Revisionist History (podcast)

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Revisionist history
Revisionist History logo.jpg
Hosted by Malcolm Gladwell
Genre History
Format MP3
Language English
Updates Weekly
Length 30-40 mins
No. of seasons 3
Original release Jun 16, 2016 – present
Provider Panoply Media

Revisionist History is a podcast by Malcolm Gladwell produced through Panoply Media. It began in 2016, and has aired 2 10-episode seasons. The third season began in May 2018.

Gladwell, who was already a successful author and essayist, was convinced to create a podcast by his friend Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, which also includes the podcast network Panoply Media.

Each episode begins with an inquiry about a person, event, or idea, and proceeds to question the received wisdom about the subject.

Season 1 (2016)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal air date
1"The Lady Vanishes"June 16, 2016 (2016-06-16)
Central Topic: The Roll Call, an 1874 oil-on-canvas painting by Elizabeth Thompson
Themes Explored: How success by a member of a minority group does not alleviate discrimination, but perpetuates it.
2"Saigon, 1965"June 23, 2016 (2016-06-23)
Central Topic: Leon Gouré, Konrad Kellen and the RAND Corporation recommendations regarding the Vietnam War
Themes Explored: How personal bias can lead to people drawing different conclusions from the same data.
3"The Big Man Can't Shoot"June 30, 2016 (2016-06-30)
Central Topic: Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry and the underhand free throw
Themes Explored: Why smart people sometimes refuse to accept the best ideas.
4"Carlos Doesn’t Remember"July 7, 2016 (2016-07-07)
Central Topic: Meritocracy in American schools:
Themes Explored: How America is making use of its human capital.
5"Food Fight"July 14, 2016 (2016-07-14)
Central Topic: Bowdoin College, Vassar College and the budgetary choices of colleges
Themes Explored: How colleges get rewarded for distorting the educational system.
6"My Little Hundred Million"July 21, 2016 (2016-07-21)
Central Topic: Hank Rowan's donation to Glassboro State University
Themes Explored: The ideologies behind educational philanthropy.
7"Hallelujah"July 28, 2016 (2016-07-28)
Central Topic: Deportee by Elvis Costello and Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, and Leonard Cohen
Themes Explored: The role of time and repetition in the creation of works of genius.
8"Blame Game"August 4, 2016 (2016-08-04)
Central Topic: The 2009–11 Toyota vehicle recalls
Themes Explored: Human perception and misconception, our fraught relationship to technology, media dishonesty.
9"Generous Orthodoxy"August 11, 2016 (2016-08-11)
Central Topic: Chester Wenger, the Mennonite minister who confronted his own church
Themes Explored: Effective ways of dissent.
10"The Satire Paradox"August 18, 2016 (2016-08-18)
Central Topic: Harry Enfield and his creation of the Loadsamoney character
Themes Explored: How satire with the aim of social protest can backfire.

Season 2 (2017)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal air date
1"A Good Walk Spoiled"June 14, 2017 (2017-06-14)
Central Topic: Golf and golf clubs
Themes Explored: Property taxes, real estate, CEO productivity.
2"The Road To Damascus"June 21, 2017 (2017-06-21)
Central Topic:The CIA's use of former terrorists as informants
Themes Explored: Forgiveness and second chances.
3"Miss Buchanan's Period Of Adjustment"June 28, 2017 (2017-06-28)
Central Topic: Brown v. Board of Education
Themes Explored: The persistent legacy of racism in American schools.
4"The Foot Soldier of Birmingham"July 5, 2017 (2017-07-05)
Central Topic: A sculpture, The Foot Soldier, by Ronald McDowell as based on a photograph by Bill Hudson
Themes Explored: Artistic license, sanitizing of history.
5"The Prime Minister and the Prof"July 12, 2017 (2017-07-12)
Central Topic: The friendship between Winston Churchill and Lord Cherwell
Themes Explored: The Bengal Famine.
6"The King of Tears"July 9, 2017 (2017-07-09)
Central Topic: Country Music as illustrated by an interview with prolific song writer Bobby Braddock
Themes Explored: Sad songs as compared to general levity of the rock and roll genre.
7"State v Johnson"July 26, 2017 (2017-07-26)
Central Topic: Black Americans and the US justice system
Themes Explored: Institutional racism, power dynamics.
8"Mr. Hollowell Didn’t Like That"August 2, 2017 (2017-08-02)
Central Topic: Black Americans and the US justice system via an extended interview with Vernon Jordan about his work with Donald L. Hollowell
Themes Explored: Institutional racism, power dynamics.
9"McDonald’s Broke My Heart"August 9, 2017 (2017-08-09)
Central Topic: McDonald's decision to stop frying its french fries in beef tallow
Themes Explored: The link between saturated fats and heart disease, the power of individual persistence.
10"The Basement Tapes"August 16, 2017 (2017-08-16)
Central Topic:
Themes Explored:

Season 3 (2018)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal air date
1"Divide and Conquer"May 17, 2018 (2018-05-17)
Central Topic: The complete, unabridged history of the world’s most controversial semicolon.
Themes Explored:
2"Burden of Proof"May 24, 2018 (2018-05-24)
Central Topic: Owen Thomas's story.
Themes Explored: Why we should sometimes act before having concrete proof.
3"A Polite Word for Liar"May 31, 2018 (2018-05-31)
Central Topic: Harmonica player Larry Adler's recollections of his eventful life.
Themes Explored: The unreliable nature of memory.


Shortly after launching in June 2016, Revisionist History hit number one in the US on Apple's iTunes most downloaded podcasts, and took the number two spot in the UK.

Further reading[edit]

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