Pitch a Show! (Summer ’08 Ideas)

Published: August 14, 2008

In a few short weeks, we’re going to start work on the fall season of BackStory. But before we head back into the studio, we’d like to hear your ideas of topics you think would make for good shows.

If you’ve never listened to BackStory, spend some time in our archive of past shows to get a sense of what we’re all about. Basically, we’re looking for topics we can trace over the entire course of American history, rather than single episodes or chapters from history. So….

The Civil Rights Era = Bad Topic
The History of Activism = Good Topic
The Gold Rush = Bad Topic
Boom & Bust in American History = Good Topic

To suggest a topic, either “Join the Discussion” below OR send us an email. When September rolls around, we’ll post the finalists and have you vote on them. Stay tuned!

g

Comments (33)

{Discussion is closed
  1. dmcintyre

    I think it would be interesting to hear a discussion of how parenting and child raising has evolved though American history. Who did families function in the 1700′s? What changed in the industrial revolution? Were the 1960′s as revolutionary as people tend to assume?

    An interesting correlate to this whether or not there is any historical precedent for modern parents’ concerns with prenatal screening/genetics testing. Are “designer babies” or rather the expectation of perfect children a modern phenomenon or not?

    You could call it something like “The Modern Parents’ Dilemma – has raising a family always been this tough?” What do you think?
    -Dan

  2. Tony

    Thanks for your suggestion, Dan. It’s a good one — so good, in fact, that we’ve already done it! Check it out: http://www.backstoryradio.org/?p=49

    As always, of course, one hour proved insufficient to broach a lot of the interesting questions related to this topic, some of which you raise in your post. With regard to what you asked about prenatal screening, it raises the chicken-and-egg question of which comes first — technology, or the anxiety “quelled” by that technology? In this case, my guess would be the former, although I’d be interested to hear what the History Guys had to say about that…

    In any case, thanks again, and stay tuned for an episode in 2009 about the history of childhood in America.

    -Tony
    Producer, BackStory

  3. Lauren

    Perhaps the interaction of science and religion or government and religion?

    The changes and continuity in political language/debates. (The way debates are structured or repeated kinds of formulas like liberal=bad).

    The relationship of Americans and animals (people claim today that the emotional investment in pets, acted out in economics, is unlike anything previously).

    National and local education. From Puritans and their emphasis on everyone being able to read, to freed peoples desire for education during Reconstruction, to Dewey and contemporary conversations about learning styles. I’m also interested in African American education prior to Brown and after (particularly given today’s discussion about urban education).

  4. fourthtower

    I’d love to see something in the history of energy. Edison and Rockefeller versus Tesla, coal and steam power, the building of the great dams for water, etc…that might educate on how we got where we are now, what other paths we could have taken and why we didn’t.

  5. hobbes21

    Hi, Guys!

    New listener here, via the podcasts. I’ll be sure to leave EXCELLENT comments at itunes after hearing what you’re all about!

    A few show ideas:

    First, what about LEADERS WHO EMBRACED/ DEFIED HISTORY? How have extreme leaders who have wrapped their policies around history contrasted with others who have chosen to abandon history? Additionally, you could examine leaders who’ve purported to walk in the shoes of a previous icon and examine how s/he holds up.

    As a teacher, I’d love to hear a HISTORY OF EDUCATION, or any of the specific disciplines.

    I’d also love to hear about the HISTORY OF INSANITY/ DEVIANCE. How have norms changed on this front? In my conversations, the question of pedophilia, murder rates, and so forth, often arise. Folks wonder: Has it always been this bad (yet we just have greater media coverage), or is it getting worse?

    In the meantime, I’ll check out more of your shows. Thanks for the cool work y’all do!

  6. Rebecca

    You’ve gotten some good suggestions. I especially like the ideas about energy, and about parenting and child raising.
    How about something on women in the white house–would be a great opportunity to talk about gender in American politics and campaigns, changing role of first lady, etc. . This seems an especially timely topic in light of Hillary’ Clinton’s campaign for demo nomination, prospect of Michelle Obama and first lady, and Sarah Palin as McCain’s choice of running mate.
    How about something on veterans? Ways viewed in history, in context of different wars, how plight of veterns contributes to changing role of state, public services, etc.
    How about something on relationship between China and US and shifting views of China. . . RR, exclusion, open door, missionaries, Pearl Buck, WWII and the good Asians, cold war, Nixon, adoption of Chinese children by US families, human rights questions, global warming, olympics, etc.

