Ridiculous History


Did San Diego fall victim to a real-life weather manipulating supervillain? What on Earth are Soviet bone records? Each week, longtime friends and veteran podcasters Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown dive into some of the weirdest stories from across the span of human civilization in Ridiculous History, a podcast by HowStuffWorks.

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History is beautiful, brutal and, often, ridiculous. Join Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown as they dive into some of the weirdest stories from across the span of human civilization in Ridiculous History, a podcast by HowStuffWorks.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-11-14 21:50
last episode published
2019-11-14 18:33
publication frequency
3.43 days
applepodcast@howstuffworks.com (HowStuffWorks) managing editor  
HowStuffWorks author   owner  
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Society & Culture Science & Medicine History Literature



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

How Bertha Heyman Conned Her Way Into Show Business

Bertha Heyman was a notorious con artist with a robust rap sheet and a penchant for bilking well-to-do, otherwise shrewd men. Listen in to learn how Bertha's life of crime led her, oddly enough, into showbiz. Learn more about your ad-choices at https:...
iHeartRadio author

That Time Germany Got Obsessed With Polar Bear Photos

When French photo collector Jean-Marie Donat stumbled upon his first vintage picture of a German dressed as a polar bear, he initially thought it was just an odd historical anomaly -- at least, that is, until he found a second one. And then a third. An...
iHeartRadio author

Rose Mackenberg: Houdini's Ghostbuster

While the papers of the time relegated Rose Mackenberg to a sidekick role as the "girl detective" working with famed skeptic and escape artist Harry Houdini, this spiritualist-turned-spook-spy spent decades busting con artists purporting to be mediums....
iHeartRadio author

Science and Spiritualism: Why were ghost stories so popular in the 1800s?

Nowadays western historians tend to regard the scientific progress of the 19th century as a linear, indelible line from one breakthrough to the next. Yet these astonishing innovations in science occurred in step with a resurrection of paranormal belief...
iHeartRadio author

John of Bohemia, the Blind King Who Charged Into Battle

We recount the epic tale of John of Bohemia, a 14th-century king who charged into the Battle of Crécy at age 50 - despite having been blind for the past ten years. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers
iHeartRadio author

KakigĹŤri: The Story of Japan's Famous Shaved Ice

While this Japanese delicacy isn't the world's only icy dessert, it's certainly one of the most unique -- that iconic, delicate texture sets it apart. KakigĹŤri tastes like a treat fit for aristocrats and royalty, and that's no surprise: Back in the 11t...
iHeartRadio author

John Edmonstone: The Man Who Trained Darwin

Born into slavery in the 1700s, John Edmonstone gained his freedom in 1817 and moved to Edinburgh, where he stuffed birds for the Natural Museum and taught taxidermy to a young Charles Darwin. Tune in to learn more about the life and times of the man w...
iHeartRadio author

The Death of Luxury Air Travel

Flying in an airplane is an enormous privilege, but nowadays it's often seen as an inconvenience more than anything else -- the crowding, the lines, the security check and so on can certainly take the magic out of a journey. Yet this wasn't always the ...
iHeartRadio author

Introducing History VS.

In the podcast History Vs., we’ll explore how larger-than-life historical figures faced off against their greatest foes. In this inaugural season, we’re looking at Theodore Roosevelt’s incredible life using a convention that he, as a boxer, would have ...
iHeartRadio author

The Bizarre Capitulation of Stettin

When French General Antoine Lasalle first arrived at the Prussian-held city of Stettin in 1806, his odds of successfully capturing the community seemed laughably low -- Prussian Lieutenant General Friedrich Romberg had over 5,000 heavily-armed troops a...
iHeartRadio author

John Wilkes Booth's Brother Saved Abraham Lincoln's Son

Sometime in 1864 or 1865, Robert Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln, had a close call with death in a subway station when he was saved at the last minute by an honest-to-God celebrity -- Edwin Booth, one of the most famous actors of the day. Nei...
iHeartRadio author

