, does not tour with the band, and his position as the mysterious wordsmith for the band has spawned several online myths about Tom’s origins and his life accomplishments outside of Phish. In this episode, We talk with Phish lyricist Tom Marshall to learn about the history of Phish, his friendship with Trey Anastasio, and the life experiences that inspired the lyrics for some of the band’s most well-known songs. We also set the record straight about Tom’s life, discuss his podcast Under the Scales and talk about Bob & Ben’s collaboration w/ Tom through the Osiris Podcast Network.

Today’s music is by Tom Marshall’s band Amphibian.

The Road to Now is a member of the Osiris Podcast Network. Learn more about this episode and others at our website: www.The RoadToNow.com.

May 14, 2018
#94 This Episode Kills Fascists: The Life & Legacy of Woody Guthrie w/ Deana McCloud

Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” is one of the well-known tunes in the United States, but the song, and the man who wrote it, are far more complex and fascinating than most folks realize. Born in Oklahoma in 1912, Woody moved west during the Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s and witnessed first-hand the tragedy that was the Great Depression. A self-proclaimed “common-ist,” Woody dedicated his life to documenting the experiences of his generation and using his platform as a nationally-recognized musician to advocate for the common working American. In today’s episode of The Road to Now, Bob & Ben speak with Woody Guthrie Center Executive Director Deana McCloud to learn more about the experiences that shaped Woody Guthrie and the legacy he left for those of us today.

This episode was recorded at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, OK. If you’re ever in the area, we highly recommend you take the time to visit. Check out the video of our visit to the Guthrie Center by clicking here.

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

May 07, 2018
#93 Woodrow Wilson & Presidential Morality w/ Patricia O’Toole
58:58

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 30, 2018
Catching Up: Sean Foley on Syria and the Middle East

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
#92 The History of the Armenian Genocide w/ Ronald Suny

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
#91 The History of Satire and the American Political Cartoon w/ Richard Samuel West

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
#90 The History of the Cherokee Nation w/ John Sedgwick

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 09, 2018
#40 The Life & Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. w/ Clayborne Carson
27:02

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.)

Apr 02, 2018
RTN Theology #3: A Conversation with Kate Bowler

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
#89 The GOP and Tax Reform Revisited w/ Brian Riedl

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
#88 Taxation, the Great Depression, and the GOP Tax Reform w/ Robert McElvaine

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
#87 All Roads Lead to Douglas Brinkley
57:10

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. 

Mar 05, 2018
RTN Theology #2: Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?
01:03:05

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 26, 2018
#86 William McKinley and the Republican Party with Robert Merry
55:03

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 19, 2018
#85 The History of US-Mexican Relations w/ Bruce Carlson (Recorded Live in Riviera Maya, Mexico)
52:13

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

 

 

Feb 05, 2018
#84 America’s Forgotten War: The War of 1812 w/ Don Hickey
45:51

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 22, 2018
#83 Foreign Policy in American History w/ Joyce Kaufman
52:30

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

 

Jan 08, 2018
#81 The History of Coffee w/ Mark Pendergrast
41:08

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 11, 2017
RTN Theology #1: The Intersection of Christianity & Culture in the United States ft. James K.A. Smith
01:11:43

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

 

Dec 07, 2017
#80 Navajo Code Talkers, Pocahontas, & Native American History w/ Ashley Riley Sousa
30:03

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 30, 2017
#47 The History of Christianity w/ Molly Worthen (Rebroadcast)
01:00:44

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 23, 2017
#79 The Russian Revolution w/ Lewis Siegelbaum
47:14

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 16, 2017
#78 The French Revolution w/ Peter McPhee
39:58

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!)

Nov 09, 2017
#77 Martin Luther & the Reformation with Donald Fortson
40:40

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 30, 2017
#76 History of American Cemeteries with Tanya Marsh
37:51

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.

Oct 23, 2017
#75 William Walker, Historical Markers, and (Re)Writing History
29:27

On the corner of 4th Avenue and Commerce Street in Nashville, there’s a historical marker that reads:

“William Walker; Grey-eyed Man of Destiny; Born May 8, 1824, Walker moved to this site from 6th Ave. N. in 1840.  In early life he was doctor, lawyer & journalist.  He invaded Mexico in 1853 with 46 men & proclaimed himself Pres., Republic of Lower Calif.  Led forces into Nicaragua in 1855; was elected its Pres. in 1856.  In attempt to wage war on Honduras was captured & executed Sept. 12, 1860.”

The interesting thing is that it doesn’t mention that Walker reintroduced slavery to a country that had abolished the institution in the year he was born.

In this episode of The Road to Now, Ben investigates how historical markers get made, and the agenda of those who work to establish them. He tracks down the origins of the William Walker marker, which was established in 1970, and speaks with Pippa Holloway to learn about her work in erecting a marker to Civil Rights activist Penny Campbell. It turns out a lot has changed in the half-century between the two markers, but some things remain constant then and now.

For more on The Road to Now, visit our website: www.theroadtonow.com

 

Oct 16, 2017
#72 Coffee With The Avett Brothers
36:33

In this episode of The Road to Now, we sit down for coffee and conversation with Bob’s bandmates in The Avett Brothers for a discussion about art, technology, and challenges of creativity. We cover the historic relationship between genius and madness, the ways one’s self is reflected in what we create, and the how they’ve adapted to the changes that have come their way since they began playing music. The Avett Brothers was the nexus that brought Bob and Ben together in creating The Road to Now, so we’re really excited to bring it all together and share this conversation with our listeners.

We're also excited to launch The Road to Now's patreon page. To find out how you can get involved (and receive extras for your support), visit www.TheRoadToNow.com/Support

 

Sep 25, 2017
#71 Gerd Schroth on Life as a Child of Nazi Germany, Refugee, Immigrant, And Now, American Citizen
47:09

The Nazi regime that came to power in Germany in 1933 unleashed the most brutal and comprehensive war that humanity has ever seen. The horrors of the Nazis and the destruction they left behind is something most of us learned about in history class, but for Gerd Schroth it is the story of his childhood. Born in Germany in 1938, Gerd came of age on the scorched earth left behind by the German war machine. Gerd’s father had joined the Nazi party because he thought Hitler could restore Germany’s greatness, but he bequeathed to his children a world in ruins.

More than seven decades after the end of World War II, Gerd is still writing the story of his life. He is now an American citizen, and his children were born in the United States. Gerd has moved on from the tragedy of his youth, but he has never forgotten it. He has thought a lot about how his parents’ generation and why they embraced the horrifying ideology of Nazism. He has found value in past traditions while abhorring the actions of his ancestors. And in doing this, he has built a much stronger legacy for future generations.

In this episode of The Road to Now, we share Gerd Schroth’s personal story of his life as a Citizen of Nazi Germany, refugee, immigrant, and now, American Citizen.

