Studio: Dan Carlin
What It Is
Dan Carlin walks the listener through an era of history via riveting storytelling and pain-staking research.
This is the longest podcast I listen to; episodes check in at between three-and-a-half to four hours. Due to the research involved, get ready for a long wait between episodes, three months or longer. Fourteen episodes are available at the iTunes page. Earlier episodes are for sale, and well-worth the price, at the show’s official archive.
What About It
This show is really incredibly unbelievable. Carlin picks periods of history and goes through them in pain-staking detail, but with the instincts of a great storyteller. The episodes consist entirely of Carlin telling the story of whatever period he’s exploring and yet the show is never anything but riveting, never boring or dull. Carlin’s the eccentric, fascinating, idiosyncratic history teacher we all wish we’d had; he knows how to make history come alive and after you listen to this, you’ll realize that hackneyed phrase isn’t just a cliché. It takes some kind of a genius to be interesting talking about the Spanish American War or the Punic Wars for four hours and Carlin is that genius. Whether you’ve just never gotten into history or you find history fascinating, this is the show for you. Don’t let the subject matter or the extreme length of this show put you off. In Carlin’s hands, history is more than textbooks; it’s beating human hearts and the visceral emotions of the present moment.
Avoid Like the Plague If
You have a Polaroid of Carlin that has “Don’t trust his lies” scrawled on it.
Best Entry Point
I’m going to just point you to the first episode of the most recent complete series, which is mind-blowingly good. Carlin’s expose of World War I is disturbing, harrowing, suspenseful and amazing. Whether you’re on the edge of your seat as history builds toward the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand or struggling to comprehend the unrelenting horrors of the Western Front trenches, it’s a trip like no other. Here’s episode one in that series: Blueprint for Armageddon I. If you don’t find yourself immediately ripping through all six episodes, you’re stronger than me.