    Just a few ideas. I love the program, I’m using it in my U.S. survey course!
    -R

  7. cm6ay

    Hi Hobbes–

    BackStory Researcher Catherine here…First off, we’re glad you’re enjoying the show, and we were especially pumped to see that you reviewed the show at iTunes…you’re a model BackStory fan! (Hear that, other BackStory fans???)

    Your suggestions are also excellent, and thanks for sharing them. The first is one we haven’t considered, and seems particularly relevant to the present election headlines…we’ll mull this one over and add it to our ongoing list of potential topics.

    The other two topics you suggest–Education and Insanity–are ones that we have planned for next year, though with minor discrepancies. We’re looking into doing a show about High School, rather than tackle education in general–might be more manageable that way. Some questions for consideration: Has extended schooling also extended childhood? How has the delayed entry of so many into the workforce affected our economy? Has the political climate commonly influenced what high schools teach? What do we expect from an “educated” sixteen year old today, as compared to a hundred years ago? Education is said to be the great equalizer, but did greater opportunities for secondary education yield substantial social advantages?

    As for your Insanity suggestion, we’re considering a show on Depression. Here’s how we’re conceiving the show so far (let us know what you think!!!): Aristotle called it “melancholia,” we call it “depression.” People have been complaining of the symptoms of this debilitating condition through the ages, but some experts claim that the number of people afflicted has steadily risen since the beginning of the 20th century. Among explanations proffered are the rise of industrial society, increased personal isolation, a lack of social cohesion in contemporary communities, and the progressive disintegration of the extended and nuclear family. But though the symptoms have largely remained constant, the explanations for their origin have not. Colonial Americans, for example, blamed supernatural phenomena. This episode of BackStory will explore the history of such theorizing—from supernatural to biological to psychoanalytic interpretations—as well as asking, “How in the world have Americans coped?” Can we reasonably posit connections between certain historical events and depressive epidemics? Who are the most famous depressed Americans in history? And have gender and ethnicity historically been predictors of susceptibility to “the blues?”

    Thanks again for the positive review. Hope you keep listening when our new season gears up this fall. Keep those suggestions coming, and let us know, of all the questions above–as well as any you may have– which YOU’RE must curious about. There are always so many tempting directions to go in for each topic…

    Catherine

    [quote comment="630"]Hi, Guys!

    New listener here, via the podcasts. I’ll be sure to leave EXCELLENT comments at itunes after hearing what you’re all about!

    A few show ideas:

    First, what about LEADERS WHO EMBRACED/ DEFIED HISTORY? How have extreme leaders who have wrapped their policies around history contrasted with others who have chosen to abandon history? Additionally, you could examine leaders who’ve purported to walk in the shoes of a previous icon and examine how s/he holds up.

    As a teacher, I’d love to hear a HISTORY OF EDUCATION, or any of the specific disciplines.

    I’d also love to hear about the HISTORY OF INSANITY/ DEVIANCE. How have norms changed on this front? In my conversations, the question of pedophilia, murder rates, and so forth, often arise. Folks wonder: Has it always been this bad (yet we just have greater media coverage), or is it getting worse?

    In the meantime, I’ll check out more of your shows. Thanks for the cool work y’all do![/quote]

  8. cm6ay

    Hi there Lauren,

    BackStory Researcher Catherine here…Are you by any chance the Lauren who called in for the Intoxiation show? If so, good to talk to you again! And if not…wanna be a caller?

    Thanks for these thoughtful suggestions…Your first two–intersection of science/religion or government/religion–are great. I think topics along these lines have come up in our brainstorming sessions, but not exactly framed in this way. We struggle sometimes with “grander,” i.e. less narrow, topics such as these because we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew–yet they’re so central to our history as a nation. Your framing of the topic is a good start to limiting it; we’ll try to think about more ways to make them manageable–and feel free to pass along any suggestions you may have as well…!

