One way to know that you’re a history nerd is that you enjoy listening to history podcasts. And boy is there a lot of them out there. But we like the sort of podcasts that don’t just lazily read off a Wikipedia entry about some event in our society’s history. We like history shows that go in-depth. You know, Hardcore History depth. That’s our type of history podcast jam. So without further delay, here are the best history podcasts for everyone that likes to look back and hopefully learn a lesson or two.
In Plain Sight: Lady Bird Johnson
This podcast is all about the worst Tyrants in human history. It explores and uses dramatic and immersive story-telling (the best kind) combined with interviews from history professors, authors and other experts who have dedicated their lives to studying some of the worst people who have ever lived. So if you want to get a bit more acquainted with the exploits of dictators such as Kim jong-il, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and more, this is a great podcast to sink your teeth into.
Fall of Civilizations
If you’re looking for a history podcast in the same vein as Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, then the Fall of Civilizatons podcast embarks on a similarly epic scale. With a focus on empires and their downfall, it’s a meaty show for all you history buffs.
Working Over Time
Not to be confused with “overtime”, this aptly named podcast features an exploration of the history of work and what it has mean to society at large over time and across cultures. It’s got some good story-telling elements and if you close your eyes while listening you just might feel like you’ve been transported to a time of yesteryear. Oh yeah, you might learn a thing or two as well. Highly recommend.
Remember Katrina? Yeah, the people in New Orleans definitely do. This is the astonishing retelling of the category 5 hurricane that devastated a city and killed 1,800 people while exposing the insane hubris and lack of government response. Don’t miss this one. It’s both riveting and tragic, but with masterful storytelling throughout.
Reflecting on history that doesn’t put you to sleep is a skill. It’s an art-form, that the best historians have mastered. Whether in written form or audio form, history is filled with an endless cavalcade of stories that will set your hair on fire. That’s what the Body Count podcast is all about. Featuring some moderate drinking and cursing, it’s both educational and entertaining. Perhaps it might even inspire you to learn some more about history. Give it a listen, I highly recommend this one. Make sure to check your highbrow academia at the door.
The British History Podcast
Ok Brits, prepare your history loving brains. Well, maybe that doesn’t apply to all of you, and maybe there’s some non-Brits that want to go extra, mega, super deep on British History. Yes, this is a chronological retelling of British history. And to give you an idea of its depth, they’re about 360 episodes into the show and they’re only a the year 1040 mark. But don’t worry, this isn’t a dry recounting of the stories that shaped the British Isles, it’s a podcast that focuses on the individual stories of people that helped shape British history.
Produces and hosted by two very smart and knowledgeable women, Katie Nelson and Olivia Meikle, this podcast is about the rediscovery of women in the past that were too quickly forgotten or not written about. While some are a bit more known, you’ll definitely discover plenty of fascinating women you’ve never heard of. A pretty terrific podcast for history buffs.
The Faces of Fascism
A poignant and at-times in-depth look at the lives of Western Europe’s most notorious dictators and their fascistic ideologies.
The Dangerous History Podcast
Dive deep into history’s lesser-known people, events and consequential turns with this amazing podcast. Its aim is to inform us of history we quickly forget, thereby not heeding its overwhelmingly important lesson. Check it out!
Who We Are
I wouldn’t exactly describe this as a fun podcast, but nevertheless it might give you something to think about. Chronicling the history of racism in America, hosts Carvell Wallace and ACLU Deputy Director Jeffery Robinson take a look back in time to discover the roots of white supremacy in American life and examine how those early threads have continued to haunt American life ever since.
Ben Franklin’s World
I continue to be highly fascinated by America’s early history. There are simply so many fascinating characters and stories to explore that it’s no wonder a podcast like this has come along to thrive off all that lore. This is definitely a podcast for anyone that loves history and likes listening to a variety of learned scholars talk about the days of America’s founding.
It Was Said
This limited-run podcast is a look at some of the most impactful and meaningful speeches ever given in American history. It’s written and hosted by Pulitzer prize author Jon Meacham and has super-high production value for an audio format show. Give it a listen.
This bi-weekly podcast is not for the faint of heart. But if you want to get deeper into some of the darker stories of American history, this is an awesome podcast to check out. Learn about the omitted lore that you didn’t read in your typical history textbook.
This is a Disaster
This podcast definitely seems on point for 2020. If you like disaster porn told in a clever, smart, funny, sometimes appropriately sad and somber tone, this show will get you right there. It will take you on a journey of disasters, some natural, others man-made, some ancient, and some modern and very much ongoing. Give it a listen.
Royals. For some blasted reason, they continue to fascinate us. Perhaps it’s our collective penchant for desiring power and fame, or perhaps because they are fascinating relics of a time now mostly expired. No matter the reason, this podcast explores with plenty of rhetorical panache the most fascinating royals throughout history. If that’s your sort of thing, check out this well-researched and produced podcast.
This incredibly compelling podcast from the BBC is told by someone whose grandfather worked directly on the atomic bomb that dropped on Hiroshima. The story tells of the development of the bomb and the hosts personal struggle with knowing that part of her family was involved in creating the most terrifying weapon ever made.
