Key Battles of American History

By James Early

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 Apr 4, 2022


War has played a key role in the history of the United States from the nation’s founding right down to the present. Wars made the U. S. independent, kept it together, increased its size, and established it as a global superpower. Understanding America’s wars is essential for understanding American history. In the Key Battles of American History, host James Early discusses American history through the lens of the most important battles of America’s wars. James is an Adjunct Professor of History at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX. He has published one book and two scholarly articles. He is also the cohost (with Scott Rank) of the Presidential Fight Club, Key Battles of the Civil War, Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, and Key Battles of World War I podcasts.

Episode Date
The Gathering Storm
In this episode, Sean and James discuss the 2002 BBC made-for-TV movie The Gathering Storm, which tells the story of Winston Churchill’s return to power after several years in the political “wilderness” and his efforts to warn Parliament and the British government about the threat posed by Adolph Hitler. Albert Finney stars as Churchill.
Mar 25, 2023
The Gathering Storm: The Rise of Fascism and Militarism in Europe
In 1923, Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister of Italy and the first fascist leader in Europe. He would not be the last. In less than two decades, many more nations in Europe would be taken over by fascist or semi-fascist leaders, including the most notorious of them all: Adolf Hitler. In this episode, Sean and James narrate the rise of fascism and militarism and the continent’s accelerated march toward war.
Mar 22, 2023
Armageddon in the Arctic Ocean
Paul Gill, Sr. was the Third Mate on the Liberty Ship SS Nathanael Greene which sailed to Archangel, Russia, with Convoy PQ18 in September 1942. Armageddon in the Arctic Ocean is Gill’s memoir chronicling his life from the Great Depression through his service in the US Navy during WWII and his later graduation from Harvard Business School. Along the way, readers will learn of Gill's enrollment in the Civilian Conservation Corps at age fifteen; how he joined the Merchant Marine and made eight passages to European ports as a sixteen-year-old; his riding the rails across the United States in search of work in 1938; his return to the Merchant Marine and ascension "up the hawse pipe" to become a licensed Merchant Marine officer; his participation in the biggest convoy battle of World War II; the destruction of the Nathanael Greene off the coast of North Africa by U-565; and more.
Mar 18, 2023
An Unsettled World: Germany and the Allies 1918-1930
The roots of the Second World War in Europe lie within the First World War. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles formally ended the war between Germany and the western Allies, but the geopolitical situation it created was far from stable. Ten years later, the Great Depression made things even worse. In this episode, Sean and James discuss the unsettled state of Europe between 1918 and 1930 and the gradual fracturing of the uneasy peace that it enjoyed.
Mar 15, 2023
Introduction to Key Battles of World War II in Europe
In this episode, James and co-host Sean McIver introduce their massive new series, “Key Battles of World War II in Europe.” Get ready for a lot of massive battles!
Mar 08, 2023
History of the Papacy Preview - The Italian Risorgimento
The Risorgimento was a period of political and social upheaval in Italy that lasted from the early 19th century to the mid-20th century. The movement aimed to unite the various states and regions of Italy into one unified nation. Pinocchio, the beloved children's story written by Carlo Collodi, can be seen as a metaphor for Italian unification through the character's journey from a wooden puppet to a real boy. And last but not least, let's talk about pizza. Italy's most famous export, pizza, is a symbol of the country's rich cultural heritage and culinary traditions. Whether you're a fan of traditional Margherita or a more unconventional topping, there's a pizza for everyone.
Mar 04, 2023
Half American with Matthew Delmont
In this episode, James interviews Dartmouth College professor and best-selling author Matthew F. Delmont about his recently-relased (and excellent) book Half American: The Epic Story of African-Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad.
Mar 01, 2023
The Legacy of the Mexican-American War
In another venerable KBAH tradition, Sean and James reflect on the short-term and long-term impact of the Mexican-American War and tell “the rest of the story” about the key leaders of the war, both Mexican and American.
Feb 22, 2023
This American President Preview - Eisenhower
Some remember Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency as a time of peace and prosperity, but in reality, it was an era of constant global crises. In this episode preview from This American President, host Richard Lim explores how Eisenhower skillfully navigated the perils of the Cold War.
Feb 18, 2023
The Fall of Mexico City and the End of the War (1847-1848)
After the fight at Churubusco, the two armies rested for a couple of weeks, after which the Americans resumed the attack at Molino del Rey and Chapultepec. Eventually, Scott and his army fought their way into Mexico City as Santa Anna and his army retreated. After several months of negotiations, the two sides signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, a settlement that was highly costly for Mexico and highly beneficial to the United States. The war was over.
Feb 15, 2023
Winfield Scott’s War (1847)
In March, 1847, an American army of 12,000 under the command of General Winfied Scott landed on the eastern coast of Mexico and laid siege to the city of Veracruz. After the city’s surrender, Scott marched his army westward toward Mexico City while Santa Anna used whatever troops he could find to try and stop the Americans. By September, Scott had reached the outskirts of the Mexican capital, where he and Santa Anna faced off at the bloody battle of Churubusco. If the Mexicans failed to halt the American advance there, the fall of the capital was sure to follow.
Feb 08, 2023
Mexican and American Soldiers
In a time-honored tradition in the Key Battles of American History Podcast, Sean and James push “pause” on the military and political narrative to give you a “ground up” view of the war. In this episode, you will find out what life was like for the common soldier (both regulars and volunteers) on both sides. What did soldiers eat? What did they wear? How did they cope with boredom, disease, and military discipline? What was combat like? Join us, and you will find out!
Feb 01, 2023
Taking Berlin with Martin Dugard
In this special episode, James interviews best-selling author Martin Dugard about his new book Taking Berlin, which tells the fascinating story of the 1944-45 Allied drive to destroy the Third Reich
Jan 28, 2023
Buena Vista; New Mexico and California (1846-1847)
After the Mexican loss at Monterrey, Santa Anna took command of the Mexican army and marched a large force north to get revenge against Taylor and his army. The result was the bloody and consequential Battle of Buena Vista, the last major engagement of the war in Northern Mexico. Meanwhile, north of the Rio Grande, American forces attempted to conquer the Mexican provinces of California and New Mexico, while political opposition to the war increased in the United States.
Jan 25, 2023
Zachary Taylor’s War (1845-1846)
In April 1846, the army of General Zachary Taylor, which President Polk had sent to the Rio Grande River, clashed with a Mexican force sent to drive the Americans away. Soon after, Taylor fought two brief battles (Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma) with the Mexicans, driving them across the Rio Grande. After a pause of a few months, the two armies clashed again at Monterrey. Meanwhile, an old “friend” re-entered the story.
Jan 18, 2023
Vlogging Through History Teaser - Executions During the Great War
Over 300 men were executed by the British Army for desertion and cowardice during the First World War. In this episode preview from Vlogging Through History, host Chris Mowery explores the process for executions and the stories of the men involved.
Jan 14, 2023
The Texas Annexation Crisis (1844-1845)
By 1844, the United States government had resisted the urge to annex the Republic of Texas for several years, but in 1844 that changed as President John Tyler and his successor James K. Polk brought Texas into the U. S. as the 28th state in 1845. How would Mexico react to this? Join us, and you will see!
