The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world. Subscribe to Throughline+. You'll be supporting the history-reframing, perspective-shifting, time-warping stories you can't get enough of - and you'll unlock access to our sponsor-free feed of the show. Learn more at


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The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world. Subscribe to Throughline+. You'll be supporting the history-reframing, perspective-shifting, time-warping stories you can't get enough of - and you'll unlock access to our sponsor-free feed of the show. Learn more at




The Real Black Panthers (2021)

In 1968, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover said the Black Panther Party "without question, represents the greatest threat to the internal security of the country." And with that declaration he used United States federal law enforcement to wage war on the group. But why did Hoover's FBI target the Black Panther Party more severely than any other Black power organization? Historian Donna Murch says the answer lies in the Panthers' political agenda: not their brash, gun-toting public image, but in...


When Things Fall Apart

Climate change, political unrest, random violence - Western society can often feel like what the filmmaker Warner Herzog calls, "a thin layer of ice on top of an ocean of chaos and darkness." In the United States, polls indicate that many people believe that law and order is the only thing protecting us from the savagery of our neighbors, that the fundamental nature of humanity is competition and struggle. This idea is often called "veneer theory." But is this idea rooted in historical...


Extremist Futures

It's 2074 and a suicide bomber has killed the President of the United States. Months later Marines open fire on protesters killing dozens. The Second American Civil War has just begun and once again the North and South are pitted against each other. This is all according to the dystopian world chronicled in Omar El Akkad's novel, American War. El Akkad's imagined, yet familiar, world is reflective of today's deep political and societal fissures, but it also pushes us to understand the...


Do Not Pass Go (2022)

There's more to Monopoly than you might think. It's one of the best-selling board games in history — despite huge economic instability, sales actually went up during the pandemic — and it's been an iconic part of American life at other pivotal moments: a cheap pastime during the Great Depression; a reminder of home for soldiers during WWII; and an American export during its rise as a global superpower. It endured even as it reflected some of the ongoing inequities in American society, from...


Nancy Pelosi (2019)

Nancy Pelosi is the highest-ranking woman in American politics. She made her first run for public office at 47 years old and went on to become Speaker of the House twice. How has she had such an enduring career, and where does her power lie? As Pelosi steps down this week from her pivotal role, we look back on an episode that traces her rise.


The Monster of We (2021)

Are most modern problems caused by selfishness or a lack of it? Ayn Rand, a Russian American philosopher and writer, would say it's the latter — that selfishness is not a vice but a virtue — and that capitalism is the ideal system. Everyone from Donald Trump, to Alan Greenspan, to Brad Pitt have sung Ayn Rand's praises. The Library of Congress named her novel Atlas Shrugged the second most influential book in the U.S. after the Bible. Ayn Rand wasn't politically correct, she was belligerent...


The New Gilded Age (2022)

Philanthropic foundations are a fundamental part of our society: they support media, the arts, education, medical research, and more. NPR, and even this show, is supported by many personal and family foundations. But it wasn't always that way. In this episode, we go back to the beginning — the Gilded Age. We trace the birth and evolution of what many today call "big philanthropy," and ask what all this private wealth means for the public good.


God Wants You To Be Rich (2021)

In the New Testament, Jesus says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. In the United States today, many Christians believe in something radically different. In what's known as the prosperity gospel, wealth is a sign of virtue and God's favor. The effects of this belief can be seen throughout American life from business to politics to social Policy.


Road to Partition

What happens when a nation splits apart? It's a question many of us are asking ourselves today. It happened 75 years ago with Partition, when India and Pakistan became independent nations, divided by a somewhat arbitrary line that separated neighbors, families, and communities. 15 million people were displaced, leaving a trail of chaos and violence that in some ways has never ended. In today's episode, NPR politics reporter Asma Khalid takes us back in time to learn how the road to Partition...


400 Years of Sweetness

In the 1970s, a savvy CEO named Dwayne Andreas hit on an idea: take surplus corn from America's heartland, process it into a sweetener, and start selling it to anyone who would buy, all in the name of patriotism. Within a decade, high fructose corn syrup dominated the U.S. sweetener market; today, American diets are saturated with sweeteners, including cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and dozens of others. But Andreas wasn't reinventing the wheel. He was just taking the next step in a...


