About the show

A look at history one year at a time, from as many angles as possible. Famous people, infamous people, obscure people; wars, revolutions, peace treaties, art, science, sports, religion. The big picture, in an entertaining podcast package.

The complete first season of The Year That Was is now available. However, the podcast is now on hiatus. What happens next? That's a very good question! I'll let you know as soon as I've figured it out for myself. Thanks to everyone who has listened and reached out. This has been enormous fun. Keep in touch! -- Elizabeth

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  • Giving the Natives a Free Hand: The Irish Fight for Independence

    October 22nd, 2019  |  Season 1  |  48 mins 19 secs
    1919, colonies, great britain, imperialism, ireland, irish history, season 1, world history

    The Irish had tried to free themselves from British control for centuries, always to fail. But in 1922, the Irish Free State took its place among the world's independent nations. Learn how an election, a shadow government, and a key literally baked into a cake brought independence to Ireland--along with a bloody civil war.

  • No Cause for Panic: The Spanish Flu Pandemic

    October 15th, 2019  |  Season 1  |  43 mins 8 secs
    1919, american history, history, india, ireland, season 1, spanish flu, world history

    The emergence of the flu virus that swept the globe between 1918 and 1920 was entirely unexpected, but the resulting pandemic can't be called an entirely natural disaster. Governments made decisions that made the flu much, much worse, and those decisions would have long-lasting consequences--and leave between 50 and 100 million dead.

  • Eggshells Loaded with Dynamite: Allied Intervention in the Russian Revolution

    October 8th, 2019  |  Season 1  |  20 mins 24 secs
    1919, american history, history, russian history, russian revolution, season 1, world history

    In 1919, thousands of American soldiers fought Russian troops on Russian soil--despite the fact President Woodrow Wilson had promised to allow Russia to determine its own political future. Why did the Allies rush to land troops in eastern Siberia and along the Arctic Ocean? And why have we forgotten all about it?

  • The Object of Power: The Russian Revolution and Conflict in Eastern Europe, Part II

    October 1st, 2019  |  Season 1  |  46 mins 51 secs
    1919, czech history, european history, russian history, russian revolution, season 1, sudetenland, tsar nicholas

    The world has been obsessed with the tragedy of the Romanov family for more than a century. It's easy to forget that the Tsar's family were among hundreds of thousands of people killed in the Revolution as well as in conflicts that swept across Eastern Europe. These conflicts would have lasting implications for the entire world.

  • A Gladiator's Gesture: Art after the Great War

    September 24th, 2019  |  Season 1  |  42 mins 46 secs
    1919, american history, art history, dada, european history, return to order, season 1, surrealism, world history

    In 1919, two competing art movements went head-to-head in Paris. One was The Return to Order, a movement about purity and harmony. The other was Dada, a movement about chaos and destruction. Their collision would change the trajectory of Western art.

  • Incident at Chelyabinsk: The Russian Revolution and Conflict in Eastern Europe, Part I

    September 24th, 2019  |  Season 1  |  47 mins 51 secs
    1919, czech history, czechoslovak legion, european history, history, russian history, russian revolution, season 1, tsar nicholas, world war i

    One of the strangest conflicts of the Great War happened 1000 miles east of Moscow between two units of Czech and Hungarian former POWs. What these troops were doing on the edge of Siberia is a fascinating tale of ethnic resentments, self-determination, and unintended consequences.

  • Bring in the Germans: The Fate of the Losers at the Paris Peace Conference

    September 17th, 2019  |  Season 1  |  49 mins 28 secs
    1919, austria, germany, hungary, paris peace conference, season 1, treaty of versailles, world war i

    The most important task at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference was the drafting of peace terms for the losers of the war. Germany and Austria assumed Woodrow Wilson would insist on a fair, respectful compromise peace based on the Fourteen Points. So they were shocked when the Treaty of Versailles demanded territory, demilitarization, and reparations. Is this what caused World War II?

  • Burdened with Glorious Purpose: Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations

    September 10th, 2019  |  Season 1  |  37 mins 54 secs
    1919, american history, episode 2, league of nations, paris peace conference, season 1, woodrow wilson, world history

    Woodrow Wilson believed he and he alone could end war--forever. His plan for the League of Nations would usher in an era of eternal peace. So it really hurt the president's feelings when not everyone agreed with his vision.

  • Our Fathers Lied: The Origins of World War I

    September 5th, 2019  |  Season 1  |  37 mins 46 secs
    1919, american history, bonus episode, kaiser wilhelm ii, season 1, woodrow wilson, world history, world war i

    In August 1914, the world's most powerful nations stumbled into the most devastating war the world had ever known. But why? We examine the origins of the Great War as if it were a bar fight--an analogy that makes more sense than you might imagine.

  • 1919: A Time of Hope or a Time of Dread?

    September 3rd, 2019  |  Season 1  |  29 mins 40 secs
    1919, canadian history, season 1, w.b. yeats, world history, world war i

    Welcome to the Year That Was podcast, and welcome to the year 1919. It was time of enormous hope for some--the Great War had ended and there was a whole new world waiting to be build. But others saw nothing ahead but more violence, disease, hunger and fear. Who was right?

  • Welcome to The Year That Was

    August 12th, 2019  |  Season 1  |  18 mins 2 secs
    1919, american history, season 1, world history

    We think of history as a series of individual events--but really, history happens everywhere, all at once, at the same time. Welcome to The Year That Was, the podcast that looks history as it was really experienced, one year at time. We're starting with 1919, a year of peace and war, disease and discovery, hope and anxiety.