Throughline Throughline is a time machine. Each episode, we travel beyond the headlines to answer the question, "How did we get here?" We use sound and stories to bring history to life and put you into the middle of it. From ancient civilizations to forgotten figures, we take you directly to the moments that shaped our world. Throughline is hosted by Peabody Award-winning journalists Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei.

Subscribe to Throughline+. You'll be supporting the history-reframing, perspective-shifting, time-warping stories you can't get enough of - and you'll unlock access bonus episodes and sponsor-free listening. Learn more at plus.npr.org/throughline
Throughline Updated Tile
NPR

Throughline

From NPR

Throughline is a time machine. Each episode, we travel beyond the headlines to answer the question, "How did we get here?" We use sound and stories to bring history to life and put you into the middle of it. From ancient civilizations to forgotten figures, we take you directly to the moments that shaped our world. Throughline is hosted by Peabody Award-winning journalists Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei.

Subscribe to Throughline+. You'll be supporting the history-reframing, perspective-shifting, time-warping stories you can't get enough of - and you'll unlock access bonus episodes and sponsor-free listening. Learn more at plus.npr.org/throughline

Most Recent Episodes

belterz/Getty Images

The Whiteness Myth (Throwback)

In 1923, an Indian American man named Bhagat Singh Thind told the U.S. Supreme Court that he was white, and therefore eligible to become a naturalized citizen. He based his claim on the fact that he was a member of India's highest caste and identified as an Aryan. His claims were supported by the so-called Indo-European language theory, a controversial idea at the time that says nearly half the world's population speak a language that originated in one place. Theories about who lived in that place inspired a racist ideology that contended that the original speakers of the language were a white supreme race that colonized Europe and Asia thousands of years ago. This was used by many to define whiteness and eventually led to one of the most horrific events in history. On this episode of Throughline, we unpack the myths around this powerful idea and explore the politics and promise of the mother tongue.

The Whiteness Myth (Throwback)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="/player/embed/1198908877/1253700975" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Bas Czerwinski/AFP via Getty Images

The Rules of War

International courts investigating alleged war crimes have made headlines often in recent months. An arrest warrant has been issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin; arrest warrants have also been requested for senior Hamas and Israeli officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

The Rules of War

  • Download
  • <iframe src="/player/embed/1198908856/1253341878" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

Mythos and Melodrama in the Philippines (Throwback)

Welcome to the "Epic of Marcos." In this tale of a family that's larger than life, Ferdinand Marcos, the former dictator of the Philippines, is at the center. But the figures that surround him are just as important: Imelda, his wife and muse; Bongbong, his heir; and the United States, his faithful sidekick. The story of the Marcos family is a blueprint for authoritarianism, laying out clearly how melodrama, paranoia, love, betrayal and a hunger for power collide to create a myth capable of propelling a nation. Today on the show, the rise, fall, and resurrection of a dynasty — and what that means for democracy worldwide.

Mythos and Melodrama in the Philippines (Throwback)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="/player/embed/1198908837/1252958191" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Peter Dunne/Getty Images

The Mandela Effect

For nearly thirty years, the South African government held a man it initially labeled prisoner number 46664, the anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela. But in 1994, Mandela transformed from the country's 'number one terrorist' into its first Black president, ushering in a new era of democracy. Today, though, many in South Africa see Mandela's party, the ANC, as corrupt and responsible for the country's problems. It's an ongoing political saga, with all sides attempting to weaponize parts of the past – especially Nelson Mandela's legacy. On today's episode, we tell Mandela's story: the man, the myth, and the cost of freedom.

The Mandela Effect

  • Download
  • <iframe src="/player/embed/1198908820/1251697426" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
David McNew/Getty Images

The Labor Of Love (Throwback)

There's a powerful fantasy in American society: the fantasy of the ideal mother. This mother is devoted to her family above all else. She raises the kids, volunteers at the school, cleans the house, plans the birthday parties, cares for her own parents. She's a natural nurturer. And she's happy to do it all for free.Problem is? She's imaginary. And yet the idea of her permeates our culture, our economy, and our social policy – and it distorts them. The U.S. doesn't have universal health insurance or universal childcare. We don't have federally mandated paid family leave or a meaningful social safety net for when times get rough. Instead, we have this imaginary mother. We've structured our society as though she exists — but she doesn't. And we all pay the real-life price.Today on the show, we look at three myths that sustain the fantasy: the maternal instinct, the doting housewife, and the welfare queen. And we tell the stories of real-life people – some mothers, some not – who have fought for a much more generous vision of family, labor, and care.

The Labor Of Love (Throwback)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="/player/embed/1198908795/1249978368" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The 4th Amendment: Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment is the part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures." But — what's unreasonable? That question has fueled a century's worth of court rulings that have dramatically expanded the power of individual police officers in the U.S. Today on the show, how an amendment that was supposed to limit government power has ended up enabling it.

The 4th Amendment: Search and Seizure

  • Download
  • <iframe src="/player/embed/1198908764/1248580146" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
JUNIOR KANNAH/AFP via Getty Images

The Ghost in Your Phone (Throwback)

It's hot. A mother works outside, a baby strapped to her back. The two of them breathe in toxic dust, day after day. And they're just two of thousands, cramped so close together it's hard to move, all facing down the mountain of cobalt stone.Cobalt mining is one of the world's most dangerous jobs. And it's also one of the most essential: cobalt is what powers the batteries in your smartphone, your laptop, the electric car you felt good about buying. More than three-quarters of the world's cobalt supply lies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose abundant resources have drawn greed and grifters for centuries. Today on the show: the fight for control of those resources, and for the dignity of the people who produce them.

The Ghost in Your Phone (Throwback)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="/player/embed/1198908739/1246904918" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

American lawyer and consumer activist Ralph Nader, whose book 'Unsafe at Any Speed', led to the passage of improved car safety regulations. He is at a Senate hearing at Washington triggered by his publication. Keystone/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Keystone/Getty Images

Ralph Nader, Consumer Crusader

Whether it's pesticides in your cereal or the door plug flying off your airplane, consumers today have plenty of reasons to feel like corporations might not have their best interests at heart. At a moment where we're seeing unprecedented product recalls, and when trust in the government is near historic lows, we're going to revisit a time when a generation of people felt empowered to demand accountability from both companies and elected leaders — and got results. Today on the show, the story of the U.S. consumer movement and its controversial leader: the once famous, now infamous Ralph Nader.

Ralph Nader, Consumer Crusader

  • Download
  • <iframe src="/player/embed/1198908720/1245409257" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The 14th Amendment

Of all the amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the 14th is a big one. It's shaped all of our lives, whether we realize it or not: Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Board of Education, Bush v. Gore, plus other Supreme Court cases that legalized same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, access to birth control — they've all been built on the back of the 14th.

The 14th Amendment

  • Download
  • <iframe src="/player/embed/1243870144/1244015410" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Illustration of Luxurious Early American Railway Pullman Dining Car, 1877. Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Getty Images

The Land of the Fee (Throwback)

Tipping is a norm in the United States—and it's always been controversial. The practice took off after the Civil War, as employers sought cheap labor from formerly enslaved people: if tips were expected, companies could get away with paying laughably low wages. But the practice was always controversial, and has been vehemently challenged since it first came to the U.S. from Europe. We speak with Nina Martyris, a journalist who's written about the history of tipping in the United States, to find out how tipping—once deemed a "cancer in the breast of democracy"— went from being considered wholly un-American to becoming a deeply American custom.

The Land of the Fee (Throwback)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="/player/embed/1198908679/1242540765" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
or search npr.org
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news