Jan 11, 2023
Mexico and Texas (1836-1844)
For the entire history of the Republic of Texas, relations between Mexico and Texas remained tense. Both sides raided the other’s territory. Comanches and other Native American tribes raided both republics. Both republics experienced political and financial instability. And both wondered if and when the United States might add Texas to its ever-expanding territory. In this episode, Sean and James discuss the fascinating and chaotic story of the Republic of Texas, with an emphasis on its relationship with Mexico.
Jan 04, 2023
Devil Dogs (with Saul David)
In this episode, James interviews prolific author Saul David about his new book Devil Dogs: King Company, Third Battalion, 5th Marines: From Guadalcanal to the Shores of Japan.
Dec 28, 2022
Bonus Episode - Alexander's Postwar Plans
Alexander the Great’s death at 323 BC in Babylon marked the end of the most consequential military campaign in antiquity. He left behind an empire that stretched from Greece to India, planted the seeds of the Silk Road, and made Greek an international language across Eurasia, all in 13 short years. But what if he had not died as a young man? What if he had lived years or decades more? To explore this hypothetical scenario, host Scott Rank interviews Anthony Everitt, author of “Alexander the Great: His Life and Mysterious Death.” In this fascinating discussion, Scott and Anthony look at the life of the most influential person in the ancient world and explore the ramifications of his life having even more influence.
Dec 24, 2022
The Alamo (2004)
In this episode, Sean and James discuss the 2004 movie The Alamo, starring Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric, and Patrick Wilson.
Dec 21, 2022
Who Is History's Most Underrated Figure? (Parthenon Roundtable)
The history of the world is full of unsung heroes and misunderstood figures who have shaped our lives in profound ways. Their contributions to history are, simply put, underrated. Recently, four of the guys from the Parthenon Podcast Network (Josh Cohen from Eyewitness History, Richard Lim from This American President, Steve Guerra from History of the Papacy and Beyond the Big Screen, and Scott Rank from History Unplugged) discussed who they believe is the most underrated figure in US History (James was busy and sat this one out).
Dec 17, 2022
The Alamo (1960)
In this episode, Sean and James discuss the classic 1960 movie The Alamo, directed by and starring John Wayne.
Dec 14, 2022
The Legacy of the Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution cast a long shadow not just over Texas history, but over United States history. In this final episode of Key Battles of the Texas Revolution, Sean and James discuss the short- and long-term effects of the Texas Revolution. They also tell about the postwar lives and careers of the major players on both sides.
Dec 07, 2022
Goliad, the Runaway Scrape, and San Jacinto
Two weeks after the fall of the Alamo, the Texian garrison at Goliad surrendered to another Mexican force, and a week after that, the garrison was executed on the orders of Santa Anna. Santa Anna and his army began marching east, toward the seat of the Texas government, while the Texas army retreated before him. On April 21, the two armies met at the brief but decisive Battle of San Jacinto, after which Santa Anna was captured. Santa Anna then signed the Treaty of Velasco, which ordered all Mexican armies in Texas back across the Rio Grande and which also acknowledged Texas’ independence. Join Sean and James as they tell the story of the final actions of the Texas Revolution.
Nov 30, 2022
Bonus Episode - Eyewitness History - Feed Drop
In this episode of the Eyewitness History Podcast, Host Josh Cohen speaks with the former principal of Columbine High School, Frank DeAngelis. Frank and Josh discuss the events of the tragic shooting, what the police were doing at the time of the shooting, as well as the potential motivations of the two shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. They also discuss the infamous basement tapes, as well as seeing Klebold the previous week at prom, in addition to a lot more.
Nov 26, 2022
The Alamo and Independence
In early 1836, Santa Anna personally led an army into Texas to put down the rebellion. His first target was San Antonio, particularly the fortified mission called the Alamo, in which nearly 200 Texians and Tejanos were holding out. After a 13-day siege, Santa Anna’s army stormed the Alamo and captured or killed all its defenders. During the siege, the acting Texas government declared Texas to be an independent Republic. In this episode, Sean and James tell the fascinating but tragic story of the fall of the Alamo, as well as discuss the Texas Declaration of Independence.
Nov 23, 2022
Bonus Episode - The New Mexico Campaign in the Civil War
In early 1862, a Confederate force consisting mainly of Texans launched an invasion of the New Mexico territory. After a quick and largely unopposed march, they ran into a Union force defending the territory. Would the Confederates succeed in their quest to make New Mexico part of the Confederacy, or would the Union defenders drive them away? Listen to this special bonus episode, and you will find out!
Nov 19, 2022
The Revolution Begins
Further restrictive measures passed by Santa Anna’s government motivated many Texians to mount a full-scale rebellion in October 1835 at the town of Gonzales. For some, the goal was statehood for Texas within the Mexican republic, but for others, the goal was full independence. A newly formed Texian army attacked Mexican positions at Goliad, Concepcion, and San Antonio, driving the Mexican army back across the Rio Grande. Some Texians believed the revolution was over and that they had won. But had they? “Come and take” in Sean and James’ narration of the beginning of the Texas Revolution.
Nov 16, 2022
The Road to Revolution
By 1830, immigration of Americans to Texas had become a flood, and the Mexican authorities became alarmed. To stop the rapid growth of Anglo settlers, the Mexican government passed a law that banned further Anglo immigration to Texas. Three years, later, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna became President of Mexico and began stripping away the Mexican states’ rights. These measures motivated many Texians to engage in minor acts of rebellion, but for the time being, Texas remained part of Mexico. But would that last? In this episode, Sean and James discuss Texas’ gradual descent into revolution.
Nov 09, 2022
Spanish Texas, Mexican Independence, and American Settlement
Long before Texas was a U. S. state, it was a part of Mexico, which in turn was part of the massive Spanish Empire. When Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, it became the northeastern most province of the new nation. At about that same time, large numbers of Americans began settling in Mexico, both legally and illegally. Join Sean and James as they narrate these early years of Texas history, focusing on the challenges faced by both the Mexican government and the early Anglo settlers of Texas.
Nov 02, 2022
Introduction to the Texas Revolution
In this episode, cohost Sean McIver and James introduce the upcoming mini-series on the Texas Revolution. Sean and James make the case that all Americans, not just Texans, should study the Texas Revolution. Why, you ask? Listen and find out!
Oct 26, 2022
Bonus Episode - Sam Houston and Texas Secession
In 1860 and early 1861, desire for secession grew to a fever pitch in Texas. But there was one man who tried to stop it...Governor Sam Houston. Join James as he tells the story of Houston's heroic but ultimately unsuccessful efforts to keep Texas in the Union.
Oct 22, 2022
The Buccaneer
In this joint Beyond the Big Screen and Key Battles of American History episode, Steve and James discuss the 1958 movie The Buccaneer, a highly fictionalized telling of the role of the pirate Jean Lafitte and his men in the Battle of New Orleans. The film stars Yul Brynner as Lafitte and Charlton Heston as Andrew Jackson. As always, Steve and James do much more than just talk about the movie; they also do a fairly deep dive into the real story behind the film's events.
Oct 19, 2022
Epilogue to the War of 1812
Many of the key figures of the War of 1812 went on to have long and distinguished careers, with no fewer than four becoming President of the United States. Others went into retirement, while still others’ lives were tragically cut short by disease or dueling. In this final episode of the series, Steve and James discuss the post-war lives and careers of the top political and military leaders of the War of 1812.
