“People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” — James Baldwin. No matter if it was your favourite subject in school or not, you can’t deny the importance of knowing your own history. If you don’t know where you come from, you can’t have a sense of going forward. The entertainment industry has used known and unknown historical events to tell the stories that have affected a lot of people. Historical-drama is still one of the popular genres. However, movies and TV shows are limited by their formats and can’t be as detailed as documentaries can. If you want to dig deeper than that, then podcasts are the best option for you. Here’s the list of top history podcasts. You can listen to several of these best history podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or even YouTube for free.
20. Comic Book Historians (2017- present)
Comic books have been a popular mode of entertainment since a very long time now. The legacy of Marvel and DC comics has turned into blockbuster billion-maker movies. This is the world of superheroes and the immense popularity of the films has turned the people who weren’t interested in comic books to their avid readers. But this recent boom is not the beginning of the frenzy that has a hold of comic book fans. If you want to know the full history of this phenomenon, listen to ‘Comic Book Historians’ here.
19. Slow Burn (2017- present)
History is full of scandals and two of America’s most famous scandals are the topics of discussion on ‘Slow Burn’. Hosted by Leon Neyfakh, the podcast explores the time of the Watergate scandal and the impeachment of Bill Clinton in its two seasons. Apart from focusing on the lives and actions of the people involved in these events, the host also draws the attention of the listeners towards the certain similarities that the present has in common with that time. If you want an in-depth knowledge of these incidents, you can listen to it here.
18. Lore (2015- present)
Nothing is new under the sun. The stories that we hear now have been in the world before. Whatever imagination goes behind sketching a tale is inspired by some event, no matter how bizarre, in history. If you are someone who is obsessed with the supernatural and want to know more about some urban legends and classic monsters that find a place in movies and TV shows, then you should listen to ‘Lore’. But you must brace yourself to be terrified, because this time, everything you learn is based on a substantial fact. Listen to the podcast here.
17. Stuff You Missed in History Class (2008- present)
History classes can get really boring if you don’t have a good teacher. All the kings, their countries and their wars seem a waste of time and you just want to get it over with and move on. However, it can also be a very interesting subject, because it is full of fascinating stories, and who doesn’t like a good tale? ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class’ is the class you never had. Hosts Holly and Tracy Wilson become the best teachers you can ever have and take you through some of the most fascinating stories of all time. You can listen to the podcast here.
16. Revolutions (2013- present)
Every century in history is marked by a revolution in one part of the world or another. While some of them took worldwide notice and got themselves into school books, there are others that were limited to a certain geographical location and are very little known of beyond that. However, Mike Duncan doesn’t make any segregation in this podcast. He takes a look at one revolution at a time to give a picture of what led to it and how it changed the world. You can listen to ‘Revolutions’ here.
15. Burnt Toast (2015- present)
Are you a foodie? Is it the only thing that dominates your thoughts? Have you scoured all the food documentaries and watched all versions of ‘MasterChef’? Then, here is another serving to quell your hunger, if not entirely satiate it. ‘Burnt Toast’ is a podcast that focuses on the past, present and future of food. Every episode explores cuisine and its cultural impact, providing some interesting information about it in the process. Listen to the podcast here.
14. The Way I Heard It (2016- present)
Learning about something can often be like listening to gossip. You get an overall picture of what happened, but the accuracy of the details can be a bit slim. It mostly depends on how far you have been from the true source. In the end, the picture of true events depends on the way you hear them. In this podcast, Mike Rowe takes one personality at a time in history and talks about all the things he has heard about them from generally accurate sources. There are high chances of learning something you might never have heard of before. You can catch all episodes of ‘The Way I Heard It’ here.
13. Ridiculous History (2017- present)
Even after knowing so many things, there are some details that bother us. Like, what’s up with those wigs of the British lawyers? If a crime is committed in Antarctica, who solves it? Has Christmas ever been cancelled? You can find the answers to all these bizarre questions on ‘Ridiculous History’. Listen to the podcast here.
12. ArtCurious Podcast (2016- present)
If you can’t keep your eyes open during a history lesson, then I can’t imagine how you’ll feel if you are thrown in a room with art lovers. What’s all the fuss about those ancient paintings anyway? And what is with the modern painters going about making lines and squares and blotches on a paper and calling it art? If you really want to know an answer to that, listen to ‘ArtCurious’. What’s better is that the podcast doesn’t bother to educate you about the art itself. Rather it focuses on the story behind it and the artist. It gets really interesting. You can listen to the podcast here.
11. SpyCast (2006- present)
Are you a fan of James Bond? Can you never get tired of Ethan Hunt’s impossible missions? If you are a lover of spy movies, then ‘SpyCast’ is the podcast that you absolutely can’t miss. It features interviews with ex-spies and the experts in intelligence and espionage to give some valuable lessons about the work. It gives you thrilling stories from World Wars to the Cold War. If your interest is piqued, then listen to the podcast here.
10. The History Chicks (2011- present)
“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman”- Virginia Woolf.
History recorders haven’t been as kind to the achievements of women as they have been to the men. The farther back you go, the lesser the importance of female characters becomes in a story. This means that all the things that we have learnt till now are not even complete. There is always a shadow of a doubt that a part was removed from the logs because of gender bias. Hence, the importance of the women that we do know of is further increased. ‘The History Chicks’ celebrates these under-appreciated figures. You can listen to the podcast here.
9. Philosophize This! (2013- present)
This one is for the brooders and the contemplators of the world. Are you someone who spends several days thinking hard about one thing or another? Are most of your conversations about the deeper aspects of life and what it means to live and stuff like that? Are you a philosopher without any real educational background in the subject? ‘Philosophize This!’ is here for you. Get an in-depth look into the life and teachings of some of the greatest philosophers of all time. You can listen to the podcast here.
8. The Memory Palace (2008- present)
Nat DiMeo hosts this award-winning podcast to tell you some of the most intriguing stories from the pages of history. Every episode brings you an untold fascinating tale and explores the details of these little-known events and the way they have quietly made a mark in the world. Sometimes they are serious; sometimes they’ll make you laugh; and one of those times they might leave you teary eyed too. And the best part is that the episodes aren’t too long. For this condensed and impactful experience, listen to ‘The Memory Palace’ here.
7. Our Fake History (2015- present)
Historians are very much like investigators. They try to come up with a timeline of events, trying to pin the blame or bestow the credit of a blunder or achievement on someone based on the evidence that they receive. However, the evidence doesn’t always make sense. They have something substantial but can’t find a way to connect it to the timeline they have created; or that the story wouldn’t make sense with the entry of a new piece of information. In ‘Our Fake History’, we get to know about the theories that might actually be truer than the events we have been told otherwise. You can listen to the podcast here.
6. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (2017- present)
Why do we study History? How does living in the past serve us? Surely, you have asked this question every time you had to prepare yourself for that exam you didn’t really care for. History mostly is speculation. You find something, you try to uncover the story behind it. But the most important task comes after that. Once you know the past, you analyse the impact on the present and the future. In ‘Hardcore History’, Dan Carlin takes some pivotal events or figures in history and wonders what the world would be like had these events or people turned out differently? Listen to it here.
5. History on Fire (2015- present)
If you didn’t have a good History teacher in school, then Daniele Bolelli is here to remedy that. In this podcast, he takes over the job of giving the lessons of a lifetime. It is a mix of learning with fun, and if it doesn’t reignite your interest in the subject, then you have not been listening to it right. You can listen to ‘History on Fire’ here.
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4. History with Mark Bielski (2016- present)
The basic knowledge of history requires you to know about some main events that have had an undeniable impact on the world. But if you are interested in going a bit deeper, without having to pursue an education in it, then you should listen to ‘History with Mark Bielski’. In every episode of the podcast, he discusses the rarely known facts and figures behind the commonly known events in history. It is the trivia you won’t get in your school books. Listen to the podcast here.
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3. History of The Great War (2014- present)
The First World War was one of the defining events of the last century, the effects of which resonate even now, more than a hundred years after it. At least one chapter in history books all over the world is dedicated to it. The time from 1914 to 1918 packed a lot of history changing events. For the full exposure to this story, listen to ‘History of the Great War’. It doesn’t leave any detail out and gives you a whole picture of all that happened. Listen to it here.
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2. Revisionist History (2016- present)
One of the redundant things about studying the past is that it has already been appropriated for us. We have been told that this thing is bad and that thing is right, the meaning has already been bestowed on everything and there is little room for us to add more on it. ‘Revisionist History’ aims to change that. In each episode, it takes a certain thing, which could be anything from art and ideas to wars and songs, and re-examines its meaning under a new light. To get a new perspective, listen to the podcast here.
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1. The Podcast History of Our World (2012- present)
One of the reasons that History becomes a headache for students is that there is too much stuff to learn. Not a hundred years, five hundred years, a millennium, go back farther and farther and we go back to the Earth being born and then to the Big Bang. How many books do you read and how much can you possibly remember? If you want to know about all that stuff but don’t want to chase after it, ‘The Podcast History of Our World’ is the package for you. Starting from the beginning of history, it takes you ahead, one step at a time until you reach the present. And the best thing is that it is fun. Listen to the podcast here.
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