The Nostalgia Bone (2021)

The global pandemic spawned a different type of epidemic, one of an entirely different nature: a nostalgia outbreak. Longing for 'simpler times' and 'better days', many of us turned to 90s dance playlists, TV sitcoms, and sports highlights. We looked for comfort and safety in the permanence of the past, or at least, what we think the past was. But, when it first appeared, nostalgia itself wasn't considered a feeling; it was a deadly disease. This episode traces the history of nostalgia from...


La Última Copa: El sueño del pibe

Ésta semana te presentamos un episodio muy especial de nuestros amigos en NPR y Futuro Media — su primer episodio del podcast La Última Copa, en Español. Todo comenzó con una gambeta extraordinaria en una ciudad Argentina. A eso le siguió la llegada a España y el club de fútbol que definiría su carrera, el Barça. La periodista Jasmine Garsd explora el camino trazado por Lionel Messi antes de convertirse en uno de los mejores del mundo. En la Argentina, donde el fútbol a menudo se convierte...


The Last Cup: The Kid's Dream

This week we're bringing you something special from our friends at NPR and Futuro Media: the first episode of the podcast, The Last Cup. From his earliest goals on the soccer fields of his hometown in Argentina to his arrival at Spain's Barça Football Club, host Jasmine Garsd follows the journey of a gifted kid who would go on to become one of the best soccer players ever. In Argentina, where the national sport is a fierce obsession, Lionel Messi was the one that got away. As Garsd retraces...


Qatar's World Cup

Football, aka soccer, is life. At least, it is for many people across the globe. There are few things that are universally beloved but this sport comes close. And as teams on nearly every continent prepare for the start of the World Cup, all eyes are on one tiny country at the tip of the desert. Qatar. The first Arab country ever to secure the World Cup bid. But it's been a long and complicated road to get to this moment. Espionage. Embargoes. Covert deals. This is the story of Qatar's...


Dreams, Creatures, and Visions

We are in the season of chaos. It can feel like everything is happening at once: You might be sprinting across an airport; or around your kitchen, with a few too many dishes cooking at once. Your phone keeps pinging — texts, weather alerts, and more and more breaking news. Here at Throughline, we're always going to different places in time and space. So this week, come with us: to another time, another place, another realm. In this episode, we'll be your sonic travel guides on a journey...


The Most Sacred Right (2020)

Born into slavery in the early 1800s, Frederick Douglass would live to see the Civil War, Emancipation, Black men getting the right to vote, and the beginning of the terrors and humiliations of Jim Crow. And through all of that, he kept coming back to one thing, a sacred right he believed was at the heart of American democracy: Voting. Next week is the midterm election. So this week, we're bringing you an episode we originally published right before the 2020 election. And we're tackling a...


The State of Disunion

Is the U.S. on the brink of civil war? It's a question that has been in the air for a while now, as divisions continue to worsen. Beyond the political speeches and debates in the halls of Congress, it's something you're likely feeling in your day-to-day life. Vaccines, school curriculums, climate change, what you define as a human rights issue, even who you call a friend. Some say we've moved beyond the point of discussion. But when words fail, what comes next? In conversation with Malcolm...


The Woman Question

What's happening in Iran right now is unprecedented. But the Iranian people's struggle for gender equality began generations before the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, also known by her Kurdish name, Jina Amini. The successes of this struggle, as well as its setbacks and horrors, are well-documented, but often misunderstood. Scholar Arzoo Osanloo argues that women have been at the center of Iran's century-long fight for freedom and self-determination. It's a...


The Dance of the Dead (2021)

Halloween — the night of ghost stories and trick-or-treating — has religious origins that span over two thousand years. Over time, the Catholic Church, pagan groups, and even the brewing company Coors have played a role in shape-shifting the holiday. How did Halloween turn from a spiritual celebration to a multi-billion dollar industry? From the Great Famine of Ireland to the Simpsons, we present the many evolutions of Halloween.


Silicon Island

In a world where computer chips run everything from laptops to cars to the Nintendo Switch, Taiwan is the undisputed leader. It's one of the most powerful tech centers in the world — so powerful that both China and the U.S. have vital interests there. But if you went back to the Taiwan of the 1950s, this would have seemed unimaginable. It was a quiet, sleepy island; an agrarian culture. Fifty years later, it experienced what many recall as an "economic miracle" — a transformation into not...