On Learning Through Listening

Today I am going to take a step back from books. Not a big step. More like a little shuffle. By now you are all aware of my affinity for audiobooks. They’re the best. I always have a book going while I’m at work.

Or at least I am always listening to something at work. My audiobook habit actually comes from a deeply ingrained love of podcasts. As I was finishing grad school I found that I needed noise to work, and music was distracting. So I found Podcast Republic and never looked back. It took a while for me to find my Podcasting genres of choice, but eventually I settled on current events, politics, and history. Despite being a bookish person I only listen to a couple bookish podcasts, and even then I cannot seem to keep up with their feeds.

Sidenote: All of the Books is great and should not be blamed for my inattention. 

Anyway, I’m here today to talk to you about some of my favorite history podcasts. This feels like an easy jump as lately I have been talking a lot about historical fiction. So I’ll combine my loves and give you some solid recommendations for when you are all booked out with nothing to do. 

Stuff You Missed in History Class: Holy backlog! Stuff You Missed in History Class s a fantastic podcast, currently hosted by the lovely Holly and Tracy. Each episode delves into a history deep dive, and yes,  usually the topics are centered around things you wouldn’t have learned in your high school history class. SYMiHC also does a fantastic job of representing minorities, women, and other marginalized groups and are always chasing exciting new topics. I’m a big fan of their now quarterly episodes on new archeological finds. 

The History of Rome: Mike Duncan is historian goals. The History of Rome is just that: an incredibly deep dive into the history of Rome told in an incredibly accessible way with just enough humor to make it funny. Duncan excels in taking complex, intertwined histories and making them easy to understand for people without a background in ancient history. The Netflix doc on Roman history has some bases in Duncan’s work and he has also written a book on the subject. 

Revolutions: Another Mike Duncan gem. Revolutions takes a close look at different revolutionary movements throughout history. Different seasons cover different movements, such as the English Civil War, The American Revolution, The Hatian Revolution, and lots of different French Revolutions/Uprisings/Issues. Again he is funny, he is clear, and able to make history interesting while remaining highly listenable. 

1865: 1865 was my favorite podcast find of 2019. It covers the Lincoln Assasination and Johnson Administration through the eyes of Edwin Stantin, then the Secretary of War. Stay with me, because this radio drama is super addicting. Each “fictional” episode is paired with an behind the scenes dive into the historical facts, any added drama, and recording techniques. 

Tudor, I Hardly Know Her: Easily the least well known of my list, this Tudor podcast is hilarious. Non historians giving history lessons while also watching shows like The Tudors, movies like The Other Boleyn girl, and just generally trying to understand England in the 1500’s with only a love of the people. 

Am I missing any of your favorite history podcasts? Let me know. I clearly need more in my feed to keep me from buying all of the audiobooks on my wishlist!

2 thoughts on “On Learning Through Listening

  1. I wish I could embrace audio books and podcasts. I love the idea of always having an extra book going via another avenue, but I just don’t like listening to talking. It’s strange. I always find myself drifting off in the past (when I tried both). For me, listening to books does not have the same satisfaction level as reading them does.


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