Monday, December 4, 2017

The Impact of Pearl Harbor

Americans know the story of Pearl Harbor well; at least, we know the story from the moment planes showed up in the skies over Oahu. But many of us don't know the decades-long, building pressure that compelled the Japanese to attack. We also sometimes forget how those pressures and decisions affect real-life human beings. One of those affected was a neighbor living down the street from me when I was fifteen. When I found out Glen Peterson had survived the attack at Pearl Harbor, I excitedly asked him to share the story with me. The conversation I had with him changed my life forever, and I've never looked at Pearl Harbor, World War II, or any history in the same way since.
Glen Peterson

Monday, November 27, 2017

Cracking the Rosetta Stone

Ancient Egypt, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, was a total mystery to historians. For 1400 years, the ability to understand hieroglyphs had been lost to the world. So while they were surrounded by 3000 years of records, historians couldn't read them. But in a chain of events that involved Alexander the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte, a stone was discovered that would prove to be the key to Egypt's ancient secrets. And two bitter rivals set off on a race to turn the key first.

Monday, November 20, 2017

On the Origin of Species

Editorial Cartoon Portraying Darwin as an Ape
Charles Darwin was a known and well-respected scientist in 19th Century England. But few knew that for 20 years, he'd been holding back a theory that would radicalize our understanding of Biology and the history of life on Earth. He held it back because he knew all too well how intensely it would clash not only with the scientific thought of the day, but especially with religious belief. It has been a source of controversy from the moment he finally published his theory in his famous book, On the Origin of Species.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Thanksgiving Mythology (Mayflower Part II)

While the English settlers we now know as Pilgrims fought to survive the deadly first winter in New England, they were being watched.

They weren't aware they had settled on the ruins of a former Indian village that had recently been wiped out. And they didn't know their fates were being determined by an Indian chief called Massasoit.

Massasoit had no reason to trust the English and considered wiping him out, but may have been stopped by the prompting of a captive of his tribe--a young man who was sole surviving resident of the very town the Pilgrims had claimed as their own. His name was Tisquantum, or as he's more commonly known, Squanto.

Massasoit's and Squanto's decisions ultimately resulted in one of the most fateful alliances in American history and would give rise to the myth we now call Thanksgiving.
The original seal of the colony of Massachusetts.
The Indian is portrayed as saying:
"Come And Help Us."

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Witches of the New World

In 1692, two little girls started acting strangely. After examining them, the town's doctor gave a diagnosis that sent shockwaves through the community: witchcraft. Soon, a local slave woman was put on trial as a suspected witch. She pleaded guilty. And in her testimony, she admitted not only was she a witch, but others lurked in the town as well. Fear gripped Salem and the paranoid hunt was on. Soon, former friends and neighbors were being marched to the gallows to hang as convicted witches.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Mayflower Mythology

The story of the Pilgrims of the Mayflower is steeped in American lore. We know they fled Europe seeking religious freedom, but what did they believe? Who was persecuting them? And why is their story the one we remember over other colonists who preceded them? This week in Backtrack History, we look at the Puritan Separatists of Scrooby, England, and why they eventually risked everything to set foot on the famous Mayflower.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Symbols, Myths, and Dreams

I tried something new this week. Upon returning from Podcast Movement 17, I was filled with excitement about podcasting and decided to do a show on the recent events in Charlottesville, VA. It's rare that a current event raises questions and discussion about history the way the protests and violence of Aug 13 have done. While I abhor the violence and horrific rhetoric that was being spewed by the protestors, the questions they ask are fascinating to look at.

Statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee
Is the Confederate flag evil? Are statues of historic figures like Robert E Lee racist? Like nearly everything else in history, the answer is complicated. And it revolves around a central question: was the Civil War about slavery?

If the Civil War was about slavery, does that mean the monuments and flags honoring the south and its heroes espousing the racist ideology that drove the Confederacy to secede from the Union? What about the slave states that didn't secede? Did the northerners think they were fighting to abolish slavery? Ultimately, how should we remember the Civil War and the South's role in that conflict?

We look at those subjects this week in a special, unscripted episode, all while trying to avoid modern-day politics like the plague. What are your thoughts on Confederate monuments and the Confederate flag? Do you think the Civil War was about slavery?

Agree or disagree, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Share them in the comments below, on Facebook, or send me an email. Thanks for listening!