Vox Conversations

Vox Conversations brings you discussions between the brightest minds and the deepest thinkers; conversations that will cause you to question old assumptions and think about the world and our role in it in a new light. Join Sean Illing, Jamil Smith, and their colleagues across the Vox newsroom for new episodes every Monday and Thursday.



The man who proposed reparations in the 1860s

Vox’s Dylan Matthews talks with historian Bruce Levine about his book Thaddeus Stevens: Civil War Revolutionary and Fighter for Racial Justice. They discuss how Stevens — a person with anti-racist ideals so far outside the mainstream of his time — managed to be so effective, how he developed those ideals in the first place, and how to continue his fight today.

Host: Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt), Senior Correspondent, Vox

Guest: Bruce Levine, Author; Professor (emeritus) of History, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


  • Thaddeus Stevens: Civil War Revolutionary and Fighter for Racial Justice by Bruce Levine (Simon & Schuster; 2021)
  • Lincoln (2012; directed by Steven Spielberg; written by Tony Kushner, based on Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns-Goodwin)
  • The Birth of a Nation (1915; directed by D.W. Griffith; written by D.W. Griffith and Frank E. Woods)
  • Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy (1956)
  • The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution that Transformed the South by Bruce Levine (2014; Random House)


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This episode was made by: 

  • Producer: Erikk Geannikis
  • Editor: Amy Drozdowska
  • Engineer: Paul Robert Mounsey
  • VP, Vox Audio: Liz Kelly Nelson

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 2021-06-03  1h7m