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These Fascinating History Podcasts Will Make You Fall In Love With The Past

Last Updated: November 28th

A great podcast is all about being able to tell one hell of a story. The medium thrives on masterful storytellers recounting and analyzing a moment in time that may have been forgotten or misread. It’s all about weaving threads together and adding insight along the way. That’s why history podcasts are some of the most fun listens in the pod-game, industry-wide.

Still, with our entire collective past to pick from, the best history podcast is hard to qualify. There’s a definite need for fascinating subject matter — but even that is almost always subjective. Some of us love hearing crazy stories from the golden age of Hollywood while others will easily get lost in the minute details of the Lutheran revolution. The possibilities stretch back all the way to the primordial soup.

Below you’ll find our picks for the 25 best history podcasts you can listen to right now. There are comedians riffing on improbable stories, hardcore history professors laying down masterclasses, and well-educated buffs diving into the worlds they love.

Translation: If you’re looking for a pod that helps you understand the past, there’s a little something on this list for everyone. Enjoy!

HISTORY ON FIRE

The Podcast: Daniele Bolelli’s History on Fire is essential listening. Even if “history” isn’t your thing, Bolelli will draw you in with his vivid storytelling and insanely well-researched tales of historical moments. If you’re looking for clear, harrowing, and in-depth history lessons from a host who comes off like your coolest uncle, this is the ‘cast for you.

Where To Start:

We’d say start with episode 32, “Anything That Moves: The Parallel Stories of Sand Creek and My Lai.” It’s a harrowing account of US military massacres on the Great Plains and in Vietnam nearly 100 years apart. The series will leave you shaken to your core.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Castbox

DAN CARLIN’S HARDCORE HISTORY

The Podcast: This is the history lover’s history podcast. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History‘s deep dives are the deepest out there. Carlin takes several hours (across several episodes in some multi-part series) to explore a single topic. Every moment will be riveting. If you perceive each episode like a short audiobook, you may have an easier time digesting the long running times. Besides, if you love history, the running times become inconsequential.

Where To Start:

The best place to start is with episode one of “Blueprint for Armageddon” which chronicles the first World War. From moment one, Carlin makes a Serbian assassination in 1914 something that every single one of us can relate to.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

THE DOLLOP

The Podcast: The Dollop is American history filtered through absurdist comedy … and it’s kind of glorious. Hosts Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds power through some of the craziest stories from American history. Basically, each episode is Anthony telling Reynolds a snippet of history and the duo riffing on each beat as hard as they can for maximum comedy. It’s fun, delightfully informative, and very entertaining.

Where To Start:

Start with the “Blackbeard” episode for a swashbuckling good time.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox

LIBRARY TALKS PODCAST

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The Podcast: Library Talks Podcast from the New York Public Library goes deep into some meta concepts with a seriously surprising roaster of guests. Every episode offers great insight and compelling storytelling. The podcast is like showing up to your local library and striking up a conversation with John Lithgow about Shakespeare because you happen to bump into him.

Where To Start:

How Congress Really Works … Or Doesn’t is a great place to jump in.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts

THE MEMORY PALACE

The Podcast: Nate DiMeo is a classic public radio persona. If public radio isn’t your cup o’ tea, you may know him as the co-author of Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America. That should be a good indication of DiMeo’s style — a bit of absurdity grounded in great storytelling. It’s also a very concise listen. Each episode is rarely more than 15 minutes long.

Where To Start: There’s a handy playlist called Where Do I Start available on the podcast’s website. It’ll be hard not to listen to them all in one sitting.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox

BACKSTORY

The Podcast: Can anyone guess why 19th century New York City had so many pigs roaming the streets, well, besides their delicious smoked bellies? BackStory has the answer. Renowned U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh have been tearing up the radio waves and podcast-sphere for a while now. Their tactic is to rip a story from the headlines and dive into the historical backstory.

