Kenneth C. Davis


Kenneth C. Davis is the author of "Don't Know Much About History" and the forthcoming "Don't Know Much About the American Presidents" scheduled for publication on September 18, 2012. You can read more about Kenneth here.

Kenneth C. Davis appears in the following:

Second Inaugurals, from Lincoln to Obama

Monday, January 21, 2013

Today, as the president takes the oath of office once more, the palpable hope and excitement of Obama's first inauguration has waned. How will President Obama's second inaugural compare to his first, and how does it fit the history of second inaugurals, from Lincoln on forward? Historian and author Kenneth C. Davis explores the history of second inaugurals, and discusses the expectations for President Obama.


Complete Guide to Inauguration

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Brian Lehrer Show's coverage of Barack Obama's 2013 inaugural ceremony and address. Featuring analysis from Clarence Page, live from the National Mall in Washington, Jodi Kantor on Obama's second term agenda, and Kenneth C. Davis on the surprising history of inauguration day.

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Columbus, Up Close

Monday, October 08, 2012

Kenneth C. Davis, author of the "Don't Know Much About" series, including Don't Know Much About the American Presidents, talks about the changing views of Christopher Columbus.


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How Much Do You Know About the American Presidents?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Do you know the first president to write a memoir? Or the one to host the first White House Easter Egg Roll? And if we were to grade each president, would Reagan really come out on top — as many modern Republicans suggest? Kenneth C. Davis knows plenty about the commander-in-chiefs. He's the author the new book, in stores this week, “Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents.”

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The History of Politics in the Olympic Games

Monday, August 13, 2012

Historian Kenneth C. Davis takes us on a historical tour of the Olympic Games, and reminds us that the Olympics have always been about politics as much as games.


The National Anthem, Remixed

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The national anthem commemorates the struggle of our nascent country at war. The lyrics come from a poem Francis Scott Key penned 200 years ago during the War of 1812: "The Defence of Fort McHenry." But does the song reflect the country today, centuries later?

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4th of July History Lesson... and Quiz!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Just in time for the 4th of July, catch up on your American history with Kenneth C. Davis, author of the "Don't Know Much About" series, including the anniversary edition of Don't Know Much About History.

Listeners: Call in to put your American-history knowledge to the test in our 4th of July quiz! Call us at 212-433-9692.

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The Books that Shaped America

Monday, June 25, 2012

It's the ultimate summer reading list: the Library of Congress has announced a list of the 88 "Books That Shaped America," an eclectic mix of literature that has contributed to the American conversation over the years.

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America's 'Adolescence' and the War of 1812

Monday, June 18, 2012

Two hundred years ago today, the War of 1812 began. The United States was still in its infancy when Congress declared war, but by the time the Americans and British signed the Treaty of Ghent in 1815, the U.S. had emerged from its adolescence into adulthood.

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Audio Essay: A History of Recall Elections

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

If Tuesday's vote doesn't lean in his favor, Scott Walker will join the ranks of only a handful of politicians who've been ousted in recall elections. The Wisconsin vote has grabbed headlines for months, but it turns out that booting a governor from office is a fairly rare event. Ken Davis takes a historical perspective in this audio essay, examining recalls of the past.


The History of Memorial Day

Monday, May 28, 2012

It’s Memorial Day, a day that Americans often conflate with Veterans Day. Just to clarify: Memorial Day, once known as Decoration Day, was founded just after the Civil War; Veterans Day, once known as Armistice Day, was founded after World War I. Veterans Day is in November; Memorial Day, of course, is the last Monday in May. Kenneth C. Davis, author "Don't Know Much About History," gives a more comprehensive history of the origins and evolution of Memorial Day.


One-Term Presidents and One-Hit Wonders

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Here on The Takeaway, we don't make predictions about the upcoming presidential race. But, as always, history repeats itself. So a look at the past can give a glimpse to the future. We call on our friend, historian Kenneth C. Davis for a little help. He's the author of "Don't Know Much About History". And today he's talking about one-term presidents and what the failure to win re-election means for their legacy.


Economy or Personality? The Numbers Behind Obama and Romney's Vulnerabilities

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

As they look towards the general elections, it's clear that President Obama and GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney both face very specific problems. Romney’s problem is one of personality: no candidate in the modern polling era with personal favorability ratings as low as his has ever won the presidency. Obama doesn't have a popularity problem, but he does face some trouble with the economy: no incumbent president has ever won re-election with unemployment rates as high as they are likely to be in November. Carroll Doherty, associate director for Pew Research Center, and Kenneth C. Davis, author of "Don't Know Much About History," explain what is behind these numbers.


The Role of Religion in Politics

Monday, February 27, 2012

On Sunday, during an appearance on ABC News' "This Week," Rick Santorum pushed his socially conservative message to new heights by denouncing the separation of church and state. Specifically, he stated that John F. Kennedy's 1960 speech supporting the split "made [him] want to throw up," and began the turn away from American values. However, some historians assert that the age-old debate over the role of religion in politics is actually quite recent, and only entered public discourse with the rise of the religious right in the late 80s and early 90s.

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Electoral Demographics and a History of Presidential Primaries

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In a recent op-ed for The New York Times, writer Timothy Egan makes this observation about the voters turning out for GOP primary contests around the country: "There is no other way to put this without resorting to demographic bluntness: the small fraction of Americans who are trying to pick the Republican nominee are old, white, uniformly Christian and unrepresentative of the nation at large." He goes on to make this observation about the demographic of the Republican primary electorate: "They are much closer to the population of 1890 than of 2012."


2011 Is History: Looking Back at a Tumultuous Year

Friday, December 30, 2011

Some years just seem to have less impact than others. But 2011 held the Arab Spring, the death of Osama bin Laden, Occupy Wall Street, protests against austerity measures and the ousting of Berlusconi, as well as the end of the Iraq War. Which events of the past year will make it to the history textbooks, and which will be esoteric stories we confuse our grandkids with?

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Questioning the Accuracy of Bill O'Reilly's 'Killing Lincoln'

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has never shied away from controversy. This time it is the commentator's new history book, "Killing Lincoln," that's in the eye of the storm. A reviewer for the National Park Service's bookstore at Ford's Theatre has recommended that the store pull the book due to "lack of documentation" and "factual errors." O'Reilly responded to his critics on his show. (Video after the jump.)


The History of the Motto 'In God We Trust'

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

"In God We Trust" — that's what it says on our greenbacks. It's the national motto and on Tuesday, the House voted to reaffirm the motto. Virginia Congressman J. Randy Forbes, the man who sponsored the bill, says that this vote is to "directly confront a disturbing trend of inaccuracies and omissions, misunderstandings of church and state, rogue court challenges, and efforts to remove God from the public domain." There are about five Democrats who have challenged the bill, but everyone else seems to be pretty much on board.

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Does Christopher Columbus Deserve a Holiday?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Today is Columbus Day, a federal holiday commemorating Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer who famously landed on American soil in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, after spending over two months sailing from Spain. His voyage across the Atlantic prompted many other explorers to follow suit, eventually opening the doors to settlement and trade between North America and the rest of the world. Many people disagree, however, with applying the word "discovered" to Columbus's landing in America, and others criticize him for his cruelty toward Native Americans, and insist that he doesn't deserve a holiday.

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The History of Class Warfare

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Before President Obama had even made his deficit speech, Congressman Paul Ryan spelled out his concerns over its impact. On Sunday, he accused Obama on Fox News of launching "class warfare" by introducing the so-called Buffett Rule. The president rebuffed the remarks saying "This is not class warfare. It's math." 

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