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Transcripts for the Revisionist History podcast series with Malcolm Gladwell: Season 1- 4

Transcripts for Season 1-4 of the Revisionist History podcast with Malcolm Gladwell

Simon Says is an automated transcription service. We assist people and companies, such as those in the media, to swiftly transcribe audio and video files so they can find that meaningful dialogue. We are not associated with Revisionist History or Panoply Media; we are just big fans. And we highly recommend you listen to the podcasts if you can. We have provided the transcripts below as a supplement. Enjoy!

Season 1

Episode 1:
The Lady Vanishes: interactive transcript | blog

In the late 19th, a painting by a virtually unknown artist took England by storm: The Roll Call but after that brilliant first effort, the artist all but disappeared. Why?

Episode 2:
Saigon 1965: interactive transcript | blog

In the early 1960s, the Pentagon set up a top-secret research project in an old villa in downtown Saigon. The task? To interview captured North Vietnamese soldiers and guerrillas in order to measure their morale: Was the relentless U.S. bombing pushing them to the brink of capitulation?

Episode 3:
The Big Man Can't Shoot: interactive transcript | blog

The basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain had only one flaw: he couldn't shoot free throws. In 1962, Chamberlain switched to making his foul shots underhanded, and fixed his only weakness.

But then he switched back.

Episode 4:
Carlos Doesn't Remember: interactive transcript | blog

Carlos is a brilliant student from South Los Angeles. He attends an exclusive private school on an academic scholarship. He is the kind of person the American meritocracy is supposed to reward. But in the hidden details of his life lies a cautionary tale about how hard it is to rise from the bottom to the top, and why the American school system, despite its best efforts, continues to leave an extraordinary amount of talent on the table.

Episode 5:
Food Fight: interactive transcript | blog

Bowdoin College in Maine and Vassar College in upstate New York are roughly the same size. They compete for the same students. Both have long traditions of academic excellence. But one of those schools is trying hard to close the gap between rich and poor in American society, and paying a high price for its effort. The other is making that problem worse, and reaping rewards as a result.

Episode 6:
My Little Hundred Million: interactive transcript | blog

In the early '90s, Hank Rowan gave $100 million to a university in New Jersey, an act of extraordinary generosity that helped launch the greatest explosion in educational philanthropy since the days of Andrew Carnegie and the Rockefellers. But Rowan gave his money to Glassboro State University, a tiny, almost bankrupt school in South Jersey, while almost all of the philanthropists who followed his lead made their donations to elite schools such as Harvard and Yale. Why did no one follow Rowan's example?

Episode7:
Hallelujah: interactive transcript | blog

In 1984, Elvis Costello released what he would say later was his worst record: Goodbye Cruel World. Among the most discordant songs on the album was the forgettable  "The Deportees Club." But then, years later, Costello went back and re-recorded it as  "Deportee," and today it stands as one of his most sublime achievements.

Episode 8:
Blame Game: interactive transcript | blog

In the summer and fall of 2009, hundreds of Toyota owners came forward with an alarming allegation: Their cars were suddenly and uncontrollably accelerating. Toyota was forced to recall 10 million vehicles, pay a fine of more than $1 billion, and settle countless lawsuits. The consensus was that there was something badly wrong with the world's most popular cars. Except that there wasn't.

Episode 9:
Generous Orthodoxy: interactive transcript | blog

A pastor officiates at the wedding of his son, under ordinary circumstances, an affirmation of family and community. But what if the son is gay? And what if the pastor belongs to the most traditional of religious communities?

Episode 10:
The Satire Paradox: interactive transcript | blog

In the political turmoil of mid-1990s Britain, a brilliant young comic named Harry Enfield set out to satirize the ideology and politics of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. His parodies became famous. He wrote and performed a vicious sendup of the typical Thatcherite nouveau riche buffoon. People loved it. And what happened? Exactly the opposite of what Enfield hoped would happen. In an age dominated by political comedy,  "The Satire Paradox" asks whether laughter and social protest are friends or foes.

Season 2

Episode 1:
A Good Walk Spoiled: interactive transcript | blog

In the middle of Los Angeles, a city with some of the most expensive real estate in the world, there are a half a dozen exclusive golf courses, massive expanses dedicated to the pleasure of a privileged few. How do private country clubs afford the property tax on 300 acres of prime Beverly Hills real estate? RH brings in tax assessors, economists, and philosophers to probe the question of the weird obsession among the wealthy with the game of golf.

Episode 2:
The Road To Damascus: interactive transcript | blog

What happens when a terrorist has a change of heart? An Islamic militant, who left a trail of destruction in Europe, crosses over to work for the CIA. And then, one day, vanishes.

