Podcast Pre-Reading

patrick stewart henry ii

Yes, I am already giving you homework. Here’s some setup for the first series on History You’ll Never Read, featuring the English Anarchy.

You’ll notice that all the resources below land on either side of my period, either during the Conquest (1066) or the early Plantagenet years (late 1100s). So where are all the popular histories and writings on the early 1100s, after the Conquest but before King Henry II, Good (TM) King Richard, and Evil (TM) King John? Well, now you know why I’m doing this.

A Lion in Winter – book, Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn, or Patrick Stewart & Glenn Close. I think the original movie is better (and has Timothy Dalton and Anthony Hopkins) but the newer one is also very good. The script is amazing.

Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives – Besides being a Python, Mr. Jones was also a legit amateur medievalist

1066: The Year of the Conquest – I won’t be diving into the (over) done Conquest years, so get some background if you don’t already have it.

Becket – O’Toole (Henry II again!) and Richard Burton in an old school classic.

Murder in the Cathedral – You can’t not read Eliot.

The Year 1000 – Excellent background. England specific.

Opinions on Baseball

  • I like Ken Burns’ Baseball. I watch it about every two years.
  • Commentary today is too focused on statistics and tactics.
  • Yes, I realize baseball has always been obsessed with stats.
  • There is still occasional poetry in football and basketball. I feel like the poetry is out of baseball.
  • Ty Cobb convinces me that even the worst human being can create beauty in the right circumstances. The opposite is also true.
  • I can’t bring myself to watch the White Sox this year. But I will when they next come to Minnesota.

Podcast title and structure coming together

Friends, it’s all coming together now.

The podcast will be entitled “History You’ll Never Read” and it can be found here, hosted on Fireside. (Thanks Chuck Grimmett.) There is no content yet except some pictures and my bio. I am still committed to a mid-June launch.

In the meantime, research and writing continues. This blog will likely become even more podcast focused with bits and pieces that I either can’t use for the podcast or things I just help but share. But once I launch all history content will move to the Fireside site and this blog will likely slow down again.

I can’t wait!


In the Minnesota Valley

Today, Caren and I toured the Minnesota River valley with a special focus on the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.


We visited the Lower Sioux Agency site, where the war started when local U.S. government agents refused to give over annuity payments and food due to the tribe members. We also visited the Battle of Birch Coulee, bloodiest and longest (1.5 day camp siege) battle of the war. As someone who is used to the size of Civil War battles, these sites seem tiny, but when you consider the population and density of Minnesota in the 1860s, these actions were huge earth-shattering occurrences. The prairie was certainly on fire.

The end result was the Dakota reservations being dissolved, the native people being exiled to other states, and (most infamously) the hanging of 38 natives in downtown Mankato in December 1862. It still the largest execution ever ordered by the US Government.


More happily, we also hit the Starkeller in New Ulm for some sour beers and viewed the bizarrely huge Hermann Monument. A good birthday weekend.


“A Little Honey” and more

Missed another blog post, but I can’t help but feel it resulted in some good long-term accomplishments. Besides the podcast, other things are in the works, my actual paying job does demand some time, and I can’t help but be excited about our upcoming trip to Mexico City. I hope you like pictures of tacos and pyramids.

So here comes some random selections from the past few days:

I’m loving Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats right now:

I think I’m going to use the old WGN “Family Classics” theme song as my podcast intro music:

Finally, what do you call those towns that exist purely for touristic use. They usually include antiques, fudge and mediocre restaurants, as well as a bookstore and perhaps some middling outdoor or historic attraction. Sometimes they have a theme in their architecture. Examples include:

  • Stillwater, MN
  • Gatlinburg, TN
  • Helen, GA
  • Leland, MI (Fishtown!)
  • Berea, KY
  • Harpers Ferry, WV
  • Grand Marais, MN

I’m sure there are more. I don’t count places like Wall Drug or South of the Border in this list, as they are singular attractions. So does this phenomenon have a name?