Historically Thinking

Historically Thinking


Latest Episodes

Episode 263: The Man Who Understood Democracy (Part Two)
May 09, 2022

This is the second and final part of my conversation with Olivier Zunz about his new biography of Alexis de Tocqueville, The Man Who Understood Democracy, just published by Princeton University Press.

Episode 262: The Man Who Understood Democracy (Part One)
May 02, 2022

In 1835 a young French author on the verge of publishing his first book wrote “the best thing that can happen to me is if no one read my book, and I have not yet lost hope that this happiness will be

Episode 261: The Long Land War
April 25, 2022

For most of human history, the wealthy of any given society have been those who owned land. Therefore to change concepts of property ownership has been to change concepts of society itself. - In her n

Episode 260: The Making of History
April 18, 2022

Richard Cohen begins his new book Making History: The Storytellers Who Shaped the Past with two particularly appropriate epigrams. First, from the historian E.H. Carr: “Before you study history, study

Episode 259: In Praise of Good Bookstores
April 11, 2022

The sociologist Edward Shils said or wrote somewhere that one of the three principle means of education were bookstores—preferably a used bookstore. Shils, for two generations a student and then facul

Episode 258: The Pursuit of Perfection
April 04, 2022

Britain in the 1840s should have been, observes Simon Heffer, a time of great social improvement. Instead it was a country that was beset by poverty, unrest, assassination attempts on young Queen Vict

Episode 257: Inventing a New World Order
March 28, 2022

In 1814, representatives of the grand coalition that had defeated Napoleon gathered in Vienna. There in meetings and balls–interrupted only by Napoleon’s 100 days after his return from exile on Elba–t

Episode 256: The War That Made the Roman Empire
March 21, 2022

On the coast of Greece there is an ancient monument that no-one pays very much attention to; and yet it marks one of the most consequential battles in the history of Rome, or really all of Europe. It

Episode 255: Denmark Vesey’s Bible
March 14, 2022

On July 2, 1822, Denmark Vesey was hung for attempting to lead a slave revolt in Charleston, South Carolina. Also executed that day were five of his supporters. Over the next month, a total of 35 men

Episode 254: Saving Yellowstone
March 07, 2022

In 1871 an expedition entered the territory now encompassed by Yellowstone National Park. Led by doctor and self-taught geologist Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, it was to be the first scientific expediti