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Archive for the 'your emails' Category

26 April

Book Recommendations


I received an email from listener Stephen lately. He is looking for book recommendations on the topic of Kent State Shootings. While I don’t have any recommendations for that specific topic I do have some of my favorite US history books that I thought I would share in this post. If you have a recommendation for Stephen please put it in the comments below, both Stephen and I would appreciate it!

When I am looking for good history books on a subject, I usually look to my local library. Stephen can’t do this as easily as he mentions in his email, he is in the UK and finds it difficult to find US history books. I would try and look at the star ratings and reviews, but even better than that try out I’m on that site every day. There readers just like you are reading, rating and reviewing thousands of books every minute of the day. It is a great site to discover new books. There are many different books groups on the site. One I found today is called “The History Book Club”.  It has over a thousand members and is very active. You can join the group for free.

As for my favorite US history books in general, my all time favorite is A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn who sadly passed away this year.

Another great book, that discusses history as well as the difficult of even American’s getting a good education in history is called Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James Lowen.

These two books will form a very good basic knowledge of American history. These are my two favorite and I will continue to do book reviews on the website as I have time.

15 February

Akhenaten – the Heretic Pharaoh


Below is a guest article written by Fiona Skepper.  I have added links and images where I thought appropriate.  Those are the only changes from the original, which Fiona emailed to me.  You will see the phonetic spelling of names in the article.  Fiona put those in there to help me if I podcast about this.  I left them in because I thought all the readers could also benefit from being able to pronounce these names.  If you would like to send in a guest article just email me.  Thank you very much for this great article Fiona.  I did not know anything about Akhenaten before reading this well written account.

(please note that different publications spell the names of Akhenaten, Aten, Tutankhamen and Amen differently, I have elected to use this spelling).


Labelled a heretic king, megalomaniac, and religious zealot, Akhenaten (ah-kuh-NAT-n) (the predecessor of Tutankhamen (too-tang-KAH-mun)) is one of the most unusual and interesting of Egypt’s many Pharaohs. He turned thousand year traditions and beliefs upside down, and if it had been up to the Ancient Egyptians he would have been lost to history forever.

Akhenaten began his reign during the New Kingdom period of Egypt, in the 18th dynasty, as Amenhotep IV (Ah-mun- ho-tep) (meaning Amen is Satisfied) after the death of his father Amenhotep III, a pharaoh who was famous for his diplomacy and helped to lead Egypt to the Zenith of it’s wealth and power. Egypt was going through a golden age. Suggested dates for Akhenaten’s reign are from around 1353 BC, 1351 BC to- around 1336, 1334 BC, a period of 17 years.

Nefertiti (Nofretete in Berlin)

The young Amenhotep IV’s Queen was Nefertiti, (whose name means “the beautiful one has come”,) her image is world famous after her blue crowned head bust was uncovered near Amarna, and is now on display in the Altes museum in Berlin.

Around the 3rd year of his reign Amenhotep IV went through a religious conversion, turning away from the traditional major gods and deciding to worship the Sun itself Aten (Ah-tun). Until Akhenaten’s time, Aten had been a minor deity, the main focus was on Amen (Ah-mun) or Amen-Ra, the sun god. At the temple complex of Karnak near Thebes (modern day Luxor), a powerful Amen priesthood had developed, which had already challenged the power of Akhenaten’s father.

In the fifth year of his reign Akhenaten realised that he needed to get away from the corrupting power of the priests of Amen, so he moved the entire nation’s capital miles away to an uninhabited valley on the east side of the Nile surrounded by high cliffs, creating the city of Akhetaten (‘Horizon of Aten’), an area known today as Amarna.  You can imagine the upheaval in the lives of the ancient Egyptians, moving the heart of the Empire from its centuries old home. At the same time he officially changed his name from Amenhotep to Akhenaten (‘Effective Spirit of Aten’).

