history

Fresh Air Rock Historian Ed Ward: National Treasure (for Germany, I guess)

| 1 comment

If Fresh Air's rock historian, Ed Ward, didn't live in Berlin, I'd say he was a national treasure.

His pieces are consistently insightful and full of great music. If NPR's treatment of baby boomer stuff was always this good, I'd be on board 1000%. I think the greatest sign of the quality of his pieces is how much I enjoy the ones on kinds of music I don't care for at all. And the ones on music I *do* like are double awesome.

Check out this recent piece on Westbound Records, the Detroit label that spawned Funkadelic, among others.

And of course, anyone who dedicates eight minutes of national radio to the great Swamp Dogg is a national treasure in my book!

PS: Dear NPR web gurus, I presume based on reviews that your API is super cool and all, but can we get an embeddable audio players? Love, Jesse

London in 1904

| 3 comments

I can't begin to tell you how cool this is to me. Film shot in London in 1904. A bit of background on metafilter.

Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air: Interview on The Sound of Young America

| 2 comments
Steven Johnson
Show: 
Bullseye

Steven Berlin Johnson is a writer and entrepreneur who writes on the history of ideas. His books have included Everything Bad is Good for You, which suggested that contemporary popular culture is more challenging to the mind than it's accused of being, and The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World, which tracked the spread of cholera in London in the mid-19th century as a way to understand the networked modern city. His newest book, The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution and the Birth of America tracks the life of the 18th century writer and scientist Joseph Priestley, and how his story can help us learn about the growth and development of ideas. Johnson also created the news discussion site plastic.com and the hyper-local site outside.in.

If you enjoyed this show, try these:
John Hodgman
Sarah Vowell
Chip Kidd

Sarah Vowell, author of The Wordy Shipmates on The Sound of Young America

| 0 comments
Show: 
Bullseye


Sarah Vowell is the New York Times Bestselling author of books including Assasination Vacation, Take the Canoli and now The Wordy Shipmates. Her most recent is the story of the settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the religious and political world of the Puritans.

Listen to This Week's Show Online

Please allow our low-bandwidth server a little time after you click "play"

Download This Show

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)


Discuss this episode on the forum!
Subscribe in iTunes
Please Donate to Support the Show

If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Ira Glass
Chip Kidd
George Saunders

Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Southern Soul

| 0 comments
Show: 
Bullseye

We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.

Devin The Dude is well known amongst the hip hop elite and has worked with many of them. The laid back emcee talks about his philosophy, his influences, and unique approach to hip hop. Rob Bowman is one of the world's foremost experts on Stax Records. The unusual history of Stax is also a compelling one. Not only did the label define southern soul music, it was also an example of "racial sanity" at the height of segregation.

Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments section!

Download This Week's Show
Subscribe to TSOYA Classic: iTunes / Feed
Please Donate to Support the Show

Listen to This Week's Show


Jules Tygiel

| 2 comments

My friend Jules Tygiel passed this week.

Jules was a cultural historian, focusing on California and baseball. He was my professor at San Francisco State University, and wrote one of my college recommendation letters. When I hastily applied to graduate school, he came through with a letter on short notice without even a hint of complaint. He was an inspirational teacher who shared his passion for both history and baseball unreservedly.

In addition to his research, Jules was a wonderful writer. I read his book "Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and his Legacy" before I'd ever met him. In my childhood and teenage years, I read literally hundreds of books about baseball, and "Baseball's Great Experiment" was one of the best. Then as now I was impressed at its combination of academic depth and lucid, exciting prose. It's certainly the best book about Robinson, and when I sold my baseball books a few years ago, it was one of the dozen or so that I kept -- my special favorites. I have often recommended it to friends, both fans and non-fans. In Jules' San Francisco Chronicle obituatary, I was moved to read that it was Rachel Robinson's favorite book about her late husband. I'm not surprised.

Jules was also a friend, particularly close with the Weinstein-Zitrin family, with whom I spent many hours as a young teenager. He and Richard Zitrin, my childhood friend Gabe's father, would engage in heated discussions of baseball subjects -- I remember Richard having particularly strong opinions on whether Jack Morris was overrated, though I can't remember which side he was on and which side Jules was on. Jules was the commissioner of the Pacific Ghost League, the first fantasy baseball league on the West Coast, which was founded in 1981. I'm sure all the owners of the PGL have Jules in their hearts today.

Jules struggled long and hard with cancer, and his illness in recent months was very severe. I will be thinking of him, and of his family. I hope they can find peace in his passing. I also want to thank Jules Tygiel for all he did for me. He will be missed.

