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

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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Fahmida Azim for NPR

War of the Worlds

The Sunni-Shia divide is a conflict that most people have heard about - two sects with Sunni Islam being in the majority and Shia Islam the minority. Exactly how did this conflict originate and when? We go through 1400 years of history to find the moment this divide first turned deadly and how it has evolved since.

War of the Worlds

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Then congressional candidate Nancy Pelosi waves in front of her headquarters in San Francisco on April 7, 1987. Paul Sakuma/AP Photo hide caption

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Paul Sakuma/AP Photo

Nancy Pelosi

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? On this episode, we trace the rise of the Speaker.

Nancy Pelosi

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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.

America's Opioid Epidemic

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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? This week, 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

Audio will be available later today.

Two armed American border guards deter a group of undocumented immigrants from attempting to cross a river from Mexico into the United States (1948). Keystone/Getty Images hide caption

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Keystone/Getty Images

The Border

In February, President Trump declared a national emergency at the US-Mexico border. Last year, he ordered thousands of National Guard troops to the border. Is this the first time an American president has responded with this level of force? In this week's episode, the history of militarization at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Border

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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/Getty Images hide caption

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

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Hokyoung Kim for NPR

American Shadows

Conspiracy theories are 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 impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in the Senate on March 13, 1868. The House approved 11 articles of impeachment against Andrew Johnson. After a 74-day Senate trial, the Senate acquitted Johnson on three of the articles by a one-vote margin each and decided not to vote on the remaining articles. Library of Congress/Getty Images hide caption

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Library of Congress/Getty Images

High Crimes And Misdemeanors

When Andrew Johnson became president in 1865, the United States was in the middle of one of its most volatile chapters. The country was divided after fighting a bloody civil war and had just experienced the first presidential assassination. We look at how these factors led to the first presidential impeachment in American history.

High Crimes And Misdemeanors

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South Korean children shield their ears and mothers their babies as they watch U.S. 105mm howitzers blast enemy positions across the Han River. The attack occurred during their drive from the captured city Gimpo toward Seoul in Sept. 24, 1950. FRANK NOEL/AP hide caption

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FRANK NOEL/AP

The Forgotten War

President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un are preparing to meet for a second nuclear summit. What has fueled the hostility between these two countries for decades? On this episode, we look back at the tangled history.

The Forgotten War

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