Oct 12, 2022
The Treaty of Ghent and the War's Legacy
From the very beginning of the war, both sides expressed a desire to end it. Soon, each side reached out to the other to discuss terms of peace. But the British were in no hurry, and as a result, serious negotiations did not begin until 1814. After several months of haggling, the British and American peace delegations finally produced the Treaty of Ghent, which formally ended the war. But what exactly changed as a result of the treaty? Also, what was the war’s legacy? We’re glad you asked! Join us, and you will find out.
Oct 05, 2022
1814: The Gulf Coast Campaign
Wanting to bring the war to parts of the U. S. that had not yet experienced it, the British in late 1814 opened up a campaign against the Gulf Coast. This campaign culminated in the British attack on the major port city of New Orleans. The British force, consisting of 5300 crack soldiers, faced a hodge-podge group of 4700 defenders, including regular Army soldiers, militia, volunteers, African-Americans (both free and slave), Indians, and even pirates. Would the British prevail? Join Steve and James as they discuss the leadup to the epic Battle of New Orleans, the battle itself, and the battle’s aftermath.
Sep 28, 2022
The Crisis of 1814 and the Hartford Convention
In 1814, the United States faced increasing hostility to the war in New England as well as near economic collapse. In this mini-episode, Steve and James discuss the so-called “Crisis of 1814” and the Hartford Convention, a meeting among delegates from several New England states who wanted the Madison administration to address their grievances.
Sep 24, 2022
1814: The Empire Strikes Back
In 1814, the British decided that the best defense is a good offense. Accordingly, they launched a series of attacks on various parts of the American northeast while also returning to the Chesapeake region. This time, however, the British planned to do more in the Chesapeake than simply conduct raids. Instead, they set their sights on two of the most important American cities: Baltimore and Washington, DC. Would the British succeed in capturing a great deal of American territory? Would they force the Americans to capitulate? Listen, and you shall see!
Sep 21, 2022
Bonus Episode - Popes and Freemasonry History of the Papacy Feed Drop
Steve Guerra on Freemasonry, The Catholic Church, and the Modern World
This is a sample of a recent episode of Steve Guerra's History of the Papacy Podcast ( about Freemasonry, the Catholic Church, and the modern world.
Sep 17, 2022
1814: The Third Time's the Charm?
In 1814, American forces, believing in the saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again”, launched yet another invasion of Canada. The American army in early 1814 was much better fed, equipped, trained, and motivated than it had been in 1812 or 1813. But their British foe had been reinforced by battle-hardened, albeit exhausted redcoats fresh from the Napoleonic Wars. Would the third time be the charm for the Americans? Join us and find out!
Sep 14, 2022
The Common Soldier
Even when they were not fighting, soldiers in the War of 1812 suffered great hardships. These included poor pay, harsh discipline, extreme temperatures, rampant disease, and inadequate food, clothing, housing, and equipment. And if they were captured by the enemy, things often grew even worse. In this episode, Steve and James push “Pause” on the narrative of battles and put you in the boots of a common soldier. What did soldiers eat and drink? What kind of equipment did they have? What did they do when not in combat? What was War of 1812 combat like? What would happen if they became prisoners? We will answer these and many more questions.
Sep 07, 2022
1813: The War in the South
In 1813, the War of 1812 spread to the American South, as an American army led by General Andrew Jackson attempted to suppress the Red Sticks, a faction of the Creek Nation that rebelled against White authority. Also in 1813, British forces began raiding American settlements along the Chesapeake Bay. Join Steve and James as they narrate the story of the beginnings of the war in the South.
Aug 31, 2022
Old Hickory
In this special bonus episode, James again joins forces with Jerry Landry, host of the Presidencies of the United States Podcast. This time, Jerry leads the discussion, which concerns one of the most controversial figures in American history: Andrew Jackson. Much of the controversy that swirls around Jackson comes from actions he took long after the War of 1812, when he was President of the United States. In this discussion, however, Jerry and James focus on Jackson’s military career. Does Jackson deserve to be counted as one of America’s greatest generals? James and Jerry will lay out the evidence to help you decide.
Aug 27, 2022
1813: More Naval Warfare, Politics and Economics
In this episode, Steve and James go back out on the water, including both the open ocean and the Great Lakes to follow the actions of the US Navy in 1813. The Navy ranged far and wide, enjoying a few victories while also suffering significant losses. Steve and James also discuss key political and economic events of 1813.
Aug 24, 2022
1813: The Americans Try Again
In 1813, the American ground forces in the north launched a second series of attacks against British forces in Canada. This time the Americans were more experienced, better equipped, and were led by much better officers. In this episode, Steve and James discuss the second American offensive against Canada. Join us to see if it succeeded.
Aug 17, 2022
Old Tippecanoe
In this special bonus episode, James is joined by special guest Jerry Landry, host of the Presidencies of the United States Podcast. Jerry and James discuss the early career and life of William Henry Harrison, who enjoyed a long military and political career and who led the US Army to victory at the battles of Tippecanoe and the Thames. Jerry has long been a fan of Harrison, so much so that his first podcast was all about “Old Tippecanoe.” You’ll love Jerry’s narration of the life and career of one of early America’s most important leaders.
Aug 13, 2022
1812: Victory at Sea
The War of 1812 was not fought merely on land, but also on the sea. To anyone at the time, it would have seemed that the tiny American navy, with only 16 ships at the start of the war, would be crushed by the Royal Navy, which had over 500 ships in service. But what the Americans lacked in numbers, they made up for in seamanship and determination. Would this be enough? Steve and James will let you know if the American “David” was able to overcome the British “Goliath.”
Aug 10, 2022
1812: Disaster in Canada
Soon after war was declared, U. S. President Madison and Secretary of War Eustis decided to launch a three-pronged assault on Canada. American forces would cross the Detroit, Niagara, and St. Lawrence Rivers and attack much smaller British and Canadian forces in three strategic locations. The plan seemed solid…but would it work? Join Steve and James as they discuss the 1812 American invasion of Canada.
Aug 03, 2022
1812: Riots, War Aims, and Politics
At the time of the War of 1812, the United States was deeply divided between Republicans, most of whom supported the war, and Federalists, who opposed the war. This division broke out into violence in the Baltimore Riots of the summer of 1812. In this mini-episode, Steve and James discuss the Baltimore Riots, the war aims of the British and the Americans, the war aims of each side, and the critical US presidential election of 1812, which served as a sort of referendum on the war.
Jul 30, 2022
1783-1812: The Road to War
The 1783 Treaty of Paris formally ended the American War for Independence, but it left many issues between the United States and Great Britain unresolved. In addition, Britain’s war with Napoleon and his allies motivated the British Navy to increasingly interfere with American shipping and even to impress American sailors into the British Navy. This, plus British support for Indian attacks in the American northwest, led many Americans to demand war with Britain.
In this episode, Steve and James discuss the long series of events that led to the War of 1812.