    We’re considering a show about “eloquence” or “speech-making” for next year–political debates/language is an excellent suggestion, however, and we’ll keep it in mind when we’re planning our shows for this fall. It would certainly have a lot of currency and relevance in this election year.

    We’re conceiving of the “Speech-Making” show in this way: In the days before TV, iPods, and the Nintendo Wii, Americans spent much time listening to each other hold forth in person. During the 18th Century, it was not uncommon for New Englanders to travel 100 miles to hear the fiery sermons of traveling preachers. In 1860, unannounced presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln spoke about slavery to a crowd of 1500 curious New Yorkers, one of whom remembered jumping to his feet and “yelling like a wild Indian, cheering this wonderful man.” The words of Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton incited people to action. And presidential speeches of the 20th century helped us to tear down walls and plan “great societies,” asking citizens to contemplate what they could do for their country. What is especially American about our oratorical traditions? Who have been this country’s greatest speakers, and how has that influenced the causes they historically championed? In an age of edited re-broadcasts and seven-second delays, is rhetoric as important as it used to be? — What sounds most interesting to you, Lauren?

    Pets/Animals is a great, quirky topic. If I’m remembering right, Pets has come up in brainstorming, but I think we giggled when it did. I wonder what other questions we could ask for a show like this to make it substantive…Your mention of economics is a good start, I think. What other directions might be possible…?

    We don’t have an Education show planned, but we are thinking of doing one on High School (see my comments to Hobbes below for some possible questions to consider).

    Thanks for checking in and offering up these suggestions…Feel free to email me for any reason, and keep tuning in!

    Catherine
    cvmoore [at] virginia [dot] edu

    [quote comment="617"]Perhaps the interaction of science and religion or government and religion?

    The changes and continuity in political language/debates. (The way debates are structured or repeated kinds of formulas like liberal=bad).

    The relationship of Americans and animals (people claim today that the emotional investment in pets, acted out in economics, is unlike anything previously).

    National and local education. From Puritans and their emphasis on everyone being able to read, to freed peoples desire for education during Reconstruction, to Dewey and contemporary conversations about learning styles. I’m also interested in African American education prior to Brown and after (particularly given today’s discussion about urban education).[/quote]

  9. cm6ay

    Hi there Fourthtower,

    This is a really great idea, and we’ve been tossing it around some this year. I especially like how you pose the question–”what other paths could we have taken and why we didn’t”? That might be fun to toy with for a feature. Who knows, Energy might end up as one of our fall shows–I know Tony, BackStory’s Producer, is excited about it.

    Relatedly, we’re considering a show on Water, which might intersect in terms of the impact of dams on our history. When I talked to some scholars on a list serv devoted to the History of Water–yes, such a thing exists!–they were keen to point out that dams were a crucial part of the story.

    Be well, and keep tuning in!

    Catherine
    cvmoore [ at ] virginia [ dot ] edu

    [quote comment="621"]I’d love to see something in the history of energy. Edison and Rockefeller versus Tesla, coal and steam power, the building of the great dams for water, etc…that might educate on how we got where we are now, what other paths we could have taken and why we didn’t.[/quote]

  10. cm6ay

    Hi Rebecca,

    This is Catherine, the BackStory Researcher. Thanks for your suggestions! As you can see below (see my comment to Fourthtower), we’re interested in doing an Energy show. If you’re interested in parenting and childhood, definitely check out our Families show, which is being rebroadcast on the air this week and is also available in our web archives. A history of first ladies…that sounds interesting and challenging. Gender & Politics is for sure a hot topic right now, and a rich one, historically speaking–I’ll suggest it to the rest of the BackStory team and see how we might make that manageable. In the meantime, you might be interested in our “Newcomers in Politics” show, which addresses some similar issues.

    That leaves Veterans–another excellent suggestion that I’ll pass along–and US/China Relations. We’ve never broached the subject of doing a show like that before. As you point out, there would be many fruitful subtopics to explore on a show like this. I wonder, though, if it might dilute our emphasis on strictly American history. What do you (and others) think?

    Keep those suggestions rolling in!

