A podcast about the history of political violence in the United States.

The United States has always prided itself in settling its differences civically — at the ballot box, in the courts, and in the halls of Congress. In American Carnage, reporter Jeff Stein examines key moments in our nation's past to figure out what drives political change, and if the price of progress is instead measured in blood.

The first season, “Old Man Brown,” is a five-part investigation of the life and times of Captain John Brown, the 19th Century radical abolitionist who helped spark the Civil War. Our story takes us from the frozen mountains of upstate New York, to the bloodied plains of Kansas, to the gilded mansions of New England, and, finally, to the woods of Appalachia, where Brown and his small army made their stand at Harper’s Ferry.

Along the way, we’ll ask the hard questions about Brown. Were his (sometimes shocking) acts of violence justified? Could slavery have been abolished without his interventions? What went wrong at Harper’s Ferry? And how far would you be willing to go to fight evil?  


"This is my new favorite history podcast, a wonderful mixture of dramatic narrative and searching analysis. The fiery righteousness of John Brown illuminates one of the hardest political questions: how far are we willing to go to fight evil." — Jeet Heer, national political correspondent for The Nation

"Really interesting, even-handed, deeply researched work. I loved it. This podcast will make you appreciate John Brown with extraordinary richness and detail." — Patrick Wyman, host of the Tides of History and The Fall of Rome history podcasts

"Stein and Amato's American Carnage is an honest and searching look at the man behind the myth of John Brown that could not be more timely as we debate what we should make of American history and how far we ought to go to make good on America's promise. It's a tremendous undertaking." — Osita Nwanevu, contributing editor at The New Republic and a columnist at The Guardian

“Jeff Stein is a talented reporter who, in this new project, turns his attention to explaining and contextualizing a key moment in American history and reveals himself to be a great storyteller. Stein’s natural affect makes this podcast feel like listening to an old friend, but one who keenly identifies the core political questions and lasting lessons that define John Brown’s legacy.” — Jerusalem Demsas, The Atlantic

“A captivating introduction to a man and a story that are more relevant to our current moment than I had remembered. I don’t like podcasts but I tore through this one.” — Vincent Bevins, author of The Jakarta Method and If We Burn

"An excellent critique of standard accounts of Brown’s career." — The War Nerd, aka Gary Brecher aka John Dolan

"The deepest of all deep dives. An absolute must-listen on an essential story."@ettingermentum