Amarna was built remarkably quickly. Today, none of the city is left standing; however archaeologists have developed a picture of the brief Capital which included formal planned gardens, buildings decorated by scenes of nature, and most importantly temples dedicated to Aten which were built open to the sun so the blessing would descend.

Akhenaten even chose a new place for the future burials of Egyptian pharaohs, in the Royal Wadi in Amarna, although his tomb ended up being the only to be built there. Akhenaten’s mummy however has not officially been found (although different archaeologists have claimed different mummies as his), and it was probably moved to the Valley of the Kings.

Akhenaten also broke with tradition in his treatment of his Queen Nefertiti. In some decorations she displayed in Pharaonic heraldry, and as the same size as Akhenaten. Nefertiti has also been shown as a ‘warrior King’ smiting Egypt’s enemies with a scimitar. A Royal consort has never before been shown in such a way and these depictions support the theory that Nefertiti was treated as a co-ruler. Together Akhenaten and Nefertiti had six daughters, whose images are displayed in the reliefs. Egyptian Royal art differed in other ways as well during the Akhanaten period, Akhenaten is often depicted with his family in domestic situations displaying affection, and nature is glorified in his art with scenes depicting animals and vegetation.

It is believed Tutankhamen (or at the time Tutankaten) was Akhenaten’s son from another wife, although it is not certain.

At first Akhenaten had portrayed Aten as the Chief God and master of Amen, and ordered a magnificent Temple to be built at Karnak / Thebes, close to the old temple of Amen. However, by the ninth year of his reign Akhenaten attempted to introduce the radical (at the time) concept of monotheism, belief in only one god – Aten, and there were no intermediary between the God and the people by Akhenaten himself. In his final years, Nefertiti’s name disappears from all records (it is assumed she died) and it corresponds with Akehenaten’s behaviour turning darker. The Pharaoh closed temples to all the other gods, and ordered the defacing of Amen’s temples throughout Egypt. There were to be no idols except for the rayed solar disc representing Aten. Messages were sent from the corners of the Empire, begging for help warning that foreign invaders were attacking. A Century earlier the great pharaoh Tutmose III (Thut- MOE-se) had won great military victories and pushed Egypt’s borders almost to southern Turkey. Historians have argued Akhenaten became something of a religious fanatic, and appeared to shut himself up in Amarna, obsessed by his new religion and ignored matters of state, and Egypt’s boarders were slowly reduced. The Hittites and Nubians took over lands previously belonging to Egypt. The country ceased to prosper. However, some historians have pointed to a cache of diplomatic documents found at Amarna known at the Amarna Letters which show he was aware of the situation and acting accordingly, (if not that successfully).

Besides foreign enemies, Egypt suffered a serious outbreak of plague, which came through Egypt and spread throughout the Middle East during the Amarna period. To the people this plague could have been evidence that the gods had turned against Akhenaten and his new religion.

After his death Akhaneten may have been succeed briefly by a figure named Smenkhare, who may have also acted as co-ruler in the last few years of Akahanten’s rule, but the records are unclear. However, the young Tutankhaten (his name meaning the living image of Aten) soon took over, changed his name to Tutankhamen (the living image of Amen), and moved the capital back to Thebes and to the old worship of Amen, and the old ways of art, building, religion and politics. Tutankhamen’s successors destroyed Akenheton’s art and buildings, using the blocks for other projects.. Akhenaten’s name was removed for the official lists of Pharaohs as well as those of his immediate successors, in an attempt to wipe from history all traces of the worship of Aten and Pharaohs associated with it. It was not until the nineteenth century that Akhenaten’s identity was rediscovered.

There have been many theories about Akhenaten’s radical monotheism, including an attempt to find a connection between early Judaism.

Freud wrote a book named Moses and Monotheism arguing that Moses had been an Aten priest who was forced to leave Egypt after Akhenaten’s death.

Another theory is Akhenaten is the model for the Greek story of Oedipus.

Whatever the truth about Akhenaten’s beliefs, they were disturbing enough to the Egyptians that they attempted to obliterate them from history, and the concept of monotheism was to slowly spread and come to dominate the World’s great religions.