    Catherine

    [quote comment="631"]You’ve gotten some good suggestions. I especially like the ideas about energy, and about parenting and child raising.
    How about something on women in the white house–would be a great opportunity to talk about gender in American politics and campaigns, changing role of first lady, etc. . This seems an especially timely topic in light of Hillary’ Clinton’s campaign for demo nomination, prospect of Michelle Obama and first lady, and Sarah Palin as McCain’s choice of running mate.
    How about something on veterans? Ways viewed in history, in context of different wars, how plight of veterns contributes to changing role of state, public services, etc.
    How about something on relationship between China and US and shifting views of China. . . RR, exclusion, open door, missionaries, Pearl Buck, WWII and the good Asians, cold war, Nixon, adoption of Chinese children by US families, human rights questions, global warming, olympics, etc.

    Just a few ideas. I love the program, I’m using it in my U.S. survey course!
    -R[/quote]

  11. cm6ay

    Hi BackStory Fans!

    This is just a reminder that we’d greatly welcome any reviews you might muster for the BackStory podcast on iTunes. We’ll even make it easy for you…Just go here: https://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/addUserReview?id=281261324&type=Podcast

    The reason this is so important is that the more reviews (and subscribers) we get in iTunes, the more likely we’ll be highlighted in the “Featured History Podcasts” category, thus gaining more exposure for the show. Thus being picked up by more radio stations, becoming The Best History Radio Show Ever, etc.

    Also, please note that BackStory fans can sign up to be callers for our fall season at any time. That’s right–we’re already taking orders! Just write in to the BackStory email account (backstory AT virginia DOT edu), send me a personal email (cvmoore AT virginia DOT edu), or give me a call at 434-924-4403. I’ll then put you on a list to be contacted when we head into the studio.

    Get ready for a great fall season at BackStory! Hope all’s well…

    Catherine

  12. JEQuidam

    Is this a subject that would be of interest to you all at “Back Story Radio”?

    Many people do not know that “Article the first” – the very first amendment inscribed on the Bill of Rights document – was never ratified. (Don’t confuse this with “Article the second” which was not ratified until 200 years later as our 27th Amendment.)

    This amendment can be seen by viewing the original document at the National Archives, who also provide a jpg of same at their web site. The text of “Article the first” is also available here:
    http://www.thirty-thousand.org/pages/BoR_text.htm.

    The following questions make this a compelling story: What was “Article the first” intended to do? Why, after all but one state then affirmed it, was it never ratified and then forgotten to history? Why does it contain a mathematical defect that, ultimately, rendered it meaningless?

  13. Gutter-rat

    “Rapscallions, Scoundrels and Scalawags”

    Sometimes we think of people as heroes or geniuses, at least at first, but then they turn out to be rapscallions, scoundrels or scalawags, and we’ve been duped. In U.S. history, we have had railroad and oil barons who killed hundred of workers either by overworking them or giving them lousy working conditions, or by hiring thugs to kill them during strikes. We have had snake-oil salesmen like the guy who came out and said apricot-pit concoction could prevent and/or cure cancer. And we can all name politicians who we thought were going to be great, but then turned out to be solid-gold rapscallions. Think of Tammany. Think of Bush. No, don’t. Why do we fall for them? When we will ever learn? Look at the derivation of the word, “scalawag.” Wouldn’t you know Republicans were involved in it? Those scalwags.

  14. tamlange

    I happened upon BackStory through a listserv and have really been enjoying it since via Podcast. A few ideas come to mind immediately… the first would be a history of pets or animal ownership. With all the news regarding how much money is spent annually in the U.S. on pets, it might be interesting to trace this development. Additionally, I would like to see a show regarding the history of public entertainment mediums — theater, movies, public performances, etc. Finally, what about doing a show about historical myths through the years…

  15. cm6ay

    Hi there tamlange,

    You’re not the first BackStory listener to suggest a show on pets! (see Lauren’s suggestion and my response below) What are you most curious about this phenomenon?

    Entertainment is a great idea; I believe “Celebrity/Hollywood” is on our list of potential shows. Really, we could probably do a show each on theater, movies, public performances (what kinds of performances interest you?)–all of these are very rich topics. Is there one you would be most interested in? (You also might want to check out our “American Idle: A History of Leisure” show…it’s somewhat related.)

