In Part One and Part Two of this blog series I introduced you to many of my favorite podcasts on history. They ran the gamut of historical topics from the Byzantine Empire and Ancient Warfare up through modern times and everything in between. In Part Three, I’ll introduce you to the first podcast I became addicted to on a mobile device and my two all time favorite history podcasters. As always, you can listen to episodes usually right from a podcast’s website or search via iTunes or your favorite podcast app.
- The Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast (napoleonbonapartepodcast.com/): According to the podcast’s website, this was one of the first history podcasts online. Produced from 2006 to 2009, over 59 one hour-long episodes were recorded on the life and career of Napoleon Bonaparte. The two hosts, Napoleon scholar David Markham, residing in Canada and, Napoleon fan and podcast entrepreneur Cameron Reilly, residing in Australia, collaborated to create the longest podcast, in terms of both number of episodes as well as recording length, I have ever heard of covering just one topic. David and Cameron are unabashed fans of Napoleon and try to put him in a more positive light than traditional English based history usually does. Back when I listened years ago, all of the episodes were free. Now, only the first 19 episodes are free, but that’s 19 hours plus of content. If you like it, the remaining 40 cost a flat $10 for all of it. Still not bad. I spent many hours listening to this series and it is highly recommended! (Side note: Cameron’s company, The Podcast Network, also produces other shows including The Life of Caesar which I plan to try soon.)
- The History of Rome (www.thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/): Produced by Mike Duncan, this 179 episode series covered the Roman Empire from the founding of Rome through the fall of the Western Empire. He elected not to continue on to do the Eastern, or Byzantine, Empire which survived many centuries after the fall of Rome. This was not my first podcast addiction, but it was my first “must check every week for a new episode” podcast. Mike is a fan of history and it shows in this series. This was my first encounter with a podcast where the creator truly does it solely for the love of the topic and sharing knowledge with the audience. In fact, he mentioned only after quite a few episodes that he added a donation button to the site at the urging of fans in the site forums. The podcast got so popular, Mike was able to organize “History of Rome Tours” to famous sites in Europe for him and fans of the show! Mike’s plain language story telling and dry humor make this my second favorite podcast of all time. After 179 episodes, a marriage to Mrs. History of Rome, two household moves, and the birth of his first child, Mike felt it was time to end the series in 2012. I was truly sad and missed the weekly updates. But, then he resurfaced…
- Revolutions (www.revolutionspodcast.com/): In September of 2013, Mike Duncan returned to podcasting with Revolutions. In this ongoing podcast, instead of covering one topic or civilization, Mike is doing multi-part discussions of various revolutions throughout history. So far, he’s covered revolutions in Britain and America. The show is currently discussing the French Revolution and will cover the Haitian Revolution next. The show looks at the causes and effects of the revolutions and Mike’s background in Political History definitely shows. I’m just getting in to this one, but it’s very good so far. Oh, and he’s now doing tour tips again!
- Hardcore History (www.dancarlin.com/): Dan Carlin hosts what is my all time favorite podcast on any topic. Dan is renowned in the podcast world for his work on Hardcore History and his more frequent series on politics, Common Sense. (Both found at http://www.dancarlin.com/.) Dan has a background in “old media” journalism but made the transition to “new media” impresario. His vocal delivery is fast, passionate, and assertive. He calls himself a “fan of history” not a historian, but the topics he covers are well researched and covered in-depth. He tries to ask tough questions and he will challenge your assumptions and the myths we learn in school. His episodes notoriously run longer than he plans, take more episodes to cover than he figures, and entertain me endlessly. It may take a few months between episodes, but every episode is worth it. If you only have time for one podcast, this is it.
Most of my favorite podcasts are labors of love, created by one or two person outfits who do it because they love history. I make a point of tossing these guys the occasional donation or I make a purchase in their store to “pay back” for the entertainment they’ve given me. Bandwidth, servers, etc. cost money. And, do not forget the opportunity costs in time spent on making these podcasts! I believe content creators should be fairly compensated for their work and I urge you to support those creators whose content you enjoy, too. You can usually find donation and/or store links on their websites.
If you’ve got some favorite podcasts of your own, tell me about them in the comments below!