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History Personified

"History Personified" is a history podcast that takes listeners deeper into different historical stories and eras. From military, to politics, to film, television, and radio, to sports, and more, "History Personified" will help bring listeners closer to the stories behind interesting historical events and figures.
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Now displaying: 2017

"History Personified"

Jul 30, 2017

Ted Kaczynski, who would become known as the Unabomber, was a mathematical genius who could seemingly never find his place in society. Angry, isolated, and truly alone, he embarked on a campaign of terror utilizing his calling card, the mail bombing. One of the people most responsible for bringing him down was then-FBI agent Jim Fitzgerald.

A "History Personified" alum, Fitz is bringing the story behind the new Discovery Channel eight-part mini-series, "Manhunt: Unabomber," starring Sam Worthington (as Jim Fitzgerald), Paul Bettany, Chris Noth, and Jane Lynch. The debut takes place Tuesday, August 1st at 9 PM, and Fitz is back on our show to discuss the story behind the Unabomber, his involvement in bringing him to justice, whether or not he's had contact with him since, and more.

Remember to download, share, and enjoy!

#politics #POTUS #history #podcast

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Jul 21, 2017

Abraham Lincoln is known as "The Great Emancipator," and is credited with freeing American slaves in 1863. But just five years earlier, Lincoln, in a debate, said regarding blacks, "He is not my equal in many respects." Regardless of the context of that statement, and others made during that time, Lincoln would be viewed as a racist by today's standards. 

During Lincoln's debates with Stephen A. Douglas, as they vied for an Illinois senatorial seat, both candidates made statements that would be seen as inflammatory at best today. What else was said? And, besides those statements, what made the debates so memorable? Was Lincoln a racist? We discuss all this and more with Harold Holzer, one of the world's foremost experts on Lincoln. 

Remember to download, share, and enjoy!

#politics #POTUS #history #podcast

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Jul 14, 2017

Ronald Reagan is viewed as one of the most influential U.S. Presidents in history. Loved by many, hated by many, results and consequences from his policies are still being felt in America today. What is his legacy now? How will he be viewed in the years to come? 

On part II of our series on the life and presidency of Ronald Reagan, we conclude with the Oval Office years of "The Great Communicator." Author/historian H.W. Brands discusses Reagan's early years, including the release of the U.S. hostages in Iran, the assassination attempt survival, and the air controller's strike. We touch on the War on Drugs and the rise of AIDS, as well as the Iran-Contra affair, before ending with Reagan's final years. It's an intriguing look at a man who accomplished so much in his lifetime. 

Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#politics #truecrime #history #podcast

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Jul 7, 2017

"Reagan"...it's a name that inspires love and hatred at the same time. To some, he was the savior of conservative politics. To others, he was a symbol of greed and dishonesty. What's fact? What's fiction? Regardless, no one can deny that "The Great Communicator" had a major impact on the 1980's, and an immense influence on the 1990's and beyond.

On this first episode of a two-part series on #POTUS Ronald Reagan, I chat with noted author and historian H.W. Brands on the man's formative years, his career in Hollywood, and his emergence as a bonafide political force.

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#politics #truecrime #history #podcast

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Jun 30, 2017

Old West outlaw Jesse James is still being talked about 135 years after his death at the young age of 34. Many myths surround this legendary criminal, with many still viewing James as a modern-day Robin Hood of sorts. A defender of the Southern way of life, he is a product of the Civil War in many ways. His lust for blood started early, and combined with his passion for the high life, Jesse James wreaked havoc across the South and Midwest for years. He suffered personal tragedy along the way, and had experienced more than most when he was shot and killed in 1882. 

We discuss the life, times, and death of Jesse James with author Mark Lee Gardner. Gardner's book on James, Shot to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape, has been widely-acclaimed. We delve into the fascinating life of one of the Old West's most enduring figures. 

