US historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf and Brian Balogh tear a topic from the headlines and plumb its historical depths. Over the course of the hour, they are joined by fellow historians, people in the news, and callers interested in exploring the roots of what's going on today.
Friday, October 24, 2014 4:09pmThe fastest growing major religion in the world today, Islam has some 1.6 billion followers practicing a wide array of religious traditions and speaking hundreds of different languages. And yet, even as more and more Americans convert to the faith and foreigners emigrate to the U.S. from all over the Islamic world, Muslims are still often caricatured in the American imagination. This time on BackStory, we look at the longer history of America’s relationship with Islam, from the Barbary Wars and the narratives of Muslim slaves in the New World, to the Nation of Islam and the Black Power movement of the 1960s. What has it meant to be Muslim in America — and how has the idea of Islam in the U.S. changed over time?
Friday, October 17, 2014 11:42amIn America, you can be anything you want to be. Or anyone. Literally. So on this edition of BackStory, we dig into the long story of confidence men and counterfeiters. We discover a time when fake money jump-started the economy, and take a look at the long, strange history of “the truth compelling machine.” And, oh yeah… we try to sell the Brooklyn Bridge.
Friday, October 10, 2014 12:45pmColumbus remains a central figure in American history: his name has been worked into numerous cities across the United States, ships, universities – even a space shuttle. And from an early age, schoolchildren learn about the voyages of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María. But many Americans have also questioned Columbus’ legacy - should we venerate a man who symbolizes European colonization, and began the decimation of native American populations that would continue for centuries? With another Columbus Day upon us, this episode of BackStory looks back at the controversial Columbian legacy. When and why did Americans begin to revere the Italian explorer? Who has seized on his legacy, and who has contested it?
Friday, October 3, 2014 4:38pmStories about the surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S./Mexico border filled news pages this summer. It’s often been referred to as an immigration “crisis.” But American history is replete with stories of children leaving their families to start new lives in America. On this week’s episode, BackStory delves into some of these, including first-hand accounts of European children sent to America during WWII and of New York orphans who were put on trains out West a generation earlier. And the American History Guys consider the complexities of “humanitarian” efforts to save children from Communism during the Cold War, as well as from their own Native American pasts.
Friday, September 26, 2014 1:05pmFall has arrived, and all across the country, college students are returning to campus - and so is BackStory. Last year, President Obama proposed sweeping changes to the way government helps to finance students’ higher education, and an unprecedented system of collegiate rankings – all in the name of greater access and better value for the “consumer.” But others object to a consumerist mentality in the realm of higher education, and the application of “business” models to its institutions. So in this episode of BackStory, Peter, Ed, and Brian take on the history of higher ed – exploring earlier battles over the nature and purpose of the collegiate enterprise, and what they mean today.