Long Form History Podcasts
March 27, 2015 2:46 PM   Subscribe

The impossible has happened - I am caught up with, or have finished, all my favorite history podcasts. I'm looking for some new ones to add to the line-up.

Specifically, I love the long, epic series like History of Rome. I'm looking for more in this vein - narratives where we are immersed in the story for months on end.

Podcasts that I've enjoyed (and can recommend) are:

Active (updating every week or two)

Mike Duncan - Revolutions. The French revolution is getting ugly.
Robin Pierson - History of Byzantium. The Arabs are advancing in the East.
Dan Carlin - Hard Core History. Waiting patiently for the last WWI episode. It's been an absolutely horrifying journey.
Benjamin and Adam Ashwell - Italian Unification. This one isn't as well known, and it should be; the brothers focus on Italy, but we get the history of modern western Europe thrown into the mix. We learn a lot about the Hapsburgs, the Bourbons, Napoleon, and The Most Serene Republic of Venice before we even get to Garibaldi.
Peter Adamson - History of Philosophy. I'm actually only on Aristotle, and have a long way to go ... but this one is a bit hard to binge on.

Completed these, loved them all:

Mike Duncan - History of Rome. Of course.
Lars Brownworth - 12 Byzantine Emperors; The Norman Centuries. From the man who started it all.
Sharyn Eastaugh - History of the Crusades. Brilliant, and a revelatory experience. I don't know why I never see this in the "best of" lists on-line. This podcast has Game of Thrones-levels of intrigue and drama.
Philip Daileader - The Early Middle Ages. Actually an audiobook, but well worth the cost. At some point I'll buy the next two in the course.


French language podcasts would be fine. And though the above are all on the Classical World, I am interested in the rest of the planet!

I've tried to google suggestions, but I always get the same results (Dan Carlin, Mike Duncan, and a lot of podcasts with a new topic each week. Which is fine, but I have enough of those already).
posted by kanewai to Education (20 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The British history podcast is a chronological telling of British history from the Romans onwards
posted by KateViolet at 2:50 PM on March 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Rex factor: goes through all the kings and queens of England. The sound improved after the first few episodes. Quite funny.

Epidemics in Western Society since 1600: an iTunesU course. I learned about this from ask metafilter too. Self explanatory.
posted by carolr at 2:54 PM on March 27, 2015

Response by poster: Britain should keep me occupied! I've seen this one, but was confusing it with another English history podcast that I did not enjoy, and so have been ignoring it.
posted by kanewai at 3:15 PM on March 27, 2015

Best answer: I would be remiss if I didn't pimp my medieval lit professor's podcast on the very specific topic of Icelandic sagas - Saga Thing - two medievalists talkin' about medieval stuff. Pretty good.
posted by Merinda at 3:32 PM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Some more to consider:

* History According to Bob. He basically covers a different topic each day of the week, but the days are consistent. Thus, it could be Napoleon on Wednesday and the American Revolution on Friday. Biggest drawback is that the RSS archives only go back so far... but you could buy some of the verbose archives.
* History of English Podcast. The full history of the English language. He gets a bit sidetracked at times into other bits of history, but a good listen. (Also there but not personally listed to: The History of the Alphabet).
* The History of England. Not be confused with the British history podcast that was mentioned before... so it might be the one that you mentioned that you didn't like.

I have other ones that I have flagged for further investigation (and can share if you want some untested suggestions).
posted by RyanAdams at 3:34 PM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

You could try downloading just the audio of some history videos, e.g. Gettysburg, to play as a podcast.
posted by sninctown at 3:36 PM on March 27, 2015

Oh, I've also found that just clicking through iTunes recommendations for related podcasts is surprisingly good for finding new ones... too good, in fact.
posted by RyanAdams at 3:41 PM on March 27, 2015

I thought of another one. The Bugle and the Passing Bell is a ten part series from the CBC using recordings of WWI soldiers that were made 50 years ago and haven't been broadcast since. Highly recommended.
posted by carolr at 4:12 PM on March 27, 2015