Episode 3:
Miss Buchanan's Period of Adjustment: interactive transcript | blog

Brown v Board of Education might be the most well-known Supreme Court decision, a major victory in the fight for civil rights. But in Topeka, the city where the case began, the ruling has left a bittersweet legacy. RH hears from the Browns, the family behind the story.

Episode 4:
The Foot Soldier of Birmingham: interactive transcript | blog

Birmingham, 1963. The image of a police dog viciously attacking a young black protester shocks the nation. The picture, taken in the midst of one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s most famous marches, might be the most iconic photograph of the civil rights movement. But few have ever bothered to ask the people in the famous photograph what they think happened that day. It's more complicated than it looks.

Episode 5:
The Prime Minister and the Prof: interactive transcript | blog

How does friendship influence political power? The story of Winston Churchill's close friend and confidant, an eccentric scientist named Frederick Lindemann, whose connection to Churchill altered the course of British policy in World War II. And not in a good way.

Episode 6:
The King of Tears: interactive transcript | blog

Revisionist History goes to Nashville to talk with Bobby Braddock, who has written more sad songs than almost anyone else. What is it about music that makes us cry? And what sets country music apart?

Episode 7:
State v Johnson: interactive transcript | blog

The first of a two-part story about the lawyers who helped crack the colorlines of the Jim Crow South. A man rapes a woman. Vernon Jordan and his mentor come to the man's defense, and in the process learn a difficult lesson about justice.

Episode 8:
Mr. Hollowell Didn't Like That: interactive transcript | blog

A man named Willie Nash is arrested for the murder of a white man in 1954, in Augusta Georgia. Witnesses place him at the scene. The victim picks him out of the lineup. He confesses. He is headed for the electric chair. Until his young black attorney, Donald L. Hollowell, mounts a defense that rivets black spectators and gives them hope.

Episode 9:
McDonald's Broke My Heart: interactive transcript | blog

McDonald's used to make the best fast food french fries in the world, until they changed their recipe in 1990. Revisionist History travels to the top food R&D lab in the country to discover what was lost, and why for the past generation we've been eating french fries that taste like cardboard.

Episode 10:
TheBasement Tapes: interactive transcript | blog

A cardiologist in Minnesota searches through the basement of his childhood home for a missing box of data from a long-ago experiment. What he discovers changes our understanding of the modern American diet, but also teaches us something profound about what really matters when we honor our parents' legacy.

Season 3

Episode 1:
Divide and Conquer: interactive transcript | blog

The complete, unabridged history of the world's most controversial semicolon.

Episode 2:
Burden of Proof: interactive transcript | blog

In 2013, Malcolm gave a talk at the University of Pennsylvania on the subject of proof. How much evidence do we need of the harmfulness of some behavior, before we act? The lecture was about the long-ago fight over miner's asthma, and about the unexpected death of a Penn student named Owen Thomas. Revisionist History returns to the question at the heart of the the talk, with a visit to Owen Thomas's family.

Episode 3:
A Polite Word for Liar (Memory Part 1): interactive transcript | blog

One early morning in July of 1945, a group of Allied soldiers raided a rooming house full of Nazis in Munich. It ended in a ferocious gun battle. Or maybe this happened April of 1946. And maybe there weren't Nazis in the house: maybe there were just some old women, knitting. And was there actually a gun battle? For the rest of their lives, two of the men who were there, a dashingly handsome undercover spy, and the world's most famous harmonica player, argued about what really happened that night. This is part one of two episodes about memory, in which we try to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Episode 4:
Free Brian Williams: interactive transcript | blog

NBC news anchor Brian Williams told a war story on national television. It wasn't true. But does that make him a liar? Part two of Revisionist History's memory series asks why we insist that lapses of memory must also be lapses of character.

Episode 5:
General Chapman's Last Stand: interactive transcript | blog

General Leonard Chapman guided the Marines Corp through some of the most difficult years in its history. He was brilliant, organized, decisive and indefatigable. Then he turned his attention to the America's immigration crisis. You think you want effective leadership? Be careful what you wish for.

Episode 6:
The Hug Heard Round The World: interactive transcript | blog

Sammy Davis Junior was one of the world's greatest entertainers for the better part of half a century. He was black. But he thought the best way to succeed in the world was to act as if he wasn't. Did we judge him too harshly?

