Friday, October 29, 2021

Podcast Episode 20 - The Most Dangerous Man in America, Part I: The Impeachment of Huey Long

The governor of Louisiana was in serious trouble, but he didn’t really know how bad it was.

Until it was almost too late.

Huey Long was far more than just a guy who told the people what they wanted to hear. “There are smarter guys than I am,” he said, “but not in Louisiana.” By the end of his riotous reign, he had seized more personal control of the state than any other governor in its history.


He “orchestrated elections, padded voting lists, and directed the counting of ballots.” He assaulted the press with gag laws and oppressive tax increases. He used the state militia as his personal bodyguard and goon squad. He packed the courts, local governments, and state regulatory boards with his people.


He was untouchable. 

Or so he thought. 


Long, Huey P. “Every Man a King: The Autobiography of Huey P. Long.” Hachette, 2008.

White, Richard D. “Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long.” Random House, 2009.

Wikipedia, “Huey Long.” Retrieved October 17, 2021 from



Thursday, October 28, 2021

Talking Historical Trainwrecks on The Open Highway Podcast

I've been listening to The Open Highway Podcast with Eric Erickson.

He's got an incredible talent for interviewing people, and he needed every bit of it today.
Because he interviewed me.

Some highlights:

1. That time I told him patriotism should be more like Tylenol and less like heroin.

2. The awkward moment when I used my history degree to compare the Founding Fathers to the Avengers.

3. And when I suggested we elect people to Congress the same way we get juries - just pick 12 names out of a hat in each district. We can't do worse...

I'm inclined to tell you to ignore my episode and work your way through his back catalog where he covers issues of real substance like America's recent wars and the effect on our veterans, or how cancel culture took out an innocent chicken farmer.

Always an option. And you should definitely follow this thought-provoking podcast. Like the open highway itself, the journey will refresh your soul, and you never know where you'll end up.

For today, though, you might just have a little fun with my considered historical assessment of Franklin D. Roosevelt:

"Wow. What a douchebag."

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Podcast Special Episode - The Roosevelt Tragedies

I’ve done quite a lot of research into the Roosevelts – Theodore, Franklin, Eleanor, and Alice, Teddy’s oldest daughter.

In the course of which I found something they all had in common – tragedy. Each of these four experienced tragedies early in life that I think helped pave the way for their eventual greatness.

Theodore Roosevelt was planning to make science his life’s work in the late 1870’s. His father told him that if he was going to do that, he had to take it seriously and do the very best work he could. Teddy switched two of his classes to science.

Within a few years he had been elected to the New York State Assembly.

Teddy was definitely an atypical politician. He was the “dude” of Albany politics, bucking the wishes of his party for the sake of legislation he believed in. He was, as always, the kind of guy you either loved or hated. He took on the corrupt “machine” politicians of his party as if he held some kind of grudge. He sought newspaper headlines for himself as if he was trying to make sure everyone knew his name.

So what changed?

In the mid-1880’s he was alone in the Dakota Territory, slaughtering his way through game and making the connections that prompted his investment in cattle ranching. It was here that he became the cowboy of later legend. He said that had it not been for his experiences in the Dakotas, he never would have become President.

What sent him into the Badlands?


Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 1920. Even though the ticket didn’t win, he was widely considered to be the front-runner for the Presidential nomination in 1924.

FDR went to the Democratic Convention in 1924, but it wasn’t to accept the nomination.

Historians generally agree that if Franklin had been the nominee in 1924 he would have lost and likely never been heard from again.

Where had he been?


Eleanor Roosevelt had always faded into the background. The niece of Teddy Roosevelt, her shy and retiring ways kept her out of the bright light her uncle and cousins bathed in.

She kept to herself and avoided involvement in the wider world, preferring to support her ambitious husband from the sidelines, while trying to keep the peace with her domineering mother-in-law.

Long before her husband became governor and then President, Eleanor had formed a group of politically-engaged women, was giving speeches statewide, and achieved national prominence.

Wonder what changed…


Alice Roosevelt was a handful. She was seventeen when an assassin’s bullet elevated her father to the Presidency. She was outspoken and wild, garnering headlines the same way her famous father did.

He once said, “I can either run the country or I can attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both.”

She jumped into swimming pools with her clothes barely on, surrounded by Congressmen (one of whom she later married). She cut her wedding cake with a sword. She campaigned against her own husband and carried on affairs. She had a child with Senator William Borah while still married to Nicholas Longworth (the child was known in the family as ‘Aurora Borah Alice’).

When the Roosevelts had to leave the White House, she buried a voodoo doll of the next First Lady, Nellie Taft, in the front yard. Woodrow Wilson banned her from the White House in response to a ribald joke at his expense.

She stated she would oppose her own father’s candidacy if he had decided to run in 1916. She opposed her cousin Franklin’s presidential candidacy in 1932, but attacked his opponent, Thomas Dewey, in subsequent elections.

Always contrary, she developed friendships with both the Kennedys and the Nixons. She had a pillow embroidered with her famous quote, “if you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.” She told Lyndon Johnson she wore wide-brimmed hats so he couldn’t kiss her.