Where To Start:

Islam and the U.S.,” is a great starting point. The episode gives great context to a slice of American historical life often wholly overlooked.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox

STUFF YOU MISSED IN HISTORY CLASS

The Podcast: Where BackStory is about the big ideas of American history, Stuff You Missed in History Class is about the people and oddball minutiae that powered those ideas. Tracy Wilson and Holly Frey come from the HowStuffWorks world and started their podcast as a form of infotainment. There’s no fat on this podcast. Wilson and Frey jump right in and dig deep into the people and events that changed America and progressed our country ever forward.

Where To Start:

A great place to start is the story of Mary Ann Shadd Cary. She was America’s first female newspaper editor and publisher who advocated for black lives and women’s rights in the late 19th century.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS

The Podcast: Relishing the glamour and darkness of Hollywood history is a fine way to spend an hour or two. Karina Longworth is the Hollywood historian of our day. She’s written great biographies about stars like Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, and George Lucas. To say You Must Remember This digs deep would not be giving Karina Longworth enough credit. Her podcast is a complete and engaging history of the glamour and madness that is Hollywood.

Where To Start:

With Disney+ dropping recently without the controversial Song of the South, Longworth’s five-episode deep dive into the pro-slavery film is the perfect spot to start your podcast journey.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

LORE

The Podcast: Maybe keep the lights on for this one. Lore retells very scary and very real stories from our history. If you were in the woods, you’d be clutching the person next to you for comfort every time the fire crackled. The re-tellings are that good. Aaron Mannke narrates each episode with chilling aplomb that’ll shake you to your core.

Where To Start:

This is one of the podcasts we’d recommend starting from the beginning. That being said, you can definitely jump around the episodes.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

SIDEDOOR

The Podcast: The Smithsonian’s podcast, Sidedoor, is a glimpse into one of the biggest collections of historical artifacts in the world. Host Tony Cohn leads discussions with a long list of historians, scientists, archaeologists, artists, zookeepers, and even astrophysicists along a path of exploration of our shared past. Each episode is only 30 minutes, making this pod an easy binge.

Where To Start:

Start with episode 20 which covers the history of the world’s oldest winery. Maybe open a bottle of your favorite red before you give it a listen.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

THE WAY I HEARD IT

The Podcast: Mike Rowe has made a long career as the champion of the working class in America. Rowe’s no-nonsense demeanor and inclusiveness translate perfectly to the podcast format. His show, The Way I Heard It, is short, historical storytelling boiled down to ten-minute episodes. They’re extremely easy to listen to, insightful, and often hilariously absurd.

Where To Start:

Since the episodes are rarely over ten minutes, you can easily sample a few over a lunch break. We’d say start with episode 93, “As Long As It’s Legal,” about a preacher who moonlights as a moonshiner.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

REVISIONIST HISTORY

The Podcast: Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast, Revisionist History, does exactly what it says. Gladwell looks at various points in history and analyzes them from a personal perspective — that is, revising the narrative to fit into a real experience. What’s great about this podcast is that Gladwell casts a wide net. The series is never just about military history or economic history. It’s about food, travel, politics, pop culture, art, and everything in between.

Where To Start:

Gladwell’s exploration of McDonald’s switching beef fat for vegetable oil in their friers, called “McDonald’s Broke My Heart,” is the perfect place to start. It’s a hilarious and very educational look at the whole debacle.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

BURNT TOAST

The Podcast: Kenzi Wilbur hosts Food 52’s podcast about the history of all things food-related, Burnt Toast. While food history might sound like a bore, Wilbur picks amazingly cool topics that engage with comedy, pop culture, politics, and everyday life. Each episode is around 20 minutes long, making this one very digestible.

Where To Start:

We wholeheartedly recommend starting with “The Worst Food in White House History.” It’s fun while be very informative about how badly (most) presidents ate.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

PHILOSOPHIZE THIS!

The Podcast: The history of philosophy is crucial to understanding philosophy in general. Philosophize This! host Stephen West has created a podcast that outlines the entire history of eastern and western philosophy in one, easy to access place. Each episode clocks in at an easily binge-able 30 minutes and covers what would be a chapter in a classic philosophy textbook. Unlike a dry textbook, however, West is extremely engaging.