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#OldWest #outlaw #history #podcast


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Jun 23, 2017

For seven decades, Red Skelton, regardless of if it was radio, TV, burlesque, vaudeville, films, a nightclub, or casino, always did his best to entertain his fans and make them laugh. "The Red Skelton Show" was a television staple for many years, outlasting many comparable programs. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in radio and TV...Red Skelton seemingly had the career few would ever even aspire to. Yet, the man who brought "Freddie the Freeloader" to the masses also endured the death of a child and the resulting suicide of an ex-wife. Red Skelton painted, he entertained, he suffered, and he triumphed.

I discuss the life and career of Red Skelton with author Wes Gehring, who wrote, Red Skelton: The Mask Behind the Mask. Special thanks to listener Hobie Clapp for the topic suggestion!

Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#history #podcast


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Jun 19, 2017

It's a very special mini-episode of "History Personified" this week, and I had the honor of speaking with Joan Howard Maurer, the daughter of the Three Stooges' Moe Howard. In honor of his 120th birthday, we chat about her famous father, how he was at home, how his on-screen persona differed from his private life, his love of the fans, and his legacy. 

Moe and the Stooges are remembered this week in a special four-day series of short films, features, and a rarely-seen documentary all being shown on DECADES Network. Check out www.decades.com for local listings and all the information!

Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#history #podcast


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Jun 16, 2017

Professional wrestling, for better or worse, is part of the fabric of Americana, and still has millions and millions of fans worldwide. On this week's episode, I discuss the life and career of the legendary Jerry "The King" Lawler with Glenn Moore, Lawler's co-host on the new "Dinner with the King" podcast. 

While you may or may not be a wrestling fan, Lawler never had an issue with crossing over to the mainstream. Whether it was rubbing shoulders with William Shatner, who inducted Lawler into the WWE Hall of Fame, or engaging in his infamous feud with massive TV celebrity Andy Kaufman, which included Lawler slapping Kaufman on David Letterman's show, Lawler was always about the business of making money. Don't miss this fascinating look at the career of a true entertainment pioneer!  

Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#wrestling #history #podcast


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Jun 9, 2017

It's the conclusion of our two-part series on Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, as author Shaun Attwood, who wrote "Pablo Escobar: Beyond Narcos," joins us once again. In this episode, Shaun talks about Pablo's final years, his fall from the top of the drug game, and his death.

So many people wanted Pablo dead by the time he was shot that it's hard to say for sure who really killed him. What is clear is that his legacy is as controversial as his life was, as some remember him as more saint than sinner. Is Colombia better off without him? Why did so many want him dead? We discuss this and more. 

Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#truecrime #history #podcast


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Jun 2, 2017

Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar built an empire on a mix of intimidation, bribery, politicking, torture, and murder, and leveraged it to become one of the wealthiest men on the earth. He came from nothing, rose to the top of the crime world, and seemingly had it all. Yet, he left a trail of broken lives, broken promises, and broken hearts in his wake.

In part one of a two-part series on Escobar, we discuss his life and time with author Shaun Attwood, who wrote "Pablo Escobar: Beyond Narcos." In this episode, Shaun talks about Pablo's formative years, his rise to power, and the height of that power. Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#truecrime #history #podcast


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May 26, 2017

John Wilkes Booth might be the most infamous man, the most notorious criminal, in American history. The man that pulled the trigger that ended the life of the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln, was also a celebrated and famous actor who came from a family of noted performers. In fact, his father, Junius Brutus Booth, Jr., might have been the most famous thespian of their day. So what drove this man, who had all the fame and fortune anyone could have wanted in the 1860s, to participate in and execute a plot to kill the President of the United States of America? 

On this week's episodes, I talk with Terry Alford, author of "Fortune's Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth." Alford is recognized as a leading authority on Booth's life, and talks to me about his upbringing, his theatrical career, where his passion for the Confederate cause came from, and the events leading up to Lincoln's assassination, as well as the aftermath and the controversy around all of it. Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#truecrime #history #podcast


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May 19, 2017

Canadian serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka have been compared to America's Bonnie and Clyde, but there really is no comparison between the two. The crimes that Bernardo and Homolka committed horrified the world, including assaulting, violating, and killing her sister, but how did they arrive there? 