Gather round, American History nerds. This show was designed for you. Exploring the ideas and depths of idealogy against the background of American historical events is what this podcast is all about. But don’t think you have to be an American history scholar to enjoy this show. It’s actually quite accessible for anyone. Hosted by a high-school history teacher no less!
Emperors of Rome
Hope Through History
One of my favourite authors and Historians (don’t look at me like that, I know you’ve got a favourite Historian as well), Jon Meacham, of Pulitzer Prize-winning fame, produced this 5 episode podcast and then stopped for some strange reason. I’m not certain why, but even his brief foray into speaking about various historical events is worth a listen. Hopefully, at some future date, he’ll be back for more episodes.
This podcast is simply supreme and superb storytelling. Its purpose is to go in-depth on science’s role in a complicated world and how it’s shaped history. They’re recent “Pandemic Perspectives” episodes with interviews of scientists, CEOs, entrepreneurs and epidemiologists, have been spectacular. So if you’re into history and science, give this show a listen.
The Constant: A History of Getting Things Wrong
I’m not going to give this podcast the justice it deserves by describing what its all about, so I’m just going to crib part of their description:
“The Constant is a science and history podcast about getting things wrong. From ancient science to contemporary blunders, we take you on journeys of misadventure and misapprehension, filling your brain with juicy nuggets of the sometimes comical, sometimes tragic and always fascinating ways people mess things up.”
A really great podcast filled with hilarious and little-known follies of history.
Casting Through Ancient Greece
When I first started to listen to this podcast I thought that it was as if though it was exclusively designed for me. You see, I have a tiny obsession with Ancient Greece. As a kid, I read obsessively about it and then moved on to reading all about the famous Greek philosophers. So much of our modern-day culture, democratic government, science and philosophy have their roots in ancient Greece. This show takes listeners on a journey from the pre-history to Archaic Greece, Classical Greece and up to the Hellenistic period. If you’re an ancient Greece nerd like me, don’t miss this podcast.
LBJ and the Great Society
Through the course of this podcast, and through little-known White House recordings you get the sense that President Lyndon B. Johnson, while remembered mostly for his catastrophic failure in Vietnam, was perhaps one of, if not the most domestically successful U.S. president of all time. A truly fascinating look at how through enactments such as Medicare, civil and voting rights, Head Start, immigration reform, and public broadcasting, LBJ changed America forever…. well at least for up till now.
Clear and Present Danger – A History of Free Speech
I have a particular set of views about the concept of Free Speech, but I won’t get into that here. What I will say, however, is that for anyone interested in this concept, you should definitely not miss this podcast. It offers a master class on both the modern and ancient history of why kings, emperors, and governments have killed and imprisoned people to shut them up. And also why people have risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs. This has justly earned a permanent spot on my podcast subscription list.
The average person has been trained to believe that all spies look and act like James Bond and Ethan Hunt. Well, that’s pretty much just fantasy. Real spies work in the shadows, quietly and deliberately doing their work over the course of many years. This podcast covers the real spies by taking on a real-life spy mission each week and goes into detail of how the mission went down, the gadgets and technologies used along with the intricacies of the spycraft used. If you love the world of espionage, this podcast is a must not miss.
You’re Dead to Me
From the BBC comes a podcast that successfully merges some of the most interesting insights into various events in history with the power of comedy. Funny, insightful, and a great mix of historical topics are what you should expect. They’ve been inactive since the end of December, but the back-catalogue is well worth diving into.
Fairy tales are often designed to teach children important lessons. In fact the other day I was trying to teach my daughter about the Boy Who Cried Wolf… but this podcast focuses on a different kind of cautionary tale. The type that adults should heed more often. With stories of boneheaded human error, tragic catastrophes and all variety of hilarious and consequential fiascos, this podcast, although relatively new should provide you with some level of entertaining education about the kind of follies to perhaps try to avoid.
Disasters, calamities, mishaps, criminal sabotage. As a species, we’re fascinated by disaster and misfortune. This is why we all navel-gaze at the accident up ahead slowing down traffic for everyone. Nevertheless, The Alarmist is one of the better podcasts I’ve run across that delves into topics of history’s disasters in an easy-to-digest and frankly fun way. From the Waco siege to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, to the Great Boston Molasses Flood, no disaster is too big or too bizarre for this great podcast to explore.
Award-winning historian, Brad Harris takes you on a journey through history with. focus on the biggest historical forces that have shaped modern civilization. Everyone thinks that Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is the king-daddy of history podcasts, but I would rate Context right up there without the 6-hour play-times associated with the former.
Alien artifact? Top-secret government weapon, simple piece of industrial machinery? Or a complete hoax? Make up your own mind when you listen to this 6-episode podcast about a mysterious metal sphere that was discovered on a family’s property in Jacksonville, Florida in 1974.
History on Fire
Obviously this podcast has been around for quite some time and is now sadly moving over to Luminary starting in April, but before then you can still have a listen to its back catalog of incredibly detailed, thoughtful and surprising takes on various historical events. Yes, it’s about history, but it’s peppered with a healthy mix of pop-culture references and modern parallels as well as a healthy dose of comedy.
