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In this episode we look at the sinking of the Lusitania, a British passenger liner that was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915, killing over a thousand people, including 128 Americans, and helping move the then neutral United States toward joining the Allied powers. Sources for this episode are: "Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy" by Diana Preston https://ww…
 
In this episode we look at one of the most famous shipwrecks in world history: The sinking of the Titanic. An event layered in myth, melodrama and sentimentality, it captured the attention of the world and led to vast changes in international shipping. However, the event is much more political, more troubling and more relevant to today than it is o…
 
In this episode we look at the mystery of the Mary Celeste, a merchant ship that in 1872 was found having been abandoned for over a week floating in the Atlantic ocean, all who had been aboard it missing for no reason that anyone could discover, the ship still in good working order. We'll look at the history of the ship both before and after this i…
 
In this episode we look at the wreck of the Essex, a whaling ship out of Nantucket that in 1820 was attacked by a giant sperm whale in the Pacific and sunk, leaving its 20 man crew drifting on three whaleboats thousands of miles from land. The journey they took is a terrifying story of the limits of human survival, and became an inspiration for Her…
 
In this episode, the first of a six part series on the history of shipwrecks, we look at one of the most famous shipwrecks of the 19th century. In 1816 a French frigate called the Medusa, through the poor leadership of its captain, struck a sandbank in route the Senegal. Without enough lifeboats, 147 passengers were put on a makeshift raft that was…
 
In this episode, the first in an occasional series on the executions and executioners, we look at the issue of botched executions, instances when the normal procedure of a state execution goes tragically, sometimes gruesomely wrong. Through this we look through a brief history of executions, from beheadings to modern lethal injections. Sources for …
 
Today's On Mission Monday features Pastor CeCee sharing one of the biggest benefits of Christian Community. Listen now to be reminded of God's gift of faith of others. Music: On My Way by Kevin MacLeod Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4163-on-my-way License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license…
 
In the final entry for our series on unsolved serial killer cases, we look at the Zodiac Killer, who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area with a string of killings from 1968-69 and then for years after with disturbing letters sent to the local press. Our primary sources for this episode were: "Zodiac" by Robert Graysmith www.zodiackiller.com http:…
 
In the second part of our look at unsolved serial killings, we head back to the Great Depression to look at the Cleveland Torso Murders, a series of twelve murders committed by a man who left dismembered bodies all over the city. We'll look at how the killings strained the city government terrified the populace and led local law enforcement to dead…
 
In this episode we start a new three part series about unsolved serial killings. We begin with one of the most famous unsolved crimes in the Western world, the Jack the Ripper killings. Beginning in August of 1888, the murders would go on to become one of the first serial killer cases to cause a media frenzy, one that would terrify and obsess peopl…
 
In the conclusion of our series on the deaths of tyrants, we look at one of the strangest and most fascinating figures of the last century, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled Libya from 1969 when he lead a coup that overthrew the country's monarchy, to his death in 2011 as his country descended into civil war. Our primary sources for this episode were…
 
In our new Christmas Eve tradition, I present a reading of ghost story, this one from Canadian novelist Robertson Davies, entitled "Revelation From a Smoky Fire." You can find it in his collection "High Spirits," which collects the stories he wrote to read at the annual Christmas celebrations for Massey College at the University of Toronto.…
 
In our second episode in our series about the deaths of tyrants, we look at the death of Joseph Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union after consolidating power following the death of Lenin and was soon one of the most powerful and influential men on earth. In this episode we look at his last moments, the live of his family and associates, and how his …
 
In this new series of three episodes, we look at the lives and deaths of tyrants, starting here with the life of the Emperor Nero, the last member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a man who's name has become synonymous with despotism. I'll be looking at how the popular perception of Nero brushes over the complexity of his character, and I'll be lo…
 
In the final episode on our series about deaths that changed history, we look at the life of 35th President of the United States John F. Kennedy. In office for only 1,036 days before his assassination on November 22nd, 1963, he oversaw some of the most momentous events in 20th century US history. We look at his life, career, and how his death might…
 
Continuing our series on deaths that changed history, we look at the death of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism and one of the most fascinating religious figures in American history. We'll follow his life from a New England that swarmed with tent revivals and utopian preachers to persecution in Missouri, the rise of the church for a small hand…
 
