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Listening to America with Clay Jenkinson

Listening to America aims to “light out for the territories,” traveling less visited byways and taking time to see this immense, extraordinary country with fresh eyes while listening to the many voices of America’s past, present, and future. Led by noted historian and humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson, Listening to America travels the country’s less visited byways, from national parks and forests to historic sites to countless under-recognized rural and urban places. Through this exploration, Clay and team find and tell the overlooked historical and contemporary stories that shape America’s people and places.
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Now displaying: October, 2023
Oct 31, 2023

This week, Clay’s conversation with Enlightenment correspondent David Nicandri about four subjects: Ken Burns’ documentary on the buffalo; the solar eclipse of Saturday, October 15; a new book by former Secret Service Agent Paul Landis about the Kennedy assassination — Landis actually tampered with the evidence in the presidential limo, and now, at 88, he wants to tell the people of America his story; and a preliminary conversation about the structure of road adventures, beginning with the Lewis and Clark Expedition and ending with Nicandri’s recent trip to the Arctic Circle.

Oct 23, 2023

This week on Listening to America, after a lifetime of thinking about the third president of the United States, Clay Jenkinson has made a list of 10 insights about the great man. Clay puts these propositions to our favorite guest historian Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky. 

Oct 16, 2023

This week, Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky about the creation of the Constitution in the summer of 1787. What did they get right, what did they get wrong, and which issues did they simply kick down the road? Was the true divide between big states and little states, or as James Madison said, between slave states and free states? Why did the Founders work behind closed doors in secrecy? Why did they throw out the Articles of Confederation when they were instructed merely to make a few strategic amendments? Why did Alexander Hamilton give that insane five hour speech calling for the President and Senators to serve for life? How would things have been different if Jefferson had been there, if John Adams had been there, if Patrick Henry had been there? Well, Patrick Henry said he “smelt a rat.”

Oct 10, 2023

Guest host David Horton of Radford University talks with Clay Jenkinson about Ken Burns' latest documentary, The American Buffalo, which premiers on PBS on October 16. Clay has now been in five of Ken Burns' documentaries, and has been one of the historical advisers in two of the films. Among the topics of discussion: Who was William Hornaday and what role did he play in the saving of the buffalo? What was Theodore Roosevelt's role? How do you prepare to be interviewed in a Ken Burns film? Why is the buffalo so important to America's sense of its heritage? Clay also speaks of his own long association with the buffalo, first seen when he was a child in North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Oct 2, 2023

This week, Clay Jenkinson’s interview with Dr. Yuval Levin of the American Enterprise Institute about how we can turn America around from this funk of profound disillusionment and cynicism. Dr. Levin is the author of many books, the most recent of which is A Time to Build: How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream. As the United States lurches towards its 250th birthday, are we still a nation with a common history, a common set of values, and a common destiny? Dr. Levin’s view is that nostalgia for the golden age between the end of World War II and Watergate is a mistake, that we have to stop dwelling on the past and what went wrong, and begin rebuilding trust and trustworthiness in our national institutions. We need to demand more of our political leaders and ask more of ourselves if we want to recover. And, he recommends books every American should read as we get ready for July 4, 2026. 

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