For more on The Road to Now, visit our website: www.theroadtonow.com

 

Sep 18, 2017
#69 Lance Armstrong on Moving Forward Without Forgetting the Past
31:27

Lance Armstrong is one of the most recognized names in modern American sports. He’s also one of the most divisive. He’s a man who helped raise almost half a billion dollars to help people suffering from cancer. He’s also a man who aggressively went after those who accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs. In this episode of The Road To Now, Bob and Ben sit down for a conversation with Lance about his origins, how he survived his fight with cancer, and the culture of cycling during his career. We also discuss what it’s like to go from hero to heel virtually overnight, and how he decided to admit his mistakes and begin trying to move forward in life.

To keep up with Lance, subscribe to his podcast, The Forward. It's available anywhere you get The Road to Now.

For more on this episode and The Road to Now podcast: www.TheRoadToNow.com

 

Sep 04, 2017
#68 The Politics of Immigration in American History with Andrew Gyory
43:34

In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was the first major legislative act in American history to restrict immigration. In this episode we talk with historian Andrew Gyory about the reasons that immigration became such a powerful political issue in the late 19th century, and how studying this period of history can help us better understand the politics of immigration in 2017. Dr. Gyory is an expert on the history of immigration and the author of Closing the Gate: Race, Class, and the Chinese Exclusion Act, (UNC Press, 1999).

 

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

Aug 28, 2017
#66 Charles Darwin and American History w/ Randall Fuller
35:13

Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species is one of the most controversial books ever written. For most Americans, Darwin’s theories are associated with the 1925 Scopes trial and the near century-long “evolution vs creation” debate has that emerged as a dominant theme in American society in the years since the trial. In this episode of The Road to Now, we speak with Dr. Randall Fuller about his new book The Book That Changed America: How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Ignited America, and the various ways that Darwin’s work has been interpreted since its publication in 1858. As it turns out, Darwin and Origin of Species are far more complex and have a much deeper history in the United States than most of us realize.

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

Aug 14, 2017
#65 The History of Early America w/ Liz Covart
34:07

At The Road to Now, we don’t just make history podcasts- we also listen to them. In this episode we’re excited to share our conversation with fellow history podcaster Dr. Liz Covart, whose podcast Ben Franklin’s World covers the history of early America. Bob, Ben and Liz discuss the concept of the frontier in American history, the work that goes into writing history and sharing findings, and why it’s a good idea to follow the evidence even when it makes you uncomfortable. We also talk about the place that podcasts fit within the field of history and why it’s so exciting to share history with others.

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

 

Aug 07, 2017
#64 The History of Oil w/ Paul Roberts
36:01

Oil is one of the oldest fuel sources known to man. Its impact on the world is not simple; while it has powered the vehicles that have made human mobility possible, it has also propped up some of the most repressive regimes in recent history. In the last installment of our four-part history of energy series, we speak to journalist and author Paul Roberts to discuss the complex role that oil has played in shaping the industrialized world, and the costs/benefits that oil has as an energy source in the 21st century.

Paul Roberts is a journalist and author who covers energy and technology. His work has appeared in many publications including Rolling Stone, Harpers, and the Washington Post. His book The End of Oil (2004), examines the history of petroleum and its impact on the world.

For more on The Road to Now, please visit our website: www.theroadtonow.com

Jul 31, 2017
#63 The History of Green Energy w/ Alexis Madrigal
41:59

When most Americans think of sustainable technology, they think of Jimmy Carter's solar panels or the windmills that are beginning to pop up across the country. But so-called "sustainable" or "green" energy has a history that can be traced back to the 19th century. In this episode of The Road to Now, Alexis Madrigal explains sustainable energy's deep roots in American history, and discusses the viability of green energy as an alternative to coal, oil, and solar energy production in the 21st century. 

Alexis Madrigal is technology correspondent at The Atlantic and Editor-at-Large at Fusion. His 2009 book, Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology was published by Da Capo Press in 2011. 

For more on this episode and all others, visit our website: www.theroadtonow.com

 

Jul 24, 2017
#62 Nuclear Energy w/ Jim Clarke and Steve Krahn
12:24

Since August 6, 1945, when the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the world has been aware of the awesome force that nuclear science could unleash. Using that force for energy production proved that nuclear technology could improve our lives, but nuclear energy has had a hard time shaking its association with destruction, and the catastrophes at Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986) & Fukushima (2011), have only heightened public concern over the safety of nuclear power.

 In other words, nuclear power has a bad rap. But does it deserve it?

 Not according to scientists Jim Clarke and Steve Krahn of Vanderbilt University. Both men have distinguished careers working in nuclear energy that have spanned half the history of nuclear power. In this episode of The Road to Now, Jim and Steve break down the risks and rewards of using nuclear energy, and argue that the public response to Three Mile Island and other spectacular events may have led us to poor conclusions about how we produce energy. They also remind us that nuclear energy produces no carbon, which makes it particularly valuable in the age of global warming.

 Dr. Jim Clarke is Professor of the Practice of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Vanderbilt University. Jim has served as an advisor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and is currently on the NRC Advisory Committee for Reactor Safeguards and its subcommittee on Radiation Protection and Nuclear Materials. He has over 35 years of professional experience with approximately 150 publications and presentations.

 Dr. Steven Krahn is Professor of the Practice of Nuclear Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Vanderbilt University. He has more than 30 years of experience in his field and previously served in the U. S. Department of Energy as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Safety & Security in the Office of Environmental Management.

 Both guests highly recommend that you visit the US Energy Information Administration website (eia.gov) for accurate and updated information on energy production in the United States.

For links to more readings on this topic (they gave us a lot for this episode!) and more about The Road to Now, please visit our website: www.theroadtonow.com.

 

 

 

Jul 17, 2017
#61 The History of Coal w/ Chuck Keeney
38:14

In our first episode of the second season of The Road to Now, Bob and Ben speak with Dr. Chuck Keeney about the history of coal in the United States. Chuck explains the ways that the coal industry has shaped not only the physical landscape of mining towns, but also, through lobbying efforts and information campaigns, the way we understand our nation’s history. Chuck is uniquely qualified to tell the story of coal; not only does he hold a PhD in history from West Virginia University, he is the great-grandson of coal miner and labor organizer Frank Keeney, who was part of The Battle of Blair Mountain.

(The Battle of Blair Mountain was a 1921 shootout between coal miners and the coal companies that was the largest domestic insurrection since the Civil War. If you want to know more, it’s all in this episode.)

Chuck Keeney was featured in the 2017 NatGeo Documentary From the Ashes, which was directed by Michael Bonfiglio. We highly recommend you take the time to watch this outstanding documentary!

For more on The Road to Now, please visit our website: www.theroadtonow.com.

