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the great ruler machiparo -- 7/27/21

Today's selection -- from River of Darkness by Buddy Levy. The South American ruler Machiparo was overlord of a territory that spanned hundreds of miles, which was rich with turtle farms, crops of manioc, maize, beans,...


the telegraph -- 7/26/21

Today's selection -- from An Illustrated Business History of the United States by Richard Vague.

"The telegraph had been patented in 1837 in England, but usage in the United States only took off when Samuel Morse...


hires root beer -- 7/23/21

Today's selection -- from Charles E. Hires and the Drink that Wowed a Nation: The Life and Times of a Philadelphia Entrepreneur by Bill Double. Though root beer had long been an American homemade staple, traditionally...


new ideas take time -- 7/22/21

Today's encore selection -- from The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough. Yellow fever and malaria were the scourges of America's monumental effort in 1904 to build the Panama Canal. Science had only recently...


wolves at play -- 7/21/21

Today's selection -- from The Wisdom of Wolves by Jim and Jamie Dutcher. No matter how old, wolves never stop playing:

"Clouds began to swallow up the peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains, intensifying the feeling of...


the travels of marco polo – 7/20/21

Today's selection -- from Imperial China by DK. Marco Polo’s book, "Description of the World," awakened Europe to the wider world:

"Marco Polo was born around 1254 into a prosperous merchant family in the...


a bankers' world -- 7/19/21

Today's selection -- from The Last American Aristocrat by David S. Brown. During the so-called “gilded age,” the banking industry ascended to a position of unequaled influence in the halls of Congress. Henry Adams,...


young elton john and elvis presley -- 7/16/21

Today's selection -- from Me by Elton John. A pre-teen Elton John discovers the music of Elvis Presley:
 
"It was my mum who introduced me to Elvis Presley. Every Friday, after work, she would pick up her...


movie attendance reaches an all-time low -- 7/15/21

Today's encore selection -- from Never a Dull Moment by David Hepworth. In 1971, cinema attendance reached an all-time low. Some TV movies were outdrawing movies in theaters, and studios were "hemorrhaging cash." The...


moms as the default caregivers -- 7/14/21

Today's selection -- from Mom Genes by Abigail Tucker. Outside of mammals, mothers are not always the caregivers:

"Outside mammals' corner of the natural world, moms are not al­ways the default caregivers....


the mausoleum in ravenna -- 7/13/21

Today's selection -- from Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin. Empress Galla Placidia was a major figure in Roman politics. Born around 390, she was the daughter of the Roman emperor Theodosius...


the first mill in the united states -- 7/12/21

Today's selection -- from An Illustrated Business History of the United States by Richard Vague.

"Because it disrupted trade, the War of 1812 stimulated local manufacturing as Americans came to realize the...


alain locke -- 7/9/21

Today's selection -- from Zora and Langston by Yuval Taylor. Alain Locke was a young intellectual who had graduated from Harvard and was the first African American Rhodes scholar at the beginning of the Harlem...


a seductress in blue -- 7/8/21

Today's encore selection -- from Titian and the Renaissance in Venice Edited by Bastian Eclercy and Hans Aurenhammer. Sebastiano del Piombo's Renaissance era painting, Woman in Blue with Incense...


margaret mead -- 7/7/21

Today's selection -- from Gods of the Upper Air by Charles King. Margaret Mead arrives in Samoa:

"On the last day of August 1925, the triple-deck steamship Sonoma, midway through its regular run from San Francisco...


did pandemics hasten the end of the roman empire? -- 7/06/21

Today's selection -- from A Concise History of Byzantium by Warren Treadgold. Major epidemics in the Roman Empire in 165 CE and 251 CE decimated its densely populated cities. More sparsely populated barbarian territories...


the terrible early days of war -- 7/5/21

Today's selection -- from The Golden Voyage: The Life and Times of William Bingham, 1752-1804 by Robert C. Alberts. In the late summer and fall of 1776, after the war for independence had moved to New York, the news...


the establishment of africobra – 7/2/21

Today's selection -- from AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People by Leslie Guy, Jeffreen Hayes, et al. AfriCOBRA is an important artist collective established in 1968 in Chicago as a catalyst for art, performance art, and...


welfare programs in elizabethan england -- 7/01/21

Today's encore selection -- from The Economic History Review,


whale hearts -- 6/30/21

Today's selection -- from Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures by Nick Pyenson. Whale hearts are so large a person could fit inside one:
 
"Whale hearts are built...


spaniards eaten by native south american tribes -- 6/29/21

Today's selection -- from River of Darkness by Buddy Levy. Rescues and recoveries of Spaniards exploring South America in the 1500s:
 
"As unlikely as such scenarios seem, rescues, recoveries, and discover­ies...


the story of american business -- 6/28/21

Today's selection -- from An Illustrated Business History of the United States by Richard Vague.

