Dr. Luke A. Nichter

By Author, Education, Politics One Comment

This week on the Here’s What We Know Podcast, join us as we delve into the tumultuous year of 1968, a pivotal moment in American and global history, with our special guest, an esteemed historian and professor, Dr. Luke A. Nichter. He is a New York Times bestselling author or editor of eight books, including, most recently, “The Year That Broke Politics: Collusion and Chaos in the Presidential Election of 1968,” which was chosen as the Best Book of 2023 by the Wall Street Journal. As an expert on presidential history, Dr Luke brings a wealth of knowledge about the seismic shifts that occurred during this era. He also mentioned that there is talk about using AI for transcribing historical recordings which could revolutionize our understanding of past presidencies by providing deeper insights than ever before possible.

This is such an enlightening episode filled with insights into one of America’s most dynamic years while emphasizing the importance of preserving our country’s rich history for future generations. Tune in now!

This episode is sponsored by:

(Be sure to use code “Gary20” to get 20% off your order!)

In this Episode:

  • Hear about the revolutionary nature of 1968, both domestically and internationally.
  • Discover how media coverage brought the Vietnam War and political unrest into living rooms across America.
  • Comparisons between past conflicts like Vietnam and more recent ones such as Iraq.
  • Explore Lyndon B. Johnson’s complex legacy as president during these transformative times.
  • Hear insightful conversations about whether John F. Kennedy would have escalated or withdrawn from Vietnam had he not been assassinated. 
  • Discover why the treatment of vice presidents has been scrutinized throughout history.
  • Listen to Dr. Luke as he shares personal stories and anecdotes while teaching history to college students.
  • Discover the role technology could play in transcribing historical presidential tapes for greater public access.


“Americans, we often put ourselves, we think we’re the middle of the world and there’s nothing else going on that’s nearly as important.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“Young people especially will surprise you by what they know, but also what they don’t know. And sometimes they know things very differently than you and I would.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“I think just kind of by definition, to reach the office of the presidency, you’ve got to be an interesting person.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“When I see a new political book, you know, on a shelf and I reach for it, you know, there’s that little voice in my head that usually says, well, what’s the author’s take? Do they have an agenda? Do they have a favorite?” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“I think we’ve lost so much historical empathy about history because we’re such in a rush to judge historical figures by our own standards that we’ve lost a connection with history and really what history is.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“These things in politics, while presented nobly, you know, are often driven by partisan concerns.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“Historians, we’re not supposed to care about counterfactuals, you know, or concern ourselves at all with what ifs.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“Often in history, you have two sides and I tend to come down somewhere in the middle.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“Early on in the Republic, the best path to becoming president was to be secretary of state, perhaps. And then there’s a phase where maybe becoming a senator is the way to become the president. You know, there’s a joke made that in the Senate, we have a hundred would-be presidents at all times. And then there’s a period that it’s the governor of a state, especially a large industrial, important state with a big population.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“Presidents have always desired to bypass the media, whether it’s print, whether it’s radio. whether it’s television and speak directly to the American people.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“I think there’s always been a degree of nepotism as long as there’s been politics. The two have always gone back together.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“On each side of the political aisle, you have about 20% that are activists that you gotta watch out for. And so you do get a student either on the right or the left occasionally who’s there to make a point.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“The bigger concern, I would say, now. is that students are afraid to actually say what they think in classrooms. Not because of me. They’re not worried about being judged by me. They’re worried about being judged by their peers.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“College should really be free for all of ideas. You should be going down the intellectual rabbit hole and learning about yourself and situating yourself in the world that you live in.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“I really try to be transparent with my reader. I mean, I really try to separate facts.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“One of the things I do as a historian is, if you’re gonna write about history, you better make friends with archivists.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“My goal is to drive the creation of new knowledge.” ~ Luke A. Nichter

“The more that I learn about history, the more I realize I have to learn about history.” ~ Luke A. Nichter


Dr. Luke A. Nichter is a Professor of History and James H. Cavanaugh Endowed Chair in Presidential Studies at Chapman University. His area of specialty is the Cold War, the modern presidency, and U.S. political and diplomatic history, with a focus on the “long 1960s” from John F. Kennedy through Watergate. He has been a Visiting Fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society, a Visiting Scholar at the University of Michigan’s Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Rothermere American Institute, and a Hansard Research Scholar at the London School of Economics.

He is a New York Times bestselling author or editor of eight books, including, most recently, The Year That Broke Politics: Collusion and Chaos in the Presidential Election of 1968 (Yale University Press). It is the first rigorously researched historical account of the most controversial election in modern U.S. history to have cooperation from all four major sides – Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, and George Wallace. Luke interviewed approximately 85 family members and former staffers, in addition to extensive archival research and access to new evidence that dramatically changes our understanding of the election. This work was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.

