The Road to Now

History podcast about where we are today and how we got here

All Episodes
from The Road to Now

  • RTN Theology #18- A Time for Wanting and Waiting: an Advent conversation with W. David O. Taylor

    For many, the Christian liturgical calendar is often a bit mysterious or just plain strange. Bob and Chris dig into the start of the year, the four weeks leading up to Christmas known as Advent, with theologian and arts pastor David Taylor of Fuller Seminary. David wears many hats, and in our interview we discuss…

  • #153 Floating Coast: The Environmental History of the Bering Strait w/ Bathsheba Demuth

    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…

  • RTN Theology #17- Bread, Grace, & Giving Thanks: a conversation with Baker & Writer Kendall Vanderslice

    Bob and Chris sit down with baker and writer Kendall Vanderslice for a special Thanksgiving episode of RTN Theology centered on food, faith, and a movement of church communities built around the table. Vanderslice’s 2019 book, We Will Feast (Eerdman’s) is a veritable buffet in its own right: part journalism, part food studies, part memoir,…

  • #152 Building Community and Breaking Barriers w/ Digital Humanities (Recorded Live at ASEEES 2019)

    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…

  • #151 Live in Chicago w/ Pete Souza & Erin Welsh (recorded at Beverly Arts Center)

    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-…

  • #150 Life on the Road

    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…

  • #149 The History of Hong Kong w/ Mindy Smith

    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…

  • RTN Theology #16 – Inside the Porter’s Gate’s ‘Neighbor Songs’ with Megan and Isaac Wardell

    Bob and Chris talk with Megan and Isaac Wardell, who shepherd a Christian music collaborative out of Charlottesville, VA made up of dozens of musicians, theologians, pastors, and faith leaders from many places and traditions. In 2017 they released the project’s debut album, Work Songs, about vocation. Last week came the follow-up Neighbor Songs. This…

  • # 148 The Bizarre Life of American Death w/ Caitlin Doughty

    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,…

  • RTN Theology #15 – Plenty to Be Me, Not Enough to Be Everything: Richella Parham on the ‘Mythical Me’

    Bob and Chris sit down with Richella Parham to talk about her debut book, Mythical Me: Finding Freedom from Constant Comparison. Richella talks about the trap of comparing ourselves to others and the way that a distorted picture of ourselves and others creates a distorted picture of God, and vice versa. Richella’s writing is as…

  • #147 How to Remove a Confederate Monument w/ Adam Swensek

    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…

  • #146 Keeping Government Secrets w/ Stacy Wood

    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…

  • RTN Theology #14 – Detoxifying & Demystifying Church Music: A Conversation with Producer Jeff Crawford

    RTN Theology #14 remembers as collaborative music project from 2012 birthed out of a North Carolina church community. Bob and Chris talk with producer Jeff Crawford about the making of Hymns from the Gathering Church at Arbor Ridge Studios. This record features old hymns reimagined by artists such as Phil Cook, Mandolin Orange, Skylar Gudasz,…

  • #145 The Opioid Crisis w/ Beth Macy

    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…

  • The Seriousness of Being Funny w/ Tom Shadyac (Rebroadcast)

    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:…

  • RTN Theology #13 “A More Patient Prophesy” Why Place Matters for Artists and Christians with Dr. Jennifer Allen Craft

    RTN Theology 13 is a conversation with Dr. Jennifer Allen Craft in Durham, NC as she participates in the Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts’ 10th anniversary symposium. Dr. Craft wrote Placemaking and the Arts: Cultivating the Christian Life: a beautiful vision for investing in real places and loving real people, while we cultivate…

  • #144 Saudi Arabia and the Middle East w/ Sean Foley

    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…

  • #143 Research!