"This book is a brief history of business in the United States. Less has been written on this subject than on U.S....


the soda fountain! -- 6/25/21

Today's selection -- from Charles E. Hires and the Drink that Wowed a Nation: The Life and Times of a Philadelphia Entrepreneur by Bill Double. In the early to mid-1800s, drink purveyors began to use carbonic acid gas...


the alpha male, part three -- 6/23/21

Today's selection -- from The Wisdom of Wolves by Jim and Jamie Dutcher. Studies of the wolves of the Sawtooth Pack give new insight into the characteristics of a so-called “alpha male”:
 
"The wolves of...


oil and the fall of the soviet union -- 6/22/21

Today's selection -- from The New Map by Daniel Yergin. The overdependence of the USSR on oil revenues and the mid-1980s collapse in oil prices meant the doom of the Soviet Union:

"Russia … is one of the Big...


henry adams, thomas jefferson, and james madison -- 6/21/21

Today's selection -- from The Last American Aristocrat by David S. Brown. Henry Adams, grandson of one president and great-grandson of another, wrote histories of the presidencies of Jefferson and Madison titled...


young leonardo da vinci -- 6/18/21

Today's selection -- from The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich. Young Leonardo was apprenticed to the painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio:
 
"Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), the oldest of these famous...


the origins of america's national parks -- 6/17/21

Today's encore selection -- from The Wilderness Warrior by Douglas Brinkley. In early American history, the promotion of nature preserves and national parks came from elite gentleman hunters and fishermen. In fact, the...


tanning an animal skin -- 6/16/21

Today's selection -- from How to Invent Everything by Ryan North. If you should get transported back to pre-history, here’s how to tan an animal skin:

"Tanning was originally invented in 7000 BCE. Without...


china’s great ming dynasty – 6/15/21

Today's selection -- from Imperial China by DK. The beginnings of an era of great achievement in China--the Ming Dynasty, which lasted from 1368 to 1644:

"Zhu Yuanzhang, who took the title of the Hongwu Emperor in...


the pony express -- 6/14/21

Today's selection -- from Wyoming: A History of the American West by Sam Lightner Jr. The brief, illustrious life of the Pony Express:
 
"In the mid-1850s, three business men, William Russell, William...


bad theater -- 6/11/20

Today's selection -- from The Empty Space by Peter Brook. Bad theater:

"I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watch­ing him, and this is...


well-being theory -- 6/10/21

Today's encore selection -- from Flourish by Martin E.P. Seligman. Well-being theory:

"The five elements [of well-being theory] are positive emotion, engagement, meaning, positive relationships,...


the first case of ebola in the united states -- 6/9/21

Today's selection -- from Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. Ebola reaches the United States:

"In late 2013, a wicked contagion resurfaced in the coastal nations of...


the founding of city of Constantinople -- 6/8/21

Today's selection -- from A Concise History of Byzantium by Warren Treadgold. Constantine I, or Constantine the Great, was emperor of Rome from 306 to 337. In an early move, he refounded the city of Byzantium as a...


benjamin franklin -- 6/7/21

Today's selection -- from The Golden Voyage: The Life and Times of William Bingham, 1752-1804 by Robert C. Alberts. Benjamin Franklin's funeral:

"In March, 1789, Benjamin Rush, James Wilson,...


fire!! -- 6/4/21

Today's selection -- from Zora and Langston by Yuval Taylor. Named after a spiritual that Langston Hughes had written, FIRE!! was an magazine "by, for, and about the Negro"*:

"Langston [Hughes], Zora...


w.c. fields -- 6/3/21

Today's encore selection -- from Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America by Michael Kantor and Laurence Maslon.  W.C. Fields (1880-1946) was one of America's greatest comedians, whose film masterpieces were...


curative, effervescent mineral waters -- 6/2/21

Today's selection -- from Charles E. Hires and the Drink that Wowed a Nation: The Life and Times of a Philadelphia Entrepreneur by Bill Double. Even George Washington was a patron of mineral springs:

"The distance...


ravenna, capital of the Roman Empire – 6/1/21

Today's selection -- from Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin. As the Roman Empire became increasingly threatened -- and there was need for the emperor to be closer to the military frontier --...


the finest house in america -- 5/30/21

Today's selection -- from The Golden Voyage: The Life and Times of William Bingham, 1752-1804 by Robert C. Alberts. In Philadelphia in 1787, the very year that the Constitutional Convention was convened, William and Anne...


the origins of coke, pepsi and dr. pepper -- 5/28/21

Today's selection -- from Charles E. Hires and the Drink that Wowed a Nation: The Life and Times of a Philadelphia Entrepreneur by Bill Double. In the late 1800s, soft drinks became wildly popular among...


illustrated business history of the united states -- 5/27/21

I am thrilled to be able to announce the publication of my newest book, An Illustrated Business History of the United States. It covers the years from 1748 to 2015, and includes personalities from Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, and...


elk and cattle -- 5/26/21

Today's selection -- from American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee. The decline in elk herds in America:

"In the rest of America, hunting was dying. Rates of participation had been declining for decades -- only 6 percent of...


making glass -- 5/25/21

Today's selection -- from The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How it Transformed Civilization by Vince Beiser. The Romans, and then the Venetians, took glassmaking to new heights:

"The Romans, as usual,...



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