Jul 27, 2022
Introduction to the War of 1812
In this episode, James kicks off Season 4 of Key Battles of American History. This new season will include discussions of the United States’ three most significant wars between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War: The War of 1812, the Texas Revolution, and the Mexican-American War. Over the next few weeks, James and new cohost Steve Guerra (host of the History of the Papacy and Beyond the Big Screen podcasts) will discuss the events leading to the War of 1812, the war itself, and the war’s aftermath and impact on American history.
Jul 20, 2022
Bonus Episode - Interview with Chris Mowery of Vlogging Through History
In this special bonus episode, James interviews Chris Mowery, host of the Vlogging Through History YouTube channel and the podcast of the same name, which is the newest podcast in the Parthenon Podcast Network.
Jul 16, 2022
Fat Man and Little Boy
In 1942, the United States government launched the Manhattan Project, a top-secret effort to build an atomic bomb for use against the Axis powers. In this episode, James and Sean discuss the 1989 film Fat Man and Little Boy, a fictionalized version of the attempt to build the bombs that focuses on the relationship between the project’s director General Leslie Groves and its lead scientist Robert Oppenheimer.
Jul 13, 2022
Empire of the Sun
By the late 1930s, Shanghai had a large international settlement that included a significant British community. During the city’s capture by Japanese forces in 1937, many British civilians became prisoners of war. Steven Speilberg’s Empire of the Sun, based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by J. G. Ballard, tells the story of a young boy who becomes separated from his parents. The boy (Jamie, or “Jim”) befriends an American merchant ship captain who helps him to survive the camp and to reunite with his parents after the war ends. In this episode, James and Sean discuss this inspiring story, one of Sean’s favorites.
Jul 06, 2022
Bonus Episode - VTH York Podcast Segment
Many people learn about history as a collection of names, dates, and places. History is so much more interesting than that. It is the stories of the men and women who made those places and events matter. It is the story of the private soldier as much as it is the story of the great general. It is the story of the farmer in the field as much as it is the story of the man in the Oval office. Join our newest Parthenon Podcast Network member, Chris Lowery, as he leads you on a dive deeper into the forgotten stories of our past, and into the details of the stories we thought we already knew.
Jul 03, 2022
The Bridge on the River Kwai
One of the most critically acclaimed films of all time, The Bridge on the River Kwai tells a fictionalized account of the building of part of the Burma-Siam railroad by Allied prisoners of war. Join Sean and James as they tell the fascinating “story behind the story” as well as discuss the film’s background and the relationship of the story told in the film to the real events.
Jun 29, 2022
Hacksaw Ridge
Born in Virginia, Desmond Doss was a devout Christian and a pacifist who wanted to serve in the war as a combat medic but refused to touch a weapon. After suffering much shame and ill-treatment from his fellow soldiers, Doss proved his heroism in several engagements, most notably in the Battle of Okinawa, in which he saved around 75 wounded American soldiers from being executed by the Japanese. In this episode, James and Sean discuss the 2016 film Hacksaw Ridge, which tells the story of Doss’s life and service in the war.
Jun 22, 2022
Parthenon Round Table - What Event Do You Eliminate from History
Jun 18, 2022
Letters From Iwo Jima
The companion film to Flags of Our Fathers, Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima narrates the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective. In this episode, you will join James and Sean as they walk the beaches of Iwo Jima and go deep into the caves and tunnels of Mt. Suribachi with the Japanese defenders as they await the American onslaught and struggle with the decision of whether to fight to the death or surrender at the risk of being hated (or worse) by their colleagues and their families back home.
Jun 15, 2022
Flags of Our Fathers
One of the most iconic photographs of all time is the famous Joe Rosenthal photo of the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi in the southwest corner of Iwo Jima. In Flags of Our Fathers, director Clint Eastwood weaves together the story of the American invasion of Iwo Jima and the struggle to capture Suribachi with the subsequent tale of three of the flag raisers who were sent back to the States to raise money for the war. The movie, while inspiring, can be a bit hard to follow, but James and Sean will guide you through it and help you sort out fact from fiction.
Jun 08, 2022
Sands of Iwo Jima
The Battle of Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific Theater for both the Japanese and the Americans. James and Sean will be discussing three movies about Iwo Jima, the first of which is the classic 1949 John Wayne action film Sands of Iwo Jima. Despite its title, Sands of Iwo Jima only devotes 30 minutes to the battle; the rest of the movie shows the Battle of Tarawa, as well as scenes of the Marines training and enjoying liberty. Is Sands of Iwo Jima accurate, or is it just patriotic Hollywood propaganda? James and Sean will let you know!
Jun 01, 2022
Bonus Episode - History Unplugged
May 28, 2022
Grave of the Fireflies
In this episode, James and Sean completely change gears, discussing the 1988 Japanese animated Studio Ghibli film Grave of the Fireflies, which tells the story of a young boy and his little sister who struggle to stay alive during the Allied firebombings of Japan that occurred in the last few months of the war. Grave of the Fireflies is a sad, hard-to-watch movie, but it is a must see for those who want to know what life was like for Japanese civilians in the final stages of World War II.
May 25, 2022
In early 1942, the US Marine Corps began recruiting young Navajo men to serve as “codetalkers” who would transmit orders via radio using a code based on the Navajo language. The code was inscrutable to the Japanese, who were never able to crack it. John Woo’s 2002 film Windtalkers tells a slightly fictionalized version of their story. As usual, James and Sean attempt to sort through the Hollywood embellishments to tell the history behind the movie.
May 18, 2022
Run Silent, Run Deep
Based loosely on the 1955 novel of the same name, Run Silent, Run Deep tells the story of a submarine captain who disobeys orders in an attempt to get revenge against a Japanese destroyer that sank his previous command. In this episode, James and Sean share their thoughts about this exciting action film.
May 11, 2022
Mister Roberts
Not all World War II American naval personnel saw combat. Many spent the entire war in non-combat roles, including serving on the thousands of supply ships that were essential to the war effort. The classic 1955 drama/comedy Mister Roberts tells the story of one such supply ship and its crew, which is led by an eccentric captain but inspired by the executive officer Mister Roberts, who wants more than anything else to fight. Join James and Sean as they discuss this sometimes funny, sometimes gut-wrenching, but always enjoyable film.
May 04, 2022
The Caine Mutiny
Typhoons and other storms were a real danger for naval vessels during the Pacific War, and many ships were lost to them. The Caine Mutiny, based on the novel of the same name by Herman Wouk, tells the story of a tyrannical destroyer captain whose decision to sail right through a typhoon motivates his executive officer to relieve him of command, leading to a court martial. In this episode, James and Sean discuss this exciting film which is part war story and part courtroom drama.
Apr 27, 2022
The Thin Red Line
During a war, combatants often ponder the deep existential questions of life. These questions form the basis of Terence Malick’s 1998 war drama The Thin Red Line. On one level, The Thin Red Line is about a U. S. Army division’s attempt to take a hill on the island of Guadalcanal; however, the film also explores many age-old questions, including “How did evil enter the world?”, “Why are humans at war with nature?”, “Why do humans fight and kill each other?”, and “Given all the evil and suffering in the world, how can there be a loving creator?” Join James and Sean as they discuss this intellectually and emotionally deep film.
