Second Decade

This is a historical show examining the momentous events and interesting people of the second decade of the 19th century, the 1810s. From Jefferson to Napoleon, from Iceland to Antarctica, historian Sean Munger will give you a tour of the decade's most fascinating highlights.

55: Smuttynose Island
Whether the remains of the crew of a Spanish ship wrecked in 1813 were buried on a small island off the coast of Maine presents a puzzling 200-year-old mystery.
45 min
54: The Dumplings of Death
In 1815 London, the case of a domestic servant wrongfully accused of poisoning her employer’s family leads to the invention of modern investigative journalism.
62 min
53: The Lithuanian Rabbi
In a small town in Lithuania, a beloved and brilliant rabbi establishes a legendary yeshiva that sparks a wave of immigration to the Holy Land in the 1810s.
60 min
Bonus: Trailer for Age of Confusion Podcast
Here is a brief trailer for Sean Munger's new alternate history podcast, Age of Confusion.
3 min
52: War and Peace
In this crossover episode with the Green Screen podcast, Dr. Munger and co-host Cody Climer examine the history behind the 2016 BBC miniseries depicting the Napoleonic era.
61 min
51: Norway, Part II
In 1814, a group of Norwegian nobles and a Danish crown prince challenge the powers of Europe to establish Norway as its own country, with mixed but long-lasting results.
56 min
50: Norway, Part I
Toward the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the modern nation of Norway is born amidst royal intrigue and crooked great-power deals in the crucible of Scandinavian politics.
50 min
49: Theo the Pipe Smoker
An attempt to identify a skeleton found in a 200-year-old cemetery paints a fascinating picture of life among the poor in Basel, Switzerland in the 1810s.
47 min
48: Heritage Lost
The individual stories of nine buildings, constructed between 1810 and 1820 and since demolished or destroyed, paint a unique picture of the period’s built environment.
46 min
47: Year Without Summer, Part III
The long tail of the strange summer of 1816 stretches into the following year, where crop failures, famine and a bitterly cold winter affects most of the world.
49 min
46: Year Without Summer, Part II
The strange weather of summer 1816 has all manner of repercussions, from ghoulish hallucinations to religious conversions to a massive forest fire in New England.
53 min
45: Year Without Summer, Part I
In 1816, a temporary disruption in the Earth’s climate system, caused by volcanoes, triggers a series of bizarre weather anomalies from the South Pacific to Massachusetts.
50 min
44: The Fires of St. John's
The raw and often lawless frontier town of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada suffers five devastating fires in a row between 1816 and 1819.
44 min
43: Austen-tatious
Jane Austen begins the 1810s as a frustrated and unpublished writer, but then rises to become one of the towering giants of English literature.
47 min
42: Tomb Raider
In 1817, a former circus performer goes hunting for ancient Egyptian artifacts and finds four stunning tombs in the Valley of the Kings over a 10-day period.
52 min
41: Caragea's Plague
In 1813, the arrival of a corrupt Ottoman prince in the province of Wallachia coincides with the outbreak of a ghastly epidemic that leaves thousands dead.
45 min
40: Antarctica
After centuries of speculation, near misses and tantalizing glimpses, mariners from four different countries suddenly scramble to discover Antarctica at the end of the 1810s.
46 min
Second Decade Update and Special Appeal
Here’s a brief update from Dr. Munger about the podcast, and how you can help another member of the history podcasting community.
5 min
Off Topic: The 80s (Jake's 88 Special, Part III)
The end of the 1980s is marked with hot wars heating up in Panama and the Middle East, the Cold War cooling down, and transitions in popular culture.
45 min
Off Topic: The 80s (Jake's 88 Special Part II)
From acts of war in the Persian Gulf to cartoon rabbits and the sexual politics of sitcoms, various aspects of the year 1988 are examined.
46 min
39: The Monster of Gloucester
Sightings of a “sea serpent” in a small coastal Massachusetts town in 1817 reignite a heated transatlantic debate about nature, science, and the origin of species.
40 min
Off Topic: The 80s (Jake's 88 Special Part I)
In this bonus episode about the history of the 1980s, Ronald Reagan makes a hasty three-minute decision that proves to be perhaps the most important event in modern history.
41 min
38: Napoleon's Hundred Days, Part III
Determined to crush him once and for all, Napoleon’s enemies, particularly the British and Prussians, provoke the French emperor into his last desperate battle: Waterloo.
48 min
37: Napoleon's Hundred Days, Part II
Having taken over the French government easily and with enemies closing in around him, Napoleon faces a difficult question: now what do I do?
41 min
36: Napoleon's Hundred Days, Part I
After his defeat, forced abdication and exile to Elba, Napoleon Bonaparte thirsts for revenge and launches an audacious attempt to return to power in France.
39 min