show episodes
 
Uncommon history with an unconventional pair. Join married hosts Rebecca Robbins (a Broadway actress) and Kim Kimmel (her college history instructor) as they delve into topics that run the historical gambit. A gifted storyteller, Kim taught history at the collegiate level for 29 years while as a student, Rebecca always sat in the front row of his Western Civilizations class soaking up every word he said. For the record, she made an A in his class. She went on to pursue a Broadway career (The ...
 
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show series
 
There have been many impostors throughout history and in this 48th episode we deal with six of them, two related to English history and four related to Russian history. All at one time or another had many who believed in them (or at least tried to use them for advantage). All six went a long way to pulling off their ruse and we discuss many of the …
 
After a six-week hiatus, we’re back and with a fast-paced adventure story that rivals even the best of Hollywood. It’s the story of Hannibal Barca. When outnumbered by the Roman military two to one, this fearless Carthaginian general, complete with eye patch and riding atop a black stallion, defied all odds in one of the bloodiest battles in all of…
 
Imagine being hung three times… unsuccessfully. That’s exactly what happened to Englishman, John “Babbacombe” Lee in 1885. Or in the case of Herman Göring, being slipped a cyanide pill just hours before you were scheduled to be hung. Or foiling your pursuers by killing yourself first and being laid out in full regalia upon their arrival. Here in Ep…
 
“Let them hate me, so they but fear me.” ~ Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (aka Caligula) Caligula, the third Julio-Claudian emperor of the great Roman Empire, was known as a cruel, erratic, sex-crazed and delusional tyrant. Not only did he decree that his horse was a Roman consul, but he also marched his troops all the way to the English Channel …
 
South Africa has a fascinating, complex, and often tragic history. From the migration of the Bantu to the settlements by the Dutch and British; from the Boar Wars to the fight to abolish apartheid, here in Episode 44, we explore the history of this geologically and culturally rich nation - a nation that is still striving to reach its full potential…
 
What do Georgetown University, St. Joseph’s University, and Loyola University have in common (besides basketball)? They were all founded by the Jesuits, and the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church was highly instrumental in the phenomenon known as the Counter Reformation. Once Luther, Calvin and others challenged the authority and teachings of the …
 
The Protestant Reformation was one of the single greatest events in the history of Western Civilization. Led by Martin Luther, this protestation against the Catholic Church altered all of Western history. Here in Episode 42, we take a closer look at this exceptional, though conflicted man, as well as other early protestant reformers like Ulrich Zwi…
 
"Into the valley of death rode the six hundred." Here in Episode 41, we take a closer look at the events that inspired Lord Alfred Tennyson to write those words in his epic poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade". We also explore both the long-term and short-term causes of the Crimean War and why it was a "first" in many areas of modern warfare, int…
 
Lawrence of Arabia is the stuff of legend. There have been numerous books written and films made about him, but who was T.E. Lawrence actually? What made this man with so many talents, who was also immensely brave and resourceful, act and think as he did? Our 40th Episode explores some of the possible reasons. Books: Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E.…
 
Many diseases throughout history have wiped out entire families, villages or even towns, but nothing even comes close to the death and destruction that would become known as the Black Death. It made periodic appearances throughout the centuries, dying out for some and reemerging for others. Today, modern medicine can cure this disease, but even so,…
 
Imagine sitting in a 97-degree court room in the middle of July while you’re being prosecuted for a crime you’re not even sure you committed. This is exactly the situation twenty-four-year-old John T. Scopes found himself in during the summer of 1925. Almost overnight this trial became a national sensation and put the small town of Dayton, Tennesse…
 
Napoleon, was he hero or villain? An enlightened genius or supreme egotist? Superb diplomat or an immoral usurper? All of the above? Continuing with Part II of our Napoleon series, we take a closer look into his greatest achievements as well as his greatest mistakes. From his coronation as Emperor at Notre-Dame in 1804 to his loss at Waterloo in 18…
 
Are great leaders made or just born that way? It seems that in the case of Napoleon, he truly was born to lead. It is said that his troops would have followed him into the gates of hell. But how good or bad was he and what is his legacy? Here in Episode 36, we explore these questions and take a closer look into the early life of Napoleon from his u…
 
“A leader is a dealer in hope.” —Napoleon Bonaparte Here in Episode 35, we take a closer look at two perhaps lesser-known great leaders in history. When all hope was lost and the odds were stacked against them, they defied all probability and led their men safely home. These are two of the most fascinating adventure stories ever told. Sir Ernest Sh…
 
There are a handful of people in history who seem to have had an uncanny ability to escape death. Whether evading a lone assassin, dodging friendly fire during the heat of battle, or simply defying the laws of nature by smoking over 200 cigarettes a day, these four historical figures featured in Episode 34 proved they were all Hard to Kill. Books: …
 
