In the comments for Bill’s posting about the Stuff You Missed in History Class Podcast, I mentioned that people who enjoyed that show might also enjoy Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. It’s a little dry and demands some attentive listening, but can be pretty rewarding if you find that you enjoy it.
Dan Carlin brings a really unusual perspective to looking at history. In one of his more sensational episodes, “History Under the Influence,” he explores how drugs and alcohol might have played a role in history. For example, have you ever considered the possibility that certain historical figures were tweaking on amphetamines or strung out on painkillers? How about asking who was drunk and possibly bi-polar? It definitely sounds irreverent, but remember that history is often written by the winners.
Don’t go thinking that all his episodes are built around such sensational material. The intriguing topic matter of those episodes will hook you in, but his storytelling and modern-day examples will keep you coming back. The updated references really shine through the “Apache Tears” episode, and helped me gain a new perspective on that piece of American history.
If you decide to reference anything you hear in this podcast in your classroom, I should mention that Dan Carlin is not a credentialed historian in any regard. Instead, as he often points out, he’s just a big fan of history. I don’t have any problem with his credibility, though! If you’ll allow a lame metaphor, plenty of baseball fans know a lot of statistics and knowledge about the game without being baseball players themselves.