    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…

  • #142 How Talk Radio Took Over the Republican Party w/ Brian Rosenwald

    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…

  • #141 The Last Czars, Chernobyl, and the Pros & Cons of Dramatizing History w/ Philippa Hetherington & Jon Waterlow

    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…

  • RTN Theology #12 Community Building, Conversation & Corner to Corner

    What can happen when folks stay in a place, learn that place, and grow to love the people in a place over a long period of time? This episode of RTN Theology explores the power of conversation, creativity, and working in generative ways across difference and division. Chris has a conversation about conversation with C.…

  • #140 Citizen Coke: The History of Coca-Cola w/ Bartow Elmore

    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…

  • # 139 Healthcare, the Law and the Future(s) of Privacy w/ Roy Wyman

    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…

  • #138 The Power of Story (live from NCSL’s 2019 Legislative Summit)

    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…

  • RTN Theology #11 The Character of Virtue w/ Stanley Hauerwas

    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…

  • # 137 Making Fun of History: Creating Serious Games w/ Ben Sawyer

    Creating games that are both fun and educational takes a lot of work, but Digimill’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,…

  • #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…

  • #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…

  • #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…

  • #135 Surrender in the American Civil War w/ David Silkenat

    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…

  • #134 The American Empire w/ Daniel Immerwahr

    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…

  • RTN Theology 10: The Life & Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    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…

  • Life, Beer & Politics w/ Gov. John Hickenlooper (Rebroadcast)

    This is a rebroadcast of episode #6, which originally aired in January 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…

  • #133 Bonnaroo Past & Present w/ festival co-founder Ashley Capps (live from Bonnaroo)

    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…

  • #132 In the Footsteps of Lafayette w/ Julien Icher

    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…

  • #131 Photographing the President w/ Pete Souza

    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,…

  • #130 Sources, Methods & Music w/ Robert Costa

    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…

  • RTN #130 Sources, Methods & Music w/ Robert Costa

    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…

  • #129 RTN Third Anniversary Party w/ Matt Negrin

    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…

  • #128 A Frail League of Friendship: The Articles of Confederation w/ Greg Jackson

    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…

  • RTN Theology #9: Burying White Privilege: Resurrecting a Badass Christianity w/ Miguel De La Torre

    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…

  • #127 The History of Privacy in Modern America w/ Sarah Igo

    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…

  • #126 The Origins of American Immigration Policy w/ Hidetaka Hirota

    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…

  • RTN Voices #1: The Life & Times of Rufus Allan Sevier

    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…

  • RTN Voices #1: The Life & Times of Rufus Allan Sevier (RTN April Fools Episode)

    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…

  • RTN Theology #8 Elizabeth Seton and Catholics in Early America w/ Catherine O’Donnell

    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…

  • #125 When the Irish Invaded Canada w/ Chris Klein

    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. In this episode, Bob & Ben speak with Christopher Klein about his new book When the…

  • #124 Political Coalitions from 1990 to 2019 w/ Amy Walter

    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…

  • #123 How to Tell a Good Story w/ Jakob Lewis

    Ben sits down with Vox Familia’s Jakob Lewis to talk about what makes a good story.

  • #122 The Arctic w/ Heidi Bohaker & Alison Smith

    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…

  • RTN Theology #7 Remembering Walter B. Jones: Living by Faith and by Truth

    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.

  • #121 Gender and History w/ Lisa Fine

    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…

  • #120 The History of Influenza w/ John Barry

    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…

  • #119 Karl Marx and History

    Bob and Ben talk about how Karl 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 support us and get…

  • #118 The GI Bill and the Legacy of Racial Discrimination w/ Louis Woods

    Louis Woods joins us to explain how federal policies in 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 the economy, society, and even in the way we teach…

  • #117 American Slavery w/ Edward Baptist

    Bob and Ben speak with Cornell University’s 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.

  • #116 What is the Middle Class? w/ Scott Wasserman

    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.

  • #115 The 1970s w/ Jefferson Cowie

    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…

  • #114 Making the Government Talk: US Covert Operations and Freedom of Information w/ Peter Kornbluh

    In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with National Security Archives’ Senior Analyst Peter Kornbluh about the National Security Archive and how he and others have used the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to the records of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other formerly classified US operations abroad. Peter explains the impact…

  • #113 War on the Banana Skin

    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…

  • #112 The Ottoman Empire and the Rise of the Modern Middle East w/ Eugene Rogan

    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…

  • #23.2 Felon Disfranchisement and Citizenship in the US w/ Pippa Holloway (w/ update)

    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][1] on the…

  • #111 Dvořák in America w/ Matt Negrin

    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…

  • #110 Gerry Adams and the Global Road to Peace

    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…

  • RTN Theology #6 The Road to Hope? The Challenges of Faith in Politics

    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…

  • #109 Presidential Impeachment w/ Jeffrey Engel

    Bob and Ben speak withSouthern Methodist University’s Dr. 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’s new book Impeachment: An American History, which he co-authored w/ Peter Baker, Jon Meacham, and Timothy Naftali is out from Modern…

