Tuesday, May 18, 2010


So said one of the great Greek philosophers – I forgot whom – but you can find out on what is probably one of the two or three best podcasts ever created in the history of this young form, Dan Carlin’s HARDCORE HISTORY. His most recent show, which you can download as an mp3 right here, is about how strong of a role “toughness” plays in the success or failure of a people. Typical of a Carlin podcast, rather than simply dwell on one topic and beat it to death, he engagingly challenges the way we approach the study of history to begin with, and how the last 30 years have wiped out a lot of the opinionated “bias” in history that might’ve posited the one set of people were more “tough” than another. Carlin feels that we’ve lost something in the systematic, facts-and-figures approach to history, and in so doing, we’re forgetting how nations soften and become more flaccid in middle age. He believes – and I’m now convinced – that a more philosophical, and yes, biased approach to history is sometimes the best way to drive at deeper truths that can be learned from.

This is a fairly atypical Carlin history show, but it’s just as thought-provoking as all of his other podcasts. HARDCORE HISTORY’s a total must-listen the day each new one comes out. If you’re just reading about him for the first time here, I’d start with his series of WWII Eastern Front podcasts called “Ghost of the Ostfront” – which are masterful, and way better than any history class you’ve ever taken – and then work your way around some of these more pontificating “Blitz” editions.