Throughline 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 plus.npr.org/throughline
Throughline
NPR/NPR

Throughline

From NPR

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 plus.npr.org/throughline

Most Recent Episodes

Isabel Seliger

Afghanistan: The Rise of the Taliban (2021)

How did a small group of Islamic students go from local vigilantes to one of the most infamous and enigmatic forces in the world? The Taliban is a name that has haunted the American imagination since 2001. The scenes of the group's brutality repeatedly played in the Western media, while true, perhaps obscure our ability to see the complex origins of the Taliban and how they impact the lives of Afghans. It's a shadow that reaches across the vast ancient Afghan homeland, the reputation of the modern state, and throughout global politics. At the end of the US war in Afghanistan we go back to the end of the Soviet Occupation and the start of the Afghan civil war to look at the rise of the Taliban.

Afghanistan: The Rise of the Taliban (2021)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1117792402/1117803899" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Isabel Seliger for NPR Isabel Seliger/Isabel Seliger for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Isabel Seliger/Isabel Seliger for NPR

Afghanistan: The Center of the World (2021)

Afghanistan has, for centuries, been at the center of the world. Long before the U.S. invasion — before the U.S. was even a nation — countless civilizations intersected there, weaving together a colorful tapestry of foods, languages, ethnicities and visions of what Afghanistan was and could be. The story of Afghanistan is too often told from the perspective of outsiders who tried to invade it (and always failed) earning it the nickname "Graveyard of Empires." In this episode, we're shifting the perspective. We'll journey through the centuries alongside Afghan mystical poets. We'll turn the radio dial to hear songs of love and liberation. We'll meet the queen who built the first primary school for girls in the country. And we'll take a closer look at Afghanistan's centuries-long experiment to create a unified nation.

Afghanistan: The Center of the World (2021)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1107183129/1116085100" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images

The Mystery of Inflation

Gas. Meat. Flights. Houses. The price of things have gone up by as much as nine percent since last year. The same amount of money gets you less stuff. It's inflation: a concept that's easy to feel but hard to understand. Its causes are complex, but it isn't some kind of naturally-occurring phenomenon — and neither are the ways in which governments try to fight it.

The Mystery of Inflation

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1115418829/1115487238" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A painting by artist Sidney King depicting a Dutch ship with 20 enslaved African people arriving at Point Comfort, VA in 1619, marking the beginning of slavery in America. ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

toggle caption
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Nikole Hannah-Jones and the Country We Have (2021)

Is history always political? Who gets to decide? What happens when you challenge common narratives? In this episode, Throughline's Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei explore these questions with Nikole Hannah-Jones, an investigative journalist at the New York Times and the creator of the 1619 Project.

Nikole Hannah-Jones and the Country We Have (2021)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1113701844/1113710330" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

From 2011, at an Occupy DC protest in Washington. A man holds a sign and a ball and chain, representing his college loan debt. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Jacquelyn Martin/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

toggle caption
Jacquelyn Martin/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Student Loans: The Fund-Eating Dragon

At the start of the 20th century, only the most privileged could afford to go to college. Today, millions of students pursue higher ed — and owe $1.7 trillion in debt.

Student Loans: The Fund-Eating Dragon

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1112599148/1112646476" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Kerner Commission in session, in Washington DC, 1967. Underwood Archives/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Underwood Archives/Getty Images

The Long Hot Summer (2020)

Things in the U.S. feel tense right now. Two years after a police officer killed George Floyd outside a Minneapolis corner store, videos of police violence still appear regularly – and protests follow. Maybe the closest parallel to what's happening today is the so-called "long hot summer" of 1967, when more than 150 cities across the country experienced civil unrest.

The Long Hot Summer (2020)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1111395239/1111440304" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

A family walks towards Rochdale Village housing co-op and complex in Queens on April 28, 2022. (NPR/Cassandra Geraldo) Cassandra Giraldo/Cassandra Giraldo hide caption

toggle caption
Cassandra Giraldo/Cassandra Giraldo

Throughline Presents: School Colors

School District 28 is located in one of the most racially and ethnically diverse places in the U.S.: Queens, N.Y. But the neighborhood served by this school district has two sides – a Northside and a Southside. To put it simply, the Southside is Black and the farther north you go, the fewer Black people you see. But it wasn't always like this.

Throughline Presents: School Colors

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1110179995/1110188287" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Monopoly Ultimate Banking Game from Hasbro is displayed at Toy Fair in New York, in 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) Mark Lennihan/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Mark Lennihan/AP

Do Not Pass Go

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 segregation and redlining to capitalism run rampant. That's because Monopoly is also built on powerful American lore – the idea that anyone, with just a little bit of cash, can rise from rags to riches.Writer Mary Pilon, the author of The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game, describes Monopoly as "the Great American Dream in a board game – or, nightmare."

Do Not Pass Go

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1108728257/1108800361" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Angela Hsieh

The Evangelical Vote (2019)

When Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, the door opened on one of those rare opportunities to tip the balance of the highest court in the U.S. It was the opportunity that one particular voting bloc had been waiting for: evangelical Christians. Now, we await a ruling in a case that has the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade – an outcome evangelical Christians have spent decades voting and lobbying for. So how did this religious group become such a powerful force in U.S. politics? In this episode, we examine how white evangelicalism in particular became linked to conservative political issues...beginning with a roaming Irish pastor in the 1800s.

The Evangelical Vote (2019)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1106765258/1106840216" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Opponents of abortion rights parade past the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992. Marcy Nighswander/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Marcy Nighswander/AP

After Roe: A New Battlefield

The Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade transformed the landscape of abortion rights overnight. For the doctors, lawyers, feminists, and others who had fought for nationwide legalization, Roe was the end of a long battle. But for the growing movement against abortion rights, it was the beginning of a new battle: to protect the fetus, challenge abortion providers, and ultimately overturn Roe. This is the story of how opponents of abortion rights banded together, built power, and launched one of the most successful grassroots campaigns of the past century.

After Roe: A New Battlefield

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1105245445/1105390564" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
or search npr.org