Episode 7:
Malcolm Gladwell's 12 Rules for Life: interactive transcript | blog

Revisionist History wades into the crowded self-help marketplace, with some help with from a band of math whizzes and Hollywood screenwriters. It's late in a hockey game, and you're losing. When should you pull your goalie? And what if you used that same logic when a bad guy breaks into your house and holds your entire family hostage? We think the unthinkable, so you don't have to.

Episode 8:
The Imaginary Crimes of Margit Hamosh: interactive transcript | blog

What was it that Margit Hamosh did? What was her alleged fraud? I have been going on and on about this case for a good 20 minutes now, and I haven't told you. Do you know why? Because we didn't know.

Episode 9:
Strong Verbs, Short Sentences: interactive transcript | blog

One long, hot afternoon on Capitol Hill, in the summer of 1991, the most powerful man in Congress took on the most powerful person in American science. Science won. What does it take to end a reign of terror? The science fraud panic of the 1990s, part two of two.

Episode 10:
Analysis, Parapraxis, Elvis: interactive transcript | blog

Elvis Presley returned from his years in the army to record one of his biggest hits,  "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" But he could never quite get the lyrics right. Why? Revisionist History puts the King of Rock and Roll on the couch.

Season 4

Episode 1:
Puzzle Rush: interactive transcript | blog

Malcolm challenges his assistant Camille to the Law School Admissions Test. He gets halfway through, panics, runs out of time, and wonders: why does the legal world want him to rush?"

Episode 2:
The Tortoise and the Hare: interactive transcript | blog

A weird speech by Antonin Scalia, a visit with some serious legal tortoises, and a testy exchange with the experts at the Law School Admissions Council prompts Malcolm to formulate his Grand Unified Theory for fixing higher education.

Episodes 3-11 are contained in one interactive project. To see the different episodes, click the down arrow to the right of the audio name and select the episode you want.

Episode 3- 11: interactive transcript

Episode 3:
Tempest in a Teacup: interactive transcript | blog

Bohea, the aroma of tire fire, Mob Wives, smugglers,  "bro" tea, and what it all means to the backstory of the American Revolution. Malcolm tells the real story on what happened in Boston on the night of December 16, 1773.

Episode 4:
Good Old Boys: interactive transcript | blog

If you disagree with someone, if you find what they think appalling, is there any value in talking to them? In the early 1970s, the talk show host Dick Cavett, the governor of Georgia Lester Maddox, and the singer Randy Newman tried to answer this question.

Episode 5:
The Standard Case: interactive transcript | blog

Revisionist History tries to make sense of the conundrum of PED use in baseball, using the 500-year-old philosophical techniques of St. Ignatius. Part one of a three-part series on the moral reasoning of the Jesuit order.

Episode 6:
Dr. Rock's Taxonomy: interactive transcript | blog

John Rock was the co-inventor of the birth control pill, and a committed Catholic. He wanted his church to approve of his invention. What happens when a layman takes on the Vatican? Part two of three.

Episode 7:
Descend into the Particular: interactive transcript | blog

An unarmed man is shot to death by police. How does the Jesuitical idea of  "disordered attachments" help us make sense of what happened? Part three of three.

Episode 8:
In a Metal Mood: interactive transcript | blog

Two seasons after its investigation of the decline of McDonalds french fries, Revisionist History returns to fast-food's high-tech test kitchens. This time the subject is cultural appropriation. The case study is Taco Bell. Oh, and Pat Boone is involved.

Episode 9:
Chutzpah vs. Chutzpah: interactive transcript | blog

You thought that there was only one kind of chutzpah. Wrong. There's two. Revisionist History tells the story of the Mafia's showdown with a legendary Hollywood producer, in a battle of competing chutzpahs.

Episode 10:
The Obscure Virus Club: interactive transcript | blog

Throughout the 1970s, a biologist named Howard Temin became convinced that something wasn't right in science's understanding of viruses. His colleagues dismissed him as a heretic. He turned out to be right, and you're alive today as a result. Season Four ends with a bedtime story about how we should be freed by our doubts, not imprisoned by them.

Episode 11:
The Queen of Cuba: interactive transcript | blog

On February 24, 1996, Cuban fighter jets shot down two small planes operated by Brothers to the Rescue, an organization in Florida that tried to spot refugees fleeing Cuba in boats. A strange chain of events preceded the shoot-down, and people in the intelligence business turned to a rising star in the Defense Intelligence Agency, Ana Montes. Montes was known around Washington as the  "Queen of Cuba" for her insights into the Castro regime. But what Montes' colleagues eventually found out about her shook their sense of trust to the core. (In this excerpt from Malcolm Gladwell's forthcoming audiobook Talking to Strangers, we hear why spy mysteries do not unfold in real life like they do in the movies.)