Joining us for this week's episode is "1995" podcast host and former journalist Kathy Kenzora. Working for a Toronto radio station, Kenzora covered the trial extensively, sharing a courtroom with both Bernardo and Homolka, and heard the gory details of the rapes, torture, and murders committed by the pair. Homolka made the deal of a lifetime in return for her testimony...you won't want to miss learning about this incredible case. 

Make sure you check out Kathy's "1995" podcast, which is available on iTunes and your favorite podcast app. She covers many historical events from the year 1995, including the Bernardo/Homolka case in detail.

*Listener discretion is advised on this episode, as some details discussed may be disturbing to some listeners*

#truecrime #history #podcast


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May 12, 2017

For the first time in the history of "History Personified," we're having a return guest! The "Soul Food Scholar," Adrian Miller, is back on the show. Last time, he talked about the history of soul food. This time, he's relating the history of White House chefs. 

Did you know most White House head chefs have been African-Americans? Adrian talks about how that came to be, while relating interesting anecdotes along the way. The "Soul Food Scholar" talks about FDR's last meal before he died (a cheese souffle he sadly didn't get to eat), Dwight D. Eisenhower's penchant for cooking, and how U.S. Presidents have used food as a political tool. It's White House cuisine history at its finest!

Be sure to download, enjoy, and share! 

May 5, 2017

Michael Durant was a part of some of the most important American military missions of the 1980's and 1990's, and he joins me for this week's episode of "History Personified." 

After joining the military in 1979, Durant became a helicopter pilot, eventually joining the vaunted 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). After serving in Operation Desert Storm, Durant was deployed to Somalia to help turn the tide on a U.N. peace-keeping mission that had turned violent. During the Battle of Mogadishu, Durant's Black Hawk was shot down, killing his crew mates and severely injuring him. In an incredible act of bravery, Delta Force snipers Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon volunteered to be inserted into the crossfire and protected Durant until they were themselves killed. A crowd of Somalis began to beat Durant, and he thought he would die, too, but he was taken hostage instead and held for 11 days. 

Mr. Durant, author of "In the Company of Heroes" and "Night Stalkers," shares his experiences in this very special episode...be sure to download, enjoy, and share! 

Apr 28, 2017

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the commencement of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, which caused incredible damage to life and property. Over 50 lives were lost, over 2,300 injuries were suffered, more than 7,000 fires raged, there was damage to 3,100 businesses, and there were nearly $1 billion in financial losses. Most assume that the beating of Rodney King by LAPD officers and their subsequent acquittal led directly to the riots. But there was so much more, and the tension that erupted had been building for years. Cultural differences, the media, police practices, drugs, poverty, and more gave birth to an atmosphere where the riots were probably inevitable. 

In this special supersize episode, I speak with former Los Angeles Times reporter Shawn Hubler, who was there in the thick of it, and saw firsthand some of the chaos and carnage. We discuss the confluence of factors that led to the riots, what she witnessed, and what the aftermath was. 

#history #podcast

Apr 21, 2017

How important is charisma and speaking ability when it comes to being a great leader? On this week's show, we're discussing this question, using three-time U.S. presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan as an example. Professor and author Jeremy C. Young's new book, "The Age of Charisma: Leaders, Followers, and Emotions in American Society, 1870–1940," looks at leaders like Bryan, Teddy Roosevelt, Billy Sunday, and others from the 1870-1940 timeframe, which Young has labeled "The Age of Charisma." 

William Jennings Bryan was known for his stirring speeches and populist platform. Known as "The Great Commoner," Bryan was a two-time member of the House of Representatives, and was also Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson before resigning due to his pacifist stance. He stood against trusts and big banks, promoted "free silver," supported Prohibition, and argued against famous lawyer Clarence Darrow in the noted Scopes Trial. How much did Bryan's speaking ability contribute to his popularity? We break it down. 

