The newsletter to fuel — and thrill — your mind. Read for deep dives into the unmissable ideas and topics shaping our world.
Aug 17, 2021
Someone once said that “history repeats itself because no one was listening the first time.” Given the tumultuous events of the past few days, that sounds about right. But today we have the benefit of access to an increasingly rich and diverse assortment of history podcasts and audiobooks to tune in to, making it easier than ever to learn from the lessons of the past. Today's Daily Dose dives into unforgettable stories from the ages, shares some of our favorite history podcasts as well as the latest news from the audio world.
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Josh Lash and Sean Braswell, OZY podcast producers
pods of the week
1 - The Afghanistan Quagmire
For anyone struggling to grasp the magnitude of events in Afghanistan this week and hungry for in-depth, backgrounder analysis, the AfPak File Podcast by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Wilson Center is essential listening. With dozens of discussions on topics such as the Taliban’s march on Kabul, inter-Afghan talks and what Afghans want from the Biden administration dating back almost three years, listeners won’t want for detail. The show draws on analysis from writers, diplomats and on-the-ground voices.
2 - Echoes of Vietnam
With many observers drawing comparisons between current events in Kabul and the U.S. military’s hasty retreat from Saigon in 1975, the Guardian newspaper’s correspondent on the ground in Vietnam at the time, Martin Woollacott, recalls in intimate detail and with eloquence what happened before his own eyes during those frenetic days. A takeaway? The similarities between Kabul now and Saigon then — looting, an absence of law and order and eerily quiet streets — are uncanny.
3 - The Addicted Genius Behind Coca-Cola
The Food That Built America, a podcast from OZY and HISTORY, tells the extraordinary true stories behind some of your favorite foods and brands. You’ll hear about how industry titans like Henry Heinz, Milton Hershey and Ray Kroc revolutionized American food, transforming American life and culture along the way. The first episode details the rise of Coca-Cola, from the mind of a chemical genius (and opium addict) to the advertising prowess of a pharmacist-turned-promoter.
There are a lot of history podcasts out there but few can claim as much credibility asBackStory. This long-running podcast from Virginia Humanities is hosted by American historians who invite their most credentialed colleagues to talk about the past. No fake news or false narratives, BackStory gives a real and intricately researched account of American history. But that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. Hosts Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf and Brian Balogh expertly combine interviews, dramatic readings and archival audio for a fun and factual history lesson.
Every community deserves resources for healthy living, but in the reality of today’s world, not every community has access to them. With the first-ever Wellness Impact Award, WW is aiming to uplift community-led solutions by selecting five organizations to receive a $15,000 grant, mentorship, additional fundraising opportunities and more. These champions of wellness are tackling systemic inequities faced by marginalized communities and lifting up their neighborhoods with everything from fresh food deliveries to nutrition education that embraces culturally relevant foods. Other winners are encouraging young people to get outside and connect with the outdoors. It’s a step toward making healthy living a human right.
In the Peabody Award-winning seriesUncivil, hosts Jack Hitt and Chenjerai Kumanyika tear down the story we were told in school about America’s bloodiest war. Instead, they offer an account of the Civil War from the bottom up, focusing on the lived experiences of enslaved Americans, foot soldiers and shopkeepers. They also provide a raw account of the brutality of the Confederacy, and of efforts to rehabilitate its image in the decades since.
2 - ‘Slow Burn,’ on Scandal
Sometimes, telling history — the right way — takes time. Each season of this podcast from Slate magazine spends eight episodes taking the listener on a journey through some of America’s biggest controversies. From Watergate to David Duke to the buildup to the Iraq War,Slow Burn mixes expert production with deep research to create compelling narratives. You’ll hear from historians as well as the people who played a part in these tumultuous chapters.
