BackStory on RADIO IQ, RADIO IQ w/BBC News & WVTF

Thursdays at 7:30 PM on WVTF and 3:00 PM Saturdays on RADIO IQ and RADIO IQ W/BBC News.

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, April 17, 2015 1:50pm
    This past week, a federal judge handed down lengthy prison terms to four former Blackwater security guards in the massacre of 14 unarmed men, women and children in Iraq in 2007 — a terrible reminder that not all is fair in war. Pope Francis meanwhile made headlines for labeling as “genocide” the mass killing of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey during World War I. And in recent years, America’s targeted drone strikes against terror suspects has raised questions about what is and isn’t an appropriate means of waging war. So what are the “rules of war,” and who gets to decide them? In this episode, Brian, Ed and Peter look at how past generations have answered those questions. They explore the role the Civil War played in defining modern warfare, and, earlier, the violent battle tactics of European colonizers versus American Indian ways of war. And with the Syrian government facing accusations that it used toxic chemicals in a bombing raid on its own citizens, the Guys consider what made the use of chemical weapons taboo in the first place.
  • Friday, April 10, 2015 12:18pm
    On the night of April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre. He died early the next morning. It was the first time a sitting president had been murdered. On this episode of BackStory, we’ll mark the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination by exploring how his death came to pass — and how a changed nation moved forward.
  • Friday, April 3, 2015 5:03pm
    For Christians all over the world, the Easter season is a time of renewal, rebirth and reflection. Here on BackStory, it’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the history of religious fervor in America. This time on the show, we’ll go in search of profound moments of spiritual effervescence — from the first Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s, to the megachurches and televangelism of the 20th century.
  • Friday, March 27, 2015 3:27pm
    The western United States is in the grip of a punishing drought. Reservoir levels are dropping, and farmers are struggling to ensure their access to water for crops and livestock. Consider California. According to a water scientist at NASA, the state has only a year's worth of water left in its reservoirs. Some scientists even fear the West has reached “peak water” -- the point at which water resources simply can't keep up with water usage. In this episode, Brian, Ed and Peter look at how Americans have managed access to water across the generations. From early legal struggles over natural waterways to the shared irrigation systems of New Mexico, they'll consider how Americans have divvied up water rights for private profit and public good. And they'll dive into the debate over who could and couldn't use swimming pools in the 1920s.
  • Friday, March 20, 2015 8:37pm
    For those of us who live on the mainland, islands are something we often tend to think about as destinations. As places to visit, perhaps, to take a break from our ordinary lives. And then to leave again. They’re places on the periphery -- and that’s borne out not only in the way we draw our maps, but also in the way we write our history. On this episode, we make the peripheral central. From the Caribbean to the Great Lakes to the San Francisco Bay, it's an hour all about islands in American history.