    What myths did you have in mind? We’re planning a show on the Myth of the West for next year (Why did Americans take the “cattle frontier,” a short and relatively insignificant period of the national experience, and imbue it with mythic lustre through the idealization of the cowboy? And why would a forward-looking society enamored of progress for so long embrace what at root is a backward-looking myth? What needs or purposes has the Myth of the West served; when and how did it emerge; how and why has it been sustained; what groups does it exclude; and where and how are its features most clearly valued and perpetuated in contemporary American society?), but that’s really just the beginning…it’s such a huge and interesting subject. We’ll add it to the list!

    Thanks for the suggestions…

    Catherine

    [quote comment="641"]I happened upon BackStory through a listserv and have really been enjoying it since via Podcast. A few ideas come to mind immediately… the first would be a history of pets or animal ownership. With all the news regarding how much money is spent annually in the U.S. on pets, it might be interesting to trace this development. Additionally, I would like to see a show regarding the history of public entertainment mediums — theater, movies, public performances, etc. Finally, what about doing a show about historical myths through the years…[/quote]

  16. cm6ay

    Hi Gutter-rat,

    Thanks for this awesome suggestion–and you even supplied us with a catchy title! We’ll definitely add this one to our list…Somewhat relatedly, we’re thinking of a show for next year called “Scandal!”:

    Scandal—it’s more than just an historical anomaly; it’s almost an American tradition! Whether political, financial, sexual, presidential, or a combination of all of these, public misdeeds are older than the republic. Over the years, a hard-hitting news media has muckraked or diligently exposed irregularities and illegalities on all sides, helping to shape our perceptions about politics, morals, and what’s “appropriate” in our society. But what can we learn by looking back at America’s most infamous scandals? In this episode, the American History Guys will explore how scandals both reflect and influence the nation’s moral or ethical climate, sometimes entrancing the populace, occasionally becoming the driving force for real and meaningful reform. Have the American media and our culture of publicity worked to expose and resolve or confuse and prolong rumors and circumstances connected with scandals? What long-term trends are evident in Americans’ reactions to scandals; have we become more jaded, or are we relatively staid compared with other countries—and more prone to get our feathers ruffled? Have there been “forged” or phony scandals? And how have the reputations of leaders who were caught up in scandal weathered the evidence—or rumor and gossip—in the long term?

    Thoughts?

    [quote comment="640"]“Rapscallions, Scoundrels and Scalawags”

    Sometimes we think of people as heroes or geniuses, at least at first, but then they turn out to be rapscallions, scoundrels or scalawags, and we’ve been duped. In U.S. history, we have had railroad and oil barons who killed hundred of workers either by overworking them or giving them lousy working conditions, or by hiring thugs to kill them during strikes. We have had snake-oil salesmen like the guy who came out and said apricot-pit concoction could prevent and/or cure cancer. And we can all name politicians who we thought were going to be great, but then turned out to be solid-gold rapscallions. Think of Tammany. Think of Bush. No, don’t. Why do we fall for them? When we will ever learn? Look at the derivation of the word, “scalawag.” Wouldn’t you know Republicans were involved in it? Those scalwags.[/quote]

  17. cm6ay

    Hi JEQuidam,

    The story of “Article the First” (and thanks for pointing listeners to the story…) might be a fascinating component of a BackStory show on issues of representation and constituency in history (the article had to do with congressional apportionment). I’m curious–what drives your particular interest in this subject?

    [quote comment="638"]Is this a subject that would be of interest to you all at “Back Story Radio”?

    Many people do not know that “Article the first” – the very first amendment inscribed on the Bill of Rights document – was never ratified. (Don’t confuse this with “Article the second” which was not ratified until 200 years later as our 27th Amendment.)

    This amendment can be seen by viewing the original document at the National Archives, who also provide a jpg of same at their web site. The text of “Article the first” is also available here:
    http://www.thirty-thousand.org/pages/BoR_text.htm.