 

Jul 10, 2017
#59 The History of World War I w/ Mitchell Yockelson
38:46

On April 6, 1917, the United States House of Representatives voted to declare war on Germany, bringing the United States into the brutal war that had raged across Europe since the summer of 1914. America’s entry into World War I helped turn the tide of the war, securing a victory for the US and its allies. And while the final shots of the war took place on November 11, 1918, the consequences of “The Great War” live on nearly a century after its end.

Why did the United States become involved in World War I after remaining neutral for so long? How did the war in Europe shape American society? And who actually won World War I? In this episode of The Road to Now, we get the answers to these questions and more in our conversation with military historian and archivist Mitch Yockelson.

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

May 15, 2017
#58 The History of North Korea w/ Sheena Greitens
30:20

North Korea is a hard place for most Americans to understand. Kim Jung-un and his inner circle keep a tight grip on information, and what the North Korean government does share with outsiders can be hard to decipher. What is clear though, is that the current state of relations between Washington DC and the regime in Pyongyang is growing colder every day, and North Korea’s pursuit of long-range nuclear weapons makes resolving this conflict an urgent matter in US foreign policy today.

How did the standoff between the US and North Korea begin, and who is to blame for the conflict? How has the Kim family, now in its third generation of leadership, managed to stay in power this long, and what are the prospects of removing them from power? And how has our policy toward North Korea been shaped by its geographic proximity to China and Russia?

In this episode of The Road to Now, we get the answer to these questions and more in our interview with North Korea expert, Dr. Sheena Greitens.

Sheena Greitens is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri.  She is also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Center for East Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution and an Associate in Research at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. 

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

 

May 08, 2017
#57 Margaret Talev on the White House Press Corps
47:57

On February 17, 2017, President Donald J. Trump tweeted that the American news media is the enemy of the people. This was an escalation from the rhetoric candidate Trump used along the campaign trail continually rebuking the mainstream media as purveyors of fake news. The President’s disdain for the media made it no surprise when he said that he would not be attending last week’s White House Correspondence Association Dinner. The event is a long-held Washington tradition that celebrates the free press of the United States and honors the work of journalists.

So what’s it like to be a journalist covering a President who is so openly antagonistic to your profession? Is Donald Trump’s disdain for the media as fierce when he’s behind closed doors as it is when he speaks at rallies? And what is it like to go from covering the Obama White House to that of Donald Trump?

In this episode of The Road to Now, we get the answers to these questions and more in our interview with Bloomberg White House Correspondent Margaret Talev.

For more on this episode, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

May 04, 2017
#56 The History of the Harlem Globetrotters w/ Ben Green
33:18

The Harlem Globetrotters are one of those great parts of American culture that almost everyone knows and loves. For most of us today, the Globetrotters are outstanding entertainers. But did you know that in the mid-20th century the Globetrotters were probably the single best basketball team on the planet? Did you know that they did travel the globe as agents of the US Department of State during the Cold War, but that they are not, in fact, from Harlem? If you want to know how all of this happened (and how the Globetrotters saved the NBA), you’re going to love this interview with historian Ben Green on the History of the Harlem Globetrotters.

For more on this an all other episodes of The Road To Now, visit our website: www.theroadtonow.com.

 

May 01, 2017
#55 Neil Hanson on the Mignonette & Everything Else
32:23

Neil Hanson is one of the most interesting people we know. He’s written books on World War I, the Spanish Armada, and the fire that destroyed London in 1666. He once teamed up with history’s greatest treasure hunter to tell the story of retrieving over $100 million in gold from a sunken Soviet ship in the arctic. He’s been the owner of the highest Inn in all of Great Britain. And, in 1999 he published a book called The Custom of the Sea, which tells the story of a shipwrecked crew that was put on trial in London after resorting to cannibalism. The ship, which fell victim to forty-foot waves off the coast of Africa in 1884, was named the Mignonette, and Hanson’s book was so good that in 2004 it inspired an album by an up-and-coming group of musicians called The Avett Brothers.

How could someone turn a gruesome tale of cannibalism into an inspirational work of history? How do you track down the sources that allow you to answer so many questions about history? And how does one individual accomplish so much in one life? In this episode of The Road to Now, we get the answers in our conversation with Neil Hanson.

Find out more about this episode of The Road to Now at our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

 

Apr 24, 2017
#54 The (After)Life of James K. Polk w/ Tom Price
40:39

“Who is James K. Polk?” If you’re asking this question to yourself right now, you’re not alone. In fact, “Who is James K. Polk?” was a slogan Polk’s political rivals used to mock him in the 1844 Presidential election. This made sense at the time; despite serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1835 to 1839 and Governor of Tennessee from 1839 to 1841, Polk lacked the type of dynamic personality that defines many of America’s great Presidents. Yet a late compromise in the Democratic Party and the changing mood of the American people thrust Polk from a failed Gubernatorial candidate in Tennessee to the White House in less than a year.

 Who is James K. Polk? He’s America’s first dark horse President. He’s the Commander-in-Chief who oversaw the annexation of the southern portion of the Oregon territory, the admission of Texas into the United States, and the invasion of Mexico that forced the Mexican government to cede about half of its territory to the United States in 1848 (you know New Mexico? It used to be part of old Mexico). He’s the man who may have done more to transform the United States in a single term than any other President in American history.

And, strangely enough, he’s also the man whose corpse has been dug out of the ground more times than any other President. His current resting spot in Nashville is Polk’s third grave, but he may be moving again in the near future.

So how did Polk go from relative obscurity to President of the United States in such a short period of time? Why does his place in Americans’ minds fall so far short of his impact on American history? And why are lawmakers in Tennessee considering moving Polk’s body for a fourth time more than 150 years after his death? In this episode of The Road to Now we answer these questions and more in our conversation with the Curator of the James K. Polk Home & Museum, Tom Price.

Find out more about this and all other episodes of The Road to Now at our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

Apr 17, 2017
#53 The History of Syria w/ Sean Foley
40:51

The Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, has been one of the most tragic events in recent history. The implications of the situation in Syria stretch far beyond the borders of the country, and the UN estimates that more than 5 million people have fled the country to escape the violence that has claimed that lives of more than 400,000 Syrians. But how did the conflict start? What is at stake for the various factions at war in Syria? And how have foreign countries such as Russia and the United States influenced Syria? In this special edition of The Road to Now, we answer these questions and more in our conversation with Dr. Sean Foley.

Dr. Foley specializes in the contemporary history and politics of the Middle East and the wider Islamic world. He frequently visits Asia and the Middle East, follows events in both regions closely, and speaks Arabic and Bahasa Malaysian. He has published widely and has delivered public presentations to audiences around the world.  He has also held Fulbright fellowships in Syria, Turkey, and Malaysia. From April 2013 until January 2014, he lived and traveled extensively in Saudi Arabia.

