Welcome to the history class we wish we had in school. Below are 9 podcasts about American history, most with a twist. They’re not just reciting names and dates back at you, but instead providing us with history that’s been omitted from the curriculum and an analysis of how it’s all ricocheted back to us. History isn’t black and white (despite how it looks), and no one understands that better than these podcasts.
Listen to stories about defying deeply held American ideals, the Satanic Panics that gripped the country, and reports on historic events as they unfolded in real time. Hear about the scandals that rocked the nation, the forgotten history, the deliberately erased history, and so, so much more from these American history podcasts.
We all would have probably enjoyed history class more if we got to learn all of the cool, dark stuff. But then “American Shadows” wouldn’t exist, and that would be a bigger bummer. From iHeartRadio and Aaron Mahnke’s Grim & Mild, host Lauren Vogelbaum regales us with the omitted history of America.
Hear about the CIA’s decades-long experiment to create a mind control method with LSD, America’s dark turn to eugenics to rid the country of mental illness, the Golden Age of Hijackings, and the industry of stealing corpses for the sake of science.
Scandals seem to be more revealing than whatever the opposite is. Goodness? Morality? “American Scandal” looks at the corruption that infiltrated business, politics, and sports, asking how it happened, who is to blame, and how can we stop this from happening again? So far, “American Scandal” has covered the BALCO scandal, Theranos, L.A.’s water stealing scandal, Enron, the Clinton-Lewinsky Affair, and many more.
We Interrupt This Broadcast
From New York Times bestselling author Joe Garner, and based on his groundbreaking multimedia book, “We Interrupt This Broadcast,” is a new, 12-episode, audio docu-series hosted by Bill Kurtis and narrated by NBC’s Brian Williams. Each episode begins with the breaking news reports of the most memorable moments in American history. From the Hindenburg Disaster to the death of Princess Diana, the 1992 L.A. Riots and the dramatization of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion, “We Interrupt The Broadcast” records the first draft of history as it unfolded.
American History Tellers
One of the more straightforward American history podcasts on this list, “American History Tellers” has been blowing listeners away since 2017. Host Lindsay Graham (not the Senator) explores the events and the people that have shaped the nation.
Diving deep into the wars that have continued to play a part in the lives we lead today to American traitors like John Wilkes Booth, the Atomic Spies, and Aldrich Ames, and the eras we still look back upon, such as the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, get deep into American history with “American History Tellers.”
Shifting The Narrative
“Shifting the Narrative” is a 5-episode podcast series about how we’ve tried to change the dominant narrative around critical social and cultural issues. This podcast from The Opportunity Agenda looks at how groups have worked to change Americans’ views on poverty, guns and gun rights, and the death penalty. It’s a fascinating look at how campaigns have changed our social and political landscape, and what it means for other big debates.
American Elections: Wicked Game
It would have been really helpful to learn in school that every single American election has been a heated one. Words have always been vicious, and politics have never not been dirty. From the unanimous election of George Washington to the election of 2020, the words Vice President John Adams penned back in 1796 still ring true, and each election is a “wicked Game.”
Washington Post reporter Lillian Cunningham, host of the popular podcast “Presidential,” explores the Constitution and the people who framed and reframed it in “Constitutional.” By looking at the revolutionaries, abolitionists, suffragists, teetotalers, protesters, justices, and presidents who struggled to form a more perfect union, she sees how the words written in 1787 have affected a vast and diverse country.
She explores Indigenous rights, marriage rights, race, gender, justice, punishment, war, and more as it has been interpreted and impressed upon the United States.
At the heart of it all, the United States began as an experiment: “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, with liberty and justice for all.” “The Experiment” unpacks stories of historical significance and their correlated current events that are the deeply held American ideals.
Host Julia Longoria and guests explore subjects like the lost cause of the Civil War, the unwritten rules of Black TV, why America doesn’t care about its gymnasts, and so, so much more. Political overtones are kept to a minimum, and thought-provoking information seeps through these authentic, endlessly interesting conversations.
Moral panics, conspiracy theories, urban legends, and fanaticism have shaped American psychology and culture for decades. Chelsey Weber-Smith shares the strange stories that have shaped our reality or shaped non-existent realities for others. From a few Satanic Panics to alien abductions, to Elsa-gate and the fear of the “gay agenda,” “American Hysteria” goes down the rabbit hole to find out where these cultural movements came from and where they led us.