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Listening to America

Governing’s humanities scholar in residence lays out four coping strategies for dealing with the troubled state of America. One of them demands something of us for the common good.
A new report from the federal government brings urgency to a veteran geologist’s longtime warnings about the crippling of the Colorado River.
The country is long on problems but short on levers that might help lift it out of a quagmire of its own making.
In the 1930s, the U.S. became adept at building world-leading infrastructure to support its growing competitive economy and social aspirations. Today, the advantage has slipped in favor of China and other players.
Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and witnessed the removal a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, VA. The events reflect on the country’s changing national identity, symbols and myths - and the cost that comes with them.
The world changed on Aug. 6. The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, triggering a hasty withdrawal and changing the world’s perception of the U.S. while causing Americans to question the state of the national soul.
Thomas Jefferson’s meaning has been up for grabs since he penned the phrase in 1776. The country has proven to be all too comfortable with the ambiguity. Depending how we answer the question, it could help redeem the reputation of the third president or leave us with a lesser Jefferson.
America has had resounding success in telling the story of its birth and rise as a nation. So too has Israel during the 20th century. Now, Palestine must do the same if it wants to succeed, says Middle East scholar Rashid Khalidi.
Political gridlock and one-term presidents, are there recognizable patterns in how the Constitution plays out as the country moves through and beyond our times?
Sandy Stosz, a self-described stubborn retired vice admiral, digests the lessons in leadership from a 40-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard.
The author of a new book on the pioneers of the civil rights movement says, as different as the two were from each other, they were also each other’s alter egos in the struggle against racism.
A new book the author calls “an owner’s manual for American citizens” recovers a lost language that Americans need to talk with each other about things that matter.

As a divided country wrestles with its future, it may be a good time to think about how we constitute a more perfect Union.
The Constitution is silent on the number of justices on the Supreme Court. The independence of the judiciary is put in jeopardy when partisans settle political scores by rebalancing the courts.
A prolific and outspoken author contends the term "populism" has been turned on its head, and not since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has the White House been occupied by a man of the people.
A decade ago, Williston, N.D., became a magnet for desperate men, thanks to oil in the Bakken Formation. In an interview, author Michael Smith talks about life in an oil patch and the human cost of fueling the nation.
An important new book, Apollo’s Arrow, precisely targets what America got right in its COVID-19 response, and where it must do better next time. And there will be a next time.
The preparations for President Biden’s as-yet-unscheduled State of the Union address are haunted by a 400-year-old conspiracy to decapitate the British government. What can we learn from the Gunpowder Plot?
The printing press and social media democratized communication in their respective times. They both turned the order of things on its head — for good, for ill, and forever.
With incoming President Joe Biden pledging to unify the country, author David French talks about the nation’s current divide, whether the country is in decline and the prospects for a lasting union.
Editor-at-Large Clay Jenkinson and Professor Ed Watts explore what insights can be gained studying the last years of the Roman Republic and whether that has particular relevance in our own time.
About This Podcast
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The idea is to go in search of America as it exists today - a journey informed by an intimate understanding of its history - to better understand our troubled time, all of which puts its future in context. Our objective is to find people and places that help us understand what the country is thinking, what we still have in common, where the innovative work is being done, where the best practices are occurring, and who the less well known innovators are.

The collision of technology and society and the fallout consequences can be hard to figure out. History can help. Our Editor-at-Large and resident humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson probes important questions about where we are going by first asking about where we have been and why.