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

 

Apr 13, 2017
#52 Douglas Brinkley on Bob Dylan, John Kennedy, & the Rise of the American Individual
35:01

The 1960s was a decade of individualism, and few individuals from this era are as iconic as Bob Dylan and John F. Kennedy. For Dylan, the 60s was just the beginning of a half-century career that has included over 2,500 shows, 38 studio albums, 13 Grammys and the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. Kennedy, on the other hand, like so many of the decade’s giants, was taken from us too soon, leaving us to wonder what he may have accomplished if not for his tragic assassination in 1963. In this episode of The Road to Now we talk about the life, times, and cultural influence of Bob Dylan and John F. Kennedy with award-winning historian, Dr. Douglas Brinkley.

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

Apr 10, 2017
#51 The History of Golf w/ Tony Parker
38:00

Throughout the latter part of the 20th century the perception of Golf in popular culture was that of a sport for wealthy white men who gathered at their exclusive country clubs to make business deals over 18 holes of golf, all the while smoking expensive cigars and drinking martinis (you know, like in CaddyShack?). But then, seemingly from out of nowhere, Tiger Woods burst onto the scene, changing the look and style of the sport forever.

It turns out, however, that most Americans’ perception of the sport is does not quite fit the reality. The truth behind golf’s history is much more complicated and a bit more noble. And today, Golf raises more money for charity than all other major sports combined. For example, since 1970 the FedEx St Jude Classic Golf tournament has raised over 33 million dollars for the hospital. In this episode of the Road to Now we get the story straight in our conversation on the history of golf with Dr. Tony Parker of the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Augustine, Florida.

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

 

 

Apr 03, 2017
#50 Ambassador Jack Matlock on Diplomacy & US-Russian Relations
26:49

The Cold War that developed between the United States and the Soviet Union after World War II, defined the second half of the 20th century. In these years, the two so-called superpowers competed to win the hearts and minds of the world, all the while trying not to destroy all of humanity with the atomic weapons they had stockpiled en masse. Yet after decades of bitter confrontation, American President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev were able to bring the Cold War to an end in just a few years. Given that Moscow has once again emerged as a focal point in American politics, we’d be wise to learn what we can from the end of the Cold War. On this episode of The Road to Now, we are honored to share our interview with a man who was, in fact, in the room where it happened- former US Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack Matlock recorded live at Middle Tennessee State University.

A special thanks to the Department of History and the Department of Political Science and International Relations at MTSU for supporting this live podcast, and to Susan Myers-Shirk and Kelle Knight for helping us make the event a success. We are also grateful to John Merchant of MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry and his students Colin Bell, Logan Eley, and Caleb King for recording the event.

For more on this episode and others, check out our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

Mar 28, 2017
#49 The History of Technology w/ Nicholas Carr
44:32

The internet has revolutionized the human experience in the 21st century. Our ability to communicate with others, find locations in unfamiliar places, and access information from across the globe has never been easier, and new media like blogs and podcasts have connected voices with audiences in ways that were not possible just a few decades ago. Yet, despite all these incredible benefits, many of us are beginning to sense that all this connectivity is affecting the way we think and interact with one another. How is the internet affecting our brains, and should we be concerned about it? How is the internet different from other media technologies such as print, radio and television? And is google making us stupid? In this episode of the Road to Now, we get the answer from New York Times Best Selling Author Nicholas Carr.

A special thank you to Middle Tennessee State University and Dr. Susan Myers-Shirk for arranging this interview as part of MTSU's Scholars' Week Talk. 

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

Mar 20, 2017
#47 The History of Christianity in America w/ Molly Worthen
01:00:48

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.

Dr. Molly Worthen is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill whose research focuses on North American religious and intellectual history. Her most recent book, Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. Molly is also a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.

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

And since you're reading this, why not go ahead and give us a positive rating on iTunes, Stitcher, or anywhere else you get your podcasts? It only takes a few minutes, and it helps us spread the word aboutThe Road to Now. Thanks!

Mar 06, 2017
#46 Martin Van Buren & the Age of Jackson w/ Mark Cheathem
51:44

These days, Martin Van Buren is mostly known as the balding nineteenth century President with muttonchops and a funny name. But spend some time talking with Dr. Mark Cheathem, professor of history at Cumberland University and Project Director of the Martin Van Buren Papers, and you will come to appreciate that not only did Van Buren pull together the coalitions that formed the Democratic Party, he was also the architect of the modern American party system.

And we should also add that Martin Van Buren is Bob Crawford’s favorite President.

More on this episode and all others is available at our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 27, 2017
#45 Bruce Carlson on Presidential History
50:55

On April 30, 1789, George Washington stood on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City and took the first Presidential oath of office. The words he spoke that day were those written clearly in Article 2 of the new Constitution, which established the executive branch of the Federal Government. The rest of Article 2, however, is not so clear, and Washington became the first of many Presidents accused of unconstitutional behavior. But what makes one person a “strong president” and another guilty of “executive overreach?” Which Presidents have done the most to reshape the Presidency? And have we given some Presidents too much credit, while forgetting the important contributions of others?

On our first Presidents Day Episode of The Road to Now, we get the answer to these questions and more in our conversation with one of our favorites- the host of “My History Can Beat Up Your Politics” podcast, Bruce Carlson.

For more on this episode and all the others, check out our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

 

Feb 20, 2017
#44 The History of NASCAR w/ Kyle Petty
40:43

When Bill France Sr. founded NASCAR in 1948, his goal was to turn stock car racing from an activity associated with bootlegging roughnecks into a successful spectator sport. To say he accomplished that goal would be an understatement, as the once-regional sport has become one of the most popular in the United States. How did this happen? And how did a competition once associated with outlaws and rogues become one of the most family-friendly sports in modern America? Anyone who knows NASCAR history will tell you that you can’t answer these questions without talking a lot about the Petty Family, and in this episode we do just that. Ladies and gentlemen, in episode #44 of The Road to Now, we talk the history of NASCAR with NASCAR icon Kyle Petty.

Kyle Petty is an American Stock Car racer who earned 173 top-ten finishes and 8 wins in his three decades behind the wheel in NASCAR. The Petty family, which also includes Kyle’s grandfather Lee, his father Richard, and his son, Adam, is unquestionably one of the most significant families in the history of NASCAR. Since retiring in 2008, Kyle began working as a race analyst for top networks, and currently works on pre- and post-race coverage for NBC. Kyle is also the founder of the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, which has raised over $17 million to benefit children’s charities. Since 2004, the ride has benefitted Victory Junction, which was founded to enrich the lives of children suffering from chronic or life-threatening illnesses. Victory Junction was founded by the Petty Family in honor of Kyle’s son Adam, who died tragically on the racetrack in 2000.

For more on this an other episodes of The Road to Now, go to our website: www.theroadtonow.com.

The Road to Now is hosted by Bob Crawford of The Avett Brothers and Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University, and produced by Bob, Ben and Ian Skotte. 

