Right Now in Ridiculous History

Host Rainbow Valentine discovers her artist mom and 'businessman' dad were deeply involved in the illegal drug trade and unknowingly spent her childhood among a massive pot distribution operation. As she talks with her father in intimate interviews, Rainbow Valentine uncovers a history of her childhood that causes her to reassess everything — and gives us a unique personal window into the infamous counter-culture of Marin County in the 70s and 80s -- from Ken Kesey's acid tests and the birth of the Grateful Dead to a drug culture that hardened and became more dangerous in response to the War On Drugs. Disorganized Crime is now available wherever you get your podcasts. Listen here.

The Honey Trap: Sex in Espionage Throughout History

Sure, love at first sight may be a real thing -- but, occasionally, there's an ulterior motive involved. Join the guys as they explore the bizarre practice known as the Honey Trap, and why spies throughout history have used this technique to extract secrets, kidnap and even assassinate targets.

Note: This episode contains mature content, and may not be suitable for all ages.

The Weird, Weird History of Shipping: Part II

How far did the components of your phone travel to land in the palm of your hand? Nowadays, even the most mundane items can come from half a world away. This wasn't always the case -- join the guys as they explore the weird, weird world of shipping in this special two-part episode.

The Weird, Weird History of Shipping: Part I

How far did the components of your phone travel to land in the palm of your hand? Nowadays, even the most mundane items can come from half a world away. This wasn't always the case -- join the guys as they explore the weird, weird world of shipping in this special two-part episode.

Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Who Called Out the Hypocrisy of Slavery, Part 2

As Benjamin Lay continued his one-man protest against the hypocrisy of slavery in the Quaker community, he inspired some folks and frustrated others (primarily the elders of his community) with his increasingly over-the-top tactics. After being kicked out of one community after another, he eventually became a hermit of sorts -- though, even then, his story wasn't done.

Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Who Called Out the Hypocrisy of Slavery, Part 1

Nowadays, people often look back on U.S. Quakers as staunch abolitionists, but this wasn't always the case. In fact, when the Quakers first arrived on the continent they, like many other colonists, owned slaves. It was up to Benjamin Lay to bravely call out their hypocrisy, pointing to the discrepancy between their religious views and their earthly practices.

How Bertha Heyman Conned Her Way Into Show Business

Bertha Heyman was a notorious con artist with a robust rap sheet and a penchant for bilking well-to-do, otherwise shrewd men. Listen in to learn how Bertha's life of crime led her, oddly enough, into showbiz.

That Time Germany Got Obsessed With Polar Bear Photos

When French photo collector Jean-Marie Donat stumbled upon his first vintage picture of a German dressed as a polar bear, he initially thought it was just an odd historical anomaly -- at least, that is, until he found a second one. And then a third. And on, and on. Eventually Donat realized he'd stumbled across a bizarre photo trend: For decades Germany was obsessed photographs of people dressed as polar bears. So how did this trend get started, and why did it disappear? Listen in to learn more.

Rose Mackenberg: Houdini's Ghostbuster

While the papers of the time relegated Rose Mackenberg to a sidekick role as the "girl detective" working with famed skeptic and escape artist Harry Houdini, this spiritualist-turned-spook-spy spent decades busting con artists purporting to be mediums. And, after Houdini's death in 1926, Rose Mackenberg continued her mission, exposing fraudulent ghost racketeers -- a genuine, real-life ghostbuster.

Science and Spiritualism: Why were ghost stories so popular in the 1800s?

Nowadays western historians tend to regard the scientific progress of the 19th century as a linear, indelible line from one breakthrough to the next. Yet these astonishing innovations in science occurred in step with a resurrection of paranormal belief. Why were ghost stories so prolific in this age?

John of Bohemia, the Blind King Who Charged Into Battle

We recount the epic tale of John of Bohemia, a 14th-century king who charged into the Battle of Crécy at age 50 - despite having been blind for the past ten years.

Kakigōri: The Story of Japan's Famous Shaved Ice

While this Japanese delicacy isn't the world's only icy dessert, it's certainly one of the most unique -- that iconic, delicate texture sets it apart. Kakigōri tastes like a treat fit for aristocrats and royalty, and that's no surprise: Back in the 11th century, that's exactly what Kakigōri was.

John Edmonstone: The Man Who Trained Darwin

Born into slavery in the 1700s, John Edmonstone gained his freedom in 1817 and moved to Edinburgh, where he stuffed birds for the Natural Museum and taught taxidermy to a young Charles Darwin. Tune in to learn more about the life and times of the man who not only taught Charles Darwin, but inspired him to explore the planet and, eventually, produce groundbreaking science that would forever change the way we think of the natural world.

The Death of Luxury Air Travel

Flying in an airplane is an enormous privilege, but nowadays it's often seen as an inconvenience more than anything else -- the crowding, the lines, the security check and so on can certainly take the magic out of a journey. Yet this wasn't always the case -- in decades past, air travel was the last word in mobile luxury. So what changed? Tune in to learn more.

Introducing History VS.

In the podcast History Vs., we’ll explore how larger-than-life historical figures faced off against their greatest foes. In this inaugural season, we’re looking at Theodore Roosevelt’s incredible life using a convention that he, as a boxer, would have appreciated. Each episode, we’ll analyze how Roosevelt took on a particular challenge, from his debilitating childhood asthma and conflict within his family to conquering the hours of the day and preserving the world for the next generation.


History VS. is now available. Listen here.

The Bizarre Capitulation of Stettin

When French General Antoine Lasalle first arrived at the Prussian-held city of Stettin in 1806, his odds of successfully capturing the community seemed laughably low -- Prussian Lieutenant General Friedrich Romberg had over 5,000 heavily-armed troops at his command, while Lasalle had less than 800 French soldiers. So how exactly did Lasalle convinced Romberg to not only surrender, but also cede his troops, arms and the fortress of Stettin overnight?

John Wilkes Booth's Brother Saved Abraham Lincoln's Son

Sometime in 1864 or 1865, Robert Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln, had a close call with death in a subway station when he was saved at the last minute by an honest-to-God celebrity -- Edwin Booth, one of the most famous actors of the day. Neither man knew their fates would intersect in a much more tragic fashion shortly thereafter, when Edwin's brother, actor John Wilkes Booth, would assassinate Robert's father Abraham.

John Clem: The 12-year Old Civil War Hero

Although most soldiers in the U.S. Civil War were between 18 and 39, an estimated 20% of the soldiers were underage -- and thousands of those children were under the age of 15. John Lincoln Clem was one of the most extreme examples of this phenomenon, and remains one of the most well-known today. He joined up with the Union when he was only eleven years old, surviving multiple conflicts and living to the ripe old age of 85. But how did he feel about the practice of allowing children into battle? The answer might surprise you.

Christopher Columbus Was Such A Jerk That Even Spain Turned Against Him

For decades in the West, Christopher Columbus was often inaccurately portrayed as a pioneering explorer, his life, times and crimes sanitized in the public record. Schoolchildren learned rhymes about this individual, and in the US he was given an official holiday. However, the activities of the real Christopher Columbus fall far short of the image children were taught growing up. In fact, Columbus was such a dirtbag that, eventually, even the Spanish Crown turned against him.

The Kaiser’s Plan to Invade the United States

Kaiser Wilhelm II was nothing if not ambitious, and he had grand geopolitical plans to increase German influence across the planet. In his mind, there was one big roadblock in the way — the pesky United States. Join the guys as they explore the bizarre German plans to invade the U.S.