Where To Start:

You really need to start with episode one here. You can jump around, but the show is set up to be listened to like a series that builds on itself.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

OUR FAKE HISTORY

The Podcast: Our Fake History is an easy podcast to fall in love with. Host Sebastian Major’s show aims to uncover the “myths people think are history and history that might be hidden in myths.” Basically, Major is calling bullshit on what a lot of us taught as ‘true’ history and subsequently still believe while finding the real crumbs of historical fact in those stories. It’s engaging and eye-opening.

Where To Start:

Each episode clocks in at around an hour and Major often takes three or four episodes to get through a subject. The subjects are incredibly varied — from Samauri swordsmen to Cleopatra to forgotten European wars. So start with anyone that interests you.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

SLOW BURN

The Podcast: Leon Neyfakh’s first season of Slow Burn was a comprehensive series about Watergate. It’s a complete historical document that plays out like a great true crime story. This is a definitive retelling and examination of the entire fiasco that ended up bringing down an American president. Season two dove into the Bill Clinton impeachment and season three looks at the assassinations of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls.

Where To Start:

You really have to start at episode one of any of the seasons. Maybe start with the Watergate season as impeachment is in the news again.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

REVOLUTIONS

The Podcast: Mike Duncan wowed the world with his comprehensive History of Rome podcast. He’s followed that success up with an equally engaging podcast about political revolutions aptly titled, Revolutions.

Where To Start:

A great entry point is Vladimir and Nadya, the story of Vladimir Lenin and Nadezhda Krupskaya meeting, falling in love, and becoming the face of Russian Marxism. It’s basically a Bolshevik-style meet-cute.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify

UNCIVIL

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The Podcast: Journalists Jack Hitt and Chenjerai Kumanyika aren’t here to tell you the stories you want to hear about the American Civil War with Uncivil. They’re astute in breaking down the myths and outright lies and parsing what the American Civil War really was. Hitt and Kumanyika look at the historical record of how a divided country ended up at war and square that with today’s atmosphere of division.

Where To Start:

The story of the Civil War isn’t told chronologically over the course of the podcast. Hop in with The Ring which takes a look at a spy ring started by two women in Richmond, Virginia against the Confederacy.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

HISTORICAL BLINDNESS: THE ODD PAST PODCAST

The Podcast: Historical Blindness takes a unique tack while dealing with history. Host Nathaniel Lloyd dives into the mysterious aspects of history. It’s a peek behind the curtain of the stories and myths that have become part of our zeitgeist — stories that we often just take for granted. Lloyd breaks down the barriers of history and asks what is really going on in the more fantastic corners — from UFO battles over L.A. to crying Mother Mary’s in Spain to the Voynich Manuscript.

Where To Start:

Start with The Killing of Dr. King to get a sense of the style of Lloyd’s podcast.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

HISTORIUM UNEARTHIA

The Podcast: Historium Unearthia aims to unearth unheard of and often forgotten history. Host Crystal Ponti retells the stories of dark history and lost history in each episode with excellent research anchored by deeply engaging storytelling.

Where To Start:

You can start with episode six, “Meet the Notorious, Yet Politically Significant, Black and Native American Outlaws Omitted from Old West History,” which dives into lost Black and Indigenous American historical figures from America’s Old West.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Castbox

WITNESS HISTORY

The Podcast: The Witness from the BBC tells history through the voices of people who actually lived it. The podcast is a collection of short stories told by eye-witnesses or the subjects involved in big moments of history. Each episode is short and to the point, making this pod very easy to plow through at work.

Where To Start:

A great episode to start with is “The Concert That Rocked the Berlin Wall.” The episode covers a three-day concert in 1987 that David Bowie headlined which caused riots in East Berlin.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

RIDICULOUS HISTORY

The Podcast: Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown put on a fun and entertaining show about the curious and, yes, ridiculous moments in history. Each episode of Ridiculous History is a ludicrous dive into something that makes Brown and Bowlin scratch their heads. The show is less about finding answers to the ridiculousness and more about exposing the craziness that’s lurking in our shared history.

