I love a good history lesson. When you learn about history, you learn about people. You learn about us. You learn about human nature, how we react to our environment, why we make the decisions we make, and how we deal with the consequences of those decisions.
History puts a context on modern day life. It is with that in mind that I want to talk about Dan Carlin and his fantastic podcast series called Hardcore History.
Dan Carlin is a former journalist and radio presenter who now calls himself a fan of history. many would call him an historian, but that is a title Dan shy’s away from.
I have been listening to Hardcore History for a few years now. The way Dan Carlin explains events in history is fantastic. The way he relates it to what we see happen today, the different themes he weaves through each podcast, and the way he explains how historians look at events from conflicting points of view is nothing short of fascinating.
From the rise and fall of the Mongol Empire and the way historians once viewed the Mongols as simply overwhelming their opponents with sheer numbers, to the more modern outlook that now gives the Mongol Empire credit for its ability to adapt, their tactical prowess, and their sheer toughness in a range of very different battlefields, it is almost like a history lesson in the way history is interpreted.
Blueprint For Armageddon is an incredible series that shows how an assassination in eastern Europe lead to the first World War. How World War One was fought during an era where military gear, weaponry and tactics were evolving at a rate we have maybe never seen in all of written history. How each world power was brought into the war, the effect the war had on each nation, and how the lack of a complete, dominant victory of one side over the other set the scene for the buildup to World War Two.
The King Of Kings series looks at the rise and fall of the Persian Empire. The regional conflicts the Persian Empire became involved in. How different leaders forged different reputations that had very different effects on their subjects. This series also covers the famous last stand at the Battle Of Thermopylae where 300 Spartan’s fought and died before an entire army, and how we in the west see it as a pivotal moment in history, but how the Persian Empire would have also seen the conflict as a resounding success.
The King of Kings series goes on to track the downfall of the Persian Empire, punctuated by the incredible rise of Alexander The Great.
The Ghosts Of The Ostfront series looks at the battle during World War Two between Germany and Russia, a conflict that you very rarely hear much about in the west. It looks at the brutality in, if it was seen as a stand alone war itself, would have been the greatest war in human history. Dan looks at the effects of the war on both the German and Russian nations, the aftermath of the war, and it gives you many sobering moments when you read about what happened on the eastern front.
While older episodes are archives behind a paywall, newer episodes are available for free. To Dan Carlins credit, he has made older episodes very fairly prices, I have bought a number of them, and I highly recommend purchasing older episodes if you enjoy the newer ones.
My favourite in the Hardcore History series is without question the Wrath Of The Khans, which chronicles the rise of the Mongol Empire led by a man called Temüjin. Upon uniting the different tribes of Mongolia he went by another name, Genghis Khan.
The history surrounding Genghis Khan is unbelievable. The brutality and bloodshed is something that is hard to fathom. Incredibly, there seems to be little doubt that on some level Genghis Khan was a genius. To take tribes of nomads and turn them into one of the greatest armies in history, and to lead his people towards having the largest empire by area conquered is nothing short of incredible.
It came at an immense price however. One that still resonates with many populations around the world.
I highly recommend you listen to Hardcore History. I never miss an episode, and I am sure you will enjoy it too.