3 - ‘Throughline,’ on Tomorrow’s Impact Today
NPR’s first foray into history podcasts is a powerful one.Throughline takes today’s biggest headlines and traces their context through history. Think: a detailed exploration of the fight for gay rights — before Stonewall, and a deep dive into the history of colonization in Palestine following last May’s conflict in Gaza. Hosts Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah offer listeners a way to understand the world around them by looking at the world that came before.
the stories behind the stories
1 - Bombs That Changed the World, and the People Behind Them
Can technology make war more humane? In his audiobook, The Bomber Mafia, Malcolm Gladwell weaves together the stories of the World War II aviation pioneers who believed it could. It’s a riveting tale of obsession, innovation and the moral dilemmas of war. Gladwell takes us on an immersive journey, brought to life by the voices of generals, the sound of aircrafts and the booming of bombs. Get The Bomber Mafia audiobook at www.bombermafia.com today and receive an exclusive Bomber Mafia Listener’s Guide — a visual document of the making of The Bomber Mafia.
2 - The Doctor Behind an Erratic Dictator
Did you know how Adolf Hitler’s quack doctor changed the course of World War II? When the Nazis were losing ground in 1944, Hitler remained upbeat — but not because of a secret plan up his sleeve. No, it was because of a cocktail of methamphetamines, opioids and other drugs he’d become increasingly dependent on since a bout of chronic flatulence. For this and more crazy stories that the history books never told you, try Flashback, a podcast all about the unintended consequences of history.
Pride Month may be over — but we can (and should) celebrate LGBTQ+ rights all year by honoring the work of activists throughout history. The ACT UP oral archive features 187 interviews with figures involved in the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, an international political action group that’s been working to end the AIDS epidemic since 1987. You can expect to hear activists, like playwright Larry Kramer, talk about the legacy of the epidemic and their political activism, in their own words.
listen up: a podcast for the moment
Into America is a podcast about being Black in America. These stories explore what it means to hold truth to power and this country to its promises, and they are told by people who have the most at stake. On episode 118, “Black Joy in the Summertime,” Trymaine Lee explores the traditions and legacy of Black summer communities. Places like Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, Idlewild in Michigan, Bruce’s Beach in California, and Sag Harbor Hills on Long Island. He looks at how these escapes became a refuge of freedom and joy and talks to a family that has spent more than 100 years in Sag Harbor Hills about where the community stands today.
NPR, the second-largest podcast network, is introducing a subscription service for some of its most popular shows. Subscribers can access ad-free versions of shows, such as Code Switch, Fresh Air and Planet Money. Each show will have its own subscription rate of $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year, and all the money will go directly to support that show. Don’t worry, your favorite shows on NPR will still be free . . . as long as you don’t mind the ads.
2 - Black History Today, Tomorrow, Always
The Undefeated and ESPN recently launched the Black History Always podcast as part of a company-wide initiative to highlight Black stories. Host Clinton Yates will host this twice-monthly show that takes a hard look at stories at the intersection of race, sports and culture. “We’re looking to remind people that who we are as a culture is a living, breathing entity in all parts of American society,” says Yates. “It’s not just history books and social media.” This podcast is part of ESPN’s commitment to include Black history programming all year round, not just during Black History Month.
3 - Can You Hear the Emotional Well-Being?
Audible just inked a large production deal with self-help superstar Deepak Chopra. Chopra will kick off his Audible deal with an Audible Originals exclusive podcast called Deepak Chopra’s Mind Body Zone: Living Outside the Box, premiering Sept. 16. The show will consist of twelve 30-minute episodes, each with a specific theme connected to physical and emotional well-being, and will feature interviews with influencers such as Oprah Winfrey, Jon Batiste and Jenny Odell. It is the first of several projects to come from the collaboration between Chopra and Audible.
Have a favorite heist podcast that you love? Tell us about it by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.
Ever look down at your plate of food and wonder where the ingredients came from? OZY’s hit podcast franchise The Future of X is back, and this season we’re investigating The Future of Farming with our friends at Vital Farms. Each episode will take a look at the all-important field of farming, from how data will revolutionize farming to the impact of Big Agriculture. Plus, explore the possible solutions to food insecurity and climate change, such as regenerative agriculture. Ready to dig in? Binge the series now on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts!
OZY is a diverse, global and forward-looking media and entertainment company focused on “the New and the Next.” OZY creates space for fresh perspectives and offers new takes on everything from news and culture to technology, business, learning and entertainment.