In this episode we talk with Carolyn Eastman, author of The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of the United States’ First Forgotten Celebrity. Eastman chronicles the life of James Ogilvie, an itinerant orator who became one of the most famous men in America in the years between 1809 and 1817. Ogilvie’s career features many of the hallmarks of celebrity we recognize from later eras: glamorous friends, eccentric clothing, scandalous religious views, narcissism, and even an alarming drug habit. Yet he captivated audiences with his eloquence and inaugurated a golden age of American oratory.
Ice hockey is now a global sport. Even Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica, and Australia have national teams. The National Hockey League has teams in Miami, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Nashville, and Phoenix. Junior league hockey is played in Shreveport and Amarillo. Anyone who wants to understand hockey today must not only tell a story about skates, rinks, sticks and goals, but must also tell a story about television, marketing, suburbia, social welfare, politics, class, climate change, and youth culture. Our guest in this episode, Bruce Berglund, helps us make sense of it all. He is the author of The Fastest Game in the World: Hockey and the Globalization of Sports (University of California Press, 2020).
In this episode we talk about the connections between liberal Protestantism, American foreign policy, and the Cold War in mid-20th-century America. We discuss these themes through an examination of the life of former U.S. Secretary of State (1953-1959) John Foster Dulles. Our guest is John Wilsey, author of God’ Cold Warrior: The Life and Faith of John Foster Dulles.
The Way of Improvement Leads Home is not really a small business, but we do offer services to the general public that we believe are essential for our life as citizens in a democracy.
As more and more of you are checking-in during this critical election year, I want to remind everyone that if you like what we do here–both in terms of the daily blogging and the podcast–please consider supporting our work.
We have some big changes in the works for 2021. I can’t say anything yet, but it’s going to be huuuuge! 🙂 Stay tuned.
We are also recording new podcast episodes. In this season we have heard from Lorri Glover on Eliza Lucas Pinckney, Peter Manseau on the Jefferson Bible, Paul Harvey on Howard Thurman, and Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn on the “art of living.” And we are only beginning!
And yes, mugs and signed books are still available for patrons!
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And for our loyal patrons: THANK YOU for your ongoing support!
Howard Thurman was a mid-20th century theologian, writer, activist, and mystic who had a profound influence on the leaders of the Civil Rights movement. Thurman’s writings–especially his 1949 work Jesus and the Disinherited–provided an intellectual and spiritual guide to those trying to make sense of an era of racial and social unrest. Our guest in this episode is historian Paul Harvey, the author of Howard Thurman & The Disinherited: A Religious Biography(Eerdmans, 2020).
In this episode we talk with historian Lorri Glover about Eliza Lucas Pinckney, a woman who lived through the American Revolution in South Carolina. Pinckney’s story sheds light on gender, agriculture, politics, and slavery in this era and unsettles many common assumptions regarding the place and power of women in the eighteenth century.
What does it mean to be a man in white evangelical Christianity? In this episode we talk with historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. We discuss definitions of masculinity, the Gospel Coalition, Beth Moore, Donald Trump, the 2016 election, the differences between White and Black views of Christian manhood, and how the thesis of her book might be applied to American evangelical culture during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Have you ever wanted to write a children’s, middle-grade, or young adult history book? How do you get started? What is the process like? Do I need an agent? In this episode, we talk about writing history for young readers with former Smithsonian educator and author Tim Grove. Tim is the author, most recently, of Star Spangled: The Story of a Flag, a Battle, and the American Anthem. Learn more about his work at TimGrove.Net.
We have done several episodes on race in America at The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast. They are now more relevant than ever as people are showing an interest in learning more about the African-American experience.
Episode 8: Historians Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf on Thomas Jefferson
Episode 16: Historian Manisha Sinha talks about the history of the abolitionist movement.
Episode 25: Historian Kelly Baker talks about religion and the history of the KKK.
Episode 27: Historian Julian Chambliss discusses the relationship between race, the environment, and Mar-a-Lago.
Episode 28: Public historian and Stax Museum director Jeff Kollath talks about the “Memphis Sound.”
Episode 39: Historian Nicole Hemmer on the one-year anniversary of the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia race riots.
Episode 43: Public historian Chris Graham on how a Richmond, Virginia congregation is coming to grips with its racist past.
Episode 48: Historian Jemar Tisby on Christianity and race in America.
Episode 58: Historian Richard Bell on the “reverse underground railroad.”
Episode 63: Historian Tom Mackaman on the 1619 Project
Episode 69: Sports historian Paul Putz on the legacy of Michael Jordan
The members of Donald Trump’s controversial cabinet are regular features of the 24-hour news cycle. He has fired members of his cabinet who challenge his thinking on a host of foreign and domestic issues. Just ask Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and Jeff Sessions. But how did our first president, George Washington, imagine the role of the cabinet? In this episode, we think historically about this important part of the executive branch with historian Lindsay Chervinsky, author of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution.
What happened when British soldiers and their families arrived in Boston in 1768? In Episode 66 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast, we talk with Carleton College history professor Serena Zabin about her new book, The Boston Massacre: A Family History. Zabin’s close reading of everyday life in revolutionary Boston will forever shape how we understand this important moment in our shared past.
In August 2019, The New York Times Magazine published The 1619 Project, an attempt to reframe American history by “placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” American historians have praised and criticized the project. In this episode we talk with Thomas Mackaman, a history professor at Kings University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and a writer for World Socialist Web Site. Mackaman has not only criticized The 1619 Project, but has interviewed other critics of the project, including several award-winning historians. Why are socialists so upset about this project? What is the backstory behind Mackaman’s interviews with Gordon Wood, James McPherson, Clayborne Carson, and other 1619 Project critics? Anyone interested in debates over how historians do history and connect the past to present political and social issues will learn something from this episode.
Are you watching Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial? Are you trying to make sense of it all? We want to help. In this episode we talk with CNN presidential historian and Southern Methodist University professor Jeffrey Engel on the history of impeachment. Engel sheds light on the debates over impeachment in the Constitutional Convention, the historic meaning of “bribery” and “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and the inevitable political and partisan nature of American impeachments.
As we enter the end of the year, I hope that some of you might find a space for The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast in your holiday budget! It’s pretty easy to give a one-time gift or an extended pledge of $1 (shilling), $5 (pound), $10 (sterling), or $20 (gold) more a month. Just head over to our Patreon site for the details.
Season 5 is well underway. So far we have chatted with:
Historian Robert Whitaker on how the past is interpreted in popular video games. (Coming next week!)
Public historian Chris Graham on race, public history, and religious congregations.
Seeing Early America Everywhere: Connecting Eighteenth-Century History to Unexpected Places with Andrew Hermeling (The Way of Improvement Leads Home) @ Divinity Hall, Room 106
Colonial Puritans and Colin Kaepernick. Mount Vernon and Mar-a-Lago. Eighteenth-century midwifery and Obamacare. These may seem like odd connections, but in their efforts to prove that #everythinghasahistory, early American historians and podcasters John Fea and Drew Dyrli Hermeling regularly demonstrate that today’s hot-button issues have eighteenth-century antecedents. If you look close enough, you can see early America everywhere.
There are some great podcasters at Harvard this weekend. Here are a few that caught my attention: