The Can’t Make This Up History Podcast
Liberated Spirits with John Schuttler

Liberated Spirits with John Schuttler

May 7, 2019

Welcome! You are listening to the Can't Make This Up History Podcast. I am your host Kevin, and today we raise a glass of cold water in honor of prohibition. 

 

In the 86 years since its repeal, we have romanticized the era of the speakeasy and the gangster in film and literature. But what gets lost in popular culture is the prohibition movement's origins in the women's rights movement, how tricky the whole ideal was to enforce, and how enforcing the dry law put it at odds with Americans' constitutional freedoms.

 

I'm joined today by John Schuttler who co-wrote along with the late Hugh Ambrose, "Liberated Spirits: Two Women Who Battled Over Prohibition." John is a professional research historian who has made a 20-year career of digging through archives and librarians on behalf of authors, companies, and government bodies. In our discussion we cover two women with unique vantage points regarding prohibition. The first is Pauline Sabin, an influential East Coast socialite, who helped shape policy within the machinery of the Republican Party. The second is Mabel Walker-Willebrandt who served as Assistant Attorney General of the United States for most of the 1920s and was responsible for enforcing the 18th Amendment. 

Valley Forge with Bob Drury

Valley Forge with Bob Drury

April 16, 2019

We're talking military history today and invoking the the Indispensable Man, His Excellency, George Washington. 

My guest today is Bob Drury. Bob is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist-turned-author who has written or co-written over a dozen books. He joins us on the podcast to talk about his most recent book, Valley Forge, that he co-wrote with Tom Clavin. Today, Bob and I separate the myths of Valley Forge from the reality, how George Washington became the one man the American Revolution could not do without, and how the hellish six months in Valley Forge tempered the Continental Army from a ragtag militia into a professional fighting force capable of ousting the largest empire in the world.

This one is a lot of fun. With this being a military topic, you will hear some mild language in this episode, so if you like to listen with the kids in the car, I just wanted to give you a heads up.

 

Bonus Episode: Commentary on Episode 15: Fly Girls with Keith O’Brien

Bonus Episode: Commentary on Episode 15: Fly Girls with Keith O’Brien

April 2, 2019

In somewhat of a bonus episode, I interview a first-time special guest on the Can't Make This Up History Podcast. After the release of yesterday's episode, "Fly Girls with Keith O'Brien," an amateur historian in the making and aspiring aviator requested to come on the show to weigh in about the legacy of Amelia Earhart.

Fly Girls with Keith O’Brien

Fly Girls with Keith O’Brien

April 2, 2019

Welcome to Episode 15 of the Can't Make This Up History Podcast.  

Today, we're talking about a group of bold, pioneering, and courageous women who took to the skies in the 1920s and 1930s to compete in air races during the golden age of aviation. These women the pushed boundaries of aerodynamics by shattering records for speed, distance, and altitude and refused to sit idle when society told them a woman's place was on the ground.

Today, bestselling author Keith O'Brien joins us to talk about his latest book, Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History. Keith is a former reporter for the Boston Globe, has written for the New York TimesMagazine and is a frequent contributor to NPR. 

By shear happenstance, Keith and I recorded our interview in March during Women's History Month and I can't think of a more appropriate topic to feature on the program. In the podcast, Keith and I discuss how five notable female fliers fell in love with aviation in spite of its dangers, faced endless discrimination as they tried to compete with male pilots on an equal footing, and how they banded together to overcome not only what science and technology said was possible with their airships, as they were called, but what society said they could achieve as women.

Landru’s Secret with Richard Tomlinson

Landru’s Secret with Richard Tomlinson

March 19, 2019

Today we are headed to France to talk about one of that country's most notorious serial killers, Henri Landru. 

My guest today is Richard Tomlinson. Richard first came across the Landru case in the early 1980s when he was researching a Ph.D. in modern French history in Paris. He was trawling through old newspapers in France’s national library and got hooked on the saturation press coverage of Landru’s sensational trial at Versailles in 1921. He was sure the prosecution's case was wrong and over the next decades maintained his interest in Landru during a career as a writer and journalist in Asia and Europe. 

Richard joins me from London via Skype to discuss his book Landru's Secret: The Deadly Seductions of France's Lonely Hearts Serial Killer. Richard returned to the subject of Landru in 2016 after an exhibition in Paris revealed previously hidden documents in the Paris Police Archives which suggested that his theory about the case was correct. Landru's Secret is the end of his long quest to discover what happened to the 10 women who disappeared near Paris during the First World War and to explore the possibility that Landru actually killed many more victims.

 

Tesla: Inventor of the Modern with Richard Munson

Tesla: Inventor of the Modern with Richard Munson

March 5, 2019

Welcome to another episode of the Can't Make This Up History Podcast. 

We have an excellent show in store for you today about the life and innovations of Nikola Tesla. My guest today is Richard Munson. Dick is the Director of Midwest Clean Energy for the Environmental Defense Fund. He is the author of five books on the history of science and technology, government energy policy, and the electricity industry. 

Dick joins me to discuss his newest book Tesla: Inventor of the Modern. Some of the things we cover in our discussion are Nikola Tesla's early childhood in Serbia under the parentage of a distant father, Tesla's employment and eventual rivalry with the inventor Thomas Edison, and how Tesla's invention of the AC electricity system provides the basis for our modern way of life but is unfortunately too often forgotten in American history. 

Hitler’s American Friends with Dr. Bradley W. Hart

Hitler’s American Friends with Dr. Bradley W. Hart

February 19, 2019

Welcome to the Can't Make This Up History Podcast. I'm your host Kevin. Thank you for joining me during this cold, cold February for episode number 12 of the podcast. 

 

My guest today is Dr. Bradley W. Hart. Bradley is an assistant professor at California State University, Fresno where he teaches the history of journalism and Jewish studies. He completed his PhD in history at Cambridge University under the supervision of the historian Richard J. Evans, who some listeners may know from his seminal trilogy on the Third Reich. Bradley has written on global economics and politics in the early 20th century as well as on  Nazi Germany. 

 

Bradley joins me from California via Skype to talk about his new book "Hitler's American Friends: The Third Reich's Supporters in the United States." Some of the things we cover in today's episode are groups in America that were sympathetic to the rise of nazism and fascism in Europe, the prominence of anti-semitism in mass media, and the role of the isolationist America First Committee in trying to keep the United States from entering World War II. 

Empire of Deception with Dean Jobb

Empire of Deception with Dean Jobb

February 5, 2019

My guest today is Dean Jobb. Dean is a professor of creative nonfiction and journalism at the University of Kings College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has been a newspaper staff writer and freelance journalist for over 35 years. During that time, he has received numerous awards in the United States and Canada for his investigative reporting. A lover of true crime and crime fiction, Dean writes a monthly true crime column for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine called "Stranger than Fiction." 

Dean joins me via Skype to talk about his seventh book Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation. Through his extensive research, Dean uncovered the tale of a largely forgotten con artist whose investment scheme put Charles Ponzi to shame. Today we cover the economic atmosphere of the Roaring Twenties that made Chicago ripe for the picking for a lawyer named Leo Koretz to implement his "big idea," how Koretz built an imaginary investment empire that made himself and his early investors fantastically wealthy, and how even the most carefully built house of cards eventually falls down. 

If you're new to the Can't Make This Up History Podcast and you like what you hear today give the show a review on iTunes and be sure to subscribe so you can be notified as new episodes become available. If you'd like to get more involved in supporting the show and receive some extras, visit the shows Patreon page at www.patreon.com/CMTUHistory. And as always, if you would like to get in touch with me, I'd love to hear from you on social media. I'm at www.facebook.com/CMTUHistory, on Twitter @CMTUHistory, and on Instagram @CMTUHistory. I've also provided a list of resources, including Dean's other work, on the show's website at www.cantmakethisuppodcast.com.

Ice Ghosts with Paul Watson

Ice Ghosts with Paul Watson

January 22, 2019

My guest today is Paul Watson. Paul's career in investigative reporting and photo journalism has spanned thirty years and has taken him across the globe. As a war correspondent, Paul has written for the Toronto Star as well as the Los Angeles Times where he served as South Asian Bureau Chief. He has won numerous awards for his work including the Freedom of the Press Award from the National Press Club for his reporting during the Kosovo war, Daniel Pearl Award from the South Asian Journalist's association for his coverage in Afghanistan, and most notably a Pulitzer Prize in news photography for his work during the Somali Civil War and the 1993 UN peacekeeping mission in Mogadishu. There is even a permanent display on Paul's work in the Newseum, a museum dedicated to the history of journalism and the press, in Washington, D.C. 

 

Paul joins me today from western Canada via Skype to talk about his book Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition. Paul was present on board the ship that discovered the wreckage of HMS Erebus in 2014 over 150 years after the expedition was beset by arctic ice and lost to history. Today we cover what motivated Sir John Franklin and his crew, how the quest to find the lost expedition became an international fascination, and how Inuit oral history was pivotal in solving this century old mystery. 

 

If you're new to the Can't Make This Up History Podcast and you like what you hear today give the show a review on iTunes and be sure to subscribe so you can be notified as new episodes become available. If you'd like to get more involved in supporting the show and receive some extras, visit the shows Patreon page at www.patreon.com/CMTUHistory. And as always, if you would like to get in touch with me, I'd love to hear from you on social media. I'm at www.Facebook.com/CMTUHistory, on Twitter @CMTUHistory, and on Instagram @CMTUHistory.

If you are interested in Paul's book, Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition, you can find a link to it in the show description. I've also provided a list of bonus content including Paul's other work, some of the articles and websites he mentioned during our interview, and information about the new TV show we talked about at the end of the episode, AMC's The Terror. They are available on the show's website at www.cantmakethisuppodcast.com.

In Search of Mary Shelley with Fiona Sampson

In Search of Mary Shelley with Fiona Sampson

January 8, 2019

My guest today is Professor Fiona Sampson. Fiona is a leading British poet and writer who has authored 27 books, been published in 37 languages, and she has received numerous international awards in the US, India, Macedonia and Bosnia. In the U.K., she has been named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by the Queen for her services to literature. 

 

She joins me on the podcast to talk about her critically acclaimed biography, In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein which has received several significant accolades, including BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week as well Literary Non-fiction Book of the Year in the Times. In our discussion, we cover Mary Shelley's childhood in a unique intellectual household, her romance with the aristocratic poet Percy Byshhe Shelley, the origins of Mary's monumental novel Frankenstein, and how she pushed the envelope of social convention to craft a literary career during her life and reshape the face of literature with her legacy. 

 

One disclaimer before we get started. You will notice some issues with the audio quality at certain points in our interview. While Fiona and I didn't hear it during recording, I think there was an issue with our connection that I discovered during post production. I've spent several nights taking out what interference I could, and the recording is much improved but not where I would like it to be. For that I apologize. 

 

Now on to my interview with Professor Fiona Sampson.