John Clem: The 12-year Old Civil War Hero

Although most soldiers in the U.S. Civil War were between 18 and 39, an estimated 20% of the soldiers were underage -- and thousands of those children were under the age of 15. John Lincoln Clem was one of the most extreme examples of this phenomenon, ...
iHeartRadio author

Christopher Columbus Was Such A Jerk That Even Spain Turned Against Him

For decades in the West, Christopher Columbus was often inaccurately portrayed as a pioneering explorer, his life, times and crimes sanitized in the public record. Schoolchildren learned rhymes about this individual, and in the US he was given an offic...
iHeartRadio author

The Kaiser’s Plan to Invade the United States

Kaiser Wilhelm II was nothing if not ambitious, and he had grand geopolitical plans to increase German influence across the planet. In his mind, there was one big roadblock in the way — the pesky United States. Join the guys as they explore the bizarre...
iHeartRadio author

How Uncle Tom's Cabin Became One of the Most Popular Books in China

Published in 1852, Uncle Tom's Cabin quickly reached international acclaim, becoming the best-selling novel of the 19th century, and the second-best selling book after the Bible. While this antislavery narrative profoundly affected American attitudes a...
iHeartRadio author

Introducing Worst Year Ever

2020 isn't going to be fun for anybody, left, right, or center. What many call the Most Important Election of Our Lifetime is going to be exhausting, ugly, angry, and probably at least a little racist. Listen as Robert, Katy, and Cody try to keep level...
iHeartRadio author

Tom Watson Gordy: How One Uncle’s Adventures Inspired Jimmy Carter to Join the Navy

Former President Jimmy Carter has dedicated his life to public service, but even now few people know what exactly inspired him. Join Ben, Noel and special guest Ryan as they explore the astonishing adventures of Carter’s Uncle Tom Gordy — and how one m...
iHeartRadio author

Teddy Bears, Rhinos, Safari and Everywhere Else: A Conversation with Daniel Scheffler

Although he was wildly popular during his final Presidential term (the world-famous Teddy Bear was even inspired by him), Theodore Roosevelt declined to run for the office again in 1908. Immediately after the inauguration of President Howard Taft in 19...
iHeartRadio author

The Gaspee Affair: Rhode Island’s Revolutionary “Tea Party”

Most US residents are familiar with the famous Boston Tea Party - but it was far from the only conflict of this type. Join the guys as they explore Rhode Island’s Gaspee Affair, and why it’s sometimes called Rhode Island’s Boston Tea Party. Learn more ...
iHeartRadio author

Otto Rahn, The Nazi Occultist Who Hated Nazis and Inspired Indiana Jones

Otto Rahn was a German writer obsessed with finding the Holy Grail -- and, despite being opposed to the Nazi party, as well as openly gay, Otto was financed by one of his biggest fans: Henrich Himmler, the infamous head of the SS. Himmler was convinced...
iHeartRadio author

4 Times Women in the US Were Actually Arrested for Wearing Pants

Today we take a look at a practice that many of us do every day without a second thought - namely, wear pants. However, for women throughout history, wearing pants has not always been such a trivial matter. Join Ben and special guest Christopher Hassio...
iHeartRadio author

Sir Francis Drake and the Great Iowa Swindle

When Oscar Hartzell's mother met Milo and Sudie, she fell for a story too good to be true: She, as an heir to the fortune of Sir Francis Drake, was eligible to receive a large part of his treasure -- all she had to do was help pay for court costs in th...
iHeartRadio author

Around the World in a Model T: The Story of Aloha Wanderwell

Nowadays her name may be unfamiliar, but in the 1920s Aloha Wanderwell was an international celebrity, traveling hundreds of thousands of miles across the globe and filming her adventures. Tune in to learn more about the life and times of the explorer ...
iHeartRadio author

