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The Diem Experiment (Part Five)
July 18, 2020 09:39 AM PDT
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In November 1963, a faction of South Vietnamese generals overthrew and assassinated Ngo Dinh Diem with the support of the Kennedy administration. In the final part of this series, we'll explore how infighting, ambition, and miscommunication sealed the fate of the Diem Experiment and set South Vietnam on the path to disaster.

The Diem Experiment (Part Four)
April 12, 2020 10:49 AM PDT
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After destroying his rivals in the Battle of Saigon, President Diem sets out to build a new nation in South Vietnam. On the one hand he offers land reform and a glittering new middle class, built on a tide of American aid. On the other hand is a ruthless anti-communist campaign of denunciations, torture, and re-education camps. A sprawling cast of characters comes together in this complex chapter: Saigon oligarchs, French philosophers, American New Dealers, landlords, peasants, Viet Cong guerillas, communist double agents, and rebellious paratroopers all help to shape the fate of the Diem experiment in its tumultuous early years.

The Diem Experiment (Part Three)
December 25, 2019 08:04 AM PST
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In the 1950s, most Americans viewed the Cold War as a battle between freedom and tyranny. There was just one problem: how to explain alliances with anti-communist authoritarians like Ngo Dinh Diem. In this episode, we'll explore how American politicians, lobbyists, and one very enterprising Navy doctor imagined the new Republic of Vietnam as a bastion of democracy and freedom led by "a mandarin in a sharkskin suit who's upsetting the Red timetable."

The Diem Experiment (Part Two)
July 17, 2019 08:10 AM PDT
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Back in Saigon in 1954, Ngo Dinh Diem becomes premier of a country shattered by war and partition. With reunification elections looming, Diem barely controls the grounds of his own palace. Hostile Frenchmen, religious militias, a crime syndicate, ex-emperor Bao Dai, and Diem's own military conspire to end his rule before it can begin. Baffled American diplomats do political triage to avert a coup, urging Diem to bring his rivals to the table. But the new premier has other plans...

The Diem Experiment (Part One)
April 24, 2019 08:26 AM PDT
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For nine years at the height of the Cold War, America's global crusade against communism rested on the shoulders of Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem. Hailed as a "miracle man" who brought the blessings of democracy and development to South Vietnam, Diem became a celebrity. But his miracles had a steep price. As his regime soaked up millions of dollars in American aid and military support, it ruthlessly suppressed its enemies, devastated villages, and failed to cope with a rising communist insurgency. As the Diem experiment began to absorb US prestige, money, and lives, Americans began to question whether their adventure in Southeast Asia was worth the cost...

Part one of this series explores Diem's rise to power and the origins of America's involvement in Vietnam. Diem tries to chart a "third way" between communism and empire; French, Japanese, and Americans vie for influence; and Vietnamese factions battle for the future of their country as a hapless emperor watches.

Soldiers of Capital (Part Two)
July 13, 2018 07:54 AM PDT
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After sending the Molly Maguires to the scaffold in 1877, Pinkerton's National Detective Agency plunged headlong into America's labor conflict. At the vanguard of its war on organized labor was the Protective Patrol, an armed force that deployed to over seventy major strikes. Was the Patrol a lawkeeping elite, as the Agency and its employers claimed? Or, as labor leaders and reformers argued, was it a gang of cold-blooded, mercenary killers? After a disastrous intervention in 1892, testimony in a dramatic Congressional hearing revealed that both sides might have been wrong all along...

Soldiers of Capital (Part One)
January 18, 2018 04:12 PM PST
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Pinkerton's National Detective Agency was 19th-century America's premier private police force, the leader of a flourishing industry that offered solutions to the chaos and corruption of the nation's law enforcement. But the Pinkertons were more than just detectives. By the 1890s, they were a private army-on-call for powerful corporations. In the first episode of this two-part series, we'll chart the birth and evolution of the Agency -- from its founding by a radical immigrant in the 1850s to its bloody pursuit of outlaws and Irish labor groups in the decades after the Civil War.

From Camelot to Abilene
July 02, 2017 08:35 AM PDT
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In a country as big and diverse as America, stories are crucially important to our sense of common identity. But where do those stories come from, and who creates them? In this episode, we examine the work of writer Owen Wister, who gave Americans one of the touchstones of our common culture: the cowboy. But beneath the familiar surface of this legendary figure lies a complex web of dark and unexpected ideas. By exploring "The Evolution of the Cow-Puncher," an essay written at the height of the volatile Gilded Age, we gain insight into the origins of the cowboy -- and how myth can overpower truth.

1877: The Great Strike and the Red Specter of the Commune (Part Two)
December 23, 2016 08:33 PM PST
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When a railroad employee walks off the job in Baltimore, it triggers a violent chain of events that engulfs the industrialized North. From Pittsburgh to San Francisco, city after city erupts in rioting and street battles as railroad men, factory workers, and the unemployed take on militias, paramilitary groups, and the US Army in a spontaneous revolt against the new industrial order. Railyards burn and urban neighborhoods become battlegrounds. Pundits, politicians, corporate leaders, socialists, and union leaders hail the birth of an exterminationist class war. And through the smoke, the dawn of a new era can be glimpsed...

1877: The Great Strike and the Red Specter of the Commune (Part One)
June 30, 2016 03:03 PM PDT
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If you think 2016 is a turbulent year for the United States, try 1877. The country is, as one observer puts it, "on the edge of a volcano." Four years into a crippling economic crisis, a hopelessly corrupt government is beset by domestic terrorism, frontier conflicts, and class war. As cities and factories replace small towns and family farms, new, unregulated corporate empires are built on the backs of a new industrial working class. Faith in the system, and in the economic and political promise of American life, is fading. And looming over it all is the specter of the Paris Commune - an uprising from below that can only end in blood...

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