Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed
David Thiel
February 24, 2014

Downton Abbey: Portraying Post-Edwardian Life

Are you a Downton fan? What did you think of season 4? Today on Focus, we’ll talk about the show and why it has captivated millions of viewers. Historian Sharon Michalove also joins us to talk about how realistic the show’s depiction of Post- Edwardian life is. 

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February 19, 2014

Encore: The Lost Region

According to historian and author Jon Lauck, in comparison to the South, the far West and New England, the history of the American Midwest has been far overlooked in its importance. This hour on Focus, he talks with host Jim Meadows.

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book cover
July 11, 2013

A History of Food in 100 Recipes

What’s your favorite dinner dish? Ever wondered where it came from? This hour on Focus, we’ll learn more about the history of food, from the first real writings about cheese to how and why the fork became commonplace in Western culture.

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Abraham Lincoln
December 05, 2012

The Real Abraham Lincoln

Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln introduces moviegoers to a different element of the 16th President's character. Behind the myth, he was a political animal. The movie displays Lincoln in his final days, fighting for passage of the 13th Amendment the the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed slavery. It's easy to remember President Lincoln as a larger-than-life figure. But this film reminds us that, while he was a legendary President, he was also a man. And that man started his professional life as an attorney in Central Illinois. We'll discuss Lincoln's time in the region, and the man behind the myth, with Lincoln historian Steve Beckett, Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Advisory Board, and Guy Fraker, author of the book Lincoln's Ladder to the Presidency.

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November 19, 2012

City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago

A blimp in flames crashes through the roof of a busy downtown bank; a racial incident at a hot, crowded beach spirals into one of the worst urban riots in American history; a transit strike paralyzes the city; the body of a missing young girl is found, the victim of a gruesome murder. The Great Fire of 1871 holds a notorious place in Chicago history – but these incidents over 12 balmy days in 1919 shaped the city in profound ways and paved the way for the birth of the modern American city.

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November 14, 2012

John Quincy Adams

The sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams fought for George Washington, served with Abraham Lincoln in Congress, witnessed Bunker Hill, and as a staunch opponent of slavery, foresaw that slavery would lead to civil war between the North and South. He is, in fact, the only major figure in American history who knew both the founding fathers and Abraham Lincoln. He negotiated an end to the War of 1812, engineered the annexation of Florida, and won the Supreme Court decision that freed the African captives of The Amistad. He served his nation as minister to six countries, secretary of state, senator, congressman, and president. His opposition to slavery inspired John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage.  Yet he remains one of the least-known presidents in our nation's history. We'll talk with biographer Harlow Giles Unger about John Qunicy Adams.

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November 13, 2012

Encore: Why Does the World Exist?

Guest: Jim Holt.

Author Jim Holt is not satisfied with the regular responses to the question "Why are we here?" There are many more possible answers, says Holt, than the old God versus the Big Bang debate would suggest. This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a conversation with Holt about his new book Why Does the World Exist? He'll talk about his correspondence with philosophers, physicists, and a Buddhist monk in his quest for big answers.

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