We now begin a new series about deaths that changed history by happening when they did, and look at lives that could have changed history had they gone on just a little longer. In this first episode, I'll be telling the story of Julian the Apostate, the last non-Christian ruler of Rome, and a man who seemed determined to push back the tide of Chris…
 
In the last part of our series on deaths stemming from mass hysteria, we look at the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, a violent riot that led to the systematic destruction to one of the only wealthy black communities in the country by a mob of angry white people. With a death toll likely close to 300 and the better part of 35 square blocks of a neighborhood ra…
 
In this episode we look at the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903, two days of looting, rape and murder directed at the Jewish community of an agricultural city in the western part of the Russian empire. The carnage of the even shocked the world and led to an outpouring of support for the victims, but also caused darker and more sinister ripples through world…
 
In this first part of a three part series about deaths caused in mass hysteria, I look at the most famous act of mass panic in American history, the Salem Witch Trials. Lasting through most of 1692 and into 1693 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the trials were set off when two young girls, the daughter and niece of a minister, began throwing fits a…
 
In this episode I look at works of art created when famous artists attempted to paint after the death of a spouse. First we look at Rembrandt, whose wife Saskia died of tuberculosis in 1647 at the height of his career, which then went into a humiliating downslide from which he never recovered. Then we look at Claude Monet, who's wife Camille died i…
 
In this episode I look at the panic over premature burial that inflamed Western culture from the mid-1700s all through the 19th century. We'll look at the waiting mortuaries of the German states, where bodies were sent to wait until putrification set in just in case the revived, the creation of "security coffins" to protect against being buried ali…
 
In the second of our two-part series looking at people who profited from bodies, I look at the life of Herman Webster Mudgett, aka H.H. Holmes, a swindler, bigamist, quack doctor and murderer who operated mostly around Chicago in the 1880s and 90s. In this episode we look both at the legend of H.H. Holmes and the actual life of H.H. Holmes and find…
 
In the next two episode I look at stories of people who made profit off of corpses. We start here with the story of Burke & Hare, a pair of Irish emigres to Scotland who in 1828 began a string of 16 murders, all done for the purpose of selling the corpses to a local anatomy lecturer. We'll look at two men's history and the social and economic force…
 
In the second and final part of our series about death revealing secrets, we look at the murder of Bob Crane, who in the 1960s was a popular sitcom star, but by 1978 was working the dinner theater circuit while going through his second divorce. When he was found bludgeoned to death in an Arizona apartment, it opened to the public a world of sexual …
 
In the next two episodes, I look at stories about deaths that revealed secrets. In this episode we'll look at the story of Chung Ling Soo, billed as the "Marvelous Chinese Conjurer," one of the most famous magicians in the world at the beginning of the 20th century. I'll also look at his origins as a white American named William Robinson, and how h…
 
In this episode I look at two paintings that depict murders and executions, both born of moments of revolution. The first is Jaques-Louis David's "The Death of Marat." The second is Francisco Goya's "Third of May, 1808." I'll be looking at the history of these paintings, the men who painted them and the people and moments they depict. Sources for t…
 
In this episode I'll be looking at our relationship with animal life, and different ways the deaths of animals have affected our history and culture. We'll be looking at a macabre massacre of stray cats at an 18th century Paris print shop, the execution of an elephant, and the first animals to cross the bounds into outer space. Our primary sources …
 
In this episode, the conclusion of our three-part series on deaths that led to social change, I look at the 1966 clocktower shooting at the University of Texas in Austin, and the life of its perpetrator, Charles Whitman. One of the earliest mass shootings in America, it introduced a new kind of violence into American life. Music in this episode is …
 
In the second part of our three-part episode on deaths that caused larger social changes, I look at the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese, and how the cultural fallout from the case led to new areas of psychological research and eventually the creation of the 911 system. But among the myths and political ramifications of the murder we find more than on…
 
In the next three episodes I'll be exploring deaths that led to larger social changes. Here in part one I take a look at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and how it became the catalyst for a major reform movement in worker's rights and building safety, but also how the path to those changes wasn't easy, or guaranteed. Our primary source for thi…
 
In this introductory episode I examine three stories: Phineas Gage, Pam Reynolds and Terri Schiavo. I'll be exploring the borderlands between life and death, looking at what actually makes us alive and how as a society we parse out the fine line between living and merely being alive. Music in this episode is courtesy of musopen.org. Please support …
 
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