Better living through audio
November 23, 2011 7:50 AM   Subscribe

I am interested in hearing some historical and educational audiobooks/audiocasts. Anyone have any suggestions?

I'm interested in philosophy, history, DIY, science etc.

I'm not interested in biographies, Radio Lab, The Moth or This American Life.
posted by cloeburner to Education (13 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The History of Rome podcast is quite good and has a ton of episodes if you need volume.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:54 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The history of philosophy.
posted by empath at 7:56 AM on November 23, 2011

Best answer: Before the Dawn is about pre-history. Kate Reading's reading of The Good Earth is magical. It's fiction, but captures the heart of rural China and of human nature. Second This American Life. Suggest listening to previews at and via iTunes to see if the spirit moves.
posted by R2WeTwo at 8:13 AM on November 23, 2011

Sorry, please disregard the reference to This American Life.
posted by R2WeTwo at 8:14 AM on November 23, 2011

Best answer: My husband likes Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. Dan can be a little strident in tone, both aurally and verbally, but you might like it.

There's always Freakonomics. Definitely inspires good discussions and further reading.
posted by Madamina at 8:42 AM on November 23, 2011

Best answer: A few suggestions:
  • In Our Time is probably the best historical podcast out there.
  • History According To Bob is also good, but has just one presenter, and is quite a bit less formal. It also has the benefit of being daily in short episodes, while bouncing across a range of time periods and places (Currently: a history of the Order of Teutonic Knights, the breakup of the second Roman Triumvirate, the closing stages of the American Civil War, the leadup to the American War of Independence, a history of Venice, and the British Peninsular Campaign).
  • The aforementioned History of Rome, around which I crafted a post on the blue recently, is excellent.
  • Binge Thinking History is very good, if you want English history. The presenter has a natural voice for audio - I just wish he'd do more episodes!
  • Dan Carlin's Hardcore History.
  • If early American history and recreation is more your thing, the Colonial Williamsburg podcast, "Past and Present" might suit you; they also have the benefit of being short, 11 minute episodes.
  • A different but very effective approach: the BBC's A History of the World in 100 Objects.
  • The Memory Palace is a gem: tiny bits of history brought to life in 10 minute episodes.
  • StoryCollider, about which there was a post on the blue recently, is excellent: scientists telling their own stories of discovery, in a Moth-like format.
All of those are in my current podcast feed: I hope they help!
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 8:50 AM on November 23, 2011

Response by poster: Wow, In Our Time looks incredible. Thanks for the suggestions everyone.
posted by cloeburner at 9:39 AM on November 23, 2011

I would second In Our Time - it's an excellent podcast that brings in active research historians to talk about areas they are expert in. I'm a historian, and I'm constantly learning things from it even on subjects I've studied.
posted by jb at 9:41 AM on November 23, 2011

Quirks & Quarks is very good for contemporary science news. They also talk directly to the researchers, rather than distilling the science (and maybe getting it wrong).
posted by jb at 9:45 AM on November 23, 2011

Norman Centuries and 12 Byzantine Rulers are both fantastic. Both by Lars Brownworth.

And I second the absolutely excellent History of the World through 100 Objects.

Some great new stuff for me here, thanks for asking the question!
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 9:53 AM on November 23, 2011

The Great Courses. Expensive (only buy courses while they're on sale), but very high quality. I prefer listening to audio lectures such as these as opposed to audiobooks, because the readings of books often sounds stilted and artificial. The Modern Scholar is also pretty good, but they just recently announced that they are going out of business.
posted by Homo economicus at 10:03 AM on November 23, 2011

Audiobook, not podcast, but I'm loving the audiobook of "The Wordy Shipmates".

First make sure you don't have an aversion to Sarah Vowell's voice and style. (If you don't like This American Life, you might not like her style.) It's a fascinating look at what was happening in New England from 1620 to about 1680. Maybe living in Boston I'm prejudiced, but I just listened to an entire CD detailing the alliances between the Pequots, the Wampanoag, the Dutch, and the English, that resulted in the Pequot Massacre.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:23 PM on November 23, 2011

I think you'll like BBC History Magazine.
posted by unliteral at 5:09 PM on November 23, 2011

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