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, May 17, 2013 1:41pmCan genes be patented? Are downloaders inhibiting musical creativity – or enhancing it? This week’s BackStory explores how Americans have viewed “intellectual property" over time. What exactly is intellectual property? And what are protections for these kinds of rights supposed to achieve? The American History Guys look to the past for answers. Check out more from this episode at our website: http://backstoryradio.org/?p=8484
Friday, May 10, 2013 12:33pmTo mark the one year anniversary of the rebirth of BackStory as a weekly program, the History Guys set out to explore the earliest stages of life in America. They begin with a few of the basic assumptions we have about birth in America today, and spend the hour exploring how those assumptions came into being. How is it that hospital doctors moved in on what had been midwife’s exclusive territory? Why did Puritans think their newborns were damned from the outset? When did courts start ruling that fetuses had legal rights? Why have generations of Americans resisted the notion of birthright citizenship? For more information on the guests featured in this episode, as well as further reading and resources related to the topic, visit: http://backstoryradio.org/?p=8409
Friday, May 3, 2013 1:58pmThe declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq was famously premature. But have America's other wars had neat or definitive endings? In this episode, BackStory looks at prominent conflicts of the last three centuries, and explores what it takes to end a war -- both in legal terms, and in the popular imagination. For more information on the guests featured in this episode, as well as further reading and resources related to the topic, visit: http://backstoryradio.org/?p=8310
Friday, April 26, 2013 11:23amWith recent events in Boston highlighting the horrors of domestic terrorism, we're re-broadcasting this episode of BackStory, which originally aired last fall. On September 16, 1920, a bomb exploded on Wall Street as workers took their lunch break. The explosion killed 38 people and injured hundreds. The targets? What we'd call today "the one percent" -- the powerful financiers who ran J.P. Morgan & Co. The Wall Street attack remained the deadliest terrorist bombing in the U.S. until Oklahoma City in 1995. But at the time, people saw it as just one more bombing in a long string of anarchist attacks -- what historian Beverly Gage calls America's "First Age of Terror." In this hour of BackStory, the History Guys talk with Gage about the origins of domestic terrorism in the United States, and explore the question of what kinds of people and movements have been identified as "terrorists." Along the way, they trace the relationship between terror and the state, consider lynching as a form of terrorism, and take a look at an unfinished Jack London novel, in which the author grapples with that ultimate question: is terrorism ever justified?
Friday, April 19, 2013 1:25pmWith immigration reform in the headlines this week, BackStory takes a look at the flip side of the Ellis Island story: emigration. This week, we bring you the stories of Americans who have left the country in search of a better life elsewhere. From the loyalists who fled revolutionary America, to the free blacks who sailed to Liberia in search of liberty (and a spot at the top of the racial hierarchy), we ask which groups have chosen to leave America, and what ideas and values they've taken with them. We meet a stowaway teenager who found the American Dream in the black artistic communities of 1930s Europe. And finally, a group of cotton farmers who moved to Uzbekistan in search of jobs -- and the chance to build a communist state. For more information on the guests featured in this episode, as well as further reading and fun resources related to the topic, visit: http://backstoryradio.org/?p=8177