The Life & Times of Rameses the Great

Nefertiti and Cleopatra: Queen-Monarchs of Ancient Egypt

The Life and Times of Akhnaton: Pharaoh of Egypt (1922)

09 February

The Congress of Vienna


This is a request from Colin F. way back in October 2005. Colin asked, “…I was wondering if you had done anything on the Vienna Conference of 1815…”. So here you go Colin. First, see the timeline below, which will hopefully help you align all the events.

The congress was held to agree on a plan for Europe politically and territorially. This was done to prevent any one group from obtaining too much power, or what you could today call a monopoly. This group of people had a very altruistic attitude. The leader of the talks was an Austrian named Metternich. Their goal was to create a balance of power in order to prevent widespread conflict in the future.

The conference worked, because even though they were all there for themselves and were greedy, they were forced to concede and come to a compromise by the other members of the congress, no one person willing to give up too much. For Example, Alexander I of Russia wanted all of Poland and Prussia wanted Saxony, but Russia had to share Poland with Austria and Prussia. Only half of Saxony went to Prussia and some smaller parts of the Rhineland.

After much deliberation they came to a final settlement. In the end, the conference helped Europe has a whole, while creating a balance of power. It was the first group of international members gathered to discuss and handle European affairs. In doing so, they protected themselves from being overthrown when one member became too powerful.

Text source:

The below is the best video I could find on the Internet.  The speaker goes over everything really well.  Some of the commenters were kind of mean so if you have time give her some props she deserves it!

Learn more with these books:

The Congress of Vienna: A Study in Allied Unity: 1812-1822 Vienna, 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna: A Study in Allied Unity: 1812-1822 Vienna, 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna
28 January

Broken Arrow


Found this definition on Wikipedia:

Broken Arrow refers to an accidental event that involves nuclear weapons, warheads or components, but which does not create the risk of nuclear war. These include:

  • Accidental or unexplained nuclear detonation.
  • Non-nuclear detonation or burning of a nuclear weapon.
  • Radioactive contamination.
  • Loss in transit of nuclear asset with or without its carrying vehicle.
  • Jettisoning of a nuclear weapon or nuclear component.
  • Public hazard, actual or implied.

I received this email from Frank yesterday:


I recently listened to your podcast about the only atomic bomb dropped on the US.  We had a hydrogen bomb dropped on Albuquerque in the 50’s near the runway of the airport.  What I’ve been told is that the hight explosives went off and spread radioactive material around the site, and it created a large crater.  There was a cleanup, and the crater was filled in with cement.  Supposedly it is still there today and there is a fence around it.



Hi Frank,

Thanks for writing and for listening to the podcast.  I’m glad it is still getting listens.  I wish I had more time to record new podcasts.  Anyway, I remember when I was researching for this podcast.  Right after I published it I found more information online.  More information about additional bombs dropped in the US.  Can’t find that website now, but I did find this list [warning pop-up advertisements at this site]:

Read more…

16 February

Thanks Neil!

have just found your podcast and site. Enjoying the 3 I have heard so far – Rosa Luxemburg, Bobby Kennedy and Dien Bien Phu.  I’m a History teacher in the Uk and have recommended it to my students too.
Keep it up.


have just found your podcast and site. Enjoying the 3 I have heard so far – Rosa Luxemburg, Bobby Kennedy and Dien Bien Phu.  I’m a History teacher in the Uk and have recommended it to my students too.

Keep it up.


23 November

Your Emails [From Spain]


I’m new to your podcast and just wanted to say I’m really enjoying it a lot.
Congratulations for such a smart and interesting podcast.
Israel E.

Thanks Israel.  Great to know you are listening all the way from Spain!