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Apr 14, 2017

Cynthia Ann Parker was around ten years old when her family's home was attacked by Comanches. Several family members were killed, but Cynthia was kidnapped. Being that she was a child, the Indians chose to raise her as one of their own, and she began to take on their customs, later marrying one of their leaders and having a few children. However, the Texas Rangers caught up with her and brought her back to Anglo society. She was never able to fully re-assimilate. Yet, her story is a fascinating look at the American frontier in the mid-19th Century. 

Joining us for this week's episode is Sarah McReynolds, the director at the Old Fort Parker historic site in Texas. She's telling us about Cynthia's upbringing, the fateful day when she was taken from her original family, being recaptured, and her remaining days. We also talk about her famous son, Quanah. Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

Special thanks to Marlinda Wilson Martinez for the episode request!

Apr 7, 2017

Jimmy Stewart is one of the most beloved actors in cinema history. However, one aspect of his life isn't well-known, and that is his military service during World War II. While many other Hollywood actors played a role in the war, Jimmy Stewart was the antithesis of many of his colleagues, as he insisted on actually fighting, and did he ever. With nearly two dozen combat missions on his resume, Stewart risked his life time and again in battle, and nearly lost it during at least one mission. How did these experiences affect the acting legend? And did you know that "It's a Wonderful Life" was Stewart's first film when he got back from the war? 

We discuss all this and more with Robert Matzen, author of "Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe." We delve into Stewart's military lineage, his mission to serve, how he prepared, the highs and lows of his time in the military, and how he coped when he got back to the States. Remember to download, enjoy, and share! 

#cinema #history #podcast

Mar 31, 2017

It's Wrestlemania weekend, and in honor of that, we discuss one of wrestling's most legendary characters. But don't worry, non-wrestling fans...there's plenty of history discussed that has nothing to do with the squared circle! 

Simply put, Andre the Giant is one of the most beloved wrestling superstars of all time. Even non-wrestling fans remember him, as his role as the enormous Fezzik in the cult classic film, "The Princess Bride," has embedded itself in the memories of cinema fans the world over. But how tall was he really? How did he handle the pressures of fame, and the challenges of travel? And could he really eat and drink as much as the legends tell us? 

Joining us for today's episode is writer Brandon Easton, who wrote "Andre The Giant: Closer To Heaven." Easton spoke with people close to Andre in preparation for his graphic novel, and shares some great stories and tidbits that he learned about one of the most important and influential professional wrestlers in history. 

#wrestling #history #podcast

Mar 24, 2017

William Jefferson Clinton is one of the most polarizing U.S. presidents of the last century, with many loving the man, and many hating him. Regardless of one's perspective, there is no arguing that Clinton presided over a very transitional time in America. With the rise of the so-called "new media," there was a greater spotlight on the presidency than ever before, and its effect on Clinton cannot be disputed. From military activities in Somalia, to Whitewater, to the economy, to immigration, to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and more, Bill Clinton dealt with a lot, some of it self-inflicted, while in office. How will the man be remembered? What is his legacy?

We discuss all of this and more with author Michael Tomasky, who recently released "Bill Clinton: The American Presidents Series: The 42nd President, 1993-2001." Don't miss this riveting discussion on a political firebrand that still evokes a wide range of emotions today, years after leaving his post. 

#history #podcast #politics

Mar 18, 2017

On this week's episode, we talk with longtime FBI veteran Bobby Chacon about his career, and especially his pioneering of the FBI's underwater forensics team.