Luke’s last book was The Last Brahmin: Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. and the Making of the Cold War (Yale University Press). It was the first full biography of Lodge – whose public career spanned from the 1930s to the 1970s – based on extensive multilingual archival research. This work was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Grant. He is also the author of Richard Nixon and Europe: The Reshaping of the Postwar Atlantic World (Cambridge University Press), which was based on multilingual archival research in six countries, and is now at work on a book tentatively titled LBJ: The White House Years of Lyndon Johnson.

Luke earned his Ph.D. in History from Bowling Green State University, and lives in Orange, California and Bowling Green, Ohio.

Guest Contact Info:

Website: http://lukenichter.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/luke-a-nichter-1190877/

Sean A Mirski

By Author, Politics No Comments

This week on the Here’s What We Know Podcast, our host Gary Scott Thomas had a fascinating conversation with Sean A Mirski, a lawyer, historian, U.S. foreign policy scholar, and author of the monumental book “We May Dominate the World: Ambition, Anxiety, and the Rise of the American Colossus.” Sean shares how he spent eight years crafting his book while juggling a demanding law career. His book unpacks nearly 100 years of complex policy across the entire Western Hemisphere with gripping storytelling as we deeply dive into the pivotal moments that shaped our nation’s destiny.

So if you’re up for a historical exploration filled with drama, strategy, and lessons for our times, tune in now and be ready to geek out!

This episode is sponsored by:

(Be sure to use code “Gary20” to get 20% off your order!)

In this Episode:

  • Explore how Sean’s time at the University of Chicago shaped him and touch upon his role as a visiting scholar.
  • Sean shares insights into his writing process and rigorous research involving primary sources, from dusty archives to Library of Congress documents.
  • The discussion delves deep into understanding history through human stories rather than dry facts.
  • Sean reflects on the importance of presenting balanced perspectives that respect historical complexities instead of one-sided narratives.
  • Sean emphasizes meticulous documentation and how easy it is to distort history without proper context or verification.
  • Impactful historical events involve political figures like President Abraham Lincoln, General Ulysses S. Grant, Secretary William H. Seward, President Theodore Roosevelt, Republican politician James G. Blaine, Major General Smedley Butler, and President James Monroe.


“There is kind of a rhythm to the story that helped me sort of keep it all in my head.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“There’s a secret thrill that I feel when I’m in the archives that I’m reading through these documents and sort of just the feeling of having one of these, you know, memoranda or messages in your hand and knowing sort of the historical weight that ended up, being attributed to it and the kind of consequences that it had. There’s just something fun about that for me that I really, I can’t, I guess, fully explain.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“There are a mix of both where there’s really kind of, I think, shades of gray and a lot of complexity because that’s just how we are as human beings, we’re messy.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“Human beings being the mortal creatures that we are, it just didn’t always pan out that way. There were always sort of indirect consequences. There were always things that sort of ended up backfiring or having perversions, you know, incentives that led to bad things happening.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“I think for every generation, it’s worth sort of revisiting the stories of the past because there’s always going to be things that you sort of discover and new insights you glean by virtue of the fact that you’re kind of looking at this history through a new lens that, you know, previous generations didn’t, didn’t have because they were just stuck in a different moment in time.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“It obviously leads to sort of sense of humility, I think, among historians to know that. There are always going to be other ways of telling the story.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“But one of the sort of lessons I at least took away from writing this book is that you’re never going to have a definitive answer to history, because even once you have all the documents in front of you, and even when you tell a story that’s entirely consistent with them, uh, there’s always going to be different ways of telling that story.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“And so I offer my book not in the spirit of this is right and no one can challenge it, but as this is one way to look at it that I hope is consistent with the historical materials, but there are other ways of looking at the same events and sort of coming to, you know, slightly different conclusions.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“One lesson I learned in sort of writing this and it certainly sort of affected the way I now read other history books is sort of never being a definitive yes or no, but always being more of a sort of here’s one version of the story that we can tell.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“That’s the main reason I wrote the book to sort of look at the example of the United States and say, well, Are there any lessons we can draw, right?” ~ Sean A Mirski


Sean A. Mirski is a lawyer, historian, and U.S. foreign policy scholar who has worked on national security issues across multiple U.S. presidential administrations. A term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he currently practices national security, foreign relations, and appellate law at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, and is also a Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He previously served in the U.S. Department of Defense under both Republican and Democratic administrations as Special Counsel to the General Counsel, where he earned the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Award for Outstanding Achievement. He has written extensively on American history, international relations, law, and politics, including as author of We May Dominate the World: Ambition, Anxiety, and the Rise of the American Colossus (Public Affairs 2023), and as editor of the book Crux of Asia: China, India, and the Emerging Global Order (CEIP 2013). Earlier in his career, he clerked for Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. on the U.S. Supreme Court and then-Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and served as a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Named one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30,” he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Chicago.

Guest Contact Info:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sean-mirski-06779222/
“We May Dominate The World: Ambition, Anxiety, and the Rise of the American Colossus” Book Link: Amazon