  • #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…

  • #107 Laughing at Stalin: The Politics of Humor w/ Jon Waterlow

    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,…

  • #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…

  • 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…

  • #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…

  • #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…

  • #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…

  • #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…

  • #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…

  • #100 RTN One Hundred

    Bob and Ben reflect on the first one hundred episodes of The Road to Now, the state of politics, and what they’ve learned since the first episode launched in May 2016. Bob explains what he thinks most people get wrong about history and the way that hosting RTN and beginning graduate studies have changed his…

  • 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,…

  • BONUS: Elvis Presley & America (from My History Can Beat Up Your Politics)

    Bob and Ben join friend & fellow podcaster Bruce Carlson to talk about Elvis Presley and his impact on American society. (Originally aired on My History Can Beat Up Your Politics)

  • #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…

  • #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 Ben and guest co-host Jon Burr from wrestling’s origins in the…

  • #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…

  • #97 Songs of Social Justice w/ Governor Martin O’Malley

    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)…

  • #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. Tyler talks about the calling that drove him to make Cocaine & Rhinestones, the methodology he developed to cover the…

  • #95 Tom Marshall on Writing Phish and Everything Else

    We talk with Phish lyricist Tom Marshall to learn about the history of Phish 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…

  • #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 modern American society, but the song, and the man who wrote it, are far more complex and fascinating than most folks realize. In this episode Bob & Ben speak with Woody Guthrie Center Executive Director Deana McCloud to learn more about…

  • #93 Woodrow Wilson & Presidential Morality w/ Patricia O’Toole

    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 her new biography of Woodrow Wilson, The Moralist, and what happened when a historian got control of the White House.

  • Catching Up: Sean Foley on Syria and the Middle East

    Dr. Sean Foley (Episode 53) returns 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.

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

    In this episode of The Road to Now we speak with Ronald Grigor 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…

  • #92 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…

  • #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.

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

    We speak with John Sedgwick about new book, Blood Moon: An American Epic of War and Splendor in the Cherokee Nation (Simon & Schuster, 2018), and how the rivalry between two Cherokee leaders shaped the history of the Tribe and the United States as a whole. Note: We are aware of the controversy surrounding this…

  • #40 The Life & Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. w/ Clayborne Carson

    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, Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History and Ronnie Lott Founding Director of the Martin Luther King Research and Education Institute at…

  • 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…

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

    In this episode, we speak with the Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl to get his 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…

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

    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…

  • #87 All Roads Lead to Douglas Brinkley

    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…

  • RTN Theology #2: Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?

    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…

  • #86 William McKinley and the Republican Party with Robert Merry

    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…

  • #85 The History of US-Mexican Relations w/ Bruce Carlson (Recorded Live in Riviera Maya, Mexico)

    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…

  • #84 America’s Forgotten War: The War of 1812 w/ Don Hickey

    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…

  • #83 Foreign Policy in American History w/ Joyce Kaufman

    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…

  • #82 The History of Santa Claus and Christmas Culture w/ James Cooper

    Christmas is just a week away, so 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…

  • #81 The History of Coffee w/ Mark Pendergrast

    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…

  • RTN Theology #1: The Intersection of Christianity & Culture in the United States

    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…

  • #80 Navajo Code Talkers, Pocahontas, & Native American History w/ Ashley Riley Sousa

    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…

  • #47 The History of Christianity w/ Molly Worthen (Rebroadcast)

    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…

  • #79 The Russian Revolution w/ Lewis Siegelbaum

    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…

  • #78 The French Revolution w/ Peter McPhee

    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…

  • #77 Martin Luther & the Reformation with Donald Fortson

    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…

  • #76 History of American Cemeteries with Tanya Marsh

    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…

  • #75 William Walker, Historical Markers, and (Re)Writing History

    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…

  • #74 Gerrymandering and the Supreme Court w/ Brent Kendall

    On Tuesday, October 3rd, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, which challenged the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s political redistricting following the 2010 US Census. Americans have been crying foul over Gerrymandering since the term was coined for Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry in 1812, but this is the first time in American history…

