History Unplugged Podcast

by Scott Rank, PhD


average length





For history lovers who listen to podcasts, History Unplugged is the most comprehensive show of its kind. It's the only show that dedicates episodes to both interviewing experts and answering questions from its audience. First, it features a call-in show where you can ask our resident historian (Scott Rank, PhD) absolutely anything (What was it like to be a Turkish sultan with four wives and twelve concubines? If you were sent back in time, how would you kill Hitler?). Second, it features long-form interviews with best-selling authors who have written about everything. Topics include gruff World War II generals who flew with airmen on bombing raids, a war horse who gained the rank of sergeant, and presidents who gave their best speeches while drunk.

Best History Unplugged Podcast episodes upvoted by the community

Last updated on September 22, 2020, 6:55 am


Pearl Harbor May Have Been Avoided If a Lone US Diplomat Had Gotten His Way

January 28, 2020 • 44m

Could one American diplomat have prevented the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? The answer might be yes. America’s ambassador to Japan in 1941, Joseph Grew, certainly thought so. He saw the writing on the wall—economic sanctions were crippling Japan, rice was rationed, consumer goods were limited, and oil was scarce as America’s noose tightened around Japan’s neck. Japan and the U.S. were locked in a battle of wills, yet Japan refused to yield to American demands. In this episode, I speak with Lew Paper, author of "In the Cauldron: Terror, Tension, and the American Ambassador’s Struggle to Avoid Pearl Harbor." He describes how the United States and Japan were locked in a cauldron of boiling tensions and of one man’s desperate effort to prevent the Pearl Harbor attacks before they happened.Through "In the Cauldron," Paper reveals new information—mined from Grew’s diaries, letters, official papers, the diplomatic archives, and interviews with Grew’s family and the families of his staff—to present a compelling narrative of how the militaristic policies of Imperial Japan collided with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s determination to punish Japanese aggression in the Far East.We look at Pearl Harbor attack inside the ambassador’s perspective through Paper’s revelation of: • Grew’s personal diaries detailing the events leading up to the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor • Personal interviews with Grew’s family and staff, giving the inside look into Grew’s struggle to prevent the attacks • Detailed accounts of the correspondence between Grew and other State Department officials about the warning signs leading up to the Pearl Harbor attacks • An in-depth look into the fast-depreciating lives of the Japanese people and how their struggles and cultural ideology contributed to the fatal attacks





When Churchill Experimented with Chemical Weapons—Giles Milton of the Unknown History Podcast

September 14, 2017 • 29m

Winston Churchill is consistently ranked as the greatest leader in British History. But like any complex historical figure, he has his dark side. Most notoriously, but least well known, is his interest in chemical weapons. “If it is fair war for an Afghan to shoot down a British soldier behind a rock and cut him in pieces as he lies wounded on the ground, why is it not fair for a British artilleryman to fire a shell which makes the said native sneeze? It is really too silly.” —WSC, 1919 Churchill favored and/or used “poison gas” from World War I through World War II, notably on the Indians and Bolsheviks in 1919, and the Iraqis in the 1920s. What’s more, he wanted to “drench” German cities with gas in 1943. To discuss this issue in greater depth with us is Giles Milton. He is the host of the History Unknown Podcast and author of “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”: a book about a secret inner circle within the British government that planned all of the most audacious sabotage attacks of the Second World War. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE www.gilesmilton.com Unknown History Podcast ABOUT GILES Giles Milton is the internationally best-selling author of nine works of popular history, including Nathaniel’s Nutmeg. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages and have been serialized on both the BBC and in British newspapers. The Times described Milton as being able ‘to take an event from history and make it come alive’, while The New York Times said that Milton’s ‘prodigious research yields an entertaining, richly informative look at the past. Giles Milton's latest book, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, became a Sunday Times bestseller in the first week of publication. TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher





Lessons From James Monroe, Who Defeated a Pandemic and Overcame Partisanship

July 07, 2020 • 34m

James Monroe, America’s fifth president and the last chief executive of the Founding Father generation, lived a life defined by revolutions. From the battlefields of the War for Independence, to his ambassadorship in Paris in the days of the guillotine, to his own role in the creation of Congress's partisan divide, he was a man who embodied the restless spirit of the age. He was never one to back down from a fight, whether it be with Alexander Hamilton, with whom he nearly engaged in a duel (prevented, ironically, by Aaron Burr), or George Washington, his hero turned political opponent. Today’s guest, Tim McGrath, author of James Monroe: A life, discusses the epic sweep of Monroe’s life: his near-death wounding at Trenton and a brutal winter at Valley Forge; his pivotal negotiations with France over the Louisiana Purchase; his deep, complex friendships with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison; his valiant leadership when the British ransacked the nation’s capital and burned down the Executive Mansion; and Monroe’s lifelong struggle to reckon with his own complicity in slavery. Elected the fifth president of the United States in 1816, this fiercest of partisans sought to bridge divisions and sow unity, calming turbulent political seas and inheriting Washington's mantle of placing country above party. Over his two terms, Monroe transformed the nation, strengthening American power both at home and abroad.