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Operation Overlord: Planning the D-Day Invasion

Mark begins his series of podcasts dedicated to the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, discussing Operation Overlord, the planning of the D-Day invasion. He includes excerpts from  WWII lectures that historian Stephen E. Ambrose gave at the University of New Orleans, covering the preparation the Allies made for Operation Overlord. By December of 1943 the United...

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What Potent Blood Hath Modest May: The Civil War

In this episode, Mark takes a look at some significant events that took place in May from the Civil War era. He considers these events in light of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous (yet unrelated) quote, “What potent blood hath modest May,” which Mark will show is an applicable description when considering the outcome of some...

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Ghost Army of WWII – Part II

Mark continues his discussion with Rick Beyer about the 23rd HQ Special Troops, aka the Ghost Army, and the series of deception operations that took place once we had American troops on the ground in Europe. As an author and filmmaker Rick gives an excellent portrayal of the vital and technologically amazing work this unit...

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The Ghost Army of WWII

This week, I return to an interview I did with historian Rick Beyer, who co-wrote, The Ghost Army of World War II, and produced and directed an award-winning PBS documentary, The Ghost Army. It was just announced that Ben Affleck will direct and star in a Ghost Army movie based on Rick’s book and documentary....

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Garth Ennis: “The Night Witches”

Renown graphic novelist, Garth Ennis, visits with Mark to discuss his new book, The Night Witches, about the young women who flew night bombing raids for the Red Army in WWII.  As the German army smashes deep in to the Soviet Union and the Red Army retreats in disarray, teenager Anna Kharkhova quickly grows into...

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The Civil War in April

During the Civil War, April lived up to the moniker later bestowed by T.S. Eliot as the “Cruelest Month.” The start of hostilities at Fort Sumter in 1861 initiated the war that defined America and President Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 both occurred in April. The Battle of Shiloh and the Fall of New Orleans both...

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Abraham Lincoln: Youth to Civil War

President Abraham Lincoln fell victim to an assassin’s bullet on Good Friday, 14 April 1865 and died the next morning. Mark and Professor Gerald J. Prokopowicz discuss Lincoln from his youth and early career to the presidency and Civil War. They delve into some of the popular questions readers ask about the sixteenth president and...

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Admiral Gorshkov

Mark returns to the Cold War in this interview with Admiral Thomas Brooks about his co-written book, Admiral Gorshkov: The Man Who Challenged the U.S. Navy.  They discuss the man who led the Soviet Union Navy for 30 years. He survived Stalin’s purges, fought the Nazis in WWII and engaged the American Navy in a tactical...

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March Events: French and Indian to Civil Wars

Mark covers some key historical events that took place in March, the month that comes in “like a lion” and goes out “like a lamb.” We see that this may depend upon where and when. George Washington in 1777, may have felt threatened by the British lion. Or the British soldiers in the French and...

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Leadership: Band of Brothers

Historian Chris Anderson joins Mark to discuss leadership and the company that became known as the Band of Brothers, Easy Company of the 101st Airborne in WWII. As an expert and interviewer of that close-knit group of veterans, Chris highlights Major Dick Winters, their commander.

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Civil War Medicine II

Dr. Kenneth Rettig joins Mark again to discuss medicine during the Civil War. They look into a comparison of medical techniques, remedies and emergency treatments then and now in the modern military. Check out an earlier episode, “Civil War Medicine: Practices Then and Now,” for a deeper dive into a subject that has fascinated historians...

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Touring Civil War New Orleans

Nic Clark of Civil War Tours New Orleans joins Mark to discuss the intriguing people and places guests visit on his guided tours about the Civil War. From the French Quarter to the famous cemeteries, we see how guests can experience history in New Orleans as he gives them a “great way to see the...

