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

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.

Most Recent Episodes

A young girl stands with supporters of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the National Task Force to End Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Against Women as they hold a rally for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) outside the US Capitol on June 26, 2012. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Everybody Knows Somebody

In the mid-1980's a woman who didn't consider herself a feminist was asked to solve perhaps the biggest problem women face. How she and a small group of people seized on that rare moment and fought back in the hopes that something could finally be done.

Everybody Knows Somebody

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A United Fruit Company official looks over some of the fruit bunches of bananas harvested since the strike to determine which are fit for market in Honduras on Sept. 3, 1954. Because of the strike, the trees have not been sprayed for over two months, and there are many bunches that are spotted with sigatoka (red rust) that discolors the skin but does not affect the fruit. AP hide caption

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AP

There Will Be Bananas

The banana is a staple of the American diet and has been for generations. But how did this exotic tropical fruit become so commonplace? How one Brooklyn-born entrepreneur ruthlessly created the modern banana industry and the infamous banana republics.

There Will Be Bananas

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Angela Hsieh

Resistance Is Futile

Artificial intelligence, gene modification, and self-driving cars are causing fear and uncertainty about how technology is changing our lives. But humans have struggled to accept innovations throughout history. In this episode, we explore three innovations that transformed the world and show how people have adapted — and ask whether we can do the same today.

Resistance Is Futile

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New Russian President Vladimir Putin takes the presidential oath on the Constitution of the Russian Federation in Moscow's Kremlin Palace on May 7, 2000. Former president Boris Yeltsin looks on during the inauguration ceremony after having resigned on December 31, 1999. AFP/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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AFP/AFP/Getty Images

The Moth

Vladimir Putin has been running Russia since 2000 when he was first elected as President. How did a former KGB officer make his way up to the top seat — was it political prowess or was he just the recipient of a lot of good fortune? In this episode, we dive into the life of Vladimir Putin and try to understand how he became Russia's new "tsar."

The Moth

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Prior to 1924, the average lifespan of a light bulb was around 2,500 hours. But in December 1924, a global organization known as the Phoebus Cartel hatched a secret plan to increase sales by bringing the average bulb's lifespan down to just 1,000 hours. This began one of the first known examples of planned obsolescence. Al Barry/Three Lions/Getty Images hide caption

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Al Barry/Three Lions/Getty Images

The Phoebus Cartel

Have you ever wondered why your smartphone or toaster oven doesn't seem to last very long, even though technology is becoming better and better? In a special collaboration with Planet Money, we bring you the history of planned obsolescence – the idea that products are designed to break.

The Phoebus Cartel

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Angela Hsieh/NPR

America's Opioid Epidemic

A record number of Americans have died from opioid overdoses in recent years. But how did we get here? And is this the first time Americans have faced this crisis? The short answer: no. Three stories of opioids that have plagued Americans for more than 150 years.

America's Opioid Epidemic

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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. Robert Giroux/Getty Images hide caption

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Robert Giroux/Getty Images

The Grid

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 Grid

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A man stands before the American Flag. Hokyoung Kim for NPR hide caption

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Hokyoung Kim for NPR

American Shadows

This week we're revisiting one of our favorite episodes about one of our favorite topics: Conspiracy theories. They're a feature of today's news and politics. But they've really been a part of American life since its founding. In this episode, we'll explore how conspiracy theories helped to create the U.S. and how they became the currency of political opportunists.

American Shadows

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The Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupts, April 16, 2010 in Fimmvorduhals, Iceland. The resulting volcanic ash in the atmosphere over parts of Europe caused major air traffic disruptions for several days. Signy Asta Gudmundsdottir/NordicPhotos/Getty Images hide caption

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Signy Asta Gudmundsdottir/NordicPhotos/Getty Images

A Year Of Wonders

As extreme weather wreaks havoc around the globe we look at a natural disaster more than 200 hundred years ago that had far-reaching effects. This week, how the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Laki awed, terrified and disrupted millions around the world and changed the course of history.

A Year Of Wonders

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The Kaaba in the centre of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 1979. Every year, millions of Muslims complete a Hajj, or pilgrimage, to this sacred spot. Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Siege of Mecca

On November 20th, 1979, a group of Islamic militants seized Islam's holiest site — the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. They took thousands of hostages and held the holy site for two weeks, shocking the Islamic world. This week, how one man led an uprising that would have repercussions around the world and inspire the future of Islamic extremism.

The Siege of Mecca

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