Here is a selection of podcasts that I listen to and can recommend. Many of these shows have helped to inspire the Twilight Histories Podcast.
Similar to Hardcore History
There is nothing even close to the experience of Hardcore History. However, if you like the old master, here are some podcasts to keep you going between shows.
10 American Presidents
Roifield Brown has created an excellent podcast that incorporates fantastic production values and an interesting subject matter. 10 American Presidents is a short series with a broad scope. Each episode features an expert on the president being discussed, and Roifield mixes in music and new reels to draw the listener in. The first episode starts with a bang with guest host Dan Carlin!
Listen to 10 American Presidents
The Martyrmade Podcast
The Martyrmade Podcast explores the dark side of nationalism, religion, rituals and ideology. It’s a long form history show with 2 hour episodes. It’s scripted (or at least done off notes). The story telling is fluid and easy to listen to, and it’s thought provoking without being dry. There is definitely an element of Dan Carlin in the presentation.
Listen to The Martyrmade Podcast
History through Story
Here is a selection of the top history podcasts that use story as a way to explore history.
The Memory Palace
This podcast tells stories from history. The writing is superb, the music enchanting and the stories always leave you with a deep sense of satisfaction. The theme for the stories is often one of wonder with a tinge of pathos. They are often set in the 1800’s when the world was just starting to open up and people were riding Ferris Wheels, trains or cars. My personal favorite is Episode 24: The Moon in the Sun. Each show is its own little gem.
Listen to the Memory Palace Podcast
The Twilight Histories gives the listener an immersive experience of the past. Using music and sound effects, you will travel through time to exotic lands. From the the Black Death to ancient Egypt. From the streets of Rome to an Aztec Temple. Listen to the Twilight Histories in a dark room with headphones. Start at the beginning with an adventure that places you in the middle of the Ice Age.
Listen to the Twilight Histories Podcast
This is a superb podcast. It draws from a selection of vetted writers to create fantastic stories from history. The sound quality is excellent and added to the mix are well-places sound effects and music.
Listen to the Damn Interesting Podcast
Voices from the Ages
Kevin Valbonesi contacted me and we had a good chat about script writing and media. Time passed and I forgot about our conversation. Then, about a year later, this podcast appeared in iTunes. It was great! It had story telling, music, sound effects, and it seemed to have a similar style to the Twilight Histories. I was about to write the podcaster when I realized it was Kevin!
Needless to say, I recommend this show. It’s off to a great start–far more professional than when I first started–and it makes you wonder how polished it could be when Kevin is an old veteran at the trade. I hope he’ll continue and I’ll be there for the journey.
Listen to Voices from the Ages
Story Engine Podcast
The Story Engine Podcast by Tristan Verboven takes a unique twist on history. The first show on WWII is my favorite. It’s very creative and turns history into mythology using colourful writing. If you know the name Joseph Campbell, you’ll appreciate this great story telling. The other shows follow different styles from newsreel to first person eyewitness account. It looks like Tristan will continue in this vein of switching styles around, which keeps the podcast fresh.
Listen to the Story Engine Podcast.
Ancient Rome Refocused
This is a personal favorite history podcast and one that was a huge inspiration for the Twilight Histories. Rob Cain is a brilliant writer and is able to transport the listener to an ancient landscape with his creative words. He organizes his podcast like a magazine, so there are bits you might like more than others. I find myself skipping right to the creative writing, which I feel is his strength. His ‘time travel’ idea (episode 2: Time Travel is Easy, History is Hard) was what inspired the format for the Twilight Histories. The show seems to have stopped, although Rob has told me in emails he has plans to rev it up again.
Listen to the Ancient Rome Refocused Podcast
Music and Culture of WWI (BBC)
Here’s a gem that is a surprising and thoroughly enjoyable find. This podcast attempts to bring the early 20th century alive through quotes, essays, music and travel. Before I listened to this podcast, I had only a rough idea of what it would have been like to live in, say Berlin in 1914. By the end of it, I was left with a vision of a ‘city of lights’ full of factories, great architecture, movie theatres, and a society stressed by an industrial revolution at its height. This and so much more. Highly recommended for anyone who loves history.
Listen to Music and Culture of WWI
History with Humour
These podcasts are fun and humourous.
The Lesser Bonapartes
So funny! While other history podcasts use an element of humour to keep you engaged, this podcast is a virtual comedy show. You’ll burst out laughing on the bus. You’ll walk around with a goofy smile at work. This podcast is a rising star so keep an eye out for it.
Listen to The Lesser Bonapartes
The Podcast History of Our World
Rob Monaco has created something fantastic in this show. It is to me the perfect fusion of entertainment and good, well researched history. Rob has a voice that is perfect for radio, and reminds me a bit of Jamie Jeffers from the British History Podcast. The Podcast History of Our World starts at the very beginning (actually in prehistory). Through a scollarly and often funny narrative, we travel through the ages.
Listen to The Podcast History of Our World
My favorite show is his telling of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is similar to the Twilight Histories in its style.