16 October

Forward Thinking Professor


This morning I received an email from a David, a professor from Minnesota asking for my permission to use this podcast in his class.  I think this is great and I hope that his students can take something away from the podcast.  Once I got home from the office I was able to spend a little more time with the email and noticed that he is on Twitter.  David also has a great podcast, I know because I listened to a couple episodes and I will be subscribing as well.  I am very impressed to see a professor embracing social media so much.  I really think that his students will benefit from it.  Great work David!

14 October



This week I received the following email from Howard B. I wanted to share it and my response to everyone:

I know this will come across as a whiners post … nevertheless I felt I had to write it.
I listen to podcasts every day in my one hour trip by car to work and back. Most science, history and music. I discovered your podcast last month and downloaded about 20 of them, looking forward to it.
This week I abandoned them after tasting about 10 of them, erased them and unsubscribed. Why ? I KNOW it is an amateur effort and I DO appreciate your work and the lack of resources. However I could not suffer any more listening to the poor readings kills being recorded as a podcast. Scripts being read aloud with, sadly, poor and stuttering reading skills and little effort to inject variation in the reading tone. I thought it would improve when I moved on to recent scripts. But it doesn’t and it is just too difficult to listen to. It’s a great project but basic skills are letting it down hugely.
I wish you all the best.

To Howard I say thank you.  Thanks for leaving.  I was taught if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t.  But thats me, I know a lot of Internet people feel the need to share their opinions on everything and I don’t expect everyone to like my little podcast.  I’m not doing it for everyone.  I’m doing it because I want to.  If you want to listen great, go ahead.  If you don’t like it unsubscribe like our friend Howard here.  But here is something to chew on.  People are actually listening to this podcast.  A lot of people actually.


Looking at the above chart from my Libsyn statistics you can see that on average 1,000+people download the history podcast episodes daily.


The website is doing okay, with about 70 visits per day.  I am interested in what you 70 or so folks think about this post.  And I would like to ask you all a question.  What do you think would make this website more valuable to you?  In other words, what do you want to see on this site?

10 September

The Show (What’s Going On?)


Well, some of you may have noticed that my last post to the website was months ago.  Even more have noticed that I haven’t published a podcast in over 9 months.  Listener David B. noticed and sent me this email.

I have been listening to your History Podcast broadcasts for a few weeks, and I have greatly enjoyed your programs. I have noticed that there have been no new podcasts since February, 2009. I was wondering what has happened to the show, plus put in my vote to for its return to the air. Thanks for your hard work on the show!

David, thanks for the email!  You were one of very few to email me.  You are also one of very few who enjoy the podcast according to the iTunes rating in the iTunes store.  Everytime I read those reviews I’m discouraged from doing anymore podcasting.  I never thought I would be a contender for the Podcast Awards, but geez those folks on iTunes are just plain mean!  However, the real reason is with my daughters arrival almost a year ago, I have had very little time for anything related to a hobby.  And since that is all History Podcast is, it is the first thing in my life to be dropped.

I have not deleted the old podcast episodes and all of them are still available to download via iTunes or this website.  I want to continue to podcast, but until I get more time or suddenly require less sleep, it is not going to happen.  So David and anyone else who actually reads this, hang in there. There maybe more coming…

In the meantime, I will continue to try to post on this website as often as I can.  I look forward to reading your comments and emails.


Image courtesy of: sonnyandsandy

30 June

Six Wives of King Henry III Corrections


I received this email from Laura R. last week:

I feel I must point out some critical mistakes in your video podcast chronicling the six wives of Henry VIII. Firstly, please note that the picture you displayed on the slide about Anne Boleyn’s coronation is NOT of Anne Boleyn, but her daughter, Elizabeth I, at the time of hercoronation. Also, when you mentioned the reasons for Anne’s emprisonment and execution, you failed to mention that these were almost certainly falsehoods concocted by Henry’s advisors as a way to “get rid” of Anne, as she never managed to provide a living male heir. These inaccuracies place Anne in a bad light similar to that of The Other Boleyn Girl, which is a work of fiction, not fact.  This information can be found in the excellent The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. Thank you very much for your time.
Laura R., 15

Thanks for keeping me honest Laura!