I am a big sports fan, and believe there’s two types of pro athletes: those with talent and those who work harder than everyone. Sometimes you comes across the guys and gals who combine both and are truly great. While Ray Harris Jr. might not be a professional broadcaster or have that background, I would challenge you to find someone who works harder on their podcast.
Ray Harris Jr. refers to his “About Me” section as “INFORMATION TO JUSTIFY YOU LISTENING TO MY PODCAST.” I just learned this, even though I have been listening for years, but have never required it. From the first listen it’s clear Harris Jr. knows his stuff and is fairly good at presenting a clear and coherent narrative.
I’m sure his History degree from James Madison University doesn’t hurt his reputation while doing such a podcast. There is no mention of a broadcasting background, but this isn’t that type of podcast. It’s about the information and the history, which Harris Jr. does a great job of presenting.
World War II is one of the most covered, talked about, and researched wars in history. Whether it’s pop-culture, media, Historians, or just casual buffs, there is no end to the stories, narratives, and depictions. The History of WWII Podcast has taken on a monumental task while trying to cover it all, and it’s a valiant effort.
Episodes can vary in length from just under 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on the topic at hand. While they go in chronological order, Harris Jr. does well to spread the topics around. He might have two-to-three episodes in a row of focusing on a certain front, or battle, then switch to a different theater of the conflict. It’s a nice way of not getting bogged down and allows the episodes to flow.
While Harris Jr. does a great job of mixing facts, narrative, and pop-culture into each topic, he does an even better job of setting up the episodes. For instance, while dealing with operations, battles, and events on the Eastern Front, he will go as far back as the Russian Revolution to set the scene for the listener. This can be an almost overload of information, however, it paints a broader and more poignant picture.
He will also put out non-chronological episodes setting the stage even further. An example, and now my own historical bias is showing, was his multi-part look into the life of Joseph Stalin. It’s even more in-depth information the main actors in the war, and also colors their decision-making down the road. It’s a great addition to the main episodes.
The topic of World War II attracts many people, from all different backgrounds. It’s depiction in pop culture and media has been entertaining and visually-stunning at times, it’s accuracy always leaves something to be considered. This podcast is far from that.
This is a well-researched, planned, and executed endeavor. Harris Jr.’s efforts and knowledge are unparalleled and quite impressive. This is a perfect podcast for anyone who has taken the time to do their own research and exploring of this conflict. You will learn so much with each episode.
However, if you have a casual interest or are ambivalent about the topic, ease into this one, and most definitely start at the beginning. Watching World War II movies and diving into the deep end of a podcast of this magnitude are two very different things. Harris Jr. does well to make it into a narrative though, so you will not feel like you’re in a History of World War II 101 lecture hall.