The Restoration period is known as probably the most bawdy era in English history. And who was it that ushered in this remarkable age? Why, the Merry Monarch himself, Charles II. In addition to having a great fondness for the ladies and the good life, Charles had many remarkable qualities. Here in our first episode of Season 2, we take a closer loo…
 
The years 1692-1693 were some of the darkest times in American history. They were the years when mass hysteria ruled the land and young girls were inexplicably stricken with fits of screaming, barking, shaking, and crying. It was a group of roughly 9 girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, who were taken at their fantastical word of being physically…
 
During the late summer and fall of 1888, a district in East London was being terrorized by an unknown Victorian serial killer. In a September 25th letter addressed to the Central News Agency, the yet to be identified murderer boasted of his recent killings and signed the letter “Jack the Ripper”. That name has endured for over 133 years, and the ca…
 
Everyone has their favorite holiday, but do you know how your favorite holiday came into being? The answers may surprise you. For instance, in 12th century England, New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25th, but the ancient Celts celebrated their New Year (Sumhain) on November 1st. So why do we now celebrate the New Year on January 1st? And why d…
 
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a fascinating figure- resourceful, brave, insightful, reflective, but it’s his inordinate ambition that leads to his downfall. Can the same be said of Scotland’s real Macbeth? Here in Episode 29, we unpack the characters in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth alongside their historical (or mythical) counterparts including Banquo, Ma…
 
Almost six centuries have come and gone and we’re still talking about an illiterate peasant girl who only lived to be nineteen years old. Why? Not only did she inspire her nation by leading thousands of men into battle, but she also ushered in the end of the Hundred’s Year War thus saving her nation of France from English rule. Was she divinely ins…
 
In October of 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on an island in the Caribbean Sea and christened it “Juana” in honor of Prince Don Juan, son of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. From there, Cuba would remain under Spanish rule for over 400 years. Eventually, the United States would help the Cuban people overthrow their colonial rulers just as Americ…
 
Spy: (noun) “A person employed by one nation to secretly convey classified information of strategic importance to another nation.” When someone says the word spy, the image that pops into most people’s minds is James Bond (for us here at Historically Speaking that would be Sean Connery, the original,) but the father of modern-day espionage can be t…
 
Imagine being the most renowned woman in the world only to face a French firing squad for simply repeating the latest gossip, or having every one of your toenails ripped out one by one at the hands of a demonic Nazi interrogator, or filing down your own teeth in order to change your appearance so you could operate as a harmless old woman and pass A…
 
You may have heard the phrase, “Marxism in theory has a lot of merit,” or “True Marxism has never really been tried.” Well, here in Episode 24, we break it all down as we explore the 6 principals of Marxism laid out by Karl Marx himself. We also delve into the life of Karl Marx along with his friend and co-author of the Communist Manifesto, Friedri…
 
“Keep Cool with Coolidge” was one of the presidential campaign slogans for the 1924 election. What was so cool about Coolidge? Here in Episode 23, we give you our reasons why Calvin Coolidge gets our vote for the most underrated president in American history. Here’s a few teasers – he was the first president to appoint a woman to the Federal Judici…
 
The Korean War is the fifth most deadly war in American history, and it ranks among the top ten of any war in human history for the most casualties. So why is it called the Forgotten War? Technically, it wasn’t a war at all, but rather a U.N. “police action” which involved 1.8 million American soldiers and lasted from 1950-1953. Officially, the Kor…
 
In 1932, a newly minted phrase was on the lips of most Americans… “The New Deal.” It was first uttered by Franklin D. Roosevelt to an audience in Chicago during his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for President. It would soon become an American phenomenon and the largest governmental spending plan to date. Its intention – to put Ame…
 
Economic depression, social unrest, a general discontent among the population – these are just a few of the reasons why Hitler happened. Charisma, personal drive, and bigger than life ideas for a better future for the country and the world at large – these are just a few of the reasons why it was Hitler. They said his eyes could draw you in, his pe…
 
Lately, there have been headlines and comments among celebrities, news commentators and politicians to the effect – “This is how Hitler got into power!” or “This is why Nazism took over Germany!” So where is the truth? Are there analogies to be made between modern day America and the rise of Nazism? Can socialism and democracy co-exist? Is the term…
 
Tet: a word which has two very different meanings depending on who you ask. To the Vietnamese, it means the festival celebrating the Lunar New Year. To the American GI, it means hell and the turning point for America in the Vietnam War. On January 31, 1968, over 100 cities and villages in south Vietnam were attacked by the communist Viet Cong and t…
 
