Heather Cox Richardson. I’m listening to her history of Reconstruction. Her talk on December 18 2020 picks up on Congressional Reconstruction. After Lincoln was assassinated, there was a long hiatus until Congress reconvened, and in that time President Johnson (a Southern democrat) tried to tie everything up so that the South could come back to Congress as if nothing that happened. And, they pretty much got away with it.
Nothing on TV is Robyn Annear’s homegrown podcast drawing on the newspaper resources of Trove. In the episode The Suburban Ghost she regales us with reports from all over Melbourne of a ghost, sometimes described as ‘Spring-Heeled Jack’ who would jump out of bushes, pull back his cape to reveal his phosphorescent chest, thereby terrifying a friend-of-a-friend who passed on the story (as all good urban legends do). The reference to ‘Spring-Heeled Jack’ sends Robyn back to the British newspapers and an earlier history of such ghostly appearances.
The Daily (NY Times) I was impressed with the New York Times podcast about the riot at the Capitol, and so I’ve added it to my favourites. What Kind of Message Is That? is a rather depressing podcast about how Trump-supporting Republicans think about the riot. Biden might be President but there are millions of these people believing genuinely that the election was stolen, citing dogs or dead people who voted (whose existence has never been proven). I do ask myself though: if I were in a country where an election was stolen (and heaven knows there are enough of them), what would I do? Hopefully, though, I’d be acting on evidence instead of hearsay.
ABC Fictions. I heard about this particular episode before Christmas, but I hadn’t got round to listening to it. Paul Daley and Van Badham, who often write for the Guardian Australia pick up on Paul Kelly’s song How To Make Gravy and write a short story from the point of view of one of the characters in the song. Paul Daley’s story is told from the point of view of Dan, and Van’s story is from the angry sister Mary. Have a listen to the song, then to the podcast How to Make Gravy: a tribute to the Australian classic
The Documentary (BBC). I am opposed to capital punishment. Full stop. I was appalled by Trump’s orgy of executions carried out in the last weeks of his tenure. Lisa Montgomery: The road to execution tells the story of the woman who was one of those executed prisoners, the first woman executed in seventy years. She committed a hideous crime – almost beyond words – but no one (including me) wanted her set free. What a terrible life. What a terrible outcome.
The Latin American History Podcast. The Conquest of Mexico Episode 3 starts with a consideration of the various sources for our knowledge of the conquest. Most, but not all, Spanish sources generally portray the conquest rather benignly (although one Spanish source was so graphic in its depictions of violence that it was banned). The conquistadors themselves had their own agendas. Then there are the Aztec codices, drawn by Aztec men who were there (albeit somewhat after the conquest) – what an amazing resource. He then goes on to describe Cortez’ first battles with the Maya, drawing a distinction between a leader and a commander, and the procurement of Malinche who was to play such an important and controversial role.