Feb 13, 2017
#43 The History of the Democratic Party w/ Bruce Schulman
51:54

As the Democratic Party recovers from an unexpected defeat in the 2016 election, it finds itself in search of new leaders who can bring the party through this time of crisis. History shows that parties can withstand hard times, but how did the oldest active political party in American history find itself on the verge of irrelevance? And are there historic precedents for where the party finds itself today? In this episode of The Road to Now, Dr. Bruce Schulman guides us through the history of the Democratic Party to help us answer these questions and more.

Dr. Bruce J. Schulman is the William E. Huntington Professor of History at Boston University. He is the author of multiple books on modern American history, including From Cotton Belt to Sunbelt (Oxford, 1991), Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism (St. Martin’s, 1994) and The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics (Free Press, 1991) which was named a 2001 New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Dr. Schulman is also a contributor to several major media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, & the Christian Science Monitor, and has served as expert consultant in productions by The History Channel and PBS.

The Road to Now is hosted by Bob Crawford of The Avett Brothers & Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University. For more on info on this episode and our podcast, check out our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

 

Feb 05, 2017
#42 The History of National Parks w/ Jon Jarvis
57:06

For over 100 years, the National Park Service has maintained and protected some of America’s greatest treasures. Since its founding in 1916, the service has enjoyed broad support from the public as well as elected officials from both parties. Recently, however, the Trump administration has turned on the service for what it alleges are attempts to undermine the President, but its move to silence NPS may have inadvertently made park employees early leaders in the resistance to the new President. Was NPS attempting to provoke Trump with its social media, or was it simply following a course set long before? And is the current President’s animosity toward the parks an entirely new development, or have we seen similar moments in the past? In this episode of the Road to Now we speak with former National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis to find out.

Jonathan B. Jarvis spent nearly four decades as an employee of the National Park Service and served as NPS’ 18th Director from October 2, 2009 until his retirement on January 3, 2017.

For more on this episode and The Road to Now, check out our website- www.theroadtonow.com and follow us on twitter and instagram at @Road_to_Now

Jan 30, 2017
#41 The History of Health Insurance w/ Melissa Thomasson
53:30

Fixing the American healthcare system has been one of the most difficult and divisive problems in modern US history. The Affordable Care Act has helped more Americans than ever gain insurance, yet the remaining problems have led the Republican-controlled Congress to put “repeal and replace” at the top of their legislative agenda in 2017. Why has health insurance been such a tricky issue in the United States? Why did our insurance model develop differently than in other industrialized countries, and how can understanding this help us overcome the problems we face today?

In this episode of The Road to Now, Dr. Melissa Thomasson helps us answer these questions by taking us through the history of the American health insurance system. We also offer up another installment of Path to the Present (the podcast within a podcast) in which Matt Negrin and Alex Trowbridge provide a concise history of the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Believe me- this episode is YOUGE!

Melissa Thomasson is Julian Lange Professor of Economics at the University of Miami and an expert on the economic history of the American health care system.

For more on this episode can be found at our website: www.theroadtonow.com

Jan 23, 2017
#40 The Life & Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. w/ Clayborne Carson
41:00

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.

You can find more information on this episode and The Road to Now at our website: www.theroadtonow.com

 

Jan 15, 2017
#38 The History of the Republican Party w/ Heather Cox Richardson
01:05:11

Most people agree that the 2016 election marked a turning point for the Republican Party. Whatever the impact of this election in the long term, the changes we’re seeing today are part of a longer historical trajectory that took the GOP from the party of Abraham Lincoln to the party of Donald Trump. So how did this happen? How did a party that was despised in the American south in the 1940s come to dominate the region a few decades later? And where do great Presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan fit within this story. In today’s episode, we’re joined by Dr. Heather Cox Richardson to get the answer.

 Heather Cox Richardson is a Professor of History at Boston College and co-editor at We're History. Her most recent book, To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party, was published by Basic Books in 2014.

For more on this episode and The Road to Now: www.theroadtonow.com.

 

Jan 09, 2017
#37 NASA, Warren G. Harding, Daylight Saving, & Political Parties (Listener Q&A)
36:26

In the last few weeks, our listeners have submitted some great questions about the history of NASA, Presidential corruption, daylight saving time, & more. We’ve been working hard to get you the answers to these questions, so to kick off 2017, we offer you a Q & A extravaganza with an all-star team of historians featuring Heather Cox Richardson of Boston College, Bruce Carlson of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics, & Brian Odom of NASA!

Thanks to everyone who sent us the questions for today’s episode. Please keep sending your questions to roadtonowcast@gmail.com and we’ll continue to answer them as they come in!

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

Jan 02, 2017
#36 Family, History, and Possibilities w/ Turner Simkins
50:09

In episode 36 of The Road to Now, Bob and guest co-host Keith Larson speak with Turner Simkins about his new book Possibilities. Turner tells of the struggles his family went through after his son Brennan was diagnosed with a rare subtype of Leukemia on his 7th birthday, and what they learned as Brennan went from a dismal prognosis to a remarkable recovery. Turner also explains how the inspiration that Brennan took from Band of Brothers inspired him to wake up every day with the will to fight, and shows how the lessons of history can be a powerful force in our everyday lives.

More on this episode and The Road to Now can be found at our website: www.theroadtonow.com.

Dec 26, 2016
#35 Jimmy Carter & US Foreign Relations w/ Nancy Mitchell
48:43

Jimmy Carter’s Presidency is one few Americans remember fondly. In a 2013 ranking created by statistician Nate Silver, Carter took the #26 spot, right between William Howard Taft and Calvin Coolidge. The economic crises Carter inherited upon taking office in 1977 plagued his administration, and his perceived weakness in fighting the Cold War only added to the sense of unease created by America’s loss in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. But is it possible that Americans’ perceptions of Carter don’t match the reality?

Dr. Nancy Mitchell says that’s the case, and she joins Bob and Ben to explain why. She explains Jimmy Carter’s Presidency through the lens of his foreign policy in Africa, and argues that Carter was not an ideologue, but a full-fledged Cold Warrior who was committed to maintaining US influence abroad. Nancy also discusses the legacy of Carter’s Presidency today, and applies her expertise on US Foreign Policy to assess Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s approach to diplomacy.

Dr. Nancy Mitchell is a Professor of US Diplomatic History at North Carolina State University. She has published extensively in her field of expertise, and her most recent book, Jimmy Carter in Africa: Race and the Cold War (Stanford University Press, 2016) recently won the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Douglas Dillon Award for Distinction on the Practice of American Diplomacy.

More on this episode and The Road to Now is available at our website: www.theroadtonow.com

Dec 18, 2016
#34 Tom Shadyac on the Seriousness of Being Funny
01:03:26

Tom Shadyac has probably made you laugh. He was the youngest ever staff joke writer for Bob Hope and he directed some of the biggest comedy films in recent memory, including Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Nutty Professor. A lot of people would say Tom has “made it.” Tom would disagree.