Where To Start:

Our recommendation is to dive in the middle with ‘When the Puritans Cancelled Christmas.’ It’s a fun and baffling corner of history.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

THE DANGEROUS HISTORY PODCAST

The Podcast: History is a fickle beast. It’s written by victors with inherently bad memories of events. Things get pretty skewed is what we’re saying. The Dangerous History Podcast is here to set the record straight. A college professor and host “CJ” takes the most important events in history and makes it digestible while throwing away all the sugar-coating.

Where To Start:

Start with the 15-part series about the U.S. Civil War. It’s an amazingly comprehensive look (recorded over two years) at one of the most important events in U.S. history and one which you likely know very little about.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

BEHIND THE BASTARDS

The Podcast: Host Robert Evans sits down with comedians to tell stories about the vilest people who ever lived. Behind The Bastards is a fascinating and in-depth look at how people we’ve heard about — but might not really know anything about personally — really are. This is the sort of show that’ll make you laugh before you cry in absolute disgust at how horrible the human condition can be.

Where To Start:

We’d recommend diving in with the Roger Stone episode to get a little extra clarity on the vileness of this particular “bastard.”

Listen Here: Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

MOGUL

The Podcast: Mogul, hosted by Brandon Jenkins, takes a look back at the history of hip-hop via interviews with the folks who actually lived through the iconic moments. The show is a fascinating firsthand account of hip-hop history that never disappoints in its deep takes or storytelling.

Where To Start:

Jump in with the short episode, Mogul Cameo: Warren G. The show is about Warren G finding his sister in New York City and is absolutely riveting.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify

30 FOR 30 PODCASTS

The Podcast: 30 For 30 are the highwater mark of great sports documentaries. This show in podcast form is no different. 30 For 30 Podcasts takes a look at stories in sports that are iconic, life-changing, and always engaging. Also, you don’t have to love the documentaries to get into this podcast. The episodes cast a wider net and include some of the best sports history available — with a human connection that transcends sports.

Where To Start:

Out of the Woods is a harrowing episode that recounts the story of biathlete Kari Swenson. The episode touches on sports history, true crime, and survival all in the same spot.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

MAKING GAY HISTORY

The Podcast: Host Eric Marcus has created a space to tell the stories that have shaped the gay community. Making Gay History is a vault of firsthand and recollected accounts of the fight for gay rights, the setbacks, and victories as told by the people who were on the front lines. This is a crucial piece of American and human history.

Where To Start:

The seismic impact of Ellen DeGeneres coming out eventually shifted many Americans’ opinions on the subject. This episode gives a beat-by-beat history of Ellen’s story.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

THE HISTORY CHICKS

The Podcast: The History Chicks has a focus on great women from all of human history. The show takes deep dives while keeping things lite when looking at the women who made history. The show is a refreshing look at some stories you might already know and a long list of stories you may have never heard of elsewhere — all focused on women.

Where To Start:

The episode about the life and times of Louise Brooks is a great place to get a feel of the show.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

THROUGHLINE

The Podcast: Throughline, from NPR, takes an interesting tack when dealing with everyday headlines. The podcast looks into the history of how we got to what’s happening today. It’s a chance to get the context for moments big and small that make the news every single day.

Where To Start:

No Friend But The Mountains is the perfect episode to start with. The show covers the history of the Kurds and the U.S. and how the recent abandonment by the Trump administration was a betrayal deeper than any headline could impart.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

THE 90’s SUCKED

The Podcast: The 90’s Sucked, part of the Unpops Podcast Network, finds comedians Adam Tod Brown and Chet Wild looking back at the big events of the 1990s and asking if the did, indeed, suck. Turns out, yeah, they kind of did. Nostalgia aside, this podcast is a great reminder of how the roots of many of today’s issues were planted back in the 90’s.

Where To Start:

The Rise of Right-Wing Hate Online is as informative as it is rattling. The episode is the perfect example of the show’s style and will lock you from word one. It’s also super helpful to understand where we are today with the proliferation of online hate.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

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