Sunday, August 16, 2015

Podcast: Historian Martha Hodes on Americans' Responses to the Lincoln Assassination

I am really enjoying my venture in podcasting, which gives me a chance to have stimulating conversations about history with a variety of authors. This month I spoke to Martha Hodes of NYU about her new book Mourning Lincoln

The murder of President Abraham Lincoln, just days after the Union had triumphed in the Civil War, shocked and horrified people across America—it was, in its way, a nineteenth century 9/11. This year, 2015, marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination. Mourning Lincoln is Martha Hodes's exploration of that traumatic event. 

Martha Hodes
She has combed through the private, unfiltered writings of Americans from both North and South to learn how they reacted to news of the assassination. Their responses both reflected how much Lincoln meant to his contemporaries and revealed the profound differences that the Civil War had left unresolved. Click the arrow above to hear my conversation with Martha Hodes about her work; you can also download it at or via Soundcloud.

P.S. If you'd like to listen to my other interviews with historians, past or forthcoming, you can subscribe via RSS feed on my podcast's home page,, linked above. You can also follow me at Soundcloud. Or you can subscribe to this blog by e-mail using the link in the right-hand column here, which will bring you all my posts including announcements of new podcasts. Access via iTunes coming soon, I hope. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

One for the Books: An Independence Day Interview with Historian John Ferling

As a lover of history books, not to mention as an editor of them, I've wished for a long time that there were more conversation to be found online about all the interesting work that historians are doing. There are certainly some lively websites and blogs, and a handful of excellent podcasts, but the avid history reader is underserved compared to the fiction lover or sports fan.

I think this is slowly changing--for example, I've been happy to see a growing community of historians and history enthusiasts on Twitter. (One quick way to find the latter is search under the hashtag #Twitterstorians.) But it's still a challenge to find in-depth discussion of new work in history, especially as serious books reviews have so drastically diminished in newspapers and magazines. 

So I'm making a modest effort to expand what's available with a new podcast, One for the Books, where I'll be talking to historians about their new titles, works in progress, and sometimes other topics. As I'm posting this on Independence Day, I could think of no better person to talk to than John Ferling, who has spent a long and productive scholarly career studying the American Revolution. He has just published a superb new book titled Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It--a sweeping, and stirring, history of coming of American independence. Unlike many books on the Revolution, this one looks carefully at both the political struggle and the military one, and at how each of those influenced the other. Ferling also emphasizes--in a break from the last few decades of scholarship-- the economic factors that he believes drove the colonists toward a break from the mother country. 

Click the orange button above to hear the interview. You can also download it from SoundCloud or from Libsyn. I hope you'll enjoy this talk as much as I did and that you'll check back for future interviews; you should soon be able to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes and other sites, and I'll update this post when those feeds are active. I would welcome comments, positive or negative, about this interview, or suggestions about other authors you'd like to hear on the podcast. 

John Ferling
For more about John Ferling, or to buy Whirlwind, visit his website, which includes links to online and independent booksellers.

UPDATE- July 8, 2015: You can now find a dedicated webpage for this podcast at You can subscribe to it via an RSS feed by clicking the symbol at the top of the podcast page, or by putting this URL into your RSS reader: Soon it should also be available through iTunes and I'll update again then.

To subscribe by e-mail: if you don't have an RSS reader, but would like to be notified by e-mail of future podcast episodes, just sign up under  the "Subscribe by E-mail" link at the right. That will bring you everything that's posted here, including new interviews.