Tom joins Ben and Bob for a conversation about his life and the path that led him to abandon the pursuit of fame and material abundance to focus on helping others. He tells of his 11 year period of unemployment as he struggled to find success in the Los Angeles comedy scene, his relationship with Jim Carrey, and how following his own passions led him to take a risk with Ace Ventura. Tom also talks of his approach to teaching film, and explains why he defines success as a state of mind.

You can find out more about Tom's story and philosophy in his book Life's Operating Manual and his documentary film I Am (which we highly recommend!).

More on this episode and The Road to Now podcast can be found at our website: www.theroadtonow.com

Dec 12, 2016
#33 Jim Cornette on the History of Pro Wrestling
50:08

There’s a good chance you don’t appreciate how engrained professional wrestling is in American history and culture, and this episode is about to change that. We didn’t know all this either until wrestling legend Jim Cornette was kind enough to spend an hour taking us from wrestling’s origins in the late 19th century up to the sport as it exists today. Jim knows the sport like no other- he’s been part of the professional wrestling scene since the 1970s, and currently hosts the tremendously popular podcast The Jim Cornette Experience. Jim has also been ringside (and sometimes in the ring) for some of wrestling’s greatest moments, including the April 5, 1982 showdown between Andy Kaufman & Jerry “The King” Lawler (that was his first time on national television), and his storytelling is second-to-none.

This episode also features wrestling aficionado Jon Burr making a special appearance as guest co-host. Jon is the host of the NBA podcast Fastbreak Breakfast, the front man for the band How I Became the Bomb, and Ben’s friend & neighbor.

More on this episode and The Road to Now can be found at our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

 

Dec 05, 2016
#32 Tolerance and Faith in American Politics w/ Jimmy Williams
53:48

American politics has changed a lot in the last few decades. Jimmy Williams, has observed this from inside the beltway, and has made a few changes himself. When he first arrived in DC in 1992, he was a Republican working for the George H.W. Bush’s reelection campaign. A few years later he was a Democrat working on the staff of Democratic Senator Dick Durban. Since then he has been a lobbyist, a contributor at MSNBC, the founder of his own online media outlet and, most recently, the host of the political podcast Decode DC.

In our interview, Jimmy tells Bob and Ben of the road that led him through all of these career changes, and the path that led him from a Republican to a self-professed “progressive Democrat who owns guns.” Jimmy discusses his experience of coming out as gay in the 1990s and the ways his faith have informed his political views. We also discuss HB2 in North Carolina and the greater history of discrimination and inclusion in American politics.

Jimmy Williams is a political commentator and the host of the Decode DC podcast, which explains how politics in Washington, DC affects Americans’ daily lives.

More on this episode and The Road to Now can be found at our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com

 

Nov 28, 2016
#30 The Origins of Conservative Talk Radio w/ Brian Rosenwald
01:01:22

The 2016 election is over and many Americans are trying to understand how Donald Trump was able to defeat the political establishment and reveal major flaws in the ways experts assess public opinion. To help us understand this election, Bob and Ben speak with Dr. Brian Rosenwald about his research on the history of conservative talk radio. Brian traces the rise of Rush Limbaugh and other conservative radio hosts in the 1980s, and the ways they have both reflected and shaped their listeners’ views. He also explains why there is truth to claims of liberal bias in the mainstream media, but not for the reasons most critics assume.

Our conversation with Brian also provided an excellent opportunity for Bob and Ben to discuss the 2016 election and our take on the best ways to move forward. 

Dr. Brian Rosenwald is a fellow at the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently converting his doctoral dissertation, “Mount Rushmore: The Rise of Talk Radio and its Impact on Politics and Public Policy,” into a book for Harvard University Press. Brian also conducts research for the Slate podcast Whistlestop.

For more on this and many other episodes of The Road to Now, check out our website: www.theroadtonow.com

 

Nov 21, 2016
#29 The History of Putin's Russia w/ Arch Getty
45:46

The relationship between the United States and Russia was hotly debated in the 2016 election, and will likely be one of the most important issues in US foreign policy for years to come. To help us better understand how this relationship looks from the Russian perspective, we spoke with Dr. Arch Getty, Distinguished Professor of History at UCLA. Arch explains where Vladimir Putin fits within the greater history of Russian leaders, as well as the ways that history and geography have shaped Russians’ understanding of their place in the world. He also shares his own story of living in Moscow in the last year of the Soviet Union, and the changes he’s seen since he first visited Russia in the late 1970s.

Dr. J. Arch Getty is a Distinguished Professor of History at UCLA whose work focuses on the Stalin period of Russian history. Arch is a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, a Research Fellow of the Russian State Humanities University (Moscow), and has been Senior Fellow of the Harriman Institute (Columbia University), and the Davis Center (Harvard University.) His most recent book, Practicing Stalinism: Bolsheviks, Boyars, and the Persistence of Tradition, was published by Yale University Press in 2013.

A special thanks to Roscoe and Lucy Strickland for the generous donation that supported Dr. Getty’s visit to Middle Tennessee State University, and to the Department of History at MTSU for arranging this interview.

Links and more info on this and other episodes can be found at our website: www.theroadtonow.com

Nov 14, 2016
#28 The History of Presidential Elections w/ Bruce Carlson
41:23

For the final installment in our election week series, we speak with Bruce Carlson, the creator and host of the podcast My History Can Beat Up Your Politics podcast, about the interesting moments and valuable lessons from the history of American Presidential Elections. Along the way we discuss party realignments, “October surprises,” and other moments that shaped American politics. We also discuss the history of podcasting, and Bob reveals that he and Bruce went to college together at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey (now Stockton University).

 Bob and Ben highly recommend My History Can Beat Up Your Politics, which you can get anywhere you get The Road to Now (or you can click on the link below).

For more on The Road to Now: www.theroadtonow.com

For more on Bruce Carlson's My History Can Beat Up Your Politics:
http://www.myhistorycanbeatupyourpolitics.com/

Nov 07, 2016
#27 Matt Negrin & Alexander Trowbridge on Campaign Surrogates and Presidential Elections
21:17

In the second installment of our election week series, Road to Now contributors Matt Negrin & Alex Trowbridge of Bloomberg Politics offer up another round of Path to the Present (the podcast inside a podcast) to explain the role that surrogates have played in Presidential Elections in the past and present. Through their own research and interviews with Donald Trump’s Senior Advisor/Surrogate Boris Epshteyn & Hillary Clinton surrogate/US Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Matt & Alex discuss what motivates individuals to speak on behalf of a candidate, what we can learn from speaking with surrogates, and what makes a surrogate good (or bad) at their job.

