15 Best History Podcasts of 2023
This week, I made a conscious decision to take a break from my usual routine of writing technical blogs. Instead, I opted for a rejuvenating hobby that allows me to unwind and de-stress after a long day: listening to captivating podcasts. Engaging with these podcasts has become a form of meditation for me, providing a tranquil escape from the demands of daily life. But why, history, you ask?
History is an incredibly rich and fascinating subject that allows us to learn about the past, explore different cultures, and understand the world we live in today. Even though I didn’t pick this subject as my major in university but fortunately, we don’t have to limit ourselves to textbooks or documentaries to learn about history — there are a wealth of history podcasts available that make learning about the past engaging and entertaining. From ancient civilizations to modern-day events, these podcasts offer a unique perspective on history that can’t be found anywhere else.
In this article, I’ll be exploring the best history podcasts that are sure to spark your curiosity and ignite your passion for the past. Over the past few years, I’ve scoured the internet to find the most informative, entertaining, and well-produced history podcasts that cover a range of topics and time periods. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking to learn something new, these podcasts are sure to provide hours of entertainment and education. I’ve also gathered details like the total number of episodes, when the podcast first started, and the date of its latest release (I might do an article on fetching RSS feeds to explain how I extracted these bits of information). This way, you can easily determine if it’s worth investing your time in. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to travel back in time with my top picks for the best history podcasts.
By Dan Carlin
In “Hardcore History” journalist and broadcaster Dan Carlin takes his “Martian”, unorthodox way of thinking and applies it to the past. Was Alexander the Great as bad a person as Adolf Hitler? What would Apaches with modern weapons be like? Will our modern civilization ever fall like civilizations from past eras? This isn’t academic history (and Carlin isn’t a historian) but the podcast’s unique blend of high drama, masterful narration, and Twilight Zone-style twists has entertained millions of listeners.
Revisionist History is Malcolm Gladwell’s journey through the overlooked and the misunderstood. Every episode re-examines something from the past — an event, a person, an idea, even a song — and asks whether we got it right the first time.
BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. The premise of the podcast is — there’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to learn. Each week BackStory takes a topic that people are talking about and explores it through the lens of American history. Through stories, interviews, and conversations with our listeners, BackStory makes history engaging and fun.
By Mike Duncan
A weekly podcast exploring great political revolutions.
By BBC Radio 4
By Nate DiMeo
A fast-paced, well-researched weekly podcast covering a wide range of historical events, persons, places, legends, and mysteries, Hosted by Jon Hagadorn, the selection of stories and interviews includes lost treasure, unsolved mysteries, unexplained phenomena, WWII stories, biographies, disasters, legends of the Old West, American Revolutionary history, urban legends, movie backstories, and much more.
History! The most exciting and important things that have ever happened on the planet. Powerful kings, warrior queens, nomads, empires, and expeditions. Historian Dan Snow and his expert guests bring all these stories to life and more in a daily dose of history. Dan digs into the past to make sense of the headlines and get up close to the biggest discoveries being made around the world today, as they happen.
The podcast focuses on stories that made America — The Cold War, Prohibition, the Gold Rush, and the Space Race. It takes you to the events, the times, and the people that shaped the nation. And they show you how our history affected them, their families, and affects you today. Hosted by Lindsay Graham (not the Senator).
Clarence Thomas is one of the most powerful figures in America today. Nearly every issue of national consequence has his fingerprints all over it, from voting rights to gun rights and from abortion access to affirmative action. But nothing about his journey from rural Georgia to the Supreme Court was inevitable. In the eighth season of Slate’s Slow Burn, host Joel Anderson traces Justice Thomas’ surprising path from youthful radical to conservative icon. You’ll hear about why he came to despise the race-based admission policies that personally benefitted him, how he credited his political rise to the Black self-sufficiency preached by Malcolm X, and what the American people didn’t hear during his explosive confirmation hearings.
You Must Remember This is a storytelling podcast exploring the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century. It’s the brainchild and passion project of Karina Longworth (founder of Cinematical.com, and former film critic for LA Weekly), who writes, narrates, records, and edits each episode. It is a heavily-researched work of creative nonfiction: navigating through conflicting reports, mythology, and institutionalized spin, Karina tries to sort out what really happened behind the films, stars, and scandals of the 20th century.
“Great empires are not maintained by timidity.” — Tacitus. A podcast series looking at the rulers of the ancient Roman empire, by Dr Rhiannon Evans and Matt Smith.
A podcast telling the story of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire from 476 AD to 1453.
“Buried Truths” acknowledges and unearths still-relevant stories of injustice, racism, and resistance in the American South. We can’t change our history, but we can let it guide us to understanding. The podcast is hosted by journalist, professor, and Pulitzer-prize-winning author Hank Klibanoff.
In conclusion, the world of history podcasts is a vast and fascinating one that offers something for everyone. From the Ancient Egyptians to modern-day events, these podcasts offer a unique perspective on the past that can’t be found anywhere else. I hope that these top picks for the best history podcasts have given you some ideas for your next listening adventure.