    The following questions make this a compelling story: What was “Article the first” intended to do? Why, after all but one state then affirmed it, was it never ratified and then forgotten to history? Why does it contain a mathematical defect that, ultimately, rendered it meaningless?[/quote]

  18. JEQuidam

    [quote comment="647"]The story of “Article the First” … might be a fascinating component of a BackStory show on issues of representation and constituency in history … [/quote]For more information, a full analysis of “Article the first” is available as a report. It can be downloaded (as a PDF) from this page:
    http://www.thirty-thousand.org/pages/QHA-04.htm

    [quote comment="647"]I’m curious–what drives your particular interest in this subject?[/quote]I do not have a short answer to your simple question, other than to say that I believe that enlarging our federal representation is vital to saving our republic as we know it. My rationale for this view is explained by the 15 Questions & Answers on TTO’s home page:
    http://www.Thirty-Thousand.org

    Thirty-Thousand.org is a non-partisan and non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

  19. hobbes21

    I think a great show would be The Significance of American Landmarks (monuments, memorials, Presidential homes, etc.). Why have we made these places so important? Why do we want a physical site to visit in order to remember history? Furthermore, why were founders building them even while some of the honored historical figures were still alive? What sense of mythology existed among the leaders and general populace of the time? Were they wishing a world into existence? What do these places mean to Americans today? Do they simply bring us back, or can they also project our people forward?

  20. Gutter-rat

    Now see what you’ve done? You’ve encouraged me. Here’s another idea for a topic:

    “The Great American Dream and/or Nightmare”

    When did owning a home become “The American Dream”? What’s wrong with renting, anyway? What’s un-American about it? It seems so much smarter and cheaper than buying a house! What would this country be like if we were all renters? Would it be so bad?
    They say you’re just wasting money on rent, but what are you doing when you go bankrupt from inability to make the mortgage and property-tax payments?
    And what’s up with that word, “mortgage”? I mean, “mort” … doesn’t that mean, “death” in about 7 European languages? Trying to make the payment each month, it seems like the only difference between a mortgage and death is that death is quicker.
    Do other countries put such emphasis on owning a home, or is that an American thing? Are there American cities or regions where homeownership is NOT part of the “dream”?
    OK, i’m going to stop now, and get a life. Or put a down payment on one, anyway.

  21. herbar

    Gentlemen,

    A good topic would be the Jefferson-Hemings DNA Study. I would welcome being part of a debate with the “he’s guilty crowd” and the “he’s not guilty group.” Annette Gordon-Reed has always begged off from such a debate, however since her new book, The Hemingses of Monticello, she may better inclined to be interviewed in the presence of those who disagree with her depiction of Thomas Jefferson as being a father of Sally’s children.

    Herb Barger
    Jefferson Family Historian

  22. No Distortion

    [quote comment="655"]Gentlemen,

    A good topic would be the Jefferson-Hemings DNA Study. I would welcome being part of a debate with the “he’s guilty crowd” and the “he’s not guilty group.” Annette Gordon-Reed has always begged off from such a debate, however since her new book, The Hemingses of Monticello, she may better inclined to be interviewed in the presence of those who disagree with her depiction of Thomas Jefferson as being a father of Sally’s children.

    Herb Barger
    Jefferson Family Historian[/quote]

    I think Herb Barger’s suggestion is excellent. I’m tired of incompetent writers who consider themselves historians, who have an agenda to smear Thomas Jefferson while they deliberately ignore most pertinent historical documentation and statistics.

  23. J E Quidam

    A story about the meaning of “natural born citizen” would certainly be timely. This issue first arose in connection with Senator McCain (when the media gave a great deal of attention to the fact he was born in Panama). Later, this same question came up in connection to Senator Obama (due to questions surrounding his birth documentation, his father’s citizenship, etc). Nor has the subject disappeared: this month the Supreme Court has three conferences scheduled to discuss two of the legal actions on this matter (on Jan 9, 16 and 23). That could be a very lively discussion topic!

  24. Carol Becker

    One of the things that I think it would be interesting to talk about is “Masters of the Universe.” This is a term that has been coined for the most powerful of the most powerful persons in our society. Paul Volker, for example, triggered the recession in the 1980′s by jacking up the interest rates from the Federal Reserve to astronomic rates, thereby creating widespread pain, business failures, unemployment, etc. Nicholas Biddle did the same thing to trigger the Panic of 1819.

    Who have these people been at different points in the history of the United States? Some have been political (FDR), some in business (Carnigie), some I expect in entertainment or academia. Which ones have we forgotten?

