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History podcasts save the date

Amrita V Nair | Updated on April 19, 2019 Published on April 19, 2019

Remembering WWII: Podcasts such as Hardcore History and You Must Remember This bring to life events from the World Wars

If you didn’t enjoy learning history in school, here are a few podcasts to spark a love for it

As children, many of us found history dull and boring. History, as it is taught in schools, usually entailed wading through dry textbooks or memorising endless names and dates only to forget them as soon as the exams ended. There are, of course, the lucky few who had a teacher whose scholarship was matched by their talents as a raconteur. But if you were not so fortunate back then, it’s never too late. There are several history podcasts that bring the past to life with meticulous research and captivating narrative styles. Whether you are an avid history buff or just curious about a particular event in history, chances are there is a podcast for you. Here are some of my favourites to get you started.

Hardcore History

Perhaps the most successful podcast in this genre, Hardcore History is hosted by erstwhile journalist Dan Carlin. Each episode is downloaded by millions of listeners worldwide and the podcast regularly finds itself in the yearly “Best of” lists. In his signature ‘theatre of the mind’ style, which relies on dramatic narration and sound effects to summon vivid images in the listener’s mind, Carlin builds up and dismantles entire empires. New episodes are released sporadically — twice a year, on an average. However, each episode is an education, as painstaking research and Carlin’s inimitable style serve to animate the players and perspectives in history that are often forgotten. Episodes are, on average, about four hours long — with ambitious topics such as the Achaemenid Empire and the World Wars recounted like a series. Paid and free episodes of the podcast are available at www.dancarlin.com.

The Memory Palace

For a more ruminative, often philosophical look at history, The Memory Palace hosted by Nate DiMeo is the podcast to tune into. The episodes, none longer than 20 minutes, are released monthly. Each episode talks about a lesser-known event or person in history in compassionate terms. The stories provide enlightening insights by exploring the motives and impulses driving the historical event. With haunting music and beautiful scripting that evoke a deep sense of nostalgia, the podcast is almost dreamlike. The Memory Palace is perfect for bedtime listening or as a companion for a meditative walk in the rain. Listen at thememorypalace.us.

Lore

Perhaps not ideal for bedtime listening, and definitely not for the easily spooked, Lore is a podcast that explores the chilling true stories behind popular folklore. The host, Aaron Mahnke, started the show in 2015. Today, this exceptionally well-researched podcast boasts over 190 million downloads, more than 24,000 5-star reviews on Apple Podcasts, and a television adaptation in the form of an eponymous Amazon Video series. New episodes, most of which are about 30 minutes long, are released fortnightly. Drawing inspiration from campfire stories, each episode is deeply atmospheric even as Mahnke approaches these outlandish myths and legends with the solemnity of a historian. Despite the exclusion of overblown theatrics or descriptions of gore, the resulting episodes can be bloodcurdling — allowing the podcast to live up to its tagline that “sometimes, the truth is more frightening than fiction”.

Listen at www.lorepodcast.com.

You Must Remember This

Produced and hosted by film scholar Karina Longworth, You Must Remember This explores “the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century”. The podcast, which began as a passion project in 2014, rose to popularity in late 2015 after episodes focussed on Charles Manson and his followers, who committed a series of murders in Hollywood in 1969. Subsequent seasons of the podcast have built on overarching themes such as the blacklisting of Hollywood professionals suspected to be Communist sympathisers during the McCarthy era and the lives and careers of Hollywood stars during WWII. Described as “Old Hollywood’s most vital historian” by The Atlantic, Longworth’s expansive knowledge of her subject renders the podcast a unique lens through which contemporary American history can be studied. Though the podcast has been on hiatus since January, all 145 episodes released till date can be found on the website youmustrememberthispodcast.com.

The History Chicks

It is no revelation that women are often invisible in history lessons learned at school. If you would like to remedy this gap, The History Chicks is the podcast for you. Hosted by long-time friends Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider, the podcast is presented in a chatty irreverent style that makes for easy listening. Each episode profiles a female figure — ranging from Cleopatra to Coco Chanel, and even fictional characters such as Barbie and the women of Gone with the Wind. In their website, the hosts state that these profiles are merely introductions which they hope will provide their listeners with the impetus to learn more about these women. Episodes have an average runtime of 90 minutes and are released every three weeks at thehistorychicks.com.

The History of India Podcast

Hosted by philosopher and academic Kit Patrick, The History of India Podcast is a weekly podcast on Indian history. Although Patrick describes himself as a “bumbling historian”, this well-researched and beautifully narrated podcast is anything but bumbling. Patrick is particularly respectful of the fact that even today, many people in South Asia derive parts of their identity from the stories he recounts. He makes the effort to consult scholarship by Indian historians while researching each episode, to ensure that events are understood within their cultural context. Furthermore, by dedicating airtime to the art, architecture and philosophy of each epoch, the podcast brings to the fore a clearer and more comprehensive view of life in ancient India.

Listen at historyofindiapodcast.libsyn.com.

Amrita V Nair is a freelance writer, public policy specialist and podcast enthusiast

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Published on April 19, 2019
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