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.

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Program Headlines

  • Friday, September 19, 2014 6:58pm
    For many Americans, the storyline that played out on August 9th in Ferguson, Mo. — when an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a white police officer — is not a new one. But the sustained protests that followed, in which Ferguson police used military equipment for crowd control, have generated a new round of questioning about local police’s role in their communities. So on this episode, we're looking at the history of policing in America, and how the police forces we’re familiar with today begin to take shape - and we'll consider what happens when the police don’t protect those they serve.
  • Friday, September 12, 2014 4:30pm
    In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, BackStory heads into the wilderness, exploring Americans’ fascination with, and fear of, wild places – and the ways in which humans have impacted even the most remote corners of the country. From early early English colonists who saw wilderness in an already settled land, to 19th and 20th century Americans who sought to flee cities and find peace in nature, we're taking a look at how our physical and mental landscapes have changed over time.
  • Friday, September 5, 2014 3:49pm
    200 years ago, the United States was engulfed in a war that had seen Washington, D.C. attacked and burned, and the nation's independence seriously threatened. Today, few people remember who we were even fighting in that conflict - the War of 1812 - much less what we were fighting for. But despite its forgotten status, the War of 1812 was hugely influential in shaping the nation we live in today. And so in this episode, we go beyond the trivia, and explore some of the war's deeper legacies. We look at why the war loomed so large in novels & poems of the post-war years, how the war re-defined government policies towards Native Americans, and why the war nearly led to a civil war within the U.S. Through it all, we set out to answer the most fundamental questions about the War of 1812: what did we win, what did we lose, and why should we care?
  • Friday, August 29, 2014 2:39pm
    In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10, and then signed an executive order putting it into effect for federal contract workers. With legislation on the table in Congress and increases being debated in many states, this episode looks to the origins of the minimum wage, and explores how we’ve thought about fair pay over time. Along with their guests, Ed, Brian, and Peter discuss how slaves in the antebellum period could sometimes be brought into the wage economy, and how convict labor played havoc with wages in the wake of the Civil War. They discover why early 20th century feminists cheered the demise of state minimum wage legislation in the 1920s, and find out how the federal minimum wage came to be, a decade later. For more on the guests and stories featured in this episode, and for an array of resources exploring the history of Americans competing in sports on the world stage, check out BackStory's website:
  • Friday, August 22, 2014 9:04pm
    World War I was sometimes called "the war to end all wars." But 100 years after the fighting began, it's become a war that's often forgotten in American history, or viewed as a prelude to WWII. In this episode, we explore some of the ways the conflict affected Americans far beyond the battlefields of Europe -- from debates about the meaning of free speech, to the fight over how the war would be remembered.