Apr 20, 2022
Midway (2019)
On June 4, 1942, a Japanese naval task force launched an attack on the American naval and air base at Midway Island. The task force then encountered an American carrier fleet, leading to an epic naval battle that changed the course of the war in the Pacific. The 2019 action-war film Midway tells the story of the leadup to the battle, the battle itself, and the aftermath. Is it historically accurate? Is it a quality film? In this episode, James and Sean answer these and other questions.
Apr 13, 2022
Special Episode: Eyewitness History Preview
Apr 12, 2022
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
In April 1942, sixteen American B-25B bombers took off from the carrier USS Hornet and conducted a bombing raid over Japan that is known to posterity as the Doolittle Raid. After bombing Japan, the pilots’ intent was to land their planes in China…but things did not go as planned for many. In this episode, James and Sean discuss the 1944 film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, which dramatizes the preparation for the Doolittle Raid, the raid itself, and the aftermath.
Apr 06, 2022
They Were Expendable
Patrol Torpedo (PT) Boats, while not as famous as battleships, aircraft carriers, destroyers, and other large ships, nevertheless played a crucial role in the Pacific War. In 1942, author W. L. White wrote They Were Expendable, a book that tells the story of the work of PT boats in the American defense of the Philippines in 1941 and 1942. Three years later, MGM released the movie version directed by the legendary director John Ford. In this episode, James and Sean discuss this classic John Wayne film.
Mar 30, 2022
Tora! Tora! Tora!
In the late 1960s, a Japanese film production team joined forces with an American team in an effort to produce a balanced and accurate retelling of the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The result is the classic 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!, which after more than 50 years still remains the definitive Pearl Harbor film. Join James and Sean as they discuss the film’s story, its historical accuracy, its quality, and its legacy.
Mar 23, 2022
Introduction to Season 3: The Pacific War on Film
In this episode, James kicks off a new season of Key Battles of American History: “The Pacific War on Film.” In this season, James and returning co-host Sean McIver will discuss 17 specially selected films that deal with different aspects of the Pacific Theater of WW2. We will discuss the films themselves, including their background, themes, quality, and historical accuracy, as well as the historical events behind the films. Pull up a virtual chair and join us!
Mar 16, 2022
Bonus Episode - Gung Ho! (with Steve Guerra)
James and Steve Guerra, host of the Beyond the Big Screen Podcast, discuss the 1943 war propaganda movie Gung Ho!, which is loosely based on the formation and first combat action of the elite World War 2 Marine unit called Carlson’s Raiders.
Mar 09, 2022
Bonus Episode - Truman and the Atomic Bomb (with Richard Lim)
Was President Harry Truman’s decision to use atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary and justified? In this episode, James is joined by Richard Lim, host of the This American President podcast. James and Richard break down the various factors that figured into Truman’s decision in an attempt to answer this important question.
Mar 02, 2022
Bonus Episode - CVE Carriers
In this episode (written by Sean McIver), James tells the story of the small but important CVE (or “Jeep”) aircraft carriers, which played an outside role in the Pacific Theater of World War II. This episode was commissioned by Major Bob McCullough of Early’s Raiders. For more information on supporting the podcast by becoming an officer in Early’s Raiders, visit
Feb 23, 2022
Bonus Episode - Who Would You Save?
In this episode, James, Scott Rank (host of History Unplugged), Steve Guerra (host of Beyond the Big Screen and History of the Papacy) and Richard Lim (host of "This American President") discuss the following question: "If you could go back in time and save one person who died prematurely, who would you save?
Feb 19, 2022
Bonus Episode - Nathan Gorenstein-John Moses Browning
In this episode James interviews Nathan Gorenstein, author of The Guns of John Moses Browning: The Remarkable Story of the Inventor Whose Firearms Changed the World. Nathan explains how Browning, son of a gun repairman in small-town Utah in the mid-nineteenth century, went on to design many of the most popular and widely used firearms in world history, including the Browning Automatic Rifle and the M1911 Colt pistol.
Feb 16, 2022
Bonus Episode - Col. Cleland Early on Tarawa
In this episode (James’ favorite), James and fellow podcaster Steve Guerra recreate an interview given in 1989 by James’ father Col. Cleland Early about his experiences as a young Marine who fought in the Battle of Tarawa. Listen all the way to the end for a special treat!
Feb 09, 2022
Bonus Episode - Beyond the Big Screen
Feb 08, 2022
Bonus Episode - Geography and the Battle of Okinawa
In this episode, James again interviews Air Force historian Evan Muxen. This time, we discuss how the geography of Okinawa influenced the battle that occurred there. While on active duty with the US Army, Evan lived on Okinawa and spent much time investigating sites critical to the battle. Evan’s personal knowledge of the terrain on which the bloodiest battle of the Pacific Theater was fought provides invaluable perspective on the battle.
Feb 02, 2022
Bonus Episode - Geography and the Battle of Iwo Jima
In this episode, James interviews Air Force historian Evan Muxen about how the geography of Iwo Jima influenced the battle that occurred there. Evan has visited Iwo Jima multiple times and even led tours there, and his expert knowledge of the terrain, as well as of the battle itself, provides invaluable perspective on the battle.
Jan 26, 2022
Bonus Episode - Interview with Greg Jackson
In this episode, James interviews Gregory Jackson, Professor of Integrated Studies at Utah Valley University, host of the outstanding History That Doesn’t Suck Podcast, and the voice who introduces this podcast! James and Greg discuss Greg’s podcast, the disconnect between academia and history podcasting, and the state of history podcasting.
Jan 19, 2022
Bonus Episode - US Presidents in WW2 (Part 2)
In this episode, James concludes his two-part series about United States presidents who served in World War 2. In Part Two, James discusses the wartime service of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, as well as the near service of Jimmy Carter.
Jan 12, 2022
Bonus Episode - US Presidents in WW2 (Part 1)
In this episode, James begins a two-part series about United States presidents who served in World War 2. In Part One, James tells the amazing story of John F. Kennedy’s service in the Pacific. James also discusses the wartime service of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.
Jan 05, 2022
Bonus Episode - Parthenon Round Table Who Do You Kill
Jan 01, 2022
Bonus Episode - Marine Raiders
In this episode, James tells the fascinating history of America’s first Special Forces unit: the Marine Raiders. Formed in 1942, the Raiders played a key role in several Pacific Theater battles, including Guadalcanal, New Georgia, and Bougainville. In 1944, the Raider battalions were disbanded, and their members were reassigned to regular Marine units. Why, you ask? Listen and find out!
Dec 29, 2021
The Legacy of World War II
The Second World War deeply and permanently changed the world. In this final episode of the series, James and Scott discuss just a few of the many changes wrought by the war. After discussing casualties of the Pacific War, we discuss the rise and fall of empires, the ushering in of the Cold War and the Nuclear Age, and changes specific to the United States. James and Scott thank you for listening to the series, and we hope you enjoyed it.
Dec 22, 2021
Epilogue, Part Two
In this second installment of the “story after the story” miniseries, James and Scott discuss the postwar careers of key US Army Air Force and Marine leaders, as well as Japanese political leaders. Persons mentioned in the episode include Generals Curtis LeMay and Holland Smith, Col. Chesty Puller, and Major Cleland E. Early, plus Japanese Emperor Hirohito, Prime Ministers Fumimaro Konoe, Hideki Tojo, Kuniaki Koiso, and Kantaro Suzuki; Admirals Soemu Toyoda, Jisaburo Ozawa and Takeo Kurita; General Yoshijiro Umezu; Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura; and Commander Minoru Genda.
