To formally kick of the first real content of my blog, I’ve decided to write about something that has been an immensely satisfying way to while away my commute. While the vast majority of content available to us on the internet is pap, the magic is when we are able to find something special that is enabled by it.
So I was grateful beyond measure that when looking for something worth listening to on Downcast during my commute (non-Mondays of course, since Mondays are reserved for Writing Excuses), I stumbled upon Hardcore History by Dan Carlin.
Hardcore History is definitely hardcore- with his Episode Six of “Death Throes of the Republic” clocking in at a massive 5 and 1/2 hours, not to mention the preceding five episodes. The amazing thing is that the time flies by- I’ve never heard such engrossing recounting of history as when told by Dan Carlin. The telling sounds almost off the cuff, though I assume it is highly scripted and it is completely seamless (I can never tell when he went off for breaks- kudos to the editor).
Mixing citations from other historians along with original documentation and first person sources he creates an atmosphere that conveys an immediacy that is generally missing from history education. I almost hesitate in calling it education since it is so simultaneously entertaining, though educational it most certainly is.
I started off with his “Wrath of the Khans” episodes, which were incredibly involved and involving. They are epic in scope while also letting us get to know the players in intimate detail. Carlin also exudes compassion for the background players- and certainly in the case of the Khans, the victims. He reminds us that it history is not just about the “names” or “progress,” it is also about those who have perished horribly and prematurely in the process.
I can wholly and without reservation recommend both of these series along with “Globalization unto Death” about Magellan. I can also say that I’m pretty certain, sight unseen, that the rest of his material is likely at the same standard, and I’m certainly going to be digging into it to see what I have left to enjoy.