BackStory on RADIO IQ

Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. on RADIO IQ
Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, Brian Balogh

BackStory with the American History Guys  brings historical perspective to the events happening around us today.

On each show, renowned U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh tear a topic from the headlines and plumb its historical depths. Over the course of the hour, they are joined by fellow historians, people in the news, and callers interested in exploring the roots of what's going on today.

Together, they drill down to colonial times and earlier, revealing the connections (and disconnections) between past and present. With its passionate, intelligent, and irreverent approach, BackStory with the American History Guys is fun and essential listening no matter who you are.

Composer ID: 
5187f8c9e1c84d4a4b12564e|5187f8c5e1c84d4a4b12563e

Program Headlines

  • Friday, July 3, 2015 11:40am
    In the early days of our nation, July Fourth wasn’t an official holiday at all. In fact, it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a paid day-off. So how did the Fourth become the holiest day on our secular calendar? This episode offers some answers. With perspective from guests and taking questions from listeners, Peter, Ed, and Brian explore the origins of July Fourth. They highlight the holiday's radical roots, look at how the Declaration's meaning has changed over time, and consider how the descendants of slaves embraced the Declaration's message of liberty and equality.
  • Friday, June 26, 2015 4:50pm
    Across generations, Americans have seen foes turn to friends and allies to enemies. So, as negotiations are in the works for a nuclear deal with Iran and to resume formal diplomatic relations with Cuba, the Guys explore how the United States has dealt with enemies across time. From the tarring and feathering of British Loyalists during the Revolution to comic book portrayals of Nazi Germany, Brian, Ed, and Peter consider how feelings of national animus have taken shape and what those relations say about Americans and their government.
  • Friday, June 19, 2015 5:53pm
    With the Supreme Court ready to rule any day now on gay marriage rights, Brian, Ed and Peter wade into America’s long history of struggles over rights. How have Americans claimed, framed and changed their rights over time? Where do we think “rights” come from anyway… is it God, nature, the government, the founding documents? Join the Guys as they explore moments from the past that reveal how Americans have asserted their rights and — sometimes in the same breath — denied them to others. We have stories about freedom suits, religious liberty, labor law and... smoking rights?
  • Friday, June 12, 2015 9:47am
    The fastest growing major religion in the world today, Islam has some 1.6 billion followers practicing a wide array of religious traditions and speaking hundreds of different languages. And yet, even as more Americans convert to the faith and foreigners emigrate to the U.S. from all over the Islamic world, Muslims are still often caricatured in the American imagination. As Ramadan begins, we're replaying a show we did last year about America’s relationship with Islam, from the Barbary Wars and the narratives of Muslim slaves in the New World, to the precursors of the Nation of Islam and the Black Power movement of the 1960s. What has it meant to be Muslim in America — and how has the idea of Islam in the U.S. changed over time?
  • Friday, June 5, 2015 5:56pm
    As crash experts sort out why an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last month, killing eight passengers, Congress is still haggling over how to replenish the nation’s Highway Trust Fund before it goes dry. All the while, the safety of America’s roads and rails hangs in the balance. So on this show, Brian, Ed and Peter uncover the stuff of modern life that’s hidden in plain sight. How have Americans decided what infrastructure to invest in, how to maintain it, and who ultimately has to pay for it? Our stories take a look behind the scenes at the electric grid, the shipping industry and the origins of oil pipelines.