Podcast Review: Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

I’m switching up the outline here, and moving the hosts up to the top spot. They’re much harder to write without introducing the hosts up front.

I love History and have gone through a few podcasts on the subject. While there are some good ones out there, none come close to the depth and detail of Hardcore History. The long format (emphasis on “long”) gives the listener a full view and understanding of the topics at hand. They will also link a few episodes together, which can provide over 15 hours of content on one subject.

THE HOST

The strength of this show is the host, Dan Carlin (obviously). Since there are no guests, or co-hosts, this one is all about the host and content. Dan is a former radio guy and he holds a History degree from the University of Colorado, so the episodes are laid out perfectly. His cadence is measured and changes with the topic. When the topic becomes more serious, so does he, which gives it some life. He handles the long-format well, and does not get stale or mundane.

THE FORMAT

For the most part Dan does an episodic style for one major topic. For example, his Blueprint for  Armageddon was six parts, each lasting three hours or more. This particular topic encompassed World War I, however, Dan doesn’t just focus his attention there. He looks to the past, and informs you of the global climate which led to World War I.

As he gets into the main topic, you realize he presenting much more than the topic at hand. Dan always reminds the listener of why things are occurring or why a historical figure may have chosen to take action the way they did. He is doing so off the information he has found, and often purposes new approaches to contested topics. However, he always reminds the listener this is just theory.

This is the strength of the podcast though. Dan always makes sure to remain objective and let people know when he is putting forth a theory, and as I said before he often puts forth a new theory, which is nice to hear. In my opinion, too many people put their spin on History, or add modern-day values to it. A pet-peeve of mine is when people add their opinion to History, because then it ceases being objective and becomes revisionist.

Another strength of the podcast is the range of topics. Dan doesn’t go in chronological order, as in once one topic is done, the next one could be hundreds of years before or after, and have little to do with the previous. He can go from World War I and the seeds for World War II all the way back to Alexander the Great and the Persian Empire.

MY VERDICT 

This is a great podcast for History lovers, but outside of that I’m not sure casual fans will enjoy it. The long-form is daunting, although, with the time between episodes (3-4 months) due to research it is doable in chunks. I think I have only ever gotten through one episode start to finish and that was during a long hike, but always look forward to the next one. Dan has also put together older episodes in audio book formats, which can be purchased. It’s worth a try at least.

 

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