David Rakoff tells the story of the day that used to hold the record as the worst disaster in New York history: June 15th, 1904, when the steamship The General Slocum, caught fire and sank in the Hudson river, killing 1,031 passengers. Almost everyone aboard was from one neighborhood in New York, and by all accounts, that neighborhood was never the same again.
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In this show, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Ira and David Hauptschein explored this now utterly quaint question: Are people having experiences on the Internet they wouldn't have anywhere else? Several hundred listeners sent in samples of what they were finding on the Internet. A guy offers a girl a late-night tour of Microsoft...and this actually makes him seem hot.
In 1946, a man named David Boder started to investigate the Holocaust before it was known as the Holocaust. He dragged a primitive recording device around Europe and gathered the first recorded testimonials of concentration camp survivors.
Host Ira Glass talks with Stephen Nissenbaum, author of a history called The Battle for Christmas, which explains when people started believing in a Santa who arrives Christmas Eve carrying presents. It was in 1822, and incredibly, the poem that created our modern idea of Santa is still around, known by heart by tens of millions.
An interracial couple takes a plantation tour.
Binjamin Wilkomirski and New York writer Blake Eskin try and figure out if they are related. NOTE: A few years after this interview aired, Binjamin Wilkomirski and his Holocaust memoir Fragments were shown to be fabrications. Blake Eskin chronicled this story in his 2002 book A Life In Pieces: The Making and Unmaking of Binjamin Wilkomirski.
Adam Beckman continues his story. He returns to the town in New Hampshire where he discovered the abandoned house as a kid and tries to find out what happened there.
A campaign diary from writer Michael Lewis from four years ago, about a politician you've heard a lot about: John McCain...and the story of a moment when the opposite of normal politics became normal politics.
Sarah Vowell and her twin sister Amy re-trace the Trail of Tears. They visit the town in Georgia that was the capital of the Cherokee Nation before the Cherokee were expelled.
The modern history of Niagara Falls can be divided roughly into three phases: Schemers who came in trying to exploit the Falls for tourism and failed; schemers who came in and tried to exploit the Falls for hydroelectric power, who've all gone; and the people who are left in Niagara today. Our show is about this last group: People who live in the aftermath.
Writer Shalom Auslander reads his short story about how he decided to start forgetting the dead, even though his job required him to remember. Shalom's most recent book is Hope: A Tragedy.
Erin Einhorn grew up begging her mother to tell her all about the remarkable story of how she survived World War Two, thanks to a Polish woman named Honorata Skowronski, who risked her life. But her mother didn't like to talk about it.
Ira with an expert in medieval manuscripts, Sandy Hindman.
South Carolina native Jack Hitt discusses the Confederate Flag's prominent place over the statehouse.
A medieval village, a 1900-pound brass kettle, marauding visigoths, and a plan to drench invaders with boiling oil that goes awry. From Ron Carlson's book The Hotel Eden, read by Chicago actor Jeff Dorchen.
For many years, Israeli citizens learned a sanitized version of what happened during their War of Independence in 1948. They learned that 700,000 Arabs fled the country on their own accord.
Sarah Vowell tells the lost story behind a patriotic song, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." An early version of the song celebrated an American terrorist. She's accompanied by Jon Langford and the band.
Allison Silverman reports on This Is Your Life, a show from the 1950s where unsuspecting—and often famous—audience members would have their biographies created on the spot for 40 million viewers. But is that really a present you'd want to receive? Allison is an Emmy Award-winning writer who has worked on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
What happens to you if you stay in sales all your life? 76-year-old salesman "Diamond" Jimmy Roy has sold everything from used cars to antiques to jewelery. Independent producer Dan Collison shadowed Jimmy Roy in his native Braddock, Pennsylvania, to talk to him about the philosophy that's kept him going as a salesman for over fifty years.
John continues the story of the Dakota War of 1862, and how it resulted in the expulsion of the Dakota people from the state of Minnesota. Then John goes back to his hometown to see how this history is being taught today.
Margaret meets the living relatives of her grandfather's kidnapper and finally arrives at an incontrovertible truth.
Jackie and Kenny Wharton were kids in the tiny town of Canalou, Missouri, off of old Highway 61. They moved away for 40 years but always dreamed of moving back.