Dec 15, 2021
Bonus Episode - Interview with Jared Frederick
"In this episode, James chats with author, history professor, and host of the Reel History YouTube Channel Jared Frederick. James and Jared discuss Jared's background, how he got into doing a YouTube channel, and the current state of history YouTubing and podcasting."
Dec 11, 2021
Epilogue, Part One
This is the first part of a two-episode series in which James and Scott discuss the “story after the story” of the top Japanese and American political and military leaders. In this episode, we discuss the postwar careers of President Truman, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and Secretary of War Henry Stimson. We also talk about US Admirals Husband Kimmel, William Leahy, Ernest King, Chester Nimitz, William Halsey, and (Scott’s favorite admiral) Raymond Spruance, as well as US Army Generals Walter Short, George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, and Jonathan Wainwright.
Dec 08, 2021
Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the End of the War
Between December 1942 and July 1945, a team of scientists, working in secret facilities in various parts of the U. S., researched, built, and tested the world’s first atomic bomb. Japan’s failure to surrender, together with the possibility of hundreds of thousands of casualties, motivated President Truman to drop an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Despite the bomb’s destruction of the city, including the immediate deaths of up to 80,000 people, Japan’s leaders still refused to surrender. Three days later, an American bomber dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki, leveling that city and killing nearly as many people as had perished at Hiroshima. Soon after, the Emperor led Japan to surrender. In this episode, James and Scott discuss the Manhattan Project, the dropping of the two atomic bombs, the Japanese surrender, and the end of the Second World War.
Dec 01, 2021
Plug for This American President
This is an excerpt from an episode of This American President, a great history podcast that is the newest member of the Parthenon Podcast Network. You can find it at or wherever you listen to podcasts.

George Washington: The First American Action Hero
He might look like an old man on the one-dollar bill, but George Washington was once a bona fide action hero. This episode explores our first president’s legendary exploits during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.
Nov 28, 2021
The Beginning of the End
By the summer of 1945, it was clear that Japan was defeated. Historian Craig Symonds writes that Japan was “stripped of her conquests, bombed incessantly from the air by American B-29s, her imports cut to a trickle by American submarines, her navy destroyed, and her industries idle for lack of raw materials and oil. Her allies were gone, too…Japan was alone, starving, all but defenseless, a passive target, absorbing punishment and unable to strike back.” In addition, Allied leaders issued the Potsdam Declaration, which warned Japan of “prompt and utter destruction” if they did not surrender. Despite all this, Japan’s leaders vowed to fight to the death. In this episode, James and Scott discuss Allied efforts to persuade Japan to surrender, along with Operation Downfall, the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands.
Nov 24, 2021
Prisoners of War
During the Pacific War, the Japanese took over 130,000 Allied prisoners of war and held them in camps spread all over the Japanese Empire. Nearly all Allied prisoners were deprived of food and medical care, were regularly beaten, and were worked past the point of exhaustion. Nearly 40,000 died, representing about 27% (compared to only 4% in German camps). In this episode, James and Scott tell the tragic story of Allied prisoners of war in Japanese internment camps. They also briefly discuss the much happier story of Navajo Code Talkers, who helped win the war for the United States.
Nov 17, 2021
Once again, James and Scott are taking a break from the narrative of key battles to discuss two more important topics. In this episode, we will tell the story of kamikazes, including the origin of the tactic, its expansion into a full-fledged program, and its increasingly devastating effect, most notably at the Battle of Okinawa.
Nov 10, 2021
Okinawa (KB 9), Part Two
As was the case with previous island battles, the American conquest of Okinawa was slow and bloody. In addition to their network of caves and tunnels, the Japanese possessed a strong fortress called Shuri Castle. But if the Americans could overcome the seemingly impregnable Japanese defenses, they could establish a powerful naval and air base from which to stage the seemingly inevitable invasion of the Japanese home islands. Would they succeed? Tune in and find out!
Nov 03, 2021
Okinawa (KB 9), Part One
After the successful capture of Iwo Jima, the Americans’ next objective was Okinawa, which was only 330 miles from the Japanese home islands. Possessing Okinawa would cut Japan’s supply line from southeast Asia and would provide an excellent staging point for an eventual invasion. As in many previous battles, the Japanese were dug into an extensive network of caves and tunnels. To complicate things further, there were about 400,000 Okinawan civilians on the island. Capturing Okinawa would be the Americans’ greatest challenge to date. Join James and Scott as they discuss the lead up to the invasion and narrate its initial stage.
Oct 27, 2021
Iwo Jima (KB 8), Part Two
On February 19, 1945, 40,000 Marines landed on Iwo Jima, and many more would follow. Within four days, they had taken the summit of Mt. Suribachi, a key position that commanded the entire island, and had raised an enormous flag (an event made famous in the iconic photo by Joe Rosenthal). But the battle was far from over. The Japanese defenders were determined to exact as heavy a toll as possible, while kamikazes wreaked havoc on the US Navy off the shore. Join James and Scott as they conclude their discussion of the key battle of Iwo Jima.
Oct 20, 2021
Iwo Jima (KB 8), Part One
In order to make the strategic bombing runs over Japan more effective, General Curtis LeMay and other USAAF leaders wanted the B-29s to be escorted by fighters. In order for this to happen, the US needed a base much closer to Japan, because no fighter at the time could make it from Saipan or Guam to Japan and back. To meet this need, American military planners decided to launch an invasion of Iwo Jima, which is only 750 miles from Japan. Iwo Jima was only 8 square miles in size and was covered with black volcanic ash rather than sand. More significantly for the American invaders, the Japanese defenders had dug deep into a network of underground caves and tunnels that were impervious to American bombs and shells. The fight would be slow and bloody. Would the Americans be able to root out the Japanese and take the island? Join us and see!
Oct 13, 2021
American Bombers in the Pacific Theater
In May 1944, the US unveiled a new weapon, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber. It was bigger and faster than the B-17, it had a greater range, and it could carry a heavier bomb load (8-10 tons). Despite many early problems, by early 1945, B-29s were causing heavy damage on Japanese cities in the firebombing campaign led by General Curtis LeMay. In this episode, James and Scott discuss the controversial policy of firebombing, including its background, its execution, and its results.
Oct 06, 2021
American Submarines in the Pacific
In this episode, James and Scott take a break from the narrative of battles to take a deep dive (pun intended!) into the topic of American submarines in the Pacific War. Due to technical problems, early submarine torpedoes seldom destroyed their targets. By mid-1944, however, these problems had largely been solved, with devastating results for Japanese merchant vessels. From then on, US submarines destroyed 200,000 tons of Japanese shipping per month and were threatening Japan’s war industries. According to historian Max Hastings, “No other combatant force as small as the U. S. Navy’s submarine flotillas and their 16,000 men achieved a comparable impact upon the war anywhere in the world.” Join James and Scott as they discuss the fascinating world of submarines.