For more on The Road to Now: www.theroadtonow.com 

Nov 03, 2016
#25 The History of Country & Soul Music w/ Charles Hughes
56:02

Dr. Charles Hughes of Rhodes College joins Ben and Bob to talk about his recent book Country Soul, which examines the history of music in the “Country Soul Triangle” studio towns of Memphis, Nashville, and Muscle Shoals. Charles explains how the working relationships between these three towns, and the musicians who performed in the studios, created the sound of Country Music and Soul Music in the second half of the 20th Century. The conversation also covers a variety of other topics, including the Civil Rights Movement, the history of professional wrestling, Elvis Presley, and the trends that led us from the “outlaw country” of the 1970s to the country music of today.

We’re also happy to announce that our friend Ian Skotte has joined The Road to Now team as our producer. Ian joins us at the beginning to introduce himself to our listeners and talk about a few things we have in the works for the podcast in the upcoming months.

Dr. Charles Hughes is a historian and director of the Memphis Center at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. His most recent book, Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South was named one of Rolling Stones’ “10 Best Music Books of 2015.” His current project looks at the history of Professional Wrestling and race in the United States. 

Recorded October 6th, 2016 on the campus of Rhodes College in Memphis, TN.

More on The Road to Now and links to info on our guests can be found at our website: www.theroadtonow.com.

 

Oct 23, 2016
#24 The History of the New Deal w/ Jefferson Cowie
01:03:13

In 2009, Ben Sawyer read Jefferson Cowie’s Capital Moves while studying for his doctoral exams, and he loved it. In 2016, Jeff joined the department of history at Vanderbilt, conveniently located about 5 miles from Ben’s house in Nashville. Upon learning of Jeff’s move, Ben quickly wrote to ask if he’d be a guest on The Road to Now. Jeff said yes, and we’re happy to say he’s as impressive in an interview as he is in print.

In our interview, Bob and Ben speak with Jeff about Capitol Moves as well as the books he’s written since then, which have explored the history of the working class and American politics in the 20th Century. Jeff explains the central argument of his most recent book, The Great Exception: The New Deal & The Limits of American Politics, and why he thinks looking back to New Deal policies is unproductive in 21st Century America. The conversation also touches on several important topics including outsourcing, ObamaCare, Social Security, & workers’ rights, and the ways history can help us make better decisions as we address these issues moving forward.

 Dr. Jefferson Cowie holds the James G. Stahlman Chair in the Department of History at Vanderbilt University. Prior to moving to Vanderbilt in 2016, he taught at Cornell University for eighteen years.

Recorded October 8, 2016 at Vanderbilt University w/ Bob via video call.

For more on this episode and The Road to Now: www.theroadtonow.com

Oct 17, 2016
#23 The History of Voting Rights w/ Pippa Holloway
41:31

Restoring voting rights for Americans convicted of felonies has been a major issue in the last year, most recently in the state of Virginia. According to The Sentencing Project, almost 6 million Americans are prohibited from voting due to laws that take the right to vote away from those convicted of a felony.

To better understand the origins of felon disfranchisement laws, we invited Dr. Pippa Holloway of Middle Tennessee State University to join us for a discussion about her most recent book Living in Infamy: Felon Disfranchisement and the History of American Citizenship. Pippa explains the ways that these laws were developed as a strategy to prevent black Americans from voting in the post-Civil War-era. This strategy was later exported to other states such as Idaho and Hawaii for the purposes of excluding groups whose interests were in opposition to the ruling party. Pippa also discusses the current impediments to Americans’ right to vote, and offers suggestions to ensure that Americans are not denied a voice in our political process. Recorded October 4, 2016 in Nashville, TN w/ Bob via video call from Memphis, TN.

For more on the podcast: www.theroadtonow.com

 

Oct 09, 2016
#21 The History of Hollywood and Politics w/ Kathryn Cramer Brownell
47:17

The 2016 Presidential Election is in full swing, and The Road to Now has been working hard to place this election cycle within its historical context. We were therefore thrilled when Dr. Kathryn Cramer Brownell agreed to speak with us about her research on the history of Hollywood’s influence on American politics!

 Kathryn, an Assistant Professor of History at Purdue University, takes us back to the 1960s, when American politicians and media advisors came to see the adoption of Hollywood’s style of engaging the public as key to running a successful campaign. She traces the ways that the media changed the power structures within political parties, allowing individuals to bypass the party establishment by appealing directly to the public. We also discuss the winners and losers in this process, and the ways that this lens allows us to better understand Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and the 2016 election. Along the way, Kathryn blows the doors off some of the major assumptions we have about the past and present of Presidential elections. You know that story about the 1960 televised debate being a key reason for Nixon’s loss? Kathryn discovered that it was created by Nixon and his advisors six years after the debate was over. (This blew our minds!).

Recorded September 20, 2016 w/ Ben Sawyer in Nashville and Dr. Brownell in West Lafayette, IN.

For more info on the podcast: www.theroadtonow.com

Sep 25, 2016
#20 Presidential Debate Extravaganza!
01:06:10

The first Presidential debate of 2016 is fast approaching, and Bob & Ben have put together a Debate Extravaganza to help you get ready for this highly anticipated showdown!

Never before has The Road to Now offered so many brilliant minds in a single episode! Bob and Ben begin by going through some of the most important moments in the history of Presidential debates since 1960, when John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon became the first candidates to debate live on television. Bob and Ben then hand the microphone to RTN favorites Matt Negrin and Alexander Trowbridge of Bloomberg Politics for an outstanding piece on the origins of the “spin room” and the role it plays in modern debates, featuring interviews with Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz and With All Due Respect’s Mark Halperin. Our extravaganza concludes with a tremendous conversation with The Washington Post’s Chris Cilliza about the 2016 debates and what strategies may be best for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

You’re probably thinking “Matt Negrin and Alex Trowbridge…. haven’t I heard of those guys before? Well of course you have! They’re the hosts of Path to the Present, a podcast within a podcast, brought to you by the podcast Double Down and Out, brought to you by Double Down (still available on Amazon and still kind of relevant), featuring The Road Less Traveled, a micropodcast featuring deleted scenes from The Road to Now. They’ve also joined our team as official contributors to The Road to Now, and we couldn’t be more excited! (Trust us, this will all make sense once you listen to the episode!)

For more on The Road to Now: www.theroadtonow.com

 

Sep 19, 2016
#19 Sir Alan Meale on the Brexit, the Labor Party, and the Recent Political History of the United Kingdom
42:06

In The Road to Now’s first episode abroad, Bob and Ben are joined by Sir Alan Meale for a conversation about the politics and recent history of the United Kingdom. Meale, a Labour Party politician who has served for nearly three decades as a Member of Parliament from Mansfield (Nottingham County), offers his perspective on the political system of the UK, the European Union’s impact on the history of the UK and Europe, and the challenges that the UK faces as it severs its ties with the EU. He also shares his own personal history, and the reasons he decided to join the Labour Party and devote his life to public service through politics.

