Monday, March 1, 2021

History podcast recommendations?

So I've started to try to listen to more historical podcasts on my commute. For a variety of reasons, I have less easy access to a library and books, so this has cut down on my non-fiction reading a lot. I studied history in college, along with Political Science (especially defense policy), so I like to think I enjoy factually rigorous history.*

I'm looking for historically rigorous podcasts, especially concerning:

- Ancient history
- Medieval history
- Renaissance history
but I'm game for the World Wars and the Cold War, too.

I'm mostly interested in:

- Military history
- Political history
- Economic history
with a sideline in religious history as it touches upon the topics above. Legal history, same.

Cultural, modern domestic politics (of any country), purely philosophical, purely religious, true crime, and "fun fact" history . . . probably not.

I already know about these:

The Medievalists (pretty good, although the sound quality on some episodes . . . ugh.)

A History of Europe: Key Battles - just started on this one.

Ancient Warfare Podcast

Military History Inside Out

I'm absolutely not looking for video series. I won't sit and watch a long video very often, and if I need to download it as video and then convert it to .mp3 to listen on my commute . . . I just won't do it. I know of a few, but that's not really what I'm hunting for.

I'm willing to give just about any podcast that hits those topics one or two tries and see if it grabs me.

With that in mind . . . what do you folks recommend?

* FWIW I took courses on American colonial history, Russian history (a love of mine since I first saw a TV drama about Peter I), the Old West, German history (including the Holocaust), Roman history (with a focus on Augustan Rome), Japanese history, and more . . . and pretty much read books on WWII, the Hundred Years War, the Tsars, the Aztecs, the Mongols, the Crusades, European military history, the Zulus, Pirates, Victorian age wars, the age of exploration . . . yeah, it's been pretty broad actually. And my poli-sci classes were fairly varied but I took everything I could on defense policy and wrote my undergrad thesis on how civil wars end. So, broad interest in terms of areas. But it's primarily around the topic clusters I mentioned.


  1. I've enjoyed Tides of History. The current run is about prehistory and the rise of civilization, but past "seasons" have covered the fall of Rome and the rise of the modern age out of the medieval period.

  2. I liked the History of Byzantium (still on the early episodes):

  3. Although it's not a narrative history, and the majority of episodes will probably be outside your interests, "New Books in History" is a great chocolate sampler of, well, new books in history, through interviews with the authors. Also thematic rather than narrative is Al Zambone's "Historically Thinking."

    Probably the only "tell a story from start to finish" podcast I listen to are Peter Adamson's History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps and Earl Fontanelle's (bombastically titled, but academic) Secret History of Western Esotericism, but it sounds like those are outside your wheelhouse.

    1. I'll check those two out. The others, yeah, probably not for me. But I don't really need a narrative story - topical is fine for me. The podcasts I listed above include a couple of "topical" ones, and one of those is - as far as I can tell - all interviews with book authors.

  4. We Have Ways. WW2 focused podcast, slight bias towards the British side of things. Hosts are professional historian James Holland, and Comedian and amateur (but very knowledgable, he's not there to make jokes, he's made TV documentaries himself) historian Al Murray. They answer questions and have great guests. Enormous back catalogue.

    Then there's The Rest is History. Hosts are professional historians Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook. Each week they pick a historical topic and talk about it. Very wide ranging.

    Finally History Extra podcast. Each episode is an interview with a historian about a subject of their expertise.

    1. All added to my list of podcasts to check out. Thank you.

  5. Concerning reading in the absence of a decent library, were you aware that JSTOR is free(ish) for the time being?

    1. No, but the times and places I read books are not the times and places I want to read one electronically, even though I own a Kindle Fire. But thanks.

  6. I'm a fan of Hardcore History. He's done a variety of topics.

  7. History of Rome and Revolutions (both by Mike Duncan) are pretty good. History of Rome starts off a bit rough, but seeing him progress as a historian and podcaster is enjoyable. History of Rome covers Roman history from mythical beginnings to about the mid-400's.
    Revolutions covers that various political revolutions mostly centered in the 19th century. It's still ongoing, but it's getting closer to the end as he's working on what is essentially the final part of the series, which is the Russian Revolutions. His style for presenting the history in both of his podcasts is chronological narrative, so it creates a decently coherent view of 'how did we get here' whenever something happens.

    1. Thanks. I've heard Mike Duncan's Rome podcast - I've read his book "The Storm Before the Storm." I haven't gotten to his Revolutions podcast yet but I will in time. Thanks!


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