Sep 29, 2021
Leyte Gulf (Key Battle 7), Part Two
In the last episode, we saw that the Japanese fleet, despite suffering some initial setbacks at the hands of the Americans, were still pressing hard toward the American invasion fleet in Leyte Gulf. Due to a major communication breakdown, the US Navy had left the San Bernardino Strait unguarded, so the way to the American invasion fleet was wide open. Would the Japanese fleet be able to capitalize on the American mistake? In this episode, James and Scott discuss the final stages of the battle of Leyte Gulf, as well as the American effort to recapture Leyte, Luzon, and the other Philippine Islands.
Sep 22, 2021
Leyte Gulf (Key Battle 7), Part One
After their overwhelming victories at the Philippine Sea and the Mariana Islands, American military leaders faced several options for their next target. Due in large part to lobbying by General MacArthur, they chose the Philippines. Japan’s leadership knew that losing the Philippines would mean the severing of the supply line from the Dutch East Indies to the home islands, so they were determined to stop the American invasion. Join James and Scott as they discuss the Japanese navy’s attempt to destroy the American invasion fleet in a “decisive battle.”
Sep 15, 2021
Philippine Sea (Key Battle 6)
While the American attack on Saipan was still in progress, the Japanese Pacific fleet launched an attack on the American fleet, hoping to halt the invasion and to destroy the American fleet in a final, decisive battle. The Japanese fleet was powerful, but it was no match for Admiral Raymond Spruance’s Fifth Fleet, which destroyed so many Japanese planes and ships that the battle became known as the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.” In this episode, James and Scott discuss this dramatic and epic battle, along with the subsequent American capture of the islands of Guam and Tinian.
Sep 08, 2021
Saipan (Key Battle 5)
In June 1944, the U. S. launched its Marianas campaign, beginning with an amphibious assault on the key island of Saipan. After more than three bloody weeks of fighting, culminating in a massive banzai charge and the horrific suicides of thousands of civilians, the Americans controlled the island. Join James and Scott as they discuss the bloodiest battle of the Pacific Theater up to that point, a battle which gave the U. S. an air base within bombing range of the Japanese home islands.
Sep 01, 2021
America Moves Closer to Japan
In the fall of 1943, top Japanese leaders decided to pull Japan’s defensive perimeter back closer to Japan, in an effort to stop the American juggernaut. American and other Allied forces continued to press forward, taking Biak in the southwestern Pacific and the Caroline Islands (including the key Japanese air/naval base of Truk) in the central Pacific. After these victories, American planners set their sights on a key target even closer to Japan: The Mariana island chain. In this episode, James and Scott discuss Japan’s “New Operational Policy” and the allied conquests of Truk and the Caroline Islands. They conclude with a comparison of the main American and Japanese fleets that would be facing off in the next campaign.
Aug 25, 2021
The Solomons, the Gilberts, and the Marshalls
In June 1943, American forces kicked off Operation Cartwheel, an attack on additional islands in the Solomons chain and parts of New Britain and New Guinea, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. At the same time, Admiral Ernest King decided to launch a second major offensive under Admiral Nimitz’ command that would work its way across the Central Pacific. This new invasion force would be supported by the Third Fleet, the most powerful naval force ever assembled at the time. Join James and Scott as they discuss Operation Cartwheel, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands (most notably the bloody Battle of Tarawa), and the attack on the Marshall Islands.
Aug 18, 2021
The Tide Turns: July 1942 - August 1943
Between August 1942 and June 1944, no “Key Battles” (at least in James’ reckoning!) occurred...but that of course does not mean that nothing happened! During the time between the Guadalcanal and Saipan campaigns, the U. S. and its allies launched a series of smaller campaigns to gradually push back the Japanese. In this episode, James and Scott discuss several key Allied efforts that occurred between July 1942 and August 1943, including the Kokoda Track Campaign, the Makin Raid, and the attack on the Aleutian islands of Attu and Kiska. Also discussed are the Battle of the Bismarck Sea and the American attempt to kill Admiral Yamamoto.
Aug 11, 2021
Japanese and American Sailors
The Pacific War was dominated by the navy. Without the hundreds of thousands of sailors who manned the thousands of ships on both sides, there would have been no land battles. In this episode, written mostly by Sean McIver, James and Scott discuss the life of a common sailor on both the Japanese and the American side. Pacific Theater sailors endured cramped quarters, hot temperatures, and extended periods of mind-numbing boredom, punctuated by brief periods of terror. Climb aboard a ship with your James and Scott and enjoy the ride. Anchors aweigh!
Aug 04, 2021
Soldiers, Marines and Aviators
In this and the next episode, James and Scott take a break from the military narrative to zoom in and take a look at the lives and experiences of common soldiers, marines, and pilots on both the Japanese and American sides. What backgrounds did they come from? What was their training like? What did they wear, carry, and eat? James and Scott discuss these and other questions to help you understand what it was like to be on the front lines and in the air over them.
Jul 28, 2021
Guadalcanal (Key Battle 4), Part 4
After the failed October Japanese attack on Henderson Field and the American fleet’s repeated prevention of Japanese efforts to reinforce and resupply the island, the Japanese army on Guadalcanal became increasingly hungry, disease-ridden, and depleted in numbers. After successful American attacks on the eastern part of the island (the “Long Patrol”) and the key position of Mt. Austen in the center of the island, the Japanese commander faced two alternatives: evacuate, or be wiped out. What would he choose, and how would it work out? In this episode, James and Scott answer this question and many others as they wrap up the epic Guadalcanal campaign.
Jul 21, 2021
Guadalcanal (Key Battle 4), Part 3
In October and November of 1942, the Japanese fleet near Guadalcanal kept trying to bring supplies and reinforcements to the island, while the American navy tried to stop this. As a result, no fewer than three naval engagements occurred in these two months: the Battle of Cape Esperance, the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, and the epic Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Also, in late October, two Japanese forces launched another attack on Henderson Field, the American airfield. Would the attack succeed? Listen and find out!
Jul 14, 2021
Guadalcanal (Key Battle 4), Part 2
In the first week after their landing, the Americans seized the Japanese airstrip and constructed a perimeter around it. But in the next month, the Japanese launched two attacks to try to regain it. The second one nearly succeeded. In this episode, James and Scott narrate these two attacks (known, respectively, as the Battle of the Tenaru and the Battle of Bloody Ridge (or Edson’s Ridge) as well as the continuing naval battle around the island, especially the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.
Jul 07, 2021
Guadalcanal (Key Battle 4), Part 1
After overwhelmingly defeating the Japanese fleet at Midway, American military leaders decided to go on the offensive. The first major target would be a group of islands in the eastern part of the Solomon Islands, the most prominent of which was Guadalcanal. Japanese forces had begun constructing an airfield on Guadalcanal, and the Americans hoped to seize the airfield, convert it into an American one, and expel the Japanese from the island. The Japanese, however, refused to play along. In this episode, James and Scott discuss the planning and buildup toward the Guadalcanal campaign, the initial American landing, and the disastrous (for the Allies) naval Battle of Savo Island.
Jun 30, 2021
Jun 25, 2021
Midway (Key Battle 3)
Thanks to the American code breakers at “Station Hypo” on Oahu, led by the brilliant and quirky Joe Rochefort, American naval leaders knew of Yamamoto’s plan to attack Midway. This knowledge turned hunter into prey and prey into hunter. When Fleet Commander Chuichi Nagumo and the Japanese attack fleet arrived, they discovered they had sailed into an ambush. The result was the crucial Battle of Midway, in which it could be argued that the direction of the Pacific War changed in just five minutes. Join James and Scott as they narrate the exciting and decisive Battle of Midway.