Recorded September 1st from the Parliament of the United Kingdom, London, England (w/ Ben via Skype from Nashville, TN).

You can find out more about The Road to Now on our website: www.theroadtonow.com

 

Sep 13, 2016
#18 The History of the Internet w/ Bradley Fidler
53:16

In the first episode of The Road to Now recorded over the Internet via Skype, Dr. Bradley Fidler explains the key moments in the development of the Internet and gives his take on the issues facing us as we move further into the 21st century. An episode about the Internet, recorded over the Internet? Yes, and it gets better because we recorded the interview at UCLA’s Boelter Hall ARPANET exhibit, and ARPANET was one of the most important networks in the early Internet.

Dr. Bradley Fidler is a researcher and historian with UCLA Computer Science whose research examines the remarkably complex and brilliant process that brought us to the Internet that we ended up with today. As Bradley makes clear, today's networks have deep roots that involve a number of actors in both the private and public sector (and yeah, Al Gore didn’t invent the internet, but his role in its expansion was probably more significant than most people realize).

Interview recorded Friday, July 22nd at the Boelter Hall ARPANET exhibit on the campus of the University of California-Los Angeles (w/ Bob via Skype from Portland, Oregon).

For more on our podcast: www.theroadtonow.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 05, 2016
#17 The History of US-Central American Relations w/ Carlos Aleman
36:00

During a recent trip to Nashville, Dr. Carlos Aleman caught up with Ben and Bob for a great discussion about the history of Nicaragua and US relations with Central America in the 20th Century. Carlos’ expertise on this topic is both personal and professional; he was born in Nicaragua in 1979, immigrated to San Francisco, CA as a child, and earned his PhD in Latin American history from Michigan State University in 2012. In his interview, Carlos explains the history of Nicaraguan politics, the role the country played in the Iran-Contra scandal, and the ways these larger events affected his own road from Grenada, Nicaragua to Birmingham, Alabama, where he is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Samford University.

The conversation also covers a variety of other topics, from Nashville-born William Walker who invaded Nicaragua, and proclaimed himself President of the country in the 1850s, to the state of immigration policy today.

Recorded August 20th, 2016 in Nashville, TN w/ Bob via Skype from North Carolina.

For more on The Road to Now, check out our website: http://www.theroadtonow.com/

Aug 03, 2016
#13 Scott Avett and the Road to Now
41:32

In the lucky 13th episode of the Road to Now, Bob and Ben sit down with the multi-talented Scott Avett to talk about the influences, events, and family history that led him to his life as an artist. Scott is a founding member of the award-winning band The Avett Brothers, which he established more than a decade and a half ago along with his brother Seth, and Road to Now host Bob Crawford. Scott is also an accomplished painter whose art has been shown across the United States.

The hosts of the Road to Now have a long-established friendship with the guest, and both Bob and Ben agree that Scott’s personal history and worldview are remarkable. We therefore hope you will enjoy what is not only a fascinating interview, but a convergence of three individuals whose lives have roots that span most of their adult lives.

Recorded Wednesday, July 20th, 2016 in Portland, Oregon.

More on this episode and others can be found at: www.theroadtonow.com

 

Aug 02, 2016
#7 The History of Denver and the Wild West w/ Dick Kreck
47:07

During a recent trip to Denver, Bob and Ben were fortunate enough to sit down with journalist and historian Dick Kreck at the historic Brown Palace Hotel for a conversation about the history of Denver and its establishment in the 19th and early 20th century. Dick Kreck has more than four decades of experience as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, The LA Times, and The Denver Post, and has published numerous books on the history of Colorado and the west. Kreck shared his incredible knowledge about western migration, the construction of the trans-continental railroad, and the ways that the Denver of the 21st century reflects the region's past. Recorded June 18th, 2016 at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver Colorado. For more information on this episode and links to topics discussed in the interview, please visit www.TheRoadToNow, and follow us on twitter: @Road_To_Now.

Jun 22, 2016
#6 Governor John Hickenlooper on His Life in Beer and Politics
44:05

On this episode of The Road to Now, we speak with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper about his new memoir The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics and the ways that his peculiar & fascinating life interact with the greater history of our country. Gov. Hickenlooper shares his family history, which he traces back to the earliest settlers of the Pennsylvania colony in the 1680s, and talks about a wide variety of fascinating topics including the urban/rural split in Colorado, the Grateful Dead, and his friendship with Kurt Vonnegut. Gov. Hickenlooper also talks about his years as a geologist, working in real estate, opening Denver's first brew pub, and the value that comes from hanging a light on one's weaknesses in the pursuit of excellence. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we enjoyed our time with Gov. Hickenlooper. Hosted by Ben Sawyer and Bob Crawford. Recorded June 15, 2016 in the Colorado State Capitol Building in Denver, CO. 

Jun 16, 2016
#5 Native American Culture and History w/ Tara Houska and Joseph Genetin-Pilawa
42:02

Tara Houska (Honor the Earth; Native American Affairs Advisor to the Bernie Sanders Campaign) and Dr. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa (Assistant Professor of History at George Mason University) join Bob and Ben to talk about Native American culture and history. They discuss the use of Native American imagery in American popular culture, and link these depictions of American Indians to a long history of discrimination and marginalization in US history. Recorded June 3rd, 2016 on the Campus of George Mason University.

Jun 09, 2016
#4 The History of Charlotte & the Rise of the New South City w/ Thomas Hanchett
52:04

Bob and Ben speak to Thomas Hanchett (former Curator of the Levine Museum of the New South) about the history of Charlotte and the rise of the "New South" cities following the Civil War. Dr. Hanchett discusses the ways that city, state, and federal policies have shaped Charlotte as it is today, as well as the ways that new patterns of migration and development are changing what it means to be "southern." Dr. Hanchett also places the controversy surrounding North Carolina's HB2 in historical context. 

Recorded May 31, 2016 at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Jun 06, 2016
#3 On the Media w/ Alexander Trowbridge & Matt Negrin
51:50

Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers talks to Producer Alexander Trowbridge and Writer Matt Negrin of Bloomberg's "With All Due Respect," which is hosted by "Game Change" authors Mark Halpern and John Heilemann. The show was also recently picked up by MSNBC. They discuss how they got involved with the show, the history of entertainment news, and their take on the rules of politics in the 21st Century. They also discuss the impact of Jon Stewart and the "Daily Show" on the history of the news media. The show begins with a conversation between Bob Crawford and historian/co-host Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University. Recorded Wednesday, May 11 at Bloomberg Studios in New York City. 

May 19, 2016
#1 Welcome to the Road to Now
19:18

In episode 1, Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers and historian Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University explain their goals for the Road to Now podcast and attempt to trace the historical roots of the new populism that is reshaping American's political landscape in the lead up to the Presidential Election of 2016. Recorded May 6, 2016 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. 

May 19, 2016