Jimmy Carter said he couldn’t decide which was worse in Washington—being “skewered by her wit or to be ignored by her.” Richard Nixon said. “No one, no matter how famous, could be outshined by her.”

What made Alice Alice?


Theodore Roosevelt wrote, "Only if you've been to the lowest valley can you know how great it is to be on the highest mountain top."

It was precisely the valleys these four Roosevelts inhabited in their early lives that propelled them to the highest peaks. The things they suffered early on are a big part of the reason their names echo through history.

In this series, I delve into the Roosevelt tragedies, and how they became fuel to the fire of this famous family’s greatest members.

These bonus episodes are available by subscription only. Click the link below to sign up, and unlock these episodes and all future bonus content. 

Your support is greatly appreciated. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Podcast Episode 19 - Ancient Office Hours

"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair."

This week on the podcast we're doing something a little different. I'm presenting an episode of a podcast I think you'll enjoy - Ancient Office Hours by the Ozymandias Project.

If you love ancient times and all the great and not so great things that happened, Ancient Office Hours Podcast is your big chance. Most importantly, if you ever wanted to pursue a career in Classics (from academia, to stand up, to video games!), this will give you the insider's view. Episodes are released every two weeks.

Today I’m presenting their interview with Dr. Andrew Reinhard, an archaeologist and Director of Publications at the American Numismatic Society. His career in Classics is a great story. Dr. Reinhard has had quite the interesting career, to say the least. He has also pioneered archeogaming, and discusses the challenges of being a historian who works with gaming companies.

Take a listen to this fascinating episode of Ancient Office Hours.

Join history nerd and classicist extraordinaire, Lexie Henning, as she chats with thought leaders in academia and the entertainment industry about how they got into their field, their current research/projects, and how the ancient world inspires them. 

Together they strive to connect modern societies to ancient worlds, examine the practicality of going into ancient studies, and talk about why it’s important to fund the humanities. Their goal is to increase access to information about the ancient world and the people who are influenced by it.

And check them out on social media:

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Podcast Episode 18 - Teddy Roosevelt's Third Term, Part VIII

The ghost of William McKinley appeared to him in a dream, and told him to kill Theodore Roosevelt.

John Schrank was thirty-six years old, unemployed, and unhinged. During the presidential campaign of 1912, “he read in two New York newspapers that the Colonel was determined to overthrow the Constitution.” It had been eleven years since the ghost of the slain President had pointed his finger at Roosevelt in Schrank’s nightmare and said, “This is my murderer, avenge my death.”

The time had come.

Presidential Safety Tip Number Two Hundred Fifty-Seven: President of the United States should always be the last job you ever have.

Teddy was getting ready to address a crowded auditorium in Milwaukee on October 14th, 1912. He had written his speech and folded it into his right jacket pocket. He left his hotel and went out to his open car and got seated. A crowd gathered, and he stood up to bow, waving his hat.

John Schrank, who had followed Teddy from New Orleans to Milwaukee, fired one shot, striking Teddy in the chest. One of Roosevelt's bodyguards, Elbert Martin, an ex-football player, tackled Schrank right when he fired, having seen the gun and rushed over.

Teddy had "dropped without a sound," and was feared dead, but he pulled himself up. He seemed unhurt, and asked Martin to bring the would-be assassin to the side of the car. "Don't hurt him," Teddy ordered. "Bring him here." Teddy took Schrank's head in both hands to see if he recognized him. All he saw was "the dull-eyed, unmistakable expressionlessness of insanity." He asked Schrank, "What did you do it for?" then, getting no answer, ordered his guards to turn Schrank over to the police.

Teddy told his guards that Schrank had "plinked" him. They tried to get him to go to the hospital. Teddy rasped, "You get me to that speech."


Teddy went on to speak for nearly an hour and half, tossing the sheets of his speech down as he reached the end of a page, as had always been his practice when giving speeches. (These pages were snapped up by the crowd as souvenirs. These were even better, as each page had a bullet hole in it). His aides stood waiting below to catch him if he passed out.

His face was white after eighty minutes, but he made it to the end of his speech. After that, amid the roaring and applause of the crowd, he told his doctor, "Now I am ready to go with you and do what you want."

He made it through the crowd, many of whom wanted to shake his hand and slap him on the back as if he didn't have a new bullet stuck in his ribs, and was checked in to Milwaukee's Emergency Hospital. The news of the assassination attempt flashed around the country. Edith Roosevelt was pulled out of her box at a theatre during the performance to be told. She said, "Take me to where I can talk to him or hear from him at once."

An X-ray found the bullet. After passing through Teddy's thick overcoat, fifty pages of his speech folded in half, his steel-reinforced spectacle case, his suspender belt, shirt and undershirt, the bullet still retained enough force to crack a rib. Two things had saved his life: the glasses he had needed since he was a small boy, and his penchant for giving long speeches.


For this episode and more stories like this check out The History's Trainwrecks Podcast at the links below or listen to this episode in the players at the bottom:


Morris, Edmund. “Colonel Roosevelt.” Random House, 2010.

Roosevelt, Theodore. “Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt.”

Wikipedia, “William Howard Taft.” Retrieved August 9, 2021 from