Third Anniversary Reflections
by Chris Anderson
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Thinking about History Happy Hour the other day with my nose in a book, I stumbled upon this quote from the esteemed Winston Churchill. “I am no devotee of cocktails,” the future Prime Minister wrote in August 1933, “still I must admit that this preliminary festival while the guests are arriving is most agreeable.” It seemed to me to be a wonderful way to sum up the past three years of History Happy Hour.
It all began during the darkest days of COVID when my friend, and pretty damned good historian, Rick Beyer called me in London and asked me if I’d like to join him once a week to BS about history and have a cocktail. Now normally these sorts of conversations happen in the bar at the end of a day of touring. With COVID-induced lockdowns in effect and travel shut down around the world, this was no longer possible. With no hotel bars in our future, Rick and I decided to replicate these pre-dinner cocktail conversations virtually. We sent out e-mails to friends and associates and the folks at Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours were kind enough to send out news of what we were planning on their website. The idea was simple: we’d get together at the same time every week cocktail in hand, start talking to each other about history, and see who else showed up. Surprisingly, a few did!
After the first couple of shows, however, we realized that it was a bit boring to just sit around and talk to one another, so we decided to invite some of our friends to join us. One of the first, was Joe Balkoski, the renowned historian of the 29th Division and the Normandy Campaign. It was after our chat with Joe, which remains one of our most watched, that we realized that folks were as hungry to keep the history conversation going as we were. Inspired, Rick and I decided to contact some other historians and authors we knew and see if they would like to come on the show.
It is hard to believe that three years and more than 130 shows later, not only are we still having our weekly conversations, but that History Happy Hour goes from strength to strength. We now have our own channels on Facebook and YouTube as well as broadcasting through the Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours website; there is even a podcast! Most importantly, our audience continues to grow, and we continue to attract some of the most successful authors and historians working today. Since that early show with Balkoski we have been joined for a chat and a cocktail by Adam Hochschild, Susan Eisenhower, Andrew Roberts, Patrick Bishop, Richard Overy, Helen Fry, Chris Wallace, and Lynne Olson to name just a few. We have many, many, more exciting guests lined up for upcoming episodes.
The success of History Happy Hour is, if I’m honest, a bit of a surprise. I realize, however, that none of this success would have been possible without the hard work of Rick, our producer Cheryl Dalpozzal, the folks at Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours, our interns, our guests and the many thousands who have taken time out of their Sunday evenings to join us.
I particularly want to thank all our show’s Patrons, their material support of the show has allowed us to create a webpage and expand our presence. (History Happy Hour Patreon) Rick and I really appreciate your support. Without all these folks, HHH would still just be Rick and I chatting to each other over Zoom, which I don’t think would be very much fun for anyone.
So, if you’ve joined us for an hour on a Sunday in the past, many thanks! We very much look upon HHH as an open forum, so please let us know what you think of the show, what topics you would like to see covered, and if there are any books you think we should have a look at or authors we should talk to. Of course, if you haven’t seen an episode yet, please consider joining us! Stealing shamelessly from Mister Churchill, three years on I still find this “preliminary festival most agreeable,” and I look forward to many more conversations and cocktails with each of you in the years ahead. Hope you can join us. Check it all out at on the History Happy Hour website. And look for our 3rd Anniversary show - it featured a few highlights from some of our fascinating guests.
Thanks, and stay safe everyone.