Nobody tells a great story like Throughline. This podcast gives new twists on old stories, from ancient collapses of civilization to modern controversies. Every story is a slice of history told with a tight narrative and professional production, including deft use of sound effects. This is not some dude blabbing about history.
In their episode about Tenochtitlan, they dive deep into the brutal Spanish conquest of Mexico. They start out describing ancient Aztect capital of Tenochtitlan (aka Mexico City) as an immense ancient metropolis, one of the largest cities in the world at the time (and now). It is full of towering temples, canals, schools, and a Venice-like network of waterways for transport and irrigation and composting. This is a city that smells sweet.
The Aztecs are advanced and powerful, but they can be pretty brutal conquerers themselves and have made plenty of their own local enemies.
Then the Spanish show up. ⚔️ It’s a fascinating and pretty terrifying story.
Here’s a pretty fascinating story about the collapse of the complex, globalized society of the late Bronze Age around 1200 BC. As we’re facing climate change, political polarization, and a raging virus, it’s an interesting listen. 😬
About 3000 years ago, it got bad. There was famine, drought, and earthquakes. And worst of all, the mysterious Sea People were attacking out of nowhere without warning or mercy. ⚔️
But this chaos eventually became a rebirth that led to the alphabet, iron working, monotheism, the Greek and Roman empires, etc. Basically, Western civilization.
The historian notes that, more often than not, civilization pulls back from the brink before it gets toooo bad, so he’s optimistic.
At the time, five months after the Declaration of Independence, the new American army had seen defeat after defeat and was 90% destroyed. Thus the gloomy atmosphere with a hint of sunshine in the background.
The painting was made by German-American painter Emanuel Leutze in 1850 with a goal of promoting democracy in Europe and fighting slavery in the United States. 🤩
The painting makes efforts to show all kinds of people from all over America literally in the same boat together. This includes a black man, a big statement back in 1850 during slavery. The paining was used for abolition fundraising.
The copy in NYC was the second one painted by Leutze. The first went to his native Germany and was destroyed by a British bombing raid during World War II — Britain’s final revenge on the American revolution. 😆
Quartz published the story of the Tulsa massacre of 1921, in which the burgeoning “Black Wall Street” neighborhood of Tulsa was set ablaze in a bizarre night of white racial rage. Hundreds or African Americans were killed, and many thousands lost their homes.
More than a thousand African American homes and businesses were looted and burned to the ground; you had a thriving community occupying more than 35 square blocks in Tulsa that was totally destroyed.
But the real story is how little we know about this, “the single largest incident of racial violence in American history.” This terrible story was purposefully forgotten, apparently out of shame.
Despite the gravity of the event, like other important chapters of African-American history, the Tulsa race massacre was all but deleted from the US’s collective memory for decades.
It is also interesting that this savage attack did not destroy the neighborhood, which came bouncing back stronger than ever after the violence. However, eventually the larger forces of “desegregation, urban redesign, and competition from large-scale white businesses” did it in. 🤦🏻♂️
That’s pretty awful. But compared to other historical events, how bad is it?
This article shows how this pandemic compares to other major disasters of the last 100 years. It’s worse than the 1918 Spanish flu was in New York City and Boston, but still not as bad as the Spanish flu in Philadelphia. And not as bad the 2011 Earthquake and tsunami in Miyagi, Japan.
This article only covers the 20th century. I wish they could have included the Bubonic plague or other plagues to see how our current experience compares. 🤷🏻♂️
It’s a great visual to help understand a terrible event.