Most people are glad to abandon all their history as soon as they drop their pens after their last history exam in school. But if you have an iPod and an internet connection, why not give history another chance? Instead of restricting history to the odd guided tour of a museum or Hollywood period film, now you can enjoy the French Revolution, Paris Manifesto and Mughal Empire once again. There are dozens of history podcasts out there that can be not just great fun to listen to but are informative as well.
Podcasts, pre-recorded audio shows designed to be played on MP3 players, can be downloaded via Apple’s iTunes software effortlessly or directly from publisher websites. If you use iTunes, the software will automatically download new episodes as and when they are published. And the best news is that most podcasts are free for you to download and even share!
We recommend you do your downloading on the weekends and then listen to them during the daily commute to work or during those mind-numbing business flights.
These are five of our favourite history podcasts and where you can find them:
Lars Brownworth’s 12 Byzantine Rulers: The History of the Byzantine Empire
Don’t let the name fool you into thinking that this show is too academic. Brownworth’s oral history of the Byzantine empire is engrossing, exciting and very addictive. While the show is a bare bones affair—each one is a monologue by the American high school teacher normally profiling one of a chain of Byzantine emperors—it has continued to be in the top 50 most popular podcasts on iTunes since launching in 2005. Must read if you’re planning a trip to Istanbul.
Log on: http://www.anders.com/lectures/lars_brownworth/12_byzantine_rulers/
BBC History Magazine’s Weekly Podcast
Perfect for those hardcore Anglophiles with a soft spot for Churchill and company. Each episode is curated by the team behind the BBC’s excellent history magazine and features a number of segments including interviews, feature stories and a great series of book reviews. Watch out for the time machine feature where a prominent historian is asked which period in history he would like to go back to if he could and why.
Log on: http://www.bbchistorymagazine.com/podcast.asp
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
Carlin engages in his listeners in discussions that are thought provoking and controversial. For instance who was worse: Hitler or Alexander the Great? Carlin may be an amateur historian but his podcast is very professional indeed. This entertaining show is quite an acquired taste however. The top history podcast on iTunes.
Log on: http://www.dancarlin.net/disp.php/hh
Each fortnight this podcast showcases one biography from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. With a collection of over 50,000 lives to choose from this podcast can be more fun than you think. Some of the lives featured include a television chef, an archaeological hoax and Jimi Hendrix.
Log on: http://www.oup.com/oxforddnb/info/freeodnb/pod/
Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time
What is the Poincare conjecture? What implication does this Mathematical concept on our perception of the universe? Accompany Bragg and a team of experts as they explore the history of ideas like the Poincare conjecture and Zoroastrianism. In Our Time is enlightening and often impressive in its scope.
Log on: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime.shtml