History

All Things Considered
5:42 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

A Shipyard Tragedy Almost Fifty Years Ago

The USS Thresher in 1961, two years before it sank in the Atlantic.
From the collections of the Naval Historical Center. USNHC # NH 97551.

Navy officials continue to investigate the massive fire at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The blaze caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to the USS Miami nuclear submarine, which had come to Portsmouth for an overhaul.

For longtime Seacoast residents, the accident brings to mind the tragedy of the USS Thresher, a nuclear sub based in Portsmouth. Nearly a half century ago, the Thresher sank several hundred miles off the East Coast; all of its 129 crew members died.

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Word of Mouth
10:15 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Architectural Forensics

Photo Credit J.Scaper, Via Flickr Creative Commons

Smartphones make it relatively easy to record and monitor suspected law-breaking in real time, but what about crimes in the pre-smartphone era? Word of mouth producer Rebecca Lavoie tagged along with an unusual gumshoe…one who scours old buildings for evidence of architectural crimes.   

 

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The Two-Way
9:37 am
Mon June 4, 2012

U.S., Vietnam Exchange Pieces Of History: Two Soldiers' Last Writings

Vietnamese Minister of Defense Phuong Quang Thanh (right) presents the personal letters of U.S. Army Sgt. Steve Flaherty to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Jim Watson Pool/Getty Images

(NPR's Larry Abramson is among the correspondents traveling with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Asia this week. In Vietnam earlier today, the government there told Panetta it will open three new sites for excavation — in the hope of finding U.S. troops' remains.

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Word of Mouth
12:48 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

This is What Democracy Sounded Like

Monticello
(Photo by multipletrees via Flickr Creative Commons)

The words of Thomas Jefferson ring in the ears and characters of Americans, yet his actual voice remains unknown. Likewise, visitors to Monticello get a window into his daily life and genius, but can only imagine the mix of pastoral and industrious sounds of the farm operating at full tilt.

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Word of Mouth
10:37 am
Wed May 16, 2012

The “Who Done It” of Vladimir Lenin’s Death

Photo by alogou1775, via Flickr Creative Commons

A Soviet news reel shows teary mourners shuffling past the body of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.  The Bolshevik leader and chair of the soviet state in its early years died of a he died of an apparent massive stroke in 1924 at age 54. His embalmed corpse still throngs of visitors to his tomb in Moscow’s Red Square, and was the topic of an annual clinicopathological conference held at the University of Maryland.

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Word of Mouth
1:05 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

America the Amateur

Photo by brizzle born and bred, via Flickr Creative Commons

America loves amateurs. The country was founded by dilettantes and enlightened rebels. Cities, farms and businesses were seeded by adventurous greenhorns and neophytes. Writer Jack Hitt argues that the DIY spirit that generated untold number of patents and subscriptions to Popular Mechanics drives the country’s success and identity. The popular TV shows The Voice and Project Runway continue a long tradition of discovering and rewarding talent.

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Word of Mouth
10:48 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Garbology

(Photo by Stinkenroboter via Flickr Creative Commons)

You may have heard that Americans throw away more than any other nation, but any idea of just how much? Each of us is on track to toss 102 tons of garbage in our lifetime. More than 7 pounds a day, and twice what we chucked out in 1960. Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Humes believes we are living in a state of garbage denial. His new book is called Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash. In it, he looks at the science, politics, and economics of waste.  

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Books
11:04 am
Fri April 20, 2012

The St. Cuthbert Gospel: Looking Pretty Good At 1,300

The Gospel, buried with St. Cuthbert in 698, was recovered from his grave in 1104. Its beautiful red leather binding is original.
Courtesy of the British Library

How much would you pay for a very rare book?

The British Library in London has just paid about $14 million to purchase Europe's oldest intact book, known as the St. Cuthbert Gospel. It's a copy of the Gospel of St. John, thought to have been produced in northeastern England sometime during the seventh century.