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Vicksburg Monuments: The Art of Commemoration

General Parker Hills joins Mark to discuss the monuments at the Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi. General Hills’ book, Art of Commemoration, catalogues and details the magnificent sculpture, architecture, the artists and interpretations that memorialize this incredible Park. Excerpt from the Introduction to Art of Commemoration Soon after Vicksburg National Military Park was established...

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Civil War Medicine: Practices Then and Now

Historians have been fascinated by medical practices during the Civil War. Dr. Ken Rettig discusses the methods used by army surgeons and how they have involved in later years. From bullet wounds and amputations to respiratory diseases they compare the emergency procedures in the field and in hospitals. This is a prelude to their further...

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Civil War: New Orleans Prepares

New Orleans during the Civil War is Mark’s topic. In 1861, the City of New Orleans prepared for an imminent invasion by Union forces. As crisis loomed, leadership, politics and military shortcomings became evident. A bright spot is the Confederate victory at Manassas in Virginia, where native-son P.G.T. Beauregard leads the army and the Louisiana...

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Winter Events in History

Mark reviews some significant events that occurred at during winter in history. We go from the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century to Europe’s worst winter in history in 1940. The Civil War was brewing as the states of the Deep South seceded to form the Confederacy in 1861 and the last battle of the...

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Cold War In The Middle East

Cold War studies often focus on events in Europe. However, the Cold War quietly and sometimes loudly raged in the Middle East. Numerous political, religious and ethnic factions struggled for power while the U.S. and the Soviet Union maneuvered to exert influence and control in the region—whether behind the scenes or overtly. This week on...

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Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

Joel Bius’s new book, Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em: The Rise and Fall of the Military Cigarette Ration, is a treatise on the relationship between the American Military-Industrial complex and the cigarette. Mark and Joel discuss the story of how the cigarette and the soldier relationship evolved, developed and devolved during the twentieth century—and...

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Christmas In Wartime

Christmas during wartime, just as in life, shines with a different glow than that in more peaceful years. Luxuries are often non-existent and even basics are scarce but soldiers and civilians find ways to celebrate. This week on History with Mark Bielski, I look at the holidays in difficult times from the crowning of William...

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Jefferson Davis: His Final Days and Passing in New Orleans

Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, died in New Orleans in December 1889. Mark talks with Mrs. Gladys LeBreton, whose grandfather was a friend of Davis’. As a child, Mrs. LeBreton’s mother lived in the home where Davis stayed and was there when he passed away. Mrs. LeBreton relates the story of his final days. Feature photo:...

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The Lost Battalion of WWI

Mark’s guest is Robert J. Laplander who wrote the book, Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legends of America’s Famous WWI Epic. They discuss the deep research Laplander did in order to tell the story of the soldiers and their commander, Charles Whittlesey and their grueling ordeal by fire in the Argonne...

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Lewis & Clark

Image: Statue of Sacajawea in Portland, OR We reprise the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with Historian Hal Stearns. Recorded at Fort Clatsop near Astoria, Oregon, it gives a detailed narrative overview of that incredible explorative journey. But first Mark responds to a comment from a listener about General George B. McClellan; then as...

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November Events in History

We review some significant November events in history from WWI to the American Revolution as well as the American Civil War and WWII. We include the First Battle of Ypres in 1914 and the 1918 Armistice that ended the bloodshed of WWI as well as the last action of the Civil War with the surrender...

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WWI with Gary Sheffield – Part II

Professor Gary Sheffield, one of Britain’s foremost experts on WWI, returns to offer insightful analysis of the end of WWI.  Mark and Professor Sheffield discuss America’s participation in the Great War, the conclusion of hostilities, the Armistice of 11 November 1918 and the Versailles Treaty. Mark draws from Professor Sheffield’s new release of “The First...

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Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House

Mark goes back to Good Friday April 1865 and President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre in Washington with Dorothea Barstow, the curator of the Dr. Samuel Mudd House and Museum. Later that night, assassin John Wilkes Booth, on the run and in desperate need of medical attention for his broken leg, stopped at the home...

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