I am a latecomer to the Podcast craze. Podcasting started when I was in college, but I never had the time or the interest to check it out. Podcasting required an IPod and ITunes right? At least that’s what I thought. It wasn’t until a friend recommended I listen to the Joe Rogan Experience that I started enjoying podcasts.
For those who don’t know, Joe Rogan is best known as that guy from Fear Factor and the commentator for the UFC. Joe Rogan has one of the most popular podcasts on the Internet. He interviews guests from all walks of life. On JRE #328 he had Dan Carlin on as his guest. Dan Carlin is a former TV and print journalist from LA who now is a blogger and podcaster living in Eugene, Oregon. On this episode Joe and Dan talked about a wide range of topics including Dan’s 2 podcasts Common Sense and Hardcore History.
Common Sense discusses mostly current events and Hardcore History handles a wide range of historical figures and times. The running times for these two different podcasts vary widely as do their frequency of production. Due to the current events discussed on Common Sense, Dan usually puts out a new episode every few weeks, which lasts 40-60 minutes. Hardcore History on the other hand takes months to prepare and can last 3 or more hours over many different parts.
Dan always reminds his listeners that it takes so much time to release a new episode because it takes him weeks and months to research the specific topic. The depth to which he discusses a topic demonstrates just how much time he must take and how much he is interested in the topics he discusses. He also makes it a point to state in every episode that he is not a historian with a PhD, but instead is a “fan of history”. He prefers it this way because he is able to examine multiple topics ranging over a wide swath of historical times, where as a historian has studied one specific subject or time period throughout his career.
The first episode I listened to was a 5 part series on Genghis Khan and the Mongols called “Wrath of the Khans”. Dan had discussed this episode with Joe and it sounded intriguing. I was not disappointed. Over the next 8 hours I listened to some of the most riveting information I had ever heard. Dan talks about how Genghis Khan was able to unite these Steppe peoples, something the Chinese dynasties had always feared. The Steppe people were nomadic and expert horsemen. They used battlefield tactics never seen before by their foes, and were reported to be extremely brutal to those they captured.
Dan presents his topics with multiple sources from multiple points of view so you don’t feel you are just hearing one side of the story. He is also quick to point out when he thinks “facts” are being exaggerated because the source was a historian in the Mongol court or the Chinese emperor’s court. Dan also points out that while current discussions will present the Khans as spreading diplomacy and expanding trade routes, if you lived through the Mongolian invasions, your view of them might not be so kind. Just as we picture Alexander the Great as this romantic figure, but if you were on the other point of his sword you might not feel the same way.
After the podcast was over, I felt like I had just read 4 books on the topic and was excited to learn more. On his website he displays his notes after each show with references and books to check out.
Other topics that Dan presents are the fall of the Roman Republic, the Germanic tribes that lived north of Rome, the protestant reformation, the Spanish-American War, Etc. Some of these episodes like the fall of the Roman Republic have direct correlations to today’s political climate. Dan releases the episodes for free on ITunes and only asks for a donation of $1 if you like what you hear. Older episodes can be bought on his website for a small fee. I recently bought a 4 part series on the eastern front during WWII for around 10 dollars.
If you enjoy history and like to listen to audio books I am sure you will enjoy Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. You will not be disappointed.