Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
<i>Lions Led By Donkeys</i> debunks myths about Robert E. Lee

Lions Led By Donkeys debunks myths about Robert E. Lee

Photo: Bruce Yuanyue Bi/The Image Bank (Getty Images)
PodmassPodmassIn Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at podmass@avclub.com.

Endless Thread
Madness, Part 5: The Unreachable Summit

Illustration for article titled iLions Led By Donkeys/i debunks myths about Robert E. Lee

Jointly produced by WBUR and Reddit, “Madness: The Secret Mission For Mind Control And The People Who Paid The Price” is a five-part series on the disconcerting history of Dr. Ewen Cameron and his experiments at the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal. While the previous episodes laid out Cameron’s work on the MKUltra projects and the harrowing experiences of the patients, this last installment makes space for his son, lawyer Duncan Cameron, to share his impressions of the man, the myth, and what happened with all of the destroyed records. Part Brave New World, part Gaslight, the lines between sci-fi fantasy and reality become blurry in this retelling; it’s unclear whether the experiments were intended to heal the human mind or to break it. The story Duncan tells of a father climbing a mountain no one else climbed, and dying before reaching the summit, becomes a complex metaphor for a complex life. This episode does what Reddit does best: asks a lot of questions that maybe no one can answer. [Morgan McNaught]


Lions Led By Donkeys
Robert E. Lee Was A Monster 

Illustration for article titled iLions Led By Donkeys/i debunks myths about Robert E. Lee

Lions Led By Donkeys is a military history podcast that focuses on the strategic blunders, incompetent leaders, and bizarre episodes within humanity’s bloodiest conflicts; hosts Joe and Nick cover everything from the Crusades to the matter of why Pepsi-Cola once had the sixth largest navy in the world. In this episode, the duo returns to their favorite historical punching bag: The Confederacy. Specifically, they explore the propaganda campaign that has successfully painted General Robert E. Lee as a principled Southern gentleman who detested the institution of slavery. Joe easily debunks these myths by recounting Lee’s well-documented history as a brutal slave owner. They also read Lee’s personal correspondences in which he revealed that he considered the true victims of slavery to be the white slave owners. Exposing “great men” as irredeemable monsters is a common theme of the podcast, one that Joe and Nick reprise with a dark humor that underlines the cruel absurdity of war. [Anthony D Herrera]


Lore
Stains

Illustration for article titled iLions Led By Donkeys/i debunks myths about Robert E. Lee

Lore has been unearthing dark and unsettling true stories from across history ever since host and creator Aaron Mahnke started the podcast in 2015—and in our current moment of uncertainty and disease, there is something oddly comforting about revisiting the darkness of the past. In “Stains,” Mahnke dives into the underbelly of Paris, and while his writing and narration in this installment are top-notch, props are also due to researcher Marcet Crockett for teasing out this engaging thread. The episode starts off with a 1984 report of a river monster that led authorities to find a crocodile in sewers under Paris, echoing contemporary urban legends of alligators in New York’s own sewer system. Mahnke then takes listeners back to the bloody Roman conquest out of which Paris initially grew and moves across time to cover everything from religious violence to the real life crime that rippled across the channel, influencing British penny dreadfuls and eventually inspiring the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street. [Jose Nateras]


Other People’s Problems
Andrew: Opening Up During Lockdown

Illustration for article titled iLions Led By Donkeys/i debunks myths about Robert E. Lee

A shuttered restaurateur longs to restore intimacy with his wife amid the lockdown in the season-three opener of a CBC show composed of live therapy sessions. The walls between “Andrew” and his wife aren’t limited to a dry spell in the bedroom: They are made of unreciprocated hugs and sparse conversation (besides children and pocketbook issues). Andrew fears broaching the subject will only confirm that the marriage is over. Dr. Hillary McBride helps Andrew navigate these feelings, and also leads listeners through her process of understanding and guidance. While it’s not news that men have the same emotional needs as women, Dr. McBride says it’s rare for male patients like Andrew to be the partner more concerned about intimacy issues, especially in a relationship where there doesn’t appear to be a major breach of trust, just the creeping indifference of familiarity. Dr. McBride has earned Andrew’s trust, which allows her to try pushing him out of his comfort zone; the resulting audio is arresting. [Zach Brooke]

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