Why George Washington is Huge in Barbados

Before he became one of the leaders of the Revolutionary War, George Washington was just another young man with big dreams and no small amount of wanderlust. It’s no surprise, then, that he jumped at the chance to travel to Barbados with his elder half...
iHeartRadio author

John Willis Menard: The First African American Elected To US Congress

A statesman, editor, publisher, poet, activist and more, John Willis Menard was a true Renaissance man, and he dedicated his life to public service. Listen in to learn more about the life and times of John Willis Menard. Learn more about your ad-choice...
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The Bloody Revenge of Saint Olga of Kiev

When the rebellious Drevlian tribe killed Princess Olga of Kiev's husband, Igor, she set forth on one of history's bloodiest revenge's schemes, instigating not one but multiple unsaintly, violent massacres. Join the guys as they explore Olga's brutal r...
iHeartRadio author

The Super Fight: When Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano Had A Fight That Never Happened

Radio executive Murray Woroner had a dream -- a fantasy radio boxing tournament matching 16 fighters from different eras. In a move that pushed the boundaries of 1960s technology, his team programmed a computer with that boxers' strengths, weaknesses a...
iHeartRadio author

Shame and Fish: The Embarrassing and Tragic Story of François Vatel

In this episode, Ben and Noel dive into the story of François Vatel, a majordomo who was tasked with organizing an extravagant royal banquet in 1671. With 2,000 attendees expected, among them many high-ranking French dignitaries, the pressure was high....
iHeartRadio author

Creature Feature: Go Home Nature, You're Drunk

Join the guys as they make a return appearance on Creature Feature, the podcast that takes a critter’s eye view to explore how animal behavior parallels the behavior of humans. In this episode, Katie Goldin and the guys explore some of the strangest qu...
iHeartRadio author

Hunting Fireflies for Fun (and Profit)

From the 1960s well into the 1990s, thousands of children in the United States were actually paid to hunt fireflies. Join the guys as they explore the strange story of Sigma and firefly hunting — and get surprised by an unexpected guest. Learn more abo...
iHeartRadio author

The Listener Mail Extravaganza

The guys often end the show by asking you and your fellow listeners for your own takes on everything from strange town names, crackpot military experiments and more. In today’s episode, Ben and Noel explore some of their favorite listener feedback and ...
iHeartRadio author

That Time Ancient Monks Waged War Over A Copyright

The first modern copyright law was the Statute of St. Anne, passed in Great Britain in 1710. However, copyright disputes themselves are much older -- and in at least once case, an argument over copyright led to thousands of deaths. Listen in to learn t...
iHeartRadio author

Ye Xian: The Story of China's Cinderella

We've all heard the story of Cinderella -- it's one of the world's most popular fairy tales! However, this story exists in multiple versions across the world. Join the guys as they explore the ancient tale of Ye Xian -- the Chinese Cinderella. Learn mo...
iHeartRadio author

The Portuguese Bank Note Crisis: How One Lucky Forger Almost Destroyed A Nation's Economy

Artur Virgilio Alves dos Reis had a gift. He wasn't the smartest kid growing up, nor was he the most athletic -- he was, however, one of Europe's most talented forgers. After a string of various cons, he decided to go big. How big, you ask? Tune in to ...
iHeartRadio author

Cow Shoe Camouflage: How Prohibition-era Moonshiners Outsmarted the Feds

During the Prohibition Era, moonshiners and federal agents continually tried to outsmart one another — and one of the moonshiners’ most creative inventions? The bizarre footwear known as Cow Shoes. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.ihear...
iHeartRadio author

Castle Itter: When Germans and Americans Joined Forces in World War II

With one notable exception, American and German forces were bitterly opposed to one another during World War II -- that exception? The Battle of Castle Itter. Tune in to learn more about the strange sequence of events that led both the US and the Germa...
iHeartRadio author

A Grave Mistake: The Story of Patton's "Abandoned Rear"

When George S. Patton decided to found a tank training school in the tiny French village of Bourg, the mayor approached him in tears. "An American soldier has died here," said the mayor, "and I would like to lead you to his grave." Patton followed the ...
iHeartRadio author

Did the US Mafia actually start in New Orleans?

