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Wars And The Americans Who Fight Them: A Roundup Of 'Think' Conversations


Monday is Memorial Day — a day to honor those who have died while serving in the U.S. military. It's also a time to reflect on the sacrifices that service members and their families have made.

On KERA's hourlong talkshow, "Think," host Krys Boyd has had several conversations on American war.

Here are a few discussions, both philosophical and historical, about wars and the people who fight them.

Thoughts on war

Listen: How The Next War Will Be Different

The advent of drone strikes is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to advanced technologies’ impact on battle. Retired U.S. Air Force Major General Robert Latiff talks about what war will look like going forward – and whether or not we’re ready for what’s to come. His book is called Future War: Preparing for the New Global Battlefield.

Also listen to:
•  The Power Of Remembrance
•  The Ethics Of Drone Warfare
•  How War Became Everything
•  The Science Of War
•  The Necessity Of Military Force

Revolutionary War

Credit Shutterstock

Listen: The Fate Of The American Revolution

There may be no two contemporaries in American military history who are remembered more differently than George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Historian Nathaniel Philbrick discusses how the relationship between these two changed during the war, which he wrote about in Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution.

Also listen to:
The Creation Of The U.S. Army
•  Viva La (American) Revolution

Civil War

Credit Shutterstock

Listen: Why Did We Fight The Civil War?

Did the Civil War emerge from a power struggle that had nothing to do with slavery? We’ll discover the first conflicts between the Northern and Southern United States with historian and novelist Thomas Fleming. His book is A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War.

Also listen to:
•  John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War
• Women Spies In The Civil War

World War I

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Listen: The Great War

Fifteen million people lost their lives during the First World War. Producer Stephen Ives talks about how the conflict vaulted the U.S. into a world power – and about the individual soldiers, nurses, aviators and others who paved the way to victory. 

Also listen to:
Remembering World War I

World War II

Credit U.S. Department of Energy/Flickr U.S. Department of Energy/Flickr

Listen: The All-Star Scientists Who Defeated The Nazis

In the early days of World War II, Alfred Lee Loomis made a fortune on Wall Street. And with that money, he funded a team of scientists charged with developing radar into a weapon that would defeat the Axis Powers. The story is told in the American Experience documentary The Secret of Tuxedo Park (watch it on PBS here). Director Rob Rapley discusses with us the outsized influence these relatively unknown men had on the outcome of the war.

Also listen to:
•  War And Peace On Iwo Jima
•  The Ritchie Boys Vs. The Nazis

Korean War

Credit Shutterstock

Listen: The General Vs. The President

After the atomic bomb helped end World War II, many wondered if the U.S. would also deploy the world’s most-feared weapon in the Korean War. We discuss how that question drove a wedge between the White House and the military.

Also listen to:
The Battle Of Chosin

Vietnam War

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Listen: The Way Vietnam Could Have Gone

CIA operative Edward Landsdale arrived in Vietnam in 1954 with a mission of winning over the hearts and minds of the people of South Vietnam. Historian Max Boot joined us to talk about how Lansdale's diplomatic efforts were squashed by the American industrial complex.

Also listen to:
• When Americans Turned On The Vietnam War
• Ken Burns And Lynn Novick On The Vietnam War

Middle East and recent conflicts

Credit Shutterstock

Listen: A Battlefield Doctor’s Story

Jon Kerstetter has witnessed war in Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia and, ultimately, Iraq as a soldier in the U.S. Army. And while those around him were focused on killing, he was there to heal the wounded. He talks about saving lives in the world's deadliest places, which he wrote about in his book, Crossings: A Doctor-Soldier’s Story

Also listen to:
• The Human Toll of America's Endless Wars
• The Story Behind Thank You For Your Service
• Twilight Warriors

Enjoy podcasts about history? Take a look Think's history topic archives.

Christy Robinson works with the KERA's Digital team managing the station's websites and platforms, focusing on content.