Website | Listen on: Apple Podcasts | PodChaser | Overcast | Not sure where to start? Start with this episode: Episode 20 – The Conquest of Mexico (Part 1): People of the Sun
How it Began: A History of the Modern World
What I love about this podcast is that it has a narrow focus on discussing the history of the modern-day miracles of technology, tools and the convenience they bring into our lives. From measuring time to mastering metals, refrigeration, the stock market, computers, electricity, surgery and tons more. If you love a relatively short (30-60 minutes) podcast to help you discover the origins of the every-day things we use, I highly recommend this one. Historian
Brad Harris tackles the question of how we achieved these technological and cultural triumphs and where we may be going next.
Into the Portal
Apparently, I went on a little deep dive exploring podcasts this past week that feature legends, myths and curious historical phenomenon that can’t easily be explained. Out of this dive I came out with an appreciation for this fantastic podcast that’s dedicated to all things lost, unexplained, and just plain old strange. Ancient lost cities, legendary creatures and even some film reviews of your favourite creepy films.
The Secret Life of Canada
As you may have ascertained, Find That Pod hails from the Great White North, also known as Canada, and believe you me, growing up in this country, I was endlessly bored with Canadian History. But as I’ve revisited it in my adult life, I’ve discovered it’s full of intrigue and little-known stories that are both surprising, but still oh-so-Canadian. That’s what this fantastic podcast from the CBC is all about.
While human history can often be brutal and beautiful, it can also often bend towards being utterly ridiculous. This fantastic podcast aims to explore some of the weirdest and quirkiest stories from across modern human civilization. Humans are weird, don’t you know?
Website | Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | Not sure where to start? Start with this episode: Around the World in a Model T: The Story of Aloha Wanderwall
History of the ’90s
If you’re my age, this podcast will be a nostalgic trip down the memory lane that is the 1990’s. The 90’s defined many Generation X’ers through its various cultural casts including Columbine, Seinfeld, Air Jordans, the Spice Girls, the OJ Simpson verdict, Friends, and more. Discover this relatively new but fantastic podcast, you won’t regret it.
Our Fake History
This is a one-man history myth-busting podcast like no other. What an awesome find for anyone that wants to get through the bullshit you may have been shoveled down your throat by bad history teachers and textbooks alike, along with general myths about history that have been perpetuated for far too long. Get yourself some history facts yo!
You Are Not So Smart
Want to feel stupid, but then immediately thereafter feel like you’ve learned something valuable? You’ll love this podcast then. From the makers of Boing Boing comes a podcast that talks about how most of us are self-deluded into thinking we’re smarter than we are, and what traits of psychology we’re stuck with that can help us snap out of that kind of thinking.
While we are currently awash in scandal coming out of the White House, it’s important to sometimes look back and gain a bit of perspective. Scandals have indeed shaped American history since its founding. This fascinating podcast explores some of the more famous and not-so-famous ones.
This one is definitely for the ultra-fans of history and how, in part, it has been shaped by a long series of successive revolutions. A weekly podcast with some real historic oomph behind it.
This is probably the hardest to describe podcast on this week’s list, but suffice to say that it has two terrific podcast hosts, one of which happens to be Ken Jennings of Jeopardy fame. Think of this podcast as an “encyclopedic reference of strange-but-true stories compiled as a time capsule for future generations.”
Stuff You Missed in History Class
Whether you’re a history buff or not, there’s something for everyone in this long-running and highly successful podcast that focuses on the more obscure, and sometimes overlooked events of history. Impress your friends with history facts they likely don’t know and finally take down that pub-quiz championship you’ve been gunning for.
Tides of History
If you’re a regular subscriber to this newsletter, you’ve probably surmised by now that I’m a bit of a sucker for all things History. That’s why I’m including this fabulous podcast from host Patrick Wyman who takes you through various historical events and how they’ve shaped our modern world. A must listen for history buffs.
You’re Wrong About
Writers Mike and Sarah tackle some of recent history’s most important cultural events with an incredibly natural and entertaining flow. Backed up with an obvious interest in getting the facts and history right, they explore cultural watersheds such as Afterschool Specials, The Jonestown Massacre, Columbine, The Obesity Epidemic, Stranger Danger and many more.
Where season one featured Oprah, season 2 of Making tells the early story of how Obama became Obama. With previously little heard interviews with the former President’s key advisors, mentors and rivals this podcast series focuses on how the city of Chicago played a major role in shaping his views and ultimately his political life.
Internet History Podcast
While this podcast isn’t going to be winning any awards for its cover design, it’s a vast collection of incredible interviews with hundreds of pioneers that contributed to the ongoing history of the development of the internet. If you’ve ever wondered about the backstories of some of the most infamous Internet companies of yore, you’ve found your treasure trove.
Most history podcasts can unnecessarily be somewhat long-winded. Not Footnoting History. This, most often under 20-minute podcast tackles all manner of mostly obscure and overlooked events in history that are worth exploring and telling you about. Definitely worth a listen if you’re a fan of history.