  • #73 Bob, Ben, and Ian Catch Up

    Bob, Ben, and Ian sit down to discuss what they’ve been reading, what they’ve learned so far from making The Road To Now, and what aspects of history they’ve found to be most interesting in light of recent events. They also follow up on a few points they discussed in their conversation with Jefferson Cowie (Episode…

  • #72 Coffee With The Avett Brothers

    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…

  • #71 Gerd Schroth on Life as a Child of Nazi Germany, Refugee, Immigrant, And Now, American Citizen

    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.…

  • #70 9/11 Sixteen Years Later: A Conversation With Jefferson Cowie

    The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 marked a turning point in history. But did the attacks fundamentally change the United States, or simply serve as a catalyst for developments that were already in place before the war on terror? In this episode of The Road to Now, Jefferson Cowie joins Bob and Ben for…

  • #69 Lance Armstrong on Moving Forward Without Forgetting the Past

    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…

  • #68 The Politics of Immigration in American History with Andrew Gyory

    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…

  • #67 The History of Eclipses with Steve Ruskin

    The great eclipse of 2017 is has captured Americans’ imagination, and millions of Americans are planning to travel to catch a glimpse of this rare event. This got us thinking- how have Americans’ responded to similar events in the past? Fortunately, we were able to speak with historian Steve Ruskin, who has been researching this…

  • #66 Charles Darwin and American History w/ Randall Fuller

    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…

  • #65 The History of Early America w/ Liz Covart

    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…

  • #64 The History of Oil w/ Paul Roberts

    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…

  • Catching Up: Healthcare

    Early on the morning of Friday, July 28th, the US Senate voted down the most recent Republican effort to reform America’s healthcare system. We spoke with Politico’s Jason Millman to find out why this effort failed and what steps Congress may pursue in moving forward with healthcare legislation in the near future.  For more on this…

  • #63 The History of Green Energy w/ Alexis Madrigal

    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…

  • #62 The History of Nuclear Energy w/ Jim Clarke and Steve Krahn

    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…

  • #61 The History of Coal w/ Chuck Keeney

    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…

  • Best of RTN #12 Stacy Wood on Hillary Clinton’s Emails and the History of Government Documents

    This episode is a rebroadcast of episode #12 of The Road to Now, which originally aired July 26, 2016. We’ll be back with all-new episodes on Monday, July 10th! The 2016 Presidential election has come and gone, but the vulnerability of government computers and the documents they hold remains a central issue in American politics today. In…

  • Best of RTN: #13 Scott Avett and the Road to Now

    This episode is a rebroadcast of episode #13 of The Road to Now, which originally aired August 2nd, 2016. We’ll be back with all-new episodes on Monday, July 10th! 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.…

  • Best of RTN: #22 Chris Frates on News in the Era of Social Media

    This episode is a rebroadcast of episode #22 of The Road to Now, which originally aired October 3, 2016. We’ll be back with all-new episodes on Monday, July 10th! For episode 22 of The Road to Now, Bob and Ben are joined by CNN’s Chris Frates for a discussion about news in the era of social media.…

  • Best of RTN: #24 Jefferson Cowie on American Politics and the Legacy of the New Deal

    This episode is a rebroadcast of episode #24 of The Road to Now, which originally aired on October 17, 2017. We’ll be back with all-new episodes on Monday, July 10th! Jefferson Cowie explains the central argument of his most recent book, The Great Exception: The New Deal & The Limits of American Politics, and why he thinks…

  • Best of RTN: #25 Charles Hughes on the History of Country & Soul Music in the American South

    This episode is a rebroadcast of episode #25 of The Road to Now. We’ll be back with all-new episodes on Monday, July 10th! 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,…

  • Best of RTN: #31 Richard Shadyac on the History of St. Jude Childrens’ Hospital

    This episode is a rebroadcast of episode #31 of The Road to Now. We’ll be back with all-new episodes on Monday, July 10th! On February 4, 1962, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opened its doors in Memphis, TN  with a promise to help victims of childhood cancer regardless of race, religion, or national origin. Since then…

  • #60 Season One Finale with Matt Negrin and Alexander Trowbridge

    May 19th was the one-year anniversary of The Road to Now, so we invited our good friends/RTN contributors Matt Negrin and Alex Trowbridge to join us in taking a look at where the road has turned since we launched in 2016. A year ago, Matt and Alex worked at Bloomberg Politics. Today Matt is a…