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Sports
7:35 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

A Century Of Joy And Heartbreak At Fenway Park

The flag covers the Green Monster as the national anthem is played before the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays on April 16 at Fenway Park in Boston.
Elsa Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 12:09 pm

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about Fenway Park. A century after it was built, fans still gush about this "lyric little bandbox," as John Updike called it. To guys like Ed Carpenter, Fenway is history and home, magic and mystique.

"I love this place," he says, tearing up. "I mean, it's not mortar and bricks and seats."

Carpenter first started coming to Fenway with his dad in 1949, when he was 6.

"We walked up this ramp right behind this home plate," he recalls. "I can still see everything was green, emerald green. It was love at first sight."

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History
6:37 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

How America 'Struck Back': Doolittle Raid Turns 70

U.S. Navy crewmen watch a B-25 bomber take off from the USS Hornet for the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942.
AP

It's just after sunrise outside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, when 20 B-25 bombers start showing up in the western sky.

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Titanic: Voyage To The Past
12:01 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Remembering The Titanic's Intrepid Bandleader

Portraits of Wallace Hartley (top center) and the other musicians aboard the Titanic, published after the ship sank in 1912.
Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 5:17 am

This weekend marks the centennial of the Titanic disaster. One hundred years ago Saturday, the ship that, as legend had it, "God himself couldn't sink," struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic. It was about 20 minutes to midnight on April 14, 1912. Two hours and 40 minutes later, the Titanic was gone.

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Around the Nation
2:53 am
Wed April 11, 2012

Unknown No More: Identifying A Civil War Soldier

A Civil War soldier poses for a photograph, in this image contributed to the Library of Congress by Tom Liljenquist and his family.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:53 am

A Washington, D.C.-area collector and his family have donated more than 1,000 Civil War photographs to the Library of Congress. But you won't find the men in these photos in history books — they're enlisted soldiers, and most of them are unidentified.

In one striking photo, the man depicted has crazy sideburns, a steady expression, and very clear eyes — maybe gray, or perhaps blue. He holds a rifled musket at his side. He is a Union soldier in the Civil War. And the only things we know about him are what we can learn from a single photo.

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Environment
3:35 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Shake It Off: Earth's Wobble May Have Ended Ice Age

A wobbling of the Earth on its axis about 20,000 years ago may have kicked off a beginning to the end of the last ice age. Glaciers in the Arctic and Greenland began to melt, which resulted in a warming of the Earth, a new study says. Above, Greenland's Russell Glacier, seen in 1990.
Veronique Durruty Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 9:25 am

The last big ice age ended about 11,000 years ago, and not a moment too soon — it made a lot more of the world livable, at least for humans.

But exactly what caused the big thaw isn't clear, and new research suggests that a wobble in the Earth kicked off a complicated process that changed the whole planet.

Ice tells the history of the Earth's climate: Air bubbles in ice reveal what the atmosphere was like and what the temperature was. And scientists can read this ice, even if it's been buried for thousands of years.

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Latin America
3:45 am
Mon April 2, 2012

30 Years On, Argentina Still Claims Falklands

People walk past a Falklands War memorial in Ushuaia, Argentina, on Sunday. Some Argentines want Britain to give up the Falkland Islands, which Argentina tried to take over in a bloody war in 1982.
Natacha Pisarenko AP

Thirty years ago, on April 2, 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, leading to a short but bloody war with Britain. Argentina lost, and the islands in the frigid South Atlantic stayed under British control.

Argentina still claims the islands, however, and is pressuring Britain like never before.

On a recent day, the ornate Palais de Glace museum in Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, was packed with visitors browsing through a collection of photographs from the Falkland Islands war.

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Planet Money
4:56 am
Thu March 22, 2012

From Abe Lincoln To Donald Duck: History Of The Income Tax

U.S. Treasury Department/Walt Disney

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 9:02 am

The story of how the U.S. wound up with the income tax is the story of two wars, a Supreme Court justice on his death bed, and Donald Duck.

It's also the story of how the government overcame three obstacles.

Obstacle No. 1: Logistics

How do you make sure people pay?

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