    I am wondering about this because I sit here today worried about whether I and my family members will be able to retain their jobs. I am wondering this because of decisions that people substantially beyond me made certain (bad) decisions. But I don’t want to talk about big institutions or sociatal forces but the actual guys, the actual persons who made huge decisions that affected the lives of millions of other people. Who are they, how did they get this power, and what lessons can we learn from them?

  25. Tony (BackStory Producer)

    [quote comment="4070"]One of the things that I think it would be interesting to talk about is “Masters of the Universe.” This is a term that has been coined for the most powerful of the most powerful persons in our society… [/quote]

    Carol –

    Your idea is a fascinating one. I, for one, would be very interested in hearing what the Guys thought about :

    A) your suggestion that history can best be understood as a series of decisions by powerful individuals, rather than as the product of societal/institutional forces; and

    B) other times that people have identified specific individuals or groups of individuals, rightly or wrongly, as the source of all of their problems. Do we give credit to the “masters” when times are good, or only blame them when things turn sour?

    What do you say, History Guys?

  26. twentieth-century guy

    Twentieth-Century Guy says that he is willing to give this idea a try as long as we don’t limit it to Fed Reserve chairs and presidents. Women like Rachel Carson also turned out to be pretty powerful through the power of the pen (Ed and Peter, I suspect, have their nineteenth-century equivalents. So if we are talking about the power of an individual to influence history, I’m all for it.

  27. Hobbes21

    I’m totally digging JE’s suggestion!

    As far as earlier pens go, there’s Harriet Beecher Stowe and Thomas Paine who each had timely works to amplify growing public sentiment.

    Of course, we view those two as positive players, while Sen. McCarthy would be one a negative.

  28. Carol Becker

    These are interesting folks, folks that I wouldn’t have thought of. Individuals that turned history. Maybe there are two questions within my question. One is the role of individuals in making history. Individuals who say things or do things, sometimes a single thing that changes the lives of a lot of people.

    The second part of it is masters of the universe that we have forgotten. It is easy to come up with folks like Martin Luther King but who in history have we forgotten? Right now there are a bunch of obscure people like the guy who ran Lehman Brothers whose name will be lost to history who have had devastating impacts on millions of people. Of course, this is hard because they are lost to history.

    And maybe a third piece of it is people who have been in a position to do bad things to lots and lots of people. Maybe it is that early on in our country that the reach of any one individual was so limited because of a lack of technology? I don’t know but it is interesting to think about.

  29. Marc Naimark

    I can’t find this subject in a search on the site. During the excellent Veterans Day show interview of the Son of the Confederacy, the subject turned to what the Confederation flag means, and how some Southerners find no contradiction between flying the Stars and Bars next to the Stars and Stripes.

    How about a show on the flag: how has it been perceived, used, abused, throughout US history?

    It’s too late for Flag Day, alas…

  30. Herbert Barger

    The Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society was honored at the Virginia Capitol on the occasion of Mr. Jefferson’s Birthday. A joint resolution was presented in honor of the outstanding work being done in honor of Mr. Jefferson. Anyone desiring to be placed on the mailing list for the Jefferson Notes Newsletter, the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society (www.tjheritage.org), may e-mail me your address at herbar@comcast.net.

    Herb

  31. Herbert Barger

    [quote comment="657"][quote comment="655"]Gentlemen,

    A good topic would be the Jefferson-Hemings DNA Study. I would welcome being part of a debate with the “he’s guilty crowd” and the “he’s not guilty group.” Annette Gordon-Reed has always begged off from such a debate, however since her new book, The Hemingses of Monticello, she may better inclined to be interviewed in the presence of those who disagree with her depiction of Thomas Jefferson as being a father of Sally’s children.

    Herb Barger
    Jefferson Family Historian[/quote]

    I think Herb Barger’s suggestion is excellent. I’m tired of incompetent writers who consider themselves historians, who have an agenda to smear Thomas Jefferson while they deliberately ignore most pertinent historical documentation and statistics.[/quote]

    I wish to invite the public to order the very HARD hitting expose’ of this Jefferson-Hemings DNA FIASCO, “In Defense of Thomas Jefferson, The Sally Hemings Sex Scandal” from Amazon or other book store. The author, a lawyer, pulls NO punches and names names and foundations who have chosen to distort the DNA Study.

    Herb