When we think of the mob today, most Americans think of New York City -- and why not? After all, films, books and TV shows often depict New York as the heart of mob country. Yet, as the guys discover in today's episode, the story of the Italian-America...
iHeartRadio author
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Introducing Ephemeral

Lost materials, dropped threads, forgotten stories. Ephemera in the way that it’s intertwined in our lives. All those things, tangible and intangible, that you wish you could take just one more look at before they vanish into the past. All episodes of ...
iHeartRadio author

Meet Albert Cashier, the Trans Man Who Fought for the Union in the Civil War

Born as 'Jennie Hodgers' with a female sex assignment on December 25th, 1843, Albert Cashier emigrated to the United States lived as a man from his early teens on through the rest of his life. Despite the massive prejudices of the time, he managed to f...
iHeartRadio author

Operation Northwoods: How the US Planned to Attack Itself and Start a War with Cuba

It's no secret that the US and Cuba have a long history of tense relations, often teetering on the brink of war. But just how far would Uncle Sam go to begin a genuine war with Cuba? The answer can be found in the declassified proposals for Operation N...
iHeartRadio author

That Time Irish Separatists Invaded Canada

It’s true! Once upon a time, Irish separatists based in the United States thought invading Canada was the best way to reunify Ireland. Join the gang as they explore the rise of the Fenians (and, along the way, why Canada is more than capable of defendi...
iHeartRadio author

The Night Witches: How an All-female Soviet Bomb Squad Terrorized Nazi Germany

The 588th Night Bomber Regiment didn't have the best equipment, and they didn't have the best planes. What this all-female bomber regiment did have, however, was unstoppable ambition, brilliant strategies and dozens of fearless pilots. Listen in to lea...
iHeartRadio author

Bug Wars: When We Tried to Turn Insects into Soldiers

Let's be honest: Bugs aren't everyone's cup of tea, but they're fascinating, crucial parts of the ecosystem. They're also, according to a few eggheads, the perfect weapons of war. Join the guys as they explore the bizarre experiments governments conduc...
iHeartRadio author

Yasuke, the African Samurai

Japanese Daimyo Oda Nobunaga was fascinated by the mysterious, towering slave of a visiting Jesuit missionary, and soon this man, Yasuke, joined Nobunaga's court, eventually becoming a full-on samurai. Join the guys as they explore the strange life of ...
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The Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I Tried To Make An Army of Super Tall Soldiers

Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm was fascinated by all things military, but the crown jewel of his army was a group known as the Potsdam Giants -- men recruited on the basis of their height alone. If these tall boys, teens and men didn't want to sign up...
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Playboy, Progressive Politics and Stand-up: The Dick Gregory Story with Wayne Federman

In this episode, Wayne Federman joins the guys to explore the rise of legendary comedian Dick Gregory, who began life as a boundary-breaking stand-up comic. Tune in as the gang explore's Gregory's evolution, his association with Hugh Hefner, and his la...
iHeartRadio author

Introducing Food 360 with Marc Murphy

Want to know more about what’s on your plate? Chef Marc Murphy’s Food 360 takes a comprehensive look at the way we eat, exploring food history, science, culture, and more with help from an impressive roster of experts, restauranteurs, and fellow celebr...
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I Modi: The Scandalous Erotic Blockbuster Banned By The Vatican

Nowadays it's no secret that some Papal administrations from centuries past were a bit more scandalous than others, but when master engraver Marcantonio Raimondi created prints of explicit art located within the papal palace, the church was scandalized...
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Patriots, Prisoners and Plants: The World of Political Body Doubles

Has anyone ever told you you resemble a celebrity? Have you ever thought of making this resemblance your job? In today’s episode, the guys explore real-life stories of body doubles, from World War II to surprisingly recent events. Learn more about your...
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