Jun 23, 2021
Yamamoto Rolls the Dice
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 inflicted great damage on the American Pacific Fleet, but it left one group of American ships untouched: the aircraft carriers. In early 1942, Japanese Admiral Yamamoto decided to finish the job that his fleet had begun the previous December. Yamamoto authored a plan to send his fleet toward Midway Island. There, he hoped to lure the American carriers to their destruction and to capture Midway, establishing a powerful Japanese air and naval base only 1100 miles from Midway. This would force the Americans to the negotiating table...or would it? In this episode, James and Scott discuss the details of Yamamoto’s bold but risky plan to project Japanese power further westward. They also discuss the major types of ships and planes used by both navies in early 1942.
Jun 16, 2021
The Coral Sea (Key Battle 2)
Following up on their stunning military successes of late 1941 and early 1942, Japan’s leaders decided to capture the key Allied port of Port Moresby on the southern coast of New Guinea. They also hoped to cut off the critical American supply line from Hawaii to Australia. Unbeknownst to the Japanese, however, American codebreakers had broken enough of the Japanese naval code to realize the Imperial Navy’s plans. As a result, when the Japanese fleet arrived at the Coral Sea, an American squadron was there to meet them. Listen as James and Scott discuss the key battle that resulted: The Battle of the Coral Sea.
Jun 09, 2021
The Japanese Blitzkrieg
When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, they were just getting started. Over the next 5 months, Japan rapidly and overwhelmingly conquered several European and colonial possessions in southeast Asia, including Guam, Malaya, Wake Island, Hong Kong, Burma, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines. At the same time, they inflicted several defeats on Allied naval forces. They were then faced with several alternatives for their next move. In this episode, James and Scott narrate this period of rapid Japanese expansion, including the famous “Doolittle Raid” and the infamous “Bataan Death March.”
Jun 02, 2021
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT - The History of the Papacy
May 29, 2021
America Gears Up for War
Between 1939 and 1941, the United States began increasing the size of its military forces while it ramped up war production. After Pearl Harbor, these processes went into overdrive, with the result that several million Americans served in uniform in the war years, while America quickly became the world’s greatest industrial and military power. In the US, unemployment nearly disappeared, while African-Americans, Latinos, and women found unprecedented employment opportunities. At the same time, the US government interned thousands of Japanese-Americans for no reason other than their ancestry. In this episode, James and Scott describe how the US went from being a relatively isolationist power to the world’s “Arsenal of Democracy.” They also give an overview of life on the home front during the war.
May 26, 2021
Pearl Harbor (Key Battle 1)
On December 7, 1941, Japanese air and naval forces launched a surprise attack on the American naval and air base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing 2400 Americans and heavily damaging the US Pacific Fleet. How did this happen? In this episode, James and Scott tell the gripping story of how Japan managed to keep the attack a secret, despite having to traverse several thousand miles of ocean. They also discuss the multiple American intelligence failures and the aftermath of the attack.
May 19, 2021
The Road to Pearl Harbor
Japan’s complicated relationship with the United States stretches back much further than 1940. The relationship, which began nearly a century prior to World War II, was often fraught with tension. Things reached a breaking point in 1941, when the US began to push back against Japanese expansion. In this episode, James and Scott give a brief history of Japanese-American relations from 1853 to 1941, and they chronicle the Japanese decision to launch a surprise attack on the American naval and air base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
May 12, 2021
Japan’s Strategy; Relations with the US
In order to meet the needs of its expanding population and empire, Japan’s leaders began looking hungrily to the south and east. Three years after invading China, Japanese military forces occupied French Indochina. This, combined with American support for China, put Japan on a collision course with the US. Would the two powers be able to avoid war? In this episode, James and Scott tell the story of the dangerous “dance” between imperial Japan and the United States in 1940 and 1941.
May 05, 2021
The Rise of Imperial Japan
As late as the 1860s, Japan was a semi-feudal nation, largely cut off from the rest of the world. But within a few decades, the nation had transformed itself into a major industrial power with one of the world’s most well-trained, well-equipped, and well-led militaries. Between 1905 and 1941, Japan defeated Russia, gained several former German colonies in the Pacific, seized Manchuria, and invaded and conquered much of coastal China. How did Japan accomplish all this? In this episode, James and Scott explain Japan’s meteoric rise to world power status.
Apr 28, 2021
Intro to Key Battles of the Pacific War
In this episode, James introduces the second season of Key Battles of American History. The topic will be Key Battles of the Pacific Theater (WW2). Returning as James' co-host is Scott Rank. Enjoy!
Apr 21, 2021
The Lost Battalion
James and Sean discuss the 2001 made-for-television movie The Lost Battalion, in which an American battalion becomes isolated and surrounded by German forces during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of 1918.
Apr 07, 2021
Lawrence of Arabia
James and Sean discuss the epic, multi award-winning 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia, based on British Colonel T. E. Lawrence’s autobiographical book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Lawrence assists a group of Arab tribesmen in their effort to break free of Ottoman rule.
Mar 31, 2021
War Horse
James and Sean discuss the 2011 film War Horse, in which a young Englishman struggles to be reunited with his beloved horse, who has been sent to the Western Front and has experienced several trying experiences there.
Mar 24, 2021
James Patreon Announcement
Mar 22, 2021
Sergeant York
James and Sean discuss the classic 1941 film Sergeant York, which tells the fascinating story of Alvin York, one of the most decorated American soldiers of the First World War.
Mar 17, 2021
James and Sean discuss the award-winning 2019 film 1917, in which two British soldiers are sent on a dangerous mission to save another unit from disaster.
Mar 10, 2021
Beneath Hill 60
James and Sean discuss the 2010 Australian film Beneath Hill 60, which tells the fascinating story of an Australian tunneling company trying to undermine the German position at the Ypres Salient in the Western Front.
Mar 03, 2021
They Shall Not Grow Old
James and Sean discuss the outstanding 2018 Peter Jackson documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, which combines interviews with British World War I veterans with colorized and slowed-down footage from the war.
Feb 24, 2021
Paths of Glory
James and Sean discuss the classic 1957 anti-war film Paths of Glory, starring Kirk Douglas. In this film, a French colonel tries to save three of his men who are sentenced to be executed for cowardice.
Feb 17, 2021
James and Sean discuss the 1981 Australian film Gallipoli, which tells the story of a group of Australian young men who are introduced to the horrors of war at the 1915 Battle of Gallipoli.
Feb 17, 2021
All Quiet on the Western Front
In this episode, James and special guest Sean McIver discuss the classic 1930 anti-war film All Quiet on the Western Front. Based on the novel of the same name, All Quiet on the Western Front set the standard for all future war movies, especially those which present war in a negative light.
Feb 17, 2021
Season 1 Introduction
In Season 1 of "Key Battles of American History," James is joined with special guest Sean McIver to discuss their favorite WW1 films.
Feb 17, 2021
Intro to Key Battles of American History
In this episode, host James Early introduces the series, discussing the format, the topics to be discussed in future episodes, and everything else you need to know.
Feb 08, 2021