Bobby started his career in 1987 as part of the FBI's organized crime unit. He rubbed shoulders with some big-time mafioso before being transferred to a newly formed squad targeting non-traditional organize crime. In 1995, Chacon became a part-time diver of the FBI New York Field Office’s Dive Team. At that time the NYO Dive Team was the only officially sanctioned dive team in the FBI. Chacon was deployed to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics as an FBI diver and to the 1996 crash of TWA flight 800 in which 230 passengers and crew perished. It was the largest search and recovery effort in the history of US law enforcement and the dive operations lasted for more then four months. Then in 2000, Bobby became the full time team leader of the dive team making him the first full time diver in FBI history. Since retired, he has been named a Technical Advisor for the new television series, "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders."

We discuss this and more with Bobby. As always, download, share, and enjoy!

#truecrime #history #podcast

Mar 10, 2017

As cult leader Jim Jones becomes more and more deranged and controlling, he hatches a plan to move his Peoples Temple from California to Guyana, where his socialist teachings will finally be on unbridled display for all to see. What develops is a communal way of life that, from the outside, appears to be a utopia of sorts. Unfortunately, the truth is that Jonestown was far from the dream Jim Jones' followers had been promised. A group of mostly urban folks now had to work the land, and Jones, becoming more and more dependent on drugs, begins talking more and more about what he terms "revolutionary suicide." In the end, over 900 people lose their lives in what Julia Scheeres, author of "A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown," calls not mass suicide but mass murder. 

On the second part of this two-part series on Jonestown, we lay out what life was like in Guyana, what precipitated Jones' final descent into madness, the attempted intervention of congressman Leo Ryan that leads to his death, and the aftermath of a day that will never be forgotten. 

#truecrime #history #podcast

Mar 3, 2017

On November 18, 1978, in northwestern Guyana, 918 people died in what Jim Jones, the leader of the settlement there called Jonestown, deemed "revolutionary suicide." The events of that day resulted in what was the largest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act until September 11, 2001. The vast majority of those that died were African-American, and many had cut off communication from their families back home in America. What led these people to a remote area of jungle in South America? What made Jim Jones into the psychotic demagogue he morphed into? And why did so many have to die? 

We discuss this and more with Julia Scheeres, author of "A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown," in part one of a two-part series on Jonestown. In this episode we talk about Jim Jones' formative years, why he started the Peoples Temple, what life was like for a member of the church, and why so many agreed to move to Guyana. Plus, was Jones a true believer, or simply a charlatan, and was it mass suicide or mass murder? 

#truecrime #history #podcast

Feb 24, 2017

At the end of 2002, Laci Peterson, 8 1/2 months pregnant, disappeared. Her frantic family organized searches as her husband, Scott, made the media rounds. As it came to light that Scott had been involved with another woman, Amber Frey, his actions began to be called into question. The bodies were found in April, 2003, and Scott was arrested a few days later with dyed hair and beard, a large amount of cash, camping equipment, and his brother's ID. Most believed he was on the run. Scott was later convicted of murder in the deaths of his wife Laci (first degree) and his unborn son Conner (second degree) and sentenced to death. More than a decade later, Scott is still appealing and fighting his conviction and sentence.

We walk through the case with Modesto Bee reporter Garth Stapley, who covered the case from the beginning, and is still covering developments today. We discuss the details, Scott's actions, the public reaction, and why Garth will not state whether or not he believes Scott is guilty.

*Listener discretion is advised, as some details of the Laci Peterson case discussed are explicit*

#truecrime #history #podcast

Feb 17, 2017

We continue chugging along with our True Crime History month, and on this week's show, American serial killer Ted Bundy is examined. Author and ordained minister Kevin Sullivan just completed a trilogy of books on Bundy, as "The Bundy Secrets" has just been released, and we delve into the crimes and psyche of perhaps the most famous murderer of all time. 

What were Bundy's formative years like? When did he start committing violent crimes? How did he get away with it for so long? And what was his purpose for pointing to pornography as a cause of his crimes in his very last interview before his execution? We dig into these questions and more, walking through Bundy's trail of death and destruction. 

*Listener discretion is advised, as some details of Bundy's crimes discussed are explicit*

#truecrime #history #podcast

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