Podcast: The Ten Cent Plague: David Hajdu on Comic Book Censorship in the 1950s

| 0 comments
Show: 
Bullseye


David Hajdu's new book is "The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America." David writes about the development of comic books as a medium, and how it was almost stopped dead by anti-comics crusaders in the 1950s.

Download This Show (MP3)

Subscribe in iTunes
Discuss this episode on the forum!
Please Donate to Support the Show

Listen to This Week's Show Online


Please allow our low-bandwidth server a little time after you click "play"

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)


If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Tony Millionaire
Marty Krofft
Comics & Comix with Art Spiegelman, Chris Elliott and Matt Walsh

Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "Twelve Byzantine Rulers"

| 1 comment

Editor's note: long-time listener and freelance journalist Ian Brill will be contributing a weekly podcast review to the blog called "Podthoughts." I've decided to institute this feature because I feel there's a great vacuum of useful information about podcasts, and a lot of folks who want to make informed choices about what they download. This week, Ian covered "Twelve Byzantine Rulers," a history podcast produced by Lars Brownworth of The Stony Brook School.

Lars Brownworth announces in the introduction to his podcast that he will explain the history of the Byzantine Empire by telling the stories of its rulers. He rejects the idea that history should be told from the point of view of the common man and instead focuses on individual achievements.

I was skeptical of this approach. Perhaps it’s because I’ve read my share of Howard Zinn, but I prefer when history is told with an eye towards to daily lives of average citizen. That way that we get the temperature of the times and understand what the mindset of the general populace was. Once we realize how a segment of people in time and space chose to see the world, what they believed was right and wrong, how they saw themselves on the world’s stage, then we get a good sense of why their leaders got away with what they did.

With roughly 1,000 years of history to deal with, I see why Brownsworth, a history professor at The Stony Brook School on Long Island, New York, decided to take a different tack. With the so much time to cover it’s important to have clear markers. Granted, one of the appeals of podcasts is that there are no limits on running time. As long as your voice doesn’t give out you can go on as long as you want for as many episodes as you want. But I presume Brownsworth wants his podcast to be accessible and to appeal to the bite size chunks of information podcast listeners are used to. Profiling 12 distinct rulers is a smart way to attack this subject matter.

Brownsworth presents these podcasts in the simplest way possible. He lectures into a microphone for 15 to 30 minutes, detailing the chronological events of these leaders’ lives.

Brownsworth comes across as the knowledgeable and patient history teacher he probably is at Stony Brook. He never reads too fast and his voice is always clear. It’s effective, if a bit dry. The introduction had some liveliness to it because there was some drama in the way Brownsworth described the different approaches to history. Of course there’s plenty of drama in the life of Constantine, to whom Brownsworth devotes two installments, but the academic approach, while informative, can be a bit austere for my taste. Granted I’m the type of student who never warmed to up to just sitting in a desk and hearing lectures. If you are you’ll probably have an easier time with “12 Byzantine Rulers” than I did.

There are still moments in the podcast that fully captured my attention. The profile of Basil II includes an incredible moment of mass eye gouging. Hearing such violence told in such a clam and assured way really jolts a listener. It was actually the end of those segments where Browsworth put this leader’s life into perspective that I was most interested in. It’s there that Brownsworth’s telling of history meets that populist approach I prefer. There the big themes of power or religion are contemplated and we can apply the lessons learned on this podcast to our own lives.

Podcast: The Lobotomist with Jack El-Hai

| 6 comments
Show: 
Bullseye


Jack El-Hai is the author of "The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and his Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness." It traces the life of Dr. Walter Freeman (pictured above), who popularized the lobotomy. The technique was innovative in its time, but Freeman continued performing it long after more effective pharmaceutical treatments were available. Nonetheless, Freeman was an innovator in treating the physical causes of mental illness.

Please share your thoughts on this program on our forum!

Download This Show (MP3)
Subscribe in iTunes
Review the show in iTunes
Please Donate to Support the Show

Listen to This Week's Show


Please allow our low-bandwidth server a little time after you click "play"

Our intersititial music is provided by Dan Wally

The Sound of Young America is underwritten in part by Project Breakout

You might also enjoy these shows:
Yuval Taylor on "Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music"
Wonder with Michael Ivins of the Flaming Lips and New Yorker writer Lawrence Weschler
Elements of Style with illustrator Maira Kalman and author George Pelecanos

Syndicate content