  • #59 The History of World War I w/ Mitchell Yockelson

    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…

  • #58 The History of North Korea w/ Sheena Greitens

    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…

  • #57 Margaret Talev on the White House Press Corps

    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…

  • #56 The History of the Harlem Globetrotters w/ Ben Green

    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…

  • #55 Neil Hanson on the Mignonette & Everything Else

    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…

  • #54 The (After)Life of James K. Polk w/ Tom Price

    “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…

  • #53 The History of Syria w/ Sean Foley

    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…

  • #52 Douglas Brinkley on Bob Dylan, John Kennedy, & the Rise of the American Individual

    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…

  • #51 The History of Golf w/ Tony Parker

    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…

  • #50 Ambassador Jack Matlock on Diplomacy & US-Russian Relations

    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…

  • #49 The History of Technology 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…

  • #48 The History of Washington’s Farewell Address w/ John Avlon

    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…

  • #47 The History of Christianity in America w/ Molly Worthen

    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…

  • #46 Martin Van Buren & the Age of Jackson w/ Mark Cheathem

    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…

  • #45 Bruce Carlson on Presidential History

    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…

  • #44 The History of NASCAR w/ Kyle Petty

    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…

  • #43 The History of the Democratic Party w/ Bruce Schulman

    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…

  • #42 The History of National Parks w/ Jon Jarvis

    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…

  • #41 The History of Health Insurance w/ Melissa Thomasson

    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…

  • #39 The History of the US/Russian Relationship w/ Molly McKew

    For the first time since the Cold War, America’s relationship with Russia has become a focal point in American politics. How did the promising relationship between Moscow and Washington turn into a standoff that some are calling a new Cold War? And what can American policy makers do to prevent further conflict with Vladimir Putin?…

  • #38 The History of the Republican Party w/ Heather Cox Richardson

    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…

  • #37 NASA, Warren G. Harding, Daylight Saving, & Political Parties (Listener Q&A)

    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…

  • #36 Family, History, and Possibilities w/ Turner Simkins

    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…

  • #35 Jimmy Carter & US Foreign Relations w/ Nancy Mitchell

    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…

  • #34 Tom Shadyac on the Seriousness of Being Funny

    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…

  • #33 Jim Cornette on the History of Pro 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…

  • #32 The History of Faith in American Politics w/ Jimmy Williams

    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…

  • #31 The History of St. Jude Children’s Hospital w/ Richard Shadyac

    On February 4, 1962, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opened its doors in Memphis, TN  with a promise to help victims of childhood cancer regardless of race, religion, or national origin. Since then the hospital has treated thousands of children from all over the world, and has played a vital role in increasing the survival…

  • #30 The History of Conservative Talk Radio w/ Brian Rosenwald

    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…

  • #29 The History of Putin’s Russia w/ Arch Getty

    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…

  • #28 The History of Presidential Elections w/ Bruce Carlson

    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…

  • #27 Matt Negrin & Alexander Trowbridge on Campaign Surrogates and Presidential Elections

    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…

  • #26 Mo Elleithee & Doug Heye on the 2016 Election

    During a recent trip to Georgetown University’s Institute for Politics and Public Service, Ben and Bob caught up with RTN favorites Doug Heye and Mo Elleithee for one last discussion before the 2016 elections. Mo and Doug give their assessment of how the election will end, the challenges that both parties will face going into…

  • #25 The History of Country & Soul Music w/ Charles Hughes

    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,…

  • #24 The History of the New Deal w/ Jefferson Cowie

    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…

  • #23 The History of Voting Rights w/ Pippa Holloway

    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…

  • Catch Up #1: Scott Huffmon on Political Polls

    In episode 16 of The Road to Now, we spoke with Dr. Scott Huffmon of Winthrop University about the history of public polling and the general trends in public opinion. A lot has changed since our August 15 interview, so we met up with Scott again for a brief conversation to catch up on the…

  • #22 The History of News in the age of Social Media w/ Chris Frates

    For episode 22 of The Road to Now, Bob and Ben are joined by CNN’s Chris Frates for a discussion about news in the era of social media. Chris talks about the challenges and opportunities that reporters face in today’s world, and shares his own experiences as a journalist whose career has been defined by…

  • #21 The History of Hollywood and Politics w/ Kathryn Cramer Brownell

    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…

  • #20 Presidential Debate Extravaganza!

