Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Support NHPR's local journalism that brings clarity, context, and community!

7.23.15: Birth Of A Nation & What Happened To Surrender

Tom Gill via Flickr CC
/
flic.kr/p/LNxeQ

America's first blockbuster: a depiction of the Civil War and early Reconstruction that featured  white actors in blackface, portraying feeble-minded or rapacious slaves, culminating with masked Klansmen galloping in to save the South. On today show, we talk about the film that set of a resurgence of savage Klan activity and has had an enduring influence on American racism and politics. Then, vexillogists, people who study flags. Here's a trick: if you want to design a great flag, start by drawing a one-by-one-and-a-half inch rectangle on a piece of paper. And finally -- what happened to surrender? It's becoming increasingly rare. 

Listen to the full show.

The Birth Of A Nation

It was one of the first American feature-length films, the first movie screened at the White House, and it continues to top critics' lists of all-time greatest movies. It also revived the Klan and the Confederacy. Josh Zeitz is a Politico Magazine contributor, where we found his article "How An Infamous Movie Revived The Confederacy." He's also the author of "Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, And The War For Lincoln's Image."

WOM07232015A.mp3
The Birth of a Nation

Vexillonaire

What makes a good flag? There's a whole field of study about flags: Vexillology. The word comes from the Latin word Vexillum (flag) Greek suffix -logia (study of.) Roman Mars of 99% Invisible has the story, and you can listen to it again at prx.org

Whatever Happened To Surrender?

Wars are borderless. Conflicts are ideological. Battles are fought door-to-door in cities, and gruesome videos posted online. And declarations of surrender are becoming increasingly rare. Carlin Romano is a critic at large for the Chronicle Review of Higher Education, and author of the article "Whatever Happened To Surrender?" Here you can also find a link to his book, "America The Philosophical."

WOM07232015C.mp3
Whatever Happened to Surrender?

Correction: July 24, 2015. An earlier version of this post mistakenly said that The Birth of a Nation was the first feature-length film; it was one of the first American feature-length films. 

Related Content

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.