What do John Ford, Moe Berg, Julia Child and Nelson Eddy have in common? They all stepped away from their respective careers during WWII and joined a newly formed organization called The Office of Strategic Services a.k.a. the OSS. In short, they were spies for a group that was the forerunner to both the CIA and the Army’s Special Forces. From Juli…
 
The Supreme Court agrees to hear about 100-150 of the more than 7,000 cases that it is asked to review each year. Decisions made by the 9 Justices that sit on the Court are considered final… unless overturned by a subsequent decision. For many seeking justice, it is their last hope. From Dred Scott to Brown vs Board of Education to Obergefell vs Ho…
 
Alcoholism, depression, suicide… you think you know the Adams family? There’s a few details about this family that you may not have heard in history class. Here in episode 15, we explore four generations of Adams from our second US President to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Henry Brooks Adams. With their extraordinary intellect and iron resolve, these…
 
Do you know which president holds the record for presidential pardons? The answer may not be as clear cut as you might think. How about which president signed almost as many executive orders as all his predecessors combined? And just for the record, do you know which President implemented the most proclamations? Presidential powers are complex and …
 
Maverick: (noun) an unorthodox or independent minded person. Most people know him as our 26th president and the man who uttered the phrase, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” but there’s far more to Theodore Roosevelt than meets the eye. From sickly, asthmatic child to conservationist, cowboy, boxer, explorer, author, orator, and perpetual adven…
 
Don’t take candy from strangers! That phrase came into being in 1874 because little Charley Ross, age 4, took candy from two men in a horse-drawn carriage and was never seen again. The kidnapping case of Charles Lindbergh, Jr. took the entire nation by storm in 1932 and became known as the crime of the century leading to the execution of German imm…
 
When a German Zeppelin burst into flames over Lakehurst, New Jersey, speculation began almost immediately that it was sabotage, but was it? How is it possible for 5,000 men to simply disappear in a country the size of South Carolina with their only trace being a stone inscription dated 108 AD? Why would a captain and his crew abandon a perfectly so…
 
History is full of winners and losers, but rarely do you come across an individual who is a winner 100% of the time. Sometimes faced with insurmountable odds, these five military leaders always found a way to win. Whether facing Hannibal’s elephants in Zama, battling across the breadth of a river in Worcester or commencing a battle at 11pm to take …
 
Imagine being uninvited to perform at a presidential inauguration because of whom you just married or buying a baby carriage for an infant who, 21 years later, would become your spouse, or how about finding out the person you just married wasn’t actually divorced from their previous spouse. Without a doubt, history is full of sensational marriages …
 
Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum was invented by one of Hollywood’s greatest beauties. An Associate Justice of the Minnesota State Supreme Court was also known by millions as a Purple People Eater. A record 11 Academy Awards were given to a film based on a book written by a Civil War general. Who were these people? In this episode, we explore 6 in…
 
Warren G. Harding did what in a White House Closet? Who was FDR with when he died? JKF had how many women while he was president? These are just a few of the questions that get answered in this week’s episode as we delve into secrets that could have brought down political careers, administrations, and even entire governments (and some secrets that …
 
From the very founding of the United States to the Whisky Rebellion to John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry, Americans have always had a voracious drive to fight for what they believe – even if that means treason. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, "We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." What galvanizes people …
 
Since its very inception, America has always had to be on the lookout for spies not just from foreign adversaries, but also from its own citizens. Alger Hiss, along with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, all American citizens, were former members of the Communist Party (a party that still exists in America today.) They were all accused of passing America…
 
You can find quotes in most places these days, on cards, shirts, magnets, hanging in offices or you may even have one hanging over your fire place. In this episode, we explore some of the most famous historical quotes from "Let them eat cake!" to "When going through hell, keep going." and we also do some fact checking as to whether the famous peopl…
 
Everyone knows the Hollywood Cleopatra, but what about the woman trying to preserve her family’s 275-year-old dynasty, the woman trying to keep Egypt safe from the ever-reaching grasp of Roman rule? Were her bedroom alliances with Caesar and Mark Anthony done out of love for these powerful Roman men or to save herself and her country? Would her fir…
 
If you think politics has never been as controversial as it is today, wait until you hear this episode. For example, in the 1876 election 20 electoral votes were in dispute, Tilden needed only one of those votes and Hayes needed all 20. Guess who became president? We cover 4 different types of elections from America’s past to try to shed some light…
 
Oliver Cromwell died on September 3, 1658, but his head didn't reach its final resting place until March 25, 1960. Where was it during that 302 year stretch in between? In this episode we not only cover Cromwell, but also Mary Queen of Scotts and Lord Nelson in addition to exploring the various peregrinations of the bodies of Eva Peron and Charlie …
 
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