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Listening to America

Listening to America

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Listening to America aims to “light out for the territories,” traveling less visited byways and taking time to see this immense, extraordinary country with fresh eyes while listening to the many voices of America’s past, present, and future. Led by noted historian and humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson, Listening to America travels the country’s less visited byways, from national parks and forests to historic sites to countless under-recognized rural and urban places. Through this exploration ...
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Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander of Norfolk State University in Virginia joins Clay Jenkinson to discuss unresolved race issues in the United States. Dr. Newby-Alexander is the author of an important book, Virginia Waterways and the Underground Railroad. During the 18th and 19th centuries more than 100,000 enslaved people found their way to freedom in…
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Richard Rhodes, noted historian and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Making of the Atomic Bomb, returns to Listening to America for another discussion reflecting on America as it approaches its 250th birthday. In this poignant conversation, Mr. Rhodes and Clay discuss gun violence in America. Are humans inherently violent? What is the …
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Clay interviews the eminent historian Richard Slotkin about America as it approaches its 250th birthday. Richard Slotkin is an emeritus professor of history at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He is the author of many books, including two groundbreaking studies of violence on the American frontier. His latest book, A Great Disorder: National Myt…
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Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky about the penman of the U.S. Constitution, Gouverneur Morris of New York. Morris and Thomas Jefferson knew each other in France but couldn’t really get along. Morris was Alexander Hamilton’s best friend and after the 1804 duel that ended Hamilton’s life, Morris agreed to look a…
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Guest host David Horton of Radford University and Clay Jenkinson discuss the origins and varieties of satire. With its roots in the ancient world and particularly Rome, satire exists in two broad categories: genial, bemused satire, identified with the Roman poet Horace; and biting, severe, take-no-prisoners satire best represented by another Roman …
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Guest Host David Horton of Radford University in Virginia asks Clay for a progress report on his adventure retracing John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” journey. Clay was in Middlebury, Vermont, at the time of the interview, still aglow from his interview with Steinbeck biographer Jay Parini of Middlebury College. Topics include the clunky joys…
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Guest host Russ Eagle and Clay Jenkinson talk about Listening to America’s “Travels with Charley” journey so far. At the time of this conversation, Clay was beginning his third week on the road, recording from Bar Harbor, Maine, just outside Acadia National Park. They discuss Clay’s visit to Sag Harbor, Steinbeck’s home out on the tip of Long Islan…
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Clay Jenkinson interviews Pulitzer Prize winning historian Richard Rhodes, the author of 23 books including The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Topics include Rhodes' path to one of the most productive and acclaimed writing careers in recent American history; the strengths and weaknesses of Christopher Nolan's film Oppenheimer; the time Edward Teller ab…
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Clay Jenkinson and special guest host Russ Eagle discuss the first days of Listening to America’s Travels with Charley Tour. Clay reports from a campground near Cedar Rapids, Iowa en route to Sag Harbor out on the end of Long Island, New York, to touch base with Steinbeck’s starting point for his 1960 journey through America. Clay recounts his wres…
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Clay Jenkinson interviews political cartoonist Phil Hands about the importance of cartoons in American history. Hands is the house cartoonist for the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, Wisconsin, syndicated for a range of newspapers around the United States. We gave much of our attention to political cartoons about Thomas Jefferson, including one …
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Guest host David Horton of Radford University discusses America’s trees and forests with Third President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson said, “No sprig of grass grows uninteresting to me.” He told his friend Margaret Bayard Smith that any unnecessary cutting down of a tree should be regarded as silvicide, the murder of a majestic living thing. Jeffers…
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Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky about the doctrine of nullification. That’s when a state refuses to accept the legitimacy of a federal law. Nullification is nowhere enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, but through the course of American history a number of nullification crises have arisen. When the Adams admin…
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Clay Jenkinson joins his friend Dennis McKenna in Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico to observe the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. Chaco Canyon dates to at least the ninth century CE, more than a thousand years ago, and somehow their skywatchers know how to observe equinoxes, solstices, and eclipses. What better place to see the solar eclipse…
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In this special edition program, Listening to America records in front of a live audience at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma. Clay Jenkinson and Professor of Political Science Dr. Aaron Mason focus their conversation on Thomas Jefferson and his influence on the American West. Dr. Mason is also co-executive director of the N…
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Listen in on Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with media consultants Luke Peterson and Riki Conrey of Washington, DC. Luke distributed a survey based on our questions about America at 250 and 2,700 people responded. Some survey results are discussed, but also the question of how exactly does Clay or anyone else go out to listen to America? How do you …
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Clay Jenkinson’s interview with the distinguished Dutch journalist Geert Mak, the author of In Europe, and also In America: Travels with John Steinbeck. In 2010 Geert Mak and his wife retraced the entire Steinbeck journey in a rented Jeep. After he returned to the Netherlands, Mak wrote a 550-page account of his travels. Though Steinbeck isn’t the …
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Clay Jenkinson and regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky talk about the ways in which the Constitution of the United States is impeding and even preventing good government, with a particular focus on the coming election of 2024. Topics include the need for a uniform national election procedures act; the many problems of the Electoral College; and th…
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Clay Jenkinson is joined by regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky to discuss the extraordinary correspondence between former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Between 1812 and 1826, they exchanged 158 letters, thought by historians to be the finest correspondence in American history. They wrote about their political visions and disagreemen…
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Clay Jenkinson interviews Dr. Henry Brady of the University of California at Berkeley about loss of respect for sixteen American institutions, some public, and some private: the police, the church, the Supreme Court, Higher Education, the FBI, the presidency, and, of course Congress. How did we lose faith? Has there been moral and ethical slippage …
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Guest host David Horton of Virginia leads a discussion with Clay Jenkinson about the difference between Constitutional requirements and what are called presidential norms. George Washington, for example, did not shake hands with the American people. He held formal levees once a week. Jefferson regarded those as monarchical habits and he performed a…
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Clay Jenkinson and guest host David Horton discuss the history of executive orders. Even though they are not authorized by the U.S. Constitution, every president except William Henry Harrison has issued at least one. David and Clay review the most important executive orders in American history: the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863; the Japanese in…
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Clay Jenkinson is joined by regular contributor Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky for a spirited conversation about Margaret Bayard Smith, one of Thomas Jefferson’s greatest admirers. Mrs. Smith, who was 35 years younger than Jefferson, was the wife of the editor of the National Intelligencer, the first Washington, D.C. newspaper. Her letters and journals, pr…
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Clay Jenkinson is joined by regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky to talk about one of the strangest and most extraordinary people of America’s Early National Period, John Randolph of Roanoke, Virginia. Randolph was a brilliant and flamboyant man, hairless with the voice of a soprano and locked physically in a pre-pubescent state. Yet he was a brill…
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Clay is joined by Dr. Kurt Kemper of Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota, and our west coast Enlightenment correspondent David Nicandri. Both are deeply interested in American sports, both for the sport per se, but also for the window they provide on the larger dynamics of American life. This week’s topics: outsized college coach salar…
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Clay is joined by two guests, David Nicandri the West Coast Enlightenment correspondent for Listening to America and Dr. Kurt Kemper of Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota. Kemper is the author of College Football and American Culture in the Cold War Era. Kemper and Nicandri believe that larger themes in American culture find expressio…
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