Not actually a podcast, but if you listen to just the audio it might as well be: Donald Kagan's Yale course on Ancient Greek history.
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 4:22 PM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Podcast History of Our World is pretty entertaining. We're on episode 60 now, and still in Carthage. While he does spend more time on Mediterranean and Western history, he also does a pretty thorough job of Chinese and Indus Valley civilizations too.
posted by Liesl at 4:41 PM on March 27, 2015

I'll add that Adamson interviews several medieval history podcasters in his next to most recent episode. That's when I picked up the British History podcast - if The History of Philosophy podcast endorses you, you there must be some virtue in your work. I forget what episode I've gotten to now - somewhere 35+/- 5.
posted by wotsac at 5:17 PM on March 27, 2015

Oh, and Lars Brownworth did a Norman Centuries podcast. It wasn't as compelling as the 12 Byzantine Emperors, but if your care about European history, it fills in some gaps.
posted by wotsac at 5:22 PM on March 27, 2015

Open Yale has several fantastic history courses available, either through iTunes U or their own web site. Kagan's Ancient Greek course and Snowden's Epidemics since 1600 course have already been mentioned, but for my money David Blight's US Civil War course is the best of the bunch.But really, I've listened to almost all of them, and they're all pretty great.
posted by firechicago at 6:28 PM on March 27, 2015

I finished the complete Khan Academy arts & humanities courses last night, and that sent me on a quest for history podcasts. I did a double-take when I saw your Q to check I didn't fugue-post or something.

My favorites from what I found:

The Ancient World
A History of the World in 100 objects
History Chicks

None of these are truly long-form, but seem pretty binge-worthy.

I would be remiss if I didn't pimp my medieval lit professor's podcast on the very specific topic of Icelandic sagas - Saga Thing

THANK YOU for this. Scoured the depths of iTunes looking for a Viking/Norse mythology podcast. It's great, but needs 100% more metal.
posted by moons in june at 9:43 PM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: And now I've crashed my walkman by trying to load too many new files. That's a good thing ... if I can ever figure it out!

In the end I added:

History of English - I'm listening to The Story of Human Language now, and love it. This will be a nice follow up.

Saga Thing - Not what I was looking for, but it sounds awesome.

Rex Factor and British History - I'll pick one for now, though not sure which.

Podcast History of Our World


I've tested a lot of the ones I find by random searching on iTunes, but it's hit or miss. A lot of great podcasts start off slow, so I like to give new ones a couple episodes to see if the podcaster finds his/her groove. Sadly, many don't. Either the narrative is too dry, or there are too many names one after the other and I can't follow the plot at all.

I've tried the Yale series, and though Greek History fascinates me I found that listening to Kagan's course was a chore. Maybe the others are more lively.

And what is this Khan Academy, Moons in June?
posted by kanewai at 1:08 AM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

"History of the English Language" is brilliant: I've done a upper year Univeristy course on the subject, and I'm learning so much. The digressions (into the history of other people's and languages, the history of the alphabet) are the best bit.

"Podcast History of the World" is fun, though more flippant than other history podcasts. He tends to concentrate more on kings and battles than socioeconomic/macro history (my preference), but it's been filling in many blanks in my knowledge of the ancient near east.
posted by jb at 7:46 AM on March 28, 2015

kanewai: Khan Academy is a free online school with courses covering a wide range of topics. Good stuff!
posted by moons in june at 4:49 PM on March 28, 2015

Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds' The Dollop is mostly comedy riffing, but is based each week on an event or situation from American History. I enjoy it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:50 PM on April 2, 2015

Please consider my American History for the Modern Patriot podcast! It's available in both full length and condensed forms at www.bingoforpatriots.com. I just finished a series on Benedict Arnold that I think you will enjoy. He was such a narcissist. I'm always looking for topics that people would like to hear covered in future podcasts. Thanks, in advance, for taking time to listen.
posted by SusanRempel at 2:39 PM on May 27, 2015

I just listened to the first episode of A Brief History of Carthage, and it seems like it will be quite good. 'Course, it is, y'know, brief-- only 14 episodes.

Thanks for asking this question-- as a big fan of Duncan and Daileader, I've really enjoyed this thread. Also, this is a little far afield, but maybe you can borrow audiobooks, and download them directly to your phone, via your public library. My library allows that via Overdrive.
posted by ibmcginty at 5:53 PM on September 25, 2015

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