History of Pirates
Craig Buddy contacted me a while back about making a podcast. We had many chats spanning the technical to writing. He produced a number of scripts and we went through them together. I even created his logo (with input from the graphics lady at my office). When Craig launched his podcast, it climbed rapidly in the ranks, taking the #1 spot in New and Noteworth, and even got on the first page of iTunes! He’s been doing really well and is putting out great content. Have a listen.
Listen to History of Pirates
If you liked the History of Rome, try these.
The History of Rome
The History of Rome is a titanic podcast by Mike Duncan that tracks the rise of Rome all the way to its Western collapse in around 200 fantastic shows. If Mike turned his podcast into a book (and we do hope he does), it would probably be longer than Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and certainly more approachable (I don’t think Gibbon ever used the word ‘awesome’).
Listen to The History of Rome Podcast
When Diplomacy Fails
Zack Twamley is a friend of the Twilight Histories and an excellent podcaster. When Diplomacy Fails is not only good history, but good story telling. In the vein of History of Rome, WDF has a similar presentation style, and the content leaps from one fascinating topic to another. I’m particularly fond of Zack’s multi-part series on WWI.
History of Hannibal
Jamie Redfern has produced something great in his History of Hannibal. Jamie is a very talented young man who has appeared on the BBC to discuss the importance of Latin. He plays a central role in the History Podcast Group on Facebook. He produces a number of shows under the title ‘History of…’ which also notably include his History of Alexander the Great.
12 Byzantine Rulers & Norman Centuries
Lars Browsworth created these two podcast series and we can’t thank him enough for them. I’ve listened to each podcast series more than once and still there’s information which falls through the cracks. His story telling style to history brings to life events from a rarely told yet fascinating era. This podcast is a classic and well worth the listen.
The History of Byzantium
This is a continuation of Mike Duncan’t History of Rome. It’s very well done and is scholarly and well delivered. The show requires concentration as it is packed with information–you can’t nod off while listening. This gives it an appeal to a university student with a sharp mind and eager intellect, rather than the casual listener looking for simple entertainment.
Listen to The History of Byzantium.
The Arab Spring: A History
This is the third full length mini-series produced by Jamie Redfern and it is easily his best. The Arab Spring has put Jamie in his flow and shows a mastery that can only be achieved through the hard work of years. The Arab Spring tells the story of the Middle East since the beginning of the 20th century through to today. It gives context to our modern world and the events as they unfold.
Listen to The Arab Spring: A History
First hand accounts from people who were there.
Voices of the First World War Podcast
What’s fascinating about the First World War Centenary podcast is that it seems to replicate WWI in real time. Every week that passes sees a new installment representing what was going on almost a hundred years ago. The podcast starts out in June, 1914 and will presumably continue until the end of the war in 1918. Using interviews from people who went through WWI, the podcast is more than just information. It gives an emotional kick.
Listen to the Voices of the First World War Podcast
The Twilight Histories has a number of eyewitness episodes offered between the regular time travel adventures. These consist of first hand accounts presented with dramatic narration and overlayed with music and sound effects. There are eyewitness accounts from Stalingrad, the execution of kings and queens, Hiroshima, and from Herodotus’ travels. Try this one on WWI.
These are a bit more academic.
Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean
Philip Harland has created a fantastic podcast in his Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean. It is academic with a professor’s unique ability to entertain. While dealing with a subject matter that is as sensitive as the Bible, Harland’s approach makes it impossible to tell if he is a Christian or Atheist. His unbiased approach breaths fresh air into the subject and allows the listener to relax and learn. Highly recommended.
Listen to Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean.
This is a great lecture series by Dr. Patrick Hunt from Stanford and can be found on iTunes U. ‘Hannibal’ completely changed the way I think about the ancient world. We never really talked about child sacrifice when I was studying the Greeks and Romans. He gives a fascinating spin on ancient religion. Once you hear this lecuture, you’ll never be able to separate the ancients from their ideologies. For instance, think of Hannibal’s name, ‘Hanni-bal’. The god Bal is a part of his name, as it was with most other Cartheginians. They were a highly religious culture as were the Israelites. Once you start to understand their religion, you start to understand who these people were and why they were fighting.
To listen, visit iTunes U and type in ‘Hannibal’
Ancient Greek History
Dr. Donald Kagan made this fantastic introductory series on Ancient Greece (iTunes U). It’s a lecture series from Yale and Dr. Kagan flexes his scholastic muscle in an incredibly entertaining way. There is a strong focus on the story which keeps the listening experience lively from the Bronze Age right through to the Classical. It is interesting the way Dr. Kagan gives the benefit of the doubt to the ancients. Given the choice between doubting their stories and believing them, Dr. Kagan will generally believe what the ancient authors say if no evidence counters them. This is a unique perspective in the scholastic world and it can be quite refreshing, especially when a good story is involved.
To listen, visit iTunes U and type in ‘Ancient Greek History’