Saturday, November 27, 2021

Podcast Episode 24 - The Most Dangerous Man In America, Part II

Lousiana governor Huey Long had learned a lot from his impeachment trial, and it was no more Mr. Nice Governor down in the bayou.

He wanted to expand a road-building program and build a new massive state capitol building as a lasting monument to his reign. The legislature (and Huey's own brother) opposed the plan, so Huey had to come up with a way to persuade them, and make sure he retained power.

His answer: he was going to run for the United States Senate.

But there were two men who had damaging secrets about the governor, and something had to be done about them before the election.

So Huey had them kidnapped.

He had the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification, which was essentially his private police force, arrest the two men in the middle of the night and hide them away from the press, as well as the Federal agents called in to investigate.

Huey kept them under wraps until after the Senate race was over, which he won, using a number of electoral shenanigans like ballot box stuffing and registering trees to vote.

After the election, Huey began signing his name ‘Huey P. Long, Governor and Senator-Elect.

Check out this episode of the History's Trainwrecks Podcast:


Long, Huey P. “My First Days In The White House.” Pickle Partners Publishing, 2016.

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

Wikipedia, “Paul N. Cyr.” Retrieved November 27, 2021 from

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Podcast Episode 23 - Tractors For Fidel Castro

The Bay of Pigs invasion was, to coin a phrase, a train wreck.

Fidel Castro had come to power in Cuba in 1959, planting a Communist country right on America’s back porch. Having a Soviet satellite ninety miles away from American soil was, shall we say, troubling.

The Eisenhower Administration approved a CIA plan to train Cuban exiles and provide them with weapons and air support for an invasion of the island. The expectation was that the Cuban people would rise up in rebellion and topple the Castro regime.

The train went off the tracks pretty early. Despite efforts to keep the mission a secret, the invasion plan was widely known among the Cuban community in Miami. Castro’s intelligence service found out about the training camps the CIA had set up in Guatemala, and some of the details of the plans made it into the press.

Fidel Castro was not going to be surprised.

The invasion failed, and Castro took 1200 prisoners. In return, he wanted a bunch of tractors. 

This was going to get interesting. 

Check out this episode of the History's Trainwrecks Podcast. 


Michaelis, David. “Eleanor.” Simon & Schuster, 2020.

No Writer Attributed. “Tractors for Castro.” The Harvard Crimson, 1961. Retrieved September 8, 2020 from

SMITH, THOMAS G. “Negotiating with Fidel Castro: The Bay of Pigs Prisoners and a Lost Opportunity.” Diplomatic History, vol. 19, no. 1, 1995, pp. 59–86. JSTOR, Accessed 8 Sept. 2021.

“The Bay of Pigs.” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Podcast Episode 22 - Teddy Roosevelt's Third Term, Part IX


Former President Theodore Roosevelt was in a weird mood.

He had come in second in the presidential election of 1912, which meant he had nothing to do on March 4th of the following year while Woodrow Wilson was being sworn in.

So he went to an art exhibition.

This is probably a good time to mention that he was mostly blind in one eye.

As had become his practice after, shall we say, NOT winning a presidential election, Teddy left the country. He didn’t trust himself to stay quiet while Woodrow Wilson did things he didn’t approve of: removing African-Americans from the federal bureaucracy, passing a pro-business tariff, and developing an isolationist and pacifist foreign policy.

He warned his cousin Franklin to keep the fleet together in case of the war he could see coming, and then went to South America.

Like his African trip in 1909, Teddy’s journey to South America had a number of items on the agenda: scientific study of flora and fauna, the usual slaughter of native beasts for sport, and a way for him to make some money. He told his wife that he “expected to clear $20,000 over the next six months.”

And, like his African trip, Teddy was putting himself firmly in harm’s way. It’s not inconceivable that somewhere in his subconscious was the notion that he might end his life, which now seemed without purpose, in the midst of the kind of action that made him feel most alive.

Theodore Roosevelt did not think he should die in his sleep.

He nearly got his wish on this post-election trip south of the equator.

Check out the episode to find out what happens to Teddy while on the River of Doubt. 


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

Morris, Edmund. “Theodore Rex.” Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Roosevelt, Theodore. “Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt.”

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Podcast Episode 21 - Stubborn Nags of Ancient Rome, Part III

It's 81 BC, and ancient Rome is under the control of the drunken bloodthirsty dictatorship of Cornelius Sulla. 

There were three things you could do - be on Sulla's side and live, oppose him and get exiled, or oppose him and get your head stuck on a pike in the Forum. 

Cato the Younger, fourteen years old, was taken under Sulla's wing for a front-row seat to the bloodbath. 

Rome's problems didn't end when the dictator drank himself to death. 

Spartacus, a former slave and legionnaire, raised a huge rebel army in the city's back yard, the renegade general Sertorius had essentially taken over Spain, and annoying old Mithridates was taking a third swing at the Roman pinata. 

Cato the Younger found plenty of opportunity for career advancement in these tense times. 

But so did Julius Caesar. The two of them were now on a collision course. 

Take a listen to this episode of the History's Trainwrecks Podcast:

For more stories like this check out The History’s Trainwrecks Podcast at the links below:
Beard, Mary. “SPQR.” Profile Books, 2015.

Duncan, Mike. “The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic.” Public Affairs, 2017.

Goodman, Rob and Soni, Jimmy. “Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar.” St. Martin’s Press, 2012.

Wikipedia, “Cato the Elder.” Retrieved September 14, 2021 from

Wikipedia, “Gaius Marius.” Retrieved September 14, 2021 from

Wikipedia, “Stoicism.” Retrieved November 4, 2021 from

Wikipedia, “Sulla.” Retrieved September 14, 2021 from