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.
Throughline
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Throughline

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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.

Most Recent Episodes

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Associated Press

The Way We Dream

Our dreams can haunt us: literally. Recurring dreams about failing tests or running late are a common occurrence, but what are we to make of them? And are there hidden meanings in our dreams? Paleolithic hunter-gatherers may have painted their dreams onto caves, Julius Caesar's wife envisioned his assassination in a dream, and major works of art and music have been inspired by dreams. But with the scientific revolution came a different view of dreams, one in which they were dismissed as merely a meaningless biological reaction. Today, researchers are challenging that age-old assumption and finding new evidence that dreams are a vital way human beings process the world. In this episode, Sidarta Ribeiro takes us on a journey through the history of our understanding of dreams.

The Way We Dream

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Joelle Avelino

Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the March on Washington (2021)

Bayard Rustin, the man behind the March on Washington, was one of the most consequential architects of the civil rights movement you may never have heard of. Rustin imagined how nonviolent civil resistance could be used to dismantle segregation in the United States. He organized around the idea for years and eventually introduced it to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But his identity as a gay man made him a target, obscured his rightful status and made him feel forced to choose, again and again, which aspect of his identity was most important.

Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the March on Washington (2021)

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Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather outside the Capitol building in Washington D.C. Anadolu Agency via Getty Images hide caption

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Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Anatomy of Autocracy: Timothy Snyder (2021)

When a mob of pro-Trump supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 they also incited a defining moment in United States history. Now what? We revisit our conversation with historian Timothy Snyder about how we got here and what an insurrection could mean for the future of America.

The Anatomy of Autocracy: Timothy Snyder (2021)

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The sun sets over the dark Manhattan skyline on August 14, 2003. A power outage affected large parts of the northeastern United States and Canada. Getty Images hide caption

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Getty Images

The Electrical Grid (2020)

Today, electricity in the U.S. is a utility we notice only when it's suddenly unavailable. But over a hundred years ago, electricity in the homes of every American was a wild idea and the subject of a bitter fight over who would power, and profit from, the national grid. This week, the battle that electrified our world and the extreme measures that were taken to get there.

The Electrical Grid (2020)

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Nicole Xu

Bonus: On Our Watch

What happens to police officers who use excessive force, tamper with evidence or sexually harass someone? In California, internal affairs investigations were kept secret from the public — until a recent transparency law unsealed thousands of files. Listen to the first episode of On Our Watch, a limited-run podcast from NPR and KQED that brings you into the rooms where officers are interrogated and witnesses are questioned to find out who the system of police accountability really serves, and who it protects.

Bonus: On Our Watch

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A mugshot of Eugene V. Debs with his prisoner number in 1920. He was imprisoned in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for speaking out against the draft during World War I. The New York Public Library hide caption

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The New York Public Library

American Socialist (2020)

American workers are reaching a breaking point. We're seeing a wave of resignations and labor strikes, and a supply chain that's cracking under the pressure. At the turn of the 20th century, one man faced a similar world and dreamt of something more – Eugene V. Debs.

American Socialist (2020)

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Ayn Rand, Russian-born American novelist, is shown in Manhattan with the Grand Central Terminal building in background in 1962. ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Monster of We

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 and liked going against the grain. And although she lived by the doctrine of her own greatness, she was driven by the fear that she would never be good enough.

The Monster of We

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Thom Yorke, the singer of the British band Radiohead performs on the stage of the "Rock en Seine" music festival in 2006. AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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AFP via Getty Images

History Is Over

As the end of the 20th century approached, Radiohead took to the recording studio to capture the sound of a society that felt like it was fraying at the edges. Many people had high hopes for the new millennium, but for others a low hum of anxiety lurked just beneath the surface as the world changed rapidly and fears of a Y2K meltdown loomed.

History Is Over

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Graffitied wall off Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, Egypt, February 11, 2011. Egyptians celebrated minutes after former President Mubarak resigned from his presidential duties in the early evening on February 11 in Cairo, Egypt. Getty Images hide caption

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A Symphony of Resistance (2021)

The Arab Spring erupted eleven years ago when a wave of "pro-democracy" protests spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The effects of the uprisings reverberated around the world as regimes fell in some countries, and civil war began in others. This week, we remember the years leading up to the Arab Spring, and its lasting impact on three people who lived through it.

A Symphony of Resistance (2021)

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Fighting Fires and Family Secrets

Uncontrollable western wildfires and a hidden family history — two puzzles that can only be solved with knowledge buried in the past. Indigenous people in Montana fight fire with fire, drawing on the unique relationships their ancestors had to one of the West's greatest threats today. And a young woman grapples with the secret that binds her family together, but also tears them apart. This week, we bring you stories produced by two members of the Throughline team: Victor Yvellez and Anya Steinberg. Through their past work before joining the show, we'll travel from the homelands of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes to the freezers of a cryobank to answer questions about family, tradition, and the future.

Fighting Fires and Family Secrets

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