    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…

  • Man on the Street #1: London

    In the first installment of The Road to Now’s “Man on the Street” series, Bob hits the streets of London to see what people think about the Brexit and the Presidential election in the United States. Bob also shares what he learned about Europeans’ perspectives on American politics during his recent overseas tour with The…

  • #19 Sir Alan Meale on the Brexit, the Labor Party, and the Recent Political History of the United Kingdom

    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…

  • #18 The History of the Internet w/ Bradley Fidler

    Episode 18- Bradley Fidler on the History of the Internet 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.…

  • #17 The History of US-Central American Relations w/ Carlos Aleman

    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,…

  • #16 The History of Political Polls w/ Scott Huffmon

    In the 16th episode of The Road to Now, Dr. Scott Huffmon joins Bob and Ben for a discussion on public polling and its history in the United States. Dr. Huffmon discusses the origins of polling in Jacksonian America, the evolution of political polls in the 20th century, and the remarkable amount of work that…

  • #15 Live from Coney Island with Matt Negrin and Alexander Trowbridge

    In Episode 15 of The Road to Now, Ben and Bob are joined by RTN favorites Matt Negrin and Alex Trowbridge of Bloomberg Politics to catch up on the state of the 2016 Presidential election. Matt and Alex talk about their work on Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect, their experiences at the Republican and Democratic…

  • #14 The History of Portland, Oregon w/ Ethan Seltzer

    During a recent trip to Portland, OR, Bob and Ben caught up with Dr. Ethan Seltzer to talk about Portland’s rise from a relatively obscure western town to a thriving urban center in the 21st Century. As Dr. Seltzer shows, Portland’s success today can be traced back to the 1960s/70s, when the city’s leaders laid…

  • #13 Scott Avett and the Road to Now

    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…

  • #12 Hillary’s Emails & the History of Government Documents w/ Stacy Wood

    In episode 12 of the Road to Now, Bob and Ben sit down to discuss the Hillary Clinton email controversy and the history of government documents with archives specialist Stacy Wood. Wood places the Clinton controversy within its historical context and explains how tricky it can be to walk the line between secrecy and preserving…

  • #11 Live from Portland, Oregon

    On July 20th, 2016, Bob and Ben did their first episode of The Road to Now on facebook live, answering questions they received through emails and on the video feed on facebook. This episode is an audio version of the live show- we hope you enjoy it as much as we did! We’d like to…

  • #10 The History of New England w/ Jason Bischoff-Wurstle

    In part 2 of our visit to New Haven, Connecticut, Bob speaks with Jason Bischoff-Wurstle about the history of New Haven and the events that have shaped it into the city that it is today. In our interview, Jason covers an impressive number of topics, from New Haven’s settlement in the 1630s, to the city’s…

  • #9 Benedict Arnold and the American Revolutionary War w/ Stephen Darley

    Bob caught up with Stephen Darley to discuss his research on Benedict Arnold. Darley has published three books on the American Revolutionary War and has done extensive research on Arnold and the men who served alongside him in battle. Darley offers insights into Arnold’s early life, his decision to join the fight against the British,…

  • #8 The Democratic Party and the 2016 election w/ Mo Elleithee

    In episode 8, Bob and Ben talk to Mo Elleithee about the Democratic Party and the forces at work in the 2016 election. Mo spent almost two decades working in key roles for the Democratic Party, serving most recently as Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee. Mo discusses the way his own past as the…

  • #7 The History of Denver and the Wild West w/ Dick Kreck

    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…

  • #6 Governor John Hickenlooper on His Life in Beer and Politics

    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…

  • #5 Native American Culture and History w/ Tara Houska and Joseph Genetin-Pilawa

    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…

  • #4 The History of Charlotte & the Rise of the New South City w/ Thomas Hanchett

    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…

  • #3 On the Media w/ Alexander Trowbridge & Matt Negrin

    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…

  • #2 Doug Heye on the Republican Party

    Bob Crawford and Ben Sawyer sit down with former Republican National Committee Communications Director and current CNN commentator, Doug Heye to discuss this year’s Presidential Election and the historical forces that set the stage for the rise of Donald Trump. Doug shares his personal stories of coming of age in the era of Ronald Reagan,…

  • #1 Welcome to the Road to Now

    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.…