History can be vastly interesting. Whether you’re learning for pleasure or you have to nail down some timelines for a course you’re taking, there’s a way to make the subject of history exciting.
The tough part is flipping through a massive book of facts. For some history buffs, reading is the absolute best way to take in information about the past. For others, it’s the quickest way to bring on a nap.
For the latter group, podcasts on history can be a godsend. We’re going to take a look at the best history podcasts in this article, giving you some options to explore as you dig into a particular subject.
Hopefully, the productions below can give you an avenue to learn history in a way that’s exciting to you.
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Our List of Best History Podcasts
1. Myths and Legends
Common fairytales, myths, and legends tend to get wrapped up in our normal lives. They’re so common that we take them as stories and forget to question where they started or what their purpose was in the first place.
Take the Grimm fairytales or the most popular stories in Disney’s catalog. These are stories that originated a long time ago in most cases, and their origins are rooted in strange sections of history that make them all the more interesting.
The Myths and Legends podcast takes a deep dive into these archetypal stories and gives them some more foundation. Not only do you get a lesson in the historical period when the tales were first told, but you get to use the stories as a lens through which to view the people of that time.
2. American History Tellers
The tales of American history fall a little stale from the pages of a textbook. When we take a step back and hear these stories from a more personal place, though, we find that the trials and tribulations of all Americans throughout the centuries are fascinating.
In many ways, we realize that the things that happened in United States history aren’t too far back from where we are today. We’re told these stories from a young age, but revisiting American History as a young adult can reignite a person’s interest.
American History Tellers revisits American history in a fresh way, exploring more of the minutia and personality involved. You’ll get to know the individuals on a deeper level and grow to appreciate how their actions shaped the modern world.
3. The History of American Slavery
If you’re looking to learn about slavery in a way that engages and informs you of the truth, this is the podcast for you.
It can be tough to find an accurate historical analysis of this period. On one hand, it might feel like a textbook reading, however long, won’t be able to translate the emotional aspect. On the other, dramatized shows and movies might not give you the real account, either.
This podcast contains extensive research multiple accounts from scholars and experts on slavery. It’s six episodes, detailing everything from the origins of the slave trade to its progression into a global economic system.
It’s a subject matter that is more important to understand now than ever, and this podcast gives their work the appropriate respect.
4. Hardcore History
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is a dive into the particulars of history. There aren’t too many frills in this one, just one-on-one with someone who knows a great deal about the minutia of historical events.
Dan Carlin, the host, explores the innerworkings of historical events by looking at the people who contributed to them. Their personalities, actions, relationships, and how those factors played parts on the grand stage.
These are long episodes, so you’re going to get a lot more information than you would need for a pages-long history class paper. You’ll have a solid understanding of the factors that work into historical events like WW2, giving you a well-rounded take on the events and ways to think about them.
You might want to put Hardcore History on in your headphones as you workout for the week. Some of the episodes can run upwards of 5 hours, so it’ll take some time to work through them.
That said, you’ll have the kind of understanding that your teachers and professors are looking for. Who knows, you might even have some more information than they do!
If you’re not looking for 5-hour dives into the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, BackStory might be a more suitable podcast for you.
These history podcast episodes look at the information behind massive cultural events. For example, they have an episode that details the real whale that inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
That’s right, there was a real white whale. You’ll also get treated to deep dives on things like UFOs, incarceration in The United States, and other subjects across the board.
There’s a good chance that they’ve covered a topic that you’re discussing in school right now. Explore their episodes and enjoy their unique takes on these massive cultural touchpoints.
6. Revisionist History
Malcolm Gladwell is the renowned author of staples like Blink and Outliers. His work has sparked the imagination of millions and provides a well-researched take on some fundamental questions.
In Revisionist History, Gladwell approaches some points in time that have been skewed by propaganda or misunderstood from the start. These are explorations into historical points that have been covered up or simply weren’t broadcast at the time that they happened.
In many cases, his show looks at events that contributed to larger cultural events. The small details say a lot about the intentions of different parties, though, so Revisionist History is a great place to start looking for the details that you won’t find in textbooks.
Any of your history courses is bound to cover a revolution or two. These are some of the most volatile points in history, which happens to make them some of the most interesting as well.
Revolutions looks deeply at how these situations unfolded and continue to unfold, and is among the best history podcasts to do so. The podcast is hosted by Mike Duncan, who often releases more than 50 episodes dedicated to one revolution.
He’s covered many of the primary revolutions in history as well, so he’s kind of like a pre-made study guide. Even if you throw a series of episodes on over the course of the semester, you’ll have a deep understanding of these situations and how they work.
What’s Special About Those Top Podcasts About History?
Let’s look a little at why you should try podcasts in the first place.
Particularly when it comes to the dense subject matter, podcasts are sort of the antidote to textbook reading. Whereas textbooks often cram information into a logical order, podcasts offer a personal take.
Odds are that the podcaster is passionate about the subject matter and will explore unique approaches to make it accessible and interesting. The way in which they do this varies a lot, but the common thread is that there’s a narrative and you learn the salient information from a unique medium.
Podcasts aren’t rambling recordings of a person with strong interests. When they’re popular, there’s typically a lot of research and hard work that goes into curating a good program.
Do a little digging online to verify the accuracy of the podcast you’re exploring and, if they’re trustworthy, sit back and take the information in. There’s nothing wrong with taking notes on a podcast, either. The information tends to be just as good as that in a textbook, if not a little more speculative.
Another way that podcasts differ from traditional learning material is that you can get in touch with the creators. Larger podcasters are harder to reach, but most get famous by engaging with their audience.
So, if you’ve got particular questions or concerns about something, you can try reaching out. Some of the lesser-known podcasters will be happy to respond and answer questions if they can.
Looking for Something Specific?
You might just be a history buff looking to learn something new. More likely, though, is that you’re a student looking to get some extra insight into a subject.
The wonderful thing is that there are millions of podcasts on the primary streaming platforms. Any subject you can imagine has an expert, and many experts enjoy running podcasts.
The good history podcasts listed above are sure to cover some of the subject matter you’re dealing with in school. You don’t have to work with the top history podcasts to get the information you’re looking for, though.
There are millions of lesser-known episodes that are sure to detail the subject matter you’re looking for. Plus, trying to find the right podcast for you will expose you to so many options to enjoy later.
Podcasts are essentially audiobooks that give a personal take on the things you’re interested in. Give them a shot, and see how they improve your understanding of class material!
Need Some More Education Hacks?
Exploring the best history podcasts should give you some material to work with. If you’re having a hard time acing those exams, though, we’re here to help you out with a few more ideas.
Whether you’re in high school or college, you’re bound to need some help from time to